Step 1: Establish Your Goals

As someone who has been boating his entire life, I know firsthand how important it is to choose the right boat. Despite my love for sailing, my current boat is a small powerboat because it makes the most sense for my boating goals. These goals include spending as much time as possible on the water with my family and passing on the love of nature and boating.  

Before purchasing a boat, it is important to understand what you hope to get from this investment. Clarity on your goals is essential. Here are some tips to help you choose the right boat to accomplish your goals.

Consider Your Boating Goals

What experiences do you want to have on your boat? Do you dream of hosting friends and family for relaxing sunset sails or cruising to crystal-clear island waters? The more specific you can be about what you want from the boating experience, the easier it will be to choose the right boat for you. Be realistic and honest with yourself and your abilities. If you just finished your ASA 101 Basic Keelboat class, then a 50′ bluewater cruiser may not be the best choice for your first boat. 

Think About Your Crew

If you plan to have a crew, it’s important to consider their goals and what they hope to get from the experience. Understanding who will join you on your boating adventures will help you choose a boat that can accommodate everyone’s needs. Also, consider how you will use the boat and who the crew will be 90% of the time, buy it for that purpose, and accommodate the other 10% of the time.

Consider Your Schedule and Budget

Boats require maintenance, so it’s crucial to be realistic about how much time, money and work you’re willing to dedicate to it. Consider your schedule and how much time you have to spend on the water. Additionally, think about what kind of boat fits within your budget. For example, a 45′ sailboat that is 15 years old will require more time and a larger budget than a smaller newer boat of the same purchase price. By answering the questions in Step 1 below, we will begin to form a clear picture of what criteria to use for our initial boat search. 


Before you start shopping for boats, take a step back, and focus on your goals. Get clear on what you want from the boating experience, and ensure your chosen boat aligns with those goals. Boat ownership can be an incredible experience, and choosing the right boat will help you make the most of it.