First Time Boat Buyers

Buying a boat

There is a boat for everyone and one for every budget. To get the most out of your Long Island boating experience, it is important to find the right boat for you.

First, consider what activities you want to do onboard the boat, what types of waters you will be boating in, and who will be joining you on your adventures. Narrow down your choices to two or three categories of boats.

Now comes the fun part... shopping. Whether you are shopping for a brand new boat, searching for pre-owned, or even looking for Long Island boat dealers, it is a good idea to shop new first at one or two of the hundreds of boat shows across the country. Boat shows offer an excellent opportunity to see what is out there with regard to boats and boating equipment. They also are a great source of family entertainment, education, and boating community resources, which is why novice and experienced boaters return to local boat shows year after year. There are different things to consider while shopping for a new boat vs. a pre-owned boat, but most dealers have strong inventories of both.

Interview a few dealers. The dealer who wins your business should be the one who goes out of his or her way to make you feel comfortable with your boat and the entire buying process. Further, the dealer should have a reputation of service. You are creating a long term relationship with this dealership. Consider their service department and warranties as well as price as you search for that perfect boat.
Once you have found that dream boat, you will need to start considering things like registering [link to registration database] your boat with your state's Department of Natural Resources and insuring your boat prior to taking delivery.

Choosing a boat

The fun really begins here. Boating brings you a rich variety of possibilities for making memories on the water.

Which activities are most appealing to you? Fishing, waterskiing, cruising, canoeing, racing, exploring, and simply relaxing with family and friends enjoying the natural, scenic beauty of waterways all over the country... your boat will make these things part of your life.

Fishing ranks among America's top ten recreational activities. Create memories that will last a lifetime when you head out to the beautiful lake, river, bay or open water of your choice. Enjoy the fun of fishing from a wide variety of boats. We'll help you find the boat that's "right" for how and where you want to fish.

Types of Fishing Boats:

All-Purpose Fishing Boats

For those who are into fishing from a boat, for nearly everything that bites, these are "generalist" crafts, with space for fishing gear, several bench seats or a few pedestal chair-back seats, a simple steering station or steer-by-tiller. They can be aluminum or fiberglass, are almost always outboard-powered, and are 15 to low-20s ft. long. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Bass Boats

Specialty craft for getting to the bass, fast. Accommodate larger outboards. Have lots of storage space for rods and gear. Outfitted with electronics and livewells. Usually feature a raised-deck casting platform in the bow (and often the stern), with provision for an electric trolling motor. Most often fiberglass, but aluminum models are available. Range from 16 to mid-20 ft. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Center-Console Fishing Boats

Allow angling from any place on deck, since the control station is located in the center. Generally outboard powered, some have small cabins for the "porta-potty" or to escape a squall. Depending on size, can be used offshore as well as near. Length from mid-teens to high-20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Flats Boats

Shallow-draft hulls, mostly fiberglass, with tilting outboard engines. These craft allow angling access to saltwater flats fish. Each boat features a "poling platform" that allows navigation and fish spotting. A casting deck gives the angler stable control. Upper teens to mid-20s ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Offshore Sportfishing Boats

Combine the comforts of motor yachts and the functionality of large aft cockpits to work trophy fish and bring them aboard. Classic, durable deep-vee hulls in fiberglass and aluminum, often with twin inboards, large fuel capacities for long range, sophisticated electronics, cabin space for crew and guests. Range from the mid-30s to 50s and 60s. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people).

Explore America's scenic waterways in the comfort of your own boat. Whether on board a cruiser, a deck boat, a rugged inflatable or a high-performance model, you'll set your own course for a day trip with family or friends, or take off for a real vacation afloat when you are the captain of your own cruise! There's no better way to recharge your spirits when you step aboard and leave life's daily pressures on shore!

Types of Powerboats:

Bow Riders

All-purpose runabouts with extra seats and forward access to the bow, a convenient spot to relax and sun. Outboard or stern-drive power. Smaller versions are fine for water skiing; larger versions allow some camping. All are suited to short-distance cruising. Mid-teens to upper-20s ft. long. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Cuddy Cabins

Small cruisers with compact cabins to camp, do some simple cooking and get out of the weather. Outboard or stern-drive power. Great day cruisers and overnighters for small groups. Also used on big water for trolling for fish. High-teens to about 30 ft. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Deck Boats

Feature a one-level deck throughout and often rails or gunnels all around, all built on a performance hull. Multi-purpose craft that serve anglers, swimmers, sunbathers, evening social cruisers, and folks at the dock. These are stable craft. A number of guests will find room to enjoy being aboard; six friends on smaller versions, eight to ten on larger ones. Some have small cabins. Most often outboard powered, though some feature stern drives. Range from mid-teens to upper-20s. (Trailerable; 1-8 people)

Fish and Skis

Interior layouts of these craft allow boaters to enjoy the two most popular on-water activities. Have enough power, usually outboard, to pull a skier or two, and to get to the fishing spot in short order. Storage allows taking skis and tackle. Three or four can ride and fish in lengths from teens to upper 20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Folding Boats

Made to store, then unfold and float, these consist of lightweight frames that are covered by fabric or plastic. Usable by one or two, they range from about seven to just over 10 ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

High-Performance Boats

Designed for speed, these can be deep-vee or catamaran-hulled craft with big power. Creature comforts are included in the cockpit and below decks; fishing craft are more spartan. Outboard and stern-drive power, often sophisticated engines, can push even larger craft to speeds in the 60-mph range, sometimes faster. Size starts in the mid-20s and tops out in the 50s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

House Boats

These are the recreational vehicles of the water, with wide beams and cabins that cover most of the deck. Inside are private staterooms, a head or two (with shower), a big galley, and eating and entertainment areas. Generally used on calm bodies of water, though some with modified vee-hulls are found on big rivers and the Great Lakes. Fiberglass or steel hulls are common. Even the small house boats that start about 30 ft. are spacious; hotel-sized craft range up to the 50s and 60s. (Not Trailerable; 1-8+ people)

Inflatable Boats

Short five- and six-footers are used as dinghies. Mid-sized models in the 12- to 18-ft. range are more durable, have more interior space, and can handle an outboard; such mid-sized models can carry several passengers and serve as runabouts. Newer, hard-hull (or rigid) types of 20 ft. and over take moderate power and work well near and offshore. The "smalls" are easily transported; the "bigs" can be trailered. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Jon Boats

Multi-purpose camping, freshwater fishing and hunting craft, typically aluminum and powered by a small to moderate outboard or oars. Length in mid-teens to low-20s; accommodates three to five on bench seats, plus gear. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Motor Yachts

All the amenities of home in a traditional vee-hulled craft for gracious cruising or entertaining at the dock. A number of design variations offer more aft deck space for fishing, private aft cabins, sunning space on flybridges or on front decks. Fiberglass and aluminum hulls, sophisticated electronics, choice of gas or diesel inboard power in singles or twins. Typically range from 30 ft. to the 60s and 70s. Accommodations range from five or six to a dozen or more. (Not Trailerable; 1-8+ people)

Pontoon Boats

Two tubes, usually aluminum, under a stable deck surrounded by railings and powered most often with outboards. Often covered with a canopy, featuring plenty of seating space (sometimes convertible to sleepers). Good for fishing, swimming and sunning. Start in the high-teens and go to the upper-20 ft. range. (Trailerable; 1-8 people)


Feature open or closed bows, outboard or stern-drive power, and mostly vee-hulls. Fun for water skiing and wakeboarding, fishing, cruising, sunning throughout the day. Some add camper canvas to allow overnights. Probably the most popular fiberglass boat made, though some are aluminum construction. Range from about 16 to upper 20 ft. (Trailerable; 1-8 people)


These sit high in the water, atop stable hulls that get there in comfort, leisurely. Boast big cabins and all the creature comforts. Handle big rivers, lakes, and oceans on moderate days. Mid 30s to upper 60s in length. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people)

Waterski Boats

Powered by inboards, these "throw" a perfect wake for very serious water skiers and wake boarders. Used at tournaments and for training. Passengers usually include the driver and a "spotter." Range from about 18 ft. to the mid-20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Whether it's the tradition and thrill of racing or the unique serenity you'll experience on a cruising boat, sailing brings you membership in a global community of enthusiasts. There are boats from 7 feet to 70 feet, with room for sailors of all ages - it's truly a lifelong sport.

Types of Sailboats:

Cruising Sailboats

Bring the comforts of home and engine-powered travel options to sailboats, offering open-cockpit seating for entertaining above decks and one or more cabins below decks to accommodate family and friends on overnight or extended cruises. Cruising sailboats start at about 30 ft. and keep going up to the "yacht" range at about 60 ft. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people)

Day Sailers

Small sailboats suited for short day outings on small lakes or calmer waters, ranging from dinghies (with a centerboard) to more substantial boats with a fixed keel. At about 20 ft., day sailers often include a small cabin or "below decks" area for dry storage. So-called "pocket cruisers" range from 21 to about 29 ft., have cabins ample enough to accommodate berths and amenities for basic overnighting. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)


Small sailboats with a centerboard (a retractable fin) for use off the beach, around the harbor, or for small-lake sailing and racing. Mostly open-cockpit boats commonly come with just one sail (a mainsail) under 12 ft.; above that they are likely to have two sails and a covered foredeck area for gear stowage. Many dinghies race in popular "one design classes" where all boats in a class are of the exact type and measurement and sailed with equal crews (from one to four). (Trailerable; 1-3 people)


Called "catamarans" when they have two hulls and "trimarans" if they have three. Come in a variety of sizes, ranging from the popular 14-ft. and up "cats" launched from the beach to high-speed ocean racers of 70-ft. or better. The lightweight hulls make these boats quicker under sail and well-suited to cruising and anchoring in shallow waters. Wide cockpit and deck layout in the back and "trampolines" in front provide lots of lounging options. Larger multihulls come with substantial cabins. (Trailerable; 1-5 people).

Racing Sailboats

Span a wide variety of possibilities from high-performance dinghies with spinnakers and trapezes to a newer crop of offshore one-design classes, ranging from 30 to 70 ft. These performance-oriented boats trade off weight and luxury for speed and maneuverability and are generally more spartan below decks with utility berths, head and galley equipment available over 22 ft. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people)


Surfboard with a sail for those who like to work waves and wind for an "athletic" form of solo sailing. Like water and snow skis, sailboards and sails are specialized for different windsurfing styles and skill levels, from easy gliding to stunts and jumps. Wider, more stable options are user-friendly to beginners. Range from eight to over 12 ft. (Trailerable; usually 1 person)

"Human-powered" watercraft are hot! Canoes and kayaks are the most portable of boats, bringing you into incomparable natural surroundings. Reap the benefits of physical fitness as well as the psychological renewal that paddling sports deliver.

Types of Paddle Boats:


Paddle-powered craft for exploring shallows to running white water. Great for fishing techniques. All-purpose aluminum to high-tech composites. Easy to use and enjoy. Range from about 10 to 22 ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Dinghies, Rowing

Rather fish than sail? Get the rowing dinghy to get around the harbor and wet a line. Small, car-topable at eight to 12 ft. or so. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)


One- or two-person craft traditionally used for short- distance transportation, now expanded to include whitewater rapids duty and some for "sea kayaking" on bigger lakes and along coasts. (Trailerable; 1 or 2 people)

Pedal Boats

Leg-powered, two- or three-seaters for lazy small- water excursions. Classic lake boat, great diversion for the kids and not-so-serious anglers. Eight to 12 ft. or so. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Easy to handle, easy to operate, fast and fun. These boats are ideal for a wide range of activities on the water: find a secret cove and picnic; catch some fish, take your friends for a day of sun and surf. You'll be delighted with the comfort and simplicity of a jet boat. They're affordable and trailerable, too.

Types of Jet Boats:

Jet Boats

So described because they are powered by jet pumps linked to engines. Fun and usually wet, small versions starting at about 12 ft. can take two or three along; larger versions ranging to 18 ft. can accommodate a couple more folks or pull tubers or skiers. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Personal Watercraft

More often known by brand names such as "Jet Skis" or "Sea Doos." Two varieties include stand-on or sit-on; latest versions have gotten a bit bigger to accommodate three adults. Fun, fast, wet. Range from about six to 10 ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Wonder why those people out there are having such a great time? Watersports are the ultimate for thrills and high-energy fun! Wakeboarding and waterskiing are sure hits with kids of all ages. Start early and develop a lifelong skill that will keep you in shape and keep your adrenaline flowing.

Types of Watersport Boats:

Fish and Skis

Interior layouts of these craft allow boaters to enjoy the two most popular on-water activities. Have enough power, usually outboard, to pull a skier or two, and to get to the fishing spot in short order. Storage allows taking skis and tackle. Three or four can ride and fish in lengths from teens to upper 20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Waterski Boats

Powered by inboards, these "throw" a perfect wake for very serious water skiers and wake boarders. Used at tournaments and for training. Passengers usually include the driver and a "spotter." Range from about 18 ft. to the mid-20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

New York Marine Trades Association