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Education best boat buying tip

November 17, 2012
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The old adage about the first and last day of boat ownership being the two best in a boat owner's life definitely holds true if you get stuck with, or worse, stick yourself with the wrong boat because you didn't spend enough time doing your research.

You have just relocated to paradise and have come down with a bad case of FFF (fancy fiberglass fever). It's finally time for the boat of your dreams. At this point prospective captains fall into two categories - the impulse buyer and the educated consumer.

Let's look at some guidelines.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Boats are expensive. Sticker shock is a mild term. A fully and properly rigged big-name 21-foot flats boat-motor-trailer package could cost $60,000 and up. Of course, offshore boat package prices are simply astronomical.

Point is, educate yourself so you won't have to hear the dreaded and shrill: "Seeee! I KNEW you didn't know what you were talking about! You should have listened to Barb's husband; he isn't having any trouble with their boat"

Southwest Florida is boating heaven and on any given Saturday the Caloosahatchee River is an all day boat show with kayaks to super sleek 40-foot offshore racers parading east and west. It's easy to get caught up in a "that's cool looking" purchase rather than what's practical for you or your family's needs.

Solo hard core flats fishing, family weekend outings with the kids, inshore, offshore, nearshore, size, toilet, tee-top, what extra equipment, what size motor, what brand? The choices for the novice boat buyer are bewildering and education is the key to making a satisfactory and lasting purchase.

If you've never owned a boat Southwest Florida is the place to get real world boating advice. Hang out at a ramp and ask questions. Better yet, ask a pro guide. I'm on the water in a flats type boat or bay boat three to six days a week. I know what to look for in a boat after owning many and making a few bad choices along the way.

Every year I help clients shop for their dream boat or answer questions that save them considerable bucks and stress. You can't beat local knowledge from the folks that use boats as tools in their work as well as for pleasure.

Another choice is the used market. is where I found my present flats boat and saved a ton of money. This Action Craft flats boat package was in near mint condition, fully equipped, 2 years old with 46 hours on the engine meter, warranty still in place for $21,000.

New, with added equipment - $47,000. The boat was for sale six miles from my home and without this website I would have missed it.

But - buyer beware when shopping the used market as it's easy to get burned if you're not savvy. Seek out advice and ask tons of questions. Tell the seller that you will need your dealer to check out the boat at your expense of course, no matter how wonderful the seller tells you it is.

Asking for a test run is not out of the question so don't be afraid to ask. If the seller refuses to work with you walk away. With this stagnant economy good used boats are getting harder to find and going up in price.

Another consideration is the future cost of fuel. Big motor, big boat, big gas bill. This administration's energy czar has proudly stated, "What America needs is European fuel prices."

Four-stroke motors are more fuel efficient and don't burn oil like their old 2-stroke ancestors and are the best choice. This may all be a moot point if we ever do get to Euro fuel prices and at that point about 85 percent of the boating public would be off the water anyway.

Ask questions and get solid advice before signing.

The fish are biting. Let's go fishing!

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or



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