Is this the summer you'll spend on the water? Dreaming of a ski boat or skiff, bass boat, or buccaneer? Not sure exactly what you're looking for? Start by doing your homework. Visit with boat owners. You'll find them at boat shows, in clubs, and on message boards and in chat rooms on the Web. Find out what they like and dislike about the boats they own or want to own. Pick up boating magazines to get a feel for the wide range of sizes and prices that are available. Once you narrow the field, take the types of boats you are interested in on a test ride. After a little research you may become overwhelmed with all the choices. Should you go for speed or comfort? Motor or sail? Cabin or open cruiser? How big?
In making the right choice, consider the advice of experts: Boating tends to be a social activity. So get family members, fishing or sailing buddies involved in the decision process. Determine what activities you, your family, and friends want to engage in, and then choose the type of boat that best fits those needs. Determine a monthly budget that includes loan payment, maintenance, and docking charges. Remember, boating is no fun if it puts a strain on the family's finances. Try out our loan calculator to see how much a payment might be for that shiny new boat. Whatever boat you decide on, be sure you make the credit union your first port of call. Whatever your taste in watercraft, your local credit union will have a boat loan that won't sink your budget.by Staff Writer