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Buying @ The Boat Show

Buying @ The Boat Show

Ready to take the plunge and purchase your first boat at the show? Or perhaps it’s time to trade-up and make a splash with more luxury? Here’s what you need to know about buying a boat at the boat show. 

With so many different types of boats available to see at the boat show, it can be overwhelming to choose the best type of boat to suit your lifestyle and budget. Many boats are great for both inland waterways and coastal areas. Some are strictly for offshore boating. Many come with different accessories. Sometimes insurance is included for the first year or so. With many decisions to make, here are our top tips if you are intent on purchasing a boat at the upcoming show.

Before the show 

If you already own a boat, you probably have a good idea what it is about your current boat that you like, and what shortcomings you have discovered.

Whether you are new to boating, or a seasoned skipper, firstly think about the type of boating you want to do. Fishing can be a lot different to leisure cruising, although many boats can do both. Serious fishermen love plenty of space to manipulate rods and tackle, as well as built-in ice buckets and storage bins to keep their catch fresh.

But if the family is to be welcomed aboard, comfort is a factor. Think about how long guests and passengers will be joining you on board, and what type of luxury they might expect. Will you need sleeping berths for overnight adventures?

Your best purchase will be primarily for the type of boat you will use most of the time, rather than something you might only choose for special occasions. There is little point in buying a boat that can carry 10 people, if you are only likely to be joined by two or three others most of the time.

Make a wish list along these lines before you visit the show. A good solid checklist is a great way to ensure you will not be distracted by vessels that do not meet your criteria. This gives you more time to speak with dealers for the best advice and recommendations.

At the show 

It is easy to be overwhelmed. Even seasoned boat show attendees can become bewildered with the new products displayed each year. What is important to remember is that the boat show is a great place to speak with manufacturers and retailers all under the one roof. This can be a great time-saver when considering a new boat.

All boats have a base model, which to some extent can then be accessorised to suit your particular preference or purpose. If you see a boat that looks ‘almost perfect’, have a chat with the exhibitor about what changes can be made to match your wish list. Exhibitors love buyers who are clear on their requirements.

A good rule of thumb when choosing an engine, for example, is to ensure the engine is at least 70% of the maximum horsepower rating of the vessel. You might save a few dollars choosing something less powerful, but it is false economy, as anything less will work the engine too hard and burn too much fuel. However, if you plan on water skiing or wake boarding, a more powerful engine would obviously be prudent.


Ask about the warranties for every boat you are considering. Warranties are valuable and should influence your decision. Some warranties are transferable, which may become a selling point if you decide to re-sell your boat when it comes time to upgrade. Find out what the warranty includes (engine, hull, components and accessories, for example) and also ask about the service you will receive if something fails.

Special offers 

Here is a hot tip: At the boat show, you will see plenty of ‘show specials’. Even though these are sometimes one-off deals only available for those boats purchased at the show, it is worth asking if the exhibitor will honour that price in a few weeks’ time. Chances are, the exhibitor will be very pleased to see you again at the dealership in a week or two, and have you finalise the purchase. You may have to register your interest, and leave your details with the dealer for reference.


Realistically, when buying a boat, you have to consider what you can afford. Having the most suitable deal can really influence the level of pleasure you receive from owning a boat. Many exhibitors can assist with both finance and insurance. Bundling the deal together can be advantageous as the dealer might then be able to offer other incentives, such as upgraded accessories and bonus extras. Ask about on-water tuition too, where the dealer spends some time with you launching and retrieving the boat, as well as running it on the water.

As with any loan, be sure to consider the minimum repayments, the loan’s security, and any other conditions that may be applied. The boat show is full of people who have bought and sold plenty of boats, and undertaken loans many times. They are passionate about the boating lifestyle. Use their experience and knowledge to your advantage.


For some, one trip to the boat show is all that is needed to choose the perfect boat. For others, further fastidious research is required before being satisfied. A little preparation before your trip to the boat show can yield big returns and greater satisfaction knowing that you have picked the perfect boat for you. Boating brochures and magazines, and online and digital resources are good sources of information. The website. includes a downloadable checklist to help you decide on the best boat to buy for your lifestyle. You will also find a calendar on that site listing all the upcoming boat shows.




About the Boating Industry Association Ltd

The Boating Industry Association Ltd is a not-for-profit industry organisation, which represents more than 90% of the boating industry in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Member companies include businesses that manufacture, wholesale or retail products and services in the recreational and tourism boating sectors. BIA members adhere to a voluntary Code of Practice and Code of Ethics. In addition, the BIA is involved in responding to issues relating to the recreational use of waterways, the environment, boating safety, access and public facilities. For more information, please visit



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