As a member of the service team at Strong's Marina in Mattituck, Andrew McCarthy doesn't do sales, yet he made some interesting points the other day about purchasing a new boat.
He was at the throttle of a new model that was aiming toward the southwest corner of Robins Island and the submerged chunk known as Rogers Rock. Our goal this morning was twofold: test ride Pursuit's 26-foot C-260 center console and pull a few puffers and porgies for dinner. As we bagged scup and blowfish from the 15-foot depths, he talked about new boat purchases.
For starters, he believes anyone serious about diving into the boating lifestyle should start researching now rather than in the winter.
"You'll see plenty of boats at shows and expositions in January," he explained, "but you can't get in and drive them. Right now, most marinas have demos available that will help give you a feel for being on the water and exactly what kind of boat you'll need. You can always comparison shop line items at home once it gets cold out."
Another point to keep in mind, explained the service adviser, is that where you keep your vessel can influence how happy you'll be with the purchase. Price-per-foot for docking or storage is one way to choose a marina but a better way is to actually check out a few this time of year to see how they perform while still busy.
"Is the staff friendly? Is the facility clean and organized? Are there amenities like a pool, boating club, restaurant or bait shop?" The answers to these questions, McCarthy said, can be nearly as important in the overall picture as selecting a vessel that suits your needs.
One last tip from McCarthy: "Get the most complete service contract you can afford. The first year or two see a learning curve with new boats, and a deal that provides instruction, covers most of what can go wrong and offers use of a replacement vessel to cover downtime is a really good investment."
The Pursuit we were riding in had smooth, 4-stroke Honda 150 twin engines and is a versatile craft that can go into the shallows. It's a high-end model that slides between competing entries from Grady White and Robalo.
According to Discover Boating (DiscoverBoating.com), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people get started in boating, Americans are taking to the water in record numbers. Last year, 37 percent of the adult population -- 89 million Americans -- participated in recreational boating. That's the second highest percentage on record. Total sales for new power boats, engines, trailers and accessories during 2013 in New York State alone was a whopping $552 million.
If you want to get a head start on finding that dream boat, the Tobay In-Water Boat Show (nyboatshows.com) is scheduled for Sept. 26-28 at Tobay Beach Marina.