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Ready to dive into boat ownership? Before you try to make your dream boat a reality, there are key factors to consider so that you won’t end up with buyer’s remorse. Here’s waterproof advice to help you get started with the process.

Create a Boat Budget It’s more than simply the vessel. You’ll want to calculate insurance costs (contact Allstate for a quote), registration fees, trailer or transportation costs, maintenance costs and fuel and storage costs, too. If you live in a climate with below-freezing temperatures in the winter, you’ll need to winterize the boat, as well. The good news is, you may be able to finance the purchase of a boat, just as you can a car, and often for longer terms on the loan.

Compare New vs. Used Options When it comes to purchasing any vehicle, know thyself. Many used boats will come fully equipped with gear you may want, which can be attractive. If you’d rather have the option to tinker and customize on your own, new may be the way to go.

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Before buying a pre-owned boat, have it checked out by a professional (you can find one near you through the National Association of Marine Surveyors) to assess its condition and value (look for problems with the engine, electrical system, pumps or body). New boats come with warranties and manufacturer support, which may be transferable if you decide to sell later.

Visit a Boat Show or Showroom Before you go, do your homework and compare models, prices, and features of various boats online. In person, check out the different models carefully, interview the dealers (asking similar questions of each one), and board as many boats as you can. Take notes (and photos) so you’ll have information to review later.

Take a Test Cruise There’s no substitute for experiencing the way a boat feels and handles on the water. Try to choose a location and conditions that are similar to those where you will be on the water; that way, you’ll get a realistic sense of what you’re in for.

Get Schooled Once you take the plunge, it’s wise to take a boating education course. Some dealers provide consultants to train you on how to use the boat you’ve bought, and marinas often have captains or experienced boaters on hand who can show you the ropes on your own. In some cases, it can even save you on insurance.