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Indy expert offers tips for boat buying

Ted Novicki’s love of boating stretches for decades: He purchased his first watercraft, a 1956 Lone Star Holiday, before he had graduated from high school.

“I stood on the side of the riverbank and realized everybody on the water was having more fun than I was,” he says. Novicki, owner of Ted’s Aqua Marine, entered the boat industry as a mechanic in 1963 and opened his dealership, an Indianapolis fixture, in 1977.

Novicki shared his thoughts on boat buying.

What should I know about buying a new boat?

Novicki: The first thing you need to know is how you want to boat: What kind of boating are you interested in? Where do you want to boat? How many people do you want to go boating with you? Some people just want to get out there and enjoy a day relaxing on a pontoon, others just want to fish and some just want to cruise around. There are as many ways to boat as there are things to do.

Fishing boats are the most popular in terms of the number we sell. Runabouts, pontoons and cruisers are also popular. You can buy anything from a nice johnboat for fishing for $1,000 to a $60,000 cruiser.

You'll need to transport your boat. It used to be that mother's station wagon could pull anything, but now more people have smaller vehicles, so many cars aren't capable of pulling a boat. Most tow vehicles are trucks - we normally don't advise pulling any type of boat with something with a four-cylinder engine; usually something with a V6 or a V8 is more appropriate. Most of the boats we sell come with a trailer, but some pontoon boats can be an exception.

Boating season generally runs from May to October, so you'll need somewhere to store your boat in the offseason. Many people don't want to use their home's garage for their boats, so a lot of people keep their boat somewhere they can set it outside and cover it. We offer winterizing service and storage, which usually runs from $600 to $800.

Like any vehicle, preventive maintenance goes a long way with boats. At the least, you'll want to change the oil after every 100 hours of use. If it's not something you want to do yourself, a dealership can do it for you. If you can spend about $300 each year on preventive maintenance like winterization, tuneups and oil changes, your boat will be in much better shape over the long haul.

I recommend learning how to operate a boat before purchasing one. The more you understand about it, the safer and more enjoyable experience you'll have. Ninety-five percent of the people who purchase a new boat don't test drive it before they buy it, but I always suggest that they get in the boat and look out from the captain's chair before they buy. The way you see the world from there is the way you'll see it when you're on the water.

If you've been a customer of Ted's Aqua Marine, please submit a report on your experience.


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