Getting the right boat for you
Buying a boat is a big committment, and can be a daunting process.
Firstly, it's important to casually look over a few boats to get an idea of what's out there, and what would suit you. Call it window shopping if you like. This will help you determine what your boat needs are. Do you just want to go cruising, or do you want to race? Will you live aboard? Or do you just want to go out on the water occasionally?
What you want from a boat will determine what type of boat you buy. Looking online is a great place to start, but like any big ticket item you can't tell what a boat really looks like unless you see it with your own eyes. So, once you have decided on a particular boat then it's time to start getting serious.
If you have some idea about boats, for practical advice on doing your own pre-purchase inspection this article provides a handy checklist.
If you are happy with your inspection, then it's time to bring in a professional surveyor to give an independent assessment. Then, if the boat still gets the thumbs up, make sure you can do a test sail. You need to know how the boat performs out of the marina or off the mooring! The on water performance will be the deciding factor on whether you make the vendor an offer or not.