Get a boat and tap into aquatic adventure in Southeast Texas

If you really want to enjoy fun living in Southeast Texas, buy a boat. It’s your

Over the past 45 years or so, I’ve owned a number of boats both new and used, and during that time I’ve figured out one thing — there is nothing worse than not owning some sort of boat here in Southeast Texas. When it comes to fun on the water, we’ve got it all from rivers and lakes to Sabine Lake, East Galveston Bay and the wide open Gulf of Mexico.

The big question is this: Do you want to buy a new or used boat? From experience, I can guarantee you that a new boat is the best way to go. It comes with a warranty, everything works and you can pick out the boat of your dreams.

The good news is that there are lots of used boats out there, and they cost a lot less money than a new one. But here’s the catch — anything can happen when you buy a used boat. The motor might run today, but will it crank tomorrow?

For the past 25 years or so, I’ve bought both new and used boats from Texas Marine in Beaumont. It’s been a good experience every time.

“We try to keep a variety of new and used boats on hand,” said Mike Hebert, owner of Texas Marine, which has dealerships in Beaumont, Conroe and Clear Lake. “Bass boats are always popular. So are pontoon boats. And of course a center console is very popular on Sabine Lake and at East Galveston Bay.”

Something else Texas Marine is well known for is their supply of quality used boats. Each of those boats is tested on the water, and when you buy one, you know it’s going to function.

One of the trickiest things you can do is buying a used boat from an individual. That’s when things can get dicey. I’ve had both good and bad experiences when buying used boats. These days one of the best ways to find a used boat is via CraigsList.org on the Internet.

Evaluating a boat’s condition before purchase makes it easier for the prospective owner to say “good buy” or “good bye” to a deal, according to Boat U.S.

Aside from getting a good price, you can find name-brand used boats that were very well made and can still perform extremely well. Fiberglass seemingly lasts forever, the engines are used less than half the year and proper care can keep the interior almost like new. The right used boat can be a great way to get out outdoors and enjoy the water.

But buying a boat from an individual can often lead to problems. You think you are getting a great price and you hope you are getting what you paid for. But what happens if you have a problem or need help with something? There are no guarantees with a used boat purchase.

Here’s a simple check list when buying a used boat. Look closely where the engine contacts the boat. There should be no leaks, stress cracks or signs of wearing. Pay special attention to the transom. The transom is made of a combination of wood and fiberglass, and older boats can show signs of rotting. Soft, waterlogged wood in the transom usually means a serious problem and that the boat will be worthless shortly.

The floor is perhaps the most important single item to inspect on any boat. If the floor is bad, it can be more expensive to fix than the whole boat is worth. Be sure the floor is flat and not wavy from poor construction technique. Walk over all parts, especially the corners, to determine whether there is any softness. Again, the floor is usually wood, and softness would indicate rotting, which usually means expensive, total replacement.

You definitely want to have the motor checked out by a qualified mechanic, even if you know a thing or two about outboards. While your motor is being checked out, ask the mechanic to visually look over the entire boat, including the trailer. Don’t forget that a rusted out trailer is just about as bad as a defective motor.

After it’s given a thumbs up, take the boat for a test drive and then make a final decision.

Buying a used boat is fine, but buying a new boat takes the guesswork out of what could become a very bad investment.

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