For over 62 years, the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association (LEMTA) has been dedicated to Ohio’s marine industry. Formed in 1957 by a handful of boat dealers eager to organize a large, indoor boat show for the Cleveland market, today LEMTA produces five boat shows throughout the state.

In addition to being the leading resource for water lovers throughout the state, LEMTA’s approximately 100 members provide legislative advocacy, educational support and efforts to improve boating in Ohio. Strengthened by its supporters, LEMTA welcomes boat dealers, marina operators, watercraft manufacturers, clubs, financial entities and other water-based organizations to join its efforts.

Learn more about becoming a LEMTA member:

[email protected]
1269 Bassett Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145

Common Questions from First-Time Boat Buyers

What type of boat should I buy?

This is the most common question, and the answer is really based on the individual’s preferences. For instance, how many people will the buyer be boating with? What type of water source will the boat be primarily used in, such as an inland lake, great lake or ocean?

Next, is there an activity that takes precedence over others, such as fishing or wakeboarding? Most boats can serve multiple roles in a pinch, but a real enthusiast will want a boat designed to help them make the most of their primary activity.

Next, will you want to sleep aboard the boat? Not everyone wants a cabin, and with no living space, room on the deck is maximized. Of course, some boaters like a break from the hot sun, cold or damp, and shelter might be welcome, even if sleeping aboard never happens.

Also, will you be trailering the boat? For one thing, the boat selected must not exceed the trailering capacity of your car or truck. Does the boat need to fit in a garage? How long is it on the trailer? How high?

Selecting the right type of boat takes some reesarch and, preferably, some time spent aboard friends’ boats or rental boats to help narrow down the features best for you and your needs.

Should I buy a new or pre-owned boat?

Both have merit. If you buy a new boat, you will pay more. Also, with a new boat, you should be able to rely on the dealer’s reputation (do get good referrals — picking the dealer is important) and the manufacturer’s warranty for peace of mind and service. You will generally be able to finance a new boat for a lower rate and, perhaps, with a lower down payment. A new boat provides the most modern systems. It’s hard to beat the “bragging rights” and pride in ownership of a brand-new boat.

Used boats can be had for less money than new boats. Many used boats might still come with a remnant warranty from the manufacturer and, if purchased from a dealership, might come with a 30-90 warranty (varies by locality). In any event, it’s recommended you hire a licensed marine surveyor to conduct a pre-purchase survey of any used boat you are considering. Add this cost — which might range from $500 to $1,500 — to the cost of the boat.

Used boats do not have the latest upgrades, though many have been refitted with new systems and motors. Used boats generally suffer less from depreciation compared with new boats. Used-boat financing usually requires higher rates, bigger down payments and shorter terms.

When comparing new and used boats, one is not better than the other, but each offers benefits that the other does not. It’s up to you to decide which option is best for you.

Where should I buy a boat?

If you are buying a used boat, you will buy it where you find it — whether that is at a dealer’s yard, on a listing at a boat show, or in the driveway of your neighbor. If you are buying a new boat, you will look in some specific places.

The first place to check out is the local dealer’s showroom. Your local dealer can service your boat and motor and, honestly, is going to be at least as responsible for your happiness as a boater as they are for the actual boat itself. Look for “demo days” and “owner rendezvous” events that you can attend to ride on some boats, meet with other boaters, and develop a rapport with your local dealer.

Another great place to buy a boat is at a boat show. At the show, you can climb aboard the two or three boats that make up your “short list” and compare the features directly. You can also get quotes from the competing manufacturers for the boat sale, as well as other desired services such as storage, dockage or winterization. Boat shows are also a great place to shop for financing: Make the banks earn your business. Finally, many boat- and engine-makers offer incentives for making the purchase at the show (though many of these can be had at the dealership if one is firm in asking).

How much does a boat cost?

Boat costs range from under $10,000 for a new small fishing boat or PWC to millions of dollars. Perhaps more useful is that, according to the latest data from NMMA, the average price of a brand-new powerboat hovers at about $40,000. For some, this seems high, but experienced boaters might ask that these folks consider the following before dismissing boating as expensive.

Boating is commitment in time as well as money, like other recreational activities. Few of those provide the return that boating does. For example, a boat allows a family to go fishing, participate in watersports, cruise to interesting places, and see and do things together that the land-bound cannot. Boat owners always have a weekend getaway on tap.

Boating is also an investment in the ties that bind. It’s harder to get a more “captive” audience with family and friends than taking them out on the boat. The bonds that come from learning new skills together, experiencing new things together, and just being in a different environment together are tough to beat.

No bones about it: It costs money to go boating, as it costs money to do many other activities. The benefits, though, as millions of boaters will attest, are unique and just plain tough to beat.

What are the additional costs of boating?

In addition to the price of the boat, other costs will be required to get your boating season underway. Naturally the cost of water skis, fishing rods and fuel is expected. Some others costs will apply to all boaters; other costs will apply to only some boaters. Check this list against your personal situation. (Values are representative, vary by region, and not meant to be actual quotes.)

  • Annual state boat registration: $75
  • Annual trailer registration: $75
  • Boat trailer purchase: $1,800-$7,500
  • Trailer ramp fee: $200 per year
  • Dockage: $100-$200 per foot per year
  • Insurance: $250-$2,000 per year
  • Boat winter storage (shrinkwrap; outdoor storage): $35-$60 per foot
  • Boat winterization (one head, two sinks, two washdowns, one generator, AC): $1,200
  • Engine winterization (outboard): $550
  • Engine winterization (inboard/sterndrive V-8): $650
  • Engine winterization (diesel): $750
  • Service sterndrive (pull drive, bellows): $450
  • Safety equipment (three flares, horn or whistle, four life jackets, etc.): $350