It’s Boat Show Season!

By Capt. Cefus McRae

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to start thinking about your on-the-water transportation for 2023. Regardless of whether you are considering buying a new boat, a used boat, or just sprucing up your existing boat, you have lots of options. With all the choices available, choosing the boat that’s right for you can be overwhelming and time-consuming. One of the best places to explore all your options is at an NMMA Boat Show, like the Discover Boating Atlanta Boat Show this month.

A boat show offers the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with a variety of makes and models. Looking for a new bass boat? How about a wakeboard boat? A personal watercraft or a pontoon? They’re all there, and you can compare features, options, and pricing… all under one roof.

Perhaps you want to spruce up your current boat with new decking, or maybe you need to re-power with a new fuel-efficient Honda outboard. It’s all there. Plus, you will find a huge assortment of accessories for your boat and your dock; from water toys to dock furniture.

What’s special about the early season boats shows, like the Atlanta Boat Show in January, is dealers are ready to ‘deal’. Many will have last year’s models that need to be moved to make room for this year’s models. And many will have extra incentives like upgrades and great finance rates.

Now that I’ve got your wheels turning, here’s a couple things to consider while you are on your quest to achieve New Boat Nirvana.

First…your boat buying journey should be a fun one. But you’ll need to do a little homework before you start shopping.

1. Do your best to select the boat that’s right for you. Seriously consider how you’ll be using the boat. Fishing…or cruising? Or both? How many people will you typically have on the boat? Look at the capacity plate that tells you how many people it can carry and the maximum horsepower it can handle. Do you intend to pull skiers or water toys? If so, be sure you have enough horsepower to do the job. Unfortunately, I see a lot of new boat owners who are aggravated because they purchased an under-powered boat. You may want to increase the horsepower to the maximum shown on the boat’s capacity plate.

2. How well does this boat hold up over time? Every boat looks great on the showroom floor. But not all boats are built alike. While doing your homework, try to narrow it down to a couple brands and styles. Then try to locate that same model used boat for sale, one that’s around four or five years old. See how well it’s held up over the years. Look at the wiring in the console, the hatch hinges, the gel coat, and upholstery. Essentially, what you’re looking for is just how well the boat has held up over the years. Does it look like a great boat that’s four or five years old, or does it look 20 years old? Quality does come at a price, especially these days. So don’t let a great price tag be your only deciding factor.

3. If this will be your first boat, or if you are moving up to a larger boat, then I highly recommend taking a Safe Boater Course offered by the US Power Squadron. You’ll get great information to help you be a better, safer boater. From how to safely operate your boat, to Rules of the Road, to dealing with emergencies on the water. And, by successfully completing the course, you could realize discounts on your boat insurance too.

So, kick off the New Year at the best place to explore all your boating options…the Discover Boating Atlanta Boat Show at the Georgia World Congress Center, January 12 – 15, 2023. And while you’re there, come by the Fishing Center and see the new Wide Open II, my tricked-out, ShearWater 270 powered by twin Honda 250’s. Buck, The Wonder Dog and I will be doing fishing seminars every day to help you put more fish in the boat. So, stop by and say hi.

Shopping for a boat can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Have fun, do your homework, and attend a boat show to find your new dream boat. There are a wealth of boat buying tips to get you started on the right path. Check out our downloadable Boat Buyer’s Guide at or visit

Tight lines and calm seas.

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