I've had two boat loans plus a refinance on one of them, but I'm not an expert by any means. Our last loan was in 2005 so things may have changed greatly since the recent "credit crunch." Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, here are my experiences:
- I found boat shows to be a good place to shop for loans. Sometimes they offer better rates during a show.
- When I shopped, most lenders wanted 20% down. Since boats can depreciate quickly I think its a good idea to make a large downpayment to avoid being "upside-down" on the loan. Also since you intend to start cruising in a few years, lower boat payments will keep your "cruising kitty" healthier.
- Loan terms tend to be 10 or 15 yrs, but some lenders may go to 20. I would expect longer terms to be a higher interest rate than shorter, but my most recent loan the 20yr was the same interest as the 15yr.
Your personal finances will have to determine what type of loan you can handle. Since you will be fitting out the boat for cruising, you need to plan for a significant chunk of change even if the boat is listed as a "turn key long distance cruiser." You will want to make numerous upgrades which can put a big dent in the budget
. Suggest you make a list of "needs" and "nice-to-haves" and price them out before you go boat shopping
. Then you will have a means to compare "apples to oranges" when looking at well equipped vs lightly equipped vessels. Other things being equal, a well equipped boat can save you lots of money
on a used boat
since you are not paying full price on the extra gear
. On the other hand, used gear
can increase your maintenance
costs so you have to consider that in your cruising budget
Good luck on your boat & loan shopping