Recreational Buyers Guide


Thank you for allowing us to help you with your boat buying experience.  Boating is a fun recreational activity that allows friends and families to build incredible and lasting memories.  At Buck’s Island, we know buying a boat can be a daunting task.  In our 70+ years, we’ve sold a lot of boats and want to provide you with some things we’ve learned along the way.  Hopefully this helps!

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What type of boating are you interested in (water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, cruising, fishing, etc)?  How many people will you have normally vs the most you would take?  How soon will your kids start showing up with more friends than you can handle?

    These are not your grandfather’s pontoons.  These pontoons are equipped with 3 toons.  The 3rd toon allows the boat to ride higher in the water and hold a bigger motor.  They have plenty of power for getting skiers out of the water and plenty of speed to get you where you want in a hurry.  Typically they carry more than 10 people on board (depending on size).  They also provide a great cruising boat to enjoy a sunset, or lots of room to lay out and enjoy the sun.  New tri-toon prices typically start at $35,000 and go up from there depending on length, motor size and accessories.

crest photo

    We sell pontoon boats from 20’ with small motors all the way up to tri-toons with twin 350hp outboards.  The majority of the tri-toons we sell are 22-24’ and are equipped with a 150hp outboard.  There are many different seating arrangements to fit the way you want to boat.  Some people just want a little more power, speed and luxury and we’re happy to help you figure out what is best for you!


    Some refer to them as a “speed boat”, bowriders, deck boats or sport boats are a tried and true hull design that have been used for decades.  These can be equipped with either stern drive inboard outdrives (I/Os) or outboard motors.  They typically offer a little more speed and handling over a tri-toon, but usually at the expense of room and passenger capacity.  New boat prices are typically above $30,000.

Pro Ski & Wakeboard Boats

    If you’re serious about your slalom wake or want that big launch on a wakeboard, the dedicated ski or wake boat is for you.  Most are powered by big inboard motors and equipped with a water ballast system and/or a wake manipulation system.  New boat prices are typically above $60,000.

    Of note, Buck’s Island does not currently carry a brand of Pro Ski Boat, though we have a number of customers that bring them to us for service and we get them in on trade from time to time.

    If you’re looking for a boat that can carry friends and family on the water, this is a good place to start.  These boats typically range from 18-25’ in length and most can carry 8+ people.  If you’re planning on doing a good bit of tubing with the kids, we highly recommend getting a 115hp motor.

8-10 Passengers

    If you’ve got a smaller group that will be going out with you, usually a 20-23’ boat is plenty.  One of the most popular pontoons we sell is the Crest I 200 L with either a 90hp or 115hp Mercury outboard. 

10+ Passengers

    Consistently carrying 10+ people?  You may want to consider a 24’ pontoon or longer.  Don’t forget to consider room for coolers, tubes and pets.

rating plate

Rating Plate

    Every boat will have a rating plate from the manufacturer.  The passenger count is the maximum number of people that should be on the boat to be safe.  With that in mind, consider the size of your passengers and other stuff when trying to figure out which boat is right for you.


Do you want warranty coverage?  Just like with cars, some people prefer to have the piece of mind that comes from a warranty.  Most boat companies have some kind of limited lifetime warranty to the first owner and bow to stern warranty that covers everything but the electronics for around 5 years.  Most motor companies offer a minimum of 3 years of full warranty coverage with the ability to purchase an extended warranty.  See manufacturers for exact details of the warranty offered by the brands you are looking at.

There are plenty of good used boats that have been maintained and stored correctly, providing a great opportunity to save money when buying.  Buying used from a dealership like Buck’s Island can provide some peace of mind knowing we have certified mechanics inspect all of the mechanical and electrical systems before listing the boat.  Also, we provide at least 30 days of warranty coverage regardless of the age of boat.

Plenty of newer used boats are still under warranty or additional warranty can be purchased from authorized service centers.  Just be sure you have a clear understanding of the warranty you are receiving when you buy a used boat.  This may require a call to the manufacturer if buying from a an individual.

Lastly, if you are buying from another person, consider having a certified shop like ours conduct a third party trade check for you.  It may cost a few bucks, but it could end up saving you thousands down the road.  You can contact our Service Department HERE to inquire about details of how it works.


Where will you do most of your boating?  What body of water?  Is it big/small?  What type of environment does it have - shallows, weeds, rapids?  Are there any regulations concerning boat/motor size and/or performance?  Be sure to check the state and local regulations for the bodies of water you are planning on using your boat.  Some lakes have length or horsepower limits.


Where will you store the boat?  The ideal storage is in an enclosed garage, which isn’t possible for most.  Do you have a good mooring cover for the entire boat?  Proper storage can save time when boating season starts.  It can also help maximize the value of the boat when you go to trade it in or sell it.  To save you the pain of cleaning the boat in the Spring, most service centers should offer some kind of cleaning service (Buck’s Island has a great cleaning crew!).  Just be sure they are using the proper cleaners to preserve the life of the materials in your boat.

How tough will it be to hook up and drop off?  If it is too much work, you may not use the boat as much as you want to.  This may mean the boat is stored in a more convenient spot during boating season and stored away during the winter.


Be sure that the tow rating on your vehicle is enough for the full weight of the boat, motor and trailer and all the stuff in the boat.  Many of today’s pontoons can hold close to 50 gallons of fuel which adds an additional 315 lbs.  Check your GVWR and GCWR to ensure you are under those weights.  If you will be towing in mountainous areas, ensure you have reasonable power and braking ability to compensate for the additional rigors of mountain towing.  If you are concerned that your vehicle is inadequate, there are many great resources that explain towing capacities in detail, or feel free to contact us and we’ll help you figure it out.


What is your budget?  Have you considered the cost of insurance?  Will you have any storage fees?  What are your expected service fees?  How much gas will I use?  

Financing Considerations

  • You may qualify for up to 15 years of financing on a boat that is typically less than 10 years old.

  • Boats, like RVs, are considered luxury items so interest rates tend to run a little higher than car loans.  You can also run into issues with some banks if you try to get more than one boat loan at a time.

  • Banks typically don’t want to finance motors alone unless the hull is also used as collateral.  It is hard for them to come get the motor if you fail to make payments.

  • We do offer a secure online financing application HERE


  • Understand the taxes and registration fees you will owe in your area.  At the time of writing this, Alabama charges 3.25% sales tax on a boat, motor and trailer package, but charges 10% for a motor on its own.  Be sure to check on your local laws.  Buck’s Island regularly sells boats to other states, so feel free to contact us and we’ll try to help you figure it out.

Additional Fees

  • Where ever you buy the boat, be sure you understand any fees that are associated with the purchase.  Typical dealership costs that have to be factored into the price of a boat are shipping costs, rigging and prep and administrative costs.  Different from car dealerships, many boats come to the dealership without motors mounted and the labor cost to properly rig the motor must be factored into to sale price of the boat.  At Buck’s Island, we strive to ensure that you understand exactly what you will be paying for your boat and what is included in that sale, especially if you are traveling to purchase from us.


  • Service costs can vary greatly from region to region, manufacturer and motor size.  Plan on at least a few hundred dollars a year for preventive service on a new boat under warranty.


  • Fuel expenses will vary wildly depending on a lot of factors.  If you are brand new to boating, a VERY GENERAL rule of thumb would be to plan on using at least one tank of gas a day if you are running hard all day long.  If you are pulling bigger skiers, you may use more and if you spend some time cruising or floating, you may use less.  This should work regardless of actual motor size because boats with bigger motors tend to have larger fuel tanks.  Yamaha does provide performance bulletins for many different Yamaha motors and boats.  You can find them HERE.



This is the cornerstone of Buck’s Island and while it sounds like a sales pitch, it is key to enjoying boating.  Most recreational boat owners want to enjoy their boat and not spend a lot of time working on it.  Working with a good shop that understands the importance of customer service is critical.  Clear communication, knowledgeable personnel, and NO SURPRISES should be at the top of your requirements when choosing who you buy a boat from and have it serviced by.

    We understand that everyone is looking for the FINEST QUALITY with the BEST SERVICE at the lowest PRICE.  We also know its very hard to get all three, so we focus on the finest quality with the best service and do the best we can to be as competitive on price as we can be.  With over 70 years under our belt and more than half of our new customers being referred by a friend, we feel like we’re doing something right!

Will you still service my boat if I don’t buy from you?

YES!!!  We do not penalize you in any way if you buy a boat somewhere else and decide to bring your boat to us for service.  If you have a brand we are authorized to work on, we would love to help you!

Hopefully this helps you!  For more help figuring out which boat is right for your needs, contact our Sales Department at:

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Good luck and we hope you love boating as much as we do!