Late October means a couple of things for Gulf offshore enthusiasts. The season is winding down with the onset of blustery cold fronts and unsettled seas. And the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is underway with a plethora of gleaming new and pre-owned sport-fishing yachts on the market. That showcase often prompts thoughts of moving up to a bigger boat. If you find yourself contemplating such a purchase, two veteran brokers (and ECBC sponsors) share some advice about what to do before taking that plunge.

“The usual reasons for moving up is for a bigger, faster sportfisher with more staterooms,” explains Tim Jones, sales manager for Gulf Coast Yacht Group headquartered in Orange Beach, Alabama. GCYG is the regional Hatteras and Cabo dealer and also sells pre-owned models. “But I tell my brokers to go back to the basics. They need to build a relationship with the client to find out how they want to use the boat so it really fits their expectations. I also advise buyers to treat a boat as a business asset, to develop a program and then use it to the full advantage. Maybe they want to compete in a few tournaments or entertain clients. But they should also use it for vacations to the Keys or the Bahamas. If you buy the right boat, it’s a good opportunity for the family to spend time together. The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin is a great venue for that, since you have boating, fishing, golf, tennis, shopping and the beaches all in the same location.”

As part of asset management, before buying Jones suggests owners share expectations with their captains in terms of budget, maintenance schedule, travel and tournament objectives so the match fits.

“If you get the right boat and take the time to use it, you’ll be happier with the purchase,” Jones adds. “Plus, with today’s electronics, you can stay connected with work or other commitments whether you’re in Destin, Orange Beach or Cancun.”

Galati Yacht Sales is the largest Viking dealer in the world and they sell new Vikings from 30 to 90-plus feet as well as pre-owned sportfishers of various makes and sizes. Carmine Galati, Jr., is an experienced broker with his family’s business.

“If you’re considering a different boat, I recommend working with a proven sport-fishing specialist who knows the current market and understands the brands, options and special needs for the type of fishing and locale you’re interested in,” he says. “A specialist can provide the expertise to help you find the right boat to match those needs. They can also determine fair trade value on a listing to make the process seamless.”

“Maybe you own a mid-60s convertible now,” Galati adds. “Ideally you’d love to jump up to a 92-footer, but that might not be the best fit, whereas a 72 would be perfect. It’s all about determining where the buyer is in their boating/fishing life stage. Sometimes it’s even a matter of scaling down to a smaller boat if you want to only fish locally or somewhere like Costa Rica where smaller and nimble might work better. In the end, it’s understanding the needs of the buyers and asking the right questions. We take pride in working with our clients to expose them to different fishing tactics and locations so they can enjoy fun new pastimes.”

According to an often-quoted expression in the marine industry, the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he or she buys a new boat and the day they sell it. If you have realistic expectations about a purchase beforehand, every day can be the happiest day. Especially when the drag is singing and a shimmering blue prize is dancing on the end of your line.