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Now's the time to consider buying a boat

Though spring may seem slow to arrive, now's the time to start thinking about buying a boat to ensure engines, electronics and trolling motors are rigged and working properly when open water appears. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

In another four to six weeks smaller lakes throughout Minnesota will open, so it's time to start thinking boating.

It seems a little odd to purchase a boat right now, considering the lakes are covered in a thick blanket of ice and snow.

However, now is actually the best time to buy a boat for several reasons.

First off, numerous boat shows provide an easy avenue for viewing multiple boat brands from various dealerships under one roof.

Those boat shows are actually the product of a traditionally slow calendar period for boat sales.

Boat, motor and trailer manufacturers sweeten the deal by offering rebates, extended warranties and free options such as travel covers to change a slow time for boat sales into the best time for consumers to purchase a new watercraft. Fortunately for buyers, those rebates, extended warranties and free options aren't limited to the boats on display at a sport show. Your local dealer also has the same programs available.

Although the rebates, extended warranties and free accessories cut into profits for the manufacturer, it turns out much better compared to limiting production and reducing hours for factory workers building boats, motors and trailers.

Another incentive for purchasing a boat now is timing. If the model you decide upon has to be ordered from the factory, the boat may actually have to be built before it's delivered to the dealership.

The advantage is the buyer can pick out options such as interior and exterior color and engine size. The downside is that it might take a month or so until the boat arrives at the dealership. Of course the order can take more or less time depending upon how many boats the factory has scheduled to build.

This is an important consideration when you factor rigging time into the equation. Attaching trolling motors, sonar, GPS and rod holders takes time, especially if you decide to complete those tasks in your own garage. Boat dealerships will mount those items for a fee, but can do it much faster and with less frustration for the boat owner.

Consumers purchasing a boat now can also get a great buy on what dealerships call "carryovers."

These are brand-new boats from the previous model year. Carryovers are often priced thousands of dollars less than models from the current model year and the dealerships are ready to make a deal to move them out the door.

Those carryover boats usually qualify for the factory rebates and extended warranties since they are new and unregistered. However, you do have to act fast to secure a carryover boat, since they're limited in supply.

If you currently own a boat and are looking to upgrade, consider trading yours in to the dealership as partial payment for a new boat.

To get the best trade-in price, make sure your boat is clean and bring in the title and owner's manuals. If the deal sounds good, you might leave your boat with the dealer and tow a new one home.