The tight credit market and penny-pinching consumers have combined to make this a really tough season for boat sellers. WESH reports that new boats are selling for $5,000-$8,000 less than they were going for a year ago, and sales volume is way down.

Interestingly, boat rentals have stayed strong as consumers recognize that renting is less hassle and can actually cost less money: Most people who buy boats don't end up using them as much as they had initially planned, meaning that renting probably would have been a better option.

So if you're in the market for a boat, is this a great time to buy? If you have the cash (you should never, ever take out a loan to buy a boat ) and know you'll be using a lot, it could be. But most consumers would do well to remember this crude little mnemonic: If it flies, floats or (another word that starts with f), rent it.

By renting a boat, you can avoid long-term commitments and the possibility of costly and unpredictable repairs that can turn a hobby into a nightmare.

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