To make the task of finding that perfect boat a little easier, outlined are some basic tips to improve the odds of ending up with the right boat that will suit the buyers needs. When someone is looking into buying a new or pre-owned boat, the must first determine how devoted they are to boating and what type appeals to the individuals ideal cruising lifestyle (and of course the budget!)
What will be the most important boating factors?
Choosing the right boat is a matter of understanding what the cruising needs really are. Will the individual be using this new boat for recreational cruises alone, or will they need to take the considerations of others into account such as members of their family? Buying a boat that fits an individual’s cruising needs while neglecting the needs of those around them could lead to reduced time on the water. There is nothing worse than a boat that is too small for a family and is therefore not used enough because everyone can’t fit on it!
How often will the boat be used?
Weekend excursions, infrequent use, or use in different (yet local) locations probably means the boat should easily fit on a trailer. Keep in mind that the larger the boat, the more it will generally cost to operate, maintain and store. These items are often overlooked when folks are considering the purchase of a new or pre-owned boat. An open guideline for boating costs, particularly when purchasing new, is to take the boats monthly payment and double it to estimate a realistic total of your monthly expenses. Most boaters do not understand that they will spend that kind of money due to added cost for gas, insurance, maintenance and mooring or storing the boat. There is some good news though. Boats with Galleys (cooking, head and sleeping quarters) do qualify in most states as a tax write off because this meets the criteria of a second home. This can be a great benefit when it comes time to pay Uncle Sam. Often times it allows you up to 30% more boat for the same cash outlay! Check with your accountant before you buy a boat to see what the tax implications are.
Where will the boating vacation be?
One of the most important questions that should be answered, is where will most of the cruising take place? Additionally, will the vessel be taken out overnight and/or offshore, or will the new or pre-owned boat be used for day trips closer to shore? If the plan is to go far from shore or used for extended overnight cruises then select a boat that is designed for that purpose. It is not recommended to purchase a boat under 30 ft. for comfortable ocean voyaging or overnight stays. Be sure the hull design is capable enough to take on the different wave patterns experienced on the waters that will be intended for cruising, as cruising oceans present a whole different set of problems than cruising on lakes. Say for instance the buyer is interested in power boats, if the new or pre-owned boat doesn't have deep V hulls it will tend to ride extremely rough on the water. Keep this in mind when shopping for that next boat. It should also be noted that catamaran configurations tend to work better with the ocean's wave patterns and do not experience the same problems with discomfort.
Types of Boats
Boats typically fall into two categories: Power or Sail. Now within those categories are various sub-categories including Fishing Boats, Power Boats, Sailboats, Personal Watercraft, and Self powered boats and so on. However let's stick to the basic sail or power categories for now and look at some of the various configurations they have.
Category One: Power boats
Power boats are extremely popular and if the buyer seeks speed, High-performance vessels are the way to go. These can be deep-vee or catamaran hulled crafts. Creature comforts are included in the cockpit and below decks. Most of the models feature outboard or stern-drive power, and these highly sophisticated engines can push even larger crafts to speeds in the 60-mph range plus! Be prepared to spend more on fuel monthly than on the boat payment. These boats like gas and also have a high maintenance cost as well.
Motor yachts have all the amenities a person will find at home in a traditional vee-hulled package. Suited for gracious cruising or entertaining at the dock, a number of these beautiful variations offer more aft deck space for fishing, private aft cabins, sunning space on the flybridges, or on the front decks. These vessels come with fiberglass and aluminum hulls, sophisticated electronics, and choice of gas or diesel inboard power in singles or twins.
Trawlers sit high in the water atop stable hulls that will not only get the crew to its destination in total comfort, but leisurely as well. They boast big cabins, and all the creature comforts you'll require. They are constructed to handle big rivers, lakes and oceans on moderate days. These boats are ideally suited for cruising great distances up and down the inter-coastal or around the Great Lakes. They tend to be more spacious than Motor Yachts, but typically cruise slower with diesel engines.
Category Two: Sailboats
There are many types of sailboats including day sailors, multihulls, racing sailboats, and cruising sailboats. Day sailors are small sailboats suited for short day outings on small or calmer waters. Their sizes range from the mid-teens to low-30's and often include a small cabin "below decks" for dry storage. Multihulls encompass "catamarans" when they have two hulls, and "trimarans" if they have three. The variety of sizes that they come in is incredible, ranging from the mid-teens to well over 100 feet! The lightweight hulls make these boats quicker under sail and well-suited to cruising and anchoring in shallow waters. Wide cockpit and deck layout plans in the back and "trampolines" in front provide lots of lounging options. Larger mutihulls come with a substantial number of cabins. Then there are your racing sailboats which span a wide variety of possibilities ranging from 30 to 70 feet. These performance-oriented boats trade off weight and luxury for speed under sail and maneuverability. They are however generally more Spartan below decks with utility berths, head and galley equipment.
Some additional points to keep in mind
- Make quality and seaworthiness a MAJOR consideration. Don't try to get the largest vessel the budget will allow. It's better to take a step down in size and a step up in quality and seaworthiness.
- If size is really that important, seriously consider used versus new as a means of staying within a tight budget.
- Look beyond glamorous interiors, luxurious upholstery and racy designs with all the bells and whistles as beauty is only skin deep.
- Be sure to calculate the full cost of ownership, including depreciation, interest, insurance, dockage, fuel and repairs. Be sure to figure maintenance as an annual percentage over the period of ownership.