Want to get on the water for less than the price of a new car? Great! Many builders offer safe and exciting boats under the $30,000 threshold. The half-dozen we compiled here represent the top-notch offerings in a variety of categories, from runabouts, to fish boats, to overnighters. See why we think boating on a budget is alive and well.
Jet Boat: Sea-Doo 180 Challenger
About This Boat: Trading some speed and dockside maneuverability for acres of seating, the 180 Challenger sports a single engine installed deep along the keel, out of the way of the cockpit. There’s a triple-wide aft bench, and getting to the swim platform is made easy by the centerline walk-through. You can rotate the boat’s swiveling helm seats 180 degrees without knocking knees with crew seated aft, a feat similar-size stern-drives often can’t match. The all-digital gauges display engine vitals, plus neat data, like lake water temps. The bow lounge is ample, and little details, such as clips to secure the Bimini top for trailering, are standard.
Fun Factor: You’ll blast off at speeds in excess of 46 mph with the 255 hp Rotax E-TEC engine and cut turns with agility and grace. The reverse thrust feature operates a newly optimized gate that enhances slow-speed control.
You Get: A trailer, seating for eight, a transom walkway, digital instrumentation and a bow lounge that converts into a sun lounge.
Price: $23,399 (with 255 hp Rotax E-TEC)
Specs: LOA: 17'7" Beam: 8'2" Draft: 1'0" Displacement: 1,913 lb. Deadrise: 20 degrees Fuel Capacity: 32 gal. Max. Horsepower: 255 (1,500 cc)
Contact: Bombardier Recreational Products; Valcourt, Quebec, Canada; 715-848-4957; sea-doo.com
Photos: Sea-Doo 180 Challenger
Not Only That! Got a little more money to spend? Check out Yamaha’s SX210. This 2,802-pound jet boat comes with twin 1,052 cc engines for $32,999.