Regardless of your income, buying a new boat probably represents a big financial commitment. For many truly in the market, it’s not so much the actual price of the boat as it is the value of the boat for the price paid. The question is raised: What do I get for my money? The potential for return on the investment is the real crux of the matter. That’s why we produce this guide and, in fact, why we test boats and publish reviews in Boating magazine and at boatingmag.com. We aim to provide you with the hard, informed data that will prove helpful when you hit the showroom or the boat show. But there’s an aspect of boats that goes beyond specifications and performance; an aspect that transcends construction method and hull design; an aspect that can prove more important than whether the boat comes with a trailer, is available with joystick engine control, or offers an option for more horsepower. Where boats are concerned, the real return on investment comes from less tangible features that prove priceless. It is, as Rinker Boats President Kim Slocum likes to say, the smiles-per-gallon quotient. Allow me to provide some examples from my own life afloat.
I didn’t take my family on a trip this past Memorial Day. Instead we boarded the boat, caught some fish, and then headed for a local beach where the water, though a bit chilly, ensured hours of fun for my daughters and their friends who joined us. I might add that my kids, who grew up aboard boats, now tell me where we’ll cruise to, what we’ll do, and who will be joining us as crew. Just a word to the wise.
Last Fourth of July, we took the boat out to view a large commercial fireworks display. Since we never even got on plane, even though we were out for hours with family and friends, it cost next to nothing, unless you count the bucket of takeout fried chicken. But the excitement our guests exhibited at being on the water, at night, coupled with our own constant state of waterborne enthusiasm ensured the night was much more special than it would have been had we simply driven to a spot to watch the show.
My youngest daughter got up on skis (finally) this year. It took her a while to get it, but when she did, we all exalted in her accomplishment, her victory over gravity, and her mastery of balance. Her smile was brighter than the sun, and the memory of that smile burns brilliantly too.
At various times during the year, we were in close company with sea turtles, whales, porpoises, seals, and more varieties of bird life than space allows listing here. We plainly saw the effects of erosion on a bluff by observing a lighthouse that had originally been built 200 yards from the cliff some 200 years ago now teetering on the edge. We saw dew fall, fog lift, and current run. We observed cat’s paws foretell wind shifts and cloud formations forecast weather changes. Without TV or textbook or website, we learned a lot about the world. And we learned a lot about each other.
Kevin Falvey, Editor-in-Chief