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.