How to Buy a Boat (With Your Wife)

Men and women view boat buying differently, so learn to compromise (Or Don’t).

I stood on the dealership floor admiring my prospective dreamboat, a 23-foot center console. The 250 hp outboard hanging off the deep-V hull called out to me; I could envision barreling out of the roughest of inlets on the hunt for trophy fish. I boarded and positioned myself on the raised casting platform at the bow and imagined fighting a 40-pound striped bass, ready to work it back to the cockpit. I was sold, and the dealer could see it in my eyes. Then my wife spoke.

“Where does the table go?”

The dealer’s triumphant smile turned and he mumbled, “This model has no table pedestal.”


Time to move on.

The wife and I have some vastly different ideas of what makes the perfect boat. I want to fish. All the time and every day. But with the major expense involved, coupled with our expanding family, it’s not just about me. We need a boat that keeps the better half, and the kids, involved too. As the old saying goes, when Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy. Keep reading for some dialogue that shows our difference in priorities in our recent search for a new boat, and the path to perfect compromise.

What He Wants I’m a coastal light tackle and fly fisherman at heart. I want a boat that serves as a stable casting platform in the waves with as few obstructions that impede fishing as possible. I believe you can tow kids behind anything, and that beanbags make perfect cockpit seats. Strip it down, make it tough and rugged, and point me to the inlet.


The Hull I like a deeper V and narrower beam for slicing through waves in the inlet, but I also like the variable deadrise design, which makes for a sharper entry, but with a shallower, more stable V aft.

The Console It’s narrow with lots of walk-around room to either side. Simple and clean with plenty of space to mount electronics. A T-top or Bimini just gets in the way of casting. Shade? We can all wear sun buffs and SPF 30.

Stowage I want insulated fish boxes and inwale rod racks as well as tackle drawers and places to stow the cast net, chum bucket and various other accoutrements.


The Power I want an outboard so I can trim it out of the water when the boat is sitting in its slip, and it’s not soaking in salt water. Plus, care and maintenance are relatively simple.

The Transom I don’t want too much hardware back there that interferes with fighting fish around the motorwell or adds drag.

The Head We don’t need a head on board. Heads always stink and someone needs to clean it. Just go over the side. I want the center console to be storage.


The Deck I like recessed cleats and wide gunwale topsides with nonskid.

The Bow The nonslip deck, recessed safety rails and well-placed grab handle are perfect for wedging in and casting or fighting fish from the bow in a rough sea.

His Inspiration: Jones Brothers Cape Fisherman 23 The Jones Brothers Cape Fisherman 23 is a 22-foot-8-inch boat with an 8-foot beam. It has a variable deadrise hull with a 56-degree angle at the bow for wave slicing that tapers to 12 degrees at the transom for stability. It is a coastal fishing machine with attributes centered around the piscatorial.

What She Wants I want a boat we can bring the kids on, where they will be comfortable and have fun. This is a family platform, or a way to take friends out to have drinks and dinner and look at all the beautiful waterside houses. I don’t want to sit around all day watching my husband try to catch fish.

Entertainment Center A wet bar with a sink, a counter and a cooler is important to me. I like having a place to put trash. I can live without an optional fridge, but putting one in would really sweeten the deal for me.

The Helm I want it to be comfortable with an adjustable seat so I can drive too. I need a stereo somewhere on board so we can play music, and I want a real windshield so we don’t get constantly blasted going fast.

The Top I want a Bimini or a hardtop, something that gives us shade on a really hot day. I don’t want our kids frying in the sun all day like little bacon wraps.

Power The boats with the best layout for families have sterndrives. I like that you can’t see the engine. Outboards are ugly.

The Swim Platform I want a place the kids can sit when getting in and out of the water, with a really good ladder so they don’t have to climb over the side. We need a place for a tubing line and where we can board without stepping on the seats.

Head Don’t even think about showing me a boat without the option for a pump-out head; we girls don’t like going over the side. I don’t want a port-a-potty; the thought of cleaning one takes the fun out of a day on the water. We are not exhibitionists; we need a light and room to change in there.

The Deck I like big cleats that are easy for me to tie the line around. I like a side-boarding spot so it’s easy to step on and off at the dock, and I like plenty of handles to grab onto so we don’t fall under way.

Bow Cockpit I want a table where we can serve lunch, seats where we can all fit and drink holders. The sun pad insert is a must so I can lie out and catch rays.

Windlass I want an automatic anchor so I can drop and raise it with the push of a button if I’m sometimes using the boat alone.

Her Inspiration: Cobalt 242 Cobalt packs serious features into the 23-foot-11-inch by 8-foot-6-inch bowrider, with plush well-positioned seating, a rear-facing sun pad on the engine box and a standard extended swim platform. The Kevlar-reinforced hull features first-rate construction, and upgrades include a porcelain pump-out toilet.

What They Got Every marriage involves give and take, and there are times when drawing a line in the sand will leave your family bitter and boatless. If the better half really wants to be involved in the decision, there are boats on the market that can please both parties. Nothing’s perfect, but certain boats can best satisfy everyone’s needs.

Hull The dual console design marries some of the runabout style with a more fishing-friendly V hull. For boaters in rougher waters in the saltwater environment, it might be a choice that satisfies both, particularly if it is built by a hard-core fish-boat builder like Pursuit, Grady-White, Edgewater or Scout.

Hardtop More masculine and durable than a folding Bimini, so it provides the requested shade. The piping also allows for extra rod stowage and may serve as a tow tower and as a mounting bar for spreader lights and antennas.

Transom Even with an outboard, the design allows for two small swim platforms to either side. There’s less room to sit while donning skis, but it’s decent water access for a fishing boat.

Power Compromise Outboard pleases the husband, yet once she hears how quiet and sees how smokeless four-stroke outboards are, the wife should change her tune.

Bow Runabout-style seating with a sun pad filler cushion and a table, but you can remove the cushions for a nonskid elevated casting platform.

Windshield Full-on windshield meets the wife’s wind protection requirements, but that — along with the tower — compromises full 360-degree fishing.

Head The private head has enough space to double as a changing room/baby napper, with the option for a full pump-out head. But that comes at a price. Compromise cost: The pump-out head with a macerator is typically a $1,500 option, or $2,800 if you want a porcelain toilet.

Transom Seating Cushioned benches fold down and out of the way when fishing.

Perfect Compromise: Scout 245 Dorado This 24-foot-5-inch by 8-foot-6-inch dual console combines an offshore hull with a family-friendly layout. Six stainless-steel rod holders come standard, as do six stainless cup holders, so it can meet several missions. An entertainment center sits aft of the helm, and Flexiteek looks sharp on swim platforms.