Power Shopper. Your Guide to Boat-Buying Bliss.

How to Purchase a 13' to 14' Skiff.

** What Are They?** Like a Swiss Army knife, the pint-size skiff proves that builders can pack a lot of utility into a small package. Whether they're functioning as yacht tenders or no-frills workboats, navigating the backwaters on a fishing excursion, or serving as the kids' everyday runabout, these boats are designed to do it all safely, require little maintenance at the end of the day, and last for years. Wide beams and rounded bows offer exceptional stability and a dry ride. Less expensive models feature a basic rolled edge and paint-splatter interior finish. More expensive brands offer a complete inner liner. All are surprisingly seaworthy. Typically powered by up to a 40-hp four-stroke outboard, basic models can be had for as little as $12,000.

Who'd Want One? A wide array of buyers who demand a versatile, low maintenance platform that can serve a variety of masters. With skiffs, function comes first, form is an added bonus.

Take a Look at Boston Whaler 130 Sport ($12,458 with a single 40-hp Mercury 40 EFI four-stroke outboard and galvanized trailer) With its legendary unsinkable construction, Boston Whaler rises above the everyday skiff. In essence, a Whaler is a boat within a boat, with the space between filled entirely with foam. Standards include a fiberglass side console, dual fiberglass bench seats, 12-volt accessory outlet, and galvanized trailer. Notable options include a raised bowrail and highly recommended seat cushions. The 130 Sport has a capacity of five people, with engine options from 25 to 40 hp.

Carolina Skiff J1450CC ($12,156 with a single 30-hp Honda BF30 four-stroke outboard) With its familiar long forward deck and center console with windshield, Carolina Skiff's J1450CC looks bigger than its 13'8" length would suggest. Bow and stern rails are standard, as are four cleats, a console cushion set, and stainless-steel steering wheel. Options include numerous fishing add-ons as well as a permanent 18-gallon fuel tank. With seating for four, the Carolina Skiff maxes out at 30 hp.

Maritime 1480 ($14,375 with a single 40-hp four-stroke outboard) The classic rolled-edge skiff, Maritime offers a self-bailing cockpit with twin transom scuppers, making end-of-day washdowns a breeze. A basic bench is located behind the center console helm. A single-seat bench is molded into the console's front side. A stainless-steel steering wheel, lockable front stowage hatch, and console and gunwale grabrails round out the amenities. With seating for four, engine options run from 20 to 40 hp.