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Just The Facts

Can there really be such a thing as the "best boat"?

April 14, 2012
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Just The Facts

I’m in the position of prophet, sage and wonder-boy. My job is to know everything about boats and dole that wisdom out in healthy monthly dollops. Or at least, and more realistically, I’m charged with applying what experience I do have to various and sundry boating topics that range from composite construction to the latest electronic technology to the viability of a particular boat for a particular purpose. But the fact is, there are very few “facts” when it comes to boats.

Consider the perennial question of, “What makes a good boat?” For a long time, my standard quip was–prior to addressing the question in earnest—that a good boat floated and its pointy end went first; everything after that was gravy. That was prior to the prevalence of cats and pontoons. There’s less sass in the statement now, so I keep it stowed.

Floating is still meaningful, and I’ll agree therefore, that there is at least one fact that we can apply to boats for sure. There aren’t any others.

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The other most frequent question an editor for the world’s largest powerboat magazine hears is: “What’s the best boat?” My answer to that one hasn’t changed. There is no best boat.

Even if we narrow down a particular skipper’s boating style; ascertain whether he cruises or skis or parties or fishes; determine the hull form most suited to the water conditions he expects to encounter most; ascribe the ideal propulsion type based on the performance requirements and fuel economy desired; factored in specific brands by taking into consideration the reputation of local dealers; nailed down a price range; got the guy or girl to pick their favorite color without question and handed them the boat that fulfilled all of those things on a silver platter; even after all that–and I’ve done it time and again to the point where I cringe when asked the question–the reply is usually: “I saw that boat. Its not for me.”

Next question, please.

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All those facts are important when buying a boat, but they have to reconcile with something else before we write a check. We want something not found on a spec sheet: the boat must generate a self-satisfied smile as we cast an over-the-shoulder glance at her after tying-up for the day.

Takeaway: The only things black and white about a boat are the bottom paint and the gelcoat.

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