How to Buy the Perfect Boat

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

But you can’t decide which one, right? Like any other game, boat buying is won and lost in the preparation. You need to get your priorities straight, your goals clear and your ducks in a row before you begin. Apply the following principles to help you make the best decision.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Water Type
Determining the type of water you intend to boat in most of the time drives a cascading series of decisions that can affect diverse characteristics, from which beach or cove you can explore to economy of operation. Hulls with deeper-V shapes ride smoother but draw more water and may require more power to achieve a given speed.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Wet or Dry?
Marinas are costly but convenient. A trailer requires maintenance and registration, yet provides self-sufficient freedom.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Crew Size
The rated capacity, or the number of berths or seats, isn't necessarily equal to the number of people that will be comfortable aboard. What's your average outing duration?

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Size Wise
Displacement is a measure of volume and so is a better measure of boat size, especially for a cruiser. Most service fees are based on LOA.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Bed-and-Breakfast?
Is sleeping aboard a reality for you? An alternative is to cruise to waterside hotels. Of course nothing beats dawn breaking in a scenic cove.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Compromises?
You can fish aboard a ski boat, ski from a fish boat and party aboard any boat. Be sure to consider the compromises before you buy.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Power Type
Power choices are more varied than ever. Runabouts with jets and outboards now compete with sterndrives, and larger boats now feature pods or outboards in addition to sterndrives and inboards. Multiple engines make sense for enhanced dockside maneuverability, redundant safety for boaters operating far from shore and the production of enough horsepower to make the boat plane.How much is that? As a rule of thumb, look for a minimum of 100 horsepower per 2,000 pounds of displacement, including the weight of engines, gear and crew.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Pay for It
You can plunk down a bag of cash for a boat, get a loan or provide a combination of trade-in, cash and financing. You know the price now, but you won't know the cost until you sell the boat or trade it in. Boat loan rates averaged between 4.9 and 8 percent as we went to press. But rates change, so shopping as hard for them as for the boat pays off. Coming Clean
When you trade in your boat, your dealer has to sell two boats to make one sale. This can weaken your negotiating position.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

For Sale
Trading in is often simpler. Selling it yourself usually nets a higher price but takes time and offers no tax advantages.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

True Cost
Boat loans can be stretched out over many years, easing the "cost entry." Paying cash makes trading up — or out — easier.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Cruising: Flybridge
A flying-bridge boat provides more living space than a comparably sized express. Flybridge visibility is generally better, though seeing the transon during docking can be hard.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Cruising: Express
Express boats offer less windage while docking and eliminate ladders and stairs, and their lower top-hamper reduces their rolling motion. The low, sleek looks garner points too.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Cruising/Overnighting: Midcabin
Really a subset of express cruisers less than 30 feet LOA, midcabins offer a berth under the helm deck and offer maximum berth count in the shortest length. Many are trailerable.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Overnighting/Fishing: Walkaround
The cabins aboard these fishing boats are smaller than in express or midcabin boats due to the recessed, rail-protected walkways providing safer, easier access to the bow.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Overnighting: Cuddy Cabin
Sometimes called "sport boats," a cuddy cabin provides a cushioned, crawl-in space ideal for taking naps, hiding a head and serving as lockable stowage. Racier looks than a bowrider.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Fishing: Center Console
Complete 360-degree access around the boat and acres of cockpit make these the longtime darlings of anglers. Many are now equipped for day-tripping.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Fishing/Water Sports: Dual Console
Self-bailing cockpits, standard fishing features and hulls designed for open water differentiate these split-windshield boats from bowriders. Available as large as 40 feet.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Water Sports: Bowrider
The quintessential "day boats," bowriders provide maximum lounging topside. Most have a provision for an enclosed head, and larger versions sport berths and galleys.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Water Sports: Deck Boat
Deck boats carry the width of their beam to the bow for maximized space. Generally they have less deadrise than bowriders, but the distinctions are now blurring.

How to Buy the Perfect Boat

Water Sports: PWC
A far cry from the "stand-up" models some may think of, these jet-powered craft provide excitement, economy and easy trailerability, in trade for few onboard amenities.