Marine Articles

How to Choose the Right Boat
by SDC Staff Writer



There is no secret formula when trying to select the right boat for you or your family.  You first need to determine what you want to do with your new boat.  Do you want to spend the night on the boat and go places for the weekend?  Do you want to water-ski and enjoy water sports?  Does the boat have to fit into a garage or need to be towed to the lake?
Purchasing a boat is a lot like buying a car; sit in the boat that you are interested in.  Lie in the beds, pull out the couches.  You are making an investment for you or your family; make sure that you are comfortable with all aspects of your new boat.  If you are not comfortable in the captain’s chair or there is not enough leg room behind the wheel, move on to something that matches your needs.  Spend as much time as you need on the boat.
A friend of mine invested in a boat without his girl friend being a part of the process.  She hated the bathroom so much, that she ended up not going on the boat by the end of the summer.  The following summer, my buddy never used his boat on account of she would not go on it.  The boat needs to be comfy for everyone who will be using it on a consistent basis.
Make certain you test drive the boat.  When you test drive the boat, make sure everyone is with you that may be on the boat when you use it.  To many instances I see someone trial a boat with just themselves plus the sales person.  The boat quickly gets on plane and reaches a maximum speed of XX mph; however when they get the boat home and load it up with the kids, gear and the family dog, the boat will not get out of its own way and will not even come close to the top end that they saw during the test drive.
Furthermore, throughout the test drive, make sure that you test the boat in water conditions that you will be using it in.  If you boat on a lake that has rough water all the time, don’t test the boat on smooth water on a windless day.
Make it a family decision.  Get the kids involved in the purchase process.  Whether it is deciding on the configuration of the cockpit/cabin or the colors on the boat, allow them to be a part of the process.  In the end, they will enjoy the boat more knowing that they had a part in picking out the families newest addition.
Pay particular attention to what other boater’s are operating on your lake or where you plan on boating.  What size range of boat does everyone own?  Are they stern drive, outboard, or jet drive propelled? Do they have cabins or porta-Potti's? If everyone has boats over 25’ feet, I would not suggest investing in and 18 foot boat.  On the flip side, is no one has cuddy cabins or boats over 30 feet, don’t be the biggest boat on the lake, as there may be restrictions that you may not know about. 
Lastly, before you take your new boat out for her maiden voyage, make sure that you have taken a boating safety course and have all the appropriate safety gear on boat.  Remember, children less than Twelve years old MUST have on a USCG certified Life Jacket (PFD) at all times while the boat is underway.
I am anticipating that all my fellow boaters can help those that are looking.   What suggestions do you have for first time boat buyers?  What made you choose the boat that you did? 

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