How to pick the right boat for you?

Are you thinking of buying a boat? We think that’s an excellent idea! With over 250K boats sold in the U.S. per year , the number of enthusiasts keeps growing. To maximise the fun and entertainment factor os owning a brand new boat, you first need to know how to pick the right boat for you and your budget. Whether you’re a first time boat owner or looking for a change in pace, we’re here to help guide you through boat buying process from make, size and engine. 

Before you decide which boat is right for you, you need to determine how you’ll use it. Boating is mostly for pleasure, but you may use one for utility, exploring, fishing or all of the above. Ask yourself these questions: Do you like snorkelling, wakeboarding, or need a vehicle fit for towing inflatable?

Here are some boat types to consider for any purpose. 

Runabouts - Best for fishing

A runabout is any small motor boat that holds between 4 – 8 people. Typically between 20′ to 35′ in length, they are characteristically used for pleasure boating like fishing, recreation boating, and water skiing. Runabouts can also function as a ship’s tender for larger vessels, or in racing because its smooth ride makes it difficult to feel waves. 

Know that their function is limited as they’re mainly used as a comfortable way to get around. They’re popular in freshwater communities and fantastic for cruising in style. So if you like to sit on a deck to soak up some sun with a drink in hand then choose a runabout!

Pontoons - Best for parties

A flatboat that relies on floats to remain buoyant, pontoons (or tubes) with massive decks to fit accommodations like stand-up bars, sun pads, and lounges. Better tube design has allowed for ever increasing horsepower, so you won’t have to sacrifice speed for luxury.
Pontoon boats are popular in freshwater communities because of their multi-purpose recreational use and their cost effective price. They provide excellent stability, but they have only one purpose – to relax and have parties on.    

Bowriders - Best for water sports

Similar to a runabout boat but with an offset helm and extra forward seating. These are between 17′ and 35 and they can hold approximately 6 – 10 people. Bowriders are your best option for recreational sports such as swimming, water skiing, and tubing. These boats are well suited for inland water and lakes. 

The main appeal to bowriders is comfortable seating that rests on the bow. These multi-purpose vessels will cause a splash on your next adventure. 


Cruisers - Best for cruising

Cruisers are like an upgrade to bowriders because they are similar in design, length, and engine but have an enclosed cabin. The enclosed cabin makes this boat suitable for overnight trips or rainy days. Cruisers are less likely to bow or tip, and you’re less likely to get splashed thanks to the added stability and comfort of the cabin. 

If you do like to cruise – choose a cruiser! These boats are especially good for anyone who burns when they suntan or want to take a break from the scorching hot sun whilst you’re on the lake. Cruisers are great for waterspouts, parties and diving off the back. 

Rigid Inflatable Boats - Best for multipurpose

For boat enthusiasts that love to work, the rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is a lightweight, high-performing, and high-capacity unsinkable vessel constructed to withstand anything. The design is light, stable, fast, and seaworthy. Rigid Inflatable Boats are normally used for military, lifeguard or patrol purposes. 

For the everyday boater, know that RIBs are kid friendly because of its soft sides. Its open floor plan, cushiony surface, and durability make these perfect for fishing, waterspouts or relaxing. They are truly the most multi-purpose boat on this list. 

Choosing a Boat by Size

The next step after you’ve chosen the function of your vessel is its size. The larger the boat, the more features it will have like a kitchen, toilet and a plumbing system. However bigger isn’t necessarily more better. Sometimes, new boat owners will buy something too big and too complicated, which may discourage you from bringing the boat to the water. 

Pick a smaller vessel for your first boat, preferably 7′ to 12′ to to fit within your budget and the time it will take you to learn the basics. Figure out which characteristics are most important to you, then try to get the smallest vessel possible that will accommodate this. 

Choosing a Boat by Engine

Choosing the right engine for your boat is a crucial step, but like the vessels, size, function and the power of your engine should go hand in hand. Don’t pick an engine based on the top speed of your boat. Instead, consider the number of people aboard at once and the cargo you’d like to carry. 

Opt for a boat engine that’s rated at the top end of your boats capacity. A smaller engine isn’t always more efficient. But. if your pushing the engine to its limits, it will burn more than  a larger one running at lower rpm.

Choosing a Boat by Feel

If the boat specifications are good, but you hate driving the boat what’s the point of buying it? Use the checklist below to help pick the right boat for you:

  • Do you feel cramped at the helm, or is there enough visibility?
  • Try to perform maintenance check on the engine 
  • Is there enough storage or enough room for your passengers?
  • Any unique features like sun sheds or pop-up beds?
  • Ask what the tow-point for water sports is?
  • Does it shift smoothly? Does it handle a constant course without correction?
  • Is the engine loud? How does it handle low speeds?
  •  Are the windshields thick, the hand rails strong and made of stainless steel?
Do an overall quality check for any boat that you test drive. It’s sometimes very easy to overlook features on a new vessel, but its important to carefully and meticulously examine any boat as if your life depended on it. 

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