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Which Boat is Right for You?
Who hasn’t pictured themselves at the helm of a boat, sun glinting off the water, wind in your hair, the sweet smell of the sea? But you’ll want to ask yourself, “What kind of boat is right for me?” You’ll need to think about that and start making some decisions if you’re getting close to turning this dream into reality.
To get the most out of any boat you choose, be realistic. There are a lot of things to consider. Think of your lifestyle, budget, where you’ll boat and what you want to do on your boat. Go out on as many boats as you can to get a feel for them. Get started here by reading up on the types of boats out there.
Bowriders. This is a versatile boat with an open bow that invites room for lounging, and power for a day of water skiing. The classic bowrider is in the 18- to 26-foot range, making it a nice option if you’re trailering. Bowriders are available with two different engine configurations. The inboard/outboard configuration is very popular with recreational boaters. With the motor enclosed within the hull of the boat and the drive unit (which turns the propeller) outside the hull, the inboard/outboard offers room for a swim platform in the back, and the rest of the boat is left open for seating. Outboard engines, on the other hand, are mounted high up on the transom, completely outside the boat, and can be tilted out of the water for easy maintenance. Each has their benefits and ultimately, you’ll want to shop around to determine which is best for you or your family.
Cruisers. If you really want to flex your nautical skills, cruise long distances in serious open water and dock overnight at a variety of places, then you’re in the market for a cruiser. These boats range anywhere from 30 to 100 feet, are generally fast, and offer sleeping quarters and a galley. There are several types of cruisers, from sizable motor yachts to a pocket cruiser that may drop below 30 feet. You’ll want to research marina slips as docking a large cruiser should be included in the cost of ownership.
Freshwater fishing boats. If you can spend long hours trolling, spinning and casting on freshwater lakes, let the world slip away in a boat that will become as much a part of you as your tackle. Look into the variety of specialized boats available, from agile bass boats to simple aluminum jon boats. Make sure you get a good quality trailer that is compatible with your vehicle, so you have the freedom to wet a line in as many lakes as possible.
Pontoon boats. This has always been the ultimate “fun barge,” and with the mechanical updates in recent years, pontoon boats are becoming more versatile than ever. Floating on two or three pontoons, pontoon sizes range from 15 to 30 feet with outboard motors of varying horsepower. Deciding what size you need depends on how many people you’ll have onboard, the type of water you’ll be cruising and how sporty you want to get.
Sailboats. If you’ve got the skills or are willing to put in the time to develop them, a sailboat would be a rewarding boat to own. This is a beautiful craft that offers something at every level of sailing. Daysailers range from 13 to 30 feet, with an open cockpit and sporty feel that make a day on the waves a day of play. Cruiser sailboats can reach up to 60 feet with sizable cabins that not only make them great transportation, but your floating home for long adventures.
Saltwater fishing boats. Fishing in saltwater offers a range of experiences, from trolling the mangrove swamps to deep sea fishing, and there are boats sized for each. Bay boats are popular in coastal saltwater areas and their lower draft allows you to get into some serious back-country fishing. Short on luxury, they are built for the serious fisherman, designed with fore and aft casting decks, as well as features like livewells, rodtracks, fishboxes and rod holders. Center consoles, another kind of popular saltwater fishing boat, come in a range of sizes that allow the fisherman to venture a little farther out. Convertibles and expresses are the preferred options for offshore anglers heading into the deep water. If you need a boat you can move around on quickly with easy access from the wheel to the rods, the express is a good choice. Consider the convertible if your priority is a larger cabin with plenty of interior space.
Trawlers. On the flip side of a speed boat is the trawler. This a slow and steady cruiser, designed for comfort and range. They’ve got the speed when they need it, but generally are dedicated to long distance exploring. Trawlers range in size from 30 to over 50 feet.
Watersports boats. These are the boats for people who look at lakes and think “playtime!” Every season brings new and exciting updates and opportunities for more fun. Watersports boats are usually designed with inboard motors that allow for amazing waterskiing and wakeboarding.Knowing a little more about the types of boats, let’s go back to that picture in your mind and ask yourself – which boat am I driving? When you think of being out on the water enjoying the fresh spray, there really are no bad options.