Choosing the Right Boat

Whether you’re a beginner boater or a veteran on the water, choosing the right boat can be a complicated process. Although there are dozens of types of boats, one of 10 is likely to suit your needs. This month, we’ll look at five options, and then explore five more in April.

  1. Bowriders
    This versatile design can be used for everything from simple day-tripping to water skiing. Although traditionally small in size, there has been a recent trend toward larger models with accommodations ranging from enclosed heads to full-blown cabins.

  2. Cruisers
    In its most basic form, a cruiser is any powerboat with overnight accommodations, a galley, and the range to take you to new and distant ports. Featuring a fast cruising speed, they range from 30 to 100 feet. Most are powered with inboards, stern drives, or pod drives, although there are also a few outboard-powered cruisers out there.

  3. Freshwater Fishing Boats
    Freshwater fishing boats can include bass boats, multi-species boats and aluminum boats. Bass boats are designed for catching largemouth bass, so they are lightning-fast and equipped with bow-mounted electric trolling motors and high-tech fish finders. Because they’re so specialized, they also aren’t ideal for many other forms of fishing. Multi-species boats are more diverse, with livewells, rod boxes and pedestal-mounted seats. Aluminum fishing boats are less expensive, and they come fully equipped with a trailer and a 90 HP outboard for less than $25,000.

  4. Runabouts
    The term “runabout” includes everything from bowriders to ski-and-fish boats to small speed boats. They are exposed to nature, so they are intended for use in fair weather. It’s important to consider if you’ll be boating in a narrow river or a large open lake, which will determine what size boat you’ll need, and whether the best choice is a boat with a flatter bottom and better stability, or one designed with a deep-V to withstand rough waters.

  5. Sailboats
    Sailboats can be divided into three categories: day sailors, cruisers and performance racers. Day sailors are normally 13 to 30 feet long, with an open cockpit and one or two sails. Many also carry a small outboard engine. Cruisers, ranging from 20 to 30 feet, can be used for a weekend getaway to a nearby destination. Performance racers are all about speed. They feature lightweight designs and can range from modern carbon-fiber race boats and wooden classics, to dinghies and ultralight catamarans.

In next month’s blog, we’ll look at saltwater fishing boats, speed boats, pontoon boats, trawlers and watersports boats.