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April 06, 2010

Buying the Right Boat

Choose the best boat for you, not the best bargain.

Cheap boats! They're stacked up along the roads in coastal communities across the country and ready for the taking. Some hard-luck owners will even pay you to take their boat off their hands, right? How perception gets out of hand. There are a lot of boats for sale, and for those with the means to act, it's a buyer's market. But settling on the wrong boat because the price is right will come back to bite you in the end, so don't settle.

Starting with a price point and looking for a boat to meet it is backward thinking. Before crunching any numbers, figure out what exactly you want to do with a boat and what type meets your needs. Here are a few thoughts to help you decide what type of boat works for you.

Blue Water
Fishing offshore puts a special set of demands on a boat. Look for one with a true deep-V hull, which means it has at least 17 degrees of deadrise at the transom. If your goal is to run far and fast in search of fish, look for a boat with a 3-1 length-to-beam ratio and a sharp forefoot to slice through waves when combined with that deep-V transom deadrise.

Boats fit for offshore duty should have the hull fastened to the deck with through-bolts rather than screws or solely adhesive. The best builders run the bolts into a backing plate that's glassed over along the hull-to-deck joint and also bonded with an adhesive. Boats with screws or blind rivets may not stand up to the rigorous pounding over the long haul.

How far are you running? If you're staying within five miles of shore, a single engine should be fine, but if you're ranging far and wide to chase fish, the redundancy of twin engines is an important safety feature. If you can test-drive a boat, see if it can climb on plane with just one engine. If not, it's a long ride home at idle speed.