There is a boat out there for everyone, from first timers to old seasoned salts. Sail or power are two obvious choices. But before you can choose your perfect boat you must decide how you will use this vessel. What is the best boat for you….to go out fishing on a Saturday morning or spend the winter living aboard in the Bahamas?
First Make a Plan
Develop a Mission Statement for how you plan to use your boat. What are your goals–waterskiing on the lake or circumnavigation? Most of us are somewhere in the middle when thinking about boating. What do you want to do, how will you do it and why? So, stop right now and imagine you are aboard your boat….hmm.
Possibly Sailing in Silence
Glide along underway with only the wind filling your sails. No sounds but the rustle of the breeze and waves to keep the smile on your sun-kissed face. You tack back and forth, taking advantage of the wind speed and direction.
Some considerations before buying a sailboat include the deep-water draft keel for shallow waters and the mast height with accessories for the 65-foot fixed bridges when traveling on the Intracoastal Waterway. Occasionally you must stay in a channel and the wind does not cooperate. Are you on the right track or shaking your head to clear your thoughts? No, not a sailboat.
If Imagination Took You Elsewhere
Perhaps you can hear the purring engines of a power boat. Trawlers are the slower, long distance cruising boats usually powered by diesel engines, twin or single.
Trawlers and sailboats are popular because of their economical slow cruising speeds and they are perfect for liveaboard and long-distance cruisers. Consider equipment like a bow and stern thruster or maybe autopilot.
A pilot house on a trawler is perfect when the sun is too strong or the northerly wind is a bit chilly. And there is no better view than from your flybridge helm. But are you traveling fast enough to suit your goals? Maybe a planing hull is more likely in your future. Keep your focus on the Mission Statement when making these important choices.
Keep The Mission In Mind
When aboard for overnight boating, more systems are involved to ensure creature comforts. And the length requirement usually increases. When a trailerable boat won't do, consider marina options near your desired boating area for your larger boat. A marina with amenities such as a pool, on-site restaurant or service facilities may be important to you and your guests.
Time is money. Which do you have more of? More time allows a leisurely more economical cruise. Less time requires a faster boat but more fuel expenses. Keep reflecting on the Mission Statement: What do you want to do with your boat, how will you do it and why?
Features That Bring You Joy
If you love to cook then a spacious galley is essential. Do you want a propane stove or electric? If electric, then a generator will be necessary to provide that electricity.
Living quarters vary in levels of comfort. Be honest in what you can tolerate versus the things that make you say "Wow!" A walk-around owners' berth allows for a restful night. Consider a separate shower stall or a wet head that soaks the entire room when showering. Joyful?
Dinghy storage is key for most cruisers but you may also want to bring bicycles, kayak or a SUP (stand up paddleboard)–or not. When you get to your destination, options other than boating might fill your time. And then there is periodic maintenance. Engine room checks may result in the need for a fuel filter replacement, an oil change or cleaning of strainers. These are simple and easy to accomplish tasks and any owner should be able to service these basic items. So create a Mission Statement to help you choose the perfect boat. There is a boat out there for everyone…That means YOU!
Captains Chris & Alyse Caldwell are USCG 100 ton Masters and Cruising Coaches. Personal Boat Training Online or Onboard your boat anywhere! Build your cruising confidence. AskCaptainChris.com training videos, 2-day seminars filled with tons of tips for the boater who loves learning.
Questions? Ask Captain Chris: [email protected]