Assess your needs
when buying a boat
By Randy Scott
BOATING OPENS UP a whole new world of fun
and adventure. It is a way for family and friends to
bond, to connect with the great outdoors, to explore, play, relax, fish, ski—the list goes on. How
much enjoyment you derive from boating, however, depends largely on your first choice: what
type of boat to get? Here are some tips to help you
chart your course.
are fine for protected bodies of water, but if you plan
on boating on large bodies of water, bigger is better.
Big lakes can get as nasty as the ocean during storms.
V-bottom boats slice through big waves best and offer
the most comfortable ride in rough water.
Matching use with type
If you want to do a mix of skiing, boarding,
cruising and fishing, an open-bow runabout, or
bowrider, as it is often called, is probably your best
bet. This kind of boat is the bread and butter of the
boating industry because of its versatility.
If cruising and overnighting are high on your
list, however, you might want to opt for a boat with
an enclosed cabin. Not only does a cabin provide
refuge from inclement weather, but it also can shelter sleeping accommodations, a toilet (or head, in
boating jargon) and a small kitchen (galley). Those
who like the openness of a bowrider but want to
sleep aboard occasionally can investigate canvas
Anglers will appreciate boat models with built-in live wells to store fish and dedicated rod and
tackle storage. Many also sport elevated fishing
platforms and swiveling pedestal seats.
Center-console boats are favored by a number of anglers
because it is easy to work fish around the entire perimeter of the boat.
On the other hand, if your chief desire is to
entertain, deck boats and pontoon boats best
facilitate this by offering added seating and features such as sinks and food-prep stations and an
enclosed head. A deck boat performs like a runabout, while a pontoon boat is less nimble. However, nothing compares with the stable platform
offered by a pontoon boat, especially one outfitted
with a third pontoon for added buoyancy (more
passenger capacity) and stability.
How much horsepower?
Something else to ponder is engine configuration and size. Outboards are often preferred over
stern-drives in environments with corrosive salt or
brackish water because the motor can be tilted completely out of the water when the boat is docked.
Horsepower is also very important. A boat’s
base price includes the smallest engine, which may
not be adequate for your intended use. Nothing will
rob you of joy more than an underpowered boat
that struggles to pull Dad up on skis, or that doesn’t
rise out of the water properly when under way. In
such cases, not only will a larger engine perform
better, but it will often deliver better fuel economy
because it is not always performing at maximum
power. If you are going to scrimp, do it with accessories, not horsepower.
Don’t forget towing capacity
Finally, if you intend to tow your boat, make
sure your existing tow vehicle is up to the task. The
last thing you want is to buy a new boat and then
learn you need a new tow vehicle too. Bear in mind
that the published weight for a boat does not include any accessories, fuel ( 6 pounds per gallon) or
the trailer. Add up the weight and make sure your
vehicle has a tow rating to handle it.
CHRIS A RUSNAK
WHEN IT’S time to
buy, contact the
Costco Auto Program. A knowledgeable Costco Auto
Program boat dealer
can steer you in the
right direction. With
a network of participating Sea Ray,
Boston Whaler and
and saving on the
boat of your choice
has never been
easier. As a Costco
up to $3,000 (plus
any other available
and a $500 Costco
Cash card after the
To learn how the
program works and
to locate a participating boat dealership,
visit Costco.com and
search: “BOAT8,” or
Do your homework, make the choice that’s right for you and your family, and let the adventures begin! C
California-based freelance photojournalist Randy
Scott has tested hundreds of boats and tow vehicles.
Where will you boat?
Another important consideration is the type of
water you will be on. Small boats with low freeboards
(the distance from the water to the top of the deck)
BOS TON WHALER