Boat Buyers Guide…The Rules

Boater's Chat Boat Buying Information Muskoka

At the Toronto Boat Show or in the dealers showroom there are hard and fast rules on boat purchasing that you should know for bowrider boats, pontoon boats and fishing boats to maximize your value and make a smarter purchase.  Every game has rules or guidelines to keep on coarse and win and boat buying is no exception!  If you are determined to get the best deal which is really best value for your money in boat buying consider these rules and guidelines then apply these to your next boat purchase.  Carefully consider that you are going to spend 10’s of thousands of dollars in after tax money and may in fact have to live with that boat buying decision for the next 20 years or more.  Here are the boat buying rules and it is a Yoda moment…Do follow all or don’t follow some and regret may be just around the corner…there is no try to do this!  Later in Boater’s Chat there will be a printable flow chart to act as a map guide down the path to your boat purchase.

The Boat Buyers Guide….Rules of the Game

  1. There is no substitution for horsepower!  Every boat by size, weight and hull design in combination with the loaded weight which includes the hull, engine, fuel and batteries plus the combined weight of all passengers and their gear added to an activity such as wakeboarding requires a certain minimum amount of available horsepower to provide an acceptable level of performance.  If you do not purchase enough horsepower…you cannot change that fact without changing the engine and or boat….big mistake and unfortunately one of the most common!  A properly powered boat should be expected to get on plane in less than 4 seconds.  Those running around with the thought that a smaller engine is going to save gas are dead wrong.  Consider this…a boat operates against 5 times more resistance than a car!  Biggest consumption of fuel in a boat occurs as the boat including its load is brought up to planning speed which is normally 22 to 25 MPH.  High on plane times (normally longer than 4 seconds) where fuel is being delivered to the cylinders at the highest possible rate for a longer period in combination with a more prolonged high stress period increases significantly the consumed liters of fuel plus engine wear and tear .  Add to that the additional stress placed on the power plant by recreational watersports and the increased drag that results from those activities.   Please note that for 2016 the standard 3.0L 4 cylinder sterndrive is finally after over 30 years being discontinued.  Very tough little motor but you never bought this one for being quiet, having lots of hole shot or for fuel mileage.
  2. The model number on the hull side such as Brand X 206 Riptide… 90% of the time does not actually represent the true length of the boat.  In other words if you are comparing 20′ models by different brands make sure that you know the true centerline length of the boat.  Centerline length is the true measurement down the actual center of the boat from the end of the bow through the windshield opening to the end of the stern hull on a straight flat line and includes all of the boat hull that has not been added as a separate piece at either the bow or the stern.  For example a swim platform that is bolted on to the stern would not count towards centerline length so that a true 20′ hull with an added 2.5′ swim platform is as long as 22.5′ when you are trying to dock it or place it in a garage.  An 18′ boat with a 20′ top deck including a platform will have a 20′ centerline length but is actually still an 18′ boat and is being marketed as a 20′ model so it should be cheaper than Brands’ Y actual 20′ boat…smoke and mirrors but neither the builder or the salesperson is going to tell you that.  So again consider this if the swim platform is molded into the bottom or top deck in other words no seeming, that swim platform will count towards total centerline length.  In other words take a long look to make sure the bottom hull is just as long as the top deck ( a 20′ model would then be expected to ride like a 20′ model in rougher conditions with improved balance) with the exception of the swim platform which may and should protrude out and over the stern drive leg.  This is a major source of cheating by more than a few boat builders.
  3. It is the length of the hull or running surface that actually is in contact with the water underway determines ride quality not the amount of hull in length above the water.  A longer running surface can present the opportunity for a sharper point of bow entry into the water in combination with a deeper bow which will dramatically improve ride quality.  There is a real game afoot by a number of boat builders to place an oversize top deck hull on a bottom hull that was developed as a smaller craft so that the boat looks larger than it really is.  Very common in the 18′ to 23′ fiberglass boat length right now.  You think you are buying a 20′ runabout and the top deck may actually be from a 20′ model but the bottom hull is actually designed as a 18′ or 19′ model.  The rule states that the hull length in contact with water while underway determines the ride performance…so you have a 20′ wallowing boat that actually rides at best like a boat some 2′ shorter boat particularly when waves are about plus is probably a dog out of the hole with lots of annoying bow rise.  Why is this done…its all about the money….the boat builder saved money and not an insignificant amount by using a smaller hull bottom.  This is also a great example of getting less for less or not getting what you paid for or thought you paid for and it cannot be fixed.

More rules to follow!