The 4 Elements That Can Help You Choose the Right Boat


From small sailboats to mega yachts, there are dozens of different types of boats available to purchase. Finding the perfect boat for your needs can be tough, but it's much easier once you understand your preferences across four main categories: the activities you want to plan, the number of people you want to host, your propulsion method of choice, and how you want to store your boat.

What makes these categories so important?

And how can you use them to choose a more appropriate boat?

The Activities You Want to Plan

First, you need to think about the activities you want to plan. What do you want to do in your boat?

There are many possible answers here, and you don't need a specific plan in order to genuinely desire a boat. Some people have a specific activity in mind; for example, they might only want a boat so they can go fishing as often as possible. Others have a general idea of some things they want to do; for example, they might like the idea of going on a weekend cruise, having cocktails on the deck, and attending concerts and special events.

Write down a list of some of the most important activities to you and your family. From there, you'll be able to think about what you need in the following areas:

  • Size. How much size do you need for the activities you want? If you envision a future in which your family members walk around the deck of your boat, you'll need something big and broad like a pontoon boat or a large yacht. If you're more interested in personal endeavours, you can get away with a much smaller vessel.
  • Storage and cabin space. If you're only interested in day trips, or if your activities don't demand much time on the water, you don't need to worry much about storage or cabin space. Conversely, if you want to go away for an entire weekend or spend the night on your boat, you'll need much more cabin space and room for extra items.
  • Power. Certain water activities require a sufficient amount of power from your vessel. For example, it's hard to go wakeboarding without enough power to pull someone behind your boat. Some vessels are designed to go as fast as possible, some are made for leisurely cruises, and most are somewhere in between.
  • Manoeuvrability. You may also need to think about manoeuvrability. If you're going to be traveling in mostly open areas and your activities don't demand much manoeuvrability, a slow-moving juggernaut may be perfectly fine. But some activities do require much tighter and more precise controls.

The Number of People You Want to Host

You’ll also need to consider the number of people you want to host. For some people, boating is an entirely individual activity, and inviting more people on board is only going to kill your buzz. Other people feel the exact opposite; they never want to boat alone and would much rather have a party of 20 people than a party of 2 or 3.

Who you're hosting and how many people you're hosting should play a role in determining your:

  • Cabin space. How much available space is there in the cabin? Can you accommodate enough guests for an overnight trip?
  • Seating. Is there ample seating for everyone you want to have onboard? You can always bring folding chairs and additional seating, but it pays to have some seating built in for the trip.
  • Deck size. The size of the deck will determine how many people you can have active on the vessel at any given time.
  • Noise. If you're big into social boating, you'll also need to think about the amount of noise generated by your boat. If you can't have a basic conversation because the vessel is too loud, there won't be much room for socialising.
  • Ride smoothness. You may also want to think about the smoothness of the ride; people unfamiliar with boating will prefer a steadier feel – especially if they're prone to seasickness.

Propulsion Methods

The main types of propulsion systems for modern boats include inboard systems (where the engines are inside the hull), outboard systems (where the engines are mounted externally), and hybrid inboard/outboard (I/O) systems.

There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to each, but you’ll need to think about the following before you finalise your decision:

  • Speed. How much speed and acceleration do you want for this boat? If you're heading to the water to look for thrills, you'll want a vessel that can pick up speed quickly. But if you're more into relaxing journeys, a simpler, less powerful propulsion system will serve you fine.
  • Control. Different propulsion systems give you different types of control. For example, outboard propulsion systems provide steering and propulsion in the same unit.
  • Expense. Powerful engines are certainly attractive, but they also tend to be expensive. You'll need to think about your budget before finalising your propulsion system choices.
  • Maintenance. Maintenance needs vary between different types of propulsion systems. For example, outboard motors tend to be easier to maintain because they're much more accessible. Maintenance costs also tend to be higher for I/O systems due to their complexity – but they also get more horsepower.

Boat Storage and Transportation

Finally, you'll need to think about your boat storage and transportation needs. Some boats are designed to be easily trailerable, so you can transport them from destination to destination with even a simple trailer attached to the back of your truck.

Others are better suited to long-term storage at a local marina. Either way, you'll need to think about how you're going to store this boat and the costs you're going to incur to keep it protected.

No matter what type of boat you’re looking for or what your preferences are, you can find something you love at TheYachtMarket. Browse our list of new and used boats for sale today!

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