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Boat Education / May 12, 2021

Tips for buying a boat: Learn about the different boat types.

Can you see yourself hopping onto your new boat, and casting away from shore into a whole new world? Boating is like having a multitude of vacations and destination options all in one place. Want to fish, take it easy, cruise and picnic, kick ups some waves to get a punch of adrenaline, watch the stars, the sunrise, the sunset? Yes, boating can give you all that and more. Now where to start? We have a list of tips for buying a boat.

Tips for buying a boat

The most important first step in buying a boat is to determine exactly what type of pleasure craft will best suit your ideal boating lifestyle. Consider who you want to bring along for the ride, or maybe those you don’t! Generally, a boat purchase will be determined by what type of activities you want to pursue on the water.

Things to consider before you venture out to buy a boat and then narrow down the choices. Here are some tips for buying a boat.

1. What is your boating experience?
2. What type of activities are you interested in? Day Cruising, sailing, fresh water fishing, saltwater fishing, watersports, offshore boating, or overnight cruising?
3. How many passengers do you need to accommodate? And will you have children on board?
4. How long do you want the boat to be? The longer the boat the more flexibility you have on the water, but it also comes with more training requirements for docking, trailering, and maneuvering.
5. What type of engine do you require? Inboard, jet propulsions, outboard, pod drive, sail power, sterndrive engine? How much power is appropriate for your skill level? What is your annual fuel budget?
6. Do you want to buy a new or a used boat?
7. Budget – in addition to the cost of the boat you need to consider insurance, storage, and maintenance. Use a boat loan calculator.

Learn about different boat types

We have put together a guide to help you learn about different boat types.

RUNABOUT 

Length variation: 16 – 28 feet
Propulsion types: Inboard, Sterndrive, Outboard
Common use: Family boat providing a confident ride in a variety of water conditions for day cruising or watersports.
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers:  Regal, Sea Ray, Malibu, Chaparral
FISHING BOAT
Length variation: 15 – 28 feet
Propulsion types: Outboard
Common use: Freshwater fishing and day cruising. Fishing boats are an ideal choice for the angler looking for a versatile boat capable of a wide variety of tasks. They are affordable, durable, and designed to navigate many different types of waterways for sport fishing.
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers: Princecraft, Legend, Crestliner, Lund

BASS BOAT
Length variation: 16 – 25 feet
Propulsion types: Outboard
Common use: Low-slung, open, and with plenty of horsepower, bass boats are the ultimate tool for freshwater angler. That low profile allows anglers to cast from generous platforms at the front and back.

Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers:  Bass Cat, Skeeter, Tracker Boats, Ranger, Triton, Nitro
CUDDY CABIN/CRUISER
Length variation: 25 – 50 feet
Propulsion types: Inboard, Sterndrive, Outboard
Common use: Overnight & day cruising
  • The cuddy cabin boats provide only a V-berth (shaped bed designed to fit within the contours of the bow) and have minimal space below deck for a portable marine toilet.
  • The cruiser boats generally come fully equipped for spending extended periods aboard, including sleeping, cooking, and bathroom accommodations.

Water conditions: Calm fresh or saltwater
Manufacturers:  Four Winns, Bayliner, Sea Ray, Stingray, Chaparral, Regal

PONTOON 
Length variation: 16 – 30 feet
Propulsion types: Outboard, Sterndrive
Common use:  Freshwater fishing, watersports, and day cruising. Pontoon boats give families and friends a secure place to enjoy the ride with an abundance of seating places with great sound and lighting systems.
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers:  Avalon, Larson, Harris, Bennington, Lund, Princecraft, Legend, Lowe,
SKI/WAKE BOAT
Length variation: 16 – 28 feet
Propulsion types: Inboard, Sterndrive, Jet drive
Common use: Ideal choice for watersports like waterskiing and wake surfing
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers:  Axis, Correct Craft, Mastercraft, Moomba
JET BOAT
Length variation: 14 – 26 feet
Propulsion types: Jet engine
Common use: Day cruising and watersports. The jet boats are distinguished by their propulsion system which is enclosed inside the hull and designed for shallow water conditions. Popular for waterskiing, wakeboarding, and wake surfing.
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers:  Yamaha, Scarab
HIGH PERFORMANCE (+60mph) 
Length variation: 20 – 50 feet
Propulsion types: Outboard, Inboard, Sterndrive
Common use: Day cruising. High-performance boats offer high speeds and precise handling to boaters who prefer their thrills full throttle. Additional features can include a cabin and V-berth (bed) below the bow deck.
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers: Baja, Sunsation, Formula, Donzi
HIGH VALUE (+1M) 
Length variation: 50 – 100 feet
Propulsion types: Inboard, Sterndrive, Outboard
Common use: Large motor yacht ideal for ocean cruising and navigating large rivers. They are the ultimate in cruising comfort with the seaworthiness to take on the biggest waters. The boat’s captain often has a choice of two driver’s stations, the cabin helm or an elevated “flybridge”. The largest yachts often require a captain and crew to attend to the owner’s every need.
Water conditions: Calm fresh or saltwater
Manufacturers:  Prestige Yachts, Four Winns, Beneteau, Searay, Azimut
TRAWLER 
Length variation: 26 – 50 feet
Propulsion types: Inboard
Common use: Day and overnight leisurely cruising. The trawlers are ideal for long-range cruising. They have comfortable interior accommodations with exterior deck spaces that allow passengers to relax and enjoy the sunshine. Great for fishing.
Water conditions: Calm fresh or saltwater
Manufacturers: Beneteau, Fleming Yachts, Ranger Tug
SAILBOAT
Length variation: 10 – 100 feet
Propulsion types: Sails, Inboard, Outboard
Common use: Overnight and day sailing. From the simplest monohull to the most prestigious sailboat, the common theme is harnessing the power of the wind to propel through the water.
Water conditions: Calm fresh or saltwater
Manufacturers:  Beneteau, Jeanneau, Hunter, Dufour, Pearson
CATAMARAN 
Length variation: 25 – 70 feet
Propulsion types: Sails, Inboard, Outboard
Common use: Overnight and day sailing. Catamarans ride on two narrow hulls instead of one wide one. This reduces wave impacts and increases efficiency.
Water conditions: Calm fresh or saltwater
Manufacturers:  Lagoon, Fontaine Pajot, Nacra, Antares, Gemini Catamarans
PERSONAL WATERCRAFT
Length variation: 8 – 13 feet
Propulsion types: Jet engine
Common use: Watersports. Personal watercraft features a saddle and handlebars and capable of hauling one to three passengers. This is the perfect option for boaters looking for an exciting escape and enjoyable time on the water.
Water conditions: Calm fresh or s)saltwater (in sheltered bays)
Manufacturers: Yamaha, Sea-Doo, Kawasaki
STAND-UP PERSONAL WATERCRAFT 
Length variation: 8 – 13 feet
Propulsion types: Jet engine
Common use: Watersports. With a powerful thrust, Stand-up personal watercrafts have stunning acceleration and high performance delivering the thrills.
Water conditions: Calm fresh or saltwater
Manufacturers:  Kawasaki, Sea-Doo
INFLATABLE BOAT
Length variation: 8 – 28 feet
Propulsion types: Outboard, Sterndrive
Common use: As their name suggests, inflatable boats take their shape thanks to air, pumped into flexible tubes that form the bow and sides. The floor can be inflated or rigid. These boats are suitable for freshwater fishing and day cruising. Often used as a tender for larger boats.
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers:  Zodiac, AB Inflatables
ANNEX/DINGHY 
Length variation: 5 – 12 feet
Propulsion types: Outboard
Common use:  Dinghies come in a wide variety of types from fiberglass, aluminum or even inflatable construction. Their common trait is their diminutive size. This allows them to be easily towed behind or stored on larger vessels.
Water conditions: Calm fresh
Manufacturers:  Zodiac, AB Inflatables, Achilles
Owning a boat provides the best of all types of vacations! You have a resource to travel on all kinds of waterways, to new destinations throughout the year. It is a unique vacation trip each time. Find the perfect boat for your lifestyle and vacation!

Insurance products to consider:

Express Boat Insurance – geared to smaller boats. Easy to apply and buy same day.
Yacht Insurance – exclusive products geared to different boating lifestyles.

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