Anyone who’s gone through the process of choosing a boat knows that it’s as much of an odyssey as you’re ever likely to experience once you finally get your new best friend in the water! The research involved, the scouting and planning and price-hunting, the many many variables to be considered make experts out of even the most nautically inexperienced people.
I’m on board with the attention to detail boat owners bring to the table. I’m trying to make all the right choices for my own new boat; you’re not alone out there; in the interest of the public good, here are some of the “high level” decisions I’m trying to make, and where I come down on them:
Day cruise vs. Live aboard
A live aboard obviously needs a bit more in the space and comfort range… well, you don’t have to, but most of us are going to require it. Space and comfort equals size and cost, in most instances.
I AM going to have a bathroom. A shower is pretty much a requirement, along with space for 3 to sleep.
Passagemaker vs. Coastal/River cruising
Draft, cost and range are probably the biggest items here.
Coastal/River is where it’s at for me… don’t get me wrong, I would love a full up passagemaker and off over the horizon, but its not happening in the real world.
Displacement speed vs. Planing speed
If you have a Coastal/River craft, then this is a decision to make. Very few passagemakers are planing boats, so its a decision that falls from the previous one.
Diesel/Gas/Electric… or Hybrid?
This relates to some extent on the previous answer… a planing boat probably isn’t practical for electric at the current state of the technology. A displacement hull, depending on design and power requirements, could go for any of the choices.
Inboard or Outboard
Again related to the above, but not as much. Inboard is more complex, sometimes noisier, sometimes quieter. An inboard can provide for heat, hot water and electricity, where an Outboard pretty much provides motive force and nothing else. Outboard can be taken on/off for repairs, can be replaced with a “drop in” unit if needed without disassembling the boat, etc.
Inside vs. Outside living, Living “up” vs. “down”
Do you like to hang out in the sun/wind/rain? Do you want to be inside all the time? Do you have different desires among the crew?
This is similar but not quite the same as the previous Inside/Outside point… do you want you cabin/galley/saloon whatever “up” so that you can see out, have lots of windows, etc.? Or would you rather have some parts nestled down in the hull more.
Probably you wouldn’t “rather” have areas with little visibility, but are you willing to put up with that (and a taller boat, usually), to have more living space in the same hull length? Cabin/hull designs that are all pretty much single level will have less space for a given hull length than a multi-level boat (just like a multi-story house).
She’s a beauty! (or not). Buying for looks
There’s no right or wrong here… I think its a very personal thing. There are general trends, but different people like different looks. And get your family members’ input as well!
No matter what, there are trade-offs. This boat probably won’t be my last and I can learn from its use. I plan to incorporate gained knowledge into my next boat, which will probably be my retirement boat that I can actually use for longer periods of time. I’ll have different wants/needs in a lot of respects by then, know more about what I want/need, and maybe by then I could use some advice as well!
Bruce Dillahunty is a land-locked computer support person with a love of boats and boating. He has been researching boats and plans for several years, and has recently embarked on his first major build.