Years ago, I was in the market for a used boat. I came across a restored classic 40-foot wooden sloop with beautiful lines and I fell in love. The owner was a widow who practically paid me to take the boat, which reminded her of her deceased husband, out of her yard. Fortunately, I had a friend who came to look the boat over. I’ll never forget his advice. “I know this is a fabulous boat, but it isn’t right for you. I own a fiberglass boat and I’m forever working on it. I can’t imagine what this would require. It’s a retirement boat, something you putter on every day and keep up the bright-work. Besides you told me what you really want is a raceboat.” He was right — I had let my focus drift, and beautiful boats and good deals can make you lose focus.
In “Choose a Home for Your Boat,” I wrote that where you plan on docking your boat is something you should determine before buying. That will, to some extent, determine the size and draft of your boat. The next consideration when buying a boat is to focus on your intended use. Most people want a boat that is versatile. They might like to fish with a few friends offshore but occasionally would like to take the family on overnight trips.
The good news is that there are well-built boats in your size and price range designed to do exactly what you want—as long as the want list is short. Expecting a boat to do everything well will mean compromise on doing any one thing really well. So, make a list of how you intend to use your new boat the most. Prioritize it and pick the top two things on your list as your requirements when searching. Any more than two and you will have to be prepared to compromise the upper part of your list. Performance is something that should be on your list to think about. Better performing boats with bigger engines or larger sail plans often cost more and generally trade off comfort and volume for speed.
Now armed with your narrow focus on use and how fast you want to travel, along with your draft and size limitations based on your dockage / mooring decisions, you can begin your boat search within your budget. There are plenty of beautiful boats that will tempt your focus to be diverted, but if you follow these steps you will get the boat you’re dreaming of. In coming posts, I’ll write how power options, looks and styling, along with age and condition play into your search and budget.