A late Sunday afternoon – people are leaving their boats in the mooring field and hitching a ride back to shore on the full yacht club launch. So many happy faces, so many stories being told of adventures on the water, it made me reflect. People are always looking for the perfect boat. To me the perfect boat is one that gets used–a lot. We’ve all seen those lonely boats sitting at their berths without a soul onboard—going nowhere. If I’m going to buy a boat, how do I ensure it’s not the lonely type, but the one with happy faces being used as much as possible.
I’ve written about Choosing a Home for Your Boat, and Focusing on Use When Buying a Boat as prerequisites to purchasing the boat of your dreams. If you are considering buying a boat, you should also reflect on how often you’ll use it. Be realistic – a boating season is maybe six months long and filled with distractions: jobs, family gatherings, bad weather, weddings, vacations. Can you get away once or twice a week during the summer to go boating? If you spend a lot of money for a boat you hardly use, believe me, you won’t think of it as perfect.
Heck, I’ve felt bad about missing a weekend on my boat even when I was off having a good time with friends and family doing something fun. Over the years, I have observed that people who use their boats a lot, seem to have lifestyles that revolve around boating. Boat owners with busy work-centric lives often have to compensate by paying someone else to keep an eye on their boats until they can break away for a brief rendezvous.
If you followed my previous advice and found a convenient, cost-effective place to keep your boat and then focused on how you would use it, I also have a few suggestions on how you might use your boat more often.
- Consider buying a boat you can handle by yourself or with limited crew. A boat of a certain size requires crew and you may be restricted to someone else’s schedule. If your perfect boat HAS to be that size, consider buying a boat equipped to make shorthanded boating easier: autopilots, bowthrusters, power winches, lazy jacks and other furling systems.
- Visit your boat without taking it out–consider it a waterside cottage or a chance to meet your marina neighbors.
- Hold family gatherings onboard.
- Equip your boat to be used as a home office.
- Take your boat to the beach, airshow, rendezvous, or other events you might normally go to by car.
- Equip your boat for bad weather—a dodger can make trips in bad weather bearable and even fun.
- Include the family pet in your boating excursions.
- Take boating courses with family members to increase their confidence and enjoyment.
- Involve your friends and family in boating activities they like, such as fishing, swimming, racing, or kayaking.
The perfect boat is one you will use often. It may take some adjustment to your lifestyle to accommodate a boat in your life, but it is just as likely that if you choose carefully, you’ll find reasons to maximize use and make it the perfect boat.