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Choosing the Right Boat - What are my Options?

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It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting into boating or if you’re an experienced sailor, choosing the right boat can make the difference between a great or horrible boating experience. No matter what you’re looking for in a boat, finding the right one is going to make sure that you aren’t unsatisfied with your trips to the lake or ocean.

When you’re choosing the right boat - what are your options? There are many considerations, including how much you’re willing to spend on a boat, what features to look for, the type of boat you pick (such as a bowrider or cruiser), and much more.

No matter the boat you end up picking, there are a plethora of deciding factors to consider about your boat.

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What Is the Purpose of the Boat? | Boating Activities

The first important aspect to consider is your boat's purpose. What boating activities are you going to participate in, and what features are crucial to the functional operation of your boat? For example, the classic pick for many is the bowrider, but if you’re looking for a more stable lake boat with plenty of seating, why not try a pontoon boat?

Considering the purpose of your boat is crucial. It’s recommended to make sure you have a good idea of all the locations you want to use your boat.

Knowing the purpose of the boat - whether it’s going out for the occasional weekend cruise, going fishing with your friends, or maybe a multiple-day event. Having that information is going to be crucial in your decision on if you want to pick a pontoon boat, sailboat, or even something like a yacht.

How Much Are You Willing to Spend on a Boat?

Contrasting the features you’re looking for, it’s important to understand exactly how much you’re willing to spend on a boat. Obviously, if you had unlimited funds you could purchase any boat you wanted.

Since that obviously isn’t the case, though, it’s always crucial to have an idea of how much you’re willing to spend on a boat before deciding on the type of boat and model or style you’re looking for.

The price is a very big consideration when you’re looking for the right boat, and it’s also a good factor to consider when you’re deciding if you want to buy a new or used boat.

Features to Look for

Although it may be unlikely that you find an ideal boat with every feature you’re looking for, there will be some features that you can’t afford to pass up.

Because of this, it’s a great idea to make a list of some of the likely features - or more importantly the crucial “I need this” features - that you’re looking for in your boat.

For example, some of the common features you may be looking for include:

  • Feasibility with choppy water

  • Seating space

  • Speed

  • Interior cabin

  • Storage space

And other features which are crucial to your fishing experience. Ultimately, though, having a good idea of the features you’re looking for is something you need before you look at buying a boat.

Types of Boats

Now that you know the price, features, and purpose of your ideal boat, what should you look for? Well, it’s important to consider the distinctions between the common types of boats available for purchase. Knowing what type of boat you want is important when you’re deciding what style of boat you’re going to end up with.


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The first and arguably most popular style of boat is the bowrider. The bowrider is characterized by not being specifically designed for any activity, but rather by being a “general purpose” boat.

This design of boat is extremely versatile, with some bowriders even featuring a cabin area. These boats are great for the lake cruise and the occasional ocean venture, but it’s important to consider that the vast majority of these boats operate in the 18’ - 26’ range, and have majorly unprotected decks.

Because of this, the bowrider is not built for bad weather, and should be considered in general as a multi-purpose cruising and lake boat.


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The cruiser classifies a large variety of boats. This type of boat features overnight accommodations, and the ability to travel far distances to ports other than the one embarked from.

Freshwater Fishing Boats

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Freshwater fishing boats are designed exclusively for use as fishing boats on freshwater lakes and rivers. These boats are usually less accommodating of large parties as the other boats on this list, but do offer the ability to troll and travel through shallow and more difficult areas.

Pontoon Boats

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Although a downside of the pontoon boat is that it doesn’t do well in choppy water, pontoon boats do feature a large amount of deck space and are great for large crowds and lake cruising.

Because of this, pontoons should be considered for cruising events with large parties. These boats are great for lake and bay use.


A runabout boat is an umbrella term used to describe several different types of boats, such as bowriders, ski and fish combination boats, and smaller speedboats. These boats, however, do share commonalities of being much smaller, and are usually used on lakes and similar areas.

The benefit of a runabout is that the price will usually be lower, but these boats are usually much more open and exposed to the elements than the other types.


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A sailboat can be extremely fun to use, but it’s important to consider that these boats oftentimes don’t feature any motorized aspects, which may be seen as a negative depending on the situation.


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Speedboats are usually classed as boats meant to provide the highest MPH over the water possible. The benefits of these boats are the thrill, but they don’t provide much speciality other than that.


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Trawlers are boats which share the commonality of a slower, more leisurely speed, meant for traveling slower and relaxing on a day off.

Watersports Boats

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Watersports boats, also known as “tow boats”, are built specifically with watersports such as waterskiing in mind.


Overall, the type of boat chosen will depend entirely on personal preference, the budget you have, and the features you’re looking for. When choosing the right boat, these are your top options to pick between.