Posted on November 08, 1999 at 08:11:16:
Choosing a Powerboat
Is this the year your going to do it? If so there are many things that you'll need to consider. A boat can be a significant investment that can provide you with many years of enjoyment or headaches. Making the right choices from the beginning are very important. Winter is a great time to do advanced planning for your purchase.
One boat to do it all ?
If you find yourself fishing freshwater just as much as the salt you should make an investment that will allow you to do both reasonably well. Aluminum boats in the 15 to 20 ft range are becoming very popular due to their versatility and low cost. These boats are easy to trailer due to their light weight. Popular hull designs are deep V's and modified V's. The modified V hull requires less horsepower to get the boat up on plane but may have a tendency to cut into waves getting you wet. The deep V hull requires more horsepower to get the boat up but usually rides higher and drier than the modified V hull. Deep V hulls may have a tendency to push a lot of water. My experience with deep V hulls is that you either need to be going very slow so that you are not plowing water or relatively fast so that the boat is up on plane with any speed in between being somewhat impractical. Fishing space is another obvious consideration in choosing your boat. This is why most fishing boats either have a small console or none at all. Space is very important. Fly anglers usually prefer a bow and stern area with raised deck space for fly casting.
Choosing an outboard for your particular model boat is a decision that a dealer should help you with. If under powered the motor will constantly be labored to get the boat on plane. If overpowered you may be spending more fuel money than you need to be. Probably the most important decision you can make in purchasing a boat is who your dealer will be. Find someone with a trustworthy reputation in not only sales but also service. They should be able to answer your outboard questions.
Four stroke engines are becoming very popular today with just about every major outboard company offering them. Their obvious advantages over the older two stroke engines are increased fuel economy and decreased emissions. Outboard motor technology is changing fast however. The new two stroke motors are much more fuel efficient than they used to be with reduced emissions. Because the technology is changing so fast you must again rely upon a trustworthy and knowledgable dealer to steer you in the right direction on this choice.
No single boat will handle all conditions well but today's aluminum boats offer great compromise and versatility for a reasonable price. That is the reason that there are so many of them out there.
The saltwater boat.
If your primary goal is to use your boat to chase stripers and blues along Maine's unpredictable rocky coastline you may want to consider fiberglass over aluminum. The extra weight of a fiberglass boat lends itself to a smoother ride with less pounding. In addition fiberglass is easy to repair if you should get too close to a ledge (where all the fish are). Fiberglass is inert to the elements of the marine environment , easy to clean, and extremely durable. Fiberglass boats tend to be more expensive and difficult to trailer but their comfort and safety far outweigh their disadvantages in the marine environment.
When planning the purchase of your new boat be sure to budget for accessories! You would be surprised at how the little things add up. Simple electronics , pfd's, and flares can easily put you over the $1,000 mark. I would highly recommend putting a GPS on board. What a great tool. Even if you only fish lakes and ponds it can be useful for marking fish and bottom structure. If you have limited visibility such as darkness or fog it can be a life saver. If you spend time in the woods or water and do not own a GPS you owe it to yourself to try one.
Regardless of what you choose for a boat whether it is four or forty feet long you will need to learn to watch the weather and respect the environment. There are many hazards while on the water. If you are new to boating you should take a course in boating safety and seamanship. The United States Coast Guard Auxillary offers these courses from several different sites throughout each state all over the nation. Topics include things such as trailering, navigation, piloting, weather observation, docking, navigational aids, and emergency procedures. Each year there are more and more boaters on the water making it increasingly hazardous . You owe it to yourself and others to be educated on the correct way to handle your boat. If this is your year to get that new boat keep these things in mind and enjoy yourself!