Ever since I got my PPCDL Boating License, I have been talking to people who own boats, visiting marina clubs, researching on the internet, and visiting the libraries to discover what kind of boat I should start out with.
After days of research, I realized that no boat is right for everyone. The kind of boat that your friend owns/is eyeing for may not be the right one for you. Many factors influence the type of boat that suits you. Listed below are a few of those factors. (Relating to powerboats in particular & not sailboats) Certain reference is made to the awesome book “Getting Started in PowerBoating” by Bob Armstrong
Size – How big?
It doesn’t necessarily mean bigger is better. The size must match your needs. My wife and I had a discussion recently regarding the right type of boat that suits us (at least for this part of our lives). We realized that given a choice, we would prefer getting a 30-footer sports cruiser (which I can pilot myself) over a 100-footer Cheoy Lee megayacht. I guess what we are looking for at this stage is more of freedom, excitement, adventure & FUN. We want to spend close, intimate time with our loved ones, family and friends, instead of hosting a 100-people mega-party onboard our megayacht. Well, when we are older, maybe fifties, we might prefer a magayacht. Who knows what life may bring us as we age?
We should note that bigger boats not only cost more but also cost more to operate, maintain, insure, berth, etc. Bigger boats might be more inaccessible for some of the places that you want to go. & in a practical sense, are we going to use “that much” boat?
Accommodations – How many passengers? & How many can sleep in?
Oftentimes, you will have to consider how many passengers you intend to carry & how many can sleep on board comfortably before you determine the size of boat you want to get. For example, my wife and I decided that our boat should be able to let 4-6 people sleep in, and carry about 8-10 passengers. Which means if we just go for a day cruise on our boat, we can invite another family or two to come along. (Eg. myself, my wife, my mother-in-law, baby-gal, my dad & mum, my brother & sister-in-law, baby-boy. This works out to be about 7 adults & 2 kids) For overnight cruise, we can bring at most one more family. Some can sleep on-deck? I gotta find out more on this ☺
This essentially means that I would need a cabin for my boat. I was talking to a boat owner the other day, and he advised me to get a boat with a cabin & the cabin must be air-conditioned! This is because the weather over here in Singapore is too hot & passengers may need a dose of air-con every once in a while & would be definitely much more comfortable for us to sleep over in a air-con cabin. To meet our requirements, we would need at least a 26- to 30-footer cruiser. Bowriders are out; towboats without cabin are out.
Amenities – What degree of comfort you expect?
Do you need a head (means toilet!) with a full shower? Do you need shower at the transom? Hot and/or cold?
How many lockers (means cupboards, closets!) you want? (Walls are known as bulkheads, ceilings ashore are called overheads at sea)
Do you need cooking facilities such as BBQ grill, stoves, microwave, and refrigerator?
Do you need dining facilities such as dinette with dedicated storage for tables & filler cushions?
Do you need a working cockpit for fishing, room to stow scuba gear, better access to swimming, or more room for your passengers to go sun-tanning on your boat?
How about entertainment equipment like TV, DVD player, sound system?
Do you need a shelter over your head or that of your mother-in-law lest it rains or gets too hot? Or just a open-deck runabout will suffice?
Amenities are good to have but please note that they take up more space and increase your acquisition cost.
Activities – What would you and your family use the boat for?
Your boat should make your favourite on-the-water activity easy. Some of the popular activities include fishing, swimming, diving, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and simply cruising. Usually your boat will most likely be a family boat and hence the wishes of your family members should be taken into consideration also before you decide on the type of boat to buy. I learnt that once you get to the 25-foot range, most boats offer a degree of convenient multiple uses.
Destinations/Range – Where would you like to go? (To be covered in Part II as I find out & learn more…)