Imagine a glorious summer day. The sun is high in the sky, and it’s hot. Many run to the beach on these days to be near the water. Why not go on the water in a watercraft?
“People are busy. They want to make a boat purchase for lifestyle, recreation and FUN,” said Bill Irwin, Vice President and Sales & Marketing at Irwin Marine in Laconia, New Hampshire. “Buyers have many options for getting on the water. We see many families start with a canoe or outboard and upgrade through the years as their families grow.”
In this two-part series, we’ll examine options for getting a watercraft, then take a hard look at considerations when purchasing. Some of the more common boat options, especially for those new to boat ownership, include:
Paddling is a simple and cost effective way to get on the water. Canoes and kayaks are always popular and are available in one- or two-person models. “Paddleboarding is a craze,” Irwin said. With paddleboarding you stand on something akin to a surfboard and use what is basically a long canoe paddle to move along the water. Transporting can be as easy as securing to a car roof rack. The top fitness benefit is a great arm workout.
Sailing often appeals to people wanting a speedier experience without the noise of a motor. A common entry level sailboat is the Sunfish, a one or two-person beach-launched boat with a simple sailing rig. Sunfish have been around for 65 years and are fun to use and learn sailing. The name originates from the original manufacturer but is commonly used today to refer to board-style sailboats. For those wanting competition, there is the International Sunfish Class Association catering to racers worldwide on the one design boat.
A Sunfish is a good choice for smaller lakes. Larger lakes and oceans require larger sailboats often having fixed keels (the large weight under the boat) and can have very sophisticated sail configurations. Larger sailboats often have an engine for docking or movement on windless days.
Power boats have a variety of propulsion techniques.On power boats, propulsion is generally provided by either a “jet” (a stream of water sucked into the boat through an impeller and “jetted” out the rear) or a propeller. The jet can be turned side-to-side by the operator, giving the direction. On propeller-driven boats, direction is determined by how the propeller is facing or, on some boats, by water rushing past a rudder.
Engines on power boats are generally either “outboard” (the motor is bolted to the rear of the boat) or “inboard.” Outboards are built to do one thing: move a boat. Inboard engines are car engines modified for sea duty and are located internal to the boat. An inboard-outboard (IO) is a car motor with a maneuverable external lower unit (like on an outboard).
“Outboards are often good choices for salt water as an IO may not be as tolerant of the salt environment. Jet boats are somewhat safer without an exposed propeller,” said Irwin.
Common power boats include:
- Personal watercraft – A personal watercraft is another great way to get on the water. Irwin said, “They are easy to trailer and only need about 18 inches of water to operate. Capacity varies by model but can hold up to three adults.” Be prepared to get wet. Part of the attraction is being close to the water. And some are quite powerful – with more horsepower than a car!
- Bow rider – A bow rider is a great choice to get on the water and enjoy water sports. You can pull a tube or skier with ease. With a bow rider, the entire top side of the boat is open.
- Cuddy cabin – Families with children up to seven-years-old often choose a cuddy cabin, similar to a bow rider and with the bow (or front) of the boat enclosed. “It’s a great way to get young children out of the sun, it’s safe, and the children will often use it as a playground,” said Irwin. “As boats grow in size, you get more sophistication with the cabin and they can include a galley (kitchen) and toilet/shower.”
- Pontoon – Pontoon, or deck boats, traditionally comprised of a flat deck mounted on top of two aluminum tubes. Newer pontoon boats often have three tubes. This craft is a great option for those wanting to be on the water and not in the water!
In our next blog, we will cover the ins and outs of buying a boat. For more information about financing a boat, click here.
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