My non-fishing friends (which are few and far between I might add), shake their heads when they look at my side yard. They’ll see my Maritime Skiff center console that I use for fishing. I bought it new 20 years ago, and it’s been worth every penny. Next to the skiff is my duck boat, and I got it used about 15 years ago. Next to the power boats is a Hobie Cat that my neighbor gave me for free. It needs some repairs which I’ll work on this spring. I have a few kayaks scattered in between the hulls as well as a canoe. They have come from years of saving and financing, and they’re a great start to my collection. And because they’re so much fun I say start planning for your first boat. Or your second. Or your third.
But I always I’m looking at a new/used boat for the same reason that I look at new fishing rods. There isn’t one perfect boat for all conditions. My skiff is a modified vee and draws 9 inches of water. It’s lightweight and stable which makes it perfect for both fresh and saltwater. I use it regularly when fishing the flats, and it’s perfect in river estuaries. There is a time I don’t like it which is when the seas start rolling. Why? When the winds get over 25 MPH, which usually means the fishing will be pretty good, it pounds a bit. A deeper Vee with more hull weight would cut through the chop, and it’d be more pleasurable all around.
My rule of thumb when selecting a boat is similar to most important purchases. Since there is no one “perfect” anything, I follow the 80/20 rule. I look for a boat that will work well for 80% of the conditions I will use it: shallow water through mid-depth fishing, light choppy days, fishing around inshore islands and ledges, and, of course, some family time that involves swimming, diving, and clamming. After that I can move into a specialty approach so as to fill out the remaining 20%. My 20% will be an offshore boat that will handle big seas and foul weather. It’ll have a deep vee that slices through the waves and be easy enough for me to run on my own. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I will. It’s just a matter of time.
There are a number of ways to purchase an affordable new boat:
- The first is to finance the boat. When I financed my new boat many years ago I paid $157 a month. That was a little over five bucks a day which is the price of a cup of coffee and bagel one morning. Different than financing cars, boats can be financed for 10-15 years.
- Look into both new and used boats are a great way to go as well. Many boaters invest in new vessels every few years which means that the used boat market is always full of good deals.
- Start with a boat that you can handle. Maybe it’s similar to a boat you’ve been on before (like a buddy’s) or one that isn’t too complex (like one with bow thrusters).
You only go around once in life but if you do it right, once is enough. I’ll send pictures of my new boat when I find it. I hope that you’ll do the same.
Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.