Buyer's Guide

May 24, 2013

Choosing the right type of boat

Photo: Larson Boars

Un croiseur compact

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Everyone knows that choosing a new craft is much more complex than choosing a new car. In the boating world, there are numerous models that seem all as equally interesting. In order to help you decide which model to purchase, what follows is a description of the various types of boats, as well as their pros and cons. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect boat, but by analyzing your needs, you will at least be able to target a type of boat on which to focus your search.

Open deck boats
Cuddy boats
Compact cruisers
Express cruisers
High performance boats
Flybridges
Ski and wakeboard boats
Pontoons
Watercrafts
Sailboats

Open deck boats
This type of boat has arguably been one of the most popular over the past few years and is most certainly the model of choice among first-time buyers. Open deck or “bowrider” models are extremely versatile and, above all, most of them remain very affordable. In fact, they allow many people to participate in water sport activities at a lower price since their purchase, maintenance, insurance and operating costs are lower as compared to other types of boats. Their reduced size and weight also make them easier to tow and furl, which is a significant benefit.

One interesting characteristic about open deck boats is their highly functional configuration. The space at the front can accommodate a higher number of passengers, which, despite the reduced size of this type of boat, enables you to cruise with family and friends. Due to their great versatility, open deck boats can also be used for water sport activities even though there are not the best boats intended for that purpose.

As regards the cons, this type of boat often has reduced dimensions, and as such, is less pleasant to cruise on larger or rougher water bodies. You must stay tuned for weather forecasts, as this type of boat does not like big waves. Further, this is a “one-day” boat since the lack of accommodations and cabin will not enable you to spend a weekend on board, something many people soon come to appreciate.

Who should chose an open deck boat?
Those with a more limited budget, who cruise on lakes and rivers and who intend to use their boat for the day and then go back home.

Cuddy boats
Once very popular, cuddy cabin  boats have lost their appeal for buyers over the time. Viewed as a compromise between compact cruisers and open deck boats, they offer all the pleasures and benefits of a smaller craft, and are thus relatively affordable, while providing passengers adequate commodities and the possibility of sleeping on board. This type of boat usually boasts sportier styling and offers a more dynamic cruising experience than a cruiser, a characteristic many people appreciate. In addition, they are fairly easy to tow thanks to their reduced size, and their operating and maintenance costs are also more reasonable. They can also be used for water sport activities.

As for the cons, most models offer less commodities than compact cruisers and, in many cases, they can only accommodate two passengers overnight due to the lack of a half cabin.

Who should choose a cuddy boat?
Those seeking a smaller-dimension craft that is stylish, pleasant to cruise and offers enough commodities for a weekend excursion.

Compact cruisers
This type of boat has been very popular for the past several years. Although their popularity is mainly due to their more reasonable price, compact cruisers are perfect for participating in water sport activities and making it a lifestyle at a lesser cost. This is the perfect boat for families who want to travel or spend the weekend on board while having the possibility to explore new water bodies. They are fairly easy to tow due to their reduced size and weight and can be furled at home without any problem, which can save you money. Their single engine motorization also reduces operating and maintenance costs.

As regards the cons, these crafts have reduced dimensions which is thus less convenient for larger families, and could soon feel cramped and crowded on board. As compact cruisers are much more sensitive to rough water bodies, some compromises may be required when travelling. Their reduced length and more significant height also make them more vulnerable to pitching and weight transfer at speed.

Who should choose a compact cruiser?
Those who want to adopt water sport activities as a lifestyle, at a more affordable cost.

Express cruisers
Express cruisers can be described as larger fast cruising boats offering a high level of luxuries and comfort and a sportier style. They are perfect for long stays on board in a spacious environment, not to mention the various equipment and accessories designed to improve comfort. Due to their larger size, you will be able to accommodate several guests and enjoy short outings or small trips with many passengers. Their faster cruising speed also makes it easier to go to and return from remote locations.

Of course, this type of boat requires a higher budget, both at the time of purchase and when paying for operating costs.

Who should choose an express cruiser?
Those seeking a boat for long overnight stays and who are not willing to make any compromise as regards space, luxuries and accessories.

High performance boats
Like sport cars, high performance boats provide a cruising experience second to none. With their distinctive bold color schemes and sporty lines, you will not go unnoticed on these boats. Due their higher cruising speeds, they can cover longer distances and bring you to remote locations faster. Their speed and more pronounced V-shape hull enable them to deal with rough waters without any problem. Although the fuel consumption on this type of boat is similar to that of smaller crafts at lower speeds, their consumption is more significant at higher speeds. However, since they can reach a location faster, this will reduce consumption time, reducing the gap with certain other types of boats.

One interesting feature about sporty high performance boats, is that due to their more reduced beam and height, it is possible to tow large-sized models of over 30 feet for instance, which is impossible with same size cruisers. This feature will allow you to discover new remote water bodies or that are simply inaccessible to other crafts.

As regards the cons, since these boats are equipped with high performance mechanical components, their purchase price and maintenance costs are also more expensive. At equal length, high performance boats are also much less convenient and accommodating than a cruiser, especially given that over the last few years, compromise models have been replaced by extreme boats. Insurance costs are also higher.

Who should choose a high performance boat?
High sensation seekers and those who like long-distance travel but have less time.

Flybridges
Flybridge models are characterized by their more pronounced height. They have two bridges for increased space on board. Given their dimension, their spacious layout and numerous commodities, they can be used as a second home that provides a luxurious and comfortable environment. These models favor comfort and space over style and cruising performance. Flybridges distinguish themselves by their high clearance at the bow, which allow passengers to move freely everywhere. Their layout is similar to that of a home, including several cabins or rooms, complete bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen.

A regards the cons, their purchase price as well as operating and maintenance costs are higher. It must be noted that at the beginning and end of the season, these mammoths are much more difficult to tow and furl. Their size also makes them much less convenient to simply go on a short outing. At speed, this type of boat behaves much more like a house on water than a sporty boat.

Who should choose a flybridge?
Those seeking a boat with plenty of room and commodities and that can be used as a second home.

Ski and wakeboard boats
These boats are mainly intended for water sport activities rather than cruising. They offer, depending on each model, an array of equipment and accessories for participating in water sport activities. These include ballasts to swell the waves, a cruise control, a heating system to extend the boating season and a tower to hang the rope, skis and wakeboard. This type of boat often uses a distinctive propulsion mode. It includes an internal engine and a shaft, rather than a traditional sterndrive to safeguard skiers or wakeboarders.

As regards the cons, these boats are ill-adapted for cruising or navigating on rough waters. Their flatter hull and configuration make them less convenient or even outright unpleasant to cruise through waves. This type of boat is not the most affordable and fuel consumption is fairly high when participating in water sport activities.

Who should choose a ski or wakeboard boat?
Those who want to engage in water sport activities on smaller water bodies.

Pontoons
Pontoons are spacious and are perfect for accommodating several passengers on board. These boats are perfectly suited to organize a party on board! Pontoons have evolved significantly over time. From over-simplified crafts, they have now become much faster and offer, in certain cases, a good level of luxury and comfort. They are also very popular due to their more affordable price and utility features. If ever you cruise on a small lake, you will undoubtedly see a pontoon. This is a well-thought craft for this type of use, enabling you to enjoy the view and the pleasure of simply being on the water.

Due to their peculiar configuration, pontoons remain the crafts that are best suited for smaller water bodies or for short outings. In addition, in most cases, these boats do not offer all the commodities for overnight trips. They are also less pleasant to cruise against the waves.

Who should choose a pontoon?
Those who like navigating in all simplicity, while benefiting from a craft that can accommodate a higher number of passengers.

Watercrafts
Watercrafts are renowned for their excellent handling and drivability. Fairly affordable, they can be towed very easily, even with a car, and enable you to explore several water bodies. Their unique propulsion mode, a turbine, requires lower water levels than traditional crafts and you will be able to use them in locations that are inaccessible to larger boats. Their motorization can be extremely powerful in certain cases, enabling them to reach higher speeds, which adds to the pleasure. The maintenance costs of watercrafts are also very low as compared to other type of crafts.

As regards the cons, we must mention their relatively high operating costs, since their high speed capacity generates greater fuel consumption. The same goes for insurance costs. In addition, since space on board is very limited – one to three passengers, based on the model –, it is not possible to go on a trip with several people, unless you are cruising with other recreational boaters. You will often find yourself alone, which can be less interesting.

Who should choose a watercraft?
Those who want an affordable craft that provides unequalled sensations and pleasures.

Sailboats
This type of craft is often considered as a haven of peace and relaxation. Equipped in most cases with an engine to facilitate travel and certain maneuvers, you will be able to sail with the wind most of the time, in a matchless quiet and peaceful environment. Sailing is considered more like a sport than a simple recreational activity. Enthusiasts sail for the pleasure of travelling and being on water and not necessarily to reach a destination. Sailing is a real lifestyle that can be both affordable or luxurious and comfortable, based on the type of sailboat. In addition, the possibility to travel on water on a boat powered primarily by sail results in a significant fuel economy and reduced polluting emissions.

As regards the cons, a sailboat requires more time, whether during the preparations before taking off or for reaching a destination. You will thus need a lot of spare time to fully benefit from your sailboat. The same applies to its maintenance before and after the boating season, which is somewhat more complex. It is difficult to sail alone and you are always at the mercy of the winds. Sailboats are also less convenient on smaller or narrower water bodies.

Who should choose a sailboat?
Those who wish to turn boating into a sportier activity, who appreciate complete peace of mind and quietness or simply the possibility to sail with the winds.