1. Quality vs. price: Buy the best-quality boat that suits your needs and budget, says Joe Thompson, executive director of the Yacht Brokers Association of America. “The better-quality boat will probably cost more than a boat of lesser quality, but it is still likely to be a relative bargain in the long run because it will have enduring investment value you can realize when you sell it.”
2. New vs. used: If you plan to sell the boat within five years, buy used to mitigate the depreciation factor. Consider buying new if you plan to keep the boat longer than five years and it’s in your budget.
3. Financing: Putting down more than the standard 20 percent of the price will get you a lower interest rate and reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan. More money down means less risk of an upside down mortgage (owing more than the boat is worth) on a newer boat.
4. Insurance: Higher deductibles of 1 to 2 percent of the boat’s value lower premiums. Lowering premiums by scrimping on policy coverage may cost money at claim time. A gasoline engine can raise premiums.
5. Brokers and surveyors: “Start with a good broker and a knowledgeable surveyor, and buy a boat built by a reputable builder,” says Mike New of the American Boat and Yacht Council. “You’ll save money in the long term because those boats hold their value, and you won’t have to spend money to bring them up to standards.”
6. Hull types: “Full-displacement boats are the most fuel efficient, but they’re limited by their hull speed, and I, for one, would not be thrilled at the prospect of running around at 6 or 7 knots,” says Eric Sorensen, author of “Sorensen’s Guide to Powerboats.” “Planing hulls, on the other hand, get you there in a hurry, but you pay for it in fuel consumption because they use more propulsion energy per nautical mile. Any time you get a boat on plane, you’re expending a lot of power for the privilege of going faster. A moderate-weight, keel-less semidisplacement hull is a good compromise between speed — 12 to 18 knots or so on plane — and fuel efficiency.”
7. Fuel-efficient engines: The new generation 4-stroke and direct fuel injected 2-stroke outboards are quieter, burn cleaner and are more fuel efficient than traditional 2-strokes. Sorensen says fuel economy is better with the new technology, but the real benefits are in less noise and lower emissions. Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System and Cummins MerCruiser Diesel’s Zeus pod drives are 30 percent more fuel efficient than traditional inboards, according to published boat tests. Sorensen says some larger boats (over 35 feet or so) are good candidates for repowering with pod drives. “Volvo even has a boat integration test center set up to determine compatibility with IPS,” he notes.
8. Fuel economy: Follow these steps to lower fuel costs: reduce weight inside the boat and windage topside by removing full deck or cockpit enclosures; keep the bottom clean and smooth to reduce drag; tune the engine and use fuel additives for more efficient combustion; ensure props are clean and undamaged for maximum thrust; operate at the most fuel-friendly cruise speed; avoid head seas and winds; plan the shortest route to a destination; and time passages with fair tides.