Hi gang, Rick Ostler here from Used Pontoon Boats. Cottage life usually implies shoreline, and shoreline implies boats, and boats are an automatic part of cottaging.
But what kind of boat? There are diverse decisions to make before choosing a new boat. For better or for worse, recreational boats have evolved to be more and more specialized as the years have gone by. It is not out of proportion to visualize a whole fleet of boats, each tailored to a different experience at the cottage. However, if you don’t realize this before you start to look for your first cottage boat, confusion can reign.
If you are fortunate to find a lovingly previously-used cottage, perhaps the deal includes a lovingly previously-used boat. If not, you are inevitably going to be looking with some urgency to fill the hole in the water next to your dock before the summer season arrives.
Approaching cottage boating with a relatively clean slate, choosing from two dozen or more options for the style of boat can be confusing, if not downright intimidating. So take two paces back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself and your family several key questions.
What are we going to use it for? How large must it be? How large would we like it to be? Are issues such as comfort, speed, range, handling in rough waters, instrumentation for navigation and operation, and storage or trailering important to us? Are we going to tow wakeboarders, tubes, or swim from the boat? Are we going fishing with the boat? Are any long trips planned with the boat? Will escorting visitors on tours of your lake rate high on our social agenda? If so, how many people will be on the guest list?
Next consider any special needs. For example, if your cottage is on an island, the boat, or at least one of your boats, must serve for serious heavy hauling some of the time.
All this develops a list of what you want the boat to do for you at the cottage.
If you need something small and fast or wind powered, consider a pedal boat, canoe, kayak, sailing dinghy, rowing skiff, or sailboard, among others. Add engines, and think runabout: water ski and wakeboard tow boat, dedicated fishing boat, pontoon are all among the choices. You may also need to decide between a bowrider and an enclosed bow.
For the engine itself, stern drive or outboard, or full inboard engine for a larger boat. Single or dual drive? Gasoline, diesel or possibly electric?
Look with an open mind, since both outboard and inboard engines are improving steadily to be more efficient and less polluting than even a few years ago.
Boat builders, dealers, and marinas serve markets which cover a wide spectrum of interests, not just cottagers. They might exhibit large long-distance cruisers, trawlers, live-aboard sailboats, and specialty boats such as offshore racers, all of which can distract you from your primary interest in choosing a cottage boat which matches your specific needs.
But with your short list of musts and wants in hand you can narrow down your choices to a few boats of the appropriate shape and size.
Operating any of these craft requires appropriate skill and experience. Remember to keep your training up to a level which matches the capability of your boat. Contact us at Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons for information about our wide selection of boating courses for both beginner and experienced boater.
Finding the ideal first boat or next boat for your cottage fleet is a journey of many steps, spanning everything from your personal insights to the big wide world of the boating market. Enjoy your trip.
Thanks to Jack McIrvine, past commander of the Bracebridge Power Squadron and muskokan.com
Be sure to check out this weeks latest Pontoon Boat Videos
Used Pontoon Boats, By Rick Ostler
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Also we value your comments, if you can add more info in regards to this article please do so. Thanks............Rick