Updated: Jun 5, 2021
1. The size of the boat is crucial. Be realistic about where you intend to take your boat. Do you plan to go 100 miles offshore? Do you plan to take it on overnight trips? Do you plan just to do more inshore fishing? If so, how often would you be doing these different types of trips? For example, if I was looking at a boat to go to San Clemente Island and spend the night while looking for tuna, I would like to have a big enough boat with a cabin where you and a dive buddy could be comfortable spending the night in a warm and dry place. A boat that size would require a little extra space than say a 21-foot boat that you intend to go to the local kelp bed for fishing. However, if you’re only planning on doing one or two overnight trips a year, it might be worth saving money and dealing with the elements for a night or two.
Another issue with having a larger size boat is the overall weight of the boat and trailering it to different areas. It’s nice to have the option of bringing your own boat to other areas such as Baja or Central California. If your vehicle or the trailer isn’t up for the task, the cost of getting a new vehicle or replacing the trailer gets very expensive.
The last issue that is related to overall boat size, is operating cost. I’m not talking about maintenance fees either. I am talking about your fuel consumption or gallons per hour. Fuel is expensive, and the bigger the boat the more fuel it will burn while going from point A to point B. The other point is that bigger boats usually have more features on them, which to me means more things to break. Often times, you will be spending a lot money just to fix the items that broke on your last fishing trip. Simple is better.
2. What are you going to be using it for (scuba diving, spearfishing, family fun, fishing)? Whatever you’re going to be using your boat for there are certain characteristics that will make your experience more enjoyable. One of the biggest things that I have found is how important deck space is on a boat. Having a lot of deck space is crucial when it comes to certain activities. It is nice to have your gear and lines not tangled up around bait fish tanks or having your friends get in each other’s way as they move around on the boat. Having a lot of deck space also allows you the ability to have your equipment organized throughout the boat without stepping on things.
3. What is your budget? When you think about your budget you have to consider storage fees, maintenance fees, fuel consumption, and required equipment that goes on the boat. Additionally, if you have a twin-engine boat because you plan to go far offshore and want the added security just take the fuel and maintenance costs and double it compared to a single engine vessel. Safety comes at a price in this case. A cheaper option would be Vessel Assist and a good VHF radio.
In the end, the key to getting the right boat for you is being realistic. Being realistic on what you actually need the majority of time, and how much boat you can really afford. Always budget for it costing you more that you think. Boat ownership is amazing provided that you know what you are getting yourself into.