How much horsepower do I need?
This ties into an earlier question
about how you’re going to use the boat. If
you’re the hang out and chill type, you’re
probably looking at the 50 to 115hp range.
If you’re going to be fishing, you may
want to look at adding a trolling motor too,
which is an additional cost. But if you’re
all performance-minded, you’ll want to get
at least a 200hp engine. Now, some boats
handle well and move fast even with a
modest engine, so do a little research and
see if you really need those twin 400hp
outboards after all.
How many engines should I get?
Probably just one, unless you have your
great uncle’s inheritance underwriting this
purchase or you have a serious addiction
to speed. A fair amount of boats can be
outfitted with two outboards if you really
want them and we’ve even tested three
outboards on a pontoon boat before. Be
warned: multiple engines mean more
overall cost for our investment.
What kind of engine should I get?
What we mean here is simply this:
outboard engine or a sterndrive? Most
pontoons come with an outboard, but it’s
not unheard of to have a sterndrive. Deck
boats can go either way. Sterndrives are
more money, but have the advantage of
clearing your sight line off the back of
the boat, as well as freeing up space for a
sunpad, swim deck, or simply more deck
How big should the boat be?
Again, as with the previous question,
you need to decide what you’re using the
boat for and plan accordingly. I know “size
matters” and all that, but just because
you can get a huge boat doesn’t mean
you should. If you have a big family or
regularly entertain large groups, by all
means, get that 26-footer. But if it’s just
you and your spouse, an 18- or 20-footer
will be more than enough for what you
need. This question will also inform how
you store your boat, so be aware of that as
How much weight can the boat handle?
This will vary somewhat depending on
what kind of power you have on the boat,
but in general, you’ll need to determine
if you really need a boat that can handle
3,600 pounds of people and gear or if
you’ll be fine with a more modest 1,
How heavy is the boat?
Can my vehicle pull it?
You’re going to have to make sure
you’ll be able to actually pull your boat
around behind your vehicle. Even though
you can technically slap a hitch on any
vehicle (like a Corvette—NO, I’M NOT
KIDDING), you need to check your weight
rating. With that, you’ll also need to factor
in the weight of the trailer and any gear
you’ll have in the boat when you make
your way to your lake.
What comes with the boat?
More than just finding out what goodies
come with your purchase, you also need to
see if it includes
a trailer. Most
times it will, but
it’s better to be
extra cost you
may not be
expecting. Go ahead and ask for a boat
cover and extra prop while you’re at it.
And heck, maybe even a tube. The worst
they can do is say no!
Can I have a test drive?
This will be the way you find out
whether all the things you read about
this great boat are true. It’s also the only
way to figure out that elusive “feel” that
every boat has. You may come to find that
there’s a little thing about the handling that
doesn’t quite sit right with you, or that it
isn’t as roomy as you were led to believe.
What does the warranty cover?
If you bought a brand-new Chevy and
the stereo kicked the bucket a couple
weeks later, the dealership would no
doubt cover that. With a boat, though, you
may not be so lucky. Make sure you get
the details of your warranty coverage in
writing. While you’re at it, find out where
you should take it for a tune-up. That
could be covered, too.
Sometimes getting the best, brightest,
and latest boat just isn’t in the cards.
Here are a few tips that will save you a
headache down the road.
Are there maintenance records?
If you’re buying a used boat, this is a
must. You’ll want to know how well the
boat was taken care of before you commit
to it, because there could be all sorts of
things that you won’t notice beforehand.
Is the manufacturer still around?
Try to ensure that the boat builder
is still around and if there’s any kind of
warranty that applies to your situation. The
last thing you want is to drop some coin on
a boat that hasn’t been in production in a
decade and there are no replacement parts
if something goes wrong.
Last but not least, whether you’re
buying new or used, it’s a good idea to
pay for a pre-purchase survey. Even with
a new boat, it pays to get things inspected
and make sure everything is in perfect
working order. If there’s an issue with the
hull, it’s not like you can just pull over and
check the tires. The National Association
of Marine Surveyors and the Society of
Accredited Marine Surveyors have lists of
people local to you that can perform the
That’s all, folks! We’ve done our best
to equip you with our knowledge; now it’s
up to you to make the best decision for
you. We’re about to hit prime boat-buying
season, so get out there and start looking.
18 Pontoon^ & Deck Boat January^2018 http://www.pdbmagazine.com