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Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Boat

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The breeze blowing in your hair, the warm sun on your face, the smell of sunscreen, and the sound of the water gently lapping around you. Sounds nice? Yeah, we thought so too. These things are pretty much universally loved by humans, which is why owning a boat is such an exciting goal for many. It can seem out of reach, but we are here to tell you that it is not! There is a lot to know before you walk into a boat dealership or even delve into your online search from Aceboater – Ontario about how the boat buying process works and what to expect. This article will cover some of the most frequently asked questions and topics relevant to buying a boat. Let’s set sail.

Beginner’s Guide to Boat Lingo

Before we get into the more detailed information about boats and boat buying, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common boat lingo and terms used by boaters.

Hull – the main body of the boat, including the bottom, sides, and deck, but not the masts, engine, and other fittings

Bow – the front end of the boat

Stern – the back end of the boat

Aft – moving from the front to the back of the boat is called going “aft”

Underway – the term used for when a boat is in motion

Ahead – when the boat is moving in a forward direction

Astern – when the boat is moving in a backwards direction

Port – the left side of the boat (when looking from back to front)

Starboard – The right side of the boat (when looking from back to front)

What Types of Boats Are There?

This might seem like a silly question, but it’s actually a bit more cumbersome than you might expect. A boat is a thing that floats and that’s it, right? Well…yes, but also there are literally dozens of different types of boats that are differentiated by their purpose for floating on water. For example, there are boats for fishing, boats for watersports, boats for long-term trips, boats for cruising, boats for going fast, boats for the open ocean, boats for lakes, boats with engines, boats without engines… you get the idea. There are a lot of loans for used boats to choose from.

In this section, we are going to briefly cover some of the most popular types of boats on the market to help you narrow down your search and find which type of boat might be a good fit for you.

Bass Boat

Unsurprisingly, a Bass Boat is a boat made specifically for catching bass fish. These boats are equipped and designed for catching bass and other panfish, usually in freshwater. Modern bass boats feature swivel chairs, which allow the angler to cast their rod from any position in any direction. The boats have storage bins for bait, rods, and lures in addition to live wells where the fish can be kept alive while you continue to fish. Bass Boats are traditionally outboard boats and some have a trolling motor, which allows you to cruise at a very slow and consistent pace. They are usually aluminum or fiberglass.


Bowriders are famous for their open bow, which is the front part of the classically V-shaped boat. They have a traditional seating area in the back of the boat, and then additional seating in the bow. They are typically a bit smaller than a deck boat ranging from 17’ to 35’ and holding 6-10 passengers and run very smoothly. They can have an inboard or outboard engine and typically have a deck on the back to make easy entry for swimming and water sports.

Center Console

Center Consoles get their name because the console, or steering cockpit area in any boat, is located smack dab in the middle of the boat. They are easily recognizable because you can walk completely around the boat, circling the steering wheel. Center Console boats do not have a cabin or foredeck. These boats make great fishing boats, especially sport fishing in offshore waters. They are usually equipped with fish lockers, rod holders and other tech and equipment for fishing.

Cuddy Cabin

These boats win the best all-around award in the marine world. They are well-suited for fishing, sailing, cruising, and water sports. They are very family-friendly as they have a closed deck over the boat’s bow (front) to provide shade, a place to eat and drink out of the wind and sun, a place to store dry goods safely and even potentially sleep and cook.


Cruisers, often referred to as Cabin Cruisers, are powerboats that have onboard accommodations for passengers. Cabin Cruisers are usually in the 30 foot to 45-foot range. Cabin cruisers will often have a kitchen, bathroom and a dining area within the living space, which is maximized as you might see in an RV. The benefit of a cruiser is that it provides many of the benefits of a yacht, but in a much smaller package, which means no crew is required. Cruisers are on the bigger end for a boat though, which benefits them because they can handle choppy waters and provide a stable ride.

Deck Boat

The trademark feature of a deck boat is, you guessed it, a deck. These watercraft have an open deck area from the front to the back of the boat, which provides an open seating area for small groups of people. These boats are typically in a V shape, as opposed to a Pontoon rectangular shape. Deck boats are typically 20 – 32 feet in length and are popularly used for recreational activities like swimming, water sports, and cruising.


This is a broad category, but it is dedicated to one thing: Fishing. Fishing boats can range in size, power, price, and style widely, but they are all built with stability, durability, and power in mind. They include features that make fishing easier and more practical for the passengers like rod lockers, a trolling motor system, and live wells. There are smaller, lighter aluminum fishing boats, which are typically used in calm freshwater environments and there are also offshore fishing boats, which are mighty watercraft built to sustain high winds, waves, and swells.


Performance boats are for the speed seekers in your life. These boats vary widely in size, ranging from 20-foot to 50-foot boats. Performance boats can have inboard or outboard engines, as well as a center console or a closed deck. They come in a lot of different variations. These boats are traditionally designed to go as fast as possible, but many newer models are also including many comfort factors like below deck accommodations and additional seating. The primary function for a Performance boat is to go fast.


Pontoons are one of the most popular inland water boats. They are flat, rectangular boats, which feature a wide and spacious area for passengers to move about. They float with two pontoons attached to the bottom of the boat (they look like canoes). The pontoons contain a significant amount of buoyancy, allowing pontoon designers to create massive deck place fitted with tons of additions and luxuries, like bars, lounge chairs, slides, etc. Pontoons range from 15ft-30ft and are often thought of as party boats.

Ski Boat

Ski Boats have come a long way since their inception in the 60s. The trademark of a good Ski Boat is being able to pull hard from a dead stop and to create the smallest wake possible, creating optimum conditions for water skiing. Ski Boats don’t need to be extremely fast, as most skiers prefer speeds in the low to mid-30s. Ski Boats traditionally feature an inboard engine and a back deck for easy loading and unloading. They are also known for their V shape, which helps with their goal to create flat wakes and highly responsive handling.


Yachts are as fancy as they sound. These vessels are primarily used for leisure and entertainment. A yacht has a standard length of about 36 feet and comes with 2 or more diesel engines. Yachts make great travel boats for families or groups of people looking to venture from location to location via water.

Above is a brief description of 11 different types of boats available on the market today, but note that there are still more even more types of boats available. Some boats we didn’t include are dinghies, sailboats, trawlers, inflatables, sportfishing yachts, and personal watercraft. If you need information on these more specialized watercraft, check out the Discover Boating site to get additional details.

What Size Boat Do I Need?

Boat size mostly depends on two factors: 1) how many people you want to fit on your boat comfortably and 2) how you will use your boat.

There is a dependency on the first factor. Not all boats can fit 20 people. Some smaller boats like a ski boat or a bass boat typically hold 2-6 people comfortably.

Here are some examples of the typical sizes of a boat based on the activity:

  • Offshore Fishing: 30 feet and up
  • Inshore fishing: 15-20 feet
  • Cruising: 20-30 feet
  • Watersports: 15-25 feet

What size boat do you need for ocean crossing?

If you are planning on traversing the oceans and seas where the waves and waters can get fairly rough, you should consider looking at boats 30ft and up. A boat this size will better handle the choppy and unpredictable water and currents, as well as longer trips offshore.

A dealer or factory rep should be able to help you discern the right size boat for your needs and budget.

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