Thursday, October 31, 2013
Boat Shows Are Just One Piece Of The Boat-Buying Puzzle
We all know that boat shows are a great way to find out about the latest innovations and technologies, discover new and improved products, see lots of different types of boats all in one place, and find incredible deals. But there are quite a few things to consider before and after you stroll into that big, beautiful, climate-controlled arena this winter.
Find Your Show
First things first…you have to find your nearest show (or shows) so you can put it on the calendar now. The last thing in the world you want to have happen is that something less important (let’s say ballroom dancing classes) gets added on a boat show Saturday just because the date was “open.” Take charge and put the boat show on the books. Your Fred Astaire moves will have to wait. The best place to track down your local show is on the Discover Boating website. Find a show near you.
Convince Your Significant Other
Throughout history, there has been a distinct pattern when it comes to introducing the boating lifestyle into any committed relationship. Usually one spouse wants it more than the other. I know, it’s hard to fathom, but believe it or not, some folks have to be talked into the best decision they’ll ever make. The irony, of course, is that boating improves relationships, allows you to spend more time together, and overall benefits your mental and physical well-being. But I digress. Fortunately, there’s a tool for just such a quandary…the Spousal Conversion Kit from Discover Boating. Besides actually getting out on the water and letting the wind and water work their magic, this is the best path to persuade with power!
Calculate Your Comfort Level
You know it wasn’t so long ago that we tended to perhaps over reach when it came to making buying decisions about life-enhancement accessories like boats. Today, we’re smarter than that. Now the prudent thing to do is to take a good hard look at the budget and go into the boat show armed with the facts about what we can afford. After all, boating is the ultimate family relaxation therapy — you don’t want to be constantly distracted by the aftermath of an ill-advised purchase. An honest and open family conversation is the first step toward getting the most out of your boating lifestyle. To get started, check out Discover Boating’s handy Loan Calculator. Dealing with real numbers, believe it or not, will cause much less worry and resistance and help you confidently take the next steps.
Deal With The Right Dealer
One major component to a boat-buying decision that some people forget is that finding the right dealer can be just as important as the boat you decide on. After all, the gleaming gel coat and persuasive marketing messages can have you in a state of euphoria at the boat show. Pick the right dealer, and you will be just as euphoric years and years later. Not only will you will be working closely with the dealer during the actual transaction, but you will be entering a long-term relationship as you need routine service, off-season storage, and perhaps even dock space. One way to make sure your dealer is right for you is to check out the list of Marine Five-Star Certified Dealers created by Discover Boating using a screening process to ensure that you get a high-quality experience before and after the sale.
For more information on finding the right boat for you, visit Discover Boating.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Well, the wind is blowin' harder now Fifty knots or there abouts, There's white caps on the ocean. And I'm watching for waterspouts — Jimmy Buffett, Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season
If you boat anywhere down the East Coast or the along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, you’ll have to deal with some direct or indirect affects associated with a hurricane. Now that the hard reality is out there, there are some things to keep in mind that can help you keep yourself safe and protect your property.
One of the reasons folks get into boating in the first place is to get away from the constant sensory input of today’s overly connected world. But if you live an area that’s exposed to hurricanes (or other extreme weather for that matter), you need to find a reliable and fast way to get the latest forecasts. Of all the things you can do to keep safe when you’re in the path of a hurricane, advance warning is, by far, the most effective.
Get Out Of The Way
For most recreational powerboats, many times the best solution is to pull the vessel and head inland. This reduces the impact of the initial storm surge and the accompanying rain and wind. The sooner the better on this because there will be lots of folks who either don’t or can’t move their boats in advance. Those folks will be the ones jammed onto the back roads and highways when mandatory evacuation orders are issued.
Batten Down The Hatches
For those boats that can’t be moved, it’s time to go old-school mariner and batten down those hatches. That phrase has survived modern times because it precisely describes what you need to do in a crisis situation. First, remove anything that’s not permanently part of the boat. That means cushions, toasters, life jackets, curtain rods and anything else that would fall off if the boat gets sideways. Leave them aboard and you not only risk losing them for good, but you could create dangerous projectiles for anyone or anything still hanging around during the worst parts of the storm. Use plenty of extra fenders, used tires or anything else that will absorb impact and lash them to the boat. Quadruple your normal line usage, springing to any and all potential contact points. Check that all hatches and portholes are secure and detach or cover windscreens. It also wouldn’t hurt to drop an anchor fore and aft and make sure they’re well set.
Don’t Try To “Ride” It Out
There seems to be some absolutely crazy theory floating around out there that you and your boat might be better off away from your marina, riding out the storm in open water. That is a misguided and misinformed idea. Yes, you are technically out of the way of more flying debris and your boat won’t be lashed to a “fixed” object like a dock when the indescribable physics of a hurricane are set in motion. Here’s the rub: YOU will be unnecessarily in harm’s way. There is NOTHING tough about riding out a furious storm on the water. Boats become a part of our lifestyles and identities, but they can ALWAYS be replaced.
Visit Discover Boating for more information on Hurricane Preparation.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
7 Hidden Secrets To Winterizing Your Boat
Unless you live south of, say, Jacksonville, Florida, chances are you will find it necessary to winterize your boat until the first few hints that spring is back for good. Of course that’s a longer time frame in some parts of the country than others, but generally, you’re looking at about the same decommissioning procedure whether it’s two months or six months.
Let it be known that the sure-fire best way to make sure your boat is prepped and stored correctly is to take it to your local dry-storage marina and say goodbye until after the vernal equinox. But us boaters are known to be a hands-on, do-it-yourself breed, so consider the following tips if you’re taking on the task yourself (or with an able-bodied crewmate). Chances are you might just save yourself a little folding money in the process, and IF spring comes early…you’ll be ready to launch as soon as boating fever strikes.
This is not a comprehensive list of the proper steps to winterize a boat. After all, there are lots of different kinds of boats, in both freshwater and saltwater, with both gas and diesel motors, in many different styles. Please check your engine manual for a step-by-step checklist for your particular motor. That being said, here are some tricks of the trade to keep in mind.
Write It Down
It is one of the great fallacies among recreational boaters that will be able to remember exactly what we did to our boat during the winterizing process. But months go by and you find yourself wondering if you really DID change that oil and filter. After all, there’s a reason that we have ship’s logs. So, no matter how good your long-term memory, keep a notebook to remind yourself of what you did and DID NOT do, so you can hit the water running in the spring.
Watch Your Gas
It’s critically important that you add some sort of premium gas stabilizer to your tank after your final outing of the season. Simply fill up not-quite-to-full on your way home (either to the marina or to the launch ramp), add the appropriate amount of stabilizer (brands vary on the ratio), and let the final ride mix thoroughly.
Change Is Good
It’s been a long, enjoyable boating season, so it’s time to treat your boat’s motor to a well-deserved oil change. Depending on the location of your oil pan drain (or dipstick position if your engine has its own oil management system), pump/drain as much of your oil out as possible. This is also the time to change your oil filter, water/fuel separator, in-line filters, and whatever other changeable component you can change. If you do all this now, you will know exactly when something was changed last.
Hold Your Spark
About the only changeable components you want to save for spring recommissioning are your spark plugs. There’s no reason for new spark plugs to sit languishing in a cold engine all winter. However, go ahead and buy your new set while you’re buying all of your filters. Verify that you’ve got the right size by comparing them against the ones already in your engine.
Muff And Fog
Unless you’ve got a closed cooling system (like your car), you will need to make absolutely sure you’ve got water available to run through your motor when you’re decommissioning for the season. This is typically accomplished by using Muffs (aka Rabbit Ears) on an I/O drive or a flushport hose connection on an outboard. Do NOT run your engine without water circulating or you may be decommissioning for good. The next step (on fuel-injected engines) is to crank the engine (not start) and spray a preservative (aka Fogger) into each cylinder via the spark plug port. If you’ve got a carbureted engine, spray the fogging compound into the carburetor with the motor running (with water circulating) until the engine chokes and stalls. You’re trying to distribute the fogger completely throughout the engine.
Smart Battery Care
Make sure you remove your battery before stowing your boat away. However, make sure it’s the very last thing you remove from the boat, because if you don’t, you will have forgotten to raise your outboard or outdrive to the up or trailerable position. Now, store that battery in a warm, dry place like a climate-controlled basement or garage, preferably somewhere close (but not too close) to an electrical outlet. This will give you an easy way to put your battery on a trickle charger about once a month to have it ready to go.
A Final Word About H2O
Without a doubt, the single most potentially damaging thing to your boat in the off-season is, ironically, water. It will go where it can and lead to things like mold and mildew (and the accompanying smells) and it do serious harm if allowed to find its way into tight areas and expand as it freezes. Do yourself a favor and invest in a great cover with an internal bracing system. Better yet, pony up for a quality shrink-wrap job. And when you park your boat for the winter, make sure it’s tilted as much toward aft as possible to allow water to do its thing and run down hill.
For more information on winterizing your boat, visit DiscoverBoating.com.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Okay, first things first…they’re called fenders. Not bumpers. Yes, they do perform a bumping action to protect your boat from slamming into hard things. But the correct term is fenders. Whew! Glad we got that out of the way.
Learning when and how to properly use fenders is one of the simplest and easiest ways to protect your fiberglass, aluminum or wooden boat from the wear and tear of docks and pilings , and can add plenty to your boating experience when used to separate yourself from other boats when rafting up (tying multiple anchored boats together).
Just like putting a new roof on your house provides lots of protection, buying fenders is really not the sexiest item you can put in your shopping cart when at your local marine retailer. Cool electronics, funny t-shirts and wild watersports gear can turn your head. Fenders, well….not so much. Since they’re relatively inexpensive, you might as well get at least four high-quality, matching fenders along with dock lines about three feet long. While there’s not hard-and-fast rule about what size you need, 5-inch diameter by 20-inch long will serve you well on just about any boat under 30 feet.
When coming into a dock, get started early setting up your fenders, depending on how you will be pulling in. This is especially important if speed efficiency is an issue (such as pulling into a crowded fuel dock) or wind or current will be a factor, demanding your complete attention during the actual docking process. Remember, you don’t have to deploy all the fenders, just the ones on the dockside.
Generally, you’ll tie off your dock line to the dockside cleats a few inches above the waterline or so the fenders cross your rub rails about mid way. This will provide the best protection for your boat, especially if boat traffic and/or windy conditions have the water choppy. Once you’ve actually pulled up to the dock and tied off, double check that your fenders are right in the middle where your hull meets the dock and that you’ve used a cleat hitch knot so they’ll stay put. To tie a cleat hitch, slip the dock line under one end of the clear and start a “figure 8,” ending your last turn by turning the line under itself and pulling the line tight to lock it in place.
When leaving the dock, just keep the fenders in place until you’ve released the dock lines and you’re safely away from the dock and other boats. Then remember to untie and properly stow the fenders before you get underway. Not only does it look pretty silly to have fenders still attached while you’re running, but you run the risk of dropping them in the water and not noticing until you are long gone. Make sure you stow your fenders in the same place every time, with dock lines still attached, so they’ll be ready to deploy the next time you head back to the dock.
For more boating tips, visit DiscoverBoating.com.
Monday, September 30, 2013
With its longer days, warm temperatures and fish so active they just jump right in your boat (yeah right), it’s easy to understand why summer is the season that seems to get all the attention when you start talking about the “best” time to be an angler. If by best, you mean the easiest course to catch your limit, you have a pretty strong argument. But if by best, you mean a more challenging and enjoyable fishing excursion — you have to give some serious consideration to fall. All you have to do is tweak your tactics and your gear a little, and you’ll be a committed autumn angler for life.
Chase The Bait
You’ll start to notice target species such as bass and walleye begin to change their feeding patterns just as the first few waves of crisp fall air sweep across the lakes and rivers. That’s you cue to start paying close attention to the bait fish. Find those little guys and your prey will be somewhere nearby. You’ll have the best luck on large feeder creeks, wide bends and the warmer somewhat shallow runs.
Mimic The Bait
If you know what your target species is currently feeding on, it stands to reason that you want to present either a live or artificial enticement that resembles their normal menu. This can mean a similar size, color and reflectivity. You will notice that while it may take a little more time to get them interested, when your target fish start feeding, they will tend to be more aggressive in attacking the bait. Patience and the remembering to work your bait erratically as you retrieve, will pay off with some big hits. This goes for topwater lures, spinner baits and deeper-diving crankbaits.
Reduce Your Line Test
When you’re fishing slightly deeper waters and you’re seeking out suspended target species at different layers (or strata), consider using a lighter monofilament that usual. This seems to help you not only cast a little further, but the reduced drag will get your bait where it belongs that much quicker. Since this is literally the connection point between you and your prize catch (or supper on the table), make the investment in a quality line. While it’s not as flashy as the latest hyped-up, can’t-miss, 100-percent-guaranteed artificial lure, high-quality monofilament may just save that fancy new lure AND your fish.
Follow The Weather
It goes without saying that you’ll be keeping an eye on the weather when you’re out on the water, but make sure you know what that means to your target species. Bait fish will generally be moving in the same direction as the wind. Knowing that, you can head to the bank (wind blowing directly at you) and start the hunt there. Cooler ambient temperatures will also mean that your fish will be trying to find areas where the water temperatures are somewhat moderated. Constant sun (or shade) either on the north or south side of your body of water will be the best bets.
For more articles on fishing, visit DiscoverBoating.com.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
When you’re in the market for a new boat, by far the biggest choices you’ll come across while shopping for a bowrider. These boats have an open bow seating area and will likely be based off of a “Deep-V” hull. This will likely be the group you’ll look at first if you want a trailerable boat for basic watersports, fishing and day cruising.
Here’s what you need to look for in a bowrider:
Most bowriders will feature an L-shaped lounge in the cockpit to encourage conversations among guests, but there are a number of different configurations available. The helm should reflect the boat’s personality and should offer clear sight lines and a comfortable, adjustable captain’s seat with a natural-feeling throttle position. Make sure the dashboard is easy to see from the seated position and that the switches are mounted where you won’t accidentally bump them. Take the time to examine the bow seating (even if you will be doing all the driving) to ensure a comfortable backrest angle and good use of space for legroom. Easy-to-reach grab rails (particularly important for those new to boating) and cup holders are a nice touch.
This is one area where you can really express your own personality because you will find everything from the tamest white on white gelcoat to graphic decals that convey a wilder sense of adventure. Colored hulls are beautiful from the water, providing a more aggressive-looking profile. Upholstery and deck coverings can also provide stylish accents. Snap-in carpets provide a nice compromise between easy to clean and easy on the feet. In the world of boating, you’ll hear the term “fit and finish” often. This refers to the quality of the build, especially in places you might not see, and it will have a big impact on your satisfaction down the road. Open hatches, inspect hardware, remove cushions, and look “under the hood” to see the boat builder’s attention to detail. Well-constructed boats hold their value longer if properly maintained. Make sure to check for plenty of storage as well. One thing to look for is whether storage compartments are well finished and hinged for easy access.
By all means, ask for a test drive to make sure you’re buying a boat that meets your basic performance needs. Many times the lowest advertised price on a boat will include the smallest recommended engine package. That may be fine if you and your spouse will be the only ones on the boat, but consider moving up in horsepower if you’ll be pulling tubers and waterskiers with a half-dozen people on board. No one has ever regretted having a little more punch than they thought they needed. But that doesn’t mean you have to go with the biggest engine package…look for the “sweet spot,” which is almost always the middle option. When you’re behind the wheel, don’t be hesitant to open the boat up and see the approximate top speed. You won’t run at that speed very often but it’s nice to know. More importantly, see how the boat tracks (maintains its course) a comfortable cruising speed. You also want to check how the boat turns at speed. Do you have to fight the wheel or does the boat handle crisply? Ask your dealer about the advantages of sterndrive and outboard motor options. Either will get you where you want to go and will perform comparably, but many times, there is a regional affinity toward one or the other.
For more information on bowriders, visit DiscoverBoating.com.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
So, you want a versatile boat that handles easily, features plenty of seating and storage, and is designed to be able to bring along a big crew? Sounds like you may have already narrowed down your choices to two choices that are among the fastest-growing segments in the entire boating industry: pontoons and deck boats.
Since the very first aluminum pontoon was introduced in 1958 at the Chicago World’s Fair (it was a Sanpan), boaters have been drawn to their unapologetically simple design, ease of use and the no-frills ability to get lots of folks aboard to get the party started. Back in those days, you broke out the folding lawn chairs, fired up the charcoal grill, and slowly putt-putted your tiny outboard to the nearest cove of like-minded revelers.
Similarly, the deck boat concept really started in 1974 when a company called Hurricane started building a fiberglass V-style hull to add better performance and handling, but still retain the a pontoon-style topside and wide-open floor plan that people loved so much about pontoons. It was so popular, in fact, that the first deck boat (called FunDeck) has been in constant production ever since.
But my how times have changed. These two boat types have come a long way and have been refined to the point that they really stack up against any other powerboat style. And today, they really go head-to-head when families are in the market for a new boat. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each.
This is perhaps the most subjective part of comparing pontoons and deck boats, and it all comes down to your personal tastes and what turns your head. Today’s pontoons are tricked out with coordinated graphics, a choice of rail skin colors, high-quality vinyl seats, and tough and attractive marine-grade carpet. But since every inch of a pontoon is built for maximum seating and storage, some folks find them a little utilitarian. Today’s deck boats are designed similarly to other fiberglass runabouts, but with the bow section carried as far forward as possible to accommodate more folks in the forward seating area. You’ll see coordinated upholstery accents, bimini tops and carpet, and the exterior graphics tend to be a little bolder. Many deck boats also have integrated wake tower options, which adds a distinct watersports profile.
With a fiberglass, V-style hull, you typically would compare the handling of a deck boat to a similarly sized open-bow boat. Look for a stable ride at all speeds, little or no bowrise, and superior turning at higher speeds. The option of outboard or I/O propulsion is a big plus for deck boats as well, depending on your needs. Even with a full load, pontoon boats (by design) are going to plane easily with less horsepower than a deck boat. Sharp turns are helped by the addition of hydraulic steering systems, but you will still cut a wider swath in a pontoon, unless you choose a performance model with triple (center) tube system, which provides extra buoyancy and stability.
Both styles of boats truly shine when it comes to the ability to do a lot of different things on the water. Fishing, watersports, cruising, camping, entertaining, etc. are all right in the wheelhouse of pontoons and deck boats. In fact, depending on your family’s needs, there are all sorts of different packages to dial in your preferred activities, such as rod holders, tackle storage and livewells for more hardcore anglers. If you’re like most folks considering one of these boats, though, you will find that the basic features will serve you well, and allow you to fish in the morning, pull the kids on tubes in the afternoon, and finish the day with a beautiful sunset cruise.
Ease Of Operation
In the world of trailer boating, you really can’t get much easier than pontoons and deck boats. With their stable platforms both are fairly easy to master when it comes to everything from launching and retrieving to cruising out on the water. Look for a raised helm or a captain’s seat that features a fold-up bolster to increase visibility. Pull-up cleats conveniently installed around the deck will make it a cinch to pull up and dock from any angle. Make sure you’ve got docking lights for bringing the boat in safely in the evening, and an all-off master switch to make sure you don’t run down your battery when you leave the boat.
For more info on the two, visit our Boat Types page.
Friday, August 02, 2013
Driving or riding a personal watercraft (PWC) is a fun, unique way to enjoy time on the water. PWC provide freedom and maneuverability that is unparalleled. The jet propulsion feature and lack of propeller provide a smooth ride unlike anything else.
The unique nature of a PWC requires a basic understanding of operating procedures. Before grabbing the throttle, it is important to learn about responsible riding. You see, riding responsibly is not just about protecting yourself, it’s about being aware (and honest) about your skill level, conscious of your boat and the wake it leaves behind, considerate towards other boaters and being sensitive to marine life.
First, a word about today’s PWC technology. With clean and quiet four-stroke motors, comfortable seating, stable decks and a long list of improved safety features, the PWC being sold today really have earned the title “Next Generation.” With the proper education, riders can use PWC in new, exciting ways including watersports like skiing and wakeboarding, fishing and even camping expeditions.
Using the Throttle and PWC Features
Most PWC don’t have brakes. They require the rider to use thrust from the throttle while turning away from whatever object (swimmer, dock, boat, submerged log) you may be heading towards. This is important to think about because it is as counter-intuitive as just about anything else you may need remember in a hurry. For that reason, it is best to ride slow until you are comfortable. Like anything else, PWC just take a few minutes to learn, but plenty of practice to master.
At least one brand of PWC includes a “braking system.” You will still need to get used to the stopping distance particular to that model of PWC. Always practice your power-out maneuver, brake or no brake, until it becomes second nature.
Wear Proper Safety Gear
Part of the thrill of piloting a PWC is that “here we go” sensation. But responsible riding requires that you make sure you are protected while having fun. That means wearing a proper-fitting lifejacket and neoprene shorts. Eye protection is not a bad idea either. Snug fitting, wrap around shades can prevent water or debris from entering the eye.
Know The Rules
They call basic boating safety guidelines the “Rules of the Road,” even though you’re out on the water. That’s probably because most automobile drivers know how to act at a four-way stop or if they’re turning left in front of an oncoming car. There are lots of different rules that you should know before leaving the dock, but here’s one you need to know about PWC....they never have the right of way. Long story short, boats under power give way to sailboats and paddlers like canoes and kayaks. And the shorter and more maneuverable the powerboat, the lower on the pecking order you are. In other words, PWC riders always have to give way to other boats. Never assume the other guy will dodge you…take evasive action and get back to the fun.
For More PWC Safety Tips, check out DiscoverBoating.com.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
As PWC owners/riders, you may think our impact on the environment doesn’t really matter. After all, it’s a smaller boat, without a propeller, that gets better gas mileage.. But every little bit does add up, and by following a few basic guidelines (and encouraging our fellow riders to do the same) we can make a difference and still have a great time on the water.
Keep It Clean
• When it’s possible, try to refuel on land to reduce the chances of spilling oil or gas into the water. Spills can harm the water’s delicate microorganisms as well as the animals that feed on them, potentially upsetting the entire food chain.
• Fill your gas tank slowly to prevent splash-ups and make sure you keep an absorbent pad handy to catch any overflows. Perform any checking or cleaning of your engine well away from shorelines.
• Always wash your PWC thoroughly after each use to prevent the spread of exotic plants and nuisance marine life to other bodies of water. Since “exotics” have no natural enemies or “checks,” they can quickly overwhelm native species and severely damage animal and plant diversity.
Keep It Deep
• Although PWC don’t have exposed propellers to potentially chop up underwater vegetation, you can still stir up sediment and disturb delicate ecosystems in shallow water. Plus, weeds, grasses, sediment and trash can wreak havoc on your boat’s jet pump and impeller, ultimately causing damage to your engine.
• When you do need to cross shallow water, make sure you maintain idle speed.
• Stay in marked channels or the deeper parts of the waterway to ensure the least amount of contact with wildlife and marine vegetation.
Keep It Respectful
• Riding too close to the shoreline, docks and boathouses, and swimming areas is not only rude, but it feeds any negative perceptions of PWC riders. Help keep access available to everyone by operating your boat in a courteous manner.
• Steer clear of any and all wildlife. Anything that will cause an animal to deviate from its normal behavior such as interrupting feedings, nesting or resting — and especially chasing — is just wrong and may be illegal in your area.
• Larger marine mammals can be seriously injured by boats traveling at high-speeds. Be aware of areas where you may have manatee, whales, sea otters, sea lions or porpoises. Make sure you ride at a controlled speed so you can see what’s ahead of you. And if you do accidentally hit an animal, report immediately to local boating law enforcement or wildlife service so a rescue operation can begin.
Keep Wakes Away From Shore
• One of the biggest issues with creating a wake near the shoreline is erosion. Whether it’s an environmentally sensitive marsh area or a homeowner’s beach area, you can do more damage than you might think. Follow all posted wake, operation and access restrictions to minimize your impact.
• Avoid docking or beaching near reeds, grasses and mangroves. Those plants are essential to the local ecosystem because they help control erosion, they provide a nursery ground for turtles, birds, alligators, crustaceans, mollusks and small fish.
Foe more information on WaterSports, visit our Activity page here.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Are you considering buying a personal watercraft (PWC) as your first boat or adding one to your existing fleet? Whether you’re a newcomer to the incredible boating lifestyle or you’re a seasoned veteran, there are some key differences between PWCs and other types of boats. But with these tips, you’ll be off of the dock and having fun on the water in no time.
Narrow Down Your Options
There are lots of fantastic new models on the market (and hundreds of older models still ready for use), so let’s take a few minutes to narrow down your options by figuring out who will be riding, how you’ll be riding, and where you’ll be riding.
There are several basic categories of PWC. Stand-ups provide a single rider with freedom and maneuverability, while two and three seaters allow for more comfortable cruising.
Find Your Perfect Fit
• Styling — Of course, the first thing many of us will be drawn to is the way a PWC looks, whether that’s at a boat show, a dealer’s showroom, or out on the water. Look for styling that fits YOUR particular style, whether that’s flashy or slightly more conservative.
• Seating — You might not think so, but there’s a pretty big difference in the way each one of the PWC manufacturers configure their seating. The first hands-on test should be to climb up and see if the boat fits you properly. If all goes as planned, you’ll be spending a lot of time in this spot, so if anything feels awkward to you now, that feeling will be magnified as time goes on.
• Ergonomics — After the seat, your handlebar will be the part of the PWC you’ll have the most contact with. Most models today come with adjustable positions (for safety as well as comfort), so see if you can tweak everything so it feels effortless to sit in that position with your hand on the throttle. Once you get that squared away, make sure you can easily see your gauges and switches. Also, make sure you take the time to stand up in the footwells…it should feel natural and comfortable with your hands on the handlebar.
• Versatility — Depending on how you will primarily use your PWC, there are some things to consider. If you’ll be using the boat to tow tubers and wakeboarders, make sure you have plenty of horsepower, a good aft-facing spotter seat with grab handles, and an oversized mirror for the driver. If you’re looking for transportation out to your cottage or to get to your favorite camping island, your top selling points will be fuel capacity and storage. Typical riders may swoon at convenient amenities like cupholders, easy-to-climb boarding ladders, and soft non-skid decking.
• Innovations — More and more these days, some of the key differences among manufacturers are the innovative solutions they are coming up with to solve some of the issues common to all PWCs. The biggest one of course (true for all boats, actually) is braking. Various braking solutions are now being developed, and that will be a hotbed of creative thinking over the next few years. Off-throttle steering is another big feature that continues to be refined, since up until recently, you lost all steering control when you released throttle. If you’ll have riders of all different skill levels driving your PWC, perhaps consider a speed-limiting system that will keep inexperienced drivers from going too fast too soon. An easy-to-operate reverse control is also something you’ll find yourself using more than you think…especially when docking.
For more information on PWC's, visit DiscoverBoating.com.
Unlike other types of boats, your search for the perfect new PWC will be a comparatively short one. That’s because there are only three manufacturers with national distribution. PWCs are manufactured by Bombardier (Sea-Doo®), Kawasaki (JET SKI®), and Yamaha (WaveRunner®). All have their own particular style, personalities and passionate fans. Here’s a checklist of things you may want to consider for your personal preferences.