For information on sailboats we contacted Jim Kavle of Annapolis, Maryland, a marina manager there and lifelong sailor – Jim has crewed on Americas Cup boats three times. We learned that the creature comforts available on boats today are better than ever, and they’re built sturdily enough that some hulls now come with lifetime warranties.
Kavle summed up the choices among sailboats easily: “It’s a huge array.” They range from 10- or 12-foot dinghies to 100-foot plus monsters that take experts such as Kavle to pilot. There are “day sailors” which, as the name implies, are meant to accommodate you and a few pals for just a day. These could be sailboats that you park at your home and then load onto trailers for trips to dockside.
You’ll also find countless boat makers and hundreds of designs, including something called “One-Designs” which offers a standard template that different manufacturers use to build boats to its specifications. Kavle also mentioned that “J Boats” are some of the more popular One-Designs. These J Boats have open cockpits, range in length between twenty and thirty feet, and can hold three or four passengers.
Kavle pretty much grew up around sailboats, “but,” he adds, “If you didn’t, there are tons of sailing schools, many of which are run by communities.” He also says that it’s “very common to learn about sailing by signing on to crew a vessel at a local yacht club. You don’t typically need to be a club member.”
The choices for power boaters are just as wide. Do you want a bass boat, so you can, well, fish for bass? How about a “cigarette” boat (so named because they were developed to smuggle cigarettes from Canada) that can zip around Biscayne Bay at up to 80 mph? For his money, Paul Cuellers, owner of D & W Marina in Celina, Ohio, would opt for a pontoon boat (also called a houseboat). They have a larger seating capacity than a cigarette boat – ten or even fifteen people or more, versus the five for a cigarette boat – and cost way less to buy and operate.
No, these pontoons or houseboats aren’t as sexy as speedboat; however, some of them go fast enough to haul a skier. And they can be roomy. We spotted one for sale in Kentucky that sports three bedrooms, a gas grill, washer and dryer, and even a Jacuzzi. You’ll find standard sized bathrooms, rather than cramped “heads,” frequently on these boats, too. “A pontoon boat fills about all the things you’re looking for in a lake boat,” Cuellers says
It’s important for any buyer to size up the environment in which you will be operating the boat. Grand Lake St. Mary’s, where Cuellers is based, is a shallow and thus favors boats with little draft. That’s not the case on the north coast of Ohio – Lake Erie. There, you’ll want something that can operate in rougher waters, so a houseboat may not be you best choice. As with all major investments, do your homework, talk to the professionals, scout out your water locale, and then “dive in!” “Safe Boating Choices” can lead you to one of the most enjoyable experiences in your life!