Boat Buying Tips 2

Bowrider Boats and Pontoon Boats – How to Make the Right Choice 2!

More Information to Get the Purchase Right!

For the first time boat buyer, there can be a few pitfalls to avoid. Listed below are common misconceptions about boats and boat buying for both fiberglass and aluminum runabouts.

Boat Sizing:

To operate safely and effectively, your boat must reflect the water conditions normal associated with that water body in combination with the average number and weight of persons to be carried in the boat. Do not confuse the number of seats with equal number of passengers allowed. Generally speaking, a 16′ boat has a maximum capacity of 5 persons. 18′ boats are 7 persons and 20′ have a maximum capacity of 8. Check the manufacturer’s restriction plate and yes kids do count. The length and weight of the boat must provide the safe comfortable ride required as determined by average wave conditions. A 16′ bow rider with a 50 horsepower motor for water sports is not a good investment for 7 persons on a lake that averages 2′ waves.


There is no substitution for horsepower! Many manufacturers present pricing showing small horsepower motors for an attractive price. A boat experiences 5 times more frictional resistance than a car. Stay at or near the manufacturer’s recommended maximum horsepower for proper performance, reduced fuel consumption and improved engine life. An engine with MPI or fuel injection will reduce fuel consumption and make for easier starting. Take the boat you are interested in for an actual water test before you buy.


Read the manufacturer’s information about hull construction and ask questions. If there is not a detailed construction discussion, look at another line. While comfortable seating is important, safe seating is more important and the overall construction and engine configuration are even more important. All fiberglass boat are not equal in construction technology, quality of materials or hull design. We will be including a section on Boat Hull Construction Technique…Does it Have the Right Stuff? To discuss this in detail. In aluminum boats, welded technology is superior to the old rivet method.

Are All Aluminum Boats the Same?

In a word…..NO! There is the immediately recognized difference of welded or riveted. Rivet construction comes out of turn of last century and has not changed much since. The manufacturer takes two pieces of aluminum places some form of casket or sealant between the two pieces drills a whole bunch of holes then two workers pound the rivets together. I have toured the Lund plant and the noise level in unbelievable from this process. For those who do not know Crestliner and Lund are made in the same plant by the same workers with the same aluminum. The degree of shaping with riveted hull has not changed over the last couple of decades. Aluminum welding has been available for quite some time and for example Crestliner started with welded boats and still welds their boats for over 30 years. Welding allows for complex shaping of the hull which will provide for superior ride in rough water conditions. With welding, holes for rivets are not made in the hull and this fact alone provides substantially less areas for potential leakage. Welded hulls provide less flex in the overall structure which again provides superior ride due to the increased strength. Most boat buyers do not ask but there is different types as well as thickness of aluminum used in construction. Type utilized is more important than thickness and do not discount internal support.

The Dealership, Location and How long in Business?

An established long term dealership representing a particular line for a considerable period offers you more value. How long has the salesperson been in the business at this dealership and are they on commission? These are legitimate questions that should be asked. At Huntsville Marine our sales staff and service personnel are not on primarily a fair wage salary arrangement. They do not have to sell you a boat today or this week in order to pay their bills. If a boat retailer has one fiberglass line only then that is what they must present to you and make this fit your needs. Boat lines, while they may present models across a wide range still tend to specialize in a particular size or group such as cruisers. For example Stingray specializes in smaller family runabouts boats as they do not offer any model larger than 25′. The sales process should be stickily about you and what you need. Four Winns is unusual as their lineup encompasses 17′ 4″ to over 40′ with the same attention to detail throughout.

Are You Buying Quality, Price or Strictly Look?

Perhaps one of the most frequent mistakes. Have you every purchased something only based on price to find out a short time later…its poor quality. Have you ever or known of someone who has purchased a Bayliner or Tahoe or a Tracker and find out later that they have no resale value, way too many warranty issues and that many dealerships will not take them in on trade. Why is that or better still are they misrepresenting the quality of the product to you? Did anyone explain that non-traditional hand layup has been tried unsuccessfully a number of times? Anyone explain to you what an osmotic barrier coat is?

Boat Ranking Continued…Where Do The Others Rank?

I have taken the majority of the other boat manufactures and placed them in three rankings based on the same criteria as was used above. In order to represent one of the top eight lines normally you will in Ontario be located on the water, have historical presence, a very high customer satisfaction level and be a financial secure business.

Without purchasing an existing marina, it may take considerable time (years) for a marina to be able to secure a top eight boat manufacturer. You should also be aware that boat manufacturers compete to secure the top tier level dealers where they can place their products in the best position for growth and high levels of customer service.

Tier Two …Middle of the Pack

  • Larson (Vec Construction)
  • Glastron ( New Ownership again…3 owners since 2007)
  • Doral ( Hwy 400 Location now closed…brand no longer represented)
  • Rinker ( broken up and sold in 2015 to Bennington a pontoon builder)
  • Starcraft ( part of the Doug Smoker group of boats )
  • Four Winns ( New Ownership again….3 owners since 2007)

For years Larson and Glastron were essentially the same boat coming out the same plant using VEC construction for a number of years. Glastron with the Genmar bankruptcy in 2008 had been purchased by Platinum Equity and is now separate in distinction in the 2011/12 model years being built in an unused Four Winns plant. The Glastron boat line was re-positioned according to available information in the 2011 model year to compete as a value purchase with reduced content and construction versus Four Winns. Glastron starting in 2011 will no longer be a VEC hull and will be priced below Four Winns at some point in the near future which will negatively impact resale value. Four Winns and Glastron have again been sold in 2015 to Bennteau Sailboats with Bennteau previously unsuccessful in the fiberglass runabout market in the early 2000’s having purchased Doral. Larson is now grouped with Triumph under Irwin Jacobs the previous owner of Genmar which collapsed in 2009. Larson will continue to be a VEC type construction. Rinker Boats, Crownline Boats and the Godfrey Pontoon Boat Company have all experienced financial pressures and been sold to new ownership in the last 24 months.

Tier Three…Down the List even Farther

  • Bayliner Boats

Bayliner takes the world boating…that use to be their slogan. Lots of stories here lots of them sold. A lot of disappointment would be okay if people were told what they were actually buying and what they are not getting. If your number one criteria is price…most for the time get what you pay for.

Bottom of the Pile

  • Tracker / Tahoe Boats

Both these boat builders are built to compete with Bayliner and other low level aluminum boat builders in the United States. They are marketed as something else here in Canada.

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