Maxi am Brunnen / Unsplash
We’ve all had that feeling … typically it strikes at the end of summer or during boat show season. Those gleaming new fiberglass and aluminum rigs on the boat show floor are tough to ignore. But do you really “need” a new rig, or do you just want one? Here are 10 clues that you really might need a new boat for next season:
1. Your outboard’s falling into the lake.Is your boat’s transom so rotten that the outboard has taken on a new tilt angle? This is not only costly, it can be downright dangerous. An old, rotted transom can cause a major catastrophe out on the lake – sinking could be the ultimate result. If yours is suspect, the rest of the boat (the superstructure underneath the floor – stringers, core and floor itself) may be going south too. Best to have a pro inspect the entire boat and provide a thorough report. This condition is most common with older hulls, those made in the 1990s or before.
2. Your outboard gave up the ghost.Maybe it’s a few decades old; maybe not so old, but it never was right from the start. Either way, a balky engine makes boating a big hassle. If your boat’s still in good shape, it may just be time for a repower – especially if you have sentimental ties to the hull, but the engine makes boating no fun. Newer engines start easier, run smoother and smoke less, plus a hefty warranty is usually part of the attraction. Look into the cost of repowering; it may rejuvenate your boating desire without the big price tag.
3. You’re on your third bilge pump (this season).If you have a leaky boat, that means you can’t leave it alone. It’s under constant watch, especially during big downpours or when you have to leave your cabin for weeks at a time. What do you do? If fixing it is no longer an option (it’s too far gone), a new hull is the ticket to relief. You’ll have no more worries with a brand new hull.
4. Your family won’t ride anymore.Has this ever happened? “C’mon, let’s all go for a boat ride!” – then in whispered tones, “I don’t want to go out on our old boat anymore – it’s dorky.” Maybe a flashy new ride is just the ticket to get everyone excited about boating and water sports again.
See also Boat Lifts, Canopies & Curtains
5. Your fishing buddies would rather watch the game.When your best buds won’t fish on your boat, or especially when they don’t even want to fish anymore if your boat’s the only available option – then it’s time to think new. New features, new engine, new fish finder, new rod holders and new live wells – that’ll bring your buddies to their senses and back on your boat, as well as make you the talk of the fishing club for months to come.
6. Your engine spends more time in the shop than on the water.Time spent on the water is precious because it’s so limited. Unless you’re retired and/or living the life of Riley, the only time spent on the boat is after hours, maybe a couple weeks in the summer and a few weekends. You want trouble-free boating, and an old, clanky engine that spends more time with a wrench on it than towing tubers and wakeboarders is not going to make summers more fun. A new engine, one with a strong warranty, will make weekends and vacations more enjoyable and less stressful.
7. That fish smell can’t be removed.Well-used fishing rigs have a permanent smell if they’re not cleaned meticulously after every outing. Who has time for that? Eventually, it’ll get so bad no one can stand it. In this case, if the hull’s old and you’re not attached to your boat, a new rig will rejuvenate your boating and fishing trips, especially if family is included.
8. Your boat’s finish is deader than dad’s hatband.Older boats, especially those left out without a cover, develop a condition called “chalky finish.” This is when the gelcoat (or paint) has seen so much sun and rain that it loses its luster, and no amount of elbow grease, compounding and wax will bring it back. A new paint job could breathe new life into your tired craft, but the cost may shock you. At that point, a new boat might be in your sights.
9. Your family can’t cruise together anymore.If you bought your “Couple-Craft” back when you were DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids – remember?) and now you’re a growing brood with grandparents and friends who also want to ride, it’s time to trade up. Pontoon boats are a great solution for this problem; today’s models are fast enough to provide thrills and pull water sports enthusiasts and still give everyone plenty of room aboard.
10. Your cabin was on a calm pond; now, it’s like the Atlantic!You built your cabin on what was a serene pond, and your cute little 15-foot runabout was a comfortable cruiser. Now, houses and cabins ring the lake, and a typical Saturday brings boat wakes and chop that toss your boat like a cork. A larger, heavier hull will bring some of that comfort back and make weekend cruises more enjoyable. Most lakes today have this problem, and a 21-foot or larger boat is necessary to keep from getting your teeth rattled out on a sunny weekend.
See also Cost-Effective Cabin Ownership