Choosing a Boat
How to Navigate the Boat Buying Process
Buying a boat should be fun and exciting, but with so many types and models available today, it can be daunting. At Hall’s, we have over 45 years of experience helping our customers buy not only their first boat, but often, several boats over the years. We’ve developed a step-by-step process and we’ll navigate you through it so you’ll know you’ve chosen the perfect boat for you and your family! You’ll have all the fun, while we do all the work.
First, we help you narrow down your choices by deciding what type of boating you want to do! We ask questions like:
- How much boating experience do you have?
- Is water skiing your passion?
- Do you want to cruise leisurely on the lake or river?
- Do you love fishing?
- Do you want to take long trips on the water?
- How big is your family?
- Do you enjoy entertaining friends?
- Where do you plan to store your boat?
Once we determine what your ideal day on the water looks like, that will tell us what type of boat you should consider, be it a powerful, fast bowrider, a spacious, comfortable pontoon, a cabin deck boat, or a fully-outfitted fisherman.
The next factor we’ll help you hone in on is how much you want to spend on your new boat. With our great prices, and fast, easy financing, you’ll be surprised at how much boat will fit your budget. You’re sure to find your ideal top quality new or used boat in our huge selection of top brands, including Four Winns, Manitou, Scarab, Wellcraft, Bennington, and more!
When you’ve finally found your perfect boat and are ready to buy, our top financing professionals will take you through the paperwork quickly and smoothly, so there’s no stress, no fuss, and no surprises! Often, we can complete the entire process and have you on the water in your new boat the very same day! So come in and see us at any of our three convenient locations so you can enjoy your very own boat as soon as possible!
Pontoon and tritoon boats have become increasingly popular in recent years. Their unique design gives them several distinctive characteristics that set them apart from other watercraft and have made them very popular.
The tubes, or pontoons they ride on give them substantial stability on the water, and they have large deck areas that make them spacious and that can accommodate both a variety of deck furnishings and several passengers.
They’re also well-suited for fishing, providing comfortable seating and they can accommodate many types of fishing accessories like high-tech fish finders and a variety of fishing rod holders.
Due to their unique design, spacious decks, and increased stability, pontoons and tritoons make the ideal choice for several different boating activities.
- They’re perfect for family outings, day cruising on inland lakes and rivers. Due to their ability to accommodate modern, spacious deck furniture, they’re very comfortable during long trips on the water, whether tubing, skiing, or idling the hours away anchored under a bright summer sky, sunning or swimming.
- Their wide decks are ideal for entertaining. Most pontoons or tritoons can accommodate as many as 12 or 13 passengers easily. Many of these boats come with built-in refrigerators, picnic tables, and cooktops.
- They’re also well-suited for fishing, providing comfortable seating for everyone. And they can accommodate many types of fishing accessories like high-tech fish finders and a variety of fishing rod holders.
In the past ten years or so that pontoon boats have risen in popularity, they have proven to be very economical to own and operate. Their design makes the deck and furnishings easier to clean and maintain, and they use less fuel than traditional power boats. The only real maintenance demand will be to clean the algae off the pontoons regularly to maintain their performance on the water. Since demand for these types of boats has risen over the years, they hold their value better than other types of boats, making them a good investment.
Ongoing costs will include things like monthly payments if your pontoon is financed, insurance coverage, registration, docking, and storage fees, as well as engine maintenance and servicing. Advances in design and manufacturing have reduced ownership maintenance costs significantly.
Who Buys/Enjoys Them Most
After our discussion on the specific characteristics of pontoon and tritoon boats, you can imagine that they are popular with a wide array of buyers. Among them are:
- Families with young children
- Large families
- People who enjoy entertaining on the water
- Avid fishing devotees
- Older boaters who like stability, large level deck space, and ease of access, who don’t navigate ladders or stairs well.
Thinking about a pontoon or tritoon boat for you and your family? At Hall’s we carry the top brands from Manitou and Bennington, two of the best manufacturers in the world. Come in and see them for yourself. Any one of them would make a great investment in your family’s boating fun!
The alternative to pontoons and tritoons is the traditional speedboat or powerboat. These boats are incredibly popular among boating enthusiasts with many makes and models to choose from. On the whole, they deliver more performance on the water than a pontoon or tritoon in terms of speed and handling, especially in rough water. Many boaters also prefer the line and aesthetics of power boats. They look sleek and sexy, where a pontoon or tritoon lacks the same kind of dramatic lines and visual appeal. While originally constructed with steel or wooden hulls, fiberglass has replaced these substances as the material of choice due to its strength, durability, and ease of manufacturing.
The three most popular types of pleasure boats to choose from for water sports today are the bowrider, the deck boat, and the jet boat.
The bowrider is very popular for many boaters from the novice to the very experienced. They’re versatile and highly maneuverable. Bowriders are designed with an open bow area forward of the helm that has extra seating (hence the name). Most bowriders are 17' to 30’ long. They’re powered by either an inboard/outboard or an outboard engine and are popular for:
- Day cruising
- Taking family or friends to a favorite waterfront restaurant
Bowriders are a good choice for smaller families and those new to boating.
Deck boats are usually between 25’ to 35’ long, making them an excellent choice for larger families and more extensive boating activities. They have wider bows, a wide beam, and a V-shaped hull (or a tri-hull-type configuration up front that transitions into a V shape amidships) which provides for crisper turns and better handling in rough water than a pontoon boat. Some deck boats also employ a catamaran hull design. Their abundant deck space offers lots of room, as well as ample storage and seating for families and friends. Powered by an outboard or an inboard/outboard engine, they’re made with fiberglass, although some are made with aluminum. Their size and speed make them versatile enough for an array of activities, including:
- Water picnics
- Open water swimming
- Beaching on a sandbar
While jet boats used to be considered an undersized bowrider or an oversized personal watercraft (PWC), today they’re full-sized and include practically all the amenities of many inboard/outboard boats. Instead of the standard propeller, jet boats have single or multiple jet drives (an impeller built into the hull in a recessed cavity) for propulsion. At around 14’ to 24’ long, these boats are generally used for many popular water sports, such as:
- Open water swimming
They’re highly maneuverable, even in shallow water since they have no exposed propeller that can be damaged on rocks or shallow lake bottoms. They’re fast, responsive, and fun to drive, providing the best handling of any power boat at high speeds.
You can spend anywhere from $17,000 to $150,000 for a 30’ bowrider, depending on the features and amenities you want. You can find them from less than 20’ long with minimal equipment and accessories to 30’-plus luxury models with a cabin amidships, a berth, and an inside head. Modern manufacturing has reduced the maintenance requirements of these power boats, but you’ll still need to change your engine’s oil every 50 to 100 hours. If you’re in Michigan, you’ll need to winterize your boat, as well as perform spring prep. Some experts suggest you plan on between $1,000 to $2,000 a year for maintenance costs, depending on the age and requirements of your boat. Ongoing costs will include your monthly payment, your insurance, your registration fee, as well as storage and winterizing expenses.
Depending on the size and the amenities included, you’ll pay anywhere between $16,000 to over $100,000 for a luxury deck boat. Like most other boats, you should plan on changing your engine’s oil every 50 to 100 hours, depending on the type of oil you use (fossil or synthetic) and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Experts also advise you change to your gearcase fluid every 100 hours. That’s also a good time to inspect the thermostat, fuel filter, anodes, drive belts, and spark plugs. When you reach 300 hours of use, you should replace things like drive belts, spark plugs, and the rubber water pump impeller.
Monthly costs can include your payment (if you financed your deck boat), insurance, and fuel (during boating season). Other costs will encompass any maintenance performed, storage fees, and your boating registration fee.
Prices on a new jet boat range from around $21,000 to around $66,000. You’ll also need standard boat insurance and storage. Expect to change your oil every 50 to 100 hours as the manufacturer recommends and depending on whether you use regular engine oil or synthetic. You’ll also need a professional inspection of your fuel filter, thermostat, anodes, drive belts, and spark plugs. Like any sterndrive (I/O) or inboard power boat, you’ll have regular costs that include your monthly payment (if you financed your jet boat), fuel, insurance, your boating registration fee, and storage fee.
Who Buys/Enjoys Them Most
Due to their generally smaller size, bowriders are popular with new boaters and young or small families that enjoy towable water sports, day cruising, and fishing. For even more specialized water activities, many manufacturers produce a bowrider that is either distinctly designed and equipped for towable water sports, or designed and outfitted specifically for fishing.
Because they’re larger in size, as a rule, and have lots of deck room and seating, deck boats are well-suited to larger families, experienced boaters, and older boaters. They’re very comfortable which makes them perfect for day cruises, extended fishing trips, and pretty much every popular water sport.
Jet boats are smaller and designed for speed and maneuverability, with greater fuel economy. Today’s models also have much better slow speed maneuverability, useful when docking. As such, they’re a popular choice for younger boaters who enjoy speed and performance for faster skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, and more. They’re perfect for open water swimming, a favorite activity of young boaters.
At Hall’s we carry a large selection of bowriders, deck boats, and jet boats from the top manufacturers like Four Winns, Wellcraft, and Scarab. Come in and talk to our friendly, knowledgeable staff. We have a passion for boating and we’ll help you discover which type of boat is best suited to your boating dreams and get you and your family on the water fast!