Whether it’s your first time setting foot in a boat show or just your first time walking the aisles as a serious buyer, there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed. A visit to a boat show to buy a boat can be the best shopping trip of your life. Here’s how to get started.
Narrow Down your Choices
Start by getting familiar with the basic boat styles and decide what makes the most sense for you. The fishability of a bay boat? The big-water potential of a center console? The blend of family-friendly features that come in a dual console? Or are you ready for a sport fisherman to get you offshore and back?
Consider your needs and your wants, set your budget, and the overwhelming aisles of the boat show will quickly shrink down to a manageable size.
As the name suggests, bay boats are popular with inshore anglers. Built with a flatter bottom than a deep-V hull and less freeboard than an offshore boat, they offer plenty of stability in calm water and lots of room for unrestricted fishing.
Less deadrise also means a shallower draft, allowing bay boats to run in shallow waters of the back bays. The obvious trade-off is a less comfortable ride in bumpy conditions and, due to their low gunnels, they are less seaworthy in rough conditions. However, not all bay boats are built the same and improved technology and design have expanded the bay boat category, blurring the lines between a bay boat and a center console. They tend to be no frills and no nonsense craft, with large casting decks, storage, rod holders, livewells and very little else—however, as the bay boat’s popularity has grown, you’ll find more options in the category than ever before. If inshore fishing is your main focus, it’s worth checking out what bay boats have to offer.
Shopping for a Pre-Owned Boat?
If you’re in the market for a used boat, you might not think there’s a reason to shop around at a boat show. But at the boat shows, you can meet in person with a broker who can help guide you through pre-owned boat listings to find your boat. And whether you’re looking for a new or a used boat, you should start your shopping process by looking at the newest makes and models of boats in the market, so you have a grasp on the latest advancements in design and technology. And there is no better place to get a quick education on the latest in boat design and options than at a boat show. You can compare different makes and models instantly, giving you a better idea of what is available. It’s also the perfect opportunity to catch up on the newest nautical gadgets and gizmos and lets you determine what you want and what you may not need.
The most popular style of boat among fishermen in the Northeast, center consoles allow angler to leave behind inshore waters and head out into open water in less-than-perfect conditions. Depending on the model, center consoles are at home inshore and offshore, stalking shorelines and trolling for big game offshore.
Most center consoles come equipped with a T-top which, in addition to providing shade and rod storage, makes room for anglers to fish around the perimeter of the vessel. Since they are designed for fishermen, expect to find baitwells, fish lockers, rod holders, outriggers and other fittings.
Convincing Your Spouse
As more fishermen have come to recognize their versatility, dual consoles have begun to shed their reputation as purely ski and family boats.
The truth is that dual consoles make excellent fishing platforms due to their open bow and low-maintenance, self-bailing cockpits. Dual consoles offer the best of both worlds for many fishermen who also want a family boat, often with a head, that is good for water sports and cruising.