Buying A Boat or Not
So, you have never been on a boat, or you are thinking you would like a boat but you have never been on one. It can be a bit nerve racking to think about all the steps and equipment you need to have a boat, much less start having fun with it.
Here are a few things to consider: Who would be on the boat with you? This might seem like a silly question, but it's probably the most important. Your children will most likely want to bring friends with them. So you have to incorporate how many of them you will have at a time, if any. Or maybe it’s just you and your better half? Or possibly you have friends that have nothing better to do than tag along on a nice summer day over the water?
Different boats have different amounts of seating and are equipped to do different things. If you are a fisherman/fisherwoman, a fishing boat normally holds up to 4 people comfortably, but that doesnt mean 4 can fish comfortably at the same time. If you have a lot of family members, pontoons are normally the way to go to hold more people. They are spacious, with an open layout floor plan, hopefully covered with Captains Choice luxury marine vinyl flooring, with seating along the edges. To occupy kids and keep them happy, you will probably need speed and some ski type apparatus for them. So,. important decisions will need to be made.
Normally people start off with a smaller boat and work their way up to a bigger one. This is not a bad idea, but if you really enjoy boating on the open water, you will upgrade sooner than later. It doesn't take too long to get the hang of any boat, just time and patience. The most difficult part of boating, other than picking the color upholstery and flooring, is trying to load the boat while someone else backs the trailer down the ramp into the water. This has probably caused a few divorces, or at minimum some harsh words back and forth. This is not an assumption and comes from first hand knowledge I might add.
I loved my little boat that was like a 5 seater jet ski. I would zip around and it was so much fun. I just couldn't take all my friends that wanted to go, or haul all the gear I needed to haul. It made for a long day on the lake sometimes which can be more cumbersome than people imagine. I eventually sold it and bought a pontoon boat. All my friends and their gear in one place, at one time. Took me forever to get to a cove where everyone was wading, but we still had a blast at 12 mph.
So don't be afraid of buying a boat. So many people would be happy to take you out and show you the ropes, and even let you get some hands-on experience. The DNR has boating safety classes. There are lots of little rules that you will learn along the way. The biggest point is safety first, saving your prop second, and having a blast, third. Most boat sales, marinas, etc. will have people to take you on a test drive of a boat and show you all you need. Then you just need to go to a lake near you when there’s not a lot of people around, and grasp the workings of your new boat. They all feel and handle a little differently anyways. Just always remember, they don't stop on a dime so you have to prepare ahead when docking or getting close to others. But, you can make them stop relatively quickly with some practice.
Just know that all boats go really fast in some sense. Some are just faster than others. If you have young children, be weary of that. Having been boating on lakes for years, I have seen it all, or at least I think I have. The rear of the boat is the danger zone. Kids 16 and up will have to take the DNR boating safety course if they want to drive. But this is a great class for anyone, not just the young and fearless. You can have more fun on the lake than what you know, but it can be dangerous as well, so some extra training never hurts. It's the same with anything else you do too.
If watching others on the lake looks like fun, or if you’ve ever told your spouse that you wanted a boat, I would highly recommend you and your family go rent a boat one weekend and get out there and see what you're missing. It could be the best thing you ever did. You may even be wondering why you haven't done this sooner. And who knows, you may meet like minded people and become friends. So grab a cooler, some ice, sunscreen and your favorite tunes and give the lake a try. You can thank me later.