It’s been said many times: Long Islanders put up with some of the highest taxes and worst traffic on the planet so that three to four months of the year, we can glory in our beaches and surrounding waters. When it comes to those waters, boating is one of the most common activities, and it turns out this is an ideal time to buy the vessel of your dreams.
In order to make room for next year’s stock, marinas have priced remaining inventory to sell fast come winter. There are many models in both the sail and motor categories, but powerboats are the most popular because they’re the easiest for seafaring newbies to jump into. Taking to the water legally only requires passing an eight-hour boating course and licensing exam. And these ships are literally turnkey. Start the engine and travel a straight line to any destination in a predictable time, it just takes some gas in the tank.
Most newly minted skippers gravitate to the day cruiser style of powerboats. “A lot of the people in our area are day boaters, they go out on the boat with six to eight people and they go over to the beach,” said Matthew Barbara, regional president of Marine Max who oversees six locations on Long Island. “They do the Sound or take rides out east, so they want a boat to fit people.”
In general, entry-level sized crafts (19 to 22-feet long), are suited to a full day out on the water; tanks holding about 45 gallons of fuel are big enough for making waves for up to 5 hours. Most day-trippers usually run the motor for an hour or two, getting to and from a destination, then cut it while relaxing at anchor. A simple rule of thumb when shopping: Dividing the boat’s total horsepower by 10 gives you an approximate gallons-per-hour. That can help decide engine size between casual boaters and those with their eyes set on regular trips to Block Island.
Bowriders are the most versatile day boat style because they feature an open area in front of the console, allowing for many seating options to accommodate up to 12 guests when cruising. They’re comfortable in the mid-20mph range and reach top speeds of about-40mph. Hang a tow rope off the back and easily turn a day of cruising into a thrill ride for kids pulled on an inner tube or a wakeboarding challenge for friends and teens. “The biggest trend [in powerboats] is families getting back into boating,” said Jeff Strong, owner of Strong’s Marine with five locations across Long Island. “People are realizing that boating is truly one of the only things you can do with the family and get away from everything for a while, get out for a few hours and really disconnect from all the technology around. That’s a big deal.”
Fishing is possible on bowriders, but the layout and upholstery aren’t the best suited for safe casting and fish scales. If fishing will be a big part of the itineraries, center console boats are a better option. The helm in the center of the boat makes them easy to recognize at a glance. They’re ideal because anglers can walk from bow to stern without having to navigate around the console. But don’t let the name fool you, terms like “fishing boat” can be limiting now that characteristics are often crossing from one category into another. “When you say ‘fishing boat’, it’s a good generic term, but a lot of the boats have become like sport utility vehicles, because while some people are definitely into fishing, some people like that simplistic SUV feel they might have, but don’t necessarily fish,” said Strong.
Traditionally, these rigs were a bit sparse, but they are now becoming more family-friendly and are being designed with comfortable seating. Before, the open space that allows for easy casting and hauling of fish robbed square footage away from seating. And what real estate there was, wasn’t too plush or comfy—not much in the way of carpeting or upholstery because of all the fish and bait being slung. It was strictly smooth, easy-toclean surfaces that could be hosed down, which is still a key selling point.
But modern center consoles are also equipped with foldout, cushion-topped seating that pops out of the rear and side walls and has padded backrests. Seats fold away when it’s time to fish, but when it’s time for a sunny cruise they’re there to enjoy in comfort. To accommodate having kids aboard, some rigs have enough gusto for tube pulling. But it’s more likely these boats will have a marlin at the end of a line than a wakeboarder.
For those with sights set a bit farther out to sea—like up to Cape Cod or even down the coast to Florida—as chief Brody said, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The best option is a cabin cruiser in the 26-to-28-foot range. These offer the same entertainment versatility as the day boats, with the added luxury of larger gas tanks, a cabin with one or more sleeping areas (berths), a full toilet/shower (head) and a kitchen (galley). They also commonly sport amenities like air conditioning, heating, hot water and electrical power from a generator. Some seating space and real estate on deck may be sacrificed for these interior conveniences, but they are still capable watersport vessels and can host a few rods as well.
What’s the cost for this seafaring freedom? Entry-level bowriders and center consoles usually start around $30,000, while cabin cruisers begin at about $90,000. Fortunately, in terms of financing, boat buying can be surprisingly easy on the wallet. “The typical frame of reference is car buying, where you might get a loan for maybe four years. But on boats, which hold their value much better, typical terms can go from 10-15 to as much as 20 years on a more expensive boat. That can lower monthly payments considerably. So you would only need 10-20 percent as a down payment,” said Strong. And when you upgrade to that bigger cruiser for weeklong coasts down to Florida, as long as it has a kitchen and sleep area, you can get a mortgage on it. “Any boat that has a galley and sleeping capacity you can deduct the interest as a second home,” Barbara said.
On the Island, dock fees average about $100-140 a linear foot for the eight-month boating season, April to November. Winter storage costs about $40-45 a square foot and $13 per foot for wrapping. But if there’s enough space in the yard or driveway, boats can be trailered, a good option for new buyers getting their sea legs with a smaller first boat. On the bright side, insurance is cheap compared to cars. For a $100,000 boat, insurance will only be about $650. Boats are not very prone to accidents, see minimal wear and tear on engines due to low hours of usage, are built to withstand abuse and they last about 15 years, which equates to better value retention. In fact, their relatively low defl ation argues for buying a boat as an investment, because the resale values are so high relative to cost.
What’s He Driving?
Boats likely to be seen along LI’s coast
Boston Whaler Outrage one would think that this brand’s Montauk model would be most sighted in these waters, but the “unsinkable” Boston Whaler outrage is
the popular center console choice.
Cobalt BR or 10 Series Bowriders are this brand’s specialty. Expect to see the sleek R3 or spacious 220 making wakes from Port Jeff to Greenport.
Pursuit C series If reels are in hand on the Sound, chances are feet are planted on the 260 or 280 model of this center console series.
Regal Express this elegant cabin cruiser is sure to catch an eye, especially the popular 28 version with best-in-class 6-foot headroom.
Sea Ray Sundancer 12 different versions of this cabin cruiser/sport yacht make it hard to miss this popular ship from LI’s shores.