Buying a boat, new, used or a twenty year-old classic, is not something to rush into.

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By - 29 March 2010
Quintrex boat

When buying a boat there are many different types and models to choose from so you really have to identify exactly what you need, and can afford. Your budget is the most restricting factor, but there are plenty of other issues to be raised such as the size of your family, where you intend to use the boat, fish or family boat. etc.


Where you intend to use the boat should be one of your first decisions. If pottering around the harbour, skiing, fishing, or perhaps general family boating, then most types of boats up to around 5.0 m will be more than satisfactory. Conversely, if you intend to go offshore fishing, then a larger, more seaworthy craft will be required.

River and lake fishermen and those intending fishing remote locations may prefer a smaller, lighter, and more robust aluminium boat. Open barra style boats, and deluxe aluminium dinghies are very popular with estuary and river fishermen. Larger pressed and plate alloy boats are great for regions with poor boating facilities because they are better able to handle the knocks and scrapes likely to be experienced.

Fish Or Family Boat?

While it is possible to fish from a family boat and visa versa, some boats are more conducive to fishing, others to family boating. As a general rule, prior to the 1990s, most fibreglass trailer boats were designed more for family boating than fishing. These family orientated boats tend to be more luxuriously outfitted, with carpeted floors, upholstered cockpit surrounds, and better seating.

In contrast, fair dinkum fishing rigs tend to have few creature comforts. More important is a large, uncluttered cockpit with good access into the transom corners, as well as specific design features like wider side coamings to allow the fitment of rod holders, as well as the provision of a live bait tank, fish box, big side pockets etc.

Historically, pressed sheet aluminium and plate aluminium boats have been favoured for fishing because of their basic fit-out, spacious interiors, and ease of customisation. In recent times however, fibreglass boat builders have dramatically improved their fishing models, and there are now many good, albeit late model fibreglass fishing boats available.


Pretty obvious really, but if you buy a boat without enough seats for your family or regular crew, you may find you'll soon be fishing or boating by yourself. While few passengers will want to sit down while enroute, a seat will be appreciated once you've reached your destination.


Few half cabin owners actually use their cabins for overnighting. Although there may be enough room for two people to stretch out on the cabin berths, there are rarely any other overnighting facilities in even moderate sized craft.

If you're serious about overnight and weekend cruising, you really need to look at some of the larger, better outfitted and therefore more expensive secondhand trailer boats. Those that can provide a toilet, galley unit with stove, sink, as well as a fridge, shower, storage cupboards and many other cruising accessories.

Can You Tow It?

Make sure you are aware of the legal and practical towing limitations of your tow vehicle before you buy a new rig.

With most of the larger 6.0 m plus cabin cruisers and half cabin fishing boats for example, you will need a 4wd or larger car to meet the legal towing requirements.


If you intend to store your boat in the garage, be sure to measure not just the boat length, but the overall length of the rig - from the trailer coupling to the back of the outboard and the length and height of the rig before you buy it.

Parking the rig out on the front lawn is okay, provided the boat is behind a lockable fence, or you fit some sort of trailer locking device. Keeping your boat out the front on the medium strip is not a good idea it will create complaints from neighbours and the local council.

Townhouse and unit dwellers, should consider storing the boat in a fenced off compound or dry storage rack at a nearby marina.

Launch & Retrieve

Don’t try and save money by cutting back on the trailer. Your trailer should be capable of steering your boat on straight. As you drive your boat onto the trailer. Easy launch and retrieve encourages the family and friends to go with you. There is nothing worse than having to fight the boat onto a trailer after a long days fishing.

Running Costs

Trailer boating can be quite reasonable costs wise! While service and maintenance costs are expected, storing the boat out of water reduces maintenance considerably. Fuel costs can be high for those that under power or zoom around with the throttle fully open. However, a full day on the water running a 50 - 75 hp should cost no more than $50 to $75 if fishing. If running 150 – 200Hp, that cost will almost double but that’s still pretty good when you consider you get a full days entertainment and fun.

Safety & Seaworthiness

A safe, seaworthy boat is one which can be safely operated in the sea conditions and environment for which it was designed. Seaworthiness is determined by the shape of the bow and forefoot, the angle of vee or deadrise, the breadth of the hull shoulders, the beam, the amount of flare, the angle of the chines, etc.

Important questions to ask yourself during a sea trial of a boat is; does the boat have enough freeboard to keep the sea out? Will it broach in a following sea? Does the bow bury when running into a head-sea? Is it stable enough at rest and underway? Does it have built-in flotation to keep it afloat if it capsizes?

About the Author

Andrew Galwey