By Darren Griffiths

Choosing the Perfect Inland Boat: A Freshwater Traveler’s Guide

3rd March 2024

Have you been dreaming of sunny days spent on the water? Whether you’re eyeing a wakeboarding boat or a peaceful fishing vessel, buying a boat for inland boating should be exciting. Let’s take a closer look at a few tips that will help you navigate through the available options to find the right boat for your freshwater adventures. 

Understanding Your Boating Needs

Before buying a boat, it’s essential to ask yourself what you want to do on the water. Are you into sports like wakeboarding or water skiing? Maybe you are more of a simple angler looking for the perfect fishing spot. What you love to do will greatly influence the type of boat you purchase.

  • For sports enthusiasts: If wakeboarding or skiing is your passion, look for boats designed for these activities. Wakeboarding boats, for example, have powerful engines and special features to create the perfect wake for riding. 
  • For fishing fans: Fishing requires stability and lots of space for gear. Bass boats or simple fishing boats with flat decks are the perfect option.
  • For leisure lovers: Just want to chill on the water and enjoy the sunshine? Pontoon boats offer comfort and space for family and friends.

Size and Seating Capacity

It’s important to consider how big your bot should be. This will depend on how many people you will typically have onboard and where you’ll be boating. Larger lakes can accommodate bigger boats, but smaller waterways might require something more compact. 

  • Small groups and waterways: A small boat, like a fishing boat or runabout, is easier to handle and store.
  • Larger groups and open lakes: If you’re hosting big groups or on larger bodies of water, consider pontoon boats or larger wakeboarding boats for more space and stability.

Budget Considerations

Boats come with various price tags and ongoing costs. Set a budget not just for buying the boat but also for maintenance, storage, and operation.

  • Initial cost: Smaller boats generally have a more reasonable price tag, while larger boats with more power and features are expensive.
  • Maintenance: All boats require regular maintenance. Factor in the costs for things like engine servicing, hull cleaning, gasoline, and weatherproofing.
  • Storage and transportation: Consider where you will store the boat in the off-season and if you will need to purchase a trailer to transport it.

Engine Type and Performance

The engine is the heart of every vehicle, including boats. Inland boats often have outboard, inboard, or sterndrive engines.

  • Outboard engines: Great for smaller boats. They are easy to maintain and ideal for fishing boats. 
  • Inboard engines: Common in wakeboarding boats, inboard engines offer better balance and are suited for watersports.
  • Sterndrive engines: A blend of inboard and outboard, these engines are versatile and can be found in various types and sizes of boats.

Test Before You Buy

Just like any other driveable vehicle, it’s essential that you insist on a test drive before buying a boat. While you can narrow down your choices by visiting boat showrooms, until you get them on the open waters to feel how they handle, you won’t be able to find the right fit for your boating needs. 

Picking the right inland boat is about watching your favorite water activities, size needs, budget range, and desired performance. Whether it’s a compact fishing boat or a spacious wakeboarding boat, your perfect freshwater companion is out there. Take your time, do your research, and you’ll be making waves in your new boat in no time.