Buy­ing a boat is like fill­ing a fam­ily-fun gift card.

Boating - - NEWS - Kevin Falvey, Editor-in-Chief editor@boatingmag.com

Buy­ing a boat is a fam­ily gift

Re­gard­less of your in­come, buy­ing a new boat prob­a­bly rep­re­sents a big fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment. For many truly in the mar­ket, it’s not so much the ac­tual price of the boat as it is the value of the boat for the price paid. The ques­tion is raised: What do I get for my money? The po­ten­tial for re­turn on the in­vest­ment is the real crux of the mat­ter. That’s why we pro­duce this guide and, in fact, why we test boats and pub­lish re­views in Boat­ing magazine and at boatingmag.com. We aim to pro­vide you with the hard, in­formed data that will prove help­ful when you hit the show­room or the boat show. But there’s an as­pect of boats that goes be­yond spec­i­fi­ca­tions and per­for­mance; an as­pect that tran­scends con­struc­tion method and hull de­sign; an as­pect that can prove more im­por­tant than whether the boat comes with a trailer, is avail­able with joy­stick en­gine con­trol, or of­fers an op­tion for more horse­power. Where boats are con­cerned, the real re­turn on in­vest­ment comes from less tan­gi­ble features that prove price­less. It is, as Rinker Boats Pres­i­dent Kim Slocum likes to say, the smiles-per-gal­lon quo­tient. Al­low me to pro­vide some ex­am­ples from my own life afloat.

I didn’t take my fam­ily on a trip this past Memo­rial Day. In­stead we boarded the boat, caught some fish, and then headed for a lo­cal beach where the wa­ter, though a bit chilly, en­sured hours of fun for my daugh­ters and their friends who joined us. I might add that my kids, who grew up aboard boats, now tell me where we’ll cruise to, what we’ll do, and who will be join­ing us as crew. Just a word to the wise.

Last Fourth of July, we took the boat out to view a large com­mer­cial fire­works dis­play. Since we never even got on plane, even though we were out for hours with fam­ily and friends, it cost next to noth­ing, un­less you count the bucket of take­out fried chicken. But the ex­cite­ment our guests ex­hib­ited at be­ing on the wa­ter, at night, cou­pled with our own con­stant state of water­borne en­thu­si­asm en­sured the night was much more spe­cial than it would have been had we sim­ply driven to a spot to watch the show.

My youngest daugh­ter got up on skis (fi­nally) this year. It took her a while to get it, but when she did, we all ex­alted in her ac­com­plish­ment, her vic­tory over grav­ity, and her mas­tery of balance. Her smile was brighter than the sun, and the me­mory of that smile burns bril­liantly too.

At var­i­ous times dur­ing the year, we were in close com­pany with sea tur­tles, whales, por­poises, seals, and more va­ri­eties of bird life than space al­lows list­ing here. We plainly saw the ef­fects of ero­sion on a bluff by ob­serv­ing a light­house that had orig­i­nally been built 200 yards from the cliff some 200 years ago now tee­ter­ing on the edge. We saw dew fall, fog lift, and cur­rent run. We ob­served cat’s paws fore­tell wind shifts and cloud for­ma­tions fore­cast weather changes. With­out TV or text­book or web­site, we learned a lot about the world. And we learned a lot about each other.

Imag­ine that.

Since we never even got on plane, even though we were out for hours with fam­ily and friends, it cost us next to noth­ing, un­less you count the bucket of take­out fried chicken.

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