What are the must-haves for today’s boat buyers
In keeping with what today’s customers expect in a new boat, the list of options and standard equipment includes many things not seen before, at least on most production boats. Some are to increase comfort and convenience, others are to allow new boaters to safely get up to speed, regardless of their background or ability. Many people now come into boating, either sail or power, later in life and they have the means and desire but little to no experience.
A boat for them must be easy to handle, safe, and afford them a level of confidence so they can enjoy time on the water. Most of what we note below is not found in your typical used boat unless it is very recent. In fact many key features can’t be added, they must be designed in from the start.
- Air conditioning/reverse cycle heat is now expected on sailboats 30 feet and up, and even on mid-20s outboard powerboats.
- Bow thrusters are another feature that started out on big boats but is now found on most boats we sell—sail and power. People scoff at the idea of the thruster, but once you have tried it, the usefulness is immediately apparent. We have some boats with stern thrusters also. Like a backup camera in your vehicle, a thruster aids in safely maneuvering.
- In-mast mainsail furling is our most popular feature on any cruising sailboat. It allows comfortable sail handling without leaving the safety of the cockpit.
- Running rigging is no longer trimmed from the mast, all lines are led aft, often to the helm position.
- Not only are deck anchor lockers universal, now most cruising boats 30 feet and up have electric anchor windlasses with remote control.
- Another item that you don’t want to leave home without is an autopilot. While once “electronics” on a boat meant knotmeter and depthsounder, now a new boat is expected to have the latest versions of GPS and chartplotters, VHF radios with DSC, often AIS, remote VHF mic, maybe remote autopilot control, multiple displays, thruster controls at the helm, stereo with speakers up and down, usually a TV or two, microwave, and radar on the larger vessels. Electric winches for sail handling are becoming more common as well.
- Design features that can’t be added to existing older designs include hull windows, twin rudders, open transoms with fold down swim platforms, cockpit arches, twin wheels, more headroom, beam carried well aft for space in the cockpit and aft cabins, enclosed molded heads, and so on.
- Masts are stepped further aft so the headsails are no longer overlapping—this allows for easier tacking and better forward visibility.
- Another trend has been increased focus on the cockpit, as that is where we spend the most time. More on that in another article.