Powerboats are vessels propelled by an engine, and unlike a sailboat, their only means of propulsion is through their engine. While most are usually used for speed and performance, some are also used for leisurely overnight stays and day trips.
Buy a Powerboat, Speedboat and Performance Boat FAQ
What is a powerboat?
A powerboat is a performance boat that uses an engine for propulsion and can usually achieve high speeds if the driver or captain so wishes.
Powerboats aren’t just the smaller boats you see ripping across the lake on a nice day; some are the largest super yachts to hit the water today.
How much does a powerboat cost?
The price of a powerboat will depend on a few factors. If you have a strict budget, you’ll want to consider the items below and speak to your trusted yacht broker or boat dealer in guiding you to buy the perfect powerboat.
- Length – Simple logic will tell us that the larger the powerboat, the greater the price. While there are some caveats here, generally speaking, as you increase the length of your powerboat, so too will the budget.
- Builder – Certain powerboat builders will come with a higher price tag due to their reputation.
- Age – Is it a brand new build? In which case, this will be the most expensive powerboat to look at (if looking at similar lengths and builders). Even if you look at powerboats just a couple of years older than a new build, you’ll note the price will decrease dramatically.
- Location – Certain places like Florida and France that pride themselves on being yachting hubs, will usually have a lot more inventory so you may have more choice, which will also help to drive the price tag down.
At the very lowest end, you’ll be looking at prices around $20,000, while this can increase into the tens of millions of dollars if looking at powerboats in the superyacht category.
How to dock a powerboat?
Depending on the length of your powerboat, you will either be docking the boat, or your captain will be in charge of this task. It’s recommended that once you acquire a powerboat around 60ft and up, you hire a capable captain to help. Some very experienced owners may be handle up to even 70ft, so it’s up to your own skills and experience. However, if you will be the driver of your powerboat, here are some tips on how to dock your boat:
- Slow your speed on approach back to the dock.
- Make sure your fenders are on the correct side to provide a buffer.
- Turn the powerboat to a slight angle as you come into dock.
- Once you are close enough to the dock, angle your wheel away from the dock, gently throw it into reverse to make sure you don’t bump the dock.
- Slowly glide up next to the dock, and throw a line, or have someone on board jump off and tie off the boat.
- Switch the engine off.
How to tow a dinghy behind a powerboat?
Depending on the size of the powerboat, towing a dinghy may not always be possible. If you have a smaller powerboat, you may be able to for short distances; while if you have a superyacht style powerboat, you will likely be stowing your dinghy (or tender) in a tender garage. Also note that for longer distances, or if crossing rough waters, it’s advised to stow the dinghy on board – many will opt to flip it over on the bow of the boat, out of the way, and safely tied down. Here are some tips if you are able to safely tow your dinghy:
- Remove all items from the dinghy (oars, personal items, etc.), or safely stow oars inside.
- Raise the outboard motor out of the water, if you have one, to prevent drag.
- Attach the towline (ideally a two- or three-point towline) to the dinghy’s centerline on the D-rings at the middle and on both sides of the bow.
- Securely tie and knot the towline to the stern of the powerboat that will be towing the dinghy.
- Make sure the line is slack enough to maneuver over the waves. Adjust as needed – release the line to allow more drag between the two boats or pull in if it is too far back.
- When you are ready to come to a stop, slow down and shorten the towline or pull the dinghy up and alongside the powerboat before anchoring or returning to the dock.
When to use a muffler on a powerboat?
While different cruising grounds will have different rules on when to use a muffler on a powerboat, it is generally recommended that all vessels with an engine use a muffler to ensure the safety of everyone onboard and in the water. A muffler helps to reduce noise and ensure the driver or captain can hear any sound signals or calls from those around them. Mufflers are usually standard when buying a powerboat but it’s always a good idea to confirm this from the seller.
Which must follow navigation rules for a powerboat?
Must follow navigation rules for powerboats (and indeed any boats on the water), refers to the rules when approaching another watercraft while cruising. If another boat is attempting to cross you from the left (or port side), you have the right of way to maintain your speed and direction. If, however, they are on your right (starboard side), they have the right of way. This all changes if you are approaching a sailboat under sail (and not motor), in which case, they always have the right of way.
How to start a powerboat?
The majority of powerboats today will have a key start, much like those on your car. However, if you need to start the engine of your powerboat directly from the outboard motor, there are a few tips to bear in mind:
- Make sure the engine is fully tilted down and in the water.
- Squeeze the primer bulb a few times (until firm).
- Put the throttle in neutral.
- Turn the key ON, push to choke and crank.
- Release the choke on starting and return the throttle to neutral.
How to operate a powerboat?
Once again, depending on the size of the powerboat you are purchasing, you may be the primary driver, or you may have a professional captain to navigate the vessel. Like the above points, once you have the engine started as above, you’ll slowly glide away from the dock and adjust your speed accordingly based on the rules of the water and your goals for the day. It’s important to understand and obey the rules of the water you are in. Please review any city or state guidelines before boating somewhere new and heed the rules of the waterway.
When it’s time to return to the dock, refer to our above tips on docking a powerboat to help you get safely back to shore.
How fast do powerboats go?
The speed a powerboat can achieve will depend on some of those factors discussed already. The length, age of the boat, and of course the engine size and horsepower output will all affect the overall cruising speed and top speed. Generally speaking, any powerboat that can go 70 mph and above, are known as performance boats, with some of the top speeds clocked at 120 – 180 mph!
What are the top 10 powerboat brands?
There are a wide variety of reputable powerboat brands on the market today. These include:
- Boston Whaler
- Chris Craft
- Sea Ray
Many look to buy a powerboat for the thrill of cutting across the water, wind in your hair, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. While some enjoy them for recreational activities like water sports, fishing, or just doing overnight and day trips with friends and family. If you’re not sure what type of boat you should buy, please refer to our Speedboat vs. Yacht Guide, or a more comprehensive comparison in our Yacht Boat Buyer Guide. For those looking for a more in-depth review of boat types, please refer to our article, What Boat Should I Buy and start your search with our insightful article on where to find a boat near you today.
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