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What to Consider When Buying a Boat Together

By: Rick Layzell

Rick Layzell & Partner
Rick & Karen Enjoying a Day on the Water

I’ve been fortunate in my life, actually I’ve been really fortunate in that I spent many years working for a diversified global company that built toys for all aspects of recreation. During my 19 years there I had the pleasure of riding motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATV’s and yes, lots and lots of boats.

The bike, sled & ATV decisions were easy – look at the lineup, think about which one I wanted, and order up a unit to play with for a few weeks or a season. Simply put they were a one-person decision. Just me, my riding gear, a good helmet, and off I went. The boats were a little different because typically it was me and the kids or my partner who used them, but still, it really was me that made the final decision.

Fast track to a few years ago. My career path has changed, my kids have grown up, my home life has changed, and my boating dreams turned towards bigger boats. I dreamt of a 30 – 35’ mega yacht (aka small cruiser) with basic amenities, days and nights spent on board, soaking up rays and enjoying time with my kids, new friends and life in general.

And then I met her. And she was perfect. And we shared dreams and thoughts and talked endlessly about enjoying life today with a reasonable amount of time and energy talking about tomorrow’s dreams. So I was careful, cautious and I attempted to be very timely when sharing my dreams about a big boat with my new partner. And that’s when I learned the lesson about understanding the importance of needs and wants for both him and her.

Simply put, while my kids were in their late teens and early 20’s, hers were younger…like 11 to 17. Whoops. These kids would want nothing to do with days and nights on board (unless of course I downgraded the boat budget and reallocated funds to PWC’s… yeah, no). And let’s not fool ourselves, the likelihood of my own kids spending lots of time on a big boat was also unrealistic – their lives were already busy. Simply put, the big boat wasn’t going to work.

And so began our journey of exploring and finding common ground for our needs and wants. I needed and wanted to be on the water – period. Halfway there already! Her needs were a little more complex. Conversations turned to space for friends – our friends and the kid’s friends; there was talk about the dog – all 7lbs. of Oreo; where would we boat; where would we keep the boat and more. At this point it should be mentioned that I don’t like clutter and that I’m meticulous about cleanliness – fair enough.

We spent time online looking at boats on the market (local dealer inventories, and others), interior designs and options. We talked about pontoon boats, about where we intended to keep the boat, about where we wanted to travel in the boat, and so on. Lake Simcoe is our home base (big lake) and 3’ ++ waves can happen in an instant. Simcoe also gives a willing boating family lots of choices about where to go – different towns, new areas for rafting, swimming and watersports. For me that just reaffirmed my desire for power in a stable package. With watersports and cruising defining as our priorities the logical choice was a roomy bowrider.

A Calm Day Boating on Lake Simcoe
A Calm Day on Lake Simcoe / Photo Courtesy Rick Layzell

Interior layouts were next on the list, with space and comfort as key elements for our crew. We found our way to a cockpit layout with his and hers bucket seats, an easy access walk through from the swim platform, generous passenger seating in the cockpit and a bow seating area where a 6’ person like me could spend time comfortably.At one point I thought maybe a 17’ package would work but it didn’t take long to realize that 18 – 20’ would be more suitable to our list.

We knew that as two busy professionals with hectic lives, launching the boat wasn’t in the cards for us so we set about looking for a marina. This was one of the easiest pieces for us – we wanted somewhere close to home with easy access to the boat. With our minimal gear as ‘day boaters’ we weren’t looking for too many amenities (other than clean washrooms & an honest service crew).

We went to a local boat show to look around. Even though we weren’t buying new I wanted the backing of buying through a dealership and the show was a great opportunity to strike come conversations with salespeople. With my trust radar on high we had a bunch of conversations, shared the details of what we were looking for, and headed home feeling like we were getting closer. A couple of days later my phone rang – one of the guys I had met at the boat show had just taken a trade on a boat he thought would meet our needs perfectly. In came the email with lots of pictures and details and a fair price that required little haggling. Just like that we owned our boat! Seriously, it was done in less than a couple hours (subject to a visual inspection of course).

Did we land exactly where we thought we would? Maybe. A little. Sort of….and I have to say it’s been nothing short of spectacular! In the end our ‘new to us’ 10-year-old, 23’ runabout came with lots of space, lots of power and she rests on a tandem axle trailer – which meant my pickup could readily move her if/when we needed. At 23’ she’s bigger than we originally planned but she’s also got a wider beam, a bigger engine (350 Mag Mercruiser stern drive), she has flip up bolster seats which I love, lots of seating for friends, and snap in carpet which lives in the garage rafters. Storage abounds which means limited clutter and that snap in carpet means quick and easy cleaning for the interior floor. The stern sundeck is the perfect perch for catching an evening sunset, and the open interior leaves lots of room for spotters when we play and for friends to lounge when we cruise. She is housed at a marina 8 minutes from our home, so in 18 minutes we can leave home, get to the boat, uncover, warm up the engine and find ourselves (& Oreo) in the middle of our favourite bay to catch an evening sunset.

Bowrider Boat On Trailer
His & Hers / Photo Courtesy Rick Layzell

My dreams of long days and nights have turned into countless evenings on calm waters with incredible sunsets. Our days (thanks to the addition of a watersports tower) now include tubing, knee boarding and even wake surfing – we both took lessons and she has learned to drive the boat so I can surf which is simply amazing! There’s room for 6 adults so if it’s just us with a few friends the boat is perfect, if it’s the kids with a few of their friends it’s also great.

We have our ‘boat bag,’ which is a ‘one bag that carries it all’ kinda deal. Towels, cups, change of clothes, snacks etc. A small cooler usually joins us with refreshments. We have discovered multiple favourite spots to play and tour with new friends on our lake, and we have enjoyed many early mornings, awesome afternoons and spectacular evenings. Our willingness to explore has led us to several on-water restaurants, one of which even allows Oreo to join us while we dine on amazing lunches. And the sunsets….did I mention the sunsets?

Sunset Over Lake Simcoe
Sunset Over Lake Simcoe / Photo Courtesy Rick Layzell

I never thought my dreams could change so completely to what has become our ‘today’. I never thought my dreams could become our realities. Quite simply I could not have dreamt how amazing our enjoyment being together, on the water, has become. Taking the time to openly discuss and explore our mutual needs & wants, hers and mine, was worth every minute. I won’t tell you that we didn’t enjoy a glass of wine or two in the process, but I will tell you that we did all of this together and in the end we are better together – me, her, the kids and of course Oreo.

Boating On Lake Simcoe
A Great Day In The Sun / Photo Courtesy Rick Layzell

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