If you have visited any large waterways in Virginia, you likely have seen many different boats. Most of us have our eyes drawn to the bigger ones, cruisers! Larger than runabouts, sport boats and most fishing boats, cruisers have an air of luxury and comfort about them. Folks naturally want to have a peek inside to look at the beds (called “berths” on pleasure boats) and the bathroom, or “head”. And who would not want a microwave oven or a blender at sea? All that space and room inside comes at a price; a more expensive boat to buy, run, maintain and store! So, what makes boating folks want to spend so much more for these cruisers?
To find out, this Examiner interviewed several cruiser owners to find out the good and the not-so-good about these large boats.
A long-time cruising couple told us their boat is not just a boat; “It’s our second home on the water. It’s like having a cottage on the river, but we can take it places.” They spend a majority of their free time relaxing on their boat, often staying in their marina slip during the week and getting underway on the weekends.
Another owner said he uses his cruiser as an escape from his high-stress work. “We just go and have fun, anything to decompress a little. Mostly we just anchor or meet up with some friends and relax.”
About half of the cruiser owners we spoke with did not purchase their current cruiser as a new boat. They were all experienced boat owners and felt comfortable dealing with the inevitable problems that come with owning a used boat. “Cruisers are a lot more complicated than a runabout or center console (fishing boat),” said one owner. “We knew we would find a few things needing work when we bought a used boat, but we felt we could handle anything short of an engine rebuild or something like that.”
The positive side to purchasing a used cruiser is paying a fraction of the price of a new boat. Some cruiser owners use the savings to purchase a larger boat than they could have afforded if they purchased a new cruiser. On the other hand, buying a new cruiser gives the owner the comfort of a warranty to go with knowing everything onboard is in prime working condition. With proper maintenance, a new cruiser will provide many trouble-free seasons, making it easier to enjoy being on the water. A new boat is always a better choice for an inexperienced owner since the maintenance will be simpler and less costly for a pro to perform.
Higher fuel costs affect cruisers more than smaller boats, since cruisers use much more fuel. Many cruiser owners are able to afford the fuel to enjoy their boats, while others on a tighter budget find themselves relaxing at the dock more.
Another cost of ownership is slip rent, unless the owner owns his/her own dock. As of March 2012, a 35 foot cruiser owner can expect to pay in the vicinity of $200 per month for a place to tie up their cruiser in the Richmond region. Tidewater boaters can expect closer to $300 monthly. Water and electrical service are additional costs at most marinas.
Maintenance costs for cruisers are much higher than for smaller boats. Larger boats need more bottom paint to keep the barnacles off, and have more topsides to clean and polish. Twin engines need twin oil changes, two filters, etc. Heads need pumping out, generators need fuel and routine maintenance and electrical systems require bulbs, fuses and general upkeep. Unless you are skilled, you will be paying a pro to keep those comforts working!
All things considered, owning a cruiser can be just the lifestyle you are looking for; a floating condo on the water with an ever-changing view. Are you ready to take the plunge and go cruising? Just be sure to have your checkbook handy!
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