Motorboat Expert

Independent Yachting Magazine

Small boat – big advantages. Or how yacht size affects your cruising

Updated on May 31st, 2024

The biggest and perhaps most common mistake that first-time boat buyers make is choosing a boat that is too large. A very bad option is to buy the largest possible yacht using all available funds, forgetting that with the purchase of a boat the costs do not end, but only begin. But this, of course, is an extreme case.

And, while on the one hand there is usually a tendency to increase the size of subsequent powerboats purchased, about the same number of owners follow the opposite course, realizing that the original choice was wrong and now a smaller boat is needed. And this is not just a matter of finances.

If you are buying your first motorboat, then it’s really better to start getting acquainted with the water world with cabin RIBs or cruisers. It is likely that after this you will decide that you do not need a full-fledged motor yacht, because instead of the expected comfort, it can suddenly add a lot of difficulties and inconveniences.

Of course, the very first inconvenience will be a tangible outflow of finances not only for the purchase, but also for the maintenance of a large yacht.

Now everything that is somehow connected with your yacht will constantly demand serious money. Berth in the marina, tons of fuel, insurance, as well as repair and maintenance of not only huge engines, but also many complex on-board systems. Moreover, often it will be impossible to carry out repairs quickly and directly on the water.

All on-board systems are created for your comfort, but it seems that very often they make the exact opposite.

On the motor yachts, an amazingly large amount of important and secondary equipment that can break (and, therefore, will certainly break) at the most inopportune moment. Have you ever had toilet problems on a small cruiser? Well, now you have three or even five. As well as many additional drainage holes, pumps, taps and tanks. We will not even touch the possible problems of electricians and electronics.

Another unexpected inconvenience may be the inaccessibility of your favorite vacation spots due to the increased draft and dimensions of the yacht. And although you can always use a tender for shallow water, a trip along some inner waterways can already be difficult or completely impossible.

But most importantly, with the purchase of a large yacht, the fun and all those exciting moments that you experienced when traveling closer to the water on light, fast and maneuverable planing boats often disappear.

And, of course, there are a lot of advantages in small cruisers and RIBs.

Initially, small boats are much, much cheaper. You can load most of them on a trailer and store them near your home rather than in the marina. To save even more, you can service them yourself, which is quite easy and quick. Including motors.

Speaking of motors, they can be outboard, which greatly simplifies repair and maintenance, as well as replacing the propeller. In addition, outboard motors make it possible to reduce the already shallow draft of the boat, free up the internal space of the cockpit and get rid of direct shaft drive, which has the unpleasant feature of passing water through its seals directly into the hold.

It is important to add that today the new models of electric motors show excellent results on RIBs and tenders. Their maintenance is minimal, like the noise level, and the batteries are charged quite quickly. Another plus in favor of small boats.

Speaking of reliability and safety, many owners of cruising boats and small motor yachts, both planing and displacement, completely seal all drainage and water intake holes in the hull below the waterline. Sometimes only the water intake of the stationary engine cooling system is left. The thought of the need to do the same probably occurs to everyone who has ever experienced a flooded hold due to a broken tap, valve, or pump that didn’t work.

If the boat hull is completely sealed below the waterline, a dry closet is installed in the latrine. We can confirm from our own experience that this is an excellent solution that instantly eliminates a lot of problems. There are also a number of different solutions for the shower and galley.

The fact is that you can easily simplify the equipment on a small boat, but this is difficult to do on a yacht, so you will be forced to continue to finance the maintenance and repair of all systems, regardless of whether you use them or not.

We must not forget about the problem of the secondary market. A small motorboat can be sold in a couple of days, while some yachts cannot find a buyer for several months or even more than a year. The more expensive and luxurious the yacht, the more acute the problem of its resale becomes. This is a completely illiquid asset.

Of course, here we are not considering the situation with long-distance offshore cruises, and, moreover, we are not talking about crossing the oceans, which will require, at a minimum, a serious displacement trawler with a huge fuel supply. But if coastal cruising and inland waterways are your goal, then small, cozy and economical boats can give you much more joy than a multi-deck yacht.