Outdoor shows, with their lines and lines of new boats, are scheduled nearly
every weekend this time of year. Guys kick the tires while their wives check
the bank accounts to see if there's money to buy one. If they already own a
boat, they wonder if they should give into their bout of "Big Boatitis" and step up in size.
Boats aren't just luxury items. Though they depreciate in monetary value
over the years, boats pay great return on the investment in other ways. Here
are five great reasons to sign on the dotted line!
1. Boats Build Family Bonds
Jason Oakes, marketing director of Lund Boats, grew up in Minnesota, a state that seems to have more
boats than people. He remembers the 14-foot aluminum boat his dad had. The
10-horsepower motor would strain to push his family around the water in search
of sunfish and crappies.
Oakes developed a passion for the lifestyle. All he wanted when he grew up
was to own a cabin on a lake. Today, he does. A Lund 2010 Explorer with a 200
horse outboard powers him, his two sons and his daughter in search of fish.
When they board the boat, the cell phones and Internet and text messaging are
left at the dock. They spend quality time together talking and listening to one
another, laughing, sharing good times, and building priceless memories.
"There are no video games. Unplugged from the digital age is fantastic," he
2. Boats Are Classrooms
Years ago in the days before sonar and underwater cameras, a fellow named Buck
Perry spent time with his father in a boat chasing fish. Perry had a quality
that separated him from other fishermen of the time. He was constantly
analyzing why he caught fish where he did and why he didn't catch fish other
places. Over time, Perry developed the study of structure fishing, which we
take for granted today. He realized that fish move in predictable pathways
along changes in the bottom contour of a body of water. He saw how fish moved
from deep-water sanctuaries to feed in shallow water on points and bars before
moving back again. How far they moved toward shallow water on any given day
depended on factors such as water clarity and weather.
When sonar technology from World War II was adapted for use on fishing
boats, Perry's theories were confirmed and broadened. We know now other factors
also play a roll, such as the availability of cover and the type of cover, such
as rocks, weeds and wood. Transition areas where bottom content changes from
soft to hard and current breaks, where applicable, also attract fish. GPS technology coupled with sonars have
further proven Perry's wisdom.
Today's sonars with side-finding technology are so
precise kids can see the fish lurking amid the weeds or tree branches.
Underwater cameras allow viewing the fish up close and personal in their own
world. What more practical classroom can there be to teach young anglers how
living creatures relate to their world? They can watch how fish react to
different lures, live bait, different action. They can
learn how to identify different species.
And not all the action is below the surface. Given the opportunity to view
it once, who among us hasn't had the image of an eagle
soaring above the water, diving to the surface and grabbing a fish in its
talons etched in our mind's eye forever? A field guide of bird species can offer
hours of lessons on bird identification. A walk along the shore can lead to the
discovery of frogs and a discussion of how many species seem to be
disappearing, or turtles or butterflies and other insects. No school classroom
can offer that kind of practical biology lesson and the need to respect all
3. Boats Teach Conservation
Those advanced sonar units we spoke off make it easier for us to locate fish.
That's why it's important to teach kids the importance of taking some fish for
meals and leaving the rest. Anglers could strip a lake clean if we didn't obey
conservation laws and practice selective harvest.
"Even from a fishing standpoint, I like to keep a fish now and then for a
meal, but seldom do I have fish in the freezer. I take what I need and
that's it," Oakes said.
Teaching kids the importance of supporting efforts to protect natural
resources will ensure we have stewards of the environment for decades to come.
They will see how fishing and boat licenses contribute to state and federal
natural resource agencies.
4. Boats Lead People To Healthier Lifestyles
Owning a boat can be one prescription to solve one of the worst health crises
today. The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than one third of
American adults is obese and another third is
overweight. More than one-third of American children are overweight or obese.
Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. A sedentary
lifestyle yields both physical and mental health problems. Boats get us up and
moving. We burn calories as we go. Today's boat companies also offer models
that can be used for more active sports, such as water skiing. If we like, the
fish we catch provide a healthy meal as well.
5. Boats Are Great Stress Relievers
We've all heard the expression: "A bad day on the water beats a good day at work anytime."
Nothing lowers the stress level better than spending a day catching fish!
Couple that with this fact: America
has been dubbed the "no vacation nation." That's because more than half of Americans leave
vacation days unused. A boat in the driveway will give you a reason to tell the
boss you'll see him in a week just before you go home. Load up the family, hook
up the trailer and head to the water!
As you can see, when you look at all the benefits, boats are bargains. But
be smart about the purchase. Budget how much you can spend. Decide whether you
want an aluminum hull or fiberglass -- each has their advantages. Decide what
size outboard you need. Each boat is rated for a maximum sized motor for best
performance. Having the largest motor a boat can handle often helps get the
best money out of the boat if you want to resell. However, also realize the outboard
can cost half the value of the rig.
Also, be sure to leave money for the
electronics. A sonar is a must. A GPS is a good idea
especially if you plan to fish big water and visit unfamiliar places.
A boat can change your life for the better and even add years to it while
improving your relationship with your kids. Isn't
that worth the price?
Shop The Sportsman's Guide for a fine assortment of
Shop The Sportsman's Guide for a fine assortment of
Ted Takasaki has many fishing achievements, including in March, 2010, when he was named a "Legendary Angler" in the "Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame" at Hayward, Wis. He had a victory at the 1993 Mercury Nationals and the 1995 Professional Walleye Trail Top Gun award. He reached the pinnacle of both angling and business when he was named PWT Champion in 1998 and president of Lindy Little Joe, Inc., of Brainerd, Minn., a year later.