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VOL. 11 NO. 8
Take a class

Boats for beginners

5 affordable boats for first-time buyers

Hurricane preparation

When buying a boat, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The boats listed here are ideal for beginners. They’re relatively inexpensive so you're not banging up an expensive boat while you're still learning the ropes, they’re relatively simple to operate, and they’re versatile enough for you to enjoy a wide range of activities until you discover what you like most about boating.

  1. Four Winns F190
    While Four Winns keeps cost down in this entry-level model, it maintains the construction quality level of their other model lines. It has a high level of fit and finish, including fully finished stowage compartments, gas-assist struts on large hatches and snap-in carpeting and comes with a custom-made trailer.
  2. Glastron GS 259
    You won’t be able to match this shockingly huge cabin on a cruiser under 26 feet. It has a stand-up head, a full galley, a large dinette that converts into a V-berth, and a mid-cabin twin berth. On deck, the cockpit is roomy, with seating for six. The aft seat converts into a full-length sun lounge.
  3. Bayliner Element F18
    Bayliner added a slew of fishing features to the Element XL to create a fishing version of the boat. They also eliminated all wood in the Element F18’s construction and gave it a self-bailing cockpit. Fuel efficiency is impressive at just over 6 mpg, and with a 35 mph top-end (powered by a Mercury 90-horsepower four-stroke outboard) the rig has plenty of pep.
  4. Yamaha SX210
    Yamaha’s internal propulsion system is not only reliable and fuel-efficient, but it also offers the highest level of freedom achievable on the water. Even though the SX210 is a relatively basic version of Yamaha's 21-foot runabout line, it still has the Yamaha Connext touch-screen display at the helm, and its price tag includes a tandem-axle trailer with disk brakes, a Bimini top and snap-in carpet.
  5. Chaparral H2O
    The Chaparral H2O delivers a lot of bang for your buck. It comes fully rigged and ready for use as either a watersports boat or a general-use bowrider. What really sets it apart from other bowriders is the fact that Chaparral uses many of the same parts—like the chromed bilge vents and swiveling bucket seats—that go on their more expensive offerings, so it doesn’t look or feel cheap.
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