top of page
  • Writer's pictureWake Stone

5 Tips On How To Choose The Best Boat For Your Family

Updated: Mar 29

The boat show season is ending and you still have decisions to make before summer hits! "What boat should we get for our family?" An exciting and soul-wrenching question if I've ever seen one. With so many options and salesmen blowing up your phone, how can you ever know if you made the right choice? In this article, we provide five tips on how to choose the best boat for your family. Yes, we all know that any day on the water is a good day. However, we also know that the boat makes all the difference.

A family joins Timmy from Wake Stone Watersports on some lesssons.
The Boat Makes All The Difference

Our five tips today are the following:

  1. What Is Your Goal?

  2. What Is Your Crew Size?

  3. What Waterway Are You Using It On?

  4. What Can You Tow?

  5. What Dealer Is Reliable Near You?

What Is Your Goal?

Your goal speaks to what type of boat you should go with. Wake surfing, wakeboarding, skiing, or maybe a bit of everything? Sure there are "crossover boats", but what that means is that it doesn't do anything great. You are just receiving a meh experience on all sides of the spectrum. In my experience, 99% of customers shouldn't buy a crossover boat. It is incredibly rare for a crew to each want to go out there and do something completely different. You may ask, "But Tim, what if little Jimmy wants to run the course on his slalom and I've got a tank surf boat?" To which I'd respond with all due respect Jimmy should make a friend that has a ski-specific, boat and offer them to go surfing after.

Soar through the air behind your wake boat
Get The Optimum Pull Instead of a Mediocre One

The overall watersports community is very welcoming and eager to experience the apex of different disciplines. For me and my community if we want to surf or wake we take my boat, but if we're skiing we take their ski tournament boat. Now don't get me wrong you can ski and wakeboard behind anything. The question is how well will the experience be, and since we only have so much time in the summer why not get the optimum pull instead of a mediocre one?

Here is a list of what boats are best for each discipline:

  • Wake Surfing

    • Boats that ballast + dry weight from the factory total over 10,000 lbs. If you get into something smaller you will undoubtedly be adding weight by adding more ballast bags which take up more space or lead which is a pain to remove. I enjoy the 22-24 ft mark for factory wave shapes however surf boats can be from 20-27 ft.

    • V-Hull's have been the best experience for push. There's something about having complete hull contact when listed on its side when surfing versus the 10% pocket you have to find on a flat bottom hull.

    • Surf Systems have been around for a long time and I highly encourage you to only consider boats with them. Every company has its flavor, which we can get to in a future post, and all of them work better than weighing only one side of the boat to get a wave.

  • Wake Boarding

    • Boats that have built-in ballast, a tower, and a V-Drive.

      • Unlike wake surfing, wakeboarders don't need ballast to start. In fact, you don't need ballast until your crew is flipping and even then most riders can't handle the combined weight of 10,000 lbs. Ideally, I like to see 21-24 ft boats with a dry weight between 5,000 to 6,000 lbs. This way you can generally get a nice wake for beginners around 18 mph and can still load the boat down to achieve a good size, wake.

    • Hull Design

      • Flatter Hulls are generally better. The flat-bottom boats provide symmetrical wakes as a rule of thumb and are easier to set up than V-Hulls. However, there are technologies such as the Opti-V hulls that have flat pads that make the wakes symmetrical giving you the best of both worlds.

    • Plane System

      • This is a tip for the upper end of skill for riders. Plane systems keep the bow rise at a minimum for two reasons.

        • 1. Visibility - when adding weight it can take some time for a boat to plane so having the bow stay down is a safety feature.

        • 2. Efficiency - a system that helps you plane out faster (in many cases the boat won't plane at all without it due to the weight.) and also saves gas since the boat doesn't have to work as hard.

      • Each brand generally offers a wake system on their upper-class vessels while the entry-level brands may still have them, but they are often more analog versus automatic.

  • Slalom/Trick/Barefooting/Jump I'm going to lump all of these into one category. The reason being that if you are a true purest of one of these disciplines I believe you already have an idea of your options being they are limited.

    • Flat Hull (low deadrise)

      • The main goal is to glide across the water and have as little of the hull in the water as possible.

    • Dry Weight

      • The lighter the better. Unlike surfing and boarding, we are looking for the smallest wake possible. The only exception is trick skiing which is more based on wake shape versus size.

    • Engine

      • Direct Drive systems are preferred to allow the stern of the boat to be lighter.

What Is Your Crew Size?

How large is your crew size?
How Large Is Your Crew?

How many friends or family members do you have regularly? Answering this question will help determine the length of the boat you shop for. Here is a quick list below of what I'd recommend as a rule of thumb. Keep in mind that your boat will be rated for more than what I recommend below. I calculated my numbers under the assumption that everyone brings their own gear.

  • 2-4 persons/participants = 20-22 ft

  • 5-8 persons/participants = 23-24 ft

  • 9+ persons/participants = 25-26.5 ft

What Waterway Are You Using It On?

The Hartnell Truck Tows The Centurion Boat Like a Champ
Don't Get Stuck On The Trailer or On Your Lift

Ahhh taking your new boat on her maiden voyage is a sacred moment. At that moment the sun shines brighter, the water is a bit clearer, and then, "BANG!" You find yourself with a bent prop because your lake is too shallow for your boat.

Draft is the measure of distance from the waterline to the lowest point of the boat. It's the amount of water needed for your boat to still be able to float in. Make sure you know what the depth of your waterway is to ensure a pleasurable experience. This includes the depth at your boat launch and dock because even if your body of water is plenty deep it won't matter if you can't get the boat on or off the trailer or your lift.

What Can You Tow?

This is one people don't realize until it's too late. They purchase a boat, go to pick it up, and realize oh wait my vehicle isn't rated for this. This unfortunate situation costs you extra mula or leaves you having to borrow your neighbor Gary's truck. Ensure your vehicle has a healthy gap of tow rating left once you subtract your boat and trailer from it. 81 gallons of gas is 486 lbs. and that doesn't include your gear in the boat or truck. All of these are variables to consider when buying your boat. If you aren't planning on upgrading your vehicle then get a lighter vessel.

Hartnell Chevrolet Trucks Tow Boats
Don't Borrow Gary's Truck

Also, a side note. If you are towing through the mountains I encourage electric brakes versus surge, and at least a 2500 vehicle.

What Dealer Is Reliable Near You?

Tinus Marine has great boats and great people.
A Boat Is Only As Good As Your Dealer

So you've found the perfect boat and you bring home the vessel for her maiden voyage. You put her in and fire her up. The engine purrs and you decide to fill the ballast. The boat starts taking on water, but not in the way you had expected it to. Instead of filling your tanks and bags, it fills up your interior like a swimming pool. Come to find out none of your ballast hoses are connected to your bags! (True story from a client)

If you are going to invest your time in searching for the perfect boat, then you also need to spend some time searching for the perfect dealer. A boat is only as good as your dealer. Read reviews and ask around before giving a place your business. You want a dealer that begins your relationship when you sign the line, not end it.

Now It's Time To Narrow Down That Search

With these five tips, we hope you are confident in choosing the best boat for your family. Was this blog helpful? Do you have anything to add? Or, perhaps additional questions? Comment below and let us know what you think. We appreciate you reading our content, and as always Wake Your Passion!


bottom of page