July 18, 2023

Deck Boats

When it comes to choosing the perfect vessel for a family day out on the water, few types of boats can offer the versatility and fun of a deck boat. Characterized by their wide beam and V-shaped hull design, deck boats seamlessly blend the spacious comfort of pontoon boats with the speed and agility of traditional powerboats. Let's delve deeper into what makes deck boats unique and why they are an excellent choice for boating enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.

What Exactly is a Deck Boat?

Deck boats are designed with the primary aim of maximizing onboard space, promoting easy movement around the boat, and providing comfortable seating for larger groups. The unique deck design results in a wide bow, offering ample space for passengers and gear. While similar in design to a pontoon boat, deck boats offer a different hull type, typically a modified V-hull, which allows for higher speeds and better handling in choppy waters.

Features and Amenities

Deck boats come with a variety of features that are designed to enhance your boating experience. The wide, open deck offers plenty of room for entertaining, with seating arrangements that can often be reconfigured based on your needs.

Many deck boats also come equipped with built-in coolers, swim platforms, and even slide-on boat grills for a perfect day out on the water. Storage is also typically ample, with compartments tucked away under seats, in consoles, and sometimes even in the floor.

The helm of a deck boat is usually well-appointed, featuring everything from state-of-the-art navigation and sound systems to cup holders and comfortable captain's chairs.

Performance and Handling

Thanks to their V-hull design, deck boats can handle a variety of water conditions and offer impressive speed and performance capabilities. They're excellent for cruising on the lake, but also capable in larger bodies of water, where their design allows for smooth handling and better stability than a pontoon.

Deck boats can be powered by outboard, inboard, or sterndrive engines, depending on the model and desired use. These boats are also suitable for water sports such as wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing, adding to their appeal for families and groups looking for versatile fun on the water.

Choosing the Right Deck Boat

When choosing a deck boat, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, think about how you plan to use your boat. If you're mostly interested in relaxed cruising and entertaining, you may want a boat with extensive seating and comfort features. If water sports are high on your agenda, look for a boat with a powerful engine and features like tow-bars or wakeboard towers.

Size is another crucial factor. Deck boats can range from around 20 feet up to 30 feet or more. While a larger boat may offer more space and amenities, it will also typically require more power (and therefore more fuel) and can be more challenging to handle and dock, especially for novice boaters.

Lastly, consider the reputation and warranty of the boat manufacturer. Some brands are renowned for their deck boat designs and offer comprehensive warranties that can provide peace of mind.

Popular Deck Boat Manufacturers

There are several deck boat manufacturers that have earned a reputation for quality, performance, and innovative design. Here are some of the most popular:

  1. Starcraft: Starcraft is renowned for their commitment to quality and innovation, with a broad range of deck boat models that offer ample space, efficient performance, and a host of customizable options.
  2. Hurricane: As one of the pioneers of the deck boat concept, Hurricane is well-known for creating high-quality deck boats. Their models are designed with plenty of features for comfort, entertainment, and versatility.
  3. Bayliner: Bayliner is one of the largest manufacturers of recreational boats in the world, including a variety of deck boats. Known for their affordability and reliability, Bayliner deck boats provide plenty of features for family fun on the water.
  4. Sea Ray: Sea Ray boats are known for their luxury, performance, and style. Their deck boats offer spacious layouts and a variety of high-end amenities.
  5. Chaparral: Known for their innovative design and high-performance vessels, Chaparral produces a range of deck boats that provide a balance of comfort, space, and performance.
  6. Regal: Regal is a reputable boat manufacturer that offers a range of stylish and well-equipped deck boats. They are recognized for their design, craftsmanship, and performance.
  7. Four Winns: Four Winns deck boats are known for their innovative design, sleek appearance, and focus on comfort. Their range of deck boats offers a versatile platform for various water activities.
  8. Stingray: Stingray offers a range of deck boats known for their performance and efficiency. These boats offer a good blend of comfort, speed, and agility.
  9. Crownline: Crownline deck boats are recognized for their style, performance, and attention to detail. They offer a wide variety of features and options for customization.
  10. Princecraft: Princecraft is a Canadian boat manufacturer renowned for their high-quality deck and pontoon boats. They're particularly known for their durability and ability to handle a wide range of water conditions.

Remember, when choosing a deck boat, it's essential to consider the type of activities you'll use the boat for, your budget, and the features you value the most, in addition to the boat's manufacturer.

Costs For a New deck Boat

The price of a new deck boat can vary greatly depending on a range of factors, including the size of the boat, the manufacturer, the type of engine, and the various features and amenities included. Here is a rough guide to deck boat costs:

  • Entry-level deck boats, often smaller and with fewer features, can start in the range of $20,000 to $30,000.
  • Mid-range deck boats, which typically offer a balance of size, performance, and features, can range from $30,000 to $60,000.
  • High-end or luxury deck boats, which are usually larger, equipped with powerful engines, and come loaded with high-end features and technologies, can easily cost $60,000 to $100,000 or even more.

Keep in mind that these are rough estimates and prices can change over time and vary by region. Additionally, other costs associated with owning a boat — such as maintenance, storage, insurance, and fuel — should also be considered when budgeting for a new deck boat.

It's also worth noting that you can often find great deals on used deck boats, which can be a cost-effective way to get into boating. Just make sure any used boat you consider has been well-maintained and is in good condition. A professional boat inspection can provide peace of mind in this regard.

Engine Types & Sizes

The type and size of the engine in a deck boat can greatly vary based on the size of the boat, its intended use, and the preferences of the owner. Here's an overview of the common engine types and sizes found in deck boats:

Engine Types:

Outboard Engines: These are the most common type of engine found on deck boats. They are mounted on the outside of the boat and are highly efficient, provide good power-to-weight ratios, and are relatively easy to maintain and service. They're also quieter and more fuel-efficient than in the past, thanks to modern technology.

Sterndrive Engines: Also known as inboard/outboard (I/O) engines, sterndrives are a sort of hybrid that combines elements of inboard and outboard engines. The engine is located inside the boat, and a drive unit (or 'lower unit') is located outside the hull. These engines provide strong propulsion and are often seen on larger, more luxurious deck boats.

Inboard Engines: These engines are less common on deck boats, being more typically found on larger cruisers and yachts. Inboard engines are located inside the boat, usually in the center, and the drive shaft runs out the bottom of the hull. They're known for their durability and can offer smooth, powerful performance.

Engine Sizes:

The size (or power) of an engine is typically measured in horsepower (HP). The size needed will depend on the size of the boat, the number of people and amount of gear you plan to carry, and the activities you plan to do (like water skiing or wakeboarding).

  • Smaller deck boats, say around 18 to 20 feet, may use engines in the range of 90 to 150 HP.
  • Mid-sized deck boats, roughly 21 to 24 feet, commonly use engines in the 150 to 250 HP range.
  • Larger deck boats, those 25 feet and above, may require engines from 250 HP to 300 HP or even more.

When considering the engine size for a deck boat, keep in mind that more horsepower will generally mean faster speeds and better ability to handle water sports or heavier loads. However, bigger engines also cost more, use more fuel, and may require more maintenance. Balancing your needs for speed and power with your budget considerations will help you choose the right engine for your deck boat.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, deck boats are a fantastic option for those seeking the space of a pontoon boat with the performance of a speedboat. These versatile vessels offer a range of features designed to accommodate groups for a day of waterside fun, water sports, or simply cruising the waterways in comfort and style.

Whether you're a seasoned boater or a newcomer to the world of boating, a deck boat offers a unique blend of performance, comfort, and versatility that can provide countless hours of enjoyment on the water.

Charlie Hardcastle
Charlie is Editor-in-Chief of Sea Magazine
© 2024 SeaMag. All rights reserved.