My die-hard fishing friends say that you can't find a boat to do it all. But I disagree. The new DC 325 Dual Console from Pursuit does a good job of blending luxury and performance with the utility of an offshore boat.
When I think about boats, versatility is the first thing that comes to mind. I need a platform for scuba diving and fishing, but also something that the family can feel comfortable on anchored up off a sandbar.
The DC 325, which will make its local debut at this weekend's Tampa Bay Boat Show at Tropicana Field, covers all the bases. With ample seating, an open bow and plenty of storage, you could easily cruise down the coast to the Florida Keys, then button up and run across to the Bahamas.
An ideal boat for trips to the Middle Grounds or the Vinoy Yacht Basin for Sunday brunch, this Pursuit seems ideally designed for today's discriminating boater. My fishing buddies might find it a bit too fancy, but that's not a problem.
The Tampa Bay Boat Show has everything from shallow-draft flats skiffs to tricked-out, tow boats. You can spend hours looking at all the different models — in fact, that's the best way to really figure out what boat would best suit your needs.
But do yourself a favor, go with an open mind. Buying the wrong boat can be an expensive and frustrating lesson. Get a pen and paper and make a list of your top priorities — comfort, fuel economy, performance, storage, etc.
Ask yourself, how will you use the boat and more important, how often will you use it? Taking the family out once a month for an island picnic is one thing, but running 200 fishing charters a year is quite something else.
The advantage to shopping at the boat show, as opposed to driving from dealer to dealer, is you can often do literal, side-by-side comparisons of the various models. Don't be afraid to take notes. A few hours of real-time research could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
And even if you are not thinking about buying a boat right away, events such as the show are great places to start dreaming. Many first-time boat owners spend years looking and thinking before they make a purchase.
Buying a boat is not something you want to rush — the boat featured here costs more than many houses. But Florida is the No. 1 boating state in the country. We have great weather and beautiful water, so why not take advantage of it? A trip to the Tampa Bay Boat Show is one way to start.