2020 Boat Buying Guide for Wisconsinites & Boat Loan Tips

father and son on a boat in wisconsin

If you’re like us, you’ve been spending lots of time daydreaming about gentle wakes, lake- and river-side snacks, and the warm breeze in your hair. It’s boat buying season! That’s why we’ve compiled our picks for best types, makes, and models to look for in 2020 if you’re a boat-lovin’ Wisconsinite or aspire to own your own boat.

1. The Penny Pincher’s Boat

affordable boat in wisconsin

Image via Boat Trader

If you’re a beginning boater looking for a nice boat with a tiny price tag, the Four Winns Horizon 190 is our pick. As says, “A boat like the Horizon 190 bowrider is a great starter runabout for a new boater. It’s priced at under $30,000, but it is built with impressive quality and attention to detail.”

You can find a mid-2000s Horizon 190 for anywhere between $6k and $13k, so your big boating dreams won’t break the bank.

2. The Easy-Cruisin’ Family Boat

sun tracker boat on wisconsin lake

Image via Sun Tracker

If you love throwing family parties on your boat, this is your pick …

Spacious for family gatherings, easy to tow and maneuver, and loaded with fishing features, it’s no wonder the Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 18 DLX is a fan-favorite and best-seller. Here are few other specs to note, via Sun Tracker:

  • 10+LIFE™ Limited Lifetime warranty
  • 24″ (60.96 cm) diameter multichambered pontoon logs
  • Built-in RAIL-LOCK® system for optional snapless mooring cover
  • Bow fishing deck with two fold-down fishing chairs, rod holders, and rail-mounted drink/tool holders
  • Forward-console 9-gal. (34.07 L) aerated livewell with padded cushion and aft 8-gal. (30.28 L) aerated livewell with built-in ruler, drink holder, and rod holder
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Aft L-lounge with underseat storage
  • Aft fishing deck with fold-down fishing chair and rod holders
  • Color-keyed 7′ (2.13 m) Bimini top with storage pockets
  • Aft boarding platform with fold-down ladder

You can score a 2019 model in our region for around the $20,000 mark.

3. The Speed Demon Duo

sea doo 2013 model

Image via CS Performance

Okay, we’re not exactly talking boats, but Boating Magazine loves the Sea-Doo RXP-X 260 for thrill seekers. You can score two mid-2000s models for under $20k, and you and your adrenaline-seeking sweetheart can hit speeds up to 65 mph.

Read more about a local 2013 model on Ecklund Motorsports of Appleton’s website, including this note on the engine, “1,494 cc four-stroke, Rotax with four valves per cylinder. Supercharged, intercooled 1503 XHO Rotax 4-TEC engine provides reliable ultra-high performance in fresh or salt water, increased torque at low RPM, optimized power at all RPM levels and throttle positions.”

4. The Fisherman’s Boat

fishermen on a boat in wisconsin

Image via Bayliner

Several boat blogs list the Bayliner Element F16 as one of the best center-console fishing boats under $20,000. As Bayliner says, “Our new Element F16 is a 16-foot center console that blends affordability, versatility and fishability like few boats you’ll find.” Rudow’s Fish Talk says you’ll love the features you get for the money, including, “standard forward and aft casting decks, vertical racks for six rods in the console, a leaning post, a swim ladder, a stainless-steel steering wheel, trolling motor pre-wiring, and a built-in 18 gallon fuel tank.”

If you can’t find an F16, you’re likely to find an Element E16 or 160 Bowrider in the Fox Valley for under $20k. Or, if you’d like to spend a little less, you can find a nice, late-model Lund Tiller for a great price (under $5k).

5. The Water Sports Obsessive’s Boat

scarab 165 for water sports in wisconsin

Image via Boat Trader

If you love waterskiing, kneeboarding, or the like, you need a tower. BoatUS favors the Scarab 165, and you can find 2016 models in the area for less than $20k. As BoatUS says,

“The Scarab 165 is a jet-driven towing machine powered by a 150-hp Rotax 4-TEC engine. That means it has plenty of pulling oomph, and unlike most boats of this size, it also has a full-beam integrated swim platform. Most boats this inexpensive have an outboard slung on a transom and a minuscule swim platform off to one side.”

Scarab, the manufacturer, calls this model “fast, affordable, and exhilarating” … need we say more?

6. The Long Journey Boat

boat docked in wisconsin cape dory

Image via YachtWorld

Cruising World lists the Cape Dory 30 as one of its best sailboats under $50k, and there are a few reasons for that.

“Yes, it’s the full keel with attached rudder and attendant advantages (stable tracking, safety in grounding and collisions with underwater objects) that recommend the design for cruising.”

“The other reason folks love Cape Dorys is robust construction. Nothing fancy: solid single-skin hull, balsa-cored deck (Aren’t they all? Well, no.), heavy bronze hardware from Vavolotis’ Spartan Marine foundry and generous exterior teak that once upon a time signified a classy yacht.”

Another advantage of the gorgeous Cape Dory: you can land one in Wisconsin for around $16-19k if you’re on the lookout.

Wake Up and Make Your Boating Dreams Reality

There’s no time like the present to take advantage of our competitive boat loans with perks like bi-weekly payment options, online banking capabilities, 100% financing, and more. Learn more about our boat loan options here or talk to a Member Advisor today.

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