Designing Boats for Lazy Owners

Initially, I took offense to this headline when I saw it in Soundings Trade Only magazine, but just as quickly I became excited about what the article would share. Boat manufacturers continue to focus their design efforts on making boating a hassle-free experience. The world is a different place and it seems there is less and less free time, so the free time we do have should be spent enjoying the boat, not maintaining it. Some examples of these design efforts come from Michigan manufacturers Four Winns, Glastron, Wellcraft and Scarab, and include boats with less canvas, effortless space conversions that turn seats into playpens, and swivel headrests that easily change seating from underway to conversation mode. Additionally, joystick docking, smart phone connectivity, state of the art technology all continue to develop making boating easier. Station keeping is an example of technology that helps fishermen maintain their location, and boaters maintain their place when waiting to pass through a canal or in line at a boating access site.

From my perspective the biggest challenge has always been covering the boat at the dock. There is news on this front as well. Manufacturers have identified different types of foam that resist moisture when uncovered, so maybe down the road covering won’t be necessary. Until then, boaters with limited time might want to consider checking out Crest and Jackson Canvas’ easy one-button cover systems. If these are not right for you, then Michigan has a boat load of dock manufacturers making boatlift and cruise in cover systems which can also take away this hassle.

Some feel the toughest part of owning a boat is the end of the season winterization process. Hassle free for me is to let a dealer or marina handle this, but it is interesting that engine manufacturers are taking note that this is not practical for everyone. On Evinrude’s E-TEC G2 series of outboards, owners simply turn a key to winterize the motor. Volvo Penta’s Easy Drain is its latest generation of stern drives that have closed cooling. Simply hit a button, and all the water in the block is emptied.

These are only a few examples of the many new features available in today’s boat and engine market. If you haven’t visited a dealer in a while, it would be worth the time to find out what’s new. Not because you are lazy but because you might find yourself with more free time to enjoy your boat.

See you on the water!


Nicki Polan is the Executive Director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association and a Michigan State Waterways Commissioner.  As a lifelong boater, whose family enjoys boating in both Oakland and Branch counties, Nicki enjoys sharing information about the benefits of the boating lifestyle, legislative issues affecting the boating industry, and the incredible and diverse boating and fishing opportunities available in our Great Lakes state.