low maintenance boats

Everything You Need to Know: Low Maintenance Boats

Written by Zuzana Prochazka
November 21, 2023

Last Updated on November 21, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

What makes a boat low maintenance and which ones are best?

Boat ownership is a labor of love. There’s always something to clean, repair, and upgrade, but not all boats are created equal from the maintenance perspective. Some boats will allow you to spend more time on the water having fun rather than doing chores which is something to keep in mind.

Pro tip: Read this post all the way to the end for a special section on six of the most popular low-maintenance boats. 

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What makes a boat low maintenance?

Boat maintenance is the main way to curb the natural degradation in value of your boat. Low maintenance boats cost much less to upkeep than higher end boats. If you’re interested in boat maintenance costs, read this post here

  • Size 
  • Material 
  • Propulsion
  • Systems 
  • Trim



Smaller boats have fewer amenities and simpler systems to maintain. They’re also easier and cheaper to wash and wax. Smaller boats require shorter and less expensive slips, and some can be stored on trailers in your garage which saves a lot of money. 


aluminum boat hull

The majority of recreational boats today are made of fiberglass. This material was introduced in the 1960s and opened up boating to the budgets of middle-class families. It’s affordable, relatively quiet, and easy to maintain on a DIY basis. Although you still need to wash, polish, and wax the gel coat of a fiberglass boat, this material makes boats much easier to maintain and repair than wooden boats. 

Aluminum hulls too are durable and relatively maintenance-free, especially if they’re kept out of saltwater. Aluminum is lightweight which means boats need smaller, fuel-sipping engines and that saves money at the pump. Finally, rotomolded plastic hulls like those on small sailing catamarans, dinghies and kayaks are virtually maintenance free.



outboard motor

Boat engines require regular care. Outboard engines have relatively simple needs including rinsing with fresh water, winterizing in cold climates, and performing spring commissioning. If a repower is needed, you simply remove the engine from the transom and replace it. 

Additionally, engines on the transom means there’s more room inside the boat for additional accommodations, systems or stowage space!

Inboard engines are trickier, and access to them is harder. You also have struts, stuffing boxes, exhaust systems, or underwater pods to manage. In case of a repower, the boat may need to be torn up some to replace an inboard engine. Also, inboard engines take up room inside the boat which could be used in other ways. 



Every boat system creates a maintenance need so the more complex the boat, the more work and money it requires. Systems include things like electronics, refrigeration, electric heads, climate control, digital switching, gyro stabilizers, steering systems, and audio/video entertainment. There’s always a tradeoff between comfort/ease-of-use and price/maintenance. It’s key to find the right mix for you.



Surfaces represent a lot of maintenance time (unless you use our Easy 3 Step Guide on Trimming a Boat). Wood needs to be varnished, vinyl cleaned, and canvas repaired when torn. The more fiberglass surfaces and carefree vinyl you have, the less time you’ll spend on detailing and keeping your vessel looking good. 


6 popular low maintenance boats 

You can spec any boat to be as simple or as complex as you like but here are some types of boats that will let you work less and enjoy more. They’re also ideal if you place your boat into a peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace like Boatsetter, where they will spend more time on the water and less time in the shop. 

pontoon fishing boats 2

  1. Pontoon boats: Aluminum hulls, basic systems, bench seating, and outboard engines, pontoons are the most popular boats for a day on the water. Models from Bennington and Godfrey for example, are versatile and can go fishing, cruising or towing. They’re also easy to rent to new boaters with only basic seamanship skills.
  2. Bass & Jon fishing boats: Aluminum hulls make these fishing boats durable, and since most of them are trailerable, they’re inexpensive to store and can be towed to different bodies of water.
  3. Center console fishing boats: Although most center console boats are fiberglass and some offer complex systems for navigation and fishing amenities like livewells and outriggers, they’re still easy to operate and repair with their outboard engines and simple-to-clean surfaces.
  4. Deck boats: Basic in design and mostly under 30 feet, these small boats offer lots of space for many guests but have simple systems and outboard engines. Their hulls are fuel efficient and these models can be used in watersports or entertaining. 
  5. Bowriders & runabouts: Much like deck and pontoon boats, bow riders have multiple uses and are great for families. Runabouts can be bowriders or closed bow boats and are appropriate for most kinds of boating. Outboard engines and simple vinyl and fiberglass surfaces make them easy to care for.
  6. New boats: Newer boats tend to break less often and need less cosmetic care. That said, it makes owners nervous to rent a new boat to an even newer boater. 


A word to the wise on boat maintenance

All boats, even low maintenance boats, require some sort of care. Similar to your car, boat maintenance keeps a boat attractive and healthy, so once you buy your dream boat make sure to keep the points above in mind. And, don’t forget—You can make money renting out your boat! 


About us

Boatsetter is the go-to app for boat rentals and on-water experiences. Whatever the adventure, we’ve got a boat for that—Set sail, start the party, go yachting, make your trophy catch, and hone your watersports skills! Download the Boatsetter app (App Store | Google Play). Make sure to follow @boatsetter on Instagram, and tag us in all your boat day pictures for the chance to be featured. 


List. Rent. Earn—Only at Boatsetter 

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