Powerboats offer the simplicity of being able to hop on, turn the key, and be out boating.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel


Monte Carlo MC6
Monte Carlo MC6

AS A SENIOR YACHT BROKER with Simpson Marine Singapore, I get asked very often about the pros and cons of powerboats and sailboats. Although it would seem like there should be a very straightforward answer, it eventually comes down to personal preference.

Many powerboaters have never tried or have very little experience with sailing, and many sailors are very strongly biased against powerboats.

I personally love all boats, big or small, fast or slow, power or sail. I grew up sailing dinghies on lakes and on my father’s 32-foot sailing sloop in Long Island Sound and have sailed all my life. However, my last two boats have been powerboats – a 32ft Sea Ray sport cruiser with twin V8 engines, and now a fast little 18ft speedboat with a single outboard engine.

The typical answer is that sailing is all about the journey and powerboats are all about the destination. With a sailboat you eat lunch, and possibly enjoy a bottle of wine, while underway. With a powerboat you drive to your destination, drop anchor, crack open a beer, and then fire up the BBQ.

Although I’m sure I will buy another sailboat again some time (my wife and I are dreaming of a Beneteau Sense 51) I currently have a passion for powerboats. One very important reason is the simplicity of being able to hop on, turn the key, and be out boating. You don’t need a crew to work the sails so everyone can relax and enjoy the ride, and the views, while covering a good distance for sightseeing.

A major consideration is also where you plan to use your boat. If you live where there typically is not much wind, then powerboats are the obvious choice. With a powerboat you can go out on calm hot days and if the wind does pick up, or it rains, you have the option to quickly head back home.

On a few recent rendezvous to islands that are 150 miles out, I found it’s possible to be there in about 7 hours (at 22 knots) vs 25 hours at 5 knots on a sailboat. If you only have a long weekend you can get to your destination in a day, stay there for a few days of fishing or scuba diving, and head home.

Being on a powerboat for a long weekend also made me appreciate the level of comfort with big soft couches, seating areas, and bedrooms.

After discussing the basic differences in power vs sail, the next decision for a power boater is what size and style of powerboat. For fishing, powerboats are the obvious choice because of the large open cockpits. They are ideal for getting to your location, fishing, and getting back.

For daytime family enjoyment, a bow rider might be the most fun. For powerboats about 40ft or bigger, having a flybridge adds walk-in interior space, typically with big windows, and up on the flybridge is a great place to entertain while anchored or even just at the berth. Especially in congested waters, or at night, the flybridge offers the best vantage point for navigating.

Then there is the question of size. I’ve concluded that at around 50–60ft having a full-time crew really adds to the “yachting lifestyle”.

Most powerboats above 50ft have an air-conditioned crew cabin option so that a full-time Captain / crew can stay on board the boat to keep it in perfect condition and have it ready to with just a short phone call from the Owner.

A good Captain will have the engines running, the drinks on ice, and you just need to get on and drive out. When you return, you and the guests just step off, and perhaps go for dinner, while the Captain secures the boat, washes it down, and gets it ready for the next trip out.

I feel the bigger the boat (or should I say yacht), the less there is a need for speed. A yacht can also be all about the journey, much like a sailboat, because of the relaxing style in which you can cruise.

To go 150 miles you can have dinner on board, entertain on the deck in the evening, sleep through the night with the Captain driving, and wake up in paradise. That’s when you launch the fast Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), Jet Ski, and Sea Bob, to get your need for speed.

In summary, I like the ease and freedom (and speed) of small- to medium-size powerboats and the total luxury of a larger motoryachts. Perhaps it’s the comfort and luxury that are the main reasons why so many people prefer powerboats for getting out on the water to live the dream.

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Peter Mison is a long-term resident of Singapore who joined Simpson Marine Singapore as a yacht broker, having recognised that he can pursue his lifelong passion for boating by helping buyers realise their boating dreams. Peter grew up in the US with a lake as his back yard and began his waterborne adventures very early in life. Weekend sailing and racing was the norm for his family on the 34-foot sloop that he helped his father build. At the age of 22, he completed a passage from Los Angeles to Hawaii and has been an avid sailor ever since. Later in life, Peter continues to enjoy boating with his wife and daughter.