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Old 03-09-2010, 22:14   #1
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Advice on First Power Cruiser (We're On a Budget)

I queried this in my intro thread but thought it best to start a thread in the appropriate section also.

My family is looking at purchasing our first cabin cruiser in the 30' range. We have a budget of 15 to 20k and have been looking at Sea Ray Sundancers, Chris Craft Catilinas, Cruisers Vee, and a few other models.

We are not in a hurry as summer is almost over but we are doing our homework so we can purchase when we find the right deal.

My questions are;
What models will deliver the best bang for the buck in my price range?
What should I be avoiding?
Can I find a reliable turn key boat for this price?
Any other advice or observations to help me make the right choice for my family
Thanks,
Kyle O.
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Old 03-09-2010, 22:49   #2
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Boat US has some good information on safety, recalls, and that sort of "what to look for stuff" if I recall.

You want to get a good boat with reliable safety systems, good electrics, etc. -- because a poorly constructed boat without reliable electrics, bilge ventilation, etc., can give you a lot of bang for the buck -- but only one time!

The more you search the better you should get at knowing the market and identifying that special boat when it comes up to meet you.
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Old 04-09-2010, 09:44   #3
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The best way I have seen people get good responses on this forum (and others) is to post links to prospective boats you see for sale. Then say what you like about them and what you don't like. Then people can respond with what they see.

It will also help to tell us what area you intend to cruise, and what types of trips you plan (day-cruising, overnight, for a week, stay in marinas or on the hook, etc.). How many people and rough ages. Things like that.

Go to Boats for Sale, Yachts for Sale, Used Boats, Power Boats, Motor Yachts
Search for used power boats 30' in the 15-20k range. Pick some you like and post them. Don't worry about location where they are, this is just to get the ball rolling.

-dan
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Old 06-09-2010, 21:53   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trbowgn View Post
My family is looking at purchasing our first cabin cruiser in the 30' range. We have a budget of 15 to 20k and have been looking at Sea Ray Sundancers, Chris Craft Catilinas, Cruisers Vee, and a few other models.
Buy Dave Pescoe's book.
Some think he's too harsh and too in love with sportfishers, but the advice is something you won't find other places and you'll get a real taste of what you are in for.
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Old 06-09-2010, 22:09   #5
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David Pascoe has some trenchant comments about Sea Rays, see Sea Ray and Balsa Core Bottoms - by David Pascoe, Marine Surveyor

P.
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Old 07-09-2010, 05:19   #6
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You'll find some good boats in your range and a LOT of junk. You're looking at a 15 year old boat. maintenance is key. A well maintained boat will be a decent deal, a poorly maintained boat will be a huge headache.
Buy books on how to survey boats so you can do your own inspections and know what to look for.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:38   #7
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I would agree with gettinginthere.

As for Sea Ray comments. There are a lot of generalized comments floating around in the "can anybody say anything bad about anything" category. You clearly are not out to buy all the Sea Ray boats ever made or the company. You are only looking for one boat. Within that key limit it's a "so what" conclusion and can be only be distractive.

Forget about brands for the most part. It won't help you decide anything now. It just sounds like it might. You are not getting into a new boat. You are not even getting into an almost new boat. You need to look at condition as the only serious criteria within a pool of boats for sale today. In this price range you can't afford to chase from one end of the country to the other. At a million dollars you could wander in style and stay in nice hotels too. Don't buy any airline tickets!

If you put together a pool of boats that actually are for sale near you that you could go see your choices reduce to a very manageable level. Throw out boats too low or too high. This also one of those size matters things. A little bit more costs a huge amount more. Without boating experience it can be a difficult thing to grasp. Understanding the smallest boat that works for your situation is going to focus what you want with what you need and can afford. You need to make that focus help you get there. This is a mental battle

Look at a few boats better than you can't afford and see for yourself what boat asking prices are and what boat conditions look like and how far the money goes. Do the math on slip fees and expenses and consider upkeep. If you learn your local boat market you will learn a lot more than picking theoretical boats on paper and searching for them in marinas with for sale signs on them. The technical search for the perfect boat is a the best way not to get one. Lots of people come here with that idea. You speak to them after they get a boat and they say it was a bad way to go, took too long, and didn't focus on how you make decisons..

This is also a family thing too? "The admiral knows an really awful boat when she sees one" If you expect to get the family excited they need to see some boats too. If you can't make looking at boats fun you have a problem that may not go away.

When you get it down to a few reasonable choices that you like, the smaller boat, in better shape, is the right one after going over all the notes you collect. Extra gadgets can be distractive. After you look at any boat sit down and make written notes about what you do and don't like and understand why so you can learn more for the next time. You don't want boat shopping to be a life long dream. The boating on the water part is where you want to be.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:12   #8
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The market is flooded with boats owned by folks "on a budget" that found they can't afford their boats or have lost their jobs.
That said, it is a great time to buy a used boat.
Keep in mind that at least 50% of the cost of a boat goes into making it look clean and spiffy, stainless steel rails, shiny fiberglass hulls, sharp looking canvas, on and on.
If you're not that fussy and just want a boat that will safely get you out on the water, you can save a ton o loot.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:24   #9
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Have a look around in YachtWorld to get a feel for what you get for what you pay. Prices are always negotiable. I'm not necessarily saying buy from a broker listing in YachtWorld. That's all who is allowed to list in YachtWorld, brokers.

Be very careful with powerboat engines and their drivetrains. Get an oil analysis and have a professional that you hire take a look at the engines. Otherwise you could end up paying a lot more than you wanted after the purchase.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:36   #10
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Quote:
The market is flooded with boats owned by folks "on a budget" that found they can't afford their boats or have lost their jobs.
Nor could they afford the upkeep. People forced to sell things didn't keep them up before they decide they can't afford them any more.

It's never really a bad time to be a buyer. You do need to look things over well and check them out. Engine systems get tricky when you get into the boating side of engines.

This isn't easy to inspect it yourself. If you bought it, you would need it checked out by a pro so do it before you get married instead. Your insurance agent will insist you do this formally so talk to them about the process and coverage before you shop.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:03   #11
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yes, not doing upkeep is the first step towards a junk boat. There's LOT of poorly kept boats out there.

Look for an older Tiara. They used to make a 27'. Extremely well made. And usually owned by knowledgeable boaters who take care of their stuff. Won't be bargain priced.

Stay away from late 80's vintage bayliner & Thompson.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:26   #12
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Well this weekend we went and looked at a couple of boats including a Cruisers Rogue and two Sea Ray Sundancer 300s. Pblais, we definitely are making the looking at the boats half the fun like you said. We look at it as a day that we go to the water walk around the marina and enjoy it. Yesterday we toured Grand Haven and Sagatuck had a nice lunch and looked at some boats and marinas, it was a very pleasant holiday. We are truly enjoying the looking experience.

We are also checking out the Marinas and there rates as we look at the boats. I think 30' is where we are heading as 30+ gets more expensive for slips and storage in our area.


My wife is in love with the Sea Ray Sundancer cabin layout, as our son could have a private room in the aft cabin. So we have narrowed it down to a boat with a private aft cabin.

We have now narrowed down a small list of must have features; private aft cabin, full camper top (this one became a must when it was raining while looking at a boat yesterday), twin drives, and a water heater.

We also have a list of desired options; Radar Arch, Generator, Heat/Air, Windlass, 3 batteries.

We are going to look at boats and then compare them to the list of what we want in our boat.

I have experience with smaller bow riders and we currently own a Stingray with an Alpha One outdrive that I have serviced myself and changed the bellows and water pump. I have changed a head on a 3.0L Merc, changed alternators, starters, trim sensors, shift cables etc. So I am looking at boats with merc drive lines because I am familiar with them. I do all my own maintenance on my boats including keeping them very shiny clean (I hope my shoulder is up to a 30' buff out). I know what you mean by not taking care of the boat lorenzo b. Our budget is designed to allow for additional cost and being on a budget does not mean we can't afford it it is just what we want to commit to the boat at this time.

I know there are people out selling there boat that take care of them like I do mine and that is what I am looking for patiently.

I will post up some links of boats similar to what we are looking at and see what you guys think.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:49   #13
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There is a 1988 Searay Sundancer listed in Yachtworld that we hope to go look at this weekend. We looked at to similar boats this weekend that were in the 15,000 range and they were a little rough around the edges (worn wood work, rough upholstrey, poor detailing) both appeared to be in good mechanical order but I did not pursue the mechanics very far because the condition chased me off.
We want to look at this boat to see what the top of our budget can deliver.

Rant Warning
Why do people not clean things they are trying to sell? It baffles me that you would not detail and clean something that you are trying to sell. A little elbow greese can go a long way when trying to seel something.

I think we are ready to wait till spring to purchase and use the winter to research and save some more money so we can maybe expand that budget just a little . We do plan on having a full survey done by an independent boat sureveyor when we think we make up our minds.
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:12   #14
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Quote:
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Be very careful with powerboat engines and their drivetrains. Get an oil analysis and have a professional that you hire take a look at the engines. Otherwise you could end up paying a lot more than you wanted after the purchase.
I second that.

I would get a survey. It'll be $250-$500 well spent. And then a separate engine survey as David suggests. (EDIT: I notice you posted while I was writing this saying you will get a professional survey. Good deal.)

As to a full canvas enclosure: be sure to price one. They can run thousands of dollars. So pay close attention to the condition of the canvas. Look over all the stitching carefully, especially around wear points, snaps and tie-downs.

Look closely at the wiring. Not only is it a pain in the butt to work on wiring, but the condition of it can tell you a lot, not only about the boat, but about the owner, as well. Wiring is one of those things that people get sloppy about because it isn't seen and it seems like a lot of work for the return. If they did wiring work and it's neat and professional, that may be an indication of the effort they put into other repairs.

Obviously, there are many things to look at, but most of them you'll think about. I am just posting the things that might not occur to you.

Make a list of requirements, likes and dislikes of the boats you see. Then consolidate these down to absolute musts, absolute no-nos, good to have/avoid, etc. And a list of things to check (like oil leaks, canvas, etc.). Then, if you are on a boat you like, sometime before you leave, compare it to your list. You'll be surprised at the items on your list you forgot to look at.

-dan
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:35   #15
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While there are no absolutes in life or boating, as a general rule someone won't allow the gelcoat, upholstry, canvas, rugs, and general cleanliness of a boat slip, but stay right on top of engine maintenance.

I nother words, if they were lazy with the sponges, brushes, cleaners and wax (The EASY stuff), then they were probably lazy with the oil changes, filters, topping off fluids, etc. (the dirtier, more uncomfortable and more technical jobs) as well. It is rare to find a beat down boat with an ultra clean, well maintained engine. Unless the boat was very recently repowered. People rarely put big bucks into an engine to sell the boat at a loss.

Just my .02
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