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Old 15-09-2011, 13:20   #1
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Best Family Cruiser for BC Coastal Exploring

Please help me! I am looking for advice on the best power boat for a family of five (with three small children) to go cruising with regularly on the West Coast - in both rainy and sunny weather. We want to be able to sleep fairly comfortably on the boat but don't anticipate extended time moving on the water (a few hours at a time at most). We would love to be able to take extended family and/or friends with us on day-trips. We also love to fish. We want to spend somewhere between $50-85000 CAD/US for a nice pre-owned power cruiser and we really need at least a 32 footer, I reckon. I like trawlers (especially the 70's ones, so classic and pretty) but my husband is drawn to the sporty Bayliner types that have large aft decks with only canvas covering them.

We are new to boating but all of us eagerly anticipate the adventures that can be had cruising around the Gulf islands and the southern BC coast more generally.

We live near a variety of marinas with low-cost moorage available.

We would love the boat to be as fuel efficient as possible (no more than a few hundred dollars a month in gas for a couple of weekend trips), but speed would be nice too.

Any models or equipment you recommend looking for? How has your experience been with doing family cruises?

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Old 15-09-2011, 13:35   #2
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Re: Best Family Cruiser for BC coast exploring

The tolly craft line are well built, owner loved, boats in your price range. They are kind of like a trawler. But faster. 26, 32, 36 etc

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Old 15-09-2011, 14:23   #3
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Okay cool!! Will have a look at those.
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Old 15-09-2011, 14:41   #4
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What about this, it's so pretty and streamlined:
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Old 15-09-2011, 15:06   #5
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Maintenance costs, distance, charter?

The slipway near where I moor keeps the local marine mechanic busy with the gas powered inboard outboard types. The motors seem reliable enough, but the I/O parts seem to need constant attention. I hate to think what the bill must be each time.

You don't say how far you'd need to travel on each hypothetical trip. If it's less than 15nm then an older, smaller, trawler type with smaller engine could do the trick. For longer voyages where a bit of speed is a must then maybe the Bayliner.

There's a Beneteau moored a bit away from me that's owned by a family man and it only looks to be used a couple of times each year. The wife and kids may have other interests.

Keeping an older boat is pretty much a full time hobby. Most of the boats moored round Sydney Harbour never seem be used. Maybe they sneak aboard when I'm not watching!

I've seen boats similar to the Bayliner factored out in a sort of timeshare among 12 or so owners with a manager who keeps it all clean and well maintained. They used to onsell the boats every couple of years but it could be a bit longer now.

Each owner gets 4 odd weeks each year, which is more than any of them seem to use, so the boat is mostly available except for peak times like Christmas/New Year and Easter though these may be a bit cold in your parts.

My rule of thumb is that boat costs are roughly 25% of the good condition price for the boat, so you could be looking at $20k p.a. to buy.

Why not try chartering for a weekend to see how you and the family like it?
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Old 15-09-2011, 15:22   #6
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Re: Best Family Cruiser for BC Coastal Exploring

CHB 34 - Looks kind of like a Grand Banks but MUCH less expensive. Doesn't go fast, but sips fuel and eventually you will probably like the journey more then the destination anyways. Enough room for family of 5

Tollycrafts are great boats, I used to own one, but with fuel prices the way they are today and the cost of used Tollycrafts still being pretty high - I think if I were to go back to power boating, I would get a trawler or tug. Although the Tollys were very well built boats (and good looking too for most models), they were not all that fuel efficient due to fairly stout construction. But, they do get up on a plane if you really want to and you aren't afraid of fuel docks. You may even be able to find a 37' in the upper part of your price range - That is a great hull.
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Old 16-09-2011, 03:35   #7
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Re: Best Family Cruiser for BC Coastal Exploring

I don't have a boat suggestion for you, but if you haven't read "The Curve of Time" by Wylie Blanchet, it's a great story of a women who cruised those waters back in the 1920s and 30s with her 5 kids. Good way to pass some time this winter and look forward to summer cruising.
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Old 16-09-2011, 09:16   #8
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Re: Best Family Cruiser for BC Coastal Exploring

As I answered in your other thread, seems like a center console in the $20K or $30K range might actually fit your needs. Cheap off season (store it on the trailer) and huge savings in mooring, yard bills.

You might be thinking that fuel costs dominate operating costs, but to keep operating costs sub $1K per month, you need a smaller and dramatically simpler boat.

My boat sounds kinda like what you are looking for, and I guarantee your service and repair costs for twin I/O gas in a planing powerboat with cabin will exceed $5K every year, with some years $15K, and every 10 years, $40K if you are lucky.

And again, you will burn $4 to $6 every mile. When I do a fun long weekend visiting islands off southern california I burn $600 to $1000 in fuel.
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Old 16-09-2011, 09:29   #9
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Re: Best Family Cruiser for BC Coastal Exploring

Take a look at Canoe Cove boats. The styling doesn't appeal to me but they're good solid cruisers, built right at home. Here's a couple on Yachtworld in your size/price range:
canoe cove Boats For Sale
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Old 16-09-2011, 13:10   #10
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Re: Best Family Cruiser for BC Coastal Exploring

Originally Posted by bobofthenorth View Post
Take a look at Canoe Cove boats. The styling doesn't appeal to me but they're good solid cruisers, built right at home. Here's a couple on Yachtworld in your size/price range:
canoe cove Boats For Sale
Never heard of these before, but they look like just the ticket.

My recommendation would be to pick the one with diesels, if possible. The diesels will get better fuel performance, and have less explosion potential. Ford Lehman's are louder than some, but are very durable. Also, they are very common and easily repairable/replaceable if/when needed.

My experience is different from an earlier poster. I have had the same 20 year old 36' twin engine boat for almost 10 years, now. Never spent 5k in a year for normal repairs. (I did when it took on water once, but that's another story). Now, a gas engined I/O would be more prone to repairs, but I wouldn't think it'd even be double.

Also, as long as I run at displacement speeds, my cost is more like $2-3 per mile for fuel. Gas would be more, and planing speed would easily more than triple that.

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Old 18-09-2011, 20:49   #11
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Re: Best Family Cruiser for BC Coastal Exploring

Hi There,

My family and I (two little girls under 3 yrs old and my wife) cruise lower mainland waters as well as the Gulf Islands and northern destinations in our 36 foot motorsailer.

My requirements were a reliable powerplant that was cheap to operate and a large pilothouse with nice windows so we could enjoy the scenery on our rainy days. I also wanted a back up to the engine should something go wrong. The new 54hp yanmar diesel I installed in the boat will give me years of reliability and only burns a gallon per hour at cruise (6 or 7 knots). The sail rig is a great backup should we ever have engine trouble and really helps with stability when crossing the Strait of Georgia in snotty weather. If you need something with speed then of course a motorsailer or a trawler will not suit your needs.

If I hadn't purchased a motorsailer I would have gone with a single engine trawler. A couple of things to keep in mind with the trawler. They generally have a sickly motion without stabilizers and if they do have stabilizers they will cost you a fortune. I wouldn't discount a trawler with twin diesels either, but running costs will be somewhat more. If you seek the safety of a second engine I would consider mounting a large kicker say 15hp on the transom of a single screw trawler as a get you home engine. Many trawlers already have this arrangement for trolling for salmon. You should also consider heating as a major consideration. I personally like the Dickinson drip style stoves for heat as it uses diesel which I already have on board and it really keeps the boat toasty for the girls in the off season. If you are going to own a boat and incur all of the associated costs you should really be able to enjoy it year round and you will need a good heat source to do so.

There are many gotchas when looking at trawlers or older boats in general, but especially any trawlers you would be looking at in your price range. The issues range from rotten decks or cabins to old beat engines and rusty fuel tanks. The list literally goes on and on. That being said there can be just as many issues with a new boat. The sea environment is hard on everything and even boats 5 or 10 yrs old can be riddled with issues.

Bayliners have been mentioned above. Have you researched Bayliners and some of the other mass produced gas powered boats. I personally would not purchase one and I have been aboard many, but I admit I have never owned one myself and some owners think they are great. If you don't like to spend money on engines every year I would stay away from twin gas powerplants. This is my personal bias and have never owned one, but have heard my share of horror stories.

If I could sum up my boating philosophy in a phrase it would be "keep it simple". This means from the boat on down to your systems including engines, electrical, plumbing etc....complex systems are difficult to troubleshoot and expensive to fix. I don't like difficult issues on my boat when I am miles away from help with two little girls.

If you tell us how you plan to use the boat we can likely pinpoint the best boat for your needs. Try answering some of the following:

- Do you like to sail?
- Have you ever tried sailing?
- How much time do you envision using the boat per year?
- How old are your kids?
- Will you be a fair weather boater or would you like to use it yr round?
- Are you handy with repairs ie: engine, fiberglass, plumbing, electrical etc.?
- How many berths/bunks do you need?
- Do you have experience with a boat over say 25 feet in length?
- Have you ever operated a single screw trawler?

Hopefully this was helpful



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