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Old 07-02-2018, 19:43   #1
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Boat recommendations

To be honest, we have no idea what kind of boat to even start looking for. I haven't been able to find something similar to what John Kretschmer writes for the sailing world, for the power boat world. Any direction you can give us is greatly appreciated.

We're a family of 4, kids are 5 and 6 and a 40lb dog living near the Puget Sound, just outside of Tacoma, Washington. We're looking for a boat to explore the Puget Sound, Salish Sea, and the area NorthEast of Vancouver Island. Use will consist mostly of 2-3 nights on the water a few times a month, year round. Once or twice a year we'd love to be able to go out for a week. As for a boat, we'd like something with plenty of deck space for 2 tandem sea kayaks and our bikes, and a swim platform. Given our location a Bimini Cover or a covered cockpit would be very beneficial. Below deck all we need is a place to sleep, eat and use the toilet. Given our price point, we don't expect an updated interior, just something solid and functional we can grow with and learn on. Which brings me to the next check box, price. Ideally we'd like to stay under $20,000. I don't mind putting in some hard work as I know at this price point I'm not going to be getting an updated boat. Lastly, the ability to trailer it with our F-150 would be great.

What makes and models would check most of these boxes? What other resources should we be using to see if a boat has a solid history or was a piece of junk from the factory.

Thanks!
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Old 08-02-2018, 05:47   #2
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Re: Boat recommendations

"Plenty of deck space" and sleeping room for 4 plus dog... works against that whole $20K budget and trailerable idea.

You might have a look at SeaRay Sundancer models just to see if that kind of design gets you in the ballpark. Likely won't find any for that budget and not trailerable, but it might give you more insight into "features" you'll want to be thinking about (swim platform, bimini, heat, eating (implies cooking?), etc.)

Or there are some trailerable boats by names like Ranger, C-Dory, Rosborough, etc. that might be worth a look. Might not be enough space for 4 plus dog; you might have to find some in person to inspect closely.

You might ask your same question on The Hull Truth; lots of folks there might have ideas...

Once you find candidates, there are often owners clubs where you can get better insight into specific brands/models...

-Chris
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Old 08-02-2018, 10:35   #3
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Re: Boat recommendations

Chris, thank you. I'll start checking these out on boattrader and see if I can find some locally to walk through. Is a boat that can sleep 4, V birth and a convertible dinette, typically not trailerable? I've seen several 31' triple axel boat trailers and assumed a boat that size would accommodate us all.
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Old 08-02-2018, 12:07   #4
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Re: Boat recommendations

Around 30' would be considered very small these days, uncomfortable for that big a group.

Depends on the people involved of course; if you'd all be OK long-term camping in a big tent together, maybe.

The market has changed a lot compared to 50-60 years ago.
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Old 08-02-2018, 17:23   #5
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Re: Boat recommendations

We did 17 days around Vancouver Island, rain most days, sleeping in the bed of the truck. I built a bunk system for the kids to sleep on and the wife and I slept under it. It was a hassle moving totes out of the back and into the cab every time we found a spot to sleep, but it we had a great time doing it. Granted they'll grow and not want to do that forever, but we should be able to get a few more years out of them till that happens.
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Old 08-02-2018, 17:32   #6
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Re: Boat recommendations

I was going to suggest an old trawler until f150 came up. You are likely looking at a SeaRay type boat in the mid 20 foot size. go with inflatable sup/kayak to save space.
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Old 08-02-2018, 17:53   #7
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Re: Boat recommendations

Is a SeaRay a trusted boat? I get the feeling after researching them that its cheaper made and of lesser quality. Either way, Wednesday we're going to look at a few that are for sale. Figure we can get a feel for what we're actually looking for and what a realistic budget is to get that.
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Old 08-02-2018, 22:13   #8
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Re: Boat recommendations

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Originally Posted by Wandering Dixie View Post
sleeping in the bed of the truck.
OK, my kind of family then, no worries the world's your oyster, beautiful choices are out there for pennies on the dollar!

Note that in order to be trailerable without needing to hassle with state-by-state permits, you want an 8'6" beam or narrower.

I dunno from stinkpots, but if we're talking sailboats, which can be just fine mostly motoring,

in practice that means 22-28' LOA.

Here's my thread asking for suggestions within these limits, and adding robust build quality and (as much as possible) safety/comfort for blue water passage making, which is nice even if you don't need it.

Trailerable blue-ocean: exists?

Key specs to narrow your choices are: standing room or not (mostly not if you're tall) and LWL for a little more hull speed.
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Old 09-02-2018, 05:26   #9
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Re: Boat recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wandering Dixie View Post
Chris, thank you. I'll start checking these out on boattrader and see if I can find some locally to walk through. Is a boat that can sleep 4, V birth and a convertible dinette, typically not trailerable? I've seen several 31' triple axel boat trailers and assumed a boat that size would accommodate us all.
I think that size interior is maybe right on the edge of trailerable. Often when you're seeing 31' trailered boats, they're skinny (8'6") and often either go-fasts (minimal interior) or center consoles (almost no interior).


Quote:
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Is a SeaRay a trusted boat? I get the feeling after researching them that its cheaper made and of lesser quality.
It's a Chevy, usually decent. Look more at the layout, interior size (and space utilization) versus overall size. If it looks viable, then there are other similar brands (Chevies) to look at too.

If you can find some of the really trailerable boats -- Ranger, Rosborough, etc. -- to look at locally, that'd probably be useful as well. It'd give you more idesa about interior volume and so forth...

-Chris
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Old 09-02-2018, 14:55   #10
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Re: Boat recommendations

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I dunno from stinkpots, but if we're talking sailboats, which can be just fine mostly motoring,
Only power boats. I've been trying for years to get her to get excited about owning a sailboat. We've taken lessons and gone out on our own a few times, but she's to nervous with the kids. I'm hoping that if we get a power boat now, in a few years we can make the change to sail, then, well lets not get ahead of ourselves.
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Old 09-02-2018, 15:17   #11
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Re: Boat recommendations

With power boats you can probably trailer anything with your F-150 that is 108" beam or less, except some of the really heavy trawler yachts (Ranger Tug etc).

So start by looking at trailerable boats. Generally that will be around 26' or less, because any longer, and they widen up to 10', and are beyond what you will want to put on a trailer. Then you can work on the other compromises.

You will find that there are a variety of cabin cruisers out there in various configurations. Typically they will be stern drive or outboard in that size. You would not want to keep them in the water all season, they have to be on the trailer or on a boat lift or dry stack when not in use.

With power boats in that size/price range, it is much less practical to try to buy a "budget boat" and fix it up, than might be the case with sail. The reasons for this have to do both with market dynamics of the power boat market, and with the costs inherent in repairing power boats. You cannot save money by purchasing a replacement lower unit on the internet and installing yourself, because they are only sold through dealers and hard to ship, and it is unlikely that you will save money by e.g. overhauling an engine because it is beyond most people's skills and the parts cost is considerable.

These boats will be smaller than what you say you want and aren't going to work for overnights for all of you. But start there, take a look at what's available. Some will be in your price range. Maybe they'll work for you. These are boats where you'll outrun weather rather than sit through it.

If you want something bigger, well, you'll have to give up on trailering, and then slip costs and fuel costs will be a big part of the picture, and purchase price will go up too. There are still some deals. A year or two ago I saw a twin-engine stern drive 28'er sell for under $30,000 here. For various reasons no one wants a stern drive twin in that size range. Quirky but would have been a nice boat.
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Old 23-02-2018, 17:40   #12
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Re: Boat recommendations

Well, after spending the last 2 weeks looking at a dozen or so boats, my wife has decided that she has her heart set on a much bigger and more expensive boat than we originally planned on. The budget has inflated to $60k and she now knows what sh(w)e wants.

2 berths, ideally 1 with bunks or 2 singles, the other a queen, inboard diesel twins, a walkway with high stations that we can actually walk around, and preferably an interior walkway to an enclosed flybridge that the ladder isn't straight up. She likes the open floor plans, but we could care less if the galley in sunk or raised or if there's a second head. We want diesel heat and a bow thruster, but understand those can be done after if it isn't equipped. We found a 1985 Nova Sundeck that we like the layout for but it lacks twins and a bow thruster. What other boats should we have on our radar? We have about 12 more boats to see over the next 2 weeks.

Thanks for all the advice!
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Old 24-02-2018, 04:52   #13
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Re: Boat recommendations

Sounds like progress. For boat sorta-kinda similar to the Nova, search "motor yachts" on yachtworld.com.

-Chris
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Old 01-03-2018, 15:49   #14
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Re: Boat recommendations

You cannot get a safe, reliable family cruiser for $20,000, unless it is a project boat, and trust me, you do NOT want a project boat at this stage of your life.

Even very high quality, top conditioned boats a year or two old take thousands in maintenance every year for cleaning, painting, waxing, engine tuneups, accessories (life jackets, etc). The older the boat, the greater the cost and complexity.

I would recommend staying away from the one piece express type boats, like Sundancers and stuff like that. The low-to-mid range boats tend to have lots of maintenance and quality problems as they age because the manufacturers take a lot of short cuts.

I would definitely recommend a trawler-type boat, because it will have a cabin and the engine will be small and low power = cheap. The only feasible boat in your price category right now on Yacht World is a 1966 Grand Banks 32-foot, which is not really trailerable for $20,000. It looks like it is in pretty decent shape for a 50-year-old boat. The old Grand Banks were well made boats.

There is also a 21-ft 2005 Ranger Tug being sold in your area for $18,900. Those are good quality boats and it comes with a trailer. The only drawback is that only sleeps two people. If it were me, I would probably get the Ranger and just have the kids sleep on the deck with waterproof sleeping bags and a tarp as a roof.

All the other boats I saw in that price range in your area were low quality boats that should probably be avoided.

PS Never ever run the engine, if you are sleeping on the deck of a boat.
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Old 01-03-2018, 16:31   #15
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Re: Boat recommendations

I just saw your post about looking at the Nova Sundeck. I would advise against that for multiple reasons.

First of all, taking a camper van and wrapping fiberglass around it does not turn it into a boat.

Secondly, I think you are not taking into account maintenance costs. The costs for a boat like this will be astronomical compared to the costs of maintaining the 21-foot Ranger. Just the electrical alone could easily become a total nightmare.

Also, floating living rooms like that have lots of design problems. The engine is totally inaccessible so even if you can find a mechanic to service the engine, he will hate you. That boat has so many stairs, you will be wishing you were a chimpanzee, not a human, after a few trips.

Another issue is the "sun deck" itself, ie the flybridge. David Pascoe has said many times that it is not a good idea to walk on windows and the Nova is a typical example. No amount of caulk, no matter how many gallons you use, will seal those windows, once you start walking around on the frames. And once they start leaking, say hello to the mold and mildew. Did you take a good sniff when you inspected that boat?

I know those floating living rooms look good on paper, but I recommend getting a boat, especially for a first time buyer.
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