Hi all - I'm a new member
here. I have been in the market for this boat for several months now but I am just confused about what is the best choice for us. I am an active member
in other vBulletin forum sites and I know they can be the best place for advice and information in the world! So I thought I would post here and hopefully get some direction. Thank you in advance!
Last year, I relocated my young family
to the coast of South Carolina, and we are fortunate to have a wet slip - it is 36' long and 13' wide. It is in our neighborhood and very accessible. We have two young girls, age 4 and 2. My wife is a novice
boater. My experience is very limited in recent years, though I grew up on the water
on the Gulf coast
- my parents were sailers and I spent many weekends and summers on the boat throughout my life until I went to college. In my teens I owned a small center console and I took several boater safety
courses. So while I have that background, I am not an accomplished boater. But with this new boat, I intend to take several hours of training, actually operating the boat, by a licensed captain
instructor and I intend to refresh my boater safety
course. And, of course, I will be taking it slow and very cautious until I build that confidence.
So I'm trying to figure out what boat is right for us and I think a fairly small cruiser appears to be the right answer. My wife loves coastal living but is always concerned about the kids
getting baked in the sun all day, so a nice cockpit
with good shade is essential. Also, I think that having a cabin
where my kids
can retire to watch a movie
or something is a good recipe to extend our water
time . . . they are still young with short attention spans. I think these factors discourage getting a smaller bow-rider or runabout.
Also, I'm not concerned about fishing
the boat, I have two friends with great fishing
boats that go out all the time, if I ever have the fishing urge. I'm not looking for water sports. I'm looking for day cruising, visiting water accessible sites, anchoring
for lunch and a swim . . . and some light overnighting. All things considered, including the size of my slip, I have been doing heavy research
in the market for express cruisers in the 27-32 foot range. We love the down-easter cruisers (e.g. Back Cove) but they are quite a bit more expensive than their express cruiser
counterparts, and they usually carry more beam - I think 11' is about the narrowest that I have seen in excess of 26'. With my 13' slip, that doesn't leave much for my operational inexperience.
I think that the cruisers in the 28' range would be a bit less boat for me to handle and would give me a bit more room in my slip - but those boats are single
engines (and result in having to operate a fairly large boat with a single engine
. . . and bow thruster) Whereas the 31 and 32 foot boats have twin engines and more space given their beam . . . but present greater challenges in handling with their size (and my slip). However, I have demo'd a 32 with twins and a joystick control and I was blown away by the handling of that set-up. I know some of the purists think the joystick is cheating, but I'm not out to impress anyone with my boat-handling skills! I just don't want to damage anything or embarrass myself and if it takes a joystick, so be it.
So here's my question (thanks for bearing with me through all of this context!): would you recommend that I go for the slightly bigger boat that will probably handle better with the twins and joystick control, or should I take the approach that the smaller the better . . . at least for now given my experience level.
Any responses at all are appreciated!