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Old 20-05-2014, 10:54   #1
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Need Help with Picking a Cruiser Boat.

Hi everyone,

My wife & I are looking to buy a used 25' - 30' Express/Power cruiser boat. I have own plenty of 20' Bowriders, Fish & Ski & Bass boats but I never own a cruiser boat before, so this is all new water to me.

We're looking to spend between $30k - $40k for our first cruiser. We'll probably have 2-6 people onboard while cruising, so I don't want the boat to be underpower.

So I need some guidance on what brand, model & year I should be looking at, and what motor should I be focusing on, Merc MPI or Volvo GXI?

I though Rinker 270 & Sea Ray 260 were great boats until I read some of the reviews about them, now i'm not sure. I'm open to any suggestion, but the market is limited here in Connecticut.

Thanks for your help, Mike
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Old 20-05-2014, 11:32   #2
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Re: Need help with picking a Cruiser boat.

Hi, It seems you ought to be able to find a good boat for that budget and size. Keep in mind this forum is more sailboat oriented. As far as bad reviews go you will find them for most anything on the internet, so glean through what you read and see if there is a trend. Sea Rays are pretty good boats generally. One thing to ask yourself is the type of accommodation you want though. Many Sea Ray types have most of the "living" down below, and can feel rather "cavish" due to that. Hard top types have more of the living up above which feels a lot nicer on the water.
I cant tell you much on engines and outdrives as my info is outdated. Mercruiser and Volvo Penta have both been good in the past. I'm only familiar with the VP 280 and The MC Bravo I, II, III.... and limited at those.
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Old 20-05-2014, 13:57   #3
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Re: Need help with picking a Cruiser boat.

Mike, in the express cruiser category, you've got a wide selection: Sea Ray, Cruisers, Regal, Rinker, Four Winns, Chaparrel... and only in the used market, a very few Silvertons in the 27 range, and then more in the 34-36 range... ummm... probably two or three more makers I can't remember just now. All pretty much the same quality.

You may have to read between the lines, on reviews. Some writers complain because a 260 (for example) doesn't have 5 staterooms and three heads... so take it all with a grain of salt.

OTOH, when you're shopping, one feature to evaluate is access to systems. Everything on a boat will need maintenance and service, and it costs you more when it takes 5 hours to do a 10-minute job... because access to the gizmo sucks. You'll find in boats of that size range, most makers try to cram in a boatload of features... which can be nice until you have to fix the gizmo... that's hidden behind an engine... that you can't reach both sides of anyway.

In our owners club forum, I hear Crusader engines are better than MerCruiser (dunno exactly why)... but I think those must be the only two modern brands of gas engines our maker used, since nobody mentions Volvo gas engines.

You might do a review of boats in the size range on yachtworld.com, see what comes up, see what catches your eye...

-Chris
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:03   #4
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Re: Need help with picking a Cruiser boat.

It is true that most of this forum isd sail based so it is good that there is a power boat section like this.
Your environment will help with your choice. Salt water or fresh. Inland or coastal. Bays or icw. Day trips, overnights or extended.
Make your choice by going to the boat shows and getting on every boat, new and used, that interests you. Dig through them to make sure you are comfortable with everything you need to access. Look at the condition of older models to see if they last. Ask yourself. .Will you be doing your own maintenence? If not then who does in the area you live. Will it be in water or dry stored. IO's do better in dry storage in salt water. IO, outboard, Vdrive or straight drive. Personally I'm not an IO fan. If you haven't felt with inboard on your past boats, study the safety requirements for running them.

Good luck and have fun looking for your new boat.

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Old 04-06-2014, 09:45   #5
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Re: Need help with picking a Cruiser boat.

First, there is a massive difference between a 25' and a 30' boat. Most 25' boats are trailerable and limited to 8.5' beam. By the time you get up around 30', you are typically in the 10-12' beam range. That makes a huge difference in space but it is no longer trailerable (at least not convienetly) and that usually moves you into twin engines, with the associated costs and fuel consumption.

For 2 people, either size can be OK. With 6 people on board for a even a weekend, the 30' is going to be cramped. The 25' is probably too small for anything more than an afternoon on the water.

I suggest going to boat shows and climbing around. When you do imagine (or try)things like:
- Sleeping: How easy is it to get into the bed, is it long enough, will you be fighting over the V space in the Vberth.
- What about cooking and refridgerator space.
- Can you close the door while using the head?
- Is there comfortable seating to hang out for hours on a rainy evening?
- Look at the mundane issues of life on board.

As far as bad reviews, these are production boats. There will always be a vocal complaining crowd. Likewise for the engine brands.

Plan to have the boat surveyed. Yes, it's a few hundred dollars but more than worth it and likely required if you need a loan. Make any offer contingent on the survey.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:25   #6
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Re: Need help with picking a Cruiser boat.

Plan to have the boat surveyed. Yes, it's a few hundred dollars but more than worth it and likely required if you need a loan. Make any offer contingent on the survey.
I would suggest his too. I was looking at similar type boats once.
A couple things to watch for: About half the sellers said the engines(s) had been rebuilt . When pinned down, asked if they had receipts they usually ended up saying something like "no, the previous owner had it done".
Transom cores are very often soggy wet inside. The builders lay up the fiberglass then cut a hole for the outdrive and goop it up. Over time water gets in. It also enters thru any screw holes (trim tabs, transom platform, depth sounder etc) The only boat I'm aware of not having this problem is Tollycraft who cored with Alum or no core.
A lot of sellers say things like "the outdrive was just gone thru last year". Sometimes that means the rubber bellows were changed ....nothing else!
A big plus is if you go large enough to have shaft drive instead of outdrive. Probably 28 feeet and up. Less problems for sure.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:57   #7
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As usual, a lot of good advice for you from the forum members. The intended use of the boat will influence what type of hull you purchase. I have a 28' Sportfisher type cruiser with twin V-drives. The beam is about 11' and it sleeps two in the forward V-berth, another small two on the dinette and one more on a pull-out lounge. I have overnighted with two other guys and that worked well but if you are talking about two couples, it will be crowded. My boat weighs close to 12,000 lbs, and is trailerable with wide load signs and permits in some areas. Some of my buddies have similar boats that they tow on triple axle trailers with 3/4 to 1 ton 4x4 pickup trucks. Towing a large boat is not like pulling a UHaul trailer around the block. As my friends say -"Towing is easy, Stopping is the problem". You want at least hydraulic trailer brakes and preferably an electric/hydraulic set up. If you plan to moor it, you should avoid outdrives as they add considerably to the maintenance costs. Depending on the moorage you may have to have the bottom cleaned periodically and the zincs replaced. If you have a trailer boat, you will need storage space for the trailer. Most communities will not allow large trailer boats to be parked in residential areas for any length of time.
Find a boat you and your wife like, realizing it may not be your last powerboat. In addition to the hull survey mentioned in previous posts, spend a few extra dollars for an engine/mechanical survey to include oil samples of the engines and transmissions. It could save you from potential repairs and at the least give you some negotiating leverage. Also with a used boat consider the age of the existing electronics and other equipment such as anchor packages, fenders, mooring lines, safety gear, dinghy, outboard motor and the added cost of replacing or obtaining them.
I think it still is a buyer's market for used boats and you will find a good selection.
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Old 04-06-2014, 19:14   #8
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Re: Need Help with Picking a Cruiser Boat.

I am also looking...but at all boat types. In the cabin cruiser type I like the Cruiser Boats.

Look at the 2003 models. I think they are nice. The smallest boat they make is 28'.

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Old 04-06-2014, 20:37   #9
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Re: Need help with picking a Cruiser boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
OTOH, when you're shopping, one feature to evaluate is access to systems. Everything on a boat will need maintenance and service, and it costs you more when it takes 5 hours to do a 10-minute job... because access to the gizmo sucks. You'll find in boats of that size range, most makers try to cram in a boatload of features... which can be nice until you have to fix the gizmo... that's hidden behind an engine... that you can't reach both sides of anyway.
Those are very real issues.

There are many stories of people hanging head-down in their engine room, after removing stuff, to gain access for service. IMO, that sucks big time.

My 38' Sundancer permits walking between the engines. It has a 13' beam. I store my bicycle between the engines for handy land transportation.

I have owned my boat long enough and serviced each system enough times that I know the easiest way to access all the components.

IMO, this is the smallest boat w/ good service access.

Also, the 13' beam and wider engine spacing permits much better handling during docking. I can put this boat anywhere I want w/o issues.
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Old 04-06-2014, 23:02   #10
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Re: Need Help with Picking a Cruiser Boat.

Express cruisers under 30' are fun and have been around for a long time. All the boats mentioned in this thread so far have horrible access for maintenance IMO. Twin engines even worse access, again IMO.

I bought a nearly 50 year old refit 27'er and while access is far from what a 38' boat can offer it really ain't bad. Single v-8 shaft drive in a 10' wide hull is reasonably easy. Doesn't have the flash of the new SeaRay berthed next to me but folks gather and gawk in amazement when I pull into the fuel dock. Cockpit accommodates 6 in a pinch, 4 comfortably.

Classic fiberglass boats aren't for everyone but don't overlook a well found one as an option. 60's-70's Tolly Craft, Owens and Chris Craft boats are built like tanks and have lines that never go out of style.
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:30   #11
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Re: Need Help with Picking a Cruiser Boat.

I have to say to the OP, to back up a moment. Tell us where you intend to cruise, how much, how important speed is to you versus fuel economy. Do you intend to keep in the water or wish to trailer? Intend to anchor or use marinas when cruising? How much do you intend to sleep on the boat?

Once you know and we know the answers to some of the basic questions regarding your requirements, then it will be easier to recommend boats. For instance, I'm assuming you'll start cruising in Long Island Sound. But do you plan on heading north to Maine, heading to Cape Cod, heading south to New Jersey or take a longer trip to the Chesapeake. That information changes the suitability of a given boat a great deal. Day cruising versus long trips spent on the boat change things. If speed is important or fuel economy is most important changes completely the most appropriate boat.
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