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questions about boats

1528 Views 20 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  DoyleAlley
All this talk about boats has me wantimg one even more. I have rented some pontoon boats and taken out a 17 f t cc. I don't want to buy new because of the cost, but can a boat be too old? I understand they are like cars they will be nice if kept nice and taken care of. If I go to look at a boat what are some key things I should look at? I have a chance to go to one of the auctions when I head home in September, last time they had some newer boats go for way cheap. So I am just wondering what I should pay close attention to when looking over a boat. I know most of you have boats so your tips would be appreciated.
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Way too many things to check to post here. I would definately advise getting someone who really knows boats to check it out for you before you leap. Auctions are particularly problematic because you don't have a chance to really check them out. Personally, I would advise you to avoid the auctions until you build up your knowledge.

Do some research and see if you can actually get in some water time (maybe friends?) to see what meets your needs and what doesn't, then start looking for a well cared for used boat that fits those needs.

Remember that the word "BOAT" is really an acronym. It stands for Bust Out Another Thousand.
I agree with DoyleAlley.

A boat at auction would be difficult to get a high comfort level prior to forking over a lot of money. Now if the auction price was rediculously low, maybe that is enough for some people to accept the risk associated.

A couple of other comments, especially on fiberglass boats. When considering an older boat, it is critical to know if wood was still used in the construction (or it is 100% composite?) Most times with well known brands, a little research online can give you that information. If a switch was made from wood based construction to all glass, you want to know the year that happened. There are still quality older boats out there with wood in the hull/stringers/transoms but it is more and more rare these days. And it isn't easy for most people to detect if there is rot within the boat with wood is present. A non-wood constructed used boat still has plenty of risks but there are easlier tell-tale signs of what to look for.

The motor inspection of a used boat is where the real challenge comes in for most people. I know just enough about outboards to make me dangerous so I always seek professionals to evaluate used outboards. I can do slight inspections of a motor to see if it's worth engaging a professional but always defer to them for the final evaluation. A good thing that is available now for many used outboards is a engine history report (called different names by different brands) but it's basically having a service shop with the proper technology (many times a laptop) plug into the outboard and download data... hours, alarm history, temp history, rpm history,... and many other things. I first used this on a 60 hp 2005 ETEC but I think it's been around longer than that for most brands.
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I do have an idea about the type, there are just so many brands out there, its harder the picking out a new fishing rod. I am leaning towards a cuddy cabin style boat because of my wife and daughter. I feel like those offer as close to a do all as I would need. I want to be able to go to the islands or hit some of the close rigs, I have developed a taste for cobia and my wife has too. I do like the thought of a 19-21 ft cc too though. The smallest boat that I have been on in big waters though would be a 27 ft on lake Michigan. I don't consider the backbay big water, and the trip that I have been on in the gulf has been on keeslers big boat.
I personally wouldn't recommend a cuddy (aka stabbin' cabin) on any boat less than about 23'. It just takes up too much usable room. I had a 25' cuddy and the cabin never got used for anything except stowing life preservers. They get way too hot to be used on most any day you want to be on the water.

If you really want to get into boating, I recommend doing so on a small scale for your first boat. A 17' or so center console with a 90 to 115 motor will get you to any of the MS islands plus be small enough to use in most of the freshwater lakes in the state. It can be trailered by any decent SUV and can be easily loaded and unloaded single handed.
When we rented the 17ft it was a plam beach and I felt cramped on it with just and my wife, but the 17ft would be nice if we move after 4 years. It might if been the layout of the boat too. As far as towing I would hope my truck has a class VI tow hitch and electronic brake control the onr thing I worry about though is a slick boat ramp since its only 2 wheel drive.
That electonic brake control won't do you any good at all on a boat - they don't use electric brakes. As far as the hitch goes, it may be a class VI but it could be sitting on a truck that doesn't have near that much towing capacity. You never want to overload your vehicle's towing capacity no matter what the hitch itself says it is capable of. That capacity should be listed in the owner's manual but whatever it says multiply by about 75% to get real-world capacity (manufacturers tend to over estimate).

Yes, any boat will feel small when you aren't really used to being on one. A 17 ft Palm Beach has plenty of room for 2 people. Even 3 wouldn't be terrible as long as they weren't overly large people.
Can't add a lot but having owned everything from Pond boats to 30 foot cabin cruiser I can say everyone is right on.

One key thing to make sure with a used boat is rot, and and it isn't always as easy to see and obvious as you would expect, especially if the previous owner tries to hide it. There can be transom, stringer rot that without doing a serious inspection you would never be able to see, and an auction is not the place where you can do that kind of inspection and is also sadly a place where someone can be tempted to dump a boat with hidden rot.

Compression check is a quick and absolute minimum test that should be done on the engine.

And if considering Cabins, be prepared to look at a lot of nasty cabins between each nice one you find. Sadly, especially on boats under 30', cabins are very abused, and if not property taken care of are a haven for Rot, must, and mold. Leave the hatch open for the ride home from the island, close everything up when you get home in South MS for 2 weeks, when you open that cabin back up it will be a science experiment!.

All boats are compromises as well. The bigger the boat the smoother the ride, and also the bigger the fuel bill, harder to maunevuer in tight spots etc. Cabins are nice to get out of the sun while spending the day at the island or at least have a spot for the wife to take a potty break, but they bring a ton of extra maintenance, and use a lot of space. Bay boats are nice for the all the storage and deck space for fishing, but the same size CC will handle a lot rougher water, as the trade off of no trolling motor, and a deeper draft. The list goes on.

All that being said I would rather give my right arm as have to live without a boat!
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Glad there is a community like this you guys are very helpful. My truck should be able to handle 8000lbs worth of boat with that math. I found this http://www.boatreeds.com/without-getting-ripped-off after reading that I might just continue my research. Growing up we had a 16 ft v bottom aluminum boat that my dad built a deck on and made it a bass boat prwtty much. Didn't have to worry about rot with the aluminum. There are just too many things to consider at this moment but I have a much better idea.
Let me give you my opinion - for what its worth. That aluminum boat your dad had would be a dandy boat to start out with down in Biloxi. True - you aren't going to get out to the islands with it too often (if at all). However, there are miles of bay and inland waterways that are just begging for a boat like that.

You can get a REALLY decent 14 ft aluminum boat with a 9.9 to 15 hp motor for $1500 - less if you shop around. That would get you on the water and teach you a whole lot that would be useful when you are ready to move up to a bigger boat. The advantage of buying something like that is that it is pretty hard to get totally burned on the deal. If you buy wisely you'll easily be able to sell and recoup your investment if your plans or needs change. If something does go wrong and you puke the entire motor, you can pick up another used one for $600 or so.
I was going to add something, but Pete and Doyle pretty much covered it.

By the way, Capt. Ronnie has a REALLY nice boat for sale.
If you are going to be fishing our inshore waters and Mississippi Sound, buy a little more boat than you think you need or can afford. A little more boat will mean a lot to you on the water.
I think when I go to buy one the hardest part will be convincing the wife, we are a team and I don't do much without her input and a little prayer on the matter.
I think when I go to buy one the hardest part will be convincing the wife, we are a team and I don't do much without her input and a little prayer on the matter.
I know the feeling/way of life Bro. I took my Dawn with me when I looked at my current boat.
Try to get a ride on as many different hull styles as you can, just to give you a better perspective before committing your $$. I can tell you, some of the smallest things can make a HUGE difference.
I know the feeling/way of life Bro. I took my Dawn with me when I looked at my current boat.
Try to get a ride on as many different hull styles as you can, just to give you a better perspective before committing your $$. I can tell you, some of the smallest things can make a HUGE difference.
And if possible, make those rides on days when there is a little chop in the bay (ie what you would see on an average day).

If going to islands is on the priority list, I would probably consider something at least 19-20ft. Those are still easily trailerable with any decent vehicle (even 2WD) and will give you a little extra comfort if water turns a little rough. I also wouldn't plan on going past the islands in anything smaller especially if you aren't that experienced. People do it, but the weather can turn on you and then you may find yourself in a bind. Also, the resale/demand on that size center console (if you go that route) is very good compared to other options.

In my experience, most people get into boating and just have to go through a learning curve. You will not get it all right on the first try. Doing research and asking questions helps, but even when you think you have made the right decision, there will likely be something that you would want to change when you finally pull the trigger. One of the main things that newer boat owners run into (or guys who have jumped up in size a good bit), is that at first you are nervous about using the boat because you are unfamiliar with it. If you buy one a little big you will be thinking to yourself that .it seems big to handle (whatever size you get if you have never owned one). Then when you get comfortable launching, trailering, handling, etc, you will be saying "man, I think I need something bigger" - basically the cause of the "2 foot-itis". I sold a friend my previous 25' CC. He had never had a boat for the Gulf. He was a nervous wreck but wanted something to safely go to the islands with wife and kids and do some offshore fishing. I basically wrote him a long description of instructions, etc and went out with him a couple times. He was still a nervous wreck the first few trips on his own. However, a few months later he told me he was ready to buy my current 31cc.

As noted above, since you aren't boat savvy, get a boat checked out before you buy it. A 17ft cc will require less checking than a 23' cuddy. Compression checks are easy to do. Also, pull the bottom drain plug on the lower unit to check the gear oil to make sure there isn't water in it and/or a lot of metal on the magnet on the plug. Older boats are going to typically have little things to address and are priced accordingly. Also know what your future costs maybe - if you plan to offshore fish some, does the prospective boat have a decent GPS/fish finder. If not, know what that will cost to purchase/install. That can swing a decision between two similarly priced boats.
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Very good advice Captain Chief
I was going to add something, but Pete and Doyle pretty much covered it.

By the way, Capt. Ronnie has a REALLY nice boat for sale.
after talking to Ronnie at the Expo thursday night he may no longer be the owner of that boat as of Friday.
Well talked things over with the wife and she said no, but she did though say I could still get a kayak. After I think about it more and more you spend just as much time cleaning a boat and doing maintenance as you do spend on the water. Maybe I can own one when I retire in 40 years, till then looks like the best boat for me is a kayak(more exercise anyway). A man can always dream though! I do appreciate all the information you all provided it was a real eye opener.
Angler, I still think you should consider my earlier advise. A kayak is good for you only. If you spend a little more and get yourself a jon boat with a motor then the both of you can enjoy time on the water. Mainenance on what I'm talking about is not much more than you would have to do on a kayak - wash it when you finish using it and do motor/trailer maintenance periodically.
Ya I may rent one of the trailered skiffs from base one weekend and take her out on deer island that way she could see more of what we could do with a boat. Also the jackson big tuna kayak is a nice 2 man kayak or very large 1 man so it was a thought too. I did look over a 17ft triton modified v it wasn't too bad I feel like I could hit some of the close inshore reefs in it.
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