New to SE Florida - first boat?

Nickyboy99Nickyboy99 Posts: 3 Greenhorn
I am new to the SE Florida area (Ft Lauderdale/Hollywood area). I moved down from Chicago. I am an avid fisherman and have fished since I was a little kid and I owned 2 boats before I moved. I am looking into purchasing my first boat down here and wow.....the difference in boat types are night and day from what we typically used in the Midwest. My primary use will be for short offshore trips no more than 2-4 miles out fishing the reefs and structures (jigging and bottom fishing) as well as some trolling. I will stay away from days with high winds/seas or poor weather patterns. It is just my wife and I probably 75% of the time on the boat but I would like to make sure I have enough room for a few guests/friends (up to 5) and something that I can haul easily to the Keys. I have a newer Nissan Xterra that can tow up to 5000 pounds. I was thinking that a 19-20 foot center console would be adequate but also looking into a bay boat as that may be a little more versatile and still be able to go offshore to some degree. Initial budget is 15-20k so a used boat is obviously a must. Any thoughts/suggestions from local experienced experts will certainly come into play so any help to narrow down my decision would be most appreciated.


  • FS DanFS Dan Posts: 2,322 Moderator
    Nick, it may be fruitful to scan through the used boat section and pick out some choices. Once you have it down to a few it will be easier for us to give advise. Your moving to an area where 4 miles offshore is the gulf stream, so its easier for you to run in to avoid afternoon summer storm fronts. With you being new to offshore, I might steer you more towards a Center console over a bayboat. Your home area doesn't really have shallow flats, so draft isn't an issue. The added freeboard will make your wife more comfortable offshore and be a little safer if it kicks up. Unless your specifically targeting bonefish, the CC will go pretty much everywhere you would want to go in the keys. When I lived in Key Largo, I use to take my 26' twin engine catamaran backcountry, when the wind was up. My 16' skiff would not have been nearly as comfortable or dry.

    Formerly Catmandew
  • Circle-HookCircle-Hook Posts: 448 Deckhand
    motor first- it may be the fanciest thing around but if the motor don't run - it is yard art- that is why you will see junker boats with new 15k motors hanging on them. Mine- 1980 235 Mako with a 2017 Merc 4 stroke 150 -
    You will prodably trade boats 2-3 time before you settle on what you like.
  • Cryinsham30Cryinsham30 Posts: 125 Officer
    When you are looking, keep in mind your weight limit, to include trailer. A boats "dry weight" is not even close to the full picture, figure 8lbs per gallon of gas, ice, fishing equipment, safety equipment, etc. it all adds up quick and a 5K limit is probably gonna be one of your biggest limiting factors more so than budget probably. Also keep in mind when looking for the boat, the trailer itself, so many folks in the region cut the brakes off their trailers, not a "big deal" but with your tow limit and desire to go to the keys, make sure the brakes are functional and complete.
  • bullbaybullbay Posts: 126 Deckhand
    Take a look at the 41 Regulator!
  • Nickyboy99Nickyboy99 Posts: 3 Greenhorn
    Thank you for the feedback. Good tip on the trailer brakes. I think anything over 3k has to have functioning trailer brakes by law and I'm sure it's enforced for safety so I'll add that to my inspection checklist. I will also keep in mind any and all weight that will be in the boat to not push that 5k limit. Or.....I could tell the wife I need a new truck too LOL! Any other useful information I can consider would be appreciated. Thanks again (and that 41 regulator is SICK!...I could sell the house and give up a kidney)
  • AC ManAC Man Posts: 3,374 Captain
    What Circle-Hook said about trading boats. You'll have two footitis before you know it. Get the biggest CC you can afford and pull. Boats get awfully small offshore. Don't get a cuddly cabin walk around.

    Used prices are insane right now, so take your time. Every now and then a fair deal comes along.
  • Cryinsham30Cryinsham30 Posts: 125 Officer
    AC Man wrote: »
    What Circle-Hook said about trading boats. You'll have two footitis before you know it. Get the biggest CC you can afford and pull. Boats get awfully small offshore. Don't get a cuddly cabin walk around.

    Used prices are insane right now, so take your time. Every now and then a fair deal comes along.

    watched prices for 2+ years while awaiting discharge/retirement and our move here, its a vicious cycle, prices are best dec-feb as the winter winds down and the folks who list at the end of the season are worried they won't sell before the new season comes in spring. the worst segment right now is bay/hybrid bay boats the demand/trend is just going that way. I got a decent 26ft cc with twin yamaha 150 with 1k hours for less than some 22ft bay boats with equal or higher hours on a single(and about 7k below the comparison sheet surveyors do).

    If your not wanting to cross to the bahamas solo, or fish in rough water regular a 18-21cc will probably be less expensive than an equal bay boat. I will however echo what was said above about how boats get smaller offshore, took mine out for the first time last week and with fairly close 3-4 footers I was beat up pretty bad and that's with shore in sight the whole time.
  • AC ManAC Man Posts: 3,374 Captain
    LOL Just noticed my phone auto corrected to cuddly cabin. I guess that might be good if you have your woman with you.
  • Nickyboy99Nickyboy99 Posts: 3 Greenhorn
    Once again, thanks for the feedback gents. Being new to the waters, I will be cautious on days I go out as safety is key. I found some local experienced guides (or former) who will co-captain your boat for like $200 a day. Probably worth it to gain knowledge of local waters, tides and weather patterns. Knowledge is not free and I can respect that 100%. Thanks for the tip about seasons to buy. I am constantly on sites looking at boat prices and you're right; slim pickings right now at premiere prices. I am not in a rush (well...) but can certainly catch dinner off piers and the classic $40 shared drift boat trips so I can scratch the itch just fine. Thanks again!
  • gnappignappi Posts: 55 Deckhand
    I'm on my what, 5th boat after getting my first in 1985 or so. I started out with a 16' Tri hull lake boat, to a Sea Ray (shudder) 25' cabin boat (rented a dock at a condo, VERY cool) to a Center console (CC moved onto the water) then a (WA) walk around. Beside offshore fishing my ex and I liked to take the boat up the ICW to camp out on the boat, with friends in Biscayne bay rafted up, or in the keys for a weekend fishing.

    If you want to do anything like that sleeping quarters are very nice to have and a WA is the way to go, otherwise the think CC. Why didn't they call the WA a cuddly cabin? Lots of that going on in them.

    Don't forget some decent rods and reels, outriggers, down riggers, someone to teach you what to do with them too... :-)

    Today my 5th boat is a 10' Jon boat no engine, trolling motor only and it's fresh water only for me from now on.

  • IndigoIndigo Posts: 962 Officer
    Go to the south side of Port Everglades and watch the smaller boats when the current is ripping. You will get a better idea of what you'll need. The webcam is still down.
  • FS BlairFS Blair Posts: 1,691 Admin
    I realize you're not in the market for a new boat, but if you haven't checked out Florida Sportsman Best Boat spend some time watching some of the shows where we're featuring center consoles in the 21-foot range.

    Enjoy the search, it's half the fun.
  • larrywittlarrywitt Posts: 2,429 Moderator
    Hopefully you will make a few friends that have different boats that you can share a ride with. It will be good way to see would be a good fit for you. Even joining a boat club so you can try different styles of hulls. Maybe rent from a marina for a 1/2 day. So many thing to consider the sun in Florida can be brutal so shade can be very important.
    On another note welcome to PARADISE also known as Florida.
  • Yeaaa_ChrisYeaaa_Chris Posts: 516 Officer
    If you want to fish the ocean regularly, IMO, you will want a 22 footer at minimum. Even then, you will have to be cautious of the conditions. A boat with a deeper "V" will run better in the close chop that you will encounter 80% of the year. Lots of boats out there fit the bill, don't be in a rush and have fun shopping.

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