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Nervous about 1st boat. Any tips/suggestions?

RigPie2005RigPie2005 Posts: 25 Deckhand
I am looking to buy a bay boat in the 20' range. I've never owned a boat before. I've spent lots of time on family and friend's boats, but practically zero time launching, loading, and navigating. Only the occasional keep it straight and manning the trolling motor. Any tips or suggestions for a new boater in regards to navigation, and general maintenance? I could also use some tips on buying a used boat. We are looking to spend $25k-35k. Hopefully I can find something dependable that will meet my family's needs.

Replies

  • CaptjamesCaptjames Pompano BeachPosts: 95 Deckhand
    Have it surveyed and the engine checked out by marine professionals.  Take a USCG auxillary or other safe boating course. Make a list of must have's, would like to have's and won't accepts to narrow down your boating search. 
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 1,161 Officer
    edited July 22 #3
    Look into a Tidewater Baymax 2100. Can get into one for close to $35k, or could prior to all this pandmeic buying craze. buying new is a better deal today, imo. they are charging so much more used things like boats cars trucks rv's...
    Go early on weekdays so ramps are not too crowded. stay off water on holidays . maybe even let someone go ahead of you if it relieves pressure at ramp. Get a routine, from packing gear w checklist to eq. on boat. Be ready to launch when you arrive at ramp.  If you do go used. its a good idea to start boat day before or so to make sure you dont sit at ramp dead on the water.

    remember, when backing up trailer and get flustered, put hands at bottom/6 oclock on steering wheel - turn wheel from bottom the direction you want the boat to go.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,327 AG
    Launching and recovering are not that difficult if you have a good head on your shoulders and aren't 15 beers deep.   I had never owned a boat until 2014 when we bought a 17' key west.   just use good judgement, stage the boat before you launch and don't screw around at the ramp.   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • pottydocpottydoc Port Saint JoePosts: 4,782 Captain
    permit_me said:
    Look into a Tidewater Baymax 2100. Can get into one for close to $35k, or could prior to all this pandmeic buying craze. buying new is a better deal today, imo. they are charging so much more used things like boats cars trucks rv's...
    Go early on weekdays so ramps are not too crowded. stay off water on holidays . maybe even let someone go ahead of you if it relieves pressure at ramp. Get a routine, from packing gear w checklist to eq. on boat. Be ready to launch when you arrive at ramp.  If you do go used. its a good idea to start boat day before or so to make sure you dont sit at ramp dead on the water.

    remember, when backing up trailer and get flustered, put hands at bottom/6 oclock on steering wheel - turn wheel from bottom the direction you want the boat to go.
    I seriously doubt he can buy a new boat with a motor on it. And that he can get one at all without waiting for it for months. OP, for that budget you should be able to buy a pretty nice used bay boat. Follow the advice above and get it surveyed, or at least have a mechanic of your choice do a compression check, and look
    over the engine. And don’t listen to folks who will tell you that the 2 stroke motors are junk. They’re full of it. There’s thousands still running around every day. Practice backing the trailer in
    a empty parking lot some place, set up cones where the corners of the ramp will be. Find a buddy to go with you a few times to show you the ropes, it’s a lot easier with a little coaching. And use the method above to back the trailer, it’s by far the easiest to learn. 
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,327 AG
    You know @permit_me I wish someone had said that about hands at 6 and all that.   I never did that starting out i just kind of winged it.   Same thing with maneuvering the boat at the dock.    Daughters boyfriend one day goes "can you teach me to dock the boat"?    Uhhh sure but nobody taught me, i learned by...see them scuff marks :D   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • chaser48chaser48 San Mateo Fla.Posts: 230 Deckhand
    Come on men, man up hands at 10 and 2 that is learning !,keeps old peoples minds active
  • MissedMissed O-townPosts: 503 Officer
    Backing up trailer - hand at 6 oclock - whichever way you swing that hand the trailer will go.  I have to do that when using the danged mirrors to back down on something.  If I can look over my shoulder, then it is automatic and accurate.

    Practice makes perfect.  Go to an open parking lot somewhere, put a couple cones out and back between them.  Keep doing it until you get it down.

    It isn't difficult if you've done it 1,000 times.

    No shame in learning - hope you find a nice boat.
  • StratCasterStratCaster Posts: 103 Deckhand
    Contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary in your area and take their 8 week boating course.  It’s typically held two hours, one night a week for eight weeks.
  • MelbourneMarkMelbourneMark Posts: 2,780 Captain
    Do you have any buddies nearby with boats?    Post up your location and someone might lend a hand here as well. 

    As with many here, it takes years to figure out how to be safe and efficient at the boat ramps.  Towing, loading and unloading a boat is a rather big learning curve. 

    I started out with a 16ft carolina skiff.  The first time I backed it down the ramp, I darn near had my bumper in the water as the boat just would not come off.... I finally realized that I left the strap on the boat and the trailer was floating!   A few years later I forgot to put the plugs in the boat and realized as the boat was sitting lower in the water than normal. 
    I also had to leave the boat and trailer on the side of the road as I could not get a flat tire off due to a spun lug nut.  I now carry a spare tire and hub, and 4way tire wrench! 
    I have bent a few props and have many scratches on gel coat.


    Every boat/trailer and boat ramp will have their challenges as the angle of the ramp is different and the tide level too. 



    With the way the used boat market is right now you might even buy a smaller/cheaper skiff to cut the learning curve down a bit?  
    A 17 ft carolina skiff can hold 4-5 people for a cruise and I have pulled a tube behind on it as well.   Skiff style boats will beat you up in the chop but the wider open boat does help with carrying things for camping/island hopping etc..

    Also keep in mind that you can put some boats in your garage if they have a swing-tongue on the trailer.  17ft is about the max tho for most garage depths.
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 1,161 Officer
    pottydoc said:
    permit_me said:
    Look into a Tidewater Baymax 2100. Can get into one for close to $35k, or could prior to all this pandmeic buying craze. buying new is a better deal today, imo. they are charging so much more used things like boats cars trucks rv's...
    Go early on weekdays so ramps are not too crowded. stay off water on holidays . maybe even let someone go ahead of you if it relieves pressure at ramp. Get a routine, from packing gear w checklist to eq. on boat. Be ready to launch when you arrive at ramp.  If you do go used. its a good idea to start boat day before or so to make sure you dont sit at ramp dead on the water.

    remember, when backing up trailer and get flustered, put hands at bottom/6 oclock on steering wheel - turn wheel from bottom the direction you want the boat to go.
    I seriously doubt he can buy a new boat with a motor on it. And that he can get one at all without waiting for it for months. OP, for that budget you should be able to buy a pretty nice used bay boat. Follow the advice above and get it surveyed, or at least have a mechanic of your choice do a compression check, and look
    over the engine. And don’t listen to folks who will tell you that the 2 stroke motors are junk. They’re full of it. There’s thousands still running around every day. Practice backing the trailer in
    a empty parking lot some place, set up cones where the corners of the ramp will be. Find a buddy to go with you a few times to show you the ropes, it’s a lot easier with a little coaching. And use the method above to back the trailer, it’s by far the easiest to learn. 
    Two years ago, I purchased my tidewater, listed at $32,500, for just under $27k, out-the-door. 18' bayboat brand new, brand new yam 115 w extended warranty. ready to fish, tm and all. 
    Gotta have cash and be willing to drive. A new G3 bay is under $40k new.
  • Tony RomaTony Roma Posts: 1,046 Officer
    wait til November , December , January. With your budget you might be able to steal a nice rig from a guy “looking to go bigger”. Guy buys a 20 ft bay boat and realizes he can’t get offshore without the right weather window. Now he’s in the market for a 25 ft contender and you are there to swoop in. At least that’s how it goes in my dream. 
  • pottydocpottydoc Port Saint JoePosts: 4,782 Captain
    permit_me said:
    pottydoc said:
    permit_me said:
    Look into a Tidewater Baymax 2100. Can get into one for close to $35k, or could prior to all this pandmeic buying craze. buying new is a better deal today, imo. they are charging so much more used things like boats cars trucks rv's...
    Go early on weekdays so ramps are not too crowded. stay off water on holidays . maybe even let someone go ahead of you if it relieves pressure at ramp. Get a routine, from packing gear w checklist to eq. on boat. Be ready to launch when you arrive at ramp.  If you do go used. its a good idea to start boat day before or so to make sure you dont sit at ramp dead on the water.

    remember, when backing up trailer and get flustered, put hands at bottom/6 oclock on steering wheel - turn wheel from bottom the direction you want the boat to go.
    I seriously doubt he can buy a new boat with a motor on it. And that he can get one at all without waiting for it for months. OP, for that budget you should be able to buy a pretty nice used bay boat. Follow the advice above and get it surveyed, or at least have a mechanic of your choice do a compression check, and look
    over the engine. And don’t listen to folks who will tell you that the 2 stroke motors are junk. They’re full of it. There’s thousands still running around every day. Practice backing the trailer in
    a empty parking lot some place, set up cones where the corners of the ramp will be. Find a buddy to go with you a few times to show you the ropes, it’s a lot easier with a little coaching. And use the method above to back the trailer, it’s by far the easiest to learn. 
    Two years ago, I purchased my tidewater, listed at $32,500, for just under $27k, out-the-door. 18' bayboat brand new, brand new yam 115 w extended warranty. ready to fish, tm and all. 
    Gotta have cash and be willing to drive. A new G3 bay is under $40k new.
    The hew and used boat market now is waaaaay different than two years ago. Call Tidewater and ask them what their wait time is now, including having the engine on the boat. Every outboard manufacturer has a minimum of 6 months or so wait. Yamaha won’t even give anyone an approximate delivery date. My buddy has a new Sportsman ordered. It was supposed to be delivered in May. Then they said July. Now they’re saying November, but it probably won’t have a engine to mount on it even when they finish the boat. Used boats are priced higher than ever before. My boss put his three year old 24’ Robolo Cayman up for sale, and it was gone in less than 6 hours, for 2k more than he paid for it. No trailer, and a G2 Etec for power. Sure there are boats to be had, but nothing like a couple years ago. 
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,327 AG
    The last time I saw an affordable new boat was I believe Bulls Bay had a 21' bay boat with a 150 under 45000.   But that was 3-4 years ago it's probably over 65 now 
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 1,161 Officer
     amazing how severely nuts everything has become.  sorry to chime in, incorrectly.
  • RigPie2005RigPie2005 Posts: 25 Deckhand
    I hate that the market is high right now, but I've been waiting so long and I can afford it now so I'm going to do it. I just started the process to pull out some equity from my home, so when it's completed I will have cash in hand for the boat. The plan is to try to find something around $25k (I will have enough to spend more for the right boat, but would like to stay closer to $25k) run it for 1-3 years and figure out what I like and need, then sell it and buy something new. I may end up going with 17-19 foot to keep costs down and still get something reliable. Then get a 22-24 foot bayboat when I upgrade. It needs to be big enough for a family of 4 to get out for fun and lightly fish, but the serious fishing days will just be my son and I and an occasional 3rd person. 

    Fortunately, I do have experience driving with a trailer. I'm no expert but I probably won't make a fool of myself in that department. More concerned with getting the boat on and off efficiently. Also, a little concerned with navigating areas where the water can get shallow. I am going to look into taking the coast guard class. I am also going to have my brother in law go out with me the first few times.

    When you have a mechanic inspect a used boat, to they do it on site or do you have the seller trailer the boat to the mechanic? Also, I am looking up to 100 miles outside of Tampa, so I guess I would have to find a mechanic in the area where the boat is being sold. So, any tips for finding a good mechanic in an unfamiliar area?


  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,327 AG
    A surveyor will usually go to where the boat is and conduct the survey, you can pay more for a water test as well.   If it's a 4 stroke they will take oil samples.  Check the transom, wiring, etc.   If it's a relatively new boat it will be a relatively easy survey.    Don't forget that the sale price might or might NOT include the trailer so make sure to ask.   My last boat had the most neglected trailer on the planet under it, i didn't think it would make the trip home.   1500 later it had new torsion axles and tires and it's been good since.   

    If the timing was right I'd sell you my Sea Pro SV2100 but it's a few years too early.  repowered in February with a 175 Suzuki and i just put a trolling motor with spot lock on it.  I'd be asking around 30 but I don't think for that price you'll find better.   You'll find something.   Just put in the work and research research research.   Then be ready to move when a boat comes up.  The good ones like pathfinders can sell within hours.  
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,327 AG
    This is NOT my boat but ideally this is what you want

    https://spacecoast.craigslist.org/boa/d/port-salerno-cobia-bay-21ft/7354221157.html


    Low hours, good builder.   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • finbullyfinbully Posts: 873 Officer
    edited July 23 #19
    Practice docking by using a channel marker, approach from different angles, picking out a spot to reach in varying current and wind conditions. Best advice I ever got when I started out.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,327 AG
    finbully said:
    Practice docking by using a channel marker, approach from different angles, picking out a spot to reach in varying current and wind conditions. Best advice I ever got when I started out.
    My first trip out ever my sisters husband pulled his boat off the trailer, drove straight at the dock, flipped the lever into reverse and perfectly parallel parked the boat at the dock.     I watched what he did and thought I could emulate it.   failed.  Not miserably, but failed nonetheless.  Since then i've gotten better at it, coming in with a little momentum putting it in reverse and angling the motor towards the dock so it slows down and stops right there.   But i'm farrr from good at it.   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • StankBaitStankBait Posts: 413 Deckhand
    Contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary in your area and take their 8 week boating course.  It’s typically held two hours, one night a week for eight weeks.

    This is good advice.
    And pay attention to the red on right returning rule. It doesn't mean red on right returning from lunch.

  • MelbourneMarkMelbourneMark Posts: 2,780 Captain
    When loading the boat back on the trailer: I dunk the fender under water.  I then pull the trailer up until just the tire itself is barely under water.  That seems to be the sweet spot for the single axle and dual axle trailers that I have used. 

    Good luck. 

    Keep in mind that any used boat you buy will likely need 1-3$k worth of work done to it to get it where you want it.  Trailer overhaul, electrical, electronics, etc..   
  • RigPie2005RigPie2005 Posts: 25 Deckhand
    edited July 24 #23
    $35k is the top of my budget. The boat will have to have rigged for me to pay that. If it has no trolling motor, power poll or electronics then it’ll have to be around $25k for me to rig it. In addition to the $35k we are putting $20k to the side as a cushion. Obviously I don’t want to have to spend that on repairs, but should something break I won’t be high and dry and out of money.

    Do surveyors check the engine or would you get a survey and have a mechanic check it out?

    its hard right now. I keep looking at boats that will most likely be sold before my loan closes, lol. But I am finding some good boats within my budget and getting a good idea of what is out there within my budget. Mostly I’m seeing:

    Cobia
    Key West
    Tidewater
    Scout
    Naiticstar
    Sea Pro

    I really like the Cobias. The key west’s are generally 17 foot in my price range which might work but I would prefer larger. Nauticstar would probably be the newest that I could afford. 


  • 4WARD4WARD Cross Creek,FLPosts: 2,489 Captain
    The biggest thing I pounded into my boys head when they first started driving the boat.
    Put your head on a swivel and look out for idiots. Backing a trailer and the rules of the road are easy, comparatively.
    "I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
    For they always bring me tears
    I can't forgive the way they rob me
    Of my childhood souvenirs"... John Prine
  • Tony RomaTony Roma Posts: 1,046 Officer
    17 key west might be cramped with 4 people, great boat , had one fish’s 2 easily . Quite a few guys on here that have them, maybe they will chime in. 
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