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Question for guys going out to Middle Grounds

What kind of boat do you recommend? I'm in the market for a boat and can't make up my mind what I should get. I can't even decide if I want a center console or a bigger boat with a cabin and inboards. Do you think it's better to have a 29'ish center console with twins that can get you there quicker or is it better to have the comforts that bigger cabin boat like a Luhrs would give you? I feel stupid asking but I really hate boats. I just like fishing and I'd like to get out to the Middle Grounds and bring up some of the big boys. My budget goes up to about 75k if that makes a difference. Thanks!


  • suprastevesuprasteve Posts: 187 Deckhand
    I think you need to decide if your fishing trips will be one day long or two. That'll answer whether you need to get there quick or with comfort. Pick a boat accordingly.
  • tama2tama2 Posts: 12 Greenhorn
    If I were u I’d book a charter 2 times a year to go to the grounds. That’s about all your gonna want to go it’s a long ways. Unless you got enough money to by a sport fish type vessel. Being out of the elements of the weather is a big deal my friend. Trust me I’ve done it many times and with the laws now a days it’s not worth it.
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 3,339 Moderator
    Yep, length of trip will be a major factor. For me, a grounds trip is leave Friday night and come back Sunday afternoon. However, my boat is slow, comfy, but slow. I've done day trips way north of the grounds on a couple of friend's CCs with trips, totally different experience, exhilarating. I wish I could have both.
  • Icatcher22Icatcher22 Posts: 320 Deckhand
    Your going to be giving up something if you are trying to stay under 75k for a 30ft boat. Have to decide what you are willing to budge on - older power, older hull, etc.

    Center console imo.
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 1,030 Officer
    I wouldn't want to go in anything under 32' and realistically I want triples. I want to cruise out there at 45 and get there and back in one day.
  • TheDude727TheDude727 Posts: 100 Greenhorn
    I'm in my 50's now so comfort is a bigger deal than it used to be.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,118 AG
    Have you ever owned a boat? Something like that as a first boat would be a big way to get your feet wet right off the bat. I know people who inherited some money, decided they wanted a boat, went out and bought a 30' cabin cruiser, then dumped every penny they had in it over the course of 2 years and never, not once did they actually splash that boat in the water.

    IDK if there are charters that run that far, not party boats, but charters. I'd book one on a CC and one on an express and see for yourself first hand what you like. A CC with triples will get you there at 45mph in one day, but I don't know how you'll feel the next day. An express cruiser will get you there more comfortably but like others have said it's a 2 day trip.

    But you need to get on the water and do a full day of fishing on both before you decide, probably half a dozen times too. If you buy it and hate it, you'll never use it. It'll sit and like so many derelict vessels will end up rotting on the trailer. I hate that. I'm sure I'm not the only person out there with a 5k budget but 500k dreams. I know I could take your 75K, but a 25' CC with twin 150s for about 50k and instead of going all the way to the middle grounds have 5-6 fantastic trips to the keys with the money left over and catch big fish.
    Yesterday's memories are not today's reality
  • sas0061sas0061 Posts: 94 Deckhand
    IMO, the CC because it will be more versatile. I went from a Pursuit 2470 w/ twin 150's to a Canyon Bay 2375 Hybrid Bay. I owned the pursuit for 7 years and it never let me down. Used it primarily on the east coast to fish the gulf stream. A typical day would be 30-45 miles out and trolling the WHOLE day. We did make a trip once to the middle grounds, I think about 75 miles out of John's Pass. Didn't have that good of numbers and got skunked...THAT SUCKED. However, the boat performed. We now keep our CB in Bradenton and the fishability of that boat is SECOND TO NONE. On days < 3' seas, I am very comfortable taking it out to 50-60' and bottom fishing. On any other day, I can fish anywhere with at least 18" of water. You aren't interested in Hybrid though, sorry for the tangent. With a budget of 75k you should be able to find a used middle to upper tier CC in the 25-29' range. I would recommend checking out Pursuit, Scout, Grady White, Hydra-Sport, Everglades, etc. Just got to boat trader and set the boundaries you want.

    Remember, you don't need to go out 75 miles to catch some nice sized grouper and snapper. Plenty of large fish in the 15-35 mile range out of Tampa Bay....Let alone in the Bay :wink

    Tight Lines,
  • TheDude727TheDude727 Posts: 100 Greenhorn
    I've owned a lot of boats and have had both kinds I'm discussing which makes it even tougher. I had a 1990 30' Scarab Sport with twins that I sold when we had our child and my wife didn't want to go fast anymore so I switched to an old 28' Bertram that was a tank but was very slow. I had both out to about 40 miles but never took them to the grounds mostly because I didn't have anyone who wanted to go there and I didn't feel the need but it's now become a bucket list thing for me. I'm really not interested in a charter because I like to do things on my own or it just feels like cheating to me.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,118 AG
    Ok well since you've owned both, you have a great idea of what you want now. Sounds like either way you're also looking for a buddy boat to go out with you, shouldn't be an issue on here either.
    Yesterday's memories are not today's reality
  • TheDude727TheDude727 Posts: 100 Greenhorn
    Thanks to everyone who offered advice. I finally pulled the trigger on this one. It's the best of both worlds for me as it feels like a big center console but it also has a decent sized cabin. I think my wife will be happy with the cabin, head and air conditioning and my teenage daughter will love the kick *** stereo system with ten speakers that the owner added. I love the fish ability of the boat and the electronics and windlass and also the fact that she'll fit on my lift. I couldn't be more stoked and once the survey is complete I'll be able to bring her home. I have no doubt that she'll do fine on the survey since the owner was self admittedly ocd and everywhere you looked he had done so much updating on the boat that it felt like a brand new boat.
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 3,339 Moderator
    Nice MG sled, may she have many great trips in her. Any specs?
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,118 AG
    Good looking machine, looks dry and comfortable. Diesel power?
    Yesterday's memories are not today's reality
  • TypicleseTypiclese Posts: 393 Deckhand
    Nice ride. What model is that?

    Since you found the ride, others may come to the thread based on the title looking for some information. I go to the MG, Elbow and beyond quite often. Been doing it for over 25 years. Here's my storyline:

    43 Viking express (AKA "open"). Owned it for 7 years. Probably the best MG and beyond capable boat we owned. Cruised comfortably at 23-25 knots through just about any sea. On the pins got her up to about 33. Very comfortable to spend a few days out on the gulf - especially with the cockpit A/C in the summertime. We liked fall and spring trips, but would go out in the summer. Problem with summertime is you really have to watch the weather out there. You will not outrun a Tstorm. Occasionally you'd get trapped out there when the storms developed just offshore. Just had to wait them out sometimes. Been caught out there a few times. It was nice to have some boat under you during that mess. We had a raft, EPIRB, and SAT phone. Sold to downsize a bit.

    Cabo (35 & 40). Liked the 40, but the 35 better suited our needs. Cockpit AC a must IMHO. Both boats had it. The Cabos were a bit faster than the Viking. We really like the 35. Again, raft, EPIRB and SAT phone are mandatory equip as far as I'm concerned when running out that far. Every now and then we would run across a CC out there. Had a few follow us home in our wake when the weather got snotty. Always fun to be nice and dry in our cockpit and looking back at those dudes in their rain gear getting drenched. Not so fun when they passed you doing 40+ when it was nice though ;) Sold both eventually.

    306 Grady. Had the boat since '99. Not a MG or Elbow boat IMHO. A bit slow compared to other CC's in its class. Like the beam on it for troll, drift and anchor. We use it exclusively inside about 45 miles. In my opinion, CC's are a bit brutal for those long trips (mileage wise) out to the MG and they don't give you sufficient cover from the elements - especially if SHTF.

    Other boats we've fished on out in MG: 36 Yellowfin, 35 Contender, 39 Sea Vee, 48 Ocean, 61 Viking and 36 Grady White express. The CC's were fast, but they beat the heck out of you sometimes getting to and from. Nice to make it a "day" trip, but IMO I didn't like the thrash.

    We are looking for another express. Probably something in the 33-38ft range. Miss the trips out there as they can be epic.

    For those reading, I'm not saying a CC is a bad decision to go out to the MG. I'm saying that for those trips it is a better trip if done on something that has a cabin, stove, fridge, freezer, ice maker, genset, and for the summertime A/C in the cockpit!

    Above all, be safety prepared. A life raft, EPIRB and SAT phone are a must. Don't think it can't happen to you. It can, and when it does, you are long way from home. Keep a water proof ditch bag. Make sure you update it. Our ditch bag has the following basic items:
    Waterproof hand held VHF fully charged at all times
    Water - enough for 2 adults for 1 day
    Katadyn Survivor (it's a desalinator)
    Food (we have MRE's in there)
    Flare gun w/flares
    Day/night signal flares
    Signal mirror
    Raft repair kit
    First aid kit
    Prescription med's if you need them
    2 space blankets
    Sea dye markers sealed in plastic

    Enjoy your new ride and may you have many successful, safe and enjoyable trips out to the MG!
  • TheDude727TheDude727 Posts: 100 Greenhorn
    Thanks for the info Typiclese. I was definitely planning on getting an epirb but hadn't thought about some of the other things you mentioned and will have to consider those also.

    Soda Popinski--No diesel. I've always had a hard time handling the smell of a diesel engine. She has gas 330 hp Crusader 5.7L with less than 100 hrs. The surveyor I've hired seems like a really top notch and thorough professional which I really need because I'm not at all knowledgeable.

    Reel Lucky--I'm not sure what specs you might be interested in hearing about but the boat allegedly cruises at 28 with a top speed of 36.

    I am super pumped and can't wait for the survey which is happening this Monday coming up!!
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 3,339 Moderator
    Very cool, power and speed, plenty of spec for me. Have fun with your new ride.
  • drgibbydrgibby Posts: 1,697 Captain
    Nice looking boat. Congrats.
  • chicochico Punta Gorda Posts: 562 Officer
    WOW!! Looks NICE!!
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 5,991 Admiral
    Never mind, nice boat.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • SaltySardineSaltySardine Posts: 159 Deckhand
    Get a 26 foot boat....trailer it to the east coast (Boca area), get a hotel with dockage or a hotel you can park a boat, run 5 miles offshore to the gulf stream. Pull in the "big guys" and come back. It will be cheaper than the fuel it takes to run a sportfish to the middle grounds

    My buddy and I slayed the blackfin tuna in a 19 foot bay boat in 300 feet of water 3 miles off the beach.

    food for thought
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 15,118 AG
    Get a 26 foot boat....trailer it to the east coast (Boca area), get a hotel with dockage or a hotel you can park a boat, run 5 miles offshore to the gulf stream. Pull in the "big guys" and come back. It will be cheaper than the fuel it takes to run a sportfish to the middle grounds

    My buddy and I slayed the blackfin tuna in a 19 foot bay boat in 300 feet of water 3 miles off the beach.

    food for thought

    Where are you putting in at Boca? Only ramp I saw was $50 a day to launch.
    Yesterday's memories are not today's reality
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