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Best boat size for the Keys

rudyengrudyeng Posts: 424 Deckhand
I wanted to share my experience with you guys that are thinking of going bigger. I typically fish in the lower keys and have gone up & down in boat size many times. My current ride is probably the best boat i have ever owned but it's actually over sized for the keys. Perfect for the Bahamas & key west if you can find a ramp and trailer storage. I have itemized the challenges below.

My boat is a 32' (cc 32'-10" x 9'-10") & 3x axle trailer.

1. Dedicated tow vehicle. Min 2500 -3500
2. Total weight with tow vehicle 20,300# with 200 gallons of gas
3. Total tow length is about 65'
4. Height is an issue on some secondary roadways (Power lines)
5. Turning radius is an issue
6. Gas station access is an issue
7. Trailer parking is a major issue.
8. Ramp access is a major issue.
9. Plenty of ramps in the lower keys for smaller boat/trailer combos but not for the larger boats.
10. Very hard to turn in/out a retail shopping center, food etc. Must plan everything ahead.

I think the best sized boat for the keys is probably a 25' cc. 


Replies

  • LostconchLostconch Posts: 1,072 Officer
    The Keys are a place where best size boat needs to be followed up with best size for what? You have everything from backcountry to Atlantic Ocean
  • rudyengrudyeng Posts: 424 Deckhand
    This was plan "B" as city marina was packed and zero parking but it was grouper opening. Had to drive back to stock island. The angled parking at city marina is almost always packed 100% with very little chance of pulling out a 3x trailer. People parallel park in front of a large trailer making it impossible to pull out. See plan "B" below.



     
  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 11,982 AG
    When I lived in Key West 80% of my fishing was in the Bay or inside the reef. Unless you offshore fish only a 20'-24' modified V will get you access into more areas and easier to trailer, launch, store and maintain. 

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • 2times2times AlvaPosts: 168 Deckhand
    The best boat in terms of most useful for us was a 1985 20' Seacraft CC with 150 Mercury that we had for a couple years.  That boat took us to sandy flats to look for bonefish in the keys to dolphin off palm beach.   It was small enough to be easily trailered and launched from anywhere but large enough to get you off shore on calm days.  It was great for 3 of us at the time.   
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 16,407 AG
    edited May 2021 #6
    Not for nothing but I love your boat.  i know it's been a pain in the rear but it's gorgeous.     IMO and I have been looking and looking and looking the perfect all around boat  in my opinion for fishing/Family is a 25-26 catamaran, The boat that I want is a Twin Vee 26 GF.   small enough to trailer, big enough to handle offshore, good range, good on fuel consumption, not the hardest boat to trailer.  the 26 you can tow with a 1500 if you get a 4x4.    good for the family and the sand bar.    
    My second choice and this is because i've got a family is a Grady White Freedom 27.  It's a dual console, and it's heavy so I would need a F250 to tow it but it's dry, stable, runs on 150s.  I like the dual console setup because you have more room in the boat without the CC hogging it all up.  it's got a head, the wife loves that idea.   
    Those are the two boats I am going to be targeting when I decide to step up.   

    EDIT: i would also add that if I had your boat, i'd probably just drive it down on the water.  That boat is so big you probably need the placards and flags and all that mess and i don't want to have to fiddle with all that crap.   I would launch at Flamingo north of Marathon and just run it on down wherever I was staying. 
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • pottydocpottydoc Port Saint JoePosts: 5,249 Admiral
    I would think the ideal boat for the Keys would be one of the large hybrids. There’s a bunch of nice ones being built. They fish fairly shallow, but still do well offshore until it starts getting pretty nasty. 

    Soda, the towing capacity of a 4x4 is actually less than an identical 2 wheel drive truck. Unless you need for for steep, nasty ramps, or other purposes than towing, you’re better off staying with 2 wheel drive trucks. That being said, if someone gave me a 2 wheel drive truck, I would sell it as quickly as possible, and buy another 4x4. 😀
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,670 Captain

    The hotels and motels in the keys are some of the most expensive in the entire USA. The only way around them is to have a boat with a cabin. That is what we did in my younger days. We would spend two weeks living on our 24 ft boat. We cooked on a Coleman stove and lived off lobster and canned vegetables. Sometimes we would pull the boat up to US1 in Key West and my wife would jump onto the riprap and buy lunch at the BK. Things were more relaxed back then so we were able to get ice and water from near shore places. (Homeless had not invaded Key West yet).

    Giimoozaabi
  • cortrcortr Posts: 509 Officer
    Agree with potty doc. A hybrid bay would work well in the keys.  They get into pretty shallow water, as well as ability to go offshore when conditions allow. 
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 16,407 AG
    pottydoc said:
    I would think the ideal boat for the Keys would be one of the large hybrids. There’s a bunch of nice ones being built. They fish fairly shallow, but still do well offshore until it starts getting pretty nasty. 

    Soda, the towing capacity of a 4x4 is actually less than an identical 2 wheel drive truck. Unless you need for for steep, nasty ramps, or other purposes than towing, you’re better off staying with 2 wheel drive trucks. That being said, if someone gave me a 2 wheel drive truck, I would sell it as quickly as possible, and buy another 4x4. 😀
    I've got a 2 wheel drive and i definitely want to get a 4x4 asap.   I have had friends with boats for years and it's always "never needed it but glad I have it".   I've only ever slipped once at a ramp and that was my fault because i stopped halfway up misread a sign my son gave me.   But i'd rather have it.   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 16,407 AG
    cortr said:
    Agree with potty doc. A hybrid bay would work well in the keys.  They get into pretty shallow water, as well as ability to go offshore when conditions allow. 
    Blue Wave makes a nice looking 28 hybrid that with 200 Suzukis is a solid hybrid.    That's one of my other ideas.  It's not a Yellowfin 27, but then again it's not a 250k boat.   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • CapnSkipCapnSkip East Central FloridaPosts: 56 Deckhand
    The advantage of having 4 wheel drive while pulling a boat up a ramp is, when it's in 4 low, all you need to do is just tap on the accelerator and you're out. The torque converter won't load up as much either adding to its longevity and the transmissions as well.
  • rudyengrudyeng Posts: 424 Deckhand
    The Blue wave 28 looks like a nice boat. So many options below 30'. My cousin is getting a sportsman 30'. Fantastic family boat. He will need a 2500 but wants to get a 1500 ram. I think he will be just at towing capacity with a 1500.

  • finbullyfinbully Posts: 882 Officer
    edited May 2021 #14
    I had a 2012 18' Maverick HPX, traded it on a 2020 Pathfinder 2500 Hybrid. Kept that boat 6 months with one trip to the Keys. Traded it on a 2020 18' Maverick HPX, plus cash back in my pocket. Now I'm back in Keys boat bliss IMO. I like to fish shallow. When I feel the desire to go offsore, I hop on a jet to So Cal where I have several friends in the sportfishing business out there and a couple of friends with thier own custom sportfishers. I personally will not go offshore (over the horizon) with single power.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 16,407 AG
    rudyeng said:
    The Blue wave 28 looks like a nice boat. So many options below 30'. My cousin is getting a sportsman 30'. Fantastic family boat. He will need a 2500 but wants to get a 1500 ram. I think he will be just at towing capacity with a 1500.

    have him look at the Ford Ecoboost V6 with twin turbos i believe that thing will tow more than the V8s in the 1500 class.  
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • pottydocpottydoc Port Saint JoePosts: 5,249 Admiral
    pottydoc said:
    I would think the ideal boat for the Keys would be one of the large hybrids. There’s a bunch of nice ones being built. They fish fairly shallow, but still do well offshore until it starts getting pretty nasty. 

    Soda, the towing capacity of a 4x4 is actually less than an identical 2 wheel drive truck. Unless you need for for steep, nasty ramps, or other purposes than towing, you’re better off staying with 2 wheel drive trucks. That being said, if someone gave me a 2 wheel drive truck, I would sell it as quickly as possible, and buy another 4x4. 😀
    I've got a 2 wheel drive and i definitely want to get a 4x4 asap.   I have had friends with boats for years and it's always "never needed it but glad I have it".   I've only ever slipped once at a ramp and that was my fault because i stopped halfway up misread a sign my son gave me.   But i'd rather have it.   
    The 4x4 will obviously pull the boat out of a slippery or bad ramp better than a 2x4. However, in otherwise identical trucks, the towing captivity of a 2 wheel drive will be higher than the same 4x4. Towing capacity is based on gross vehicle weight. The 4c4 weighs more than the 2x4. Therefore has less towing capacity. It’s usually not enough to make a difference unless you’re pushing the weight limit already. That being said, I’ve owned one two wheel drive truck in my life, and hated it. Sold it after six months. 

    As for the post about using low range, I’ve never had to do that on any ramp that I’ve used. That’s with boats up to about 10.5k. Lock the hubs, switch to 4 high, and ease up the ramp. The poster must own a Dodge to need 4 low. 😂
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 16,407 AG
    i own a dodge  >:)      The goal is to someday get that 26-29 with twins so i can get offshore.   The newer 1500s are more than adequate for towing over 12k lbs anymore if you get the right option.  My truck will tow up to 9700 i have just never tried to launch or recover anything more than a 21' bay boat so I just assume you gotta have more power than you need.   The last Thing I'd want to be is that guy at the ramp lighting up his tires because he doesn't know what he's doing.   
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • gogittumgogittum Nature CoastPosts: 3,263 Captain
    On steeper ramps, even with a fairly small boat, I like to go 4L and 2nd to ease it on out of the water and up the ramp.  Don't like slipping the clutch.  Different with an auto.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 16,407 AG
    My ram actually has hill assist, it won't roll backwards if i let off the brake on a hill.    But i don't want that to be something I rely on at the ramp 
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
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