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#574788 - 01/04/21 01:28 AM Advice for buying the first boat  
Joined: Jan 2021
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Justaddwater Offline
Boating Newbie
Justaddwater  Offline
Boating Newbie
Warrant Officer

Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Bellevue, WA
Hello all,

This is my first post, and I'm looking forward to getting some good advice here. Thanks in advance!

First-time boat buyer; have almost no experience driving a boat but will be committed to learn properly. The boat will be used mainly for family / friends entertainment, probably more lounging around than doing any water sport so speed is not a critical requirement. Size wise we are thinking of something around 18-20 feet, to accommodate 4 to 5 adults plus 1 or 2 little kids. Due to our inexperience in driving, the thought is to go small for operational ease as long as we can fit the people in. We are on a lake in pacific northwest, there are some waves on windy days or from bigger boats splashing around, but nothing huge. A couple of questions we've been researching include:

1) type of boat -- we started with bowrider as a good general purpose boat, a couple of the marine shops we'd talked to also suggested deck boats for roominess and more stable handling at low speed. Is this type of boat sufficiently "general purpose", or too confined to good weather and calm water? Pontoons have also been mentioned but wouldn't fit our current boat lift. Any thoughts or suggestions on these different types are appreciated

2) buying new vs used -- because we don't have much experiencing driving a boat, theoretically, for the same money, we could either buy a brand new entry-level-brand boat to have the full warranty period, or getting a gently used more premium more quality built boat, which presumably has better ride and handling. Yes, I am aware we could get 3rd party warranty on used boats. Any thoughts or your experience?

Sorry for the long post. Really appreciate and value your opinions

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#574789 - 01/04/21 01:58 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
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GoFirstClass Offline
Retired Boating Bum
GoFirstClass  Offline
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Grand Poobah

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Pasco, WA
JAW, Welcome to BABC. Not sure how you found this place but you're in luck. There are a lot of people on here with a lot of knowledge to share.

The first thing I'd suggest to you is to buy your second boat first. By that I'm suggesting you avoid the mistake many newbies make--they buy a boat because they think it will suit their needs. After a year or so they decide it's a bit small so they sell it (and take a financial hit in the process) so they can buy their second boat, the one they should have bought first.

If you think you'll have 4-5 adults and a kid or three on board that is quickly going to get cramped. What you're not including in your load list is a cooler or two, a few beach towels, etc. I would suggest you consider a deck boat in the 22'-24' range to get enough room. If that size stretches your budget too much, look at one that's a couple of years older.

If you're thinking of doing most of your boating on Lake Sammamish with an occasional trip to Lake Washington and Lake Union you'll be much more comfortable with a bigger boat than an 18'-20'. The bigger boat will also let you safely hang out in Puget Sound (with an eye on the weather) and will let you take a run up to the San Juans or to areas in the South Sound.

Now whatever boat you buy, be sure to take a boater safety course online. Then when the Covid mess slows down and they start giving the course in a classroom, take the course again. The local knowledge you will get from the others in the class will increase your knowledge and confidence in your boating.

I took my first boater safety course in the mid-60's and have taken the course five times since. When I took it the first time I didn't yet own a boat. Each time I upsized from one boat to the next I took the course again. Now I'm at a point where we're not going to upsize so no more courses for me. Here's my final boat purchase
[Linked Image]


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#574790 - 01/04/21 07:16 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
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captkevin Offline
Admiral
captkevin  Offline
Admiral

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Posts: 8,035
Chicago, IL
20' bow rider is a good entry into the boating world. Good compromise. Had one for many years & look back on its ownership fondly.


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#574791 - 01/04/21 11:11 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
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Dock Holiday Offline
Admiral
Dock Holiday  Offline
Admiral

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,989
Lake Geneva, WI
JAW - Welcome to BABC and recreational boating.

Good advice above. A few additional comments:

Bow Rider vs. Deck boat: it used to be this was like a sedan vs minivan comparison (i.e. more space at the expense of drivability). However, in recent years, the differences between the two styles has decreased greatly (deck boats have a wider bow, but may sit on the same hull, and may have the same or similar cockpit). I have not owned a deck boat, so not speaking from experience.

Used vs. New: GFC nailed it with "get the boat that meets your needs" and "go older to align prices with your budget". If you can afford the boat you want new, then you are all set. Also, don't be too concerned about buying used: - so long as the boat has been well cared for, you should not have any major issues. The key is to get a well cared for boat. You can always hire a marine surveyor to inspect a boat before closing the deal.

Brand Quality and Pricing: When it comes to the old "Ford vs. Chevy" debates on brands, there are a lots of opinions and perceptions, and most everyone has a favorite brand. However, rarely are these opinions based on actual experiences, which is why I use the term "perceptions. I bring this up as it is really hard to determine which brand is right for you, especially when trying to factor in the pricing differences. If you are interested in a certain brand, don't let opinions from owners of other brands influence your opinions of that brand. Instead, seek out input from people who have actually owned same or similar models and years of that brand.

There are lots of good instructional videos on YouTube for trailing, launching, retrieving, docking, etc. There are also countless videos on boating mishaps (which can also be educational). West Marine also has good videos.

You may want to join BoatUS. They provide a lot of services including insurance.

Keep us apprised of your progress.

Happy Hunting!

#574792 - 01/05/21 08:48 AM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 9,086
Silverbullet Offline
Admiral
Silverbullet  Offline
Admiral

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 9,086
Boise, ID
Oooh. Our favorite type of post. Spending other people's money! We're pretty good at that.

Welcome to the group.

Being in Bellevue, you have a great cobalt dealer in Seattle Boat Company if you decide to go with a premium brand.

I'd most certainly go used for a first boat because you will probably go bigger in a short period of time. We owned our first boat for 2 years then added 3 feet on our next one.

If you buy a gently used boat, you can normally get a much better return on it when you sell it. Now, this past year, used boat prices were obscenely high so that normalcy didn't exist. I don't know about next year.

What I will tell you is that a boat with 4 adults and 2 kids or 2 adults and 4 kids, gets full quick. So, if you are 100% sure boating is in your future, buy a gently used premium brand (Cobalt from my perspective) around 22' length. If this is a trial in boating in boating, buy something a little smaller and a little older (not too old, you want reliability) and see how it shakes out. Then buy a gently used 22' premium brand.

Good luck and let us know what you find.


James
2002 Cobalt 226 VP 8.1GIDP
2007 Chevy 2500HD Crew Cab Duramax
1988 Suburban 3/4 Ton
2000 Subaru Forester


#574795 - 01/05/21 08:12 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
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Jack T Offline
Admiral
Jack T  Offline
Admiral

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Posts: 4,089
Southern California
Different from SilverBullet's reply, our first boat (16 feet) was ours for 14 years. The next (17 feet) was 28 years. The third (23 feet) is still ours, going on 10 years. Still the upsize he mentioned, just spread out over more years.


Have a great day of boating
2012 Monterey 224 FS,
300 HP Volvo Penta with catalytic converters

#574800 - 01/06/21 11:04 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Justaddwater Offline
Boating Newbie
Justaddwater  Offline
Boating Newbie
Warrant Officer

Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Bellevue, WA
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and suggestions.
@GoFirstClass - your point about buying the second boat first makes a lot of sense; we should think more longer term for size needs
@CaptKevin @Doc Holiday - thanks for the comments on bow rider vs. deck boat, and size. Also, thanks for pointing out the resources on the net and youtube. Yah, I've been watching some youtube stuff, the Miami boat ramp vids are quite entertaining, but "discouraging" to us newbies
@Silverbullet - great to hear your recommendation of Seattle Boat Company. We've been there once casually, they seem to be really professional and helpful
@Jack T - what an amazing boating experience you must have had over these years. We hope to find the right size boat, and get a good number of years out of it

#574801 - 01/07/21 05:24 AM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,393
tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
Admiral

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,393
Cape Cod, MA
Welcome and welcome to boating.

My first words of advice and what I tell new boaters is . . . boating is dangerous, it only looks like fun.

With that in mind, put your best effort forth to learn, be cautious and avoid 'Darwinism' for your crew, passengers, and yourself.

My comments . . .

18-20 feet for family and friends sounds small. Maybe hit up some boat shows over the winter to see a variety of boats and get a feel for the space of 18-20 foot boats vs. larger boats.

Are you ready to head back to the dock every time 'nature calls' for one of the crew? or will you have restroom facilities on-board?

Bowriders or deck boats will be fine for a lake and offer the most people capacity. Center consoles are more prevalent in ocean waters and tend not to offer as much seating capacity.

Don't buy a boat based on warranty coverage. If anything goes wrong with the boat, it is going to be 'your fault' according to the boat manufacturer. There are lots of new boat/warranty horror stories on boating forums across the Internet. Entry level boats stretch how far a dollar can go, you'll have to decide if that is what you want to deal with. A lightly used boat may be a nice option from a price/quality perspective.

Are you good a fixing things? You'll need to be. Boats tend not to be very 'reliable' in that there will always be something that needs fixing. Often minor things, but sometimes not so minor. If you are going to be a slave to repair shops, there will be hardships and expenses. So, be ready.

Other than that, have an awesome time laugh

I assume if you are able to look at new/new-ish boats, your budget is probably in the $30+K range? Keep in mind that with the pandemic, boat sales have been at a fast pace and there is not much inventory in the new or used market right now. So, price and availability may be challenging for a while.

I've been boating most of my life . . . got my first boat when I was about 12 years old. Did one or two inadvisable things on small boats, but lived to tell about it. My first 'real' boat was a 22 foot Catalina sailboat. Then onto a 24 foot powerboat, and now a 33 foot powerboat. Next up is going to be something in the 38 foot range.

Boaters often have a 'next' boat in mind, and you will learn much with a first boat. So, approach boat buying with the understanding that you will probably not achieve perfection with your boat choice. You will learn from the experience and be able to buy a second and third boat with much more knowledge on what works for you and your family.

Look into things like 'Boater Safety' courses and 'Marine Surveys'. Those will help you along the way.


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#574803 - 01/08/21 12:29 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 6,602
On Holiday Offline
Daddy
On Holiday  Offline
Daddy
Admiral

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 6,602
PA and Smith Mountain Lake
Welcome to the board, please continue to hang out post purchase as I've learned a lot from the members. Also keep in mind the capacities of your tow vehicle on what you can legally and safely tow. You'll want a pucker factory on your tow limits and keep in mind your passengers and gear inside the tow vehicle count against you.

We went with an entry level 18' bowrider which we had for about 7-8 years before we upgraded to a 24' bowrider that we've owned for 11 season. The reasons we upgraded was because children started to arrive and I wanted the smallest bow rider that had an enclosed head. This has come in handy many times when in a pinch.


2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
2008 Honda Goldwing Trike
2006 Regal 2400
2004 Dodge Ram 2500
2003 Ford F-150
2002 Harley Davidson Roadking Classic


#574807 - 01/08/21 10:04 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Justaddwater Offline
Boating Newbie
Justaddwater  Offline
Boating Newbie
Warrant Officer

Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Bellevue, WA
@tpenfield - unforturnately, not handy at fixing things, so we will take your warning into consideration and factor in the costs for maintenance and repair.
@On Holiday - for sure will hang out here on the board and continue to learn.

Looked at a couple of boats recently; most dealers have low / no inventory so it's hard to arrange for test drives. If you have thoughts or experience with any of these boats, do chime in.

Cobalt CS22 - new, did a quick test drive, feels solid and drives well. Size wise we are still trying to get used to the idea of going bigger than we'd initially thought, so 22 feet feels a little big

Cobalt 200S - the dealership has a used one in stock so we test drove this one too. Looks like it's been well maintained, 2015 model, about 90 hours. Asking around 45K

Chaparral 19 SSi - the dealer has a new one with ski and fish packaging, pretty cool equipment, but we've not do any test in this so don't know how it drives compares to Cobalt

#574808 - 01/08/21 10:52 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,646
GoFirstClass Offline
Retired Boating Bum
GoFirstClass  Offline
Retired Boating Bum
Grand Poobah

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,646
Pasco, WA
JAW, I'm not familiar with either Cobalt models but they are absolutely top shelf quality. Remember, nobody ever heard a boat owner say "Gee, I wish my boat was a couple feet smaller."

Chap--not familiar with this model but Chaps are one small step down from Cobalt on the quality scale. As to the fish and ski package, be careful about paying for "pretty cool equipment" that you likely will seldom or never use.

What lake will you be boating on?


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#574809 - 01/09/21 02:24 AM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: GoFirstClass]  
Joined: Jan 2021
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Justaddwater Offline
Boating Newbie
Justaddwater  Offline
Boating Newbie
Warrant Officer

Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Bellevue, WA
GFC, will be boating on Lake Sammamish. The fishing package comes with a trolling motor and convertible seat options

#574810 - 01/09/21 06:35 AM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,393
tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
Admiral

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Posts: 2,393
Cape Cod, MA
JAW - sounds like you are making good progress in assessing the market. I echo the comments about Cobalt as being a quality leader. . . that may be important if you are not into fixing things.

A lot of the service support depends on the dealer, but they in turn rely on the manufacturer to support any warranty claims, if applicable.

I would not be afraid of a bigger boat, particularly if you are spending a bit of money. You will get used to the size of the larger boat fairly quickly . . . kind of like driving a full-sized car vs. a compact car. Another one of my sayings is that . . . 'boats 'shrink' when you put them in the water'. So, what would might seem big on land and in showrooms will seem smaller once you put them to use.

Also, another factor is to buy a boat (either new or slightly used) that is easy to sell, since most boaters will own numerous boats during their years on the water. Cobalt is an easy sell, Chaparral is OK. . . economy brands are tougher re-sells, as they are less desirable and there tends to be more of them in the used market.

Last edited by tpenfield; 01/09/21 02:53 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#574811 - 01/09/21 08:14 AM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 6,700
Dave R Offline
Admiral
Dave R  Offline
Admiral

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Posts: 6,700
Raymond NH
Originally Posted by Justaddwater
@tpenfield - unforturnately, not handy at fixing things, so we will take your warning into consideration and factor in the costs for maintenance and repair.



I strongly urge you to get an outboard powered boat if at all possible. They are soooo much simpler to maintain and less likely to need repairs compared to stern drives.


"Mischief Managed II"
1992 Tollycraft 44 Cockpit Motor Yacht
Twin CAT 3208TA inboards
#574813 - 01/09/21 12:57 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,646
GoFirstClass Offline
Retired Boating Bum
GoFirstClass  Offline
Retired Boating Bum
Grand Poobah

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,646
Pasco, WA
JAW, I tehd to agree with DaveR. I've never boated on Sammamish so I can't speak to that body of water, but I'd bet that it wouldn't take long for you to want to explore Lake Washington, the Montlake Cut and waters beyond. A 20'-22' boat would be fine on any of those waters, and even a quick run up to the San Juans if the weather cooperates. We circumnavitated Lake Washington in our 13' Boston Whaler so I know your boat would handle it fine.

Now the reason I agree with Dave and didn't think to mention that myself is that I've never had an outboard boat. I always had I/O boats and loved them. The last one I had was in 2009 when I traded it for the 550 Sedan Bridge with twin Cat inboards. Outboard powered boats didn't really start to become popular until about that time.

Outboards are easier (and cheaper) to maintain. They also give you better maneuverability. Take, for example, a 22' boat with an inboard/outboard setup. You have one engine, one drive setup. Now take that same boat with twin outboards. That gives you the ability to put one in forward, one in reverse and essentially spin the boat in a circle without ever touching the throttles.

Twin outboard setups also can come with electronics that control the movement of both motors so the motors can swivel separately with one in forward and one in reverse and that allows you to walk the boat sideways if you need to get it to a dock.

Lots of stuff to think about.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#574821 - 01/10/21 11:30 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Justaddwater Offline
Boating Newbie
Justaddwater  Offline
Boating Newbie
Warrant Officer

Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Bellevue, WA
For sure, lots of stuff to think about. Did look at a couple of outboard powered boats, although none has the twin engine set up. Is this usually an after market option?

#574823 - 01/11/21 11:48 AM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,393
tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
Admiral

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,393
Cape Cod, MA
Twin outboards are usually offered as 'standard' with larger outboard powered boats that require the amount of power beyond what can be had with a single outboard. Usually, that is at around 27 feet in length. So, with your intended purchase, it would not be a factor. I have seen some smaller boats with twin engines (of smaller HP) as a matter of preference, yet a single outboard could have sufficed.


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#574824 - 01/11/21 04:43 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 8,035
captkevin Offline
Admiral
captkevin  Offline
Admiral

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Posts: 8,035
Chicago, IL
What about jet powered Yamaha boats with twin jets.


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#574825 - 01/11/21 05:27 PM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Justaddwater Offline
Boating Newbie
Justaddwater  Offline
Boating Newbie
Warrant Officer

Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 7
Bellevue, WA
Was advised against jet powered boats due to poorer directional control at lower speed and when docking. Was told this probably isn't a good option for newbies in boating.

#574827 - 01/12/21 03:13 AM Re: Advice for buying the first boat [Re: Justaddwater]  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,089
Jack T Offline
Admiral
Jack T  Offline
Admiral

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,089
Southern California
"Was advised against jet powered boats due to poorer directional control at lower speed and when docking." New technologies have addressed this quite well. Jets are much simpler mechanically than either outboards or outdrives. That + less cost. However, if you figure in that jets are rather special products, parts can be more expensive.

Also, even though the three boats we have purchased over the years were new, before we got the most fantastic deal on new, the price was even lower than boats exactly like ours. However, I did find a great 21' Chaparral that I was really interested in. The other person and I dickered for about 45 minutes. I kept offering higher, but he never came down. I even offered to have the boat checked out by his dealer--If I bought the boat, I would pay the full bill. If something was found that needed a lot of attention or $$, I would split the cost with him. I walked from one of the best cared for boat I had ever seen.

If you are planning to trailer the boat, remember there are mechanicals very much like automotive brake systems. Also wheel bearings. Electrical. And tires? Believe it or not, trailer tire manufacturers warranty their products only 10 years. So don't forget to have all parts of the trailer checked out, too.


Have a great day of boating
2012 Monterey 224 FS,
300 HP Volvo Penta with catalytic converters

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