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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello there,

I am pretty much a lurker on here and thought this would be a great place to start. I am thinking about purchasing a used boat for next season. I would like something that is middle of the line, has a cabin, head (that is a necessity), and enough room to have 4 passengers. I would only be using it on the weekends, with friends.

1) What line of boat is middle of the road?
2) What length would be ideal to start out with that would be easy to maneuver for a beginner boater?
3) Inboard / Outboard preference?
4) I would definitely have it docked somewhere (not trailered). Any suggestions on a marina?

Any feedback or additional suggestions would be appreciated!
Thanks!
 

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All are great questions. I always recommend at least 25' for LSC. Great "rules of thumb" is, "what ever you think you need, double it". If you think you need 2 bags of ice, buy 3-4 instead. Best advice to you is buy as much boat as you can afford. If you only buy an 18' boat I can guarantee that you will get out there and experience things you don't even know about yet and want a bigger boat right off the bat. Of course, I am not saying go buy a 40' boat without any captains experience, but get something you will feel comfortable with behind the wheel.

As far as makes and models. It really helps if you make it out on others boats to compare how some boats handle. Start by telling us your experience with what boats you have been on.
 

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I agree with 25+. I learned in a 21' bowrider, and then stepped up to a 27' Crownline. This size was not terribly hard to drive, even with a single engine. Ours was an 8.5' beam. If you can find a Sea Ray or similar you can get a slightly wider beam (which I recommend) but you may have to step up to a big block. Although we could comfortably fit 6-8 people.

Water Cloud Boat Sky Naval architecture


After having this boat for 3 seasons I had no trouble transitioning to a 32'. Well, at least so far......

Get as big as you can.
 

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My wife and I jumped in 3 summers ago. We have 2 small kids, we ended up with a 28' Larson with twin 4.3L drives that has treated us well. There is enough room to sleep, and we cook quite a bit on the weekends. we treat it as much as a cabin as a boat.

Lurking here is a great start. Read as much as you can. Take a boating class, start with power squadron or coast guard auxilliary. Buy Chapman's guide to Piloting (big book). Go to the in-water boat show at Metro next month. Ask questions. Don't fall in love with the first boat you see- there are more out there.

As far as the marina, now is a good tome to visit them and figure out if you would like living there. Time the travel time. Some are bare bones, some have more amenities. Don't pay for things you wont use. Also, try to figure out where you be spending time on the lake/ river. It might be worth it to have a longer car commute to minimize the 'boat commute'.

We have learned a lot and had a great time with our kids since we started boating. 2 weeks ago we went to Cedar Point and Put in Bay. We love it!

Dan
 

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I know of a nice 31 foot cruiser for sale for a good price.

31 Foot boat

I also know of a nice 18 foot starter boat for sale.

18 foot boat

We started with an 18 footer and had it for about 2 seasons before jumping up to a 30 footer. I agree with Convincor, on LSC, biger is better.
 

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QUOTE(Sea n' Spots @ Sep 9 2009, 10:22 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hello there,

I am pretty much a lurker on here and thought this would be a great place to start. I am thinking about purchasing a used boat for next season. I would like something that is middle of the line, has a cabin, head (that is a necessity), and enough room to have 4 passengers. I would only be using it on the weekends, with friends.

1) What line of boat is middle of the road?
2) What length would be ideal to start out with that would be easy to maneuver for a beginner boater?
3) Inboard / Outboard preference?
4) I would definitely have it docked somewhere (not trailered). Any suggestions on a marina?

Any feedback or additional suggestions would be appreciated!
Thanks!

The big question is what you plan to use the boat for. Are you a day trip kind of person or do you plan to cruise, fish or go fast. Do you plan to overnight or over weekend on the lake or stay in the marina. Is a galley needed. Who will you boat with ie. kids, adults, dogs.(not kidding there are lots of boat dogs out there). Once you answer those questions you can start focusing on the class and style of boat you want. There are a lot of boats out there but what you choose is very dependent on how you plan to use it. There are a lot of boats to choose from and now is a good time to buy.

As far as marina choices it also depends if you want something close to home or a place to get away from home. What type of facilities ie. pool, restaurant/bar, showers etc. There are also many good choices in this area.

I think if you can answer these questions it would be much easier to get good advice from experienced boaters once you provide that information. It will help to focus the search criteria.

As a new boater 24'-28' is a good size range that will provide the facilities you mentioned. For manueverability do not get a single inboard instead an I/O or twin inboards depending on the boat. There are a lot of Sea Rays in this class and some of the Bayliners ie. the 2452 is a nice basic boat. I personally prefer the Chris Crafts due to simplicity and construction but that is just me.

Take some time to stroll a marina or two and just look at boats and ask questions. Find something that looks good to you and then talk to the owner. Most boaters are happy to answer questions, especially when talking about their boat. Same goes for a marina.

After 7 cruisers over 30 years I have learned a boat is a very personal choice. You are on the right track doing your research up front. Know what you are looking for before contacting any sellers and you are most likely to find what you want.

FWIW I have no boats for sale.
 

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Get something with a cabin even if you don't think you'll sleep on it. A lot of boats have a dinette forward instead of a v-berth, and the dinette will convert to a berth if you want to overnight. That's great for when you take a group out and get caught in the rain, you can hang out and play cards or something until it blows by. A friend of mine has a 25' Rinker that's pretty much along the lines of what you're looking for size and amenities wise.

Middle of the road, top of the line, "value", doesn't really matter. If you're buying used it's all about condition. A top of the line boat with no maintenance done is not as good as a meticulously maintained bayliner. Bayliners are typically thought of as lower quality, but they're fine for lake st clair and they're decent boats that hold up well if maintained. Sea Rays are typically thought of as higher end boats, but they've had their share of problems with waterlogged hulls and the like... a friend of mine currently has a sea ray with totally rotten stringers. The moral of the story - get a survey, make sure the hull isn't waterlogged or rotten, and take care of your equipment. And keep your fingers crossed... a lot of times wet stringers aren't a maintenance issue but a design issue or something that just wasn't perfect at the factory. And boats that sit in the water all season are more susceptible to water damage than boats that sit on a trailer or a hoist, obviously.
 

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Another question to ask yourself is "What type of weather am I interested in boating in?"

For me, I'll go out in light rain, 10-15 knot winds, waves of 3 feet and cooler temperatures. I can do that because I have a 28ft boat with cabin with duel helms (Well single right now but that's another repair story) so I can drive from the helm in the cabin and stay warm and dry. By the way, I am much picker about the weather when my kids are on the boat with me, if it's just me and a bud out fishing I'll take more chances with weather.

If you are only interested 70-90 degree days where the sun is shining and flat calm water your boat needs could change. I could get away with a smaller boat if I were in that boating mode.

But I agree nothing under 25 FT on LSC. ... The wife and I have decided that we are going to upsize our boat in about two years.
 

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I'd go with the "> 25 foot" crowd... not sure if you're looking new or used, but you can get some pretty good deals. Look at lots of boats... OPEN compartments and look inside the bilge and DO get a survey when you make an offer on a boat - they're usually required if you need to finance or insure, but it'll probably have lot more information for you. If you can, hang around the surveyor and ask LOTS of questions.. those guys are a wealth of information, as they've seen a LOT of boats.

Definitely sign up for the Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron's boating course. You will learn alot more about boating than you will with just the "certificate" classes. Chapman's is a GREAT book and has a LOT more information in it than you usually need, but it's a GREAT book.

Think about if you will EVER want to trailer it somewhere (up north for vacation, to an inland lake for a friend's cabin, etc). That might limit how big of a boat you'd consider (and if you have an appropriate tow vehicle).
 

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What Sleeper said is very good advice.. For every person on here, you will get that many opinions, but the more information the better. And be careful of salesmen, they could steer you down the wrong path.

Take your time, there are many many boats out there to choose from. I use craigs list and boat trader.com when looking for boats and comparing prices. Before buying a boat, always take an impartial observer with you, and hopefully one that is knowledgeable. Surveys are valueable, mainly for inspecting for moisture content in the boat. The last time i purchased a boat, i brought my boat mechanic, and I'm glad I did. For $ 300 ( about that?? ) he did a complete compression test, did an overview of the whole boat, pulled the out drives and did a leak down test. He found some issues, and I was able to get $ 500 knocked off the price of the boat. After I knew I was buying the boat, I had him change the water pumps, bellows, shift cables, lube the outdrives, you know, routine maintenceas as long as the outdrives were off.

Anyway, back to some of your questions, I think a 21 -23' cuddy cabin or a 23-24' aft cabin type boat, ie, Vista, Sundancer, would be a great starter boat for lk st clair. I would stay with some of the most popular boats out there, ie, Sea Ray, Four Winns, Chris Craft, Maxium, Larson ( ok, I'm being a little partial now,lol), amoung many others. If there is a boat dealer near you, that brand could be helpful to you when buying parts.

I prefer I/O's on boats 21' and bigger, but thats just me. I have both Merc and Volvo outdrives. The Volvo is a higher quality, more reliable outdrive, but parts and mechanics are much easier to find for the merc's.

Good luck in your search, its a very exciting time. I have a lot of hobbies, and by far, boating is my favorite.
 

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Another reason to consider a trailerable boat is for winter storage.. .you can always store at the marina, either inside or outside, but you can save a bunch of $$ if you have some property where you can park a boat on a trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all of the responses. I definitely have a lot of research to do. Here is some additional information about me based on some of your responses.

I have only been on a few boats in my lifetime and unfortunately, none have been recent. I have been thinking about how boring this summer was, and how I need to get a fun hobby. I have always loved the water (I use to live in Virginia Beach), and I am also certified in SCUBA diving.

I don't know how to say this without sounding demeaning (because I know a woman can do what any man can do but even better ha ha), but I am a single female looking to buy my own boat. I have no true experience, which is why I am looking to find something that will be easy to handle. My main objective is to be on the boat on the weekends with friends (mainly parked somewhere hanging out in the sun). As far as overnight stays, I most definitely will be spending the night out there a few weekends a month. I can't imagine life getting any better than that.


As far as a marina, I would like it to be in Harrison Township (I live in Sterling Hts). I don't really care if there is a pool, but a restaurant/bar and showers would be nice. I also would prefer a place where everyone is friendly and enjoys hanging out after a day on the boat. Does such a place exist?

I have a friend that offered to go with me to start looking at boats, but I thought I would ask some general questions here first.

Suck my wake, is that picture of the 27' Crownline you were referring to? That's a beautiful boat and definitely one I could see myself in!
 

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I have an idea,,,
I think that you should buy my 1987 21 1/2 foot SeaRay Cuddy cabin with portapotty. A 350/260 hp & Trailer. You can keep it in a well or trailer it.
That way you can feel the water under you and get a couple of blue balls in heavy seas and experience the feel and excitement of the lake.
Then in a couple of years move up to a larger boat.
Then, I'll move up to a larger boat now and call it a day.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
QUOTE(The Perfect Fit @ Sep 9 2009, 01:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have an idea,,,
I think that you should buy my 1987 21 1/2 foot SeaRay Cuddy cabin with portapotty. A 350/260 hp & Trailer. You can keep it in a well or trailer it.
That way you can feel the water under you and get a couple of blue balls in heavy seas and experience the feel and excitement of the lake.
Then in a couple of years move up to a larger boat.
Then, I'll move up to a larger boat now and call it a day.....


Um, let me think about it. . . .
Okay, No thanks! I have never experienced blue balls and don't want to start now.
But thanks for asking.
 

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You are narrowing the search already. The fact that you want to stay out for a few weekends means marine head, shower and galley are in order. That is going to put you in the 27'-30' class. There are a lot of options there. You mentioned you are a SCUBA diver. There are dive opportunities here in the lake and river. If you think you would dive from the boat a larger aft deck and swim platform are a consideration. On boats with an aft cabin the aft cockpit deck is a bit higher from the water and makes a little more work getting in and out of the water. That is one of the reasons I chose a Chris Craft 281, more deck for diving and easier water access. Even if you just swim off the boat consider the accessibility and deck room provided.

Looking around a few marinas will start giving you an idea of what will work best for you. With boats there are always trade offs due to the size constraints and design considerations. The best way to compare is to see them first hand. As mentioned above, the internet is a great resource. Google "boats for sale in Michigan" and you will have dozens of choices. On most sites you can then narrow your search to boats, say power cruisers 26'-30'. Find something that catches your eye then research it further. You can keep coming back here for advice as there is no shortage of opinions
. Good luck.
 

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Get a professional survey, no matter what the saleperson or owner tells you.
This is the point where you need to remove "desire" from the equation.
There are marine surveyors that are sponsors on this board.

I used 2 from this list and both were excellent.
http://www.marinesurvey.org/index2.html

The first guy was from North Carolina, called me mid survey with some much needed info.
I ended up pulling the plug on the deal, was disappointed but certainely saved me some headaches down the road.
The second was from Ohio and I spent the better part of a day with him on the purchase boat. Incredibly thorough and knowledgable.

Perform a seatrial with the surveyor but at least with someone with some experience, you could probably find someone on this board with the exact same boat you are looking at.

Good luck with the search, I had a blast with the whole process.
No more boring summer days, or spring or fall, or winters planning for the next season for that matter.
I've made some awesome friends on the lake and through this site.
Good luck and enjoy the adventure!
gt
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
QUOTE(waxonwaxoff @ Sep 9 2009, 02:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Allow me to throw my 30 Sundancer out there for your review... It's "loaded" and it has been a great boat. My wife can even take you out and show you how to run it and some of the cool spots to hang out...


http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/pl_...yachtsales&

Awesome boat. . .but a little out of my price range. I would like to stick to something under $20k.
 
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