Anyone here own a boat, or know a lot about boats?

mcmxi

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I've lived in NW Montana for close to 10 years and am surrounded by lakes. Each summer I get to spend a few hours on Flathead Lake thanks to a friend who is allowed to use his grandparent's pontoon boat which is a really nice ($$$) boat. His grandparents live on Flathead Lake and their boat is in the water all summer long.

I've been on lakes up here in boats owned by other friends and have thought more than once that perhaps I should own a boat which would open up some possibilities over the summer months. The friend whose fields I cut and will plow next year lives on the Flathead River and has a private boat ramp so getting in/out of the water and onto Flathead Lake won't be a problem. Another friend has a cabin on Little Bitterroot Lake so I could put the boat in at his place. They have a dock and I think a ramp too. I also have a friend in Kettle Falls, WA who lives by a huge lake so long weekend trips over to his place would be fun. It's a beautiful 5-1/2 hour drive up through Bonner's Ferry, Sandpoint and Priest River so the drive is as enjoyable as the destination.

So, I've never owned a boat, don't know a whole lot about them but have started looking at used boats on Craigslist. The one feature I think I want is an inboard/outboard setup but maybe that's not the best choice. So what would you advise a newbie to look for based on freshwater only, not kept in the water all summer, room for 8 people and a dog or two, etc. Brands, styles, sizes, features etc. ? Maybe the correct answer is not to buy a boat at all but I'm not getting any younger. I'm open to all suggestions and advice.

Thanks very much.
 

jyoutz

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I don’t currently own a boat, but did for years. Capacity for 8 people is a significant size craft. I was originally going to recommend a v-hull design, but you’re getting into a large craft for 8. Unless you really intend to spend a lot and buy something very large, 8 people and a dog pretty much points to a pontoon craft with outboard motor.
 
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85Hokie

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I have owned many boats and jet skis too - boats are somewhat like tractors, BUT tractors typically make money whereas boats spend money.

Much like the tractor - WHAT do you wish to do WITH the boat? Ride? Tow kids behind? Fish? You want an open bow or enclosed?

I could ask 100 questions but answer those few and we can narrow the field.
 
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mcmxi

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I don’t currently own a boat, but did for years. Capacity for 8 people is a significant size craft. I was originally going to recommend a v-hull design, but you’re getting into a large craft for 8. Unless you really intend to spend a lot and buy something very large, 8 people and a dog pretty much points to a pontoon craft with outboard motor.
The 8 people isn't critical, but 4 to 6 people would be ok.
 

mcmxi

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I have owned many boats and jet skis too - boats are somewhat like tractors, BUT tractors typically make money whereas boats spend money.

Much like the tractor - WHAT do you wish to do WITH the boat? Ride? Tow kids behind? Fish? You want an open bow or enclosed?

I could ask 100 questions but answer those few and we can narrow the field.
Basically just cruise around the lake at a leisurely pace, eat lunch, jump off and swim, no kids, no towing, no water skiing, limited fishing (very limited), open bow is fine, and some sort of shade is essential. The idea of an aluminum hull appeals to me since as a welder I can fix it more easily than I can a fiberglass hull. Also, I figure an aluminum hull will have a better chance of surviving a submerged log.

Ultimately, I don't want to spend $10k to $20k and regret it. If after three or four summers I decide that owning a boat's not for me, I'd like the option to sell it on without losing my shirt. I hope that makes sense.
 

jyoutz

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The 8 people isn't critical, but 4 to 6 people would be ok.
The most versatile hull design is a v-hull. It cuts through rough water the best. I’ve had both inboard and outboard motors and there are benefits and disadvantages to both. Outboards tend to be cheaper.
 
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jyoutz

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Basically just cruise around the lake at a leisurely pace, eat lunch, jump off and swim, no kids, no towing, no water skiing, limited fishing (very limited), open bow is fine, and some sort of shade is essential. The idea of an aluminum hull appeals to me since as a welder I can fix it more easily than I can a fiberglass hull. Also, I figure an aluminum hull will have a better chance of surviving a submerged log.
Like you, I have always preferred aluminum hulls due to durability and repairability.
 
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ctfjr

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I would suggest, if you do get a boat, take at least the basic Power Squadron classes. Like tractors, boats can be great recreation - or death traps.
 
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The Evil Twin

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Yeah, 8 + a mutt is going to be cramped in traditional hull crafts unless you go big.
I spent the 1st half of my life on the water. Grew up with gills and fins. We were a skiing family- competition types. A 24' Mastercraft was fine for 4 or 5 of us. We could add a person or two from cruising around but that's just sitting and chilling. No real room to move about.
Some friends had a 24 pontoon and that was the party deck. Open deck, grill, room to walk to and from.
It sort of depends on what you want it for. And what you want it to do. A toon will pull the inflatable toys and even skiers but only for fun.
I'm partial to inboard or stern drives (you call I/O) due to the ease of maintenance. They are essentially auto motors. Outboards have improved dramatically over the years. Quite crazy they have superchargers these days.
 
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mcmxi

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The most versatile hull design is a v-hull. It cuts through rough water the best. I’ve had both inboard and outboard motors and there are benefits and disadvantages to both. Outboards tend to be cheaper.
Would something like this be suitable? I can see that an outboard is easier to work on, but what are the salient pros/cons of each?

1.jpg


2.jpg
 

mcmxi

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Like you, I have always preferred aluminum hulls due to durability and repairability.
That's not based on any data on my part, just intuition. :LOL: Many years ago I worked on one of the inter island aluminum hulled ferries when I was a welder at the Honolulu Shipyard. We were welding the hull using an aluminum wire feed process.
 

mcmxi

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I would suggest, if you do get a boat, take at least the basic Power Squadron classes. Like tractors, boats can be great recreation - or death traps.
Very good advice. I have a Ham radio license which could prove to be useful. You can never be too careful.

A friend and coworker who is a VERY experienced hunter came close to death last weekend while hunting on the Eastern side of the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. He was with his 15 year old son and one of his son's friends and it got very serious, very quickly. The friend had all but given up, and all three were in the early stages of hypothermia when they finally made it back to their truck in a driving blizzard. He always carries a GPS when hunting and it likely saved their lives since it showed that they were moving in a circle because the cold, heavy, wet snow was being driven by 40 to 50mph winds and they naturally were turning away from the wind as they tried to get back to the truck in less than 10 feet visibility. His telling of the story was chilling ... no pun intended.
 

mcmxi

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Yeah, 8 + a mutt is going to be cramped in traditional hull crafts unless you go big.
I spent the 1st half of my life on the water. Grew up with gills and fins. We were a skiing family- competition types. A 24' Mastercraft was fine for 4 or 5 of us. We could add a person or two from cruising around but that's just sitting and chilling. No real room to move about.
Some friends had a 24 pontoon and that was the party deck. Open deck, grill, room to walk to and from.
It sort of depends on what you want it for. And what you want it to do. A toon will pull the inflatable toys and even skiers but only for fun.
I'm partial to inboard or stern drives (you call I/O) due to the ease of maintenance. They are essentially auto motors. Outboards have improved dramatically over the years. Quite crazy they have superchargers these days.
I figured I'd start looking and learning now since boats are typically cheaper in the winter months. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

My friend's grandparent's boat is like the pontoon you describe. It's a $100k boat or more with room to move and have fun. I've been on that boat with at least 12 people and it never felt crowded. I just don't think a pontoon boat is for me though. Honestly, I'd buy one of those twin jet powered bridge erecting boats that Midwest Military Equipment is selling if I had $80k to "waste". :ROFLMAO:

 

Henro

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How much money do you have? If money is not a concern then go for it.

I have been told that boats are a financial drain. Even small boats. No personal experience. But stated by people I have faith in.

How much time do you expect you would be using the boat annually? Try to calculate your cost per hour and see it if makes sense for you.

This is what I would do I guess...what is fun and free on another's dime, probably feels different when paying oneself. Just an assumption on my part.
 
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ctfjr

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Very good advice. I have a Ham radio license which could prove to be useful. You can never be too careful. . . .
One of my former students in a Ham radio class I taught retired, bought a sailboat and he and his wife sailed it to the Caribbean. Spent a year island hopping. Had HF and VHF ham gear with him.
I'm only guessing here but I'd bet, for safety, on a sat phone over a 2M repeater in you neighborhood. Maybe things are different now but when I took my 1st rides through Montana / Wyoming with 2M gear it was silent city.
 
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The Evil Twin

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I figured I'd start looking and learning now since boats are typically cheaper in the winter months. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

My friend's grandparent's boat is like the pontoon you describe. It's a $100k boat or more with room to move and have fun. I've been on that boat with at least 12 people and it never felt crowded. I just don't think a pontoon boat is for me though. Honestly, I'd buy one of those twin jet powered bridge erecting boats that Midwest Military Equipment is selling if I had $80k to "waste". :ROFLMAO:

Don't think the toons are lumbering oafish boats. 😂
900 hp with options for 1200.
1668025403958.png
 
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imnukensc

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I've had several boats over the years. They're great for making holes in the water to pour money in to.
 
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85Hokie

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Based on what you described in post #5 - a pontoon with a 90HP+ outboard would work very well.

Now a pontoon does not go reallly fast - but some tritoons can scoot pretty good. The advantages of a pontoon are many - lots of space, very stable and room for people and even dogs! On a pontoon you have two or more tubes made from aluminum.

A v-hull will go faster and cut through wave/wakes better but it will be smaller in footprint and heavier.

To cruise well - you want to be on "plane" an engine will get a smaller pontoon on plane easier than a heavier boat.

It all boils down to what you want - 20k will buy a very nice used boat and trailer!
 
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mcmxi

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How much money do you have? If money is not a concern then go for it.

I have been told that boats are a financial drain. Even small boats. No personal experience. But stated by people I have faith in.

How much time do you expect you would be using the boat annually? Try to calculate your cost per hour and see it if makes sense for you.

This is what I would do I guess...what is fun and free on another's dime, probably feels different when paying oneself. Just an assumption on my part.
Not everything in life needs to meet a certain margin in cost/benefit analysis, not to me anyway. How many times a year do I have to use a tractor or trailer to make it worth the investment? I enjoy my tractors when they're just sitting there, but how do you quantify the happiness that comes from owning something? Life is short, and sometimes the memories made from time with family and/or friends is priceless.

I was going to rent a boat last summer on Lake Pend Orielle and half a day was $500! If I get to use a boat 12 days a summer (three days a month) at a minimum, and enjoy it that would be worth it to me, but not for a $50k investment. Investing $15k to $20k on a used boat that I can enjoy for the next 10 years or more would be ok. That's more along the lines of what I'm considering.
 
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mcmxi

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Based on what you described in post #5 - a pontoon with a 90HP+ outboard would work very well.

Now a pontoon does not go reallly fast - but some tritoons can scoot pretty good. The advantages of a pontoon are many - lots of space, very stable and room for people and even dogs! On a pontoon you have two or more tubes made from aluminum.

A v-hull will go faster and cut through wave/wakes better but it will be smaller in footprint and heavier.

To cruise well - you want to be on "plane" an engine will get a smaller pontoon on plane easier than a heavier boat.

It all boils down to what you want - 20k will buy a very nice used boat and trailer!
Thanks. I'll do some reading and looking over the next couple of months. I'm not drawn to pontoon boats even though I appreciate their utility and practicality.