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Kids and boats

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Old 03-10-2010, 12:14 PM
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Default Kids and boats

I am trying to decide what type of boat to purchase. Most of our boating will be on Lake Michigan out of Grand Haven and Holland area. My wife and I have 3 young kids (ages 7, 4, and 1.5). We are trying to decide between a 28' offshore type boat like a pantera or a 24' to 26' boat like a searay sundeck or a Cobalt 263. Cabin cruisers are not an option.

Anyone have any experience with young kids and offshore style boats? Im not sure running 80mph with three kids on board is very safe or fun for them. The offshore would be my choice but Im not sure if the kids would enjoy it. The cobalt could do everything the pantera would do except high speed and handling big waves plus it could pull a tube if the kids wanted, not sure if a pantera could do that or not.

I know ultimately I need to make the choice but is there anyone who wants to share their own personal experience with boats and kids.

Much appreciated!
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:22 PM
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Boated my whole life with my children on board. Great family time. We always had some form of a runabout with as big of a cabin as we could afford. We had from Rinkers at the beginning to Baja's to Fountain's to Donzi's, etc. I recommend deciding how much overnight boating you will do and find the boat that will meet those needs. Day boating on Lake Michigan is what we have done for years and a nice cabin with some amenities is very helpful to keep a happy spouse and rested children. The market is full of 27-38 foot runabouts for $35-100K that will meet these needs and fit into your budget. I did always prefer a twin engine application, especially with kids, for safety if nothing else. Good luck.
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:24 PM
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When we were buying a boat our kids were maybe 1 & about 9. My wife wanted a bow rider so we got a 23' Islander. After first summer wife wanted a cabin so the kids could get out of the sun & take naps, so i got to move up to something bigger.
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:28 PM
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From a kid's perspective, I grew up around offshore boats. We had a Baja 280 Sport when I was born, then we had a 30' Velocity by the time I turned 6. I was able to handle the Velocity well by the time I was 8, and single handed it (under, supervision from shore of course) at 12.

As for running 80 with young kids, probably not the best Idea. I do however remember running in the gulf when I was about 11, perfect 3 footers, just dad and I with me at the helm we ran low 80's on the speedo. Fastest we ever got out of that boat.

It was always a family event for us, and we spent tons of time on the boat. If you get the kids involved with the boat as soon as they are able, I think they will enjoy it. Tubing behind the Pantera would be doable, skiing is kind of a bear, but it's possible.

We currently don't have kids, but when we do I have no intentions of giving up performance boating.

I'm sure you will have a blast whatever you choose!
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:46 PM
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Keep in mind, a 28 Pantera has a fairly low freeboard. Of course my boys boated on mine hwen I had it, but in rough water you had to keep a close eye them. Most of my boating with the kids was done in fairly smooth water.
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Old 03-10-2010, 01:15 PM
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Formula 400ss or the 370 you can find some around 100k.
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Old 03-10-2010, 01:15 PM
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Check out Sunsation boats, they make a 28ft mid-cabin open bow that works really well for families. I've seen people tube off the back of them.

http://www.sunsationboats.com/index.asp
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:07 PM
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Your wife is probably going to be the one you have to make comfortable. The kids will enjoy any boat.

My kids, now 12 and 9 have been boating since they were 6 mos. old. They like to go fast and seem to enjoy rough water too.

Most offshore style boats are not very good for water sports. They don't plane very well at the speeds you typically tube or ski. I have to put my tabs WAY down and I never get fully on plane. Just seems tough on the boat.

I don't know why people are funny about kids and performance boats. Wouldn't you take the same safety precautions regardless of passenger age? An adult can get ejected just as easy as a kid. My kids know (and I warn them) to hold on and pay attention in rough water or crossing wakes, etc.
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Old 03-10-2010, 04:20 PM
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Made this mistake when mine were little too ! DON'T buy a boat for your kids or your wife for that matter . Most wives will dig any boat as long as it's not smaller then the boat she was in before ( or her girlfriends hubby's /bf's boat )
The kids are little for such a short time anyway , before you know it , they will be big enough for anything as long as it's not too ruff! Get the boat that YOU want ..... cause before you know it you will be kickin yourself when you can't sell the pc. that you brought home that you didn't really want to get the one you really wanted that will usually pop up right when you can't swing it ... A 28 - 30 offshore with a cuddy is a great all around boat that should work for most boating . Here's a good way to make everyone happy .... keep your boat at a marina with a pool and nice bathroom !
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Old 03-10-2010, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEOPAJM View Post
.... keep your boat at a marina with a pool and nice bathroom !
Best advice I saw yet!

I agree, get the boat you want and everyone else will be satisfied. I had a 292 Formula which was perfect for the Mrs. & myself plus enough room for the kids to overnight once in a while. I would look for a boat with a head and sink/wet bar.
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