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Is the "cruiser life" for me?

Old 07-18-2020, 04:13 PM
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Default Is the "cruiser life" for me?

Started getting the itch for a cruiser recently. Family wants to be able to get out of the sun and cool down when it's 100+ degs, but not so sure if spending the night on the water will be happening much since the lake is only abt 10 mins from our house.
My first thought was getting a smaller one so I could trailer it back and forth and keep it in my shop. After looking around a bit, it doesn't appear that's like that's going to work since cruisers are too tall to fit thru the 12 X 12 shop door. Now looking at larger cruisers and slips with hydrolifts.

Never owned a cruiser or rented a slip for more than a weekend. Wanting to get some feedback on the pro and cons of slipping a larger (30-35') cruiser.
Maint (which I do myself) is my biggest concern since I'll most likely wind up with an older model.

Any feedback is appreciated.
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Old 07-18-2020, 05:11 PM
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We really like our Formula 37SS that we keep at LOTO. Has all the cruiser stuff (generator, a/c, tv, 2 beds, head, microwave, cooktop, windlass, refrigerators, etc.) yet is still small enough to maneuver. With a stepped hull you can “cruise” in the 40’s, so you would not be one of those plows out on your lake. The back seat lifts up to the “engine room” where very thing is fairly easy to get to.

good luck looking!
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Old 07-18-2020, 07:08 PM
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Thx! The Formulas are very nice indeed.

This all started when I found a Cruiser's 300 Express for cheap. The ad got pulled, not sure why. may have been a scam. Anyway it got the juices flowing. Started looking around to see what else is out there. I'm currently in love with the Chaparral 350 Signature. Found prices are all over the place for the same year and similar appearances. Figuring the price must mainly reflect number of hours and options. If I pick one up on the lower end, I'm assuming it will be needing heavy maint before too long. The only reason I'm in a go fast now is because I do my own maint at home. What type of maintenance can one get away with in the slip at an upscale marina?
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:38 PM
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Had a Sea Ray 410 Sundancer for a few years, huge fun. Rarely stayed onboard overnight (usually when drunk) because I lived 10 minutes from the Marina. Slow boat, 20-22 knots cruise but in any sea and always comfortable with friends onboard.

Expensive to maintain, even here with cheap labor costs. Aside from the usual maintenance of running a boat, remember she's sitting outside all the time, unless you're lucky enough to have a covered slip. In the sun, gel coat needs polishing regularly, stainless, covers, clears everything needs to maintained. If she's sitting in the water, sterndrives are a bit horrible, keep changing anodes but corrosion is still nasty. Shafts are a lot slower but so easy.

Cruiser life is about entertaining or relaxing in comfort with the family. Get to your destination a bit later and the go fast crowd will likely raft up and enjoy your hospitality. I'd definitely go back to a cruiser if I could get my current missus interested...... 😡

RR

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Old 07-19-2020, 09:05 AM
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Been there, done that.

Grew up on my families cruisers on Lake Erie.
Our vacations were 3 wks cruising the Great Lakes.
For a teenage kid, it was Utopia!

My dad did basic maint and paid the marina to do everything else.
I remember him struggling w/frequent, large, unexpected bills on top of the “expected”, several thousand $$$ annual fees/expenses.

Once an adult, I started buying small (19’ - 22 cuddies) and exploring.
I/we loved it.

If the lake was too rough, we’d sleep in the boat in a bar parking lot, after closing it down😉

I then made the plunge into cruisers.
I bought an old, 28’ aluminum cruiser called a Marinette.
Had twin 318 Chrysler inboards that were bullet proof.
Loved it (have owned 4) and ran the pee out it.
It was an “express”, meaning it had a cabin bellow but, aft deck was all open, w/a hardtop.
It was ugly but I loved it and thought I found the perfect boat.

Until docking beside a 32’ Marinette sedan!
The “sedan” part meant, that aft deck was now enclosed which doubled the enclosed area.
And the flybridge totally changed the joy of running one
Loved it, ran the pee out of it, thought it was the perfect boat.
It was a later model and after Marinette figuring out how to form aluminum and make it look like a glass boat.
(owned three of the 32’ sedans)

Then I docked beside a 37’ Marinette sedan bridge!

Repeat.

Then one weekend I sat on the back deck in the sun w/a beer while calculating what it was costing me to do that.
My dock neighbor who knew what I was doing, told me I’d regret it.
He was right.

Annual Dockage, insurance, storage, winterization, hauling/launching, shrink wrap, maint/repairs combined, etc divided by the number of weekends you can sit on your boat.
Oh and, that doesn’t include gas, weekend dockage at visiting ports, etc.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford it, I just couldn’t rationalize it.

I sold that cruiser and got out.

The issue was knowing what it cost me, made me feel obligated to go every weekend.
Missed all family weekend functions etc.

Spent the next 20 yrs Towing around a 24’ Sonic and loved it. Been all over the US and Canada, Fla Keys etc.
Including the 9 yrs we lived in Fla.

Was small enough to tow easily, fast enough to be fun and big enough for a couple to weekend on.

We then moved backed to Ohio and I got the cruiser itch again.
We bought one for Laker Erie.....,again.

Have stayed at affordable, basic marinas and expensive, nice ones.
This time we went the nice route.
First 2 yrs back into it we loved it.
The boat was 2 hrs from home so I had to pay the marina to do almost everything on it.

The things I could/did do, I did on a weekend while all our friends were partying and or cruising.
So should I be working when/where I was paying good money to be relaxing?

We then bought an older 36’ Mainship aft cabin cruiser.
It was a gorgeous, floating two bedroom cottage.

It had a hard top over the flybridge and aft deck and that was enclosed w/canvas.
Think.......,floating Florida room.
Everyone but me loved it.

I didn’t because as my dad would say, “ that would make a great sail boat for going sideways”.
So if the wind was blowing, we didn’t go out.
Could get out in the wind but coming back might suck.

I was good w/it in/out of dock but my wife/first mate was my only deck hand and she was about 50% for roping a piling at first attempt.
The other 50% of the time I had to back out of the slip, w/o hitting our neighbors boat, try again, and hope she got the dock post this time.
I needed a teenage son/deck hand and didn’t have one.

Then add weather.
Lake Erie is shallow, so totally controlled by the wind.
If the wind was blowing you knew docking would suck, and the lake was rough.
So way more time at dock than proffered.

Then add, entertaining.
Your friends/family show up for a weekend of being entertained.
Maybe help w/expenses, maybe no.

If you take them out for the weekend (paying for fuel, dockage at guest port etc), you return to dock on Sunday, they grab their funk, shake your hand, tell you how much fun they had, and leave.
You then spend the next hr cleaning, unloading, reinstalling canvas (after 3 days of partying), loading the car, Retying dock lines, hooking up water, shore power (‘s), and attempt to see the future to know how to tie your boat so it won’t be destroyed, or get loose and into your neighbors boat in the next wks weather and the changing water level, assuming you’re not on a floating dock.
Then start the 2 hr drive home where you get to unpack the car.

We were on the back deck of the Mainship one stormy fall weekend when a 50 mph gust of wind hit the side/canvas of the boat and pulled the aft cleat out of our dock (I had doubled lines for safety and both were still tied to the dock cleat now hanging from aft cleat of boat) , cutting our boat loose and into the side of our neighbors immaculate 37’ Searay before drifting into the steel bulkhead w/the bow of our boat!

So I wrote a check to fix the neighbors boat, our boat
after being reminded that the marinas accept responsibility for nothing!

Add all of the above together and........, we’re back to a 25’ trailerable cuddy 🤓

Sorry for the book but it really is a complex/painful question/answer for me 😂

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Twin O/B Sonic; 07-19-2020 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 07-19-2020, 03:49 PM
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Wow! Awesome replies. Thanks for taking the time to recap your experiences. This helps a lot.

Some of the negative experiences like battling oxidation, nasty bottoms/drives, damage due to mooring failure, I think can be avoided by using a covered slip, full boat cover and a hydrolift. I have a few friends that used to slip their go-fast boats but they have all sold their boats recently. I think the expense vs reward ratio was to blame mainly since none of them did a lot of maintenance (and there were other factors too).

Another factor I have to deal with is that our lake level can change drastically (like 50+ feet). When it's low, all the public ramps are high and dry. Even the marinas have challenges getting boats in and out. This factor makes slipping a lot more attractive at times.

What I need is a trailerable boat that has twin engs (preferably V-8's), a generator, A/C that's effective, a decent cabin, will fit thru a 12'X12' door and be reasonably easy to work on.. Haven't found that combo yet but I'm still looking. My ultimate goal would be to slip the boat during the summer, and bring it home for the winter and/or heavy maintenance. I'd have to pay for the slip during the winter when I wasn't using it but I could cancel the insurance when it's at home and do my own maint to help offset the expenses a bit. The search continues.




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Old 07-19-2020, 04:20 PM
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[QUOTE=zz28zz;4748946]Wow! Awesome replies. Thanks for taking the time to recap your experiences. This helps a lot.

Some of the negative experiences like battling oxidation, nasty bottoms/drives, damage due to mooring failure, I think can be avoided by using a covered slip, full boat cover and a hydrolift. I have a few friends that used to slip their go-fast boats but they have all sold their boats recently. I think the expense vs reward ratio was to blame mainly since none of them did a lot of maintenance (and there were other factors too).

Another factor I have to deal with is that our lake level can change drastically (like 50+ feet). When it's low, all the public ramps are high and dry. Even the marinas have challenges getting boats in and out. This factor makes slipping a lot more attractive at times.

What I need is a trailerable boat that has twin engs (preferably V-8's), a generator, A/C that's effective, a decent cabin, will fit thru a 12'X12' door and be reasonably easy to work on.. Haven't found that combo yet but I'm still looking. My ultimate goal would be to slip the boat during the summer, and bring it home for the winter and/or heavy maintenance. I'd have to pay for the slip during the winter when I wasn't using it but I could cancel the insurance when it's at home and do my own maint to help offset the expenses a bit. The search continues.[/QUOTE

Last edited by Craney; 07-19-2020 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Wrong post
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Old 07-19-2020, 10:43 PM
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With a cruiser you`re always stuck at the same place , same marina, same people, same drama, etc . I like to travel and see new places . and able to avoid weather .
Seems like with Cruiser people hardly ever go out of the marina , I like to boat not sit in a marina
and go to the pool .

Last edited by ICDEDPPL; 07-19-2020 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 07-20-2020, 01:14 AM
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I'm not really one to just hang out at the marina. We have a 10 year old who would get bored after abt 2 min of that. Don't hang out at the party cove any more either, it's more of a family thing nowadays.

I've opened up my search criteria a bit and found a couple of possible options. Saw a couple of Sea Ray 270's Sundancers (with trailers) not too far away. They apparently didn't come with arches on some years so just might fit into the shop. Twins are an option on this model but they're 4.3L 6-bangers. Not a big fan of 6 cyls but for a slow cruiser, may be OK. Weight is just a little more than my current boat so the truck should be OK with it. Biggest concern is towing with the 9ft beam. May need a permit??

Last edited by zz28zz; 07-20-2020 at 09:15 PM. Reason: Corrected model name.
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Old 07-20-2020, 06:52 AM
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May need a permit??
Depends on your state, I've been to several states around KY and I'm 9.5 beam, cops have paid no attention
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