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Advice for a first time boat owner

Old 06-20-2021, 02:32 PM
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Exclamation Advice for a first time boat owner

I am reaching out because I am finally ready to own a boat but would like to get some advice of do's/don'ts for a first time owner. I have been around water all my childhood but I am now 24 and ready to own my first boat, my budget is $70,000 I currently live in Virginia Beach. I plan on using the boat mainly in freshwater and eventually hit the big ocean after. Here are my questions are:


1. Should I start out with a single engine or should I go twin engine?

2. Would a Donzi/Baja boat as my first boat be too much for my first boat?

3. Should I stay under a certain size of boat or try and get the biggest I can afford?

4. Is it better to start small and work up gradually?


Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-20-2021, 04:24 PM
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It's cool you are systematically approaching this new venture, great questions.

For inland lakes/rivers I would go to the place you are most likely to frequent and see what size of boat is most common. When I first started going to Table Rock lake in Missouri 30 years ago, a 21' boat was more than adequate for the typical activities done...skiing, tubing, kneeboarding, etc.
But over they years, and especially with the proliferation of the God#*@! wakesurfing boats, a smaller boat was getting overwhelmed. I switched over to a Baja 252 Islander and it is far better suited for the conditions. So in this case, size of boat (in feet) and deadrise (24 degrees) was the key to enjoying the lake again.
What are you going to use the boat for most? That is one of the first questions to ask. Cruising? Fishing? Watersports? Some combination of those?
I've helped countless people get into boats over the 45+ years I've been boating, and my advice is always to get as much power as possible. NO ONE ever has said, "Yeah...it's a nice boat but man, it just has too much power!" And engine power is stupid expensive to obtain.
So here is my advice, summarized:
  • start no smaller than 23', bigger is better UP TO A POINT, especially if you are going to trailer the boat
  • consider the tow vehicle you have, a 1/2 ton pickup or Suburban is good for small to mid-size (up to 27') but after that, you need a 3/4 or one ton truck to pull safely
  • deeper deadrise = better ride. My 21' Baja had a 17 degree deadrise, was stupid fast but rode rough as hell.
  • get the most power you can afford...put the bulk of your budget into this. Minimum power should be a 454, better yet if it's a Mag, better yet to go 502 or HP500.
  • go with single power, but dual throttle/shifter setup
  • freshwater boats are generally more desirable
  • look at how the boat is maintained. Look in the bilge, ski locker, cabin if equipped...if messy/dirty/oily...usually a sign of an apathetic owner who isn't maintaining the boat well...and could be hiding a LOT of bad issues.
  • if you find a good boat, consider having it surveyed - you are most looking for 'bad wood', i.e. soft spots in the floor, transom, etc that is simply a "run-don't-walk-away" situation, unless you have the time and patience and budget for a 'project' (that likely will never get finished)
  • finally, the used boat market is...almost non-existent at the moment...VERY hard to find much of anything.
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Old 06-20-2021, 04:43 PM
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I advice would be to buy a smaller $10,000 boat and learn all the lessons/experience on a cheaper, easier boat. After a season or two, sell that boat and add the sales price to the $60,000 you have left over and by the best boat you can get.
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:23 PM
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Where are you boating around VaBeach that's fresh water? Are you planning on towing inland?

Donzi and Baja are both good brands to start with. I think most on here would give the nod to Donzi.

Your call on single or doubles. I will tell you though that you will have some rough and unpleasant boating days in a 24 in the Chesapeake Bay. Where the Mouth of the Bay meets the ocean gets snotty.

You will be used to a 24 VERY fast. If youre most comfortable in an easing-in approach go for it, but if your committed to this style of boat I think I'd start a little bigger...... That's just me.
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:25 PM
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Soak up all the advice members here offer, there’s a lot of experience on OSO. Here’s a few ideas (just my opinion) to get started.

Single engine, up to 496ho is easiest to maintain. Beyond that means Mercury racing engine which need a little more love to keep them happy.

Recognized brand name boat, certainly Donzi/Baja fit that criteria.

If you’re going to tow, check towing weights carefully with your vehicle manufacturer and stay within limits. If you go to a twin engine boat, the weight jumps up considerably.

Bigger boats aren’t significantly harder to drive but they’re harder to tow, more work around the ramp, more work cleaning afterwards.and more expensive. Faster boats are harder to drive, more to go wrong at 70mph than 50mph.

When you’re learning, turn your stereo off, don’t drink and better off with one friend on board, not 3-4. Less distraction, less to worry about and less tendency to wanna to push the boat hard.

Look around your boating area and watch others, learn from their mistakes, it might save you making too many of your own. 🙂

Welcome to OSO!

RR
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:50 PM
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JD
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by F-2 Speedy View Post
JD
Darr?
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:59 PM
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Isn’t there a statute of limitations on him? How long can the legacy last?
🙂🙂
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Old 06-20-2021, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by F-2 Speedy View Post
JD
Originally Posted by dykstra View Post
Darr?
Maybe, but VABeach is a weird reference point. Pretty obscure.......
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Old 06-20-2021, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jjstoak View Post
I am reaching out because I am finally ready to own a boat but would like to get some advice of do's/don'ts for a first time owner. I have been around water all my childhood but I am now 24 and ready to own my first boat, my budget is $70,000 I currently live in Virginia Beach. I plan on using the boat mainly in freshwater and eventually hit the big ocean after. Here are my questions are:


1. Should I start out with a single engine or should I go twin engine?

2. Would a Donzi/Baja boat as my first boat be too much for my first boat?

3. Should I stay under a certain size of boat or try and get the biggest I can afford?

4. Is it better to start small and work up gradually?


Thanks in advance!
don't do it
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