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Thread: Jet or Prop for saltwater, advice welcome

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    Member Boreal's Avatar
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    Default Jet or Prop for saltwater, advice welcome

    Howdy all,
    I just got my wife to admit that maybe a boat wasn't out of the question, even if she still thinks it's a bad idea. So my question is this:

    I'm thinking about a boat primarily for saltwater use in Res Bay & PWS, with maybe some action dipnetting in the Kenai. There are three of us, and I"m looking in the 20-22' range. Something with a hard top or full canvas cover. A cuddy cabin would be nice, but will probably have to wait until I upgrade. There are lots of options in the 22-24' range, with a hard or canvas cabin, including outboard and inboards. Given planned use and cost/maintenance considerations, is a boat with an inboard jetdrive worth considering vs. an outboard (or twin) prop setup? What are the advantages of a jetdrive in the saltwater?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boreal View Post
    Howdy all,
    I just got my wife to admit that maybe a boat wasn't out of the question, even if she still thinks it's a bad idea. So my question is this:

    I'm thinking about a boat primarily for saltwater use in Res Bay & PWS, with maybe some action dipnetting in the Kenai. There are three of us, and I"m looking in the 20-22' range. Something with a hard top or full canvas cover. A cuddy cabin would be nice, but will probably have to wait until I upgrade. There are lots of options in the 22-24' range, with a hard or canvas cabin, including outboard and inboards. Given planned use and cost/maintenance considerations, is a boat with an inboard jetdrive worth considering vs. an outboard (or twin) prop setup? What are the advantages of a jetdrive in the saltwater?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Honestly, if given a choice, I can't think of any reason to run a jet in the salt.

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boreal View Post
    Howdy all,
    I just got my wife to admit that maybe a boat wasn't out of the question, even if she still thinks it's a bad idea. So my question is this:

    I'm thinking about a boat primarily for saltwater use in Res Bay & PWS, with maybe some action dipnetting in the Kenai. There are three of us, and I"m looking in the 20-22' range. Something with a hard top or full canvas cover. A cuddy cabin would be nice, but will probably have to wait until I upgrade. There are lots of options in the 22-24' range, with a hard or canvas cabin, including outboard and inboards. Given planned use and cost/maintenance considerations, is a boat with an inboard jetdrive worth considering vs. an outboard (or twin) prop setup? What are the advantages of a jetdrive in the saltwater?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    The two major downfalls to a Jet in the Salt is Cavitation in Chop and Sucking up some kelp. I've seen several boats out at Pony Cove out of Seward and when the chop picked up, on their way back, their performance in the Chop was marginal at best as they were continually throwing out a roostertail with out benifit to say the least. One guy while not paying attention went through some kelp and floating debris and was dead in the water. He had a stomp grate but it wasn't enough. He got back on a kicker. I offered a tow, but he was too proud. And if you ever got in following seas with a Jet, I'm pretty sure it would become a very religious experience. Following Seas can scare you to death, its bad enough with a prop.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    There have been several discussions over the years in the powerboat forum regarding do it all boats, and the general consensus is you have to compromise one way or another, and many do it all configurations don't do anything paticularly well.

    If you can in any way swing a 220 or 240 hewes with a cabin, it will make your boating experience 10 times more than what you can reach and comfortably boat in with a 20' skiff. It's amazing how seamingly not much more boat can turn a miserable day into no big deal. Not to mention a boat that will require you sleeping on shore vs. sleeping on the boat. If you're planning to upgrade right away, it means you are looking at the wrong boat for your use. Get the boat that will make your trips, and especially trips with the wife pleasant. I coulda gone with an open skiff and had it on the water much sooner and cheaper, but I seriously doubt I'd be in my 5th season of boating, and gotten a picture like this



    No reason for a jet, go prop o/b.

    If you want a boat for PWS and Resserection bay, by all means get one, and take the time to find the right one and spend the $ for an appropriate one. I still dipnet from shore on the Kenai, not worth the hassle of dealing the ramp and playing bumper boats.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

  5. #5

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    If you have the choice get a prop!!! I have a 20 ft hewescraft with a jet and it is an awesome multiple purpose boat but it is anything but efficeint in the salt. I burn way more gas than I need to and I do cavitate quite a bit coming back into the bay. I love that motor for the rivers and so it's what im stuck with if I want to get into the salt but if you are buying a boat specifically for the ocean and or lake go with the prop. Just my opinion.

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    Definately stay away from a jet, nothing but trouble in the salt and zero benefit. They are made for running shallow rivers. On top of the propulsion aspect, they are almost exclusively fitted to flat bottom boats that pound the crap out of you in chop.

    There are a ton of 22-24' older fiberglass boats on the market right now that are perfect for Seward/Homer/Whittier. Priced all the way from about $7500 up. My "dream" boat is a 80's or 90's vintage Bayliner Trophy or Cierra with a full cabin and a big outboard. THey are much more common with an I/O which is also acceptable to me. They can be had for $15,000-$25000 depending on age and condition. Your wife will be MUCH happier with a boat like that with a big warm cabin, bed, stove, heater, etc. Chances are much better she'll let you keep that than an open 20' boat that she gets drenched in every time it rains and you have to make the 20 mile run back to Seward!

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    I concur. If it's going to be primarily a saltwater boat, get a prop for sure. They are way more efficient, if nothing else.

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    There are a couple nice Hewescraft Pacific Cruisers for sale on craigslist in the 22ft range. Also, like limon32 mentioned there are some nice trophys that can be had right now for pretty cheap and a few seasports or ospreys around. As everyone else said, I'd go with outboards or I/Os for the salt and stay away from a jet. There's no need for a jet in the salt unless you plan to run rivers or are commercial fishing in the shallows.

    It may be more boat than you want but you're welcome to come check mine out and we can talk boats. A few years ago I was in the same spot you are. Bought a 22 Ocean Pro and immediately realized we needed a cuddy. Less than 10 months later I bumped up to my current boat. Luckily I sold the old one for more than I paid for it. Our boat is perfect for what we're doing now.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Ok, he's my nickles worth... This is my 41st year boating in AK... If your primary interest is playing in the saltwater, forget the jet... I'll stay out of the inboard/outdrive vs outboard discussion... whatever style, make of boat you get, get a hard top, with the Alaskan bulkhead (enclosed cabin).. You'll want to consider some form of safe cabin heat... I can guarantee you an enclosed cabin, cabin heat, private head will keep the woman in your life much happier.... and every fool knows if the woman in your life is happy, your life is going to be a whole lot easier...!!! The woman aside, you want an enclosed cabin so you can lock up all your valuables, tackle, electronics, etc.... because even though this is (still) the land of the free and home of the brave we got a lot of sticky fingered worthless people running around out there... and you don't want to have to haul all your gear, tackle, and electronics up to the car/truck and lock them up every night.... (if your staying in port)....
    so, what ever you do, get out there and have some fun...!!!

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    Member Lake creek fishermen's Avatar
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    And props are much faster..
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    God, following seas in a jetboat will make you want to quit boating I swear! I had an unpleasant run back in Valdez my first time out. It was rough, slow and very scary.. I would rather do a prop any day for that kind of ride. The cavitation was horrible..

  12. #12

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    BTDT with jets in saltwater. Sucked a plastic herring bag into the jet. Nasty. Sucked a weather balloon into the jet. Nasty. Sucked kelp into the jet. Nasty. Following seas. Nasty. Cross chop. Nasty. Flat bottom boat and jets in rough chop. Double nasty.

    Is the picture coming clear yet?

  13. #13

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    Boreal,

    You could use a jet, but after reading all of this, most of which is completely true, unless you have a very compelling reason, it would be very foolish if you actually have the choice. I am surprised that fullbush hasn't commented on his experiences with his hamilton jet boat and talked about his near death experiences commercial fishing the Copper. But, he has to because of where he fishes. You are still shopping and have no reason to take chances like he does....I would suggest a 20-30 something foot closed bow boat for the salt.

    Paul, I am with you. The wife and the kids will not be happy in a 20 foot skiff, an inflatable, or many of the boats without the cuddy, stove, heat, potti, and some privacy. Even my wife is unhappy that I actually chose the CD 22 over the SS 2700 Pilot we were looking at. In retrospect, I probably should have bought the SS to keep the wife happy, but I am perfectly happy with the CD 22 as I can affort to go just about all the time thanks to its fuel economy.

    Buying a boat is a tough PROPosition....LOL....as everyone wants everything in one package. Unfortunately, there really isn't one boat that does everything well.

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    I have a inboard jet boat which I run in PWS sometimes, this hull design, a FishRite Explorer, was designed for use in bays and coastal waters as well as river boating etc., it is as close to "the all around boat" as I can figure and is why I chose to buy it, with that in mind my I never intended for it to be a "primary salt water boat" nor should anyone consider it as such. When I go out of Whittier I pay VERY close attention to the weather forecast prior to launching, the current weather and monitor the forecast by VHF while on the water, also I have significant experience on Alaskas salt water in PWS, Cook inlet and Bristol Bay which lends to good decision making.

    I did experience the near limit (as far as I am concerned) with wind and water one outing last season and chose to pull into a cove and sit on anchor until the next morning, one wave over the bow made my wife VERY uncomfortable and I could see more in the future if had decided to continue on. Controlling a jet boat in those conditions is very demanding and takes a solid understanding of how a jet drive responds, particularly at low speed; they are slow to respond and require much greater attention at the throttle and steering when compared to a propeller drive system.

    If your intention is to ply the salt water regularly then the only choice should be which propeller driven boat/hull best suits your desires.

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    If it's only for salt there is an easy answer


    That's my jet intake at the Valdez harbor. It works great as a dual purpose boat though if you plan to do much in the rivers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    If it's only for salt there is an easy answer


    That's my jet intake at the Valdez harbor. It works great as a dual purpose boat though if you plan to do much in the rivers.
    That is why I had a stomp grate installed ASAP, the first two trips in PWS resulted in kelp ingestion but I shut down immediatly and drifted the great majority of it off of the intake grate- not something to count on everytime but it prevented a performance issue for me. Certainly no shortage of floating kelp out there.

  17. #17

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    It seems like a jet in the salt would have some very nice qualities, like when beaching the boat to unload gear, etc. I'm always worried about my outboard doing that.

    Plus, from what I've been told, the jet units are fairly basic units compared to an outboard or I/O.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruger01 View Post
    It seems like a jet in the salt would have some very nice qualities, like when beaching the boat to unload gear, etc. I'm always worried about my outboard doing that.

    Plus, from what I've been told, the jet units are fairly basic units compared to an outboard or I/O.
    Jet units are very basic, however getting something out of one while the boat is in the water can be nearly impossible, depending on the unit. The benefits are FAR outweighed by the problems in this comparison.

    For example, while running the Snake River at high water, lots of woody debris and plants end up in the water. We had a piece of wood that was approximately an inch long and about 3/8" diameter get sucked in an American Turbine pump with a 351 engine and that tiny piece of wood interupted the flow enough to keep the boat from getting on step (21' weldcraft). It is extremely common problem, not so bad if you have a cleanout that is accessable but many boats do not. Another problem i've witnessed was poly rope getting sucked into a pump, completely melted the rope to the inside of the pump. Neede to be completely disassembled and put back together. Not easy to do from say Knight Island...

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