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Thread: Wooldridge 17.5 is it the right boat for the job?

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    Member Rope's Avatar
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    Default Wooldridge 17.5 is it the right boat for the job?

    I have been looking at a Wooldridge Alaskan 17.5 with 90hp OBjet. I want a boat with windshield, canopy and heat. We are a family of 5, the 3 kids are 5, 2.5 and 9 mo. Uses will be fishing and hunting, I would like to do some over night trips with the family, just not sure if that will be any time soon. I am guessing about 10-15 outings per year. I am not sure that Alaskan 17.5 will big enough, or carry enough weight. I don't want to buy one and find out I should have bought a different model. Any insight would be awsome.

    Thank you.

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    Without knowing the Alaskan, I have to ask about its "longevity" with your growing family. If weight capacity is a question now, what will it be like in 10 years? We have a 20' Hewes Open Fisherman, and with five adults dayfishing I can really feel the difference in handling. Add on a bunch of gear and food for overnights, and I wouldn't like it one bit.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    I agree with Brownbear, your family is going to grow. 17.5 is a small boat. Your kids are at the age that there not going to sit still and that can get rough in a small area. Imagin sitting with the kids for a few hours in the kitchen. I run a 21' inboard and we havent done any overnight, sleep on the boat trips since the kids turned 12. Ran out of elbow room. With that said, the Wooldridge is a solid boat. You don't get heat with the O/B but you can use a mister buddy, just watch out for condensation.
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    Member Yukoner's Avatar
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    While a great little boat, the 17.5 Ak is not what you want. No heat for one thing. Great boat for 2-3 fisherman, but thats about it. The newer, wider ones will pack more weight, but not family hunting boats.
    For your needs, a 20' Alaskan II would be more appropriate, with at least a 150 OB on it. Kind of the F-250 with a 351 of the boat world.
    If you want heat, you will need an inboard. There are some reasonable older Wooldridge Classic IBs for sale on CL. You might need to do some clean up on some of them, but good servicable boats.
    Don't be turned off of older inboard jets, all jet boats get poor mileage, even OB jets, and an IB will allow you to carry much more weight. Cheaper to work on as well.
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    I learned a bunch with my old 90 horse wooldridge 17.5. They are a solid boat and hard to beat for a 2-3 guy fishing platform. I put in a stainless impeller and saw a noticeable improvement in ability to step a load. That said it was pretty slow with upper 20's about all she would run. Even with the SS impeller it wasn't going to step and run with a moose and 2 guys plus all the fuel and gear I would need. It would have possibly been a little more capable in that department with a 115, the 90 pretty much runs close to wide-open all the time.

    It is not a boat that you are really going to sleep on, especially not with a family of 5. I also have a family of 5 and it just wasn't big enough for family overnight trips. It would make a great moose hunting boat if you had a support vessel to haul gas and meat. The 17.5 is pretty forgiving when your channel runs out of water. I sold mine and my next boat will probably be a new 21-23' xtra-plus with a 350 and an espar heater.

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    Member Rope's Avatar
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    Thank you for the replies. I should have explained a little better. Fishing will be all 5, hunting will be 2 adults and hopefully a moose. For overnight trips, we were not planning on staying onboard, but camp on shore. I was hoping it could haul a little weight and maybe be a little faster. The Alaskan II with 150 any idea what speed to expect and weight hauling? I want a heat option for the wife and kids. Is the condensation issue while underway or during sleep? Thanks in advance.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rope View Post
    Is the condensation issue while underway or during sleep? Thanks in advance.
    Both. It will fog up the window pretty good but I have heard of people using Joy soap on the glass and it keeps the fog away. The point is that propane puts out a wet heat. Lots of moisture in it.
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    Full disclosure: I don't own a boat and have next to no experience; however, I do track almost all these boat threads.

    You can have a diesel heater installed on some of the Wooldridge (and other) boats. They seem to put out a nice dry heat and vent to the outside of the boat. I've seen a couple of instals in person that were very nice and some of the folks on this site have posted pics of theirs. There was a Wooldrige for sale on AK Craigslist...some time in the "near" past...that had one set up, looked like PVC pipe to move the heat where he wanted. I can't find it now, but it was an idea for a low cost setup.

    Good luck. Let us know what you find for YOUR perfect boat.

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    I have the 24' AK II and a 200 merc OB (prop) and I love, LOVE the available, extra power...but usually don't use it. Under almost any load, I can pull back the throttle and sip the fuel (relatively). I ran a heavy load with our family of five (w/ teenagers) on the yukon last year and we were able to run 25 about mph (water speedand a lot of gear/supplies) at 9-10 gph. Plus, there is always more power to get on step quickly, outrun a wake, or just zip around when the water is flat. With a light load of a few guys and day tripping, I can do just about 30mph at 6-7 gph.

    You may not need 200hp, but don't underpower. You'll always regret that.
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    I ran a 17.5 for a few years. Loved it. Wooldridge "upgraded" the AK with more free board and made it a bit wider. Some AK's have a straight transom and the lower/smaller boats have and angled transom at the ends. The newer boat will take a 130 (I think) and the older a 115.

    I overloaded my little 115 constantly, but it got on step. I just did it with good easy water. I figured about 1400 pounds of gas, mammals and gear. That did not include the motors. It is REALLY wobbly and more than two people on the boat makes it a dance to move around. I had four or five people in the boat, but everybody just sat there until we were where were going to be. No fishing.

    DON'T EVER UNDER POWER A JET BOAT, go with a 115 (or 130)

    It was an AWESOME hunting rig and I brought home three separate moose with it out of the Susitna, plus dipnetting the Copper and Kenai. I miss the boat for what it did, but alas, it proved too little for what I really wanted. A Yukon boat. I am an inboard guy now. You probably will be much happier with a 20' boat and a bigger motor. The AK II, or any of the sport jon thingys will do well. Let me know if you do get the 17.5, I would love to take another spin in one and help you with the learning curve.

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    Here is a good family/hunting boat on CL. http://anchorage.craigslist.org/boa/3912962300.html

    The 460 will not "SIP" fuel but you will always get everybody there with all the gear you could ever want.

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    Member Rope's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the responses.

    Daved, thank you for the offer, weither I get the 17.5 or not, if it works out and the offer stands, anything you like to teach, I like to learn this type of boat and water.

    I am looking for a good quality boat that is well suited for the interior. I think that most of the trips will be day trips, 5 or so fishing trips, 5 or so hunting trips. Any overnights will be camping on the shore.

    Sounds like the Alankan II or inboard jet will suit a little better.

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    Member Sobie2's Avatar
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    Rope,

    I too have a family of 5 (wife, me, almost 2, 4, and almost 7). I have 4 boats. One of which is a SeaArk 1860 jet tunnel with a Honda 90/65. It is not a family boat in size or power or amenities. My 22' center console landing craft is a family boat, my 23' fiberglass isn't (v-berth, heating, but only seating for 3 really), and the big family boat a 31' Uniflite.

    The 17.5' WB is a sportsman's toy, but it will not due family stuff well... plus those kids are small now. Soon they will be big, and want to bring friends. LuJon has it right.

    I would recommend a boat witha sportjet (WB, Phantom Herc/SportJon, SeaArk Predator).

    Sobie2

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