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Thread: New to Alaska - Boat recommendations?

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    Default New to Alaska - Boat recommendations?

    I just moved to Alaska from Houston and new to this type of environment. I was hoping that some experienced Alaskans could help me out with a boat recommendation. With the research I've done it seems a little overwhelming with the choices available.

    What I've come up with so far:
    Ocean Boat - Would really like to have one but it seems there aren't many harbors around close to Anchorage and with my small Toyota Tacoma I don't believe putting in and pulling out will be an option. This idea seems a no-go.

    River Boat - So many options hear it seems. I would like to fish from it as well as be able to hunt. The jet boat idea seems interesting to me for the ability to go up river and back down.

    It seems like there are a few different tiers here for river power boats.
    Jet Ranger style
    Jon Boat style
    SJX style

    If you were going to recommend a boat to a newcomer that has a small toyota tacoma that likes to fish and hunt what would you recommend?

    Or would an inflatable float raft be better?

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    My personal preference is an 18 to 20 ft SeaArk with an 80 (115HP) Yamaha jet.. Of course this would not be legal for the Kenai river
    you can always buy 1 or 2 charters every summer for some fantastic salt water fishing.. But... if your going to stay around awhile what you'll more than likely end up doing is selling the toyota, buy a real truck of at least 3/4T with a V8, then you'll acquire a boat for the salt water, a boat for the Kenai, a jet boat for other rivers, and then you'll have to get a couple ATV's, and a snow machine or two... and then you'll be ready to play...

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    Member AK6Pack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    My personal preference is an 18 to 20 ft SeaArk with an 80 (115HP) Yamaha jet.. Of course this would not be legal for the Kenai river
    you can always buy 1 or 2 charters every summer for some fantastic salt water fishing.. But... if your going to stay around awhile what you'll more than likely end up doing is selling the toyota, buy a real truck of at least 3/4T with a V8, then you'll acquire a boat for the salt water, a boat for the Kenai, a jet boat for other rivers, and then you'll have to get a couple ATV's, and a snow machine or two... and then you'll be ready to play...

    By then you will be working so much to pay for all your toys you won't have time to use them....
    SeaArk is a nice boat but for the really shallow rivers, IMO, you will want to go with the Phantom/SJX or Xtreme Shallow.....Or just get an airboat!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    My personal preference is an 18 to 20 ft SeaArk with an 80 (115HP) Yamaha jet.. Of course this would not be legal for the Kenai river
    you can always buy 1 or 2 charters every summer for some fantastic salt water fishing.. But... if your going to stay around awhile what you'll more than likely end up doing is selling the toyota, buy a real truck of at least 3/4T with a V8, then you'll acquire a boat for the salt water, a boat for the Kenai, a jet boat for other rivers, and then you'll have to get a couple ATV's, and a snow machine or two... and then you'll be ready to play...
    Any specific SeaArk better than the other?

    Good idea on the charter and it doesn't look to be too expensive either.

    Ha! I think I need a better paying job to afford that and still have the the time to be able to use all of it

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    I have a jetboat for sale in the classifieds here, its a hewescraft riverrunner http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ft-Riverrunner.

    Kinda the best of both worlds as you can run the rivers and still put it out in the salt. The other side of the coin is if you are just going to run the rivers the sportjon/ predator/ sjx group cant be beat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    I have a jetboat for sale in the classifieds here, its a hewescraft riverrunner http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ft-Riverrunner.

    Kinda the best of both worlds as you can run the rivers and still put it out in the salt. The other side of the coin is if you are just going to run the rivers the sportjon/ predator/ sjx group cant be beat.
    Nice boat! I think I'm looking for something that can run the shallows as well as venture out on the Kenai River though. However, I'm completely unsure as 90% of my fishing experience is bass and catfish in the pretty tame lakes and rivers down south.

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    I'll tell you what I was told 31 years ago when I moved here...use your first year to take all types of charters, ocean , river...all types... I think you'll find like I did that you will lean more in one direction... I ended up enjoying the ocean environment the most, so at the moment I run a rigid hull inflatable...pulled quite well by my Toyota Tacoma. I also have 3 different canoes, a river raft and an ocean kayak. Good luck...the journey is fun but work truly gets in the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ulflyfish View Post
    I'll tell you what I was told 31 years ago when I moved here...use your first year to take all types of charters, ocean , river...all types... I think you'll find like I did that you will lean more in one direction... I ended up enjoying the ocean environment the most, so at the moment I run a rigid hull inflatable...pulled quite well by my Toyota Tacoma. I also have 3 different canoes, a river raft and an ocean kayak. Good luck...the journey is fun but work truly gets in the way.
    Think I may have to go this route and charter. As I continue to look I keep getting confused on what I want to do.

    I really like the idea of the Jet Ranger with its extreme portability and shallow water capabilities but not sure what its limitations would be.

    What rigid hull inflatable did you go with?

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    The Riverboat Spring Gathering should be coming soon (May, June?). I made the first one and it really opened my mind to the various types of river boats. The people are some of the nicest I've ever met. Full of information and willing to share. Nothing like being able to ride in a boat, several boats!, and get a feel for what you like and don't like. Very nice to be able to talk with people with lots of real world experience.

    Edit: We're moving to Houston...Alaska!

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    Duncan...lots of good advice here, especially about taking charters or making new friends with folks that have boats. You not only have to know what boat and environments will suit you best, you will have to learn and know HOW TO RUN THAT BOAT SAFELY, maintain it, etc. etc. When you take a charter, you not only get to have the experience with only being responsible for your personal conduct, you will learn a LOT about boating in that environment, whether river, ocean, lake etc. and about running that kind of boat, maybe even maintaining it, towing it, fitting it out etc. etc. That was great advice from ulflyfish, and notice that he got that himself 31 years ago and never forgot it!

    There have been a lot of threads on inflatables, you can do a search on many topics, try one on rigid inflatable and pick through a few hundred, you will be amazed.

    Yep, just the boat topic alone is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant, I hope you enjoy learning because Alaska has a lot to teach you! enjoy it

  11. #11

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    Bud of mine made the mistake of taking a pencil to his 26' twin-outboard ocean boat. Looked at operating costs, depreciation, maintenance, harbor fees, the works. The annual cost of the boat worked out to be the same as taking his family of four on 6 charters. He wasn't even making six trips a year in his own boat, and there's no way he'd make six charters a year. Hung the For Sale sign the next day, and he's never been happier.

    Good advice here on the charters and friend trips. Get your feet under you. But when buying I'd sure start with something you could use close to home and often to get your operating feet under you. You'll still use that "home" boat a lot, even if you graduate to something bigger for waters you can't drive to so often, but the big water and long run river boats are kind of "graduate school" for Alaska boating. No problem with time and experience, but bring lots of money.

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    All good advice here. Keep it small and flexible until you figure out what you like best, and there may be several "bests." I spent the first 5 years up here boating different places, rivers, ocean, etc. and flying around the state for rafting trips before I got my first real ocean boat. Once you have a big investment in something, like a boat in a slip, a cabin or an airplane, that's what you wind up doing and those other "bests" get pushed out. I loved those fly-in trips and used to do one every year but now it seems it's every 5 years. Have fun exploring this great state and deciding what works for you. There's too much to do and see here when the sun is shining, but that's OK. It's like going on a cruise, the first one you pig out on all the free food, the second time you figure it out and relax.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Bud of mine made the mistake of taking a pencil to his 26' twin-outboard ocean boat. Looked at operating costs, depreciation, maintenance, harbor fees, the works. The annual cost of the boat worked out to be the same as taking his family of four on 6 charters. He wasn't even making six trips a year in his own boat, and there's no way he'd make six charters a year. Hung the For Sale sign the next day, and he's never been happier.

    Good advice here on the charters and friend trips. Get your feet under you. But when buying I'd sure start with something you could use close to home and often to get your operating feet under you. You'll still use that "home" boat a lot, even if you graduate to something bigger for waters you can't drive to so often, but the big water and long run river boats are kind of "graduate school" for Alaska boating. No problem with time and experience, but bring lots of money.
    If a boat isn't making money, it's costing money... pure and simple..

  14. #14

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    Having had three boats in Alaska in the last 13 years I'd say a lot depends on where you live. When we lived in Dutch having a boat was about as easy as it gets and the cost was definately less than boating from Anchorage. I could get off work at 5 and be on the water by 5:30. No tunnel fee, no ramp fee, no parking fee and no long tows. We also never had to listen to anyone yelling at anyone at the ramp..... Since moving to Anchorage boating became a lot more complicated. The last summer I had my boat (2012) I had my boat in the water 17 times and most of those were 2-3 day trips. Even with that many trips the cost per trip was still way more than chartering. But I could go where I went when I wanted and with who I wanted. The problem with boating here is that it's a fairly short season. Even with bear hunting in the early spring and duck/deer hunting in the fall it's still a short season. In Dutch we never put our boat up for the season. We fished, crabbed and hunted all year round. Can't really do that here unless you have a slip. At any rate, there are LOTS of adventures out there. Enjoy!!!
    Ruby at the end of a good day.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    One boat for Alaska??? I don't think there is such a thing. That said, my Wooldridge Alaskan II is a decent balance. Mine is setup up with a jet and prop, camper top, I have pulled it from Fairbanks to Valdez several times with my Toyota 4Runner.

    I had serious trouble in the salt keeping floating trash from fouling the jet, almost sunk because of it, so I now only run a prop in the salt.

    Lots of good advice so far,, good luck.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Fantastic photos Mr Stid... Thank you for sharing...

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    Have you been up here before? If so, you will have an idea what you like and can start there. Other wise, you are kinda shooting in the dark as to what the boating world is like up here.

    Do you want to…. hunt, fish for trout or salmon, explore, go fast, get away from every body, go slow, use human power vs gas, spend only a certain amount, take several days or weeks on the water?? When I think back on my first few years, I did most of my boating with paddles and oars. Now I have boats that burn a bunch of gas, and I don't use the quiet, cheep stuff so much any more.

    Basically you fit the boats to the intended activities and destinations. Usually river fishing, hunting, ocean, lake/small river exploring and fishing, adventure rafting/kayaking.

    Start with a canoe or drift boat.

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    Wow, A ton of good info! Thanks everyone for the great advice. I'm going to hold off for a bit on buying a boat at least until I understand exactly what I'm going to enjoy the most. Looks like I'll probably rent/charter a few boats this spring/summer to facilitate my knowledge a little better. Might even see if I can convince someone at work to buy a boat first! Ha!

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    Even though your taco limits what you can tow, you don't have to forgoe ocean fishing if that's what you really want to do. I came up with a 6400# tow rating for the taco and being conservative would de-rate it to 80% or 5000#. A Hewes ocean pro 220 rigged with an outboard will be about 3500#, add 1000# for the trailer and 500# for fuel and gear and you're good to go. It's enough boat to handle reasonable ocean conditions comfortably and safely and with a pilot house you get in out of the weather which makes for a reasonably comfortable boating season. Enough fishing deck to fish 4 people, and you should be able to sleep two for a weekend. The only thing a boat this size won't do is be suitable for a week long live aboard. But I'd venture to say it'll nicely handle 90% of the trips you'd want to take.

    Whatever you end up choosing you'll tailer your uses around the boat you get. There's a lifetime of fishing, hunting and exploring to be had on the rivers or on the salt, so no real bad choice.
    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.

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    Stid2677. Thanks for your posting. I almost pointed the OP in your direction...you're an inspiration of getting Max. use out of what boat you have. {I still wonder how many people sink their boat and drown trying to get the level of experience you have in doing it safely.} I missed the story of your jet clogging up.

    We towed our 4000#+ 19' trailer for several years with our 99 Tacoma, V6, TRD. The service shop messed up our brakes on the trailer & we ended up making a trip without trailer brakes, scared me enough I won't tow the trailer with that rig any more, but the truck is up to it...barely.

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