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Thread: New to boats

  1. #1
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    Red face New to boats

    Hey guys I pretty much don't know squat about boating up here and seeking some info. I am just wanting to stick to rivers and lakes not just for fishing but exploring as well. That being said, any advice on the type of boat (flats vs. semi-vs), size, and the most versatile outboards (2 vs 4) to use across the State(road system). I personally don't know many people who own boats and I know everyone has opinions. I have searched various boards but I think those who live and play here would have the best advice. I am currently looking around at various aluminum boats on the for sale boards for a "beginner boat."

  2. #2
    Member Yukoner's Avatar
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    As a "been there done that" guy, buy a bigger boat than you think you'll need. Everyone seems to start with a 17' or so and then always upgrade.
    2nd, spend more now than you think you should, because it will be cheaper in the long run. Sounds uneconomic, but if you take to boating at all, you will always upgrade.
    3rd, listen to all advice you get on the forum. It's all good. If folks here say "don't buy it", don't, because chances are they have been down that road. Even if you think that the boat you are looking at will "probably" do what you want, it probably won't.
    if I was in your shoes, I would look for a Wooldridge Extra Plus or a Sport as an "all-rounder". There is no such thing as an all-rounder, but at least these two models do well in rivers and are safe in lakes. John boat style boats, well, pick calm days on lakes. Your family will thank you.
    Deeper V lake boats, well, you can make them work on rivers, but you will end up frustrated at the places you can't go.
    There are lots of great boats out there, but you'll see lots of Wooldridge boats out there for good reason. I have seen several Extra Plus models out there on CL and AK List. Even if they have an older 2s outboard, those engines can still be very good. Not quite the same mileage, but you have to burn a lot of gas to make the difference in price pay off. And don't be scared off from inboard jet boats. They can get as good or better fuel burn than outboard jets, and are much cheaper to work on.
    Freighter canoes have a cult following, and can be a good option as long as you are willing to go a bit slower, and be "out there" in the elements.
    My $.02 on an early Monday morning.
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  3. #3
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    Your budget will dictate, as will your wife and family. But, when I was in DLG I had (have actually) an older 18 ft lund (they had a flat area at the transom.....not the ssv) with a 60/40 Yamaha jet-4 stroke. While this is a spartan rig, it hauls a metric ton of stuff, cruises at 26 mph and burns 4 gal an hour tops. It jets well in all but the skinniest stuff that requires sliding.......and you can get into such a rig for not that much. I used this boat going up the nushagak across the bay, as well as the rivers and large lakes north of town and it was about the best compromise of freight, speed, skinny water, and not losing your teeth in a chop.

    A buddy had the same motor on a 17 ft roughneck and that was also an excellent rig.

    Just one option, dozens of others........

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    Thanks for the info so far. My budget is $10k. I've seen a few boats on both online markets. Yukoner I've been thinking about buying one with room to grow and I think that's a good idea. I really don't want to buy twice. My kids are still young so luckily they don't take up a lot of room.

  5. #5
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    The one thing that sucks about buying your first boat is you won't know how you will use the boat until you have it, and then to a degree your use is based on what the boat you get is capable of.

    A couple thoughts on used boats. Those that are in pristine condition cost a bit more than a so/so boat, but almost always are a better deal in the long run when you factor in unexpected repairs, upgrades and spares. Also the boats who were owned by someone who was meticulous are less likely to break down on you in the boonies. It's well worth paying to have a professional due a survey, or have a friend who's not emotionally attached to buying a boat look it over and point out flaws that you might gloss over in your zeal to buy your first boat.

    Don't forget to factor in operating costs and safety equipment in your budget. The Break Out Another Thousand thing is no joke. Trailers can also bite you, you will be replacing lights, bearings and possible springs sooner or later.

    As far as inboards or outboards, there are pros and cons. The 4 stroke outboards are fairly low maintenance, but also fairly expensive for their hp. The inboards can be fairly inexpensive in relation to their power, but are heavy and can suck some serious fuel. As far as flat bottom vs. semi-V it comes down to whether or not you want to run the shallowest rivers, or you will be spending more time on lakes and deeper rivers. Many of our lakes with a bit of wind blow chop are better suited for ocean going boats than not.

    While your kids are small now, they grow quickly!



    My 23' boat seemed plenty large when I was building it and my oldest boy was 7 y/o, now he's 17. If you think its expensive to fuel a boat, try fueling a pair of teenage boys!
    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.

  6. #6
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    Lakes and rivers...

    First off there are two types of rivers boats in the Anchorage area. A kenai boat and then everything else. Most all of the rivers around here are navigated very well using a jet and can be marginal with a prop. The Kenai river does just fine with a prop, but you are limited to 50hp so you don't see many jets. A kenai boat can be most anything that will push up river with the HP restriction. A jet boat hull is a little more specialized. For your $10k limit, you will be looking at a barebones jon boat with an older 2 stroke motor (that you can't take on the Kenai). There are a bunch of them around, and they are quite versatile and economical, just not comfortable. An 18ft jon boat with a jet will take you on any river around Anchorage. For a little more money, you might get something with a windshield, more of a hull and a bigger motor. Say 15k. If you are really good at fixing motors, then you might find a really good deal, but the fixer uppers rarely save you money.

    There are not too many lakes to use a motor boat, big lake being the exception. You would be better off getting a river boat you want and using it at the lake than getting a lake boat and trying to make it work on the glacial rivers around here. If you like to take your boat on little lakes, you will need a little boat, and they don't do well at all on the big rivers.

    Go to the river boat gathering next month before you buy a boat. Or just hang out at the Deshka for an afternoon and see the junk show when (if) the kings start running at the end of May.

    Have fun.

  7. #7
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    I'd go with what Daved said. Go to the Riverboat gather early this spring at the Susitna Landing. you can catch a ride or two in boats that interest you. Get lots of free advice, and I understand they have a real bang up picnic.

    My personal preference, is an 18ft SeaArk with an 80 HP Jet. That hauls the family fishing and hauls a big moose, two fat guys and all their gear real easy.

  8. #8
    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    I'd go with what Daved said. Go to the Riverboat gather early this spring at the Susitna Landing. you can catch a ride or two in boats that interest you. Get lots of free advice, and I understand they have a real bang up picnic.

    My personal preference, is an 18ft SeaArk with an 80 HP Jet. That hauls the family fishing and hauls a big moose, two fat guys and all their gear real easy.
    +1
    18' with a jet.
    But remember 4 stroke on the Kenai & above the bridge is 50 hp max.

    Many years ago, The family & I learned on an 18' polarcraft with a Johnson 35 prop & lift,
    upgraded to a 40 HP Yamaha prop/lift then when the Kenai went 4 stroke I put a 35 Mudbuddy on it.
    Plcr R falls.JPG

    Gave up on the Kenai,
    Upgraded big time to a
    20' Sea ark, 80 jet.
    now just run the valley rivers, but can use the 80, 4stroke for Kenai dip netting.

    Good luck

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudbuddy View Post
    +1
    18' with a jet.
    But remember 4 stroke on the Kenai & above the bridge is 50 hp max.

    Many years ago, The family & I learned on an 18' polarcraft with a Johnson 35 prop & lift,
    upgraded to a 40 HP Yamaha prop/lift then when the Kenai went 4 stroke I put a 35 Mudbuddy on it.
    Plcr R falls.JPG

    Gave up on the Kenai,
    Upgraded big time to a
    20' Sea ark, 80 jet.
    now just run the valley rivers, but can use the 80, 4stroke for Kenai dip netting.

    Good luck
    On the same vein, if the OP wants the boat for the local rivers AND the kenai, he could go with an 18' jon boat type with a 50HP (4 stroke) and then for rivers like the Big Sue and Yentna he would need to 1) add the jack***** lift or 2) buy a few spare props while he learns to read the water, and figures out where the major channels are. Our first "Alaskan Riverboat" was an 18' Monark with a 40HP Johnson prop and a Lift. We bought bronze props to fit the Johnson from that old guy that had the marine shop in Mountainview, after a few hits with that prop, and if you picked up a wobble, you simply beached the boat, took the prop off, find a big somewhat rounded rock to use as an anvil and pound the prop back into some semblence of a balanced prop... bolt it back on and Go.... (I still have a couple of those bronze props)

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    Thanks for the further advice. I ended up mulling it over and spoke to a few friends who have been boating up here for awhile. I ended up finding a 19' G3. seemed to be a good choice with a family of four + dog to last us pretty much forever. Of course I went over my intended budget. I don't really have an interest for the Kenai so I got a picked up a 90jet however a buddy has a boat of the Kenai I have access too if I want to go that way. I will try to make that meet-up too as any day I can get to the water the better.

  11. #11

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    i know a guy selling a wooldridge xtra plus with a brand new kodiak motor and 2 stage hamilton jet pump for just over 10k super reliable he might come down

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