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Thread: Bringing a Fiberglass Boat to Ak?

  1. #1
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    Default Bringing a Fiberglass Boat to Ak?

    I'm researching a move from Ca to Ak sometime in the next 2 to 3 years when my wife and I can retire. I used to travel to Kenai in the late 90's so I'm familiar with the penninsula from Kenai to Homer and to Seward.

    I'm looking at a 1980 24 ft Topaz express. It has Volvo diesel power (200 hp), a front windshield and bimini top plus small cabin that sleeps 2 in bow for dry storage. These boats weigh around 6500 - 7000 lbs with diesel engine and 100 gallons of fuel. It will sit on a 10,500 lb rated 3 axle trailer. These boats have solid glass hulls, well built stringer systems and were put together well. I've never heard of rot problems with the stringers. They do have balsa cored decks and balsa coring over the bow deck. Rot will depend on how equipment was installed and bedded. It is a straight shaft with prop pocket. Draft is supposed to be 2 feet.

    The plan is to either launch when I want to fish or put it in the marina for the summer and haul out for winter. I don't plan on beaching it on sand/gravel bars. My plan is to fish Salmon, Halibut and rockfish.

    Does this sound like a boat that would work well in Ak for what I want to do with it? Does anyone have a ball park figure on costs for putting a boat in a marina?

    thanks,

    Bill

  2. #2

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    There are always good boats for sale in these parts. The Topaz would be expensive to ship and/or a real adventure to tow all the way up here. Curious as to what kind of price the owner is asking for a 35 year old unit. I'm sure others will comment on marina costs/availability. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    First of all you need to find a marina that has an open slot for your boat, waiting lists can run to over 10 years. Which isn't necessarily a problem as you can get seasonal parking and just put it on the trailer in a local lot when not using it. Also a marina ties you into fishing one body of water vs. being on a trailer which allows you to access more ports depending on whether and fishing conditions. Personally if I was retired in South Central and had the entire summer to fish and explore I would not want to be tied to a single port as Seward, Whittier and Homer have so many different things to offer that I'd be visiting all the ports throughout the summer.

    A 24' boat is a good size for south central waters, but IMHO for every day you'll be able to enjoy a bimini top, they'll be 10 days you'll wonder what you were thinking getting a boat without a cabin. A cabin is the difference between unpleasant weather while fishing and a place to warm up and and dry out between fishing spots and when heading to shore, and a miserable experience.

    The other thing to consider is speed and range. If you're only going out on day trips, then speed is important as has a direct correlation on how many hours you'll be able to fish and how many spots you'll be able to visit on a day.

    For multi day trips, speed isn't as important as you'll be leisurely checking out different spots, but you'll need to the range to visit those spots over several days as well as the range to get into and out of protected anchorages for the night. Also for multi day trips having room for gear, food, to stretch out and to dry clothes makes a bigger boat worth considering.

    Everyone tailors their boating the capabilities and limitations of their boats. The key is to figure out what you want to do 80-90% of the time and find the best boat for that use vs. one that is ideal for 10-20% of your use but comes up short for the majority of your use.
    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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    What Paul said about the cabin. I always wonder what folks are thinking about with the express/cc style boats up here. The weather up here can make them a pretty miserable ride.

    I keep my boat in a slip in Seward and the waiting list isn't near as long as the 10 year wait in Whittier and seasonal transient slips are available for your size boat. My slip runs about $1800/yr for my boat, 30' overall length, but think I'm paying for a 32' slip.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    My thoughts echo Paul and Fish Witch. An enclosed cabin will give you so many more enjoyable days on the water. I have kept boats in slips at both Homer and Seward however in my "Golden" retired years, I want flexibility. We live in the Mat-Su valley. We have a 22ft fiberglass boat (with a fully enclosed cabin). I trailer it to Homer in late April, early May. I keep it on a trailer in a storage facility near Homer Harbor, May thru August. However, about late June we'll drag it over to Seward to enjoy the early season Coho's at the mouth of Resurrection Bay. Then back to the storage facility near Homer. On occasion we drag the boat back to Whittier from Homer to play in PWS awhile. In the fall we drag the boat back to the Mat-Su valley for year end maintenance and winter storage.

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Id echo everyone else's comments so far. There are many, many glass boats for sale right now on craigslist and alaskaslist which would probably meet your needs for comparable money. Unless you are set on buying a boat now and using it down in CA, I would wait and buy something local. There is something to be said about not having to worry about driving a boat up or shipping a boat up from the lower 48. Not that its a huge deal, but it can get expensive.

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    That Topaz is a cool boat but you'd have to at least have a full canvas, a bimini top will basically be worthless up here. I wouldn't be overly concerned about towing it up here as long as you have a proper truck, a few sets of spare bearings, a spare hub and a couple spare tires. If you aren't comfortable working on that stuff don't try it. My trailer burned up 2 sets of bearings on the way up, though I think the repairs had some user error both times (I didn't pull it up, a buddy did, don't think he'll make that offer again...)

    I think boats are way cheaper down south than up here, particularly if you have some time to shop. If I were in your shoes I'd be looking for a 24-28' Osprey/Seasport/Olympic/Trophy in that order. Not sure what your budget is but they are roughly listed from most expensive to least.

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    the price of the boat with a newly rebuilt 41P-A diesel is $9k. Trailer will cost $5,500 to build. I'm trying to find a good used trailer. Yes, you are correct the shipping cost will be high. I'm still 2 years away from making the move north. The reason I'd consider bring this boat north is that I already own it and it's direct drive. I'm not a fan of I/O at all and only like small outboards. Thanks for your comments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    First of all you need to find a marina that has an open slot for your boat, waiting lists can run to over 10 years. Which isn't necessarily a problem as you can get seasonal parking and just put it on the trailer in a local lot when not using it. Also a marina ties you into fishing one body of water vs. being on a trailer which allows you to access more ports depending on whether and fishing conditions. Personally if I was retired in South Central and had the entire summer to fish and explore I would not want to be tied to a single port as Seward, Whittier and Homer have so many different things to offer that I'd be visiting all the ports throughout the summer.

    A 24' boat is a good size for south central waters, but IMHO for every day you'll be able to enjoy a bimini top, they'll be 10 days you'll wonder what you were thinking getting a boat without a cabin. A cabin is the difference between unpleasant weather while fishing and a place to warm up and and dry out between fishing spots and when heading to shore, and a miserable experience.

    The other thing to consider is speed and range. If you're only going out on day trips, then speed is important as has a direct correlation on how many hours you'll be able to fish and how many spots you'll be able to visit on a day.

    For multi day trips, speed isn't as important as you'll be leisurely checking out different spots, but you'll need to the range to visit those spots over several days as well as the range to get into and out of protected anchorages for the night. Also for multi day trips having room for gear, food, to stretch out and to dry clothes makes a bigger boat worth considering.

    Everyone tailors their boating the capabilities and limitations of their boats. The key is to figure out what you want to do 80-90% of the time and find the best boat for that use vs. one that is ideal for 10-20% of your use but comes up short for the majority of your use.
    I had no idea the wait list could be so long. Even here in Ca it's not that long. Being able to trailer the boat to where the fish are is an advantage and something I plan to do. While this boat is an express and doesn't have a real pilothouse, one could be built easy enough. The bow compartment is long enough for 2 to sleep in if needed. I'd certainly add a heater and other stuff that boats in Ak need. In my opinion, one boat cannot serve all of a boater/fisherman's needs. If possible I'd like to own several. One for the ocean and one for rivers and lakes. I appreciate your comments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fish Witch View Post
    What Paul said about the cabin. I always wonder what folks are thinking about with the express/cc style boats up here. The weather up here can make them a pretty miserable ride.

    I keep my boat in a slip in Seward and the waiting list isn't near as long as the 10 year wait in Whittier and seasonal transient slips are available for your size boat. My slip runs about $1800/yr for my boat, 30' overall length, but think I'm paying for a 32' slip.
    I understand what you are saying. If I move to Ak and want to bring the boat, I would probably built a pilothouse for it. I like Seward. That is a very beautiful area and there are lot's of places to fish. The price you are paying seems to be reasonable. Thanks for your comments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    Id echo everyone else's comments so far. There are many, many glass boats for sale right now on craigslist and alaskaslist which would probably meet your needs for comparable money. Unless you are set on buying a boat now and using it down in CA, I would wait and buy something local. There is something to be said about not having to worry about driving a boat up or shipping a boat up from the lower 48. Not that its a huge deal, but it can get expensive.
    That's good advice. I still haven't closed the deal yet. Someone else might beat me to it. I planned to use in Ca until I move to Ak. It makes a lot of sense to buy local as it's already there and built for Ak. Thanks for your comments.

  12. #12

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    You have a lot of good comments already. I think it cost me about $1200 to keep a boat that size in Homer, about 2 year wait list about 5 years ago. But now I prefer pulling it out. Most ramps aren't bad as long as you time it right. For a boat that size out of the water you can go anywhere you want and have no worries about it being unattended. While that boat looks stout and certainly can cover a lot of ground up here, it would not be a boat I would bother trailering up. A full cabin and a heater make a huge difference in comfort on the water, really extends your boating season/days you want to go out. It is also a big safety plus should anyone take an unexpected dip in the water. Fiberglass boats aren't great for beaching and there isn't much of a place for a dinghy on that boat, there are a lot of cool beaches/places you may want to explore. Just my opinion.

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