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Thread: Need used boat buying advice

  1. #1

    Default Need used boat buying advice

    I'm looking to buy my first boat next year, and I'd like to stick to around $7500. The boat will be be used heavily on the Middle and Lower Kenai for various types of Salmon and trout fishing. I'd also like to use it for hunting around Skilak and Tusty.

    As I'm new to the boat game, I'd like some advice on what to look for. What's the best hull design for the above usage? Are there dealers in Anchorage that deal in used boats?

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  2. #2


    At your price point. you are in a hard spot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014


    First things first, Boat stands for break out another thousand. Your boat is gonna cost you money at some point so be aware of that and it's always side crap that you never think about. You can put a good boat together for 7500 bucks. I started out spending 3k on it and right now I've probably spent over 10k on all the stuff I've bought for it total, but I can probably sell everything for more than what I put into it. I'm not planning on selling it because I love boating, it's a hell of a lot of fun. If you buy a boat and don't like it you can always sell it, you might lose money or break even, or you could make money if you play your cards right.

    If it's a flat bottomed boat it might want to slide out on you as you turn, I welded some angle aluminum on the bottom of mine and it fixed that problem for me. A modified V Jon boat shouldn't have that problem and it will cut through chop better than a flat bottomed jon. Since you're on the Kenai you're gonna need 50 hp or less at the powerhead and it's gotta be either a 4 stroke or an Evinrude E-Tec, I am running a 4 stroke motor but I'd rather have an E-Tec personally, the motors aren't cheap. If I was buying a used motor I'd do a compression test on it and have it hooked up to some water so I could listen to the motor and see how it runs, idk if you're a mechanic or not. There's a fitting on a lot of these motors that you can hook a garden hose up to it and run it with water running through it. Don't want to run them dry.

    Trailer, I like having guideons on my trailer. You can get away without them. My dad set my guideons up so the only way my boat will go on the trailer is so that it's on the bunks correctly. It's really convenient and it saves time.

    I like jet units because if you get into shallow water rocks and gravel will eat up props and then you have to get them rebuilt or buy new ones, don't have to worry about that with a jet unit although eventually if you suck some gravel it will eat up the sleeve inside and you'll have to replace that, you won't have to replace it as often as you would replace a propeller. I don't think that should be a huge problem on the Kenai but maybe if you take it on other rivers. The problem with a jet unit is you lose something like 30% power on it and then if it sucks some mud or you suck some weeds or a rope gets into it it's a pain in the behind to deal with.

    I'm a big fan of jon boats personally, if I have speed built up with my flat bottom I can run in less than a foot of water and with my 90 hp and an empty boat it was going at 48 mph wide open throttle with an empty boat, with my 50 hp I was doing about 28 going up the Big Su and 35 or more going down, but the flat bottomed boats are hard to control as I mentioned above. Honestly if you can pick up something like an Almar or Weldcraft or a Silver Streak with a V hull that would be the way to go, but those boats are priced higher usually than 7500, I saw an Almar last year for 5k and it went quicker than I could buy it but on the Kenai you really don't need that. Wait until the middle of winter and people are hungry, I saw a couple boats this winter I would have bought if I had the money for cheap.

    If it's a riveted boat and it's older it might leak bad and you might have to replace rivets. I like welded boats myself but riveted boats are fine.

    I bought my boat on Craigslist for 3k and sunk another 3k into it to get some welding done, now it's a 20 footer. To do a lot of hunting the 18' is really what I would want but my dad hunted out of his 16' boat for a long time and it was fine. I have a narrower boat than most so I can get around rapids and rocks easier than a wider boat but I have to be strategic about how I load my boat. My boat came with a 2 stroke 50hp on it that I ran to death but I bought a 2006 90 hp Honda in the middle of winter for 1200 and I sunk another thousand into a jet unit for it, now I have a lower unit and a jet for my 90 hp. I bought a 2003 50 hp Evinrude 4 stroke (which btw was made by Suzuki, outboards are sometimes built by other outboard companies and rebranded FYI) for 1600 bucks. You have to be careful buying stuff on Craigslist but if you are a mechanic or know a mechanic it's not as big of a deal.

    One thing you should pay attention to if you're hunting, that like nobody ever thinks about, is that these people put all this fancy flooring and stuff on the sides and all these seats and crap in these boats and it adds weight. I have almost none of that and my floor is just 2" plywood that I treated, eventually it will break and you would need to replace that but it's not hard to do. Some boats have diamond plate and all this stuff and it looks really nice but it adds weight. I don't have seats in my boat, I throw lawn chairs in if I have other people in my boat to save weight or we sit on ice chests. If you want a comfortable boat with a cover it's gonna be nice to run in but it's all going to add weight. Weight isn't a big deal if you're just fishing out of your boat but when it comes to long hunting trips weight is a factor.

  4. #4


    Outfit an inflatable sport boat. Much better all around boat than a small aluminum boat in that price range will be.

  5. #5


    Best advice? Drive before you buy, and on the types of waters with the types of loads you expect.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

  6. #6
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Skilak and Tusty can blow up into some big water when the wind kicks up and you should gain some experience before venturing out on those lakes. Honestly an ocean going skiff is much better choice than a river boat for those lakes, but such a skiff isn't the best on rivers.

    The best advice on buying used anything is education. You need to know what to look for in terms of damage, proper repairs or improper repairs on the hull and engine. Then you need to be educated on what going prices are for various boats in Alaska. Then when you can properly evaluate whether a boat is the type you want, you can live with the condition it's in and it's reasonably priced, buy it. Reasonably priced quality boats sell quickly. If something has been on the market for a long time it's either over priced or someone trying to get rid of a something that will take a lot of work and money to make ship shape.

    The biggest risk for a first time boat buyer is being tempted to buy a boat that seems like it is capable of doing a variety of tasks, yet doesn't excel at any of them. Narrow down what you'll use the boat for 80% of the time and get the best boat for that use within your budget. If you really can't find what you want in your budget, then wait another year or two to buy what you need.
    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.

  7. #7
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2015


    right now there's a 19' Smokercraft w/ 40/25 Tohatsu direct injection motor on Craigslist for $12,000 OBO. That's about as good as you might see...maybe they will knock a little more off. Remember, not only are you hp restricted, but your motor must be direct injected(Evinrude e-tec or this Tohatsu), or a 4-sroke. I would stay close to shore on those lakes with the sudden winds that come up. You must give those lakes a lot of caution and respect...unfortunately, some people find out the hard way every year.

  8. #8
    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Alaska, Mat valley


    Wait another month, then start watching close.
    After moose season,
    Not gonna get used until May 2017, gives you time to look at several.

    CL prices are always negotiable.

    If asking 10, offer 7.5 & work to a point you are both happy with.

    Buying used, figure you'll put money into it making it fit your needs.

    With the Alaska oil economy beginning to slow,
    I suspect more & more toys to be on the market this winter.

    Only you know your budget;
    Stick by your max price, shop & negotiate.

    Don't forget, does it come with life vests, anchor, electronics, seats, cushions & other extras you'll need to buy if not included.
    If you're gonna need to spend a lot of money for extras & upgrades, offer less.

    Sometimes you find a boat & trailer that fits your needs perfect, without a motor .
    The boat is not being used, usually means a more motivated seller.
    The boat needs to be the size & type you want,
    Then shop a new or used motor. motor size can vary more than the boat size.
    New motor on a used boat is a good thing. !

    Take your time & make it fun.

    If the "seller & buyer" shake hands & are content with the deal, "It's a good deal "

  9. #9


    Thanks for all the replies, guys. I'm gonna keep researching, and then I'll wait for the right deal.

    Of the boats I've ridden in, I liked the ride and handling of a v hull the best. However, I won't rule out a flat bottom, due to its superiority in shallow water.

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  10. #10


    I'd look for a decent Bayrunner or similar with a 50hp 4 stroke. Light, Kenai legal, yet it has a vee and bow on it for the big lakes and venturing out in the salt. From what I've seen they are a decent all-around at a decent price. Seems like a lot of the used ones have had transom work so I'd say that might be a weak spot. I'll also ad that I've never owned one...

  11. #11


    My buddies and I always remark at how versatile Bayrunners seem to be. Definitely on the watch list.

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  12. #12
    Member theultrarider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    I had a Bayrruner with a 50 Yamaha 4stroke for several years. They are as close as it can get for a one boat to do it all as it gets. They run very skinny water. They are light and launch and trailer easy. And extremely seaworthy with the tall sides and huge now. It is for that reason the peninsula used to be full of them. Before tractor launching at deep creek and anchor point many many charter outfits used Bayrunners as charter boats. They are the most boat that you can safely beach launch with a Truck.

    Will they are seaworthy and will handle more water then most of the humans running them, they are very slow boats when it's rough without knocking your teeth out. Just back down and take your time.

  13. #13
    Member KantishnaCabin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012


    Ditto on the Bayrunner comments. I have owned two of them over the years and used them all over the state in both salt and fresh. It is a remarkable hull, very versatile.
    This is picture is at the boat launch in Nenana and loaded up for a trip to the cabin on the Kantishna. The boat is never empty. I have used it on interior rivers, as well as in the salt in Kodiak, Seward and PWS. One of my favorite fishing trips is launching from ship creek and running over to the Little Su. The Bayrunner makes it look easy.

    Aaron's Photos 006.jpg


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