thinking about buying a jet boat. Need some advice
I'm sure this has been talked about a lot. I have been thinking about getting a jet boat. It will have to be used, but I have a few questions since I have never owned one before. I have ran a lake boat for a long time, but thought I would like to get on the river a little more. The things I was planning to do with this boat is run the fish, hunting, and beaver trapping on the tanana, chena, salcha, nenana, and maybe the gulkana a few times a years, and for lakes I was thinking birch, quartz, fielding, and maybe summit lake. I have been thinking that I would like a jon style over the shallow vee style. That is at least 18 foot long and have been leaning bigger is better and long as it is under 20 . Maybe someone can tell me the bennfits of both styles and outboard vs inboard. Outboard will give me more run to put crap in the boat, but a in board jet will give me more power and I have been told better fuel mileage. Then there is cap forward, cab back, and center steering. I was thinking that you can load the cab back alot easier if I did decide to put a 4 wheeler in the boat and take it hunting. If I do go with a outboard I was thinking of nothing under a 90 and was learning with a 115 would be better.
I will have to buy used and was wondering how many hours is a lot. I have a lot of boats with 100 to300 or so hours on them Am I right when I compair 300 boats hours to like 100,000 on a car? I also do relize that the boat will beat me up if the water is rough in summit lake and I know that i will need a prop kicker to troll. I just really enjoy troller for lakers, but cant sell the wife on two boats. The boats I was looking at are the sport jons, woolridge, almar, aluaweld. Any advice would be great.
I have owned an 18' Almar Jetstream since 1986. Its a well built, heavy duty all welded boat with a 351 for power, pushing a Hamilton 3 stage 773 jet. This is just my opinion of course, but I would do it all over again if I had the chance. If 300 hours on a boat is comparable to 100,000 miles on a car...then my boat has about 5 or 6 hundred thousand miles. Not too sure on that comparison. Others here on the forum would be more knowledgable on this. All I know is that I ran the heck out of that engine and jet for about 25 years and it still does not burn oil, and I have only had the impellers reworked twice.
It all boils down to what you are going to use it for. I have run my boat on the Yukon, Copper, and Susitna rivers over the years, and on those big rivers I am convinced that you cannot be over powered. I admit that a John boat style might go a little shallower and further than the Almar, but it will not haul the cargo or ride as comfortably as a larger inboard. (Ok all you john boat guys....I know you all love your boats) but its all about what you want it to do for you.
I used this boat out of Whittier once or twice each season also. Worked great when you keep an eye on the weather...even worked great when I didn't. With a full top on her the waves just wash over and she sheds them like a duck. Have also done many, many days of trolling on Lk Louise and in the Sound. Worked great and never felt I needed a trolling motor for this. Extra motor would have been good security, but not necessary.
I am now the proud owner of a 22' SeaSport. I still own the Almar, but no longer have to get beat up to get out on the big water.
A guy really needs to live within his means, but I am a firm believer that if a fellow wants to have it all in Alaska, you need 2 different boats, better yet would be 3. Unbelievable how much maintenance and care 2 boats take, but well worth the effort if you really spend alot of time on the water.
I tried to do it all for a long, long time with the Almar, but now life is a little more comfortable with the SeaSport. Still use the Almar for hunting and Lakers, but not putting many hours on it these days.
My advice is to buy a boat that will let you do what you are most interested in, then figure out how to use it in other ways, or be patient and move into another craft when you are not satisfied any longer with the first boat. By that time, you will have much more experience to make decisions on.
Kind of rambling I know. Hope this helps a little.
As for the boat hours to miles, I would put it closer to 600 hours equates to 100,000 miles on a car for a gas outboard or inboard. Of course, just like cars, it depends on how hard you run them and your luck as to how long they will last. You get much over 1000 hours on a boat, and it is like a car with 150K miles on it. It may still work fine, but it will need more maintainence and be getting closer to a major problem.
In response to what boat is best, it is all personal choice and where you want to compromise. I had a 24' inboard jetboat. It was always warm and dry, did pretty well in the salt, and carried a ton, but it was not fun when it got stuck.
i have an 18ft flat bottom with an 80 jet on it an love it i ran a 40 prop all summer and going to the jet made so much more area accesable to me i only ran it a couple times with the jet before freeze up but 1 time was with a 460lb guy in the front and went through 2 1/2 in of water no problem so i know it will be no big deal to run with my wheeler in it. very rough on feilding or a windy tannana though my buddys custome weld makes a much smoother ride on the rough water, only been in 1 inboard river boat had to wear ear plugs is was so loud i know some of the new ones are much better though.
Check this link on a similar thread for my comments:
I have run several boats over the years, from a 12' rowboat with 25HP outboard prop (quite the rocket!) up to a 26' Glasply with 350 inboard, with at least 1/2 dozen others in between. Last two boats were a 17' Wooldridge Alaskan with 115 Yamaha jet, and now a 20' Wooldridge Alaskan XL with a 175 Evinrude E-Tec jet. Ran both boats in all the locations you described on a regular basis, plus trolling/shrimping in Valdez, dipping on the Copper, etc. Typical load is family of 4, 2 labs, and gear for 1-4 days, and a moose if we're lucky Atypical load would be all that plus additional 2,000 lbs +/- of building materials (in the XL). Able to get around wherever I wanted to go.
I prefer the cab forward design as it allows for more "continuous" floor space, and better visibility in navigation - a huge plus in river running. I don't load a 4 wheeler but there's space for one if needed - just would be a bit more challenging to load it. Floor space is important to me, the mid-cab designs (i.e., Extreme Shallow) never made much sense to me, but to each his own.
Inboard vs outboard: See link to thread above.
The trick with sorting out engine hours is *really* knowing how many hours are on it. My E-Tec records this info in the on-board computer so I know it's accurate. I average about 75-80 hours per season, and got 7 full seasons out of my Yamaha that was already 6 years old when I bought it used. It was in top shape when I sold it 2 years ago and it's still running strong. My 350 in the old Glasply would get a rebuild "just because" at about 800 hours. Never have had a motor yet detonate, unless it was made by the Mercury Anchor Company Know several folks that have the Merc Sportjet in their jon-boat, Extreme Shallow, etc that blew up.... no thanks.
Kicker - I've trolled successfully with just an OBJ as the idle thrust is less than with a prop. Countless silvers, kings, and lakers taken with this setup.
Boat make - all decent choices you mention. Obviously I'm partial to Wooldridge - they are the gold standard in terms of quality, performance, layout/design, and durability. I'll probably never own another make of boat again. Have heard reports of some jon-boat designs having structural issues (cracked ribs, etc) but that could very well be operator error, especially after seeing how those boats are marketed as being the General Lee
The various hull types all drive and perform quite differently - I'd recommend to go to the local boat shop and ask to test drive several different rigs before deciding on a hull and engine combination. I absolutely love my XL with OBJ, and got to go for a spin a couple times in the exact same hull powered with an inboard - holy cats was it different in terms of power.... but I still prefer my OBJ at the end of the day.
Be realistic in how you intend on using the boat, do the research, and you'll find something you'll really enjoy running. Try and avoid "two foot-itis" every couple of years if you can - good luck with that
From the things and places you described I'd lean towards a jon type boat with outboard and some small vee to it. It would do fine on the rivers you mention, but give you the versitility for the lakes you describe too. I think the used Almars are among the best values out there as far as boat for your buck, but pretty heavy compared to an outboard skiff / jon
Look into woolridge alaskan XL with an outboard sounds like what your looking for. good luck Mike
Do I give my friends advice? Jesus, no. They wouldn't take advice from me. Nobody should take advice from me. I haven't got a clue about anything..
I wouldnt worry to much about hours on a motor as it is far more important how it was maintained. Numerous reports about the Coast Guard putting 10,000 hours on Honda outboards. Met a couple of guys down at Chitna who had over 5,000 hours on an inboard 460. Been told that McKays River boat charters has over 5,000 hours on the 496's in one of there boats.
Inboard jets offer the advantage the motors are cheaper than high hp outboards and if you know how to shop many replacements parts can be found at local auto stores.
Tons of nice used boats on the market right now. I gave up ordering a new boat for a steal of a deal on a inboard jet. You can find a really cherry rig with all the extras for 50-60 cents on a dollar if you search.