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Best option?

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  • Best option?

    I've been following the discussions here for awhile and I've found it very helpfull.

    I'm finally selling the business (if my realtor ever gets off his tail end and looking forward to having time for boating. I've not really seen anything in the archieves that address my question closely. The river options are pretty easy to figure out but the salt water side still has me pondering.

    I'm looking at something in the 22' ~ 28' range for fishing/exploring with 2-5 day camp out capability for 2-3 people or 5 people for only a couple of days. Primarily fishing with general exploring. This would be in the PWS area. I've read the comments on dual use etc. but figure with these parameters on time and people I'll need a dedicated saltwater boat.

    If the wife and I get into it in a big way we'll of course upgrade later but I figure the first boat would need to be trailered several times a year for a number of years as we waited on the lists for a slip (preferance would be Valdez I think after what I heard about the Whittier waiting lists though I guess Seward might be a worst case option). That's also why we'll buy a used one first since we would only keep it a few years before getting out entirely or going full tilt for a larger, factory fresh one.

    I guess my priorities would be;
    a. Safety (sudden unforseen weather changes)
    b. Dependability (propulsion/hull, this would tie into safety I think)
    c. Trailerability (is there such a word?
    d. Comfort (important but the first three still beat it on the list)
    c. Operational costs (not so much on fuel but rather maintenance)
    e. Speed (not important unless it ties in with safety)

    Any comments on brand names/types to look for or stay away from would be appreciated.

  • #2

    Check out the 25' C-Dory. Doesn't take a lot of HP to push it and you could put twins on it for safety, although most four strokes are pretty reliable these days. I think it will sleep four and has a stove and sink. It is a sea-worthy boat.


    • #3

      I have a friend with a 28' Kingfisher. It is a beautiful boat and will sleep 3--4 for several days comfortably.

      He has twin Honda 150's on it which are bullteproof and just sip the fuel for the amount of power produced. He has taken it from Whittier to Cordova and back and said the trip was great and they didn't feel uncomfortable in the rough stuff at all.

      The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


      • #4
        I'd say first you need to rank the importance of your criteria.

        There are many tradeoffs, the smaller the boat, the easier it is to transport, and the less expensive it is to opperate. Boats in the 22-24 foot range cost to purchase and opperate 1/2 of what 26-28 foot boats cost. But the bigger boats are more comfortable, more room to spread out, and bigger boats are smoother in rough waters.

        Safety is related directly to the skill and caution of the captain, much more so than the "seaworthiness" of the boat. There are guys that can pilot an 18' skiff in waters that would sink a nimrod in a 28 footer. That's not to say a bigger boat can't be safer, but that in bad waters, you need alot of boat, ie a 50 foot trawler before you get into something that will take waters a typical sport boat won't.

        Don't understimate the need for speed unless you are retired and have all the time in the world. If you are looking at 2-3 day trips, being able to cruise at 22-25 knots will allow you to access areas and explore that a displacement hull running 7 knots would take all weekend to access.

        There are too many good boats in your size range to narrow things down, and a good deal for a paticular boat may negate some shortcomings vs your "ideal" boat. My personal prference is for an outboard, as you get more deck space for fishing and gear, and it is easier to get to the power head for repairs. The power to weight ratio for most o/b's is much better than inboards, hence better fuel economy, assuming gasoline power.

        Then you get down to hull construction materials.

        Aluminum is very strong, almost maintanence free, and possibly the most popular for resale, downsides are it is loud, and cold, as it is a great conductor of heat, away from you and into the cold water.

        Fiberglass is strong if properly laid up, and has minimal maintanence. Repairs are easy. Some of the older boats have problems with the wood parts getting water logged, as well as cracks forming. It has been used to build some very good boats, as well as some cheap ones.

        Wood use has pretty much faded from the scene other than homebuilders and some nostalgic folks. Pluses of wood is it is an insulator, so the hull isn't as cold, and can be quiter. Proper wood species properly built and protected make strong boats than have lasted for a long time, but improperly built they are waterlogged botches that should be scuttled.

        My personal choice has been to build a Tolman skiff, with cuddy cabin and pilothouse, 22 1/2' long that will be powered with a 115 or 140 horse outboard. It was the smallest boat I fealt comfortable for use in the sound, and the benefit of that is the lowest cost to build and opperate, as well as easier to trailer, I'll probably be out about $25k when done, and expect at current fuel prices to burn about $100-150 worth of fuel on trips.

        I'd love a 28' aluminum hull with a nice big pilothouse, dual 250's etc, but can't see spending as much on a boat as my house cost, as well as burning upwards or $500 worth of fuel each time out.

        If I had the luxury of time, a 30 odd foot trawler with a little diesel putting around at 7-8 knots and maybe $50 worth of diesel is appealing.
        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.


        • #5
          Another thing to think about....

          Is Aluminum over fiberglass for the ability to put it on the beach if you have to with minimal or no damage. The beach is a bad thing for a fiberglass boat.

          The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


          • #6
            Without a doubt I would go for a 27 foot Sea Sport with a diesel. Yes it is made out of fiberglass. That is why the hull can be designed to ride smoother. Aluminum boats are lower maintence but the hulls can not be formed into the shapes required for smoother running through the slop. No, it can not be put on a beach. That is why we buy a dingy. Sea Sport quality is second to none in that size boat. Expect to spend about 140k. And there resell value is really good.
            I am also partial to inboards as I hate big motors taking up a lot of space off the transom.
            As you can tell, there are as many difference opinions here as there are choices. Only you can decide


            • #7
              The Aurora Explorer is also a nice boat. We have the 27 foot version, we sleep 4 people in it in the Sound for a weekend. It is a little crowded, but that is to be expected. Has a huge deck for fishing and twin Honda 130's on the back. The only thing wrong with the boat is it only has a 90 gallon fuel tank. You could check out Alaska Mining and Diving, they're the dealer. Been stuck in 8-10 foot seas in PWS with it and it handled pretty well for a 27 foot boat. I would prefer to not be in bad weather like that in any boat though.

     is the website for it, has lots of pictures.


              • #8
                Best Option?

                Thanks for the replies. I'm happy for any input from people who actually have experience in the area. One piece of generic advice is worth any number of manufacturer's brochures. Hopefully by mid winter (if my #$&%#@ realtor gets motivated) I'll be ready to buy and get set for the boating season. Really looking forward to this new life phase.


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