Buying the first boat for young family

Submitted: Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 20:56
ThreadID: 104866 Views:4157 Replies:10 FollowUps:14
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Hi, I am looking at our first boat purchase and wanted some advice.

Use: we have 2 young kids 5&7 and i am not into fishing (sorry!) but just love exploring. We live up in the Atherton Tablelands and it will be for exploring the lakes, rivers and offshore islands on the GBR on the weekends.

Type: I am looking for a half cabin as they seem the best safety, comfort and economy wise.

Budget: max $7500

Some boats I have looked at or will be looking at are listed below. What do I need to check? a list of what I could think of is below.

1. Age of hull (but what should I check)?
2. Age/hours/service of motor (max 250h?)
3. At least 70Hp 2 stroke or is this not enough?
4. All safety equipment
5. Rated for 5+ adults.
6. Trailer?

Main Requirements:
*No major repairs / services due
*Easy to launch alone
*Only standard maintenance required after use
*All safety / standard equipment included (anchors, dual battery, epirb, gps sounder/fishfinder, life jackets)
* Registered

Some options
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Reply By: AlbyNSW - Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 22:28

Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 22:28
First thing I would do it have a chat with a outboard mechanic that you intend on using to maintain your boat for some recommendations or he may already know of a suitable boat for sale.
I would not buy one without have the motor checked out, a mechanic will check the compression, and see if there is any water in the gearbox plus a general inspection of anything else that may need attention. The hours used and age is less important than how it has been maintained. Boat parts are very expensive, I bought a replacement motor yesterday for my old motor as the replacement cost of an electrical part was $1100.00 plus labour, I bought an equivalent motor second hand in great condition for $2,000. The steering and gear cables may need replacing as well etc.
With the hull, apart from the obvious scratches and marks and upholstery condition. If water has got into the hull it can rot out the structural timbers in the transom etc and that can be very costly to repair as well so will heed a trained eye to inspect the hull.
If you do not buy wisely a $6,000 boat can easily turn into a $12,000 boat once to get all the issues sorted out.
AnswerID: 520354

Reply By: freedomseeka - Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 23:26

Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 23:26
BOAT - Bring On Another Thousand
Seriously tho, I am onto my second power boat. My first boat was a mustang half cabin 15ft. It had a reasonable trailer that the guy had previously rebuilt plus it had a good Marina 30 hp outboard. Bought it for 5k and sold it 5 years later for 5k. The boat I have now is a 18ft bow rider with an inboard v6 engine. Cost me $23k and I had to spend another $2k before putting it back in the water. You have to be prepared to spend a little bit of money on some maintenance when you first get it.
You want to make sure that the trailer is easy to use. The first boat I had was a mungrel to get on the trailer by myself. Trailer I have now is a bunk trailer and is an easy one man launch and retrieve. My mate has the same sort of boat but on a full roller trailer and it is a one man launch and retrieve.
AnswerID: 520357

Follow Up By: Member - warren G (VIC) - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 13:02

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 13:02
you will have to great days .the day you buy and the day you sell.had boats all my life and currently have a 48foot d/story house boat and 19ft bowrider ,all of witch only proves a am a very slow learner,but seriously haveing 4 kides growing up with boating watever you buy allways keep the safty items up to date and look for a high sided hull so when the kides are moving obout less likely to fall over and allways tell some one when you you are boating and when you are of luck warren
FollowupID: 800816

Reply By: freedomseeka - Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 23:32

Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 23:32
That second boat you have listed looks a good one. The Johnson outboard was a good engine. We used to wakeboard and tube behind mine with a 30hp.. Fun times
AnswerID: 520358

Follow Up By: George C - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:21

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:21
Thanks mate, what do you think of the first one? is it to cheap to be good.
FollowupID: 800804

Reply By: gbc - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:11

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:11
Put simply, your budget isn't extending to the boat type you are looking at. All 3 of those are not exactly 'best in show' for their respective sizes, and are going to cost you more money.
With $7.5k in my pocket I'd be looking simpler, smaller and newer. Like a 4-5 y.o. 4.8m tinny with a 40 on the back. Perceived seaworthiness (cabin and a windscreen) is a common and dangerous thing.
AnswerID: 520361

Follow Up By: George C - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:36

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:36
Thanks, I did look at Tinny's but the comfort factor of a half cabin is what the wife wants...what kind of work do you think these older half cabins will start to need. I would probably try to sell it in 2-3 years and invest in a newer one...if I get one at a cheap price now from someone who needs to sell urgently.
FollowupID: 800805

Follow Up By: gbc - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 14:16

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 14:16
The first one hasn't been touched in years. 'Thrust control arm?' No such thing. The owners wouldn't even know. You are paying to take their rubbish to the dump.

The second and third look like they are at least owned by people who know a bit about boats.

If you must buy something that old, get some tests done by marine mechanics (namely a compression test on that v4 johnno), and have someone look for rot in the transom and stringers.

Maintenance on a boat and trailer of that age is more like a continuous struggle against the inevitable - I've done it.

Final word - many inappropriate vessels (and vans) have been purchased due to wives expressing opinions without having any idea of the consequences. A most touchy subject, and one I didn't broach without first checking over my shoulder...... You've been warned ;)
FollowupID: 800818

Follow Up By: George C - Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 21:17

Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 21:17
Thanks mate, the first one was a piece of crap, needing LTS of work. I agree withe u on the last one, unfortunately it is a bit far to go rush, just want to get the right one.
FollowupID: 801432

Reply By: Brian 01 - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:53

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 06:53
Out of the three options listed, and going only on what can be seen, I think that the third one is the better choice.
The Yamaha motor is hard to beat and will be a far better option than a 24 year old Johnson or a Suzy of any age.
Get the motor checked out before you buy to make sure there are no hidden ills, it will be the most expensive replacement that you may have to make.
For instance, a new 90HP Yamaha will set you back about $9k, so better to get a good one to start with.
Whichever you choose, as has been noted, you must be prepared to spend a few dollars to get it up to a point where you know it will be reliable, get it serviced by a competent outboard mechanic.
Check the trailer thoroughly for corrosion, expect to at least fit new wheel bearings.

Get good life jackets, auto self inflating ones are comfortable to wear full time, and this is especially important for the kids.
If going offshore, you will also require an EPIRB, flares, radio, torch, etc, which are not specifically listed in all of those ads

Just remember that a boat is a hole in the water that you keep pouring your money into, boat rego, trailer rego, boat licence, insurance, maintenance, fuel, etc, etc, but they can be great fun.
Good luck.
AnswerID: 520362

Reply By: roger t4 - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 08:50

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 08:50
Hello George,
Put simply, bgc is right. For $7500 all you`ll get is a giant money pit & headache if you`re looking for a safe halfcab for your young family. That money will buy you a half decent 4 to 4.5mtr tinnie dinghy. You want a safe boat for your family, then spend the money and be prepared to keep spending. You want at least 5.5 to 5.8 mtr and anything under $20,000, don`t bother because whatever you do it`ll end up costing you that much. You can buy a decent reliable car for that money but boats are a whole different story. You can`t always call the RAC for assistance, most of the time you`re on your own. You have a young family George, spend the money. Having said all that, it is a fun pastime. Good luck & keep safe.

Cheers Rog
AnswerID: 520363

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 11:15

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 11:15
Cabs always sound attractive to the women, but how often to you see people sitting in them?
Id be looking at a tinny.....maybe centre console.
AnswerID: 520364

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 15:28

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 15:28

Hairy's right about the soon as someone feels crook, they're into the hot, stuffy cab to have a lie-down, and next thing the head's in a bucket. Far better up in the breeze, and chew some ginger.

After owning a boat for 20 years, I'd suggest you save for a bit longer and get something like this:

The lower sides wouldn't be as big a worry, as the kids will be a bit older, and more responsibile. Buy new lifejackets for all of you, whatever you get, and make sure you've got good comms, not just a mobile phone.

Something magic about boats(other than their ability to syphon off $$$'s at an alarming rate) and being out on the water. Enjoy, whatever you get,


Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 800821

Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 13:54

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 13:54
The first and most important thing to know is.

If you have not had a boat or have not been arround boats, you will have no idea of what sort of boat you need.

Second, the idea of a boat and the reality are two very different things, particularly if the above.

There is no such thing as a boat that will do everything...if its bigger there are places it should not or will not go, if its smaller there are places it should not or will not go.

Best to start with a relatively small boat and learn to handle it is places close to shore.


You WILL ding ya first an expensive fancy boat is not a good first boat.

Buy small buy relativly cheap , If it all ends up to hard you have not blown too much $$$$.

Remember too very thimg to do with boats is either expensive or time consuming or both.

A boat may also be fine and beaut, but any boat gets very small very fast, when the conditions change and you are on open water.

for the sort of money you have, you should get into a 14 foot aluminium with 30Hp on the back with some money left you WILL spend later.

As for being able to launch single handed......everthing about handiling a boat is made a hell of a lot easier by having a proper system and practice.

Do not depend on anybody else to sort your boat or trailer out.....the only way known to do what needs to be done is to handle the boat and make the changes.

Any boat trailer properly set up the boat should runn off the trailer, slick as snot off a doorknob, and come back on just as easily.
But it all has to be set up proplery, bee will maintained and you have to have ya system worked out and practiced.

If you want to learn a little abot boats and fast, take a chair and some smoko down to a boat ramp on a bussy day and watch the shenanigans.

You will see plenty of idiots who have no idea, and the few you know their business.

The people who know their business will be in and out and troube.....while the idiots blundrer about.

Watch and learn.

AnswerID: 520370

Reply By: Quickboats - Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 17:47

Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 17:47
Hi mate,

Have you considered portable folding boats? You might want to check us if you're interested. :)
AnswerID: 520852

Reply By: Tonyfish#58 - Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 20:22

Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 20:22
Malanda Boat

George C - This one looks OK! If you would like I can have a look at the boat with you. Over the years I have owned quite a few :-)

Motor is the Heart of the boat, it need to be good. As does the Trailer. But for $7500 you are stretching finding it all good!

Older fiberglass boats you need to look for soft spots! Older Aluminum you need to look for metal fatigue or electrolysis.

I will look for a couple more!

I am close to Malanda - Regards Tony

AnswerID: 520863

Follow Up By: George C - Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 21:14

Monday, Nov 04, 2013 at 21:14
Thanks tony, I have my marine licence on Sunday and will restart looking after that. I do have experience on boats in rivers, floods and high seas but not in maintaining them. Thanks again,
FollowupID: 801431

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013 at 20:54

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013 at 20:54
I have that experience, willing to help. that Malanda boat looked OK cheers Tony P/S
FollowupID: 801494

Follow Up By: George C - Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 20:52

Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 20:52
Sounds great....what do u think of this one

Please view this ad:

Open half cabin aluminium runabout,

Price: $ 5,000.00

Download the application from the Google Play Store.
FollowupID: 801663

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 21:57

Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 21:57
George - All a bit old, outboard included. Not fond of the older pressed hulls. Alloy at this age is getting weak and I would not be surprised to see it split if you give it a hard hit on a wave. But in the long run it would boil down to how well it was looked after. I have had a couple off disasters with older boats/ motors, look good on the outside but eaten away on the inside water jackets. Would be worth a look, but there will be a boat come your way that is a bit younger, the trick is not to be in a hurry.

Regards Tony
FollowupID: 801669

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 22:04

Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 22:04

The link I posted above has a near new trailer and the motor only has 146 hrs, once again how well it has been looked after, but I would only be offering in the low 6k.

Regards Tony
FollowupID: 801671

Follow Up By: George C - Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 22:07

Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 22:07
Thanks, I am not in a hurry. We checked the one in Malanda and like it but a bit to costly. The one in Townsville on Maggie also seems OK and is better priced.
FollowupID: 801672

Follow Up By: George C - Friday, Nov 08, 2013 at 07:23

Friday, Nov 08, 2013 at 07:23
Thanks, this is the one I referred to as the malanda one. We did see it, I will call the owner and have a chat and maybe we can take it out together sometime next week if he can meet on price. Thanks.
FollowupID: 801690

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Friday, Nov 08, 2013 at 16:58

Friday, Nov 08, 2013 at 16:58
George - Ok! lets us know if & when you need assistance Regards tony
FollowupID: 801745

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