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Old 12-24-2014, 10:34 PM   #1
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Alaska/boating newbie seeking info

Hello, we recently moved to Sitka, AK and I plan on getting a boat sometime in the next 3-9 months. The biggest problem is that I don't have any idea what I'm doing! We're not new to tackling the unfamiliar, but since I started researching a few months ago, the task has become overwhelming. I know very little about the ocean, and even less about boats, but some things I have narrowed down a few things so far.

In the interest of keeping this post as short as possible, I think we want a trawler, 27-34' in length (is that crazy for someone that's never had a boat?), preferably diesel for efficiency, reliabilty, and less blow-up-ability than gasoline

Our budget will probably limit us to something older but reliability is a must. I'm fine with cosmetic issues that I can eventually fix myself, but until I learn a lot more I would like to avoid sinking or a dying motor, especially with my family onboard!

Some brands I'd love to hear feedback on based on what I have seen for sale include Mainship, specifically the late 70s to early 80s 34', Carver, Tollycraft and Chris Craft. We need a strong hull, and I have been warned by many to avoid Bayliner and Sea Ray.

Primary uses- Fishing, hunting on nearby islands, exploring Southeast Alaska several days at a time

I realize everyone has an opinion and boats are money pits, and I plan on continuing to expolore the forums extensively. But if anyone is still reading and has any advice to offer, I would love to hear it. Thank you!
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Old 12-24-2014, 10:47 PM   #2
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robs, I'd suggest you start walking the docks and see what others up there are using. Try to determine if you're going to be running around between Baranoff and the AK shore, or if you're planning on venturing longer distances. Talk to the fishing boat skippers to get their advice, and if time and money allows, take a hike down to Seattle to the boat show in January.

Just don't do like a lot of people do--they buy their first boat without doing their homework and determining if it will suit their needs. Then after a year or two they find it doesn't work for them and they end up trading it or selling it. Either way, they take a financial hit.

My advice is buy your second boat first. In other words, do you homework, talk to a lot of people, find out how they use their boats, go on board as many boats as you can and walk around the boat to see if it offers what you want...room, sleeping accommodations, cooking facilities, one or two heads, etc.

Then enlist the help of a good broker to help you find the right boat. That won't cost you anything--he's paid by the seller, so use him.

Good luck with your search and keep us informed of how goes the battle.
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Old 12-24-2014, 11:20 PM   #3
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thanks! I've been doing a lot of what you said, visiting the docks just about every weekend that I'm not working, talking to anyone that will stand there long enough to listen, etc. We definitely plan on continuing our homework and have a decent start, but I feel like I am starting off with such little knowledge in this area that I am seeking every bit of info I can get. Most of our trips will be within the inside passage, I don't think I ever will feel the need to venture into the big ocean, at least not for very long if I do. I appreciate the advice and will keep you posted.

Rob
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Old 12-25-2014, 12:27 AM   #4
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Robs, when someone tells you to avoid a certain make of boat, ask if they owned one. The buzz on boats is usually rumor and unfounded. Look at them all! Look for an engine room you can work in, a galley you can work in, a stateroom you can sleep in and a head you can fit in. You are looking at older boats, like mine, so look for maintenance records and the overall "look" of the boat. Walk away from the projects, you don't have enough experience. (Neither do I and this is my third big boat.) Make everybody here crazy and ask about anchors, anchor rode, hull design and everything else you run into you don't understand. In a year or so, find a couple you like and hire a surveyor Find one who will show you everything he's looking at and what he's looking for. If you have a big bank account, rent one and drive it around. (Some companies rent several trawlers out and lead a tour.) You're gonna love it!
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Old 12-25-2014, 12:38 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Trawler Forum

So many options and great boats keep a open mind

what helped me someone on this forum asked the question which you already have talked about " what do you want to do with the boat?"
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Old 12-25-2014, 01:28 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you're off to a good start by doing research and asking questions. The most popular "family" boats in SE AK you'll see are Bayliner 32XX's and 38XX's. Check craigslist, Alaska Boat Brokers and Alaska Boats and Permits for current asking prices while you're researching. Look at several and invest in a survey when you are ready to pull the trigger. BTW, Sitka faces the open ocean so you'll be in it. Inside waters are a long way from where you are at trawler speeds.
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Old 12-25-2014, 10:47 AM   #7
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Welcome! My advice to you (as another who is learning myself) is to charter as much as you can in as many different styles as you can. You will quickly learn a lot about what layouts and features appeal to you and what doesn't work for the way you want to cruise.

Don't convince yourself that a particular style is "the one" until you've spent some time on it ... and the others.

Good luck!
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Old 12-25-2014, 12:01 PM   #8
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I'd suggest an Albin 26'.

They cost about 20K and when you'r done w her you'll sell her to the next guy for basically the same.

They never have structurally failed decks, cabins or hulls. They have no wood to varnish. They have a quick roll that can be very uncomfortable at times though but are very seaworthy. I'm a member of an Albin club w about 50 26' boats and I've never heard of a boat lost due to lack of seaworthyness or capsize.

Many do have old engines (quite a few seawater called) but that's about all you need to be wary of. There's always several for sale. I'd advise a repowered boat w most engines except perhaps a Sole. I recall them having some problems but it's only w the marineazation .. not the base engine. They are (I think) Mitsubishi. My own engine is a Mitsubishi .. a very good engine.

I have a friend who fished an Albin out of Juneau and I had an Albin too. There was an Albin on the south floats in Craig .. a call to the harbor master would reveal if it was still there. I know of one in Ketchikan and think there are more. So call around SE and see what there is.

All the above said they are small boats but they have almost none of the huge pitfalls you can experience w larger trawlers. If you do get a bigger trawler get all the help you can find picking her out and spending money for that help stands a very good chance of saving you huge amounts fixing rotten decks or cabins and old worn out engines. When we moved to Thorne Bay in 06 we repowered our Willard not wanting a 35 yr old engine out in the remote Alaskan waters. But it's MUCH less costly to buy a repowered boat.
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Old 12-25-2014, 01:36 PM   #9
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Their is a good surveyor in Sitka Jim Steffen I believe is his name talk to him and I'm sure you will learn a lot. Talk and take some more. It pretty nice to have an engine room that you can get in and get at things for inspection and repair. If you can't get at it it's going to be neglected . If you live in Sitka ya gotta have a boat!
Enjoy and you will never have to worry about what to do about your extra money once you a boat,
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Old 12-25-2014, 01:59 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for all of your help. I'll look into the Albins and others around here, and hopefully I'll be able to get to Seattle in January too.

Apophyge, the reason I am wary of Bayliner and the other mass-produced brands is because I've heard from folks around here that they aren't as sturdy of a hull. There are several, but I have not seen any out in the ocean yet. Seems like they're all in the docks waiting for the summer, which is not a good omen in my opinion! Especially since I plan on going around to other islands for deer next fall and winter.

Being in Sitka is great, but we are definitely limited since there are no roads. Makes getting somewhere to look at something much more difficult, and expensive. Also, if I do find something it will be a lot harder to get here unless it's in SE AK already. Seems like there are a lot of boats listed at good prices on the East coast!

I'm not set on a trawler, but we do want to fish, crab, shrimp, be able to take kayaks, be comfortable for at least a few days at a time for all four of us, etc...and it seems like trawlers are spacious enough for all of those things though not necessarily all at the same time. I guess I could always try to get something a little less expensive and smaller until we outgrow it, but that feels like I'd be wasting money (even more money than I'll already have to).

I've come across a couple of mainships for sale that are in the SE, one of which is repowered and the other has the 1979 motor still in it. At some point I plan on jumping over to the Mainship forum to find out more. There's also an Osprey or two for sale, and of course several Bayliners for sale. Sea Sports are great from what I've seen but most that have been for sale have a 6 figure price tag, or at least close to it. Thanks,

Rob
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Old 12-25-2014, 02:10 PM   #11
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New Boat?

Robs,
Welcome to the forum and boating.
My 2 cents...
Spend some time up front defining how you will use the boat...
# aboard, length of cruise, comfort features, etc, etc
All boats are compromises and serve some purpose fairly well.
In my mind a cruising boat you want to fish out of occasionally could be very different than a fishing boat you want to take cruising occasionally.

When you talk to others & look at their boats inquire how they use theirs and what they like / dislike for that purpose. What one owner dislikes may be just what you need for a different purpose.
When we were trying to decide on our recent move up to a 34 Trawler style my wife & I discussed at length what was important to us and I developed a checklist to help evaluate various makes / models we looked at both online and live.
Happy to share specifics about our boat if that's something you end up considering seriously.

Good Luck
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Old 12-25-2014, 02:50 PM   #12
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I have never owned a Bayliner. I did own a Sea ray. All I'm saying is talk to owners, not people who have an opinion on a boat they never had. I'm betting a few of the Bayliner owners here would disagree with the opinions you got.
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Old 12-25-2014, 03:13 PM   #13
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Talk to owners?

Most all owners say their boat is wonderful. Who would admit they bought the wrong boat and it's been a mistake. Not many. Even on previous boats people have a (pride of "I know what I'm doing") so the truth may not be very forthcoming there either. Truths are hard to find. But if you talk to enough people you'll get enough pices to be of benefit.
I wonder how revealing asking "how long have you owned this boat"? Of course one may own a boat for a long time w a glaring fault if the fault wasn't very applicable to their situation.
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Old 12-25-2014, 03:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacchus View Post
All boats are compromises and serve some purpose fairly well. In my mind a cruising boat you want to fish out of occasionally could be very different than a fishing boat you want to take cruising occasionally.
Agree.

Althought it might sound logical to buy your second boat first, I tend to think that it's nearly impossible to appreciate the pros and cons of various types and sizes until you have spent more than a little time on the water. I might suggest that a good strategy would be to start with a smaller boat, and start "learning the ropes". After you've cruised and fished some of the area around Sitka in various conditions, I think you would be far more able to make a good choice on what kinds of boating you want to do, and what sort of a larger and more costly boat would best meet your needs.

Choose a used boat that's seaworthy and in good condition (don't start off with a complex or a rehab project boat). Take good care of it, learn about boating and boat systems, and about your area. It should not lose a ton of value before you sell it to move up. Buying a big boat that really doesn't meet your needs can you cost a bunch.

We started with C-Dory 22 Cruiser, and after building our skills for a few years got as far as cruising all over SE Alaska with it (including Sitka). The CD22 is small but seaworthy, very simple, well designed for both cruising and fishing, and remarkably economical to own and operate. CD also makes a 25 Cruiser. When we were financially ready to upgrade, we really knew what we wanted.
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Old 12-25-2014, 03:40 PM   #15
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Listening to people's opinions about boats can be helpful.

I have has 3 mid grade built liveaboards and can tell you the good, bad and ugly about each. I am not afraid to admit I could never affordable really nice boats and had to live with what I could afford...dog or not.

but...for those bad mouthing sea rays and bayliners....are any in the marine repair business or delivery captains?

If not, ask them about how are the stringers made and limber holes dressed on all thesebrands. Ask them about the hull and design joint. How the bulkheads are attached to the hull? What sort of strengthening is under all the sea cocks and how they are set up and made by whom?

Then after all the blank stares or skipping the tough questions, ask around to see if there is anyone who has taken the cabin or deck off one, or replaced a stringer or retabbed a bulkhead on any of those brands.

If you are still getting opinions that bayliners and sea rays are inferior to carvers, mainships, and a few other mid grade boats from people who have actually owned, operated and/or seriously worked on them I would be amazed.
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Old 12-25-2014, 04:27 PM   #16
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We have met several couples over the years who have Bayliners and have done the Inside Passage up and back, some several times. I would venture to say there are a lot more Bayliner owners who have done the Passage than Nordhavn owners.

Bayliners suffer from a reputation that stems partly from their cheap, entry-level trailer boats. The other source of Bayliner myths has to do with owners, not the boats.

Bayliner very successfully figured out how to make boats that were priced less than many other production cruising boats of the same size and purpose. And when you price something lower than the competition, you tend to get more people buying it. People who couldn't afford a Grand Banks, for example, could afford a similar-size Bayliner.

So you had people getting into a relatively large cruising boat who perhaps didn't really have the interest in all the details of cruising that someone willing to plunk down the price of a Grand Banks had. They just wanted to get out on the water with their friends and families and have a rousing good time.

So the uninteresting (to them) things like the Colregs and the details of proper navigation and radio use and the effect of their wakes on other boats were not things they paid much attention to. To them, the boat was all about having a good time.

When you encounter boaters who are inconsiderate, uneducated in boat operations, unskilled, careless or all four you also notice the boat they are using. And when it seems there are a lot of these less-than-ideal boaters driving Bayliners, the annoyance one feels upon encountering them gets transferred to the boat make. So..... Bayliners must be crappy boats because they are always driven by crappy boaters, right?

Sure, Bayliner was able to price their boats very competitively by using not the most expensive hardware and using production techniques more tailored to assembly-line production than those used by Grand Banks or Fleming or Krogen.

But the fact remains that in the hands of a competent, courteous boater, a Bayliner cruiser is no less effective at providing great value and experiences to its owner than a Grand Banks, Fleming, or Nordhavn.

Forced into a choice, I would take a well-looked after Bayliner cruiser over a similar size, older Taiwan trawler like a CHB with uncertain care and even more uncertain construction quality, knowing what I know about the manufacturing processes used in Taiwan in the 70s and 80s.
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Old 12-25-2014, 04:59 PM   #17
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I was a happy Bayliner owner (24' Trophy) for 30 years, did the Inside Passage and numerous trips that were considered "not possible" in a boat that size, and only sold it because the price of fuel (and the consumption of fuel) got to be too much at 120 gallons an outing. I had two kayaks on the roof, a pot puller and 4 large shrimp pots, and grilled dinner every night while sleeping "on the hook".

My boat sold easily for it's asking price of $15,000 this spring. I took care of it, it had good electronics and all of my improvements on board when it was sold. The new owner has gotten endless compliments about what a great deal he got on the boat. There are lots of those Trophy's for sale around here, none going for anywhere near what mine sold for.

In my opinion, the hulls are first class designs, the interiors make almost "best" possible use of the space available, and the real shortcomings are in the quality of little things like lights, cleats, and the lack of non corrosive backing plates.

I could go out 50 miles in less than two hours, stay for four days, and be back at the dock before my "catch" was anywhere close to spoiling from being aboard too long. If you have a job you need to be back to on Monday morning when you get off Friday afternoon, skip displacement boats and stick to a planing hull.

I will be the first to admit there are very few Bayliners maintained that well, but for my money at that time, I couldn't have done any better. You can resell it after a season or two with little or no loss of investment in the current market. It's what has been done with it that makes it desirable. The rack I put over the roof draws constant compliments from owners of all makes of boats for it's practicality and was a major negotiating point, I didn't negotiate. Just said take it or leave it. Had people trying to buy it well after it was gone.

Trailer stored boats have much less corrosion due to their time away from the water, as well as less mold and mildew in cushions and bedding, and things like fuse blocks and wiring stay in much better condition.
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Old 12-25-2014, 05:06 PM   #18
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well, I think I started a controversy! Nobody has told me that Bayliner makes bad or crappy boats overall, just that they aren't ideal for these waters. And the people that have told me this have all been very experienced in boating, specifically here. Current and retired Coast Guard, people that have sailed around the world, people that have spent their lives here, make a living off of the ocean, do all of their own work on boats, etc... While it is true that none of them have been current Bayliner owners, I find it more than a coincidence that of all the people I have talked to, whether strangers on the docks or friends trying to help out, not one has recommended a Bayliner and all for the same reasons.

As far as which kind of boat to buy, from what I've seen, the smaller power boats go faster, which is nice, but also have less accommodations for longer stays out cruising and are much more expensive to buy and operate than many of the larger cruisers. So, with my budget being the driving force, a trawler seems like something that I can cruise fast enough in for the things I would do, while still getting more bang for my buck and not spending $100 or more in fuel every time I go out. $35,000, for example, seems to get me a lot more in a trawler than a power boat from what I have seen, with the biggest sacrifice being speed, but which is slightly offset by lower operating costs. Thanks again for all of the responses. I got a couple of boating books for Christmas, so looks like I'll be doing a lot more reading!
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Old 12-25-2014, 05:10 PM   #19
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manyboats (11:00am today, above) may have really been thinking of the Albin-25. Ours was built in 1976 in Sweden, though we've had her for only 3 years, following a lifetime in various sailboats, both cruisers and smaller one-designs.

We would agree with everything manyboats said about Albins. They generally have a 35hp Diesel that can push the boats 8-10 knots. We got ours for $12,000 on a trailer , and she needed work (not yet done with that but we can still use her). $20,000 will usually get you a boat which does not need work.
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Old 12-25-2014, 05:11 PM   #20
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thanks AKDoug, I appreciate the input. Since I wouldn't even know where to begin, other than very obvious defects, I guess that's where a good surveryor comes in. My wife and I are big DIYers and don't mind little things that are cosmetic or that might take some time but won't effect overall safety while we are fixing it, so the things you mention aren't big issues, and it's nice to hear everything you did with yours. In the last 18 hours since starting this post, I am already starting to rethink my philosophy and might instead start with a smaller, less expensive boat and move up as we need to in the years to come.
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