New guy looking for advice

General boating discussion
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New guy looking for advice


Post by mryakker » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:27 pm

Hi All,

I'm new to boating and came across your forum. My Wife and I recently moved to the west coast (Vancouver, BC) from the prairies and we're interested in exploring and fishing in the area. Originally we thought we would pick up a zodiac thinking they would be a good option since they are easy to move around and pull up on beaches until we realized they wouldn't be that enjoyable in the west coast rain.

This past weekend we attended the boat show and it was great for newbies like us to see all the options out there. What we got out of the show was the knowledge that we would probably be most comfortable in a 18'-20' for what we would want to use it for. The prices varied quite a bit and we felt like a bit of a salesman dream. Our goat for a boat is to find a good quality build that is also going to handle well. Since neither my wife or I have any boating experience, according to every salesman their boat & brand was much superior to the others. We did spend a lot of time chatting with some guys from marine one and they were pushing a new line of boats from Katanacraft ( ... in-stock=1). According to the salesman they are based out of Oregon ( and have been making boats for the government agencies and now they are breaking into the rec line.

I've tried to research the company online but I haven't been able to find user testimonials good or bad. The original price point seems competitive but of course it does start to add up with some of the options. From what I can tell looking online and reading forums about aluminum boats there are a lot of smaller boat builders and the big names aren't always going to be the best. That said as a newbie it's also intimidating thinking I'm going to spend a small chunk of change on a new brand no one has heard of as well.

Any suggestions, recommendations, guidance &/or advice would be great!

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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by Chaps » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:51 pm

Welcome, a couple of things based on your post. Yes, all the boats at the boat show are the best boats at the show so you've figured that out. If I was a newcomer to boating I'd stick with a known brand that has a good rep and good resale and a good dealer local to me. Reason is, this is a new activity for you guys and you will either like it and decide soon enough to move up to something bigger or you'll discover that its not your cup of tea and the boat makes fewer and fewer trips, either way necessitates owning something that there is a good market for. BTW you've got some really good builders up there that might make more sense given the strength of the greenback. Check out lots of manufacturers at: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=5678
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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by kmorin » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:33 pm

Welcome to the Forum glad you're here to ask some questions- hope we can help find some answers or at least some opinions based on experience to post in reply?

I agree with Chaps that boat shows are salesmens' paradise, they get to make all sorts of claims with wording that is at best confusing and at worst just not true!

So I'm going to make some remarks about the market for or the builders of welded aluminum boats. The first thing I'd like you and Mrs.mryakker to know is that there are there general areas to to builders groups or class of boat builders. First is the manufacturing class, where the size if the operation and number of boats is highest, and this group most often sell a fixed series of hull designs in various lengths and will accept some feature by feature client input - or customization from their catalog of cabins, engine brackets, tankage, consoles and a wide variety of other optional items.

This first group is more often than not- focused on lower price point boats. Their market focus is on offering "a few good boats" -not on accepting new plans for each boat like a one-off builder. This allows these builders to be the most competitive - if you match each companies features in any given LOA (length overall) class of boat- the prices will be close and at the lower end of the marketplace.

Next in the middle are the low volume - production builders who are not focused on the one-off build market (completely custom boats) but own a few stock designs, that are the basis for most of their boats. This class of builder usually does not try to compete dollar for dollar or shape for shape with the first class or group. The prices here are 10-100% higher due to their boats being more of a collection of features that the owner wants. These are not experimental or totally new designs but.... if the owner wants to add all sorts of changes - this class of builder is ready to accomodate those owners. Almost all the owners that go to this group are previous owners who want 'more' out of their next boat- the first group of builders might be more focused on the first time owner- and not as inclined to mess up their production line with a new set of lines, new cabin or console design?

Last are the one off builders, or custom builders who work off a customer approved drawing, sometimes provided by the building company and other times by a marine architect/marine engineering firm. These builders can be called small shops but that is statement of volume of hulls more than the fact that one off builders do in some cases have a decent sized crew working year round.

The one off builder is where you go if you're experienced, picky, and have the money to pay wages for longer builds. These builders can't make any money making a jig or fixture for a given hull since they don't know they'll ever use it again. The first and second groups can often invest in tooling and equipment that could reduce hours making their firms a return on investment - not as available to a purely one-off builder who essentially starts from scratch each time he builds.

If you bought your kitchen cabinets from the big box store- they're less expensive than hiring a local craftsman to build them onsite into your new home. we can go into detail about the 'resulting' products being "good" or "bad" or "better" or "worse... but the volume production of the cabinet allows lower final cost. So too, welded metal boats can be made less expensive if the work force and facility can be geared up to repeat the work steps- that usually means the one-off builder costs them most per foot of hull.

Some people will argue the quality is higher as you get to the one-off builder? Yes and no, if the builder is reputable regardless of the market position or group- the work will be well done. However, take the skiff in your link- the bottom is only 5/32 (0.160"). This makes the cost of the bottom less than the builder who uses either 3/16" (0.187") or 1/4" (0.25") both of those scantlings are common with some other builders. So the economy of scantling/thickness of the materials enters into the 'value equation' as well. If the one off skiff builder worked with a thinner bottom - they could at least offer the materials in their costs at competitive rates.

Weld quality is another potential issue what testing does a firm give its welders? Are the records kept? are their period QA tests and does the firm work off of MTR (material test reports or "mill certs") report OR as is VERY common, does your builder simply accept his vendors' word for the grade stamps??

Last is to find any means possible to compare apples-to-apples in regard the many boat models from the many builders regardless of their production focus.

I'd suggest that as a new buyer you make a big spread sheet, try to list all the features that are in the sales literature and compare those items, then group the similar skiffs together. Don't be trapped into thinking the only comparison is Length Over All (LOA)- its a good figure for reference but a 1' wider chine; a 72" bottom changed out to an 84" is a huge difference in the boat's ability to haul wt. Make sure, in your table, you include "all up displacement" so the final wt. of the metal work is known!

As I mentioned above; a boat may look cheaper by a few thousand than its competitor but if one has a smaller set of scantlings - while the 2nd comparative skiff is 20-30% heavier - well; aluminum ain't cheap! So that's why I'm encouraging you to make high quality (studied) comparisons of the various sales offers.

hope to help your deliberations?

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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by JonH » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:29 am

You also might consider a used boat from a builder in the second or third group as outlined above.

This will lessen your cost of getting a boat, and getting out of the boat if it proves to be not to your liking.


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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by wdlfbio » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:58 am

If you're just getting into boating, there are lots of added costs to equipping a boat properly. Many of the new boats skimp on features to keep a low price point, leaving the new owner to incrementally add or upgrade these items later... increasing the real cost. However, the guy who has had and fished his boat for a few years will have already started, if. It completed this process, and is now looking to upgrade into a bigger boat. Buying his/her used boat will save you tons of money and likely have a boat better set up for you. Certainly is merit in letting someone else take the first depreciation hit from leaving the lot with a new rig.

My best advice, do not let yourselves get into a hurry. Make a list of why you want the boat and what you want to do with it. Then, focus on the 90% of what you'll be able to do with a boat and go for one that fits. Simply, no boat will offer you 100%. Every one is a compromise of some sort.

You should consider chartering with a few different guides in differnt style and sizes of boats. Spending a day on the water here and there will really help you zone in on what you actually want.
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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by mryakker » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:19 am

Thanks for all the feedback. I will get the excel worksheet set up to help make sense of boats features, geometry,material, etc... I had no idea there were so many builders locally so I will be sure to start here since we are getting hit hard with the exchange rate.

Also thanks Kmorin for pointing out the bottom at .16, I was under the impression that was above industry standard. Forums like this are not only great for information but learning about what to actually ask and look for in a boat.

As for used boats do you just keep a eye out on craigslist & kijiji or is it worth talking to a broker?

We will try to take our time with this as it will be a big investment for us. I usually have the wife as voice of reasoning when it comes to making big purchases but she is even more excited to get on the water than I am!

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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by kmorin » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:00 pm

mryakker, I think the advice about chartering is very sound. First it gets you on the water for the min. cost and 2nd you get to see different boats in action - experience the boats. Third, you get to have the skippers/operators' opinions on what they'd do different or retain in a new boat. And there are other advantages. Suppose one size, brand, and model of equipment is most widely used among the very experienced commercial fishing guides? That is a cheap market research for all the add-on gear that has been mentioned above.

I agree that you've got tons of very good quality builders in your locale, especially in the 2nd and 3rd groups of market contributors.

As to the thickness of the bottom I'm not attempting to say that a 5/32" plate is inadequate, I've built a few skiffs that were 1/8" bottom and they do fine for their intended use. I was focusing on how important an apples-to-apples comparison of the many details in a welded boat is- and to this end how critically implied a spreadsheet type of comparison is to make sure that you're not comparing one thickness hull to another as "equal" or "better".

As long as we're on the topic, I'd like to suggest you either eliminate or reduce your reliance on the relative terms: best, better, good, bad, best riding, best performance.... all these relative terms add to confusion - not clarity.

Since almost no builder (military sometimes requires this measurement) offer an impact force or 'entry acceleration' by the bow (a force comparison of the impact at a given speed, for a given boat, in a given sea state) there is almost no way to quantify 'smooth ride'. One of my pet peeves (of the many I rant about here- with the tolerant indulgence of the Forum- thanks everyone) is that the promo videos show the greatest, newest, best, finest riding, boats - in a flat calm bay at speed. What does riding in a bath tub or a lake have to do with performance in a seaway? Not very much. I consider such vids as "sales talk"- mainly useless- an Arkansas Jon Boat will look about the same in those conditions- but what happens in a 4' head sea 20knots of breeze on the bow? Those videos would be informative to me; especially if the camera showed a vertical accelerometer reading in the head sea!@!@

Some buyers rely on the V (in degrees) at the transom others on the listing of the V at some point of the bow? But that point of measurement for one 50deg entry may not be what is given by another designer's boat who uses a different measurement at the bow or an different point of the warped bottom (changing angles! of deadrise) so the two figures are limited in usefulness in your comparison unless you can define each set of terms?

Last additional topic to note is that "ride" should be discussed a bit as it applies to a boat. 'Good' ride or 'smooth' ride is the movement of a boat through the water that is the most even wave shape when viewed from the side of the boat- while traveling at any given speed for a given sea state. If a 200lb. Lund (fine boats for their purpose) is run at 30mph in a 3' sea the ride wave diagram will look like a saw tooth graph. The reason is the boat is flat bottomed, is very light wt and therefore the boat will launch off a wave at that speed, not cut through it. The light wt compared to the shape make the boat, at that speed in a 3' wave set, into a projectile what will have an abrupt stop or flat spot on the graph at the end of a vertical saw tooth shape- so that impact will be very hard.

However, the exact same LOA made of heavy plate, the same shape in welded aluminum will have a little less impact because it won't fly as far being heavier.

So like a 1959 Cadillac sedan on the same pot holed dirt road as a 1963 Volkswagen bug going the same 50mph- the wt makes a huge difference in how each vehicle handles the impacts- one being lighter has more movement and higher impact- like the Lund compared to the welded skiff.

Next is shape- that contributes to ride as well. The deeper the V or narrower the chine to chine beam compared to the depth of keel (higher angles of deadrise) provide a 'slower' entry into any give sea state. The relationship between the deadrise angle and the related rate of displacement and time (impact) has to be considered in the 'ride' equation too. So a 17 degree V at the transom and 45 deg at the bow skiff will have less impact (sudden buoyancy increase) than a flat bottom jon boat. The time factor is what you have to understand the V of the bottom relates to in ride- for any given V angle.

The time of deceleration of the movement of the boat downward, into the sea or wave face, can happen over a whole second or it can happen over a small fraction of a second. If the two boats are moving the same speed side by side, in the same seas, head on to the bows; the jon boat will reach a waterline shaped the area of the entire bottom at the instant of touching the water. It will therefore reach its full displacement at that instant in time and stop going down in the water. That stop will be equal to the entire displacement of the boat- including you and Mrs. all gear, engine too; called the "All-Up" displacement stopping instantly- ouch! That's a lot of shift/change/stoppage in momentum in one instant in time.

On the other hand a V bottom skiff of similar wt will more gradually sink down until the buoyancy (lift force) is reached. That time may be a full second? But it is not an instant, microsecond. Therefore your body gets to have some "braking time" before you slam into the water. The V allows fro a little longer time to act as shocks/cushioning/easing into the water- as the V converts its shape more gradually to lift as the V shape enters downward into the lift/buoyancy medium.

What draw backs exist to the V bottom shape? Well at rest, while fishing or sitting "out in the bay enjoying the day"- the deeper the V usually the more the roll (side to side motion of a boat) and that is very tiring as you will have to sway side to side on your legs or at the waist all day to counter that motion.

So boat shape to achieve "smooth ride" is a series of design factors like all up displacement, bottom shape, speed and sea state- and by chartering you'd have the opportunity to ask your guide to 'put his boat through the paces' and understand the various relationships that have been achieved by different designs by different builders.

Don't want to get too technical, but these principles of movement are (IMO) useful considerations of some of the factors that may be worth understanding as you plan to invest a 'tidy sum' in a welded aluminum boat. The performance envelope you may come to realize is based on the owner's intended use- and the implications of the most 'effective' (relative term@!!) combination of features, and gear that can achieve that set of goals.

Kevin Morin
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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by kaelc » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:08 pm

Interesting to see the Katana on your list, I have seen them listed for sale and they are definitely cheaper and worth looking at. I would find someone in Vancouver who knows boats well to take a look at it with you, before buying a Katana or get a marine survey.

The one pictured, you don't know how well the motor is set up and it will be worth while someone looking at the fuel, wiring and battery setup to ensure the builders did not weld up a great hull and get unskilled people to put the components on. My boat was not rigged very well when they added power but at least the fuel and electrical systems were installed by professionals at the Hewescraft factory.

Being new to boating I would go on a fishing charter with someone that owns an Aluminum boat, if you can find one in Vancouver. Also consider joining a boat share club, that has Aluminum boats The Hewescrafts they own are a step up, but will give you an idea of the pounding you will take in chop.

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Re: New guy looking for advice


Post by mryakker » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:27 pm

Thanks all. I will keep you posted with the results from my search and I'm sure I will have a few more questions for you.


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