Considering an Upgrade...

Discussion in 'Newbie Lounge - NEW' started by SoothingBlue, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. SoothingBlue

    SoothingBlue New Member

    10
    Aug 25, 2014
    Paola, KS
    1987 SeaRay 230CC
    Towed with 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 4x4
    5.7L (Chevy 350) Mercruiser 260
    We've had "Soothing Blue" for about 2 years now - an '87 Sea Ray 230CC. It's been a great boat for us, and for what we do at the moment which is spend afternoons at the lake, eat dinner, pull the tube around, sometimes skiers. Lots of great memories in the 2 years we've had it.

    We're talking about wanting to expand our horizons and get a boat that we could take a short (~1 week) vacation on and then also overnights at the lake when so desired. We're a family of 5 (three small kids - oldest turns 4 in October). The idea would be a boat that we could either take down the river (and then probably go back to retrieve) or tow someplace else like the Gulf and go travel around there, then tow back. We live in the Kansas City area, so we're right on the Missouri.

    Constraints:

    - Roughly $15k budget (some work required is fine, just depends on what exactly). This could go up a bit for the right boat, but probably not much at this point
    - Must be trailerable without oversize permits by a 3/4 or 1-ton truck (we currently have a 1/2-ton that's marginal as-is, and would be upgrading as part of the deal)
    - Ability to sleep the 5 of us in the cabin

    Heat/AC would be nice, but it looks like not something that we'd get in boats of this range. In looking around, the mid 90s Sundancer 270s appeal to me. I generally like their layout and they meet the 8'6" beam requirement for not needing an oversize load. I wouldn't mind pushing my luck with a 9' beam boat, but not anything bigger. The late 80s Sundancer 268 is another option (and cheaper, always a plus), but I don't like the deck layout on those, I'd consider it a downgrade vs. our current deck setup.

    Long term, we're considering doing "The Great Loop", but that is years off (if it ever happens) and we'd expect that to be a different boat, purchased specifically with the intent of longer term travel. The idea with this boat upgrade would be to "test the waters" before doing the loop, and get to do some more interesting vacations that would involve going places in a 1-2 week timeframe.

    I'm also not necessarily tied to Sea Rays, but we've really loved ours thus far and browsing BoatTrader I like what I see of them. I don't know enough about the other boat brands to know what to consider, we more or less lucked out when we bought this boat initially.

    A similar question would be if anyone has recommendations on destinations. The nice part of going down the Missouri river is it's right here, but it looks like there's a whole lot of nothing between here and St. Louis. Going to the Gulf sounds appealing, start off in Galveston (closest Gulf port to us) and then could either head east or west/south along the coast.

    Thanks for any thoughts!
     
  2. mnm99

    mnm99 Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 2, 2015
    Long Island
    2004 340 SeaRay Sundancer
    Twin 8.1 Merc
    3 small kids and you too is gonna be hard for a week in a 26...15K and tow! That's a tough one. I would suggest looking at boats and there sleeping arrangements. I just went from a 26 to a 34 and even the 34 for 3 days with 2 adults and 2 16 year olds is tight. you would have to look in the 34-38 range at least, and an older boat. Hope this helps a little.
     
  3. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Active Member

    954
    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1999 Sundancer 340
    454 Mercruiser's w/ V Drives, Westerbeke gen set
    I had a dock neighbor last year that had a 290 with a family of 4. Older kids. They did fine for the time they had it but ended up upgrading pretty quickly based on size.

    I think the 270 is going to be very tight to overnight 5. It feels more setup for two unless you have a camper top and have kids sleeping outside.

    My personal two cents would be that you might want to consider which is more important - 1.) overnighting with five or 2.) being trailer towable. I feel like these two things might be difficult to accomplish with the same boat...
     
  4. SoothingBlue

    SoothingBlue New Member

    10
    Aug 25, 2014
    Paola, KS
    1987 SeaRay 230CC
    Towed with 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 4x4
    5.7L (Chevy 350) Mercruiser 260
    I appreciate the thoughts on it.

    I would agree that this would be too small with three older kids. We have twin girls who turn 2 in December, and our son turns 4 in October. That's what makes me think that it might work for 5. But, "might." I've never seen one of these in person. What I like about the mid 90s Sundancers that I think makes it potentially doable is the sleep area under the deck lounger on the port side across from the helm. I could be dreaming.

    Really, the goal is a ~1 week vacation, probably in different areas, once or twice a year. The rest of the time our work is lake time. If we can't trailer the boat, then at this point it makes it harder to justify buying something and might make more sense renting.
     
  5. alwhite00

    alwhite00 Active Member

    May 31, 2010
    Michigan
    1997 250 Sundancer
    5.7 EFI/ BIII
    With the budget and width restrictions you are going to be hard pressed to find something that sleeps 5 in the cabin. Maybe something older with a camper top and put a couple up top. Your kids are small now but they grow quick and also require a lot of "stuff" when small. i'm thinking mid 30' range MAY work but you will have to get on it and see what works for you, Good luck with the search.
     
  6. BleednBlue

    BleednBlue Member

    161
    Jul 22, 2015
    Lake Of The Ozarks
    270 SLX
    Merc. 496 MAG Bravo III
    SoothingBlue, in your original post you said "...at the lake..." several times. Does this mean LOTO since you are in the KC area? If yes, here is a thought, take the Osage River to the Missouri then to the Mississippi. Point being, the cost of picking up the boat on LOTO and dropping on the Osage is probably minimal and certainly not a long distance.
     
  7. SoothingBlue

    SoothingBlue New Member

    10
    Aug 25, 2014
    Paola, KS
    1987 SeaRay 230CC
    Towed with 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 4x4
    5.7L (Chevy 350) Mercruiser 260
    Right now we go to Hillsdale Lake, which is 15 minutes from our house. So we can be on the water in 30 minutes. We've never been to LOTO, although were thinking of taking a (non-boat) vacation there. Would probably also be a good opportunity to look at some boats and get an idea for realities vs. theories on sizing.
     
  8. Charlesoceanone

    Charlesoceanone Member

    65
    Dec 14, 2014
    Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
    2009 52DB
    QSM11
    A trip to LOTO would be worth your while if you are close. There are a lot of boats there to look at and get a feel for the size. Check out the Marine Max there and walk the docks. We keep our boat there and they have 20 footers to 60'. At least you can kick the tires on the size then approach what your budget will get you.
     
  9. BleednBlue

    BleednBlue Member

    161
    Jul 22, 2015
    Lake Of The Ozarks
    270 SLX
    Merc. 496 MAG Bravo III
    Agree! You are only a couple hours away from LOTO. Marine Max has a GREAT facility and plenty of boats. Be sure to look at dealers that are NOT on the lake. You will find they have better prices since they do not have to pay for expensive property and facilities. PM me if you are interested in feedback from the dealer I purchased my 270 from.
     
  10. SoothingBlue

    SoothingBlue New Member

    10
    Aug 25, 2014
    Paola, KS
    1987 SeaRay 230CC
    Towed with 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 4x4
    5.7L (Chevy 350) Mercruiser 260
    The dealer idea is a great one. That'd give us a good opportunity to tire kick. We'll check out Marine Max. I'll PM you regarding the dealer you used.
     
  11. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Active Member

    954
    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1999 Sundancer 340
    454 Mercruiser's w/ V Drives, Westerbeke gen set
    For what it's worth last year was my first year with a cruiser and at that time I had three kids under 5. This year I'm three kids under 6. Loving life but barely surviving with the room we have for regular overnights. Keep in mind it's not just the sleeping part that becomes challenging. It's eating, mid-day naps, storing 12 stuffed animals, storing the water toys, storing the metric ton of foods these monsters eat...

    One tip - take all three kids with you at least one time when you go look at boats. And let them roam onboard while you look around. Get a feel for moving around while they move around.

    My last comment - when you have the kids on board take notice of the distance from the deck to the top of the sides in the cockpit inside each boat (there is a term for this distance but I can't recall. It's not freeboard since it's inside?). My wife and I are pretty relaxed parents but any walls shorter than we have now would be pretty nerve racking with young kids when parked and trying to relax. I haven't met a 2 year old that wants their life jacket on 100% of the time they are on the boat. With enough depth inside the boat you can at least relax while they roam within eyesight without life jackets. This is huge (my opinion) if you want to overnight/relax while not moving and kids not sleeping...
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
  12. SoothingBlue

    SoothingBlue New Member

    10
    Aug 25, 2014
    Paola, KS
    1987 SeaRay 230CC
    Towed with 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 4x4
    5.7L (Chevy 350) Mercruiser 260
    Thanks, I appreciate the comments. Your situation sounds similar to mine, and that makes me less hopeful about a 27' given your comments regarding a 34'. You also hit on all of the needs exactly. With our 23' boat, we head out for a few hours at a time and are able to survive without toys. Food fits in the cooler just fine, etc. We'd take the kids with us when looking at the boat anyway.

    Good point regarding the height of the sides. We tend to let the kids have their lifejackets off if they're in the cabin or if they're on deck but we're stopped. On our boat, it's high enough that we don't worry too much.

    One other note with our current boat. We have a Bimini top and metal parts for the full enclosure, we just don't have the rest of the fabric.
     
  13. dvx216

    dvx216 Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Feb 1, 2012
    orrville,ohio
    2000 310 sundancer 5.7 vdrives






















    n/a
    twin 5.7 300 Hp. V drives
    Bigger boat so your family has some room to grow and a jet ski for tubing and play on the water
     
  14. KHE

    KHE Member

    195
    Feb 28, 2012
    West Michigan
    1997 Sea Ray 240 Sundancer
    Mercruiser 5.7L EFI alpha 1 Gen 2 drive
    I would think the 270 would work for you as long as it has a camper top. Your children could sleep in the mid cabin and as they grow up, they can move to the topside.

    If you want all to sleep in the cabin, you probably won't be able to trailer it.
     
  15. SoothingBlue

    SoothingBlue New Member

    10
    Aug 25, 2014
    Paola, KS
    1987 SeaRay 230CC
    Towed with 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 4x4
    5.7L (Chevy 350) Mercruiser 260
    One question for the experienced parents. My wife is concerned about the kids (specifically our 3 almost 4 year old son) waking up at night and trying to crawl off the boat. He's been wanting to camp out on the lake with me. Personally I'm not too concerned about it because with our current boat, he and I would be sleeping in the cuddy cabin area and I'd keep the door closed and latched. So I think the probability of him waking up and trying to crawl out without me is low, plus he very strongly wants us on the back with him when he's kicking his feet in the water.

    Any thoughts?


     
  16. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Active Member

    954
    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1999 Sundancer 340
    454 Mercruiser's w/ V Drives, Westerbeke gen set
    Are you talking about him crawling out of the cabin (with door) or the cockpit under a camper canvas setup? As for the cabin I haven't seen many Sea Ray's where the door is "super easy" to open for a kid. You can also lock them. And the locks are nearly impossible to actuate even for adults (at least on my vintage).

    We've never worried about our kids and the door based on it being pretty difficult to open. They have tried, and failed.

    If you're talking about kids sleeping up in the cockpit under a camper-top my two cents would be "not in a million years". Even if they were older I'd still put the kids down below and the adults up top, if required. And I can tell you that the guy making the marina payments isn't sleeping without air conditioning...at least not on my boat. ha.
     
  17. SoothingBlue

    SoothingBlue New Member

    10
    Aug 25, 2014
    Paola, KS
    1987 SeaRay 230CC
    Towed with 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 4x4
    5.7L (Chevy 350) Mercruiser 260
    I was talking about crawling out of the cabin. I'm not familiar with the setups on the larger boats. On our 23', there are just two latches which I think any kid could easily defeat. I just don't think he'd crawl out if I'm there.

    I appreciate all the input. I do want a bigger boat, but I'm leaning towards redoing the deck on this one and sticking with it for the time being. We like it and I think we probably have a few more hurdles before we do a boat vacation with any regularity.
     

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