How Big a Boat

Discussion in 'Sport Yachts/Yachts' started by Flytrade, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. Flytrade

    Flytrade Member

    33
    Feb 20, 2018
    2004 260 Sundancer
    Mag 350
    My son and his family (wife and 2 children) would like to get into boating. Although he has never owned a boat, he has used mine on many occasions.
    His idea is to get as large a boat as possible, so he and the family can take a one or two week vacation on the boat. I live on the west coast of Florida, and I can help him take the boat to the Keys, Bahama's, etc.
    So now the question becomes: How large a boat is it practical for one or two of us to operate?
    I realize this is a very general question, but whatever thoughts you have would be appreciated.
     
  2. Knotayat

    Knotayat New Member

    7
    Jul 27, 2018
    Chicago
    Boatless
    Boatless
    I think the answer is, as large as he can handle. It really comes down to an experience thing.

    I just purchased my first boat, and am in a similar situation as your son. I started looking at 30-35' sea rays, but wanted more seating room out back. Ended up getting a 44' Trojan. In calm conditions, I can handle it on my own. I have yet to take it out in rough conditions, but I don't see it being a problem.

    I have however, been driving boats for 30 years. at 14 years old, I could dock our 40' Mainship on my own as my parents watched. It took me a a weekend to feel comfortable with the Trojan.

    However, I have seen guys who have also been driving boats for 30+ years, but doesn't look like it when you watch them approach.
     
  3. Todd320

    Todd320 Active Member

    501
    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    Most sea ray boats (non-sedan bridge)in the 0-40’ (and probably higher) range can be captained by one person. I captain my 32’ sea ray alone quite a bit. I’m sure docking the sedan bridge versions requires at least one other person, and I think any sea ray up to the 650fly can be captained solo, but requires at least on other person to dock (or someone on the dock to help tie lines) BUT I’ll let someone with more experience answer that.
    Price range is the first thing. After that, you need to determine what you want to do. How do you want to use the boat? Pull up near beaches/islands, easily get through skinny water, ultimate comfort and lots of room while boating, boating mostly to get to the next marina? If you are not sure, start with climbing aboard some boats at a boat show or that are for sale, then maybe charter a boat, then buy something you are willing to sell in a year because it is not quite right (want smaller larger, etc)
     
    FootballFan likes this.
  4. douglee25

    douglee25 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    NJ
    Boatless
    Big ones!
    I honestly think it comes down to initial buy in, running, and maintenance costs. When you strictly factor in slip and insurance costs, that can be a good chunk of change just on a monthly basis depending on location. You mentioned Florida and I'd have to guess it won't be cheap to insure a larger boat on the east or west shores of FL.
     
  5. bmac

    bmac Active Member

    Jan 11, 2008
    Holbrook, NY
    2006 58 Sedan Bridge, Walker Bay Generation 390 RIB w/40hp Yamaha, 2014 Wellcraft 232 CC w/Yamaha
    MAN 900 CRM
    I single hand my 58DB a few times every season, when necessary. I won’t do it if it’s very windy out and I’m planning on docking at a marina with no dock hands to catch lines, but otherwise it’s not that big a deal.
     
  6. sbw1

    sbw1 Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    West Michigan
    This is listed in my signature
    This is listed in my signature
    We boat on Lake Michigan and have watched an acquaintance single hand a 72 foot Hatteras sport fish many times over the years. I've seen him dock it and tie it up unassisted. Depends on the skill level of the skipper. I do a lot of single handing of our boat for hours at a time. My wife drives so we have a car in various ports. In some respects bigger boats are easier because they are less prone to blowing around while docking. You set some lines on board before going into a harbor and secure a spring line to a piling at arrival and it all falls into place. People usually very willing to help when they see you are alone.
     
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  7. Todd320

    Todd320 Active Member

    501
    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    Insurance on my 32’ Sea Ray 07 is around 1300/year, I dry dock, 5-600/ month (Tampa/St. Pete area), gas assume 200/month (2 trips, 25 miles total, so 50 miles, 1mpg, 4$/gal = 200$), repairs for 10 year old boat 2-6k per year, (which is paying a tech for labor in my case, 500-2k if you can do the labor yourself?). Total is 11,700 to 16,900 per year, this doesn’t include purchase amount (I was told by a broker I was looking at 24k per year for a 30-34’ boat, including purchase price, storage, gas, maintenance, etc. He pretty much nailed it, and I really appreciated this knowledge). Insurance seems to be driven off boating experience and agreed upon value, so, not bad in my case.
     
  8. douglee25

    douglee25 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    NJ
    Boatless
    Big ones!
    Similar costs in Texas. 40' OAL insurance was quoted at $1100-2500 depending on carrier... Slips run $660-900/1000 per month for a 43'-50' dock depending on location plus fuel. We boat on a lake, so our boating is a little different but that should also give you another data point. A gas boat at 50 hrs per year that burns 35 gallons at cruise... Maybe half your run time is actually at cruise and the other half is at cocktail/hull speed where fuel is anywhere from $4-5/ gallon. Diesel burn is probably a 1/3 less in a similar size boat... Probably average $5500 a year in fuel. Comes to about $1200/month plus maintenance if you own the boat outright. Maintenance I have seen quoted anywhere from 10-30% of annual ownership costs.
     
  9. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    I think Todd had some really good advice. Think about how you and your son's family will use the boat. You referenced the west coast of FL, a SD340 can run to the Keys with good weather conditions.

    I wouldn't get hung up on single handing the boat. Think about how many people will be on the boat, what kind of boat provides the platform that supports the use.

    It really comes down to how you will use the boat and how much money you are willing to spend.
     
  10. Sea Gull

    Sea Gull Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2006
    CT
    2015 L650 Fly #509
    CAT C-18, 1,150 HP
    My wife and I run our L650FLY all the time, and I run her solo once in a while on short trips. Obviously everyone needs to evaluate their own abilities.

    Every Sea Ray yacht was built to be owner operated - usually by 2 people. That said, I can tell you from personal experience that boats over 60’ have many systems that need constant maintenance. Running the boat is the easy part.
     
  11. iBoat Skipper Doug

    iBoat Skipper Doug Member

    79
    Aug 8, 2018
    Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
    2003 225 Weekender w/Bravo III drive
    2019 Venture trailer
    5.7 MPI Mercruiser w/Bravo III drive
    My internet friend owns the 78 foot Nordhavn N78 Ammonite. He is circumnavigating alone, however he is often not alone as family and friends visit. From time to time he has paid crew onboard, for example, as he made his way through the Panama Canal last year, and again more recently as he traveled from Vancouver Canada to Alaska via the inside passage over this summer. Before he heads into harbor he calls ahead and has dock hands ready and waiting. I would put him at the high end of experienced recreational boaters with deep pockets.

    Another family I am following but do not know own and operate a Nordhavn N40 named M/V Cassidy. Relatively modest level of experience family of 3, including a young daughter. The three are vlogging their journey. What I really like is they share their screwups in their videos. Not trying to point fingers, in the real world we sometimes screw up. In their latest video, they miscalculated the tidal effect and ended up having to wait for the tide to relaunch their dingy, which grounded as they were onshore. In another video he showed and explained how he broke the generator exaust as he was working on something else, requiring them to ship in parts to the port they were at. Another video shows them docking in the middle of a warf, the boating equilivant of parking a car between two parking spots, which made another boater upset. Another issue is they keep loosing anodes off their bow thruster so they made a video about it asking for ideas. In the lost anode video the Dad puts on scuba gear, a wetsuit, holds a waterproof GoPro in one hand as he points out the issue in the other. I respect what they are doing. The parents have a cooperative, positive attitude and they seem to be learning fast.

    Here is one of the YouTube videos being made by the family of three with the 40 foot Nordhaven.

     
  12. Flytrade

    Flytrade Member

    33
    Feb 20, 2018
    2004 260 Sundancer
    Mag 350
    Thanks for all the great inputs to my question. I feel a lot better now about him/us getting a larger boat. It's up to him to decide what he can afford, the size of the boat, and how much he will be using it. But other than that I have a good feeling about our being able to use the boat, enjoy it, and come and go safe and sound. Thanks again to all your experience and advise.
     
    iBoat Skipper Doug likes this.
  13. SeadawgVB

    SeadawgVB Member

    193
    Jul 8, 2013
    Tidewater Virginia
    '03 Sundancer 360
    Twin 8.1s with V-drives
    I'll say one thing, looking at boats online or even in person is one thing. When it actually comes down to buying one, your perspective will change somewhat. I used to single hand my 30' sailboat all the time in the early 90s, didn't think twice about it. Then I moved to power boating in the 2000s (smaller than 22'). I went to a lot of boat shows and visited a lot of marinas. I thought the boat I needed was a 380 Sundancer. The boat seemed perfect for me and my family and was in excellent condition, but when I actually sat at the helm and thought about how to back that thing into a slip, I was very intimidated. It seemed like a huge beast.

    Looking back, if I would have considered a little hands on instruction from the many qualified instructors out there, I would have had no worries.


    P.S. If I was to pick a boat out of a hat and recommend it to you without knowing more about your situation (age / size of kids, potential docking location, ect, ect.) I would say a 410DA with diesels.
     
  14. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    Two kids and a wife? GO BIG! My personal experience is that many first time buyers won't fully appreciate (enough) a separate shower stall and a big enough sleeping area for growing kids with all of their crap.

    If your son has the budget and plans to use the boat like a cottage I too would recommend something in the 38-42 range.

    And if he's a handy guy planning to do his own maintenance (save $$$'s) the extra room in the ER of a gas powered 38+ is nearly as life changing as the shower stall.
     
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  15. Havana Shamrock

    Havana Shamrock Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Sep 9, 2008
    Long Island.
    2005 500DB
    QSM11's,
    Honda 30HP
    Sea Doo 90 HP H.O.
    Big boats are easier to handle than smaller versions in my opinion. My 320 was better than the 250 and so forth the 500 is easier to put in a slip than any 250da. More weight and bigger props. My advice is go as big as possible the first time. After owning 4 boats we see where we made our costly mistakes. Do it once and get it over with operating the boat will come easy.
     
  16. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    For me, single handing a our boat is more about the weather conditions.

    We do more side ties than anything else. Current doesn't affect as much as wind.

    Nice calm conditions or a wind blowing us into the dock, not a problems. Position the boat and start snagging cleats while the boat sits there.

    A strong wind (15+knots) blowing us off the dock, I need someone to work spring lines, not a one person event for us.

    I agree with the statement a bigger boat can be easier. But the most significant point was the one SeaGull brought up - as boats get bigger there are more systems and sophistication involved.

    Start climbing on boats, see what works with your family. Then have the discussion about single handling. Very much based on the captains experience and skills.
     
  17. Todd320

    Todd320 Active Member

    501
    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    This was me on my 320 heading out of the canal the first time. Seemed like the bow went on forever and the shore and other boats were WAY TOO CLOSE. Now, it seems like nothing and the boat is small! I don’t think I’ll ever go too much larger, maybe close to 40. If I win the lotto (I rarely play, so this is not going to happen!) I’ll get some type of 50 footer in a live on.
    The wife still wants me to hire a captain so she can learn how to drive and dock in case I’m incapacitated.
     
  18. Blkbird

    Blkbird Active Member

    244
    Jul 5, 2010
    Lake Lanier, GA
    1997 Sea Ray 450 Sundancer
    Twin 3126 CATS
    I bought a 450 as it was the biggest boat I felt I could handle on my own. And I do so regularly...

    1) the torque of the diesels and "bigger" props means that the boat responds almost immediately when maneuvering.
    2) say what you will but a bow thruster can be a god send when the wind is up. Add in the remote control key fob for the thruster and it makes a big difference.
     
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  19. The Bill Collector

    The Bill Collector Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tacoma, WA
    450 Sundancer
    3126 Cat's
    I single hand quite often. With the diesels and the remote control for the bow thruster hanging around my neck, I'm good to go... And our 450's are 51' loa
     
  20. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    All the experienced boaters here know this fact... but there might be some who are new to boating that might may not realize.

    All sizes of these boats can be docked by one person - or - will require crew on board. Depends on the conditions (wind, current). Just wanted to add that clarification - don't assume you can manage docking single handed in ANY conditions.

    Sorry for being redundant...
     
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