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My reccomendations:

1. Buy turn-key used or very lightly used, stay away from new:

You will probably buy the wrong boat and will probably bump the dock a few times. I think alot of new boat owners make the mistake of paying a premium for brand new OR they go the other way and get too cheap, ending up with a real headache/POS.. if you are allready concerned about $$ you will want something in-between needs-TLC and right-off-the-showroom-floor that needs no work but has the initial 20-50% depreciation.

You may be very aware of this but boats are not like cars, they last alot longer and an older boat in perfect shape with newer power is more/less as good as a new boat.. You need to have used boats surveyed by a pro unless you are a pro yourself, but it's not gonna be much more than $500 and worth every penny. It would be good to be sure you can insure it for what you need to before you buy a used boat for 30K, but it shouldn't be any problem.

Plus one item many ignore is that used boats often come very nicely rigged with all the things you need. As a new boat owner selecting a trailer, rod holders, electronics, safety gear, and all those other gizmo's is alot of $$ as you own nothing to start and you don't really know enough to rig it yourself. "Moving" into a boat takes time/$$ and buying new probably requires at least 5K over the sticker to get a boat setup with the basics.

Whatever you buy, go w/ mid-quality or better... Seaswirl is a good mid-quality boat from what I hear.

2. Buy the boat you think you need or MORE, DO NOT BUY LESS:

If you are thinking you need 25-30 ft and you buy a 19-20 ft you will be trading that in shortly.. 20 ft boats are not family boats... even 25 ft. boats as family boats is pretty debatable. You need the larger cabin space that the larger beam offers for real interior amenities. 25 ft. walkarounds w/ 8.5 ft. beams have very tight cabins - they work fine for male fishing crews (sorry OMD ;) - I'm sure it's good for you too ) but cramped port-potties w/ only a curtain and tiny bare-bones galleys w/ only a single bed aren't very comfortable.

If you want a real stand up head w/ a door and shower, stove, running water, two beds, seating in the cabin etc.. you need a minimum of some boats in the 26+ ft. range that have 10+ beams.

DO take the courses, and DO spend some time w/ an experienced boater on board, LEARN how to operate your boat with the INSTRUCTION of others, PRACTICE, LEARN THE WRITTEN AND UNWRITTEN RULES, but I don't think it's that big of a deal - boats are fairly easy to operate.

Jon
 

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As far as size of boats.. the problem I'd have w/ my 26 ft 8.5 beam as a "family" boat is it's just not all that comfortable.. definitely a seaworthy trailerable fishing machine with tons of deck & space, but even just with my girlfriend onboard it's not setup for pleasure-boating. You can't even picnic on it, there's really not any good places to sit without the wind blowing the plates over (yah you guys will make fun of me but I tried ;) ).

Sleeping on it ain't too fun either - great for 1 person taking a nap, but not a good nights sleep oro something that you could live aboard for more than mabye a bare-bones overnight.

There is a comfortable pleasure boating alternative w/ that 26 length & 8.5 beam - but ain't gonna be a seaworthy fishing boat.

If you want both you need a larger boat.. my buddies 32 ft. BHM is great for all purposes.. huge deck, stand up head/shower, multiple sleeping quarters, full galley, heat.. thefishingfreaks Grady Marlin 28 ft. w/ a 10.5 beam was great for all purposes and with nearly the same amenities.. again, you need that extra beam to make cabin space.

The 25 ft. range fishing boats just don't have squat for inside-oriented amenities. You barely have the space for rods, life jackets, and some extra gear before the cabin is just a closet.

On the FICHT's :

I was in merc marine tech school last winter. Some of the guys were younger and had only been in yards for a couple years, some of 'em had been at it alot longer. Talk to them and you get a totally different impression of the FICHT's - the guys I talked to really liked 'em. I'd ask a mechanic at a shop that worked at a shop w/ alot of high-HP OMC products since the late-90's.

My understanding is that yes, a subset of the early models had issues (and it was only like the large V6's or something), however - OMC came out w/ updates to those issues that made them reliable engines.

Would I buy one? Not without researching it and "clearing" it with a competent mechanic, however, my understanding is that if it's a 150 HP or under OR if it's had the updates, no worries.

Does that mean I'd want to take on an older pre-bombardier FICHT? With the updates, for the right price, mabye.. the problem with ALL high-tech engines is if anything goes wrong in the top end it hits the shop and you've got these $1500 parts that don't last forever.

The Opti's were far worse.. Merc never actually figured out how to make some early opti's run right. OMC at least has/had a fix available.
 

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HPDI's

mako -

There are/were issues with the Yami HPDI's too - I don't think they were blowing up but some were using like 4X the oil and could not be made to run without fouling plugs. Do a search and you'll find pleanty bitching about that.

The KEY point is BEWARE OF EARLY MODELS.

If I was buying new today I'd be looking into the latest/greatest Bombardier E-Tec's, but everyone now has good engines.

Jon
 

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I think the honda's are great too, probably among the most reliable engines out there, but they are 4-strokes with 4-stroke downsides and I think they are the most expensive too. The added maintainance alone on a 4-stroke is something to consider, also the performance isn't there, and the weight is.
 
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