People who would like to have boats but don’t currently have one usually have a lot of valid reasons why boat ownership at this time would not be a good idea. Taken together, the reasons often boil down to life getting in the way for these people. Years ago a newsletter called Bone Yard Boats offered free boats or very good prices on old boats that people had intended to work on and save from the business end of a chainsaw. Their intentions were good but they often said how life had gotten in the way and now they wanted to pass the opportunity to save a boat on to someone else.
If you are looking for a new job, buying a boat might be on your bucket list but the timing keeps it from being on your short list. Maybe you have a job but see a transfer coming up and think the responsibility for owning a boat won’t fit into your plans. Maybe you’re working two jobs to catch up with pandemic expenses.
There are ways to get around all these reasons not to own a boat. Before you write off the enjoyment of having a boat now, think outside the box. What if you could find a really small boat that wouldn’t require dockage and storage expenses but could sit in a garage or your backyard? Have you ever considered a salvage boat – water, fire or accident victim that an insurance company will sell at a really low price? What about an old wooden boat? Every month the Wooden Boat Magazine has a column for people to give away their old wooden boats. There are other locations to find free boats of every type and description. Did joint ownership ever cross your mind? I’ve interviewed several people for previous articles who jointly owned boats with friends, relatives or neighbors. Those I spoke to were very positive and satisfied with the sharing arrangements they had.
If a small boat would work for you, there are currently new boats being built and used models you can find online that are no longer made that might meet your needs. A small boat such as the Exhilarator is only 10’3” long, 60” wide and 30” high. It weighs 281 pounds, seats two and its weight capacity is 435 pounds. In September the company that builds Exhilarators, also called mini power boats, was selling them for $5,999. You can power these boats with a 20 Hp outboard that will go about 25 mph. The motor would be an optional extra.
Online there is a video on mini boats at “VIDEO – 15 Cool Mini Boats and Tiny Watercraft”. On the same page, there are other mini boat videos listed.
Amazon currently sells the Intex Excursion Raft that included two inflatable seats, oar locks and motor mount fittings. It weighs 57 pounds, has a 1,000-pound weight limit and costs $275.99.
From 1989 to 1992 Kawasaki made and shipped to the US a pocket boat jet ski called the Jet Mate. Smaller than some current jet skiis, it seats three and is powered by a 52 Hp two-stroke engine that had been used to power one of Kawasaki’s earlier jet skiis. If you like it and can find one, it should do 30 mph flat out. Almost ten feet long, weighing 500 pounds, it can be towed easily behind most vehicles.
Aquanami produces the Jet Angler. The two-man version weighs 304 pounds and the one-man version comes in at 253 pounds. Both are 146” long. The Jet Angler for one has a 39” beam and the Pro has a 41” beam. The double seat model sells for $6,300 and the single seat model sells for $5,500.
If you live close to the water and can swim home, you might like to try the battery operated motorized lounger sold by Hammacher Schlemmer for pool use. The $199.95 float measures 66” x 43” with a weight limit of 300 pounds. Although most pools are now set up for saltwater, if you use the lounger in a saltwater bay you would want to give it a good hosing before putting it away.
A really small boat like the 10’ mini without the cost of storage and docking, could be the way to have a boat sooner. Something that would fit in your pickup truck or Suburban might be the answer for you. Pickup beds are generally about 69” for a short bed, 79” for a standard bed and 98” or 99” for a long bed. You are legally allowed several feet overhang, fore and aft of the truck’s dimensions in most states. If the boat is small enough and light enough it might fit either inside or on top of a Suburban. The cargo area of a Suburban is 49” x 105” with the back seats folded down. The truck’s outside dimensions are 224” x 80” if you want to carry something on the roof. How strong are you? It is generally assumed that a 20 to 29 year old male in good shape can lift 100% of his weight, a 30-39 year old 90% and a 40-49 year old 80%. Two strong 200 pounders should be able to lift a small boat into a pickup or to the top of a Suburban.
Companies that offer electric surfboards usually have several categories for beginners, intermediates and the real pros. YuJet has a $99 wheel set to take your board from your car or truck over the sand or on a dock. Replacement batteries can be switched to prolong your time on the water. Most of the boards got up to 20 to 25 knots. The ride time is 40 minutes on a single battery charge and a top speed is over 20 knots. They run just under $10,000.
If you want a free boat and Bone Yard Boats seems not to be publishing anymore, you can go online and try the Wooden Boat Free Boat list. This month their free boat list included a really nice 21 foot Jabsco lapstrake skiff with a custom hardtop. The hull has been primed and looks in excellent condition. Until three months ago the boat had always been inside. It has a rebuilt 350 Chevy fresh water-cooled engine, a new prop and shaft. The boat was built in 1954 of Philippine mahogany with an oak keel. Also listed under free boats for someone with a taste for bigger boats, was a 42’ Matthews sedan from 1955 with twin Palmers and an Onan generator.
To find a low cost boat you might think of a charity that accepts boat donations. Online Boatangel.com lists their donations that are now for sale. Boatangel is an IRS approved charitable organization. Currently online at Boatangel are a 1988 Sea Ray 27 in New Jersey for $102.50, a 1989 Carver 27 in Virginia for $1,225, a 1991 PennYan 27 with trailer for $1,051 in Pennsylvania and a 1987 Aquasport 27 for $100 in New York.
If you are thinking about a salvage boat, there are potential problems that can cost you more to restore a fire/accident/underwater victim than buying a new boat. It can work for a person with time but unless you are extremely qualified in marine restoration you might want to have a surveyor with you to save you from an expensive mistake. Insurance adjusters will tell you that they had so many boats to check out after recent hurricanes, some of the boats’ engines did not get pickled in a timely way. A boat isn’t cheap anymore if you have to rewire it and repower it. That said, there are some good deals out there in salvage boats but you have to be careful not to buy a dog. A lot of the salvage boats were submerged and have repair work that goes beyond engines and wiring.
Online at Salvage, Repairable and Clear Title boats for sale – SCA – they list a flood damaged Regal 2003 for $7,200, a 1997 flood damaged Regal for $125 and a free 1983 Bayliner that doesn’t list the damage.
If you’re hesitating for financial reasons you can do what Clay Colefield and his brother did when they needed a clamboat to make extra money for expenses and graduate school – they bought wood and built a boat themselves.
Life is full of choices – we can sit and complain or get up and get moving on what is possible to do with the time and financial resources we have.