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1st Time buyer, looking at 27-30 ft boats for GA coast

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1st Time buyer, looking at 27-30 ft boats for GA coast

Old 05-03-2020, 08:11 PM
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Default 1st Time buyer, looking at 27-30 ft boats for GA coast

Hi everyone,

My first post here, so bear with me.

I am looking for a day boat to cruise around the barrier islands in SC/GA/FL. Family includes wife and 2 young kids. Would like to use the boat to entertain sone and also to have fishing capability if needed occasionally.

I have been looking at the following DC's. I want a dual engine setup, joystick, hardtop, and XM weather on the boat.

Priorities are comfortable ride, reliability, and nice fit and finish.

I have been looking at these boats new or gently used:

Scout 255 Dorado
Scout 275 Dorado
Chris Craft 26 Calypso
Chris Craft 30 Calypso

I am a little overwhelmed by the myriad manufacturers and want to be sure I get something of quality that is not uniquely difficult to service.

So - what would you guys suggest? Am I missing a cant-miss boat in this range? Are there features I should be looking for that I am not thinking of?

Thanks in advance!
Old 05-03-2020, 08:59 PM
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I would give the Albemarle 25 Express with Twin F200s a hard look. They also have a 27 dual console, but it is a substantial jump in price.
Old 05-03-2020, 09:15 PM
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Head on up to the Albemarle factory and see first hand what they build. I ran a 25 and 27 express. Both boats are bracketed, so more comparable to other offerings in the 27 and 29 class. The 27DC they are making is great for ride quality and both cruising and fishing amenities.
Old 05-04-2020, 04:30 PM
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Default First boat

I would suggest taking a look at the Boston Whaler line up. I am somewhat partial to whalers as I own one and it has been a great boat. Although you are looking at dual consoles I would suggest entertaining a walk around like a 285 conquest. With younger kids it’s a great place to get them out of the sun and down for a nap if needed. Good luck and enjoy whatever you buy, the time with your family on the water will be priceless.
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Old 05-04-2020, 04:44 PM
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Best resale DC with fishabilty (if that's a word)...

1. Scout (from what you describe...I put this one at #1)
2. Grady W. or Pursuit



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Old 05-04-2020, 04:48 PM
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Always been a long time fan of Albemarle...decades actually. The Rolex of boats...takes a beating but ain't cheap!
Old 05-04-2020, 05:16 PM
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1 - What size are you looking for? You say 27-30, but then 1/2 of the boats you list are smaller.

2 - As for "can't miss" boats in this range... I think there are MUCH better boats than the ones you list. I've owned a Scout, and I'll just say the experience was less than desired. As for this new reiteration of Chris Craft, there are VERY few of them on the water. Again, it seems they are marketing looks and a famous name. Nearly all the big brands have dual consoles. I would say the Albemarle 27 is the premier boat in this range. Other good pics would be Pursuit, Grady, Boston Whaler, Edgewater, Cobia, Sailfish, Robalo... etc. I think you really need to go to a boat show and climb over all these boats to see what you really like.

3 - There is virtually no need for joystick steering on a twin engine, sub-30ft boat. You will have more maneuverability than you need. Joystick shouldn't be a replacement for lack of experience.

4 - XM radio is an easy add-on to any boat. There are a ton of options I would want before it. If you are basically sandbar hopping, it is probably overkill.
Old 05-04-2020, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Yacht Huckleberry View Post
1 - What size are you looking for? You say 27-30, but then 1/2 of the boats you list are smaller.

2 - As for "can't miss" boats in this range... I think there are MUCH better boats than the ones you list. I've owned a Scout, and I'll just say the experience was less than desired. As for this new reiteration of Chris Craft, there are VERY few of them on the water. Again, it seems they are marketing looks and a famous name. Nearly all the big brands have dual consoles. I would say the Albemarle 27 is the premier boat in this range. Other good pics would be Pursuit, Grady, Boston Whaler, Edgewater, Cobia, Sailfish, Robalo... etc. I think you really need to go to a boat show and climb over all these boats to see what you really like.

3 - There is virtually no need for joystick steering on a twin engine, sub-30ft boat. You will have more maneuverability than you need. Joystick shouldn't be a replacement for lack of experience.

4 - XM radio is an easy add-on to any boat. There are a ton of options I would want before it. If you are basically sandbar hopping, it is probably overkill.
You okay man? Sounds like you had a bad day.
Old 05-04-2020, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by CarpeAquam View Post
You okay man? Sounds like you had a bad day.
Doing quite good. You asked for advice, and I gave it. My experience with Scout was they look very nice, then just fell apart on me. So after a few years, the finish sucked. I assume Chris Craft going to be a similar experience. I think you would be better off going with something like a Pursuit, Grady, or BW that while might not look as fancy, is actually much better quality. As for joystick, it is a 20k add-on. Twin engine boats in your size range are really easy to maneuver. I think it would be a much better use of your money to take that extra $$$ and upgrade to a higher tier of boat. You also need to figure out what size boat you want, and to do that, you really need to crawl around them. I looked at the 24 and 28 Edgewaters - the 28 easily seems like 2x the boat. Even though it’s only a few exit feet in length, the volume difference is enormous.
Old 05-04-2020, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by CarpeAquam View Post
You okay man? Sounds like you had a bad day.
this is all good advice, you should at least consider it.

only thing I disagree with is I think that the joystick is a good option for inexperienced boaters and even those of us that have experience but like toys)
Old 05-04-2020, 06:17 PM
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Thanks. I plan to get a joystick. I'm not trying to learn to be Captain Ahab over here, just want to be sure not to wreck my boat or others since I am new to this.

I do not even know the quality brands (eg Porsche) vs. the smoke and mirror brands (eg Jaguar). Would appreciate some breakdown of the large boat manufacturers and what they are known for. Did not know about Edgewater until just now. Their boats look really nice.

I'd like to have something for this summer so waiting for a boat show is probably not in the cards. I plan to get a target list of models together and then drive up and down Florida to see them in person.

Finally - I have one dealer really pushing a Cobalt 30 SC. Would appreciate any insight on that make/model.
Old 05-04-2020, 06:38 PM
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I have the Scout Dorado 255 - it does a lot well and I've had as many as 10 adults in it. Its comfortable, well thought out and uses higher end components and construction (like other higher end production boats). I was also pleased with its ability in waves. I looked at the Chris Craft Calypso as well - I didn't like the ergonomics standing at the helm (which I do almost all the time). Cobalt are also very well made - but it likely has Inboard outboard engines? Not generally as good in salt water.
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Old 05-04-2020, 06:43 PM
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Don’t forget, the joystick takes learning too. Cobalt is not the best saltwater boat, but they are very good freshwater boats. Man, it seems like you’re gonna have to do some homework. But getting a new boat is a blast. And you’ve been given some good advice.
Old 05-04-2020, 06:43 PM
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Glacier Bay Dual Console - Mine is for sale but a bit far, you could make the trip in it 2006 Glacier Bay 2640 Renegade Dual Console
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Old 05-04-2020, 06:54 PM
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I think you are doing yourself a disservice by not going to a boat show. We all have different ideas of what we want and what we expect from a price/quality standpoint. The perfect boat for me in that size range might be very different than the perfect boat for you. You'll get 20 different people telling you 20 different boats to buy. You need to look at different boats and see what fits your expectations. Take the wife, your boating enjoyment will be heavily dependent on how your wife likes it.
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Old 05-04-2020, 07:41 PM
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Hire a Captin for half a day. Let him teach you how to dock your boat. 28-30 ft is to big to pull around by hand and dangerous. You will have confidence in what you are doing. The joystick may not work one day and then you have a problem. Enjoy
Old 05-04-2020, 07:53 PM
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The joystick thing has a natural attraction to someone new to boating. And it is a cool, convenient feature on a larger boat. But it doesn’t replace learning to pilot your boat and to dock without it....otherwise what will you do if it breaks? Learning to dock a boat is not rocket science, all it takes is a little experience and patience. I think you may make an expensive mistake by excluding all boats that don’t offer joystick.

a 27’ to 30’ boat is a big first boat. Learning what you’re doing is easier on a smaller boat. I’m not saying a 27 is a mistake, it may be perfect for you, but I’ve boated the islands of coastal GA, SC & FL for many years, with kids, friends etc and never wanted more than a single engine 22 or 23’ boat. I think a single engine dual console 22’ Grady White would be a great option for what you want to do, and a better first boat than a 27’ to 30’. If you’re going way offshore, size is a big advantage and twin engines offer redundancy. But for island hopping a smaller single engine boat is fine & often better, as it allows you to navigate shallow water & can be easily anchored at beaches.

How will you store the boat? If you have a lift or are good with high & dry marina charges, then a bigger boat is ok. On the other hand, trailering a 30’ boat is a big deal...if you plan to trailer it’s another reason to start smaller.

You mention fishing occasionally, what kind of fishing? If going way offshore a bigger boat may be better. If you plan to fish inshore, there are lots of places a 30’ boat can’t go, like shallow flats or small low country creeks. Something to give some thought to.

Grady White, Pursuit, Boston Whaler, Edgewater, Everglades are top tier boats that are good for what you described. Contender, Southport, Yellowfin, SeaVee are high dollar brands also, but focus more on offshore fishing center consoles. Scout is a good, decent boat but some believe the quality doesn’t match the price. If you want to spend less, then Cobia, Key West, Sea Hunt are “mid tier” cheaper options that still make a decent boat, and offer dual console models.

Last edited by 71Outrage; 05-04-2020 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 05-04-2020, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by 79Bertram View Post
Hire a Captin for half a day. Let him teach you how to dock your boat. 28-30 ft is to big to pull around by hand and dangerous. You will have confidence in what you are doing. The joystick may not work one day and then you have a problem. Enjoy
This is good advice.
There are a few simple things to be aware of when driving a boat.
1- Wind and tide when near the dock.
2- Learn the pivot point of your boat. They do not steer like a car. Most pivot at the stern.
3- Go slow. In case you bump something, the pain is less.
4- Do not panic and mash the throttle in gear.
5- Do not allow anyone to jump off the boat when nearing the dock or to hang their feet over to stop the boat.
6- Learn local area hazards to navigation like shoals and other obstacles.
7- Learn basic near shore navigation symbols in the harbor.
8- Always check your VHF radio before leaving the harbor. Do not rely on a cell phone.
9- What is Channel 16 for?

You get the idea.

Good luck and enjoy time on the water with your family.
Old 05-04-2020, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sharkwaters View Post
This is good advice.
There are a few simple things to be aware of when driving a boat.
1- Wind and tide when near the dock.
2- Learn the pivot point of your boat. They do not steer like a car. Most pivot at the stern.
3- Go slow. In case you bump something, the pain is less.
4- Do not panic and mash the throttle in gear.
5- Do not allow anyone to jump off the boat when nearing the dock or to hang their feet over to stop the boat.
6- Learn local area hazards to navigation like shoals and other obstacles.
7- Learn basic near shore navigation symbols in the harbor.
8- Always check your VHF radio before leaving the harbor. Do not rely on a cell phone.
9- What is Channel 16 for?

You get the idea.

Good luck and enjoy time on the water with your family.
Good advice. I would add, you almost always want to leave a dock in reverse. Otherwise you will clip the stern quarter of your boat on the dock (item 2 above). Going to neutral near a dock frequently, to slow your momentum, is a good idea, although not always possible in the swift tidal currents of GA & SC...the big tides & currents there are another reason a smaller boat is easier to learn on for what you want to do.
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Old 05-04-2020, 09:19 PM
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OP welcome to THT and boating. Are you going to store this first boat in the water or on a trailer? If you are doing SC - FL then I assume trailer... Do you have experience trailering something this large 27’+?

Is this really your first boat? I’ve given up on telling new boaters to cut their teeth on small 14-16 jon boats. I get they don’t entertain a family on the coast.. but they are a good tool to learn about what not to do (plugs, trailers, engines, etc.)

Is a “Large” bathroom a must have? I hear a ton of first timers mention the head and in reality it never gets used. Ladies can air it out the back or piss in a livewell.

Have you considered anything smaller? A jon boat is stupid to recommend for you, but what about a 22’-23’ DC? Heck I would even say go down to a 19’. Check out Grady Whites 22’ DC. If it’s gotta be new then look at Key West.

IS used out of the question?

Why does it need 2 engines? Is it “safer”? You say barrier island visits... that’s a whole lot easier with one outboard.

Again, welcome to THT. I’m not trying to be an ass.. just trying to help. Enjoy the coast.. the ACE Basin (SC) is my favorite.
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