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Sportfish Manual

Old 09-21-2020, 02:13 PM
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Default Sportfish Manual

Hello All. I am (and have been) considering moving up to the Sportfish crowd. I have owned boats for over 30 yrs. I sold my my recent boat a few months ago. Still have a flats boat for now. While I have fished offshore my entire life, it has been from the ease and simplicity of a boat with outboards. I do consider myself SOMEWHAT handy, and love to learn. Hence, where I'm at. I have read on here, about dripless shaft seals, stuffing boxes/glands, etc. But, to be honest, still do not have a working knowledge of all the systems on a boat of this nature. So, as I enjoy learning this stuff, I am asking for guidance on a book, manual, whatever that reviews, and would be great in detail, the systems of a boat of this nature.

Not looking for the ol gas vs diesel debate, but, just a good resource that reviews and familiarizes oneself with nuances of this sort of boat. I am a yr or two from buying, if ever. Just want to not be so ignorant to all of what I might be getting into. I'm 53, in good health, and feel like I have one last boat in me and the wife and I have always wanted a boat to stay in the water. It wont be a serious, hardcore type boat. Yes, I will fish it, but, serious fishing, maybe once or twice (maybe more) per year. We love riding, exploring, doing simple stuff for trolling the beach, to taking a dream trip to the Exumas.

Taking it slow, and just want to gather knowledge at this point. So, any and all resources would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time.
Old 09-21-2020, 02:45 PM
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I am interested in your interest and subscribed to this thread. I think this is a great question!
Old 09-21-2020, 03:31 PM
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A good start, and interesting, is to surf through you tube. Tons of liveaboards, cruisers, boat info, etc. I'm afraid here your question will start well, then fall into the gas vs diesel debate you mention. regardless, I am 65, had the same dream at 55 but still had two in college. Don't put it off, and good luck
Old 09-21-2020, 04:00 PM
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If you do a search there are a bunch of books out there. Early on i would find someone knowledgable to get advice and help from if possible. After that the internet will give you most things. These forums can really help as well.

I bought my first twin diesel sporty 18 years sgo. Haven't had anyone but me doing maintenance for the past 14 years other than my refrigeration guy as i don't have the tools for that and it isn't worth buying them. My background for this was building cars in my teens and an electrical engineering degree. I got early help on the diesels, but found most other things are easy enough to work out. If you are mechanically and electricslly competent it is only scarey until you get started.
Old 09-21-2020, 05:33 PM
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wish I could help, but the only advice I can offer is to do probably what you're already doing. Looking for advice, asking questions, pouring through various forums and such. It doesn't take long to end up going down a rabbit hole on a topic that you never thought you'd care about or had no knowledge of.
And then, of course, there is the fact that you just have to go out there and try it. I'm definitely learning as I'm going on my Blackfin. A problem pops up, I immerse myself in reading anything and everything I can about that problem, and then I end up just diving in and tackling it. Mistakes are made. Lots is learned.

Even if this thread devolves into some petty stupid online debate about gas vs diesel or CAT vs. Cummins or Garmin vs Simrad, if you can weed through the bullshit there's usually a couple of core points that are worth taking away.
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:04 PM
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Wish you the best in your search. Totally get it. I've had similar thoughts but have two fishy bodies of water near me and can't afford two boats or two moorings. Some thoughts: Is there a great marina near you? Is draft and exploring shallows an issue/need? That could push you from inboards to twin outboards. A clean transom for fishing, weight down low in the hull, and a smoother ride spells inboards. If you have a yard to haul the boat, a place to work on it, and a mechanic willing to work with you...maybe inboards work? Keep us posted.
Old 09-21-2020, 08:39 PM
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You skill and willingness at maintenance and repairs will make a huge difference in what you can own. There are capable sportfish around me for less than $10k, needing attention on a lot of small things. I paid a bit more for a low-hour old sportfish, spent a few months replacing hoses and updating some mechanical and electrical things, soon to be in the water for the first time in several decades. Next year I'll start on the cosmetics, but it doesn't need much.
Old 09-21-2020, 09:28 PM
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I've been running, fixing and around diesel sporties for 25yrs. I also built one and outfitted it from scratch.

Yes there are a lot of systems in each, and total behavior can be complicated. But each system is really just one system with a few parts. Take the time to understand one system at a time, how it interacts with others. etc. Explore the boat, learn how all the bits work, play with it, use it, enjoy it. In time you will understand it fully.

No one single bit is hard to figure out. A bit at a time.
Old 09-21-2020, 09:46 PM
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Buy one on a shoe string budget, necessity is the mother of invention.
Old 09-22-2020, 06:32 AM
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The following will get you started:

See if you can find a copy of Pascoe's "Midsized Power Boats", which discusses systems and build-related items at some length.

Another good manual, which you will use a whole lot if you actually buy a boat, is Calder's "Boat Owner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual". His book on diesel engines is a good primer too.
Subscribe to BoatDiesel.com
Join the Hatteras Owner's Forum which has a lot of discussion of large diesel boat systems and maintenance issues. If you can find a copy from someone, Hatteras owner's manuals are detailed and excellent, though boat specific.
For fun and education, charter a fishing trip with a well recommended captain and spend a day or two picking his brain and having him walk you through the boat systems and maintenance.
Old 09-22-2020, 07:46 AM
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Thanks all, I really appreciate it. This is something the wife and I have always wanted. Now, 3 of the 4 kids have graduated college, the last is a yr away. We are giving this serious thought. I have read enough, and feel like I will know it when I see it, and certainly have a survey. As far as our needs, I love the idea of a convertible for entertaining, and for kids and grandkids to have the room. I want to keep it in the 38ft or less realm. Great advice, and once again, Coores, I love the directness you have. I have read your thread and it is my favorite. I can see myself, like you, wondering what the hell went wrong here and figuring it out, although, you certainly appear much more capable than I at the moment.

As far as a marina, we love the Port St Joe area. Have been going there for 20 yrs, and owned a vacation home there for 8 until Hurricane Michael put 4ft of water in it. The St Joe Marina was leveled and no idea when, or if, it might be rebuilt. I am from the Mobile area, and OB now being creamed, who knows. I have considered Apalachicola. That will have to be figured out. And I live 3-4 hours from the coast (Montgomery area), so that is something else to consider. I am self-employed, so I am flexible on being able to break away if the need arises. Just lots to consider.

Again, thanks for the advice, I will do research, check out the YouTube idea, and scan the web for info. I would love to take a "class" that reviews these systems, in detail, and just get a good understanding of each of them. Right now, I wouldnt even know how to start the damn thing, or the sequence. Generator first, then the engines, vice versa....etc.
Old 09-22-2020, 08:14 AM
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Just went through this. I own a 36express with trip verados. Great boat and me and fiancé could overnight. Sort of. Has an aft cabin and a convertible v area. Again not bad but not great. Has a gen and ac plus a combo head. Wanted something I could overnight in and stay whole weekend with family and friends. I figured we would start basic but quality bones. One of my companies is in the marine industry so we could rely on our resources to upgrade and maintain it.
Well, I will tell you big is never big enough lol. I looked at 48vikings and they are nice and are at a good price point.
Couldn’t understand why 80’s 90’s Hatts were so much more money but found one that needed cosmetics that was reasonable so I went and looked. All I can say is that the pride and quality of a Hatt from that time period is amazing and puts many current boats to shame as far as what’s behind the panels. Most manufacturers today would just say that it’s over kill.
My point is you don’t want to have to rebuild a whole boat. Yes some things will need to be fixed etc but if they used crap 20years ago everywhere it can get crazy expensive to fix.
We are about done updating our 52 and we have had several offers for her and are trading up to a 65.
The boats from 2003 back themselves compared to new Freeman’s etc aren’t expensive but the running of one can get out of hand if the bones aren’t good.
Also, I re read your post a 38 sporty with a fly bridge is very tight up top. A 42 is about where it starts to have acceptable space. A 38 express is a great start.

Old 09-22-2020, 08:58 AM
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Abaco - Thanks for the reply and info. I haven't even stepped foot on one as of yet. So, just from seeing pics, and to be honest, my pockets do not seem as deep as yours. I know this can be and expensive proposition, and I am trying to hedge my bets. Certainly things come up, and stuff in the $5k-$7k neighborhood I could do comfortably, its just the $10k+ repairs could start to sting. Honestly, I could not afford too many of those, or it would become a dock queen, which negates why we would be buying one. So, trying to trade off size, expense, upkeep, etc without over-kicking my coverage, so to speak.

Again, trying to learn the systems, have somewhat of an idea what I am getting into, having cash accessible for stuff here and there, and trying to avoid the catastrophic problem that could lead to borrowing money to fix, if that makes sense.
Old 09-22-2020, 09:19 AM
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I sold a 2000 model Phoenix 34 flybridge with 420hp 3126 cats and went with a larger sportfish but it was a great boat and I kept it under a shed, waxed, upgraded and maintained. 5 years ago I sold it for 75 or 80K, it was a great deal for the new owner.
Recommend whatever boat you buy, you take your time and find one turn key that has been well maintained (with diesels . Too many boats have been neglected for so long and so much junk people are trying to sell you either need deep pockets to buy newer, or find something that had a meticulous owner. It will make the difference between having fun and having an endless project of deferred stuff. There is always plenty to maintain with a boat that is "turn key", starting with something that needs work / upgrades is not something I would want to do.
Old 09-22-2020, 09:50 AM
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Lots of good advice above. Here is my experience coming from a twin outboard boat that I owned for 8 years/1100 hours and was primarily used for offshore fishing. I'm also extremely handy, (having worked on cars all my life, and built my own home and completely renovated a vacation home). I now have owned a twin diesel 36FT Express that I purchased used, (5 years old when purchased), and have now owned myself for 7 years. Owning a diesel sport-fish is a completely different animal/world, and you never stop learning. Obviously while the boat ages, more and more things begin to need attention, and something new needs to be addressed. It's a process that never seems to end. Of course the age of the boat and how the boat you purchase has been maintained will be a big factor. The best advice I can give you is to align/surround yourself with knowledgeable technicians and boat yards. Start by researching who the best diesel mechanic is for your particular engine, (Cummins mechanic in my case). Develop a rapport with this Tech. He can establish a baseline on the engines, and recommend what maintenance needs to be done going forward, (whether by you or by him). I do the regular maintenance (oil changes, hoses and belts, fuel filters, etc.), and he does the major work (heat exchangers, turbos, fuel pumps, engine mounts, etc.). What you are comfortable doing on your own will be up to you. I'm running 70 miles offshore regularly, so I want the boat to be running flawlessly from May to October, and leave the more involved work to the Pro. Next, develop a relationship with a boat yard. Here in NJ, we have to store our boats for 6 months a year or more. I'm blessed to be able to return the boat to the yard where it was built, (Jersey Cape Yachts). Jersey Cape built the boat, so I rely on them to educate me on the systems, and what maintenance is needed on each. Using the same formula as above, I do the routine maintenance, but rely on the yard to change out cutlass bearings, have the props reconditioned, replace electronics and transducers, re-varnish the toe rails, etc. When the boat is pulled, running gear gets checked, and systems get checked to see what needs addressing for next season. I've now built a relationship with the mechanic and yard over 7 years, so that they know the boat almost a good as I do. For example, when I thought I had a fuel delivery issue (per my Cummins system alert) while fishing the White Marlin Open, I called Jersey Cape and they diagnosed over the phone, (and were ready to send the mechanic hundreds of miles to Maryland that day if necessary). Their intimate knowledge of the boat and engines allowed them to talk me through what turned out to be nothing more than a sensor issue. But I learned something new, which I had not come across in the 7 years I've owned the boat. I often joke with Jersey Cape that by the time I'm ready to sell the boat, I'll know every single part, system, and nuance on the boat. It takes that long to become acclimated/educated. Good idea to do some research. It will also help you to make a more informed decision on whether you really want to tackle ownership of that type of boat.
Old 09-22-2020, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Fatherof4 View Post
Abaco - Thanks for the reply and info. I haven't even stepped foot on one as of yet. So, just from seeing pics, and to be honest, my pockets do not seem as deep as yours. I know this can be and expensive proposition, and I am trying to hedge my bets. Certainly things come up, and stuff in the $5k-$7k neighborhood I could do comfortably, its just the $10k+ repairs could start to sting. Honestly, I could not afford too many of those, or it would become a dock queen, which negates why we would be buying one. So, trying to trade off size, expense, upkeep, etc without over-kicking my coverage, so to speak.

Again, trying to learn the systems, have somewhat of an idea what I am getting into, having cash accessible for stuff here and there, and trying to avoid the catastrophic problem that could lead to borrowing money to fix, if that makes sense.
If 7k is your feel good it will be tough. Your dealing with boats that on equivalent would cost a touch of a million dollars now and the parts replacement is the same old or new. The newer you buy doesn’t really fix that issue as that might change the quality of boat you are buying. And a 38 quality boat isn’t much less then a 48 it seems.
Non of this is to scare you. They are fun to own. Even my “old hat” still gets its pic taken everytime we anchor out and we are very comfy inside.
Old 09-22-2020, 01:19 PM
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I spend about $5-7K a year at the yard for Spring/Fall launch/storage and maintenance. Then I budget another $10K per year for upgrades/projects. One year, a new enclosure. One year, redo the mahogany toe/helm rails. One year, all new electronics, (which cost $30K). One year, new shaft seals, and cutlass bearings along with re-aligning and checking shafts. Last year, all new engine mounts for both engines. Three years ago, a new generator. Keep in mind if you don't stay ahead (or at least equal to), these items, they end up getting away from you on a boat with all the systems involved. Depending on the engine make, a 1000 hour service is going to run $15-$25,000 on engines for that size boat. I look at it this way: replacement cost is over $1 million dollars for my boat new. I can keep it as close to new as possible by staying ahead of the curve by updating/maintaining.
Old 10-09-2020, 08:27 AM
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Some advice. I have read and read on the gas vs diesel, so don't want to go there, but, if need be, fine by me. The advice is this: Older, say mid 1980s sportfish. In the 38ft range. I have seen it for sale on here, for quite a while, with really no takers. Diesels in the 2500 hr range. Price seems reasonable, what am I missing? Again, the reason must be obvious, but my lack of knowledge, has me scratching my head. I know its an older boat....Diesels were put in 1992. Granted, they are knocking on the door of 30 yrs old. Without a survey, etc, what is the hang up on a boat like this? Price I assume?
Something else? Just general thoughts and advice....
Old 10-09-2020, 10:54 AM
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For a mid 80's, these would be some of my general concerns, without knowing boat builder or engine models:

1) Availability of parts for that specific engine model, some of which may or may not be applicable - aftercooler core, turbo charger, oil cooler/core, heat exchanger/core and water pump. More likely than not, you will not be able to purchase new. Rebuilts may be very limited or non existent. If you can't find a rebuilt market, can you find someone willing and able to rebuilt your part, assuming it is not too far gone.

2) I consider this time period later in the transition/experimentation period for the industry of trying to phase out wood construction (mainly in mid 70's - early 80's) so I would want to know those details:
Hull - solid fiberglass, cored to waterline, or cored to keel
Stringers - wood or cored
Hull to deck joint - construction
Deck - coring material, and how were things attached (builder made solid fg areas, or just bolted into coring area). This includes flybridge floor.
Superstructure rear bulkhead - many of this vintage were plagued with rot in the corners and around doors. Some specific builders/models are "known" for it
Transom construction - same concern with any boat, but instead of outboard mounts you need to be concerned with each of the cutouts. IMO it adds up to several points of water entry above and below the waterline.
Flybridge - I think by this point most were molded fg. But you need to check to be sure

3) Generator - assume it will need to be replaced. It will probably have significantly less hours than engines. More likely than not, that is probably a bad thing versus a good thing. I have noticed that generators seem to get placed last on the to do list for pm and repairs.

4) Fuel tanks - what are they made, how are they installed, where are they installed? What is entailed to replace them? Cutting cockpit floor, pulling an engine, or as I have seen once, cutting the hull. If you need to pull an engine, how easy is that to do? Does salon have lots of built in furniture? How wide is the engine in relations to access hatches and salon door. What needs to come off engine to get it out?

5)Reverse cycle: Much less important that above, but still a concern: any issues with getting it serviced and/or refridgerant.

Hopefully most of what I wrote above can be easily dismissed, but it would really suck if you were "it" and didn't know of these potential pitfalls before jumping into ownership and having to experience it.


Last edited by chrisjb; 10-09-2020 at 11:12 AM.
Old 10-09-2020, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Fatherof4 View Post
Some advice. I have read and read on the gas vs diesel, so don't want to go there, but, if need be, fine by me. The advice is this: Older, say mid 1980s sportfish. In the 38ft range. I have seen it for sale on here, for quite a while, with really no takers. Diesels in the 2500 hr range. Price seems reasonable, what am I missing? Again, the reason must be obvious, but my lack of knowledge, has me scratching my head. I know its an older boat....Diesels were put in 1992. Granted, they are knocking on the door of 30 yrs old. Without a survey, etc, what is the hang up on a boat like this? Price I assume?
Something else? Just general thoughts and advice....
I'm assuming it's the 38 Ocean that's in the Boats For Sale section?
It has the CAT 3208TA 375hp engines. I don't think there's any real reason NOT to buy a boat with those engines. The 375 rating was by far their best and parts are still pretty widely available. Not to mention you can buy new rebuilt 3208s if you really needed to.
The 3208 is a good motor and can last forever if taken care of.
I have them in my Blackfin. Mine are circa 1984/85 and they still start at the flick of the key every time. Purr like...well...cats.

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