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Suggestions for small, simple, low $ boat for kids to learn on

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Suggestions for small, simple, low $ boat for kids to learn on

Old 07-05-2011, 11:01 AM
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Default Suggestions for small, simple, low $ boat for kids to learn on

I'm looking for suggestions for a small boat that can be run around, beat up, let kids learn to run it, beached, etc. Growing up I had a small john boat with an Evinrude 9.9 that I ran to death and it never gave us any problems and I'm looking for something similar. Want something that will be purchased used that will require very little maintenance and looking for suggestions. It will be used in the intracoastal in areas without much boat traffic and will encounter small boat wakes and wind chop. Something that a 10'ish year old could run (with a non boating adult on board), can be beached, not too fast. Less than 30 hp, don't know if I should go extremely simple with pull start and tiller control or steering wheel and electric start. Aluminum or fiberglass?
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:05 AM
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Carolina skiff
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:15 AM
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You should be able to find a nice v hulled jon boat type boat fairly cheap. Fiberglass is nice, but if they are going to be beaching it (and running aground like you know they will), aluminum is the way to go. Riveted boat will be much cheaper than welded ones, but may leak to some extent (just annoying, not dangerous). Plus, the aluminum boat will be light enough that it will scoot right along with a much smaller engine than the fiberglass counterpart.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:37 AM
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A 13' Boston Whaler will be my kids first boat.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:42 AM
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Suggestions for small, simple, low $ boat for kids to learn on
Originally Posted by runabout View Post
a small john boat with a 9.9
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bms1939 View Post
A 13' Boston Whaler will be my kids first boat.
I think a Whaler would be too much money for what I want. Carolina Skiff or aluminum are probably more in the price range.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:52 AM
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Get a used aluminum 14' boat with a 10-20 HP outboard on it. We would ski all day long on one of these when we were 10-15 years old. It will take a lot of abuse and burn very little fuel. You can probably pick up a used rig like this for a few grand.

Anything fiberglass will take much less abuse and weigh a lot more.

Or, if you are inclined, build one with stitch/glue out of good quality exterior plywood rig and hang a used motor on it.
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pfithian View Post
Get a used aluminum 14' boat with a 10-20 HP outboard on it. We would ski all day long on one of these when we were 10-15 years old. It will take a lot of abuse and burn very little fuel. You can probably pick up a used rig like this for a few grand.

Anything fiberglass will take much less abuse and weigh a lot more.

Or, if you are inclined, build one with stitch/glue out of good quality exterior plywood rig and hang a used motor on it.


My Dad and I built my first boat when I was 8, an optimist pram with sail and a 2 hp outboard. We had a ball with it. Easiest thing to build out of 2 pieces of 1/4 ply, one piece of 3/8 and a few 2x4s.

From my experiences I would recommend aluminum for a kids boat. It will take bouncing off docks, running aground and much worse with minor wear and tear. Easy to fix scratches, holes and gouges with bondo and paint.

A small whaler would be trashed in a few mos. Gelcoat does not like rocks, sand and other sharp surfaces and is expensive to repair.

I second above quote. You can even go to 16' Al;umacraft utility V16 with a 20-25HP (25 mph tops) or a 14 with a 20 HP( 25 mph tops enough for skiing). The 14 will plane with a 10 hp.
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by 1NO REGRETS View Post
Carolina skiff
That was my initial thought, but after thinking about it, the flat bottom CS is a HORRIBLE choice. They don't want to turn, and often when they do finally turn, they experience a chine lock-up that can toss people overboard. Maybe one of the V bottoms will work, but the flat bottom is a bad idea.

The operator must attach the kill lanyard religiously!
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:40 PM
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we have a boston whaler squall. Older design - but still unsinkable. It takes a fair amount of abuse. the one we have has a sail package - so been teaching the kids how to sail on it - but have used a little 4 hp engine on it too and it runs pretty good.
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:10 PM
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What about a little panga. When we were in Honduras every afternoon they run them up on the beach at full speed... so i don't think you would really need to worry about stability..

not to mention they ride great
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:49 PM
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The small Carolina Skiffs are a horrid ride in a light chop...the kids won't mind, but you won't want to ride in it much. I had one (13' or 14' I don't remember) to use in the Keys for a few weeks (and wanted to enjoy the fuel efficiency over my 21' Wellcraft), in the water, at my dock...and used it once. It beat the hell out of us running across the flats. It just wasn't fun. I messed around in it a couple evenings just blasting out from the dock when it was calm, but that was it.

Originally Posted by solarfry View Post
A small whaler would be trashed in a few mos. Gelcoat does not like rocks, sand and other sharp surfaces and is expensive to repair.
Seriously? Kids have been running around in 13' Whalers for 54 years now. I'd be willing to bet that a large majority of those boats are still floating and in use.

I'd seriously look for a used 13' Whaler....Late 1980s model.

The aluminum boat is a great plan if they will be boating in protected water (lake, inland South Florida canals, etc). I wouldn't pick an jon boat as my first choice for the kids in the Intracoastal, Bays or ocean. I think stability is important....13 whaler-style hull (Wahoo, McKee, etc) or maybe an inflatable?

I think one positive to the 13' Whaler (or 11' or 15') is that if you get an 80s model at the going price, and you don't destroy it....its going to be worth about the same amount of money when you sell it...now or 10 years from now.
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:50 PM
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What's your budget?
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:15 PM
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Aluminum, cheap, tough and light, F Carolina skiff.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Flot View Post
What's your budget?
I was thinking $2k or less. That's one reason while I was throwing the tiller control into the mix, figured the more simple and basic, the more of the money would go for the hull and motor. We don't have kids, but friends and in laws do. I would use the boat just to throw the dog in it occasionally on a weekday afternoon and run her about 1/2-1 mile up the intracoastal to a little island to play, so I would just beach it.

Doing a quick search, most of the whalers I'm finding are in the $3,500 range....or they need a bunch of work. I don't want a project boat. I just want something that can be run, hosed off and sit until the next time.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:42 PM
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I remember my first boat. An alum jon with a 25 tiller. Ski, fish and raise hell all day. Those were the days.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:22 PM
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http://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/boa/2454387243.html
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Old 07-06-2011, 04:52 AM
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i had a key west 1720 for my first boat.
while learning to operate a boat is one thing, learning to care and keep up one is different.

Hence I say go spend more money nad get a small CC, 15-16ft. Something that will let them learn to tinker etc.
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Old 07-06-2011, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by bearohs View Post
i had a key west 1720 for my first boat.
while learning to operate a boat is one thing, learning to care and keep up one is different.

Hence I say go spend more money nad get a small CC, 15-16ft. Something that will let them learn to tinker etc.
No thanks !!!! I would be the one doing the tinkering and that's what I don't want. I have my own boat to maintain, I just want something like I stated above.....simple and easy, use it and hose it off.
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Old 07-06-2011, 05:01 AM
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13' Whaler. No doubt in my mind. Very stable, unsinkable and great resale value.
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