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Kewanee 03-04-2003 06:51 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
I'm contemplating selling my 1976 23' Mako in order to find another boat with more freeboard. Right now I love the boat, and best of all, it's paid for. But I'm concerned with the amount of freeboard I have, which is only about 18". Should this be a great concern or not? I'm not married and don't have children on the boat, just fishin' and cruisin' buddies.
How much do you like to have on your 18'-25' boat?

Thanks for the help!

vinny f 03-04-2003 07:04 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
on my boat it hits me about 3/4 thigh thats about
35 ''.it gives me a feeling of support in a large sea.when i have a fish on i can lean into it without feeling like i'm standing on a ledge.i looked once at a used whaler that had good gunnels but no real stern .i said to myself if anybody ever put that boat in gear with a little speed if anyone was standing up they would be in the drink real fast.i like the secure feeling but i guess it's a matter of what you want to put up a matter of fact when i took a test drive in my boat
they took me out in the 22 footer not the 25 and my son kept saying this will never do,the height of the gunnels had him concerned when he got into the 25 he was much more at ease.

gw204 03-04-2003 07:06 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
If you and to some extent your fishing buddies are comfortable w/ the amount of freeboard on the Mako given the conditions you boat in, and you've already said you love the boat, why sell it?

I think my 20' Grady has about 24" of freeboard. I have two beautiful little girls and a "not-so-coordinated at times" wife so high freeboard was a huge concern for me.

LI Sound Grunt 03-04-2003 07:29 AM

How much freeboard is enough?

You can never have too much freeboard

MattG 03-04-2003 07:34 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
Do you plan on fishing this boat, or cocktail cruising. Remarks like you can never have enough freeboard is not true. High freebaord boats catch the wind, make them drift like c**p and overall stink for fishing. Your more likely to fall over the side from leaning over a high freeboard boat in order to get to the water to land your catch then you are in a low freebaord boat like a Mako where you can literally kneel on one knee, then lean your arms over to grab your catch, not your whole body. Boats are desighned for particular purposes. A Mako, is a real fishing boat, so if you are a hard core fisherman, you'll love the low freeboard.

CaseyP 03-04-2003 07:44 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
I disagree with Matt. I had a Mako(20C) and hated the low freeboard. It was fine for fishing the bay where your catch was not going to pull you overboard and you did not need to lean on the gunnel.

My current boat has 26" of freeboard, catched me above my knees. Great for tuna fishing. I also have toe kick space so you can get close to the gunnel without being off balance.

If you fish for large ocean fish, more freeboard is better. If not, not a big deal.


BW23 03-04-2003 07:45 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
We had a 76 MAKO 20'er with the low freeboard and cutout transom. When we fished the tidal rips we were constantly taking water over the transom depending on the drift. The lower freeboard was never a problem just uncomforting for an in-experienced boater that would have prefered more freeboard. Still have the boat and a 23' Whaler, higher freeboard and closed transom.

captadamnj 03-04-2003 07:52 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
i don't think there is any such thing as too much freeboard. that being said, you really need to consider the type of fishing/cruising that you do. if you are only in back bays, then freeboard isn't much of a concern. you aren't going to be fighting huge fish, and seas aren't that much of an issue (although some back bays and sounds can build quite a sea at times). on the ocean, there is a line between having enough freeboard to comfortably fish and keep seas out of the boat, and having so much freeboard that leaning over the side of the boat to land a fish can be uncomfortable at best and somewhat dangerous in the least.

bottom line is you have to be comfortable with it. there is no right answer for how much freeboard is enough for you.

davidd 03-04-2003 08:13 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
Freeboard or Gunnel height?....Freeboard, I like it to be just high enough so I reach the water and gaff fish comfortably.
Gunnel height above the deck I like to be just above my knees. That height coupled with the coming pads makes it easier to fight a fish.
Five weeks and counting


auguste 03-04-2003 08:49 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
HI Is the higher freeboard to keep water out or keep you in the boat? A buddy down the road loved his boat but found that the gunnels were too low and he was worried about falling over in rough seas. Solution, he did a tasteful job of raising the railing about 10" and extended it back to the edges of his twin outboards. Additional glitter looked good and for a few bucks he was much happier in a boat that was already paid for. Did the work himself for $300 and a long weekend. Just another option to think about.


junior34 03-04-2003 10:12 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
I always felt like Contenders needed a little more freeboard in the stern , but Im the only person Ive evr heard say that. Ive also been mighty uncomfortable in a 28' Privateer, which is one of the best outboard powered seaboats ive EVER ridden in, just has NO freeboard IMHO.

jkruppa 03-04-2003 10:20 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
Just like anything else regarding a boat-freeboard is a trade off. The one thing I have noticed is thatI would rather fish out of a boat with less freeboard. The reason is that you feel close to the water. It just feels like a better experience. I have 2 boats, a Four Winns Sundowner 205 (high freeboard) and a 14' Lund aluminum. The Four Winns is a great boat. For cruising, entertaining, swimming-it can't be beat. The high freeboard gives a sense of security to the family. However, when it comes to fishing-it is just not the same experience as being right down on the water.

junior34 03-04-2003 10:42 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
Unless youre 40 miles offshore then aint cool

trouty 03-04-2003 10:47 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
& lodging @ wileys place - now ya talkin!

Just joshin,

Now Freeboard is first and foremostly for keepin the ocean on the outside of your boat (assuming a leaky thru hull or something else don't sink you first!).

The more of it (Freeboard) the better (in as far as doing it's job of keeping the ocean on the outside).

How much is enough?

As a general rule of thumb (as distinct from the dangerous game rule of thumb...which states if the game can eat or stomp you to death then the hole in the end of the barrel needs to be bigger than your thumb! ) you need to have MORE THAN 1/8th the beam in clear freeboard (heres the catch) with your entire rated passenger load all standing at the same time up against one gunnel.

Think about that...

Lets say you got the 31 fountain contender yellafin donzi monza rocketship from mars...and it's rated for say 12 passengers and crew Maximum.

Lets say it has a beam of 10 ft.

1/8th the beam is 15 inches..

so you need 15 inches of freeboard with all 12 folks standing hard up against the one gunnel i.e all the weight on one side.

Well 15 inches aint much BUT you ever seen how much a boat with a real deep V heels at rest, and how easy it heels?

The better rode it is offshore due to deeper V - the easier she will heel over when you put all the weight on one side...

Throw in tuna towers and some wind and fat fella's like me aloft, as well as the rated passenger load all on the one side and some boats tha are considered "very good" offshore fishers might struggle to make the grade as far as the freeboard rule of thumb goes.

It all has to do, with how low the metacentric height of the vessel is (it's righting lever) i.e how much weight is way down low below centre of bouyancy.

This stiff righting lever qualit of a boat is what tends to counteract things like having all the passengers on one side at the one time abnd alspo the tendency for weight aloft in towers to want to roll a boat over.

Yes tall gunnel height can be nice in an offshore boat - you can fish from high gunnel boats easy - all you need is a long gaff handle and long handled net & be prepared to gaff or net everything you catch.

Now swimming a sailfish or marlin bye it's beak to recover it from a high freeboard boat is another thing altogther, and no dounbt a few tagging crew get a swim from time to time from leaning over too far.

So really it depends on the intended useage of the boat and it's design perameters.

Another shortcomming for anglers on high sided boats is that in any kind of a slop - you get a backwash from the sides of the boat that tend to assist your catch to remain just a poofteenth of an inch outside gaffing/netting distance.

I've managed to break the odd fly rod fishing from high freeboard offshore boats, applying just that fraction too much pressure to get a fish withing reach of the gaff / net when backwash from the hull assists the fish to make that last desperate lunge and you got graphite dust for your trubbles!

When the weather turns to crap - your OB's broken down and your drifting on the drogue waiting for help to arrive, and the seas are mounting - you'll be very thankfull for every 1/1000th of an inch of extra freeboard (specially down the transom end where all that water wants to keep commin in.

Thats the time when unsealed walk thru transom doors, cutaway transoms etc lose a lot of their convenience factor value when weighed against purely safety factor.

Cheers, hope this helps.

whoknows 03-04-2003 11:23 AM

How much freeboard is enough?
who needs freeboard?

Just kidding.

worldcat246 03-04-2003 12:08 PM

How much freeboard is enough?
i agree i believe contenders could use more free board.

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