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Potomac River Boat Options

Old 09-29-2019, 05:08 AM
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Default Potomac River Boat Options

We live in Stafford Va and in the market for a boat. As of now, I believe we are going to store the boat at Hope Springs Marina. They have boathouse storage up to 27í, so that would be our maximum. Weíve been looking at both Bowriders and Cruisers. I personally prefer a bowrider and my wife a cruiser, she likes the cabin space for our two kids, I think itís a waist of space. So, carrying on, weíve looked at several Sea Rays CC in the 25-27í range that are about 10 years old. There in great shape and we liked them. One of my favorite boats are Chris-Crafts. I found a 2002 Chris Craft Launch 22 in Annapolis that I would like to look at, though Iím concerned it may be to small for the Potomac. That being said, what is everyoneís suggestions on CC or Bowriders and what size? We probably wonít go south of the 301 bridge and might take a few trips up to DC, maybe. Iím more or less buying a boat for family weekend fun, some light fishing and just enjoying the river. Thanks for all the help!
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:06 AM
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Itís a big river. I am from Stafford and know the area since childhood.

You sound like fair weather boater and said you are not going far. The 22 will be fine on nice days.
As to style of boat that is up your family and what kind boating you will be doing

hope springs is owned by some fine people.
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:39 AM
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For simple family day trips in nice weather, where you may hop off and go to an island I would stick with a bow rider. As for size, I would find something around 22-24'. Heck, If it were me I may even look at a good sized deck boat. An inboard/outboard will usually have a very nice swim deck but that's a personal preference thing. Both styles bowrider/DC & deck boats will have Bimini tops for getting out of the sun a little bit. Either way, "family boat" means you probably want some kind of toilet. Larger (21'+) will usually put one in the left console.
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:43 AM
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How long do you want your boating season to be? 3 months? Or 6 months?

If longer, consider a pilot house or something with protection so you can extend your season into spring and fall.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by rocksandblues View Post
It’s a big river. I am from Stafford and know the area since childhood.

You sound like fair weather boater and said you are not going far. The 22 will be fine on nice days.
As to style of boat that is up your family and what kind boating you will be doing

hope springs is owned by some fine people.
My biggest concern is the hasty change of weather and the way it affects the river. I grew up in NC on the lake sailing, so this will be my first power boat. Im not concerned when its me and my wife, its when my 7 and 3 year old are with us. Ive never seen it for myself, but I've read that the river can get pretty bad when the weather turns, Im not sure about Aquia Creek though. Id love to venture further out, Im just not familiar with the River yet.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by moymurfs View Post
For simple family day trips in nice weather, where you may hop off and go to an island I would stick with a bow rider. As for size, I would find something around 22-24'. Heck, If it were me I may even look at a good sized deck boat. An inboard/outboard will usually have a very nice swim deck but that's a personal preference thing. Both styles bowrider/DC & deck boats will have Bimini tops for getting out of the sun a little bit. Either way, "family boat" means you probably want some kind of toilet. Larger (21'+) will usually put one in the left console.
Thanks. For me, I think there is more "outside" space with a bowrider. I think we could get more people on the Bowrider personally. Question though, with a bowrider and chop in the water, is there any concern about the water coming over the front. Im use to a lake and we have had some water come over on friends boats.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Srbenda View Post
How long do you want your boating season to be? 3 months? Or 6 months?

If longer, consider a pilot house or something with protection so you can extend your season into spring and fall.
Id like to go into October. I believe the Boathouse at the marina closes in November, so that would be the cut off.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:27 AM
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Grew up boating on the Potomac. Boated from Indian Head to Cobb Island. The river can change quickly from calm to nasty. Summer thunderstorms and just plain wind and tide changes. A 22 would be ok, but you will spend a lot of days in Aquia Creek not being able to get out because its too rough. My concern is always getting back if the water changes. If you plan on exploring the Potomac, going up to D.C. ect I would suggest something bigger. CC or bowrider, the bowrider has more usable space and seating. With Cruisers their seems like more work. No matter how hard you try the cabins always get damp and musty. Not many folks ride in the cabin of a cruiser while its underway, unless the weather is bad. It does give you protection from that.
The Potomac where you boat is different. Most rivers run one direction. From D.C. the river runs almost North and South. Winds out of the north can effect this area. Then at about Aquia Creek the river turns and runs east and west to Port Tobacco creek. Then it turns again to run north and south again towards the 301 bridge. If you look at a map you can see what I mean. Different sections of the river will be effected by wind and tide differently. At Cobb Island the river is about 7 miles wide. Good Luck, have fun. I loved boating on the Potomac so much to see and do.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:35 AM
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My wife and I enjoyed boating in the area for several years. We had a SeaRay 240 Sundancer with a small sleeping space under and behind the helm seat. That would be an ideal sleeping space for a couple of children. The boat had a small galley and an enclosed head. We slept on the forward V berth. It was fun to overnight at anchor in a cove or other protected area. The boat had a full width teak swim platform and boarding ladder which was great for water sports and swimming.

A bad thing about the area was the pop up thunderstorms. Heavy rain and lots of lightning. When we were caught out we would get out of the channel, anchor and hunker down in the cabin. We always felt safe below decks in those storms.

Bow riders are fun boats when conditions are good but even with a little wind the Potomac can generate some big waves and when that happens a bow rider can be wet for everyone aboard. The ladies all prefer a boat with some privacy for tending to personal matters. Few bow riders provide that sort of accommodation. After over forty years of marriage I've learned that the wife's opinion about the boat is at least as important as mine if not more. Boating alone is a lot less fun than with the family.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:39 AM
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Any boat can splash/spray water on the riders if the chop & wind & angle of attack is all lined up. So yes, you could still get spray. If you are worried about water coming over the bow (piercing a wave) then you didn't do your preflight homework with the marine weather. But for just the sake of argument, let's say those conditions did arise on the river... So, you may want to immediately go to the windward side of the river where the water is calmer since the wind action hasn't affected it as much as the leeward side. Either wait it out, dock somewhere, or if safe motor up/down that side until you get to where you need to be. My friend had a place in Cole's Point, Potomac/Ches. bay, it's 4 or 5 miles from the VA side to MD side. I have seen it really bad..but that still only produced 3 foot broken up waves.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Beak Boater View Post
Grew up boating on the Potomac. Boated from Indian Head to Cobb Island. The river can change quickly from calm to nasty. Summer thunderstorms and just plain wind and tide changes. A 22 would be ok, but you will spend a lot of days in Aquia Creek not being able to get out because its too rough. My concern is always getting back if the water changes. If you plan on exploring the Potomac, going up to D.C. ect I would suggest something bigger. CC or bowrider, the bowrider has more usable space and seating. With Cruisers their seems like more work. No matter how hard you try the cabins always get damp and musty. Not many folks ride in the cabin of a cruiser while its underway, unless the weather is bad. It does give you protection from that.
The Potomac where you boat is different. Most rivers run one direction. From D.C. the river runs almost North and South. Winds out of the north can effect this area. Then at about Aquia Creek the river turns and runs east and west to Port Tobacco creek. Then it turns again to run north and south again towards the 301 bridge. If you look at a map you can see what I mean. Different sections of the river will be effected by wind and tide differently. At Cobb Island the river is about 7 miles wide. Good Luck, have fun. I loved boating on the Potomac so much to see and do.
Awesome, thanks. Iíve seen some CCís in the past with Sunpads on the bow for a place to lounge. This could be an option to increase useable space.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:45 AM
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If the river gets too snotty for a bow rider, It is going to suck for a cuddy too. I too have done a lot of miles in that river and the bay. Can get real snotty. You can almost always change course to get to smoother water. The channel can stand way up.

Access over the bow of a cuddy sucks for beaching and other maneuvers. I'd get a 20-22 CC and pick your days. Carry a bag of rain jackets for all.
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Old 09-29-2019, 09:00 AM
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Why not start with a little bit smaller boat, just enough to have a potty and a small cuddy, but easier to handle or trailer? I suggest that the 20+ miles to DC on the water is not as nice as it sounds. It ends up being a lot of river and trees for hours (remember the current). You may have a lot more fun just towing the darn thing up there and launching closer to DC. After those hours on the water youíll hit the inevitable thunderstorm and a great river will turn nasty quickly. Plus youíll find much better maintenance options if you can easily trailer the boat, whereas if youíre in a marina Iím dry storage, youíre pretty much on their schedule. That bites when the season passes you by.
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Old 09-29-2019, 10:10 AM
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20 miles by water in a 30mph boat will be way faster than trailering through the crap traffic the same distance.
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Old 09-29-2019, 11:26 AM
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22í will take just about anything the Upper Potomac will throw at you. When I was a kid we got caught out on the lower part in a 19í wellcraft cuddly in a very bad storm and we made it through. Wasnít fun, but we got home. The weather can change quickly but keep in mind, youíve got cell phone everywhere which means you can download weather and not get caught out. The river isnít more than 1-2 miles wide from stafford to DC, so in the event youíre caught in something youíre never far from land. Stafford to port tobacco or even the 301 bridge is maybe 2-3 miles wide at most.

At 30mph youíre at most 1 hour from dc, maybe less.

I agree that inside space space is mostly wasted space, especially on boats under 30í. As long as you can fit a toilet for emergencies, thatís all you really need. As for your kids, the older one is old enough to be up and alert most of the time, and next year your 3 year old will be 4, and thatís just for one season. Then heíll be 5. The more cruiser equipment the boat has=more stuff that really doesnít get used once the novelty wears off, and more systems that must be maintained. It also takes up space which will be at a premium already.
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:05 PM
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So many things to consider especially with kids. Our 26 CC runs very nicely in the potomac when its nice and also when its white capping. Wide and kids just dont have any fun if your bouncing around and getting beat up.

I would really think about how majority of your time will be spent as it is always a compromise. Will you be anchoring off a beach and hanging out, taking long rides exploring, water sports, etc.. As much as we enjoy or CC and I like to fish it without the family October-April we are looking for a dual console to provide more protection from the elements. We have been caught in some extreme storms that come out of nowhere in a hurry.

Most boaters in the Potomac seem to have Sea Ray type cruisers. I prefer to be able to use the front and back of the boat and also hose it all down. But having cover and shade from sun and rain is a must for kids. I dont think you could go wrong with a 22-27' center console, dual console, or walk around
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Old 09-29-2019, 09:09 PM
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My wife and I were out on the Potomac today, we ran from Leesylviania State Park down to the Rt 301 Bridge.
We usually prefer to trailer out to the Chesapeake Bay or down to the Outer Banks, but a quick run down the Potomac can also be a fun day on the water.

There are a lot of good comments here, but I think one piece of advice is to just keep in mind there is no one best choice for everyone.
Over the years we have owned small cuddy performance boats, a couple 31' center consoles, and a few small walk around cabin boats including our current 26' Albemarle.
We have jumped inside the cuddy cabin in years past to ride out thunderstorms, and have fished more than 50 miles offshore in our center consoles.
Given your comments, I thinks some of the boats you have mentioned could work well.
I would just add that a center console might also be something to at least consider.
They can provide some of the same seating as a bow rider, can be good for water sports, and are also a good fishing platform if that ever becomes an interest.
Best of luck, and enjoy the search.
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Old 09-30-2019, 04:21 AM
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takes longer than one hour to DC

Yes river gets crazy rough in minutes. Aquia has a long PIA no wake zone. You will get bored of just staying in that creek pretty quick unless you are content to just tube around.

If you want a fun BIG water experience when it gets rough and stormy come down river. Ranges 6 miles to 22 miles wide down our way
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:38 PM
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Step 1 - Definitely go to the Annapolis boat show. It's a good time, and you'll get on more boats and see more stuff than 3 months of shopping in the area. Our trip was completely worth it. Babysitter if possible.
I posted a two very similar threads last year. One was about pleasure boating on the potomac, the other about which boat.
We are in Neabsco creek on a lift, and boat mainly south down to wades bay. We cruise and swim, and now that the weather has turned, we'll probably ride to Alexandria again for docking and walking around.
Went with a bowlder, for a couple of reasons. Mostly the space so we could entertain another family, and not sweat on somebody else while riding around. A 26' cruiser doesn't have nearly the seating that a 26' bowrider does. Also, I didn't want a studio apartment that could sink. We aren't going to be overnighting. As for outboard vs. sterndrive, I drooled over outboards, but ended up realizing that the swim platform was so much more important. Sitting back there with the kids playing in the water is where the relaxation you are trying to buy happens. We keep the boat on a lift, so the drive is out of the water, which was my biggest concern. Overall, after a few boat rentals we realized it was all about the S's for our family (3 kids 7,5,1) - Seats, Storage, and Shade. The bowriders excel in those areas, over the CC's and cruisers.
Originally we were looking at a Regal FasDeck 26 and what is now the Chaparral 277. At the Dulles boat show we re-vectored to a bit bigger and built a Regal 2800. We got on it, and realized it was perfect. We are super glad we did, from a space and comfort perspective. I've been cruising smoothly and comfortably at 30-32mph, no crashing or slapping, and then looked across the river and seen a 20 or 22 foot boat pounding every wave and getting blasted around. If you're looking for the most comfort, I suggest a traditional V over the deck boats (FasDeck, SeaRay SunDeck, etc), and as big as you can. The Potomac changes fast, and when the tide and the wind are against each other, suddenly there are little whitecaps. Add in all the big cruiser wakes on a hot saturday, and you can get jostled. Everyone stays much happier when riding as comfortably as possible.
You'll see all types of boats on the Potomac, cruisers are big, and even some guys riding pontoons (don't do that). Unless you're running AC and a gen set, I can't imagine being in a cuddy cabin in July. As a family of 5 that entertains a lot, I wouldn't want to lose that bow space or get a less flexible seating layout for a cramped cabin.
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by delta55 View Post
Step 1 - Definitely go to the Annapolis boat show. It's a good time, and you'll get on more boats and see more stuff than 3 months of shopping in the area. Our trip was completely worth it. Babysitter if possible.
I posted a two very similar threads last year. One was about pleasure boating on the potomac, the other about which boat.
We are in Neabsco creek on a lift, and boat mainly south down to wades bay. We cruise and swim, and now that the weather has turned, we'll probably ride to Alexandria again for docking and walking around.
Went with a bowlder, for a couple of reasons. Mostly the space so we could entertain another family, and not sweat on somebody else while riding around. A 26' cruiser doesn't have nearly the seating that a 26' bowrider does. Also, I didn't want a studio apartment that could sink. We aren't going to be overnighting. As for outboard vs. sterndrive, I drooled over outboards, but ended up realizing that the swim platform was so much more important. Sitting back there with the kids playing in the water is where the relaxation you are trying to buy happens. We keep the boat on a lift, so the drive is out of the water, which was my biggest concern. Overall, after a few boat rentals we realized it was all about the S's for our family (3 kids 7,5,1) - Seats, Storage, and Shade. The bowriders excel in those areas, over the CC's and cruisers.
Originally we were looking at a Regal FasDeck 26 and what is now the Chaparral 277. At the Dulles boat show we re-vectored to a bit bigger and built a Regal 2800. We got on it, and realized it was perfect. We are super glad we did, from a space and comfort perspective. I've been cruising smoothly and comfortably at 30-32mph, no crashing or slapping, and then looked across the river and seen a 20 or 22 foot boat pounding every wave and getting blasted around. If you're looking for the most comfort, I suggest a traditional V over the deck boats (FasDeck, SeaRay SunDeck, etc), and as big as you can. The Potomac changes fast, and when the tide and the wind are against each other, suddenly there are little whitecaps. Add in all the big cruiser wakes on a hot saturday, and you can get jostled. Everyone stays much happier when riding as comfortably as possible.
You'll see all types of boats on the Potomac, cruisers are big, and even some guys riding pontoons (don't do that). Unless you're running AC and a gen set, I can't imagine being in a cuddy cabin in July. As a family of 5 that entertains a lot, I wouldn't want to lose that bow space or get a less flexible seating layout for a cramped cabin.

Thanks for the info, we will definitely try and go to the show. It seems in general, all the boats we look at our in Annapolis. Next week we are going to look at a Chris Craft Launch 25. Ive never seen one in person, but they look great and its a quality boat. I just hope its big enough and not only runs well in lakes, but larger rivers as well.
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