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Help finding/deciding on a jet runabout/bowrider

baldnspicy

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Hello everyone! I'm looking to purchase a relatively inexpensive boat for use on lakes and rivers, and I could use some help!

I grew up in the 80s with a Donzi and a Bell Boy fishing boat. My wife's family had an Eliminator for a few years, but she didn't enjoy it. Now that we're empty nesters and for our 30th anniversary this year, we decided to purchase a boat instead of a trip, etc. Because we live in Idaho, I'm leaning towards an outboard or jet powered runabout/deck/bowrider since it can freeze, but then be nice a few days later. I want to maximize my time on the water and not worry as much about winterization. Our budget is set at $15k +/- in order to leave some room to outfit it and be able to afford to be on the water as much as possible. We love being on the water, but there aren't any boat rental companies around us, so we're looking to buy.

What I'm finding is that it's not easy finding a well cared for boat in the $15-20k price range. Lots of I/Os, but not many jets or outboard powered boats. There are some Tahoes (I/Os) that are pretty nice in that price range and near by. Plenty of Bayliners, but I'm not a fan based on experiences in the 80/90s (I know they're much better now). With the pandemic, I know that raised especially used prices, and I don't expect them to fall too quickly in the next few months.

I'd love any suggestions on finding a good jet boat in my price range. I know Yamahas are amazing, and there's a 2006 AR210 near me for $20k but it's not a color my wife can live with. :) What brands & models should I be looking for? I know at some point Yamaha switched from 2 stroke to 4 stroke. I know the technical differences, but is that something that should play a big factor in my looking? I am so glad I found this forum and look forward to any help/suggestions you have!

Edit to add: I enjoy fishing, the wife, not so much. She wants to be able to sit under the bimini, swim, lounge, etc. For fishing, I can do that with almost any boat. Adding on an electric trolling motor would be nice, but not a must have. We don't have kids/grandkids near us, so I'm not worried about speed, towing, etc. But I do want it to have enough power that I can cruise at 25-30mph and not have the engine(s) screaming at me. We are looking in the 18-21' +/- range, depending on what is available.

An obvious choice might be a pontoon, and although we've enjoyed the ones we've rented, they always seem to be under powered and not real performant or fun. This led me to look at deck boats. The only thing really in my price range would be a Bayliner Element series or similar. They just seem very basic and kinda cheap.

Thanks!
 
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CaptRedbeard

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Red is a color she can't live with?? We own a 2006 AR210 and it sounds like it fits your bill pretty well. We bought ours (that needed some work) within your budget about a year ago for reference. Yamaha boats are very easy to handle with winterization as it pertains to your temperature fluctuation needs. Let me know if you have any specific questions about that model/year, I'd be happy to help.
 

Ronnie

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I recommend that you stick with a four stroke and consider the first gen Yamahas (210s and 230s) starting in 2004 or 2005. Also look for seadoo doo boats from about the same time frame, just stay away from the supercharged models.
 

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Dough

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Need a little more budget to get what you want. Good at wrenching?
 

biffdotorg

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Fishing and jets, as far as trolling or adding a trolling motor will be their downfall. Although there are those that made it work, It's not easy and far from quiet.

You were on the right track when you started looking at entry level deck boats through. I helped a friend purchase a Hurricane with a 100hp Yamaha outboard. You had room to mount a trolling motor, and it was very quiet in comparison to a jet. The biggest fractor, was it was well under your 20k budget cap.

On that same note, prior to COVID, I helped a buddy buy a 2008 AR210 in the $13K range. Those prices blew up over 20K during COVID, but I would bet they dip down once again. These are considered the second generation AR210, as it had twin four stroke motors unlike the first gen that had twin 2-stroke motors. But neither of those would be considered quiet at running speed, but not much louder than anything we all own. It's not a fishing boat, and adding a trolling motor takes some serious bow mount fabrication to do.

Good luck!
 

FSH 210 Sport

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Sounds like you are searching for a unicorn 🦄.

The questions that were put to me when I was buying a boat.
-What are you going to use the boat for?
-Where are you going to use the boat?
-How many people are going to go out on the boat on a regular basis? -Be honest with yourself here.
-How often are you going to use the boat?

If you want to be able to cruise and not have the engines “screaming” at you, a late model outboard powered boat is going to be very quiet engine noise wise. Yamaha made some significant noise reduction enhancements after 2015, but jet boats by their nature are louder than fourstroke outboards or I/O’s. Once you get up to 25-30 there is a lot of wind noise which I find is the most noise.

As far as operating in the shoulder seasons where there can be a hard freeze for a few days then nice, imho you have two choices, well three now that I think of it. The Yamahas only require you to blow out the the water locks / mufflers by rapping the engines a few times after you pull the boat out of the water, all the other water drains out. An outboard drains down if you just lower the motor. And I think a fresh water cooled (isolated antifreeze and water cooling system) I/O would tolerate hard freezes as well as I think the raw water would drain out of the heat exchanger once on the trailer. Your local boat shop would know the answer to that.

Having a place for your wife to hang out in the shade seems kinda easy to me. A bimini top can added to most boats, including Yamahas for not too much money. For swimming you can’t beat the full beam swim deck on the Yamahas. As far as lounging you cant beat the floating patio of a pontoon boat or a deck boat. Again, and to me, pontoon boats are boring, the deck boat would give you the performance you are looking for with more deck space. However, i know of some folks who toss a couple of bean bag seats on their boats, especially fishing boats to make for comfortable lounging.

If you like to fish then make sure you get a boat that is capable of doing the fishing you want to do. Having a live well to put your fish in or keep live bait / minnows is important. I’ve seen plenty of pontoon boats with a trolling motor on them. There are a few members here who have put trolling motors on their bow riders, @HangOutdoors it one on his AR210 and seems to do just fine. I am biased! I love my 210 FSH Sport and think it accomplishes everything well.

To be blunt I think your budget is unrealistic for a good boat in this day and age for what your STATED DESIRES are. If you do find one in your price range it’s going to need a lot of work and is likely a clapped out pos, and will limit your goal of maximizing your time on the water, and will generally be a pain in the ass. I do think that within this next year the used boat market is going to be ripe for finding a good deal on a good boat as the economy goes cold and the correction takes place, but even then the budget is going to be much higher than $15-$20K. Sounds like one of those Tahoes or Bayliners may be your best bet that are in your price range, seems like you could just get an engine compartment heater or figure out a quick way to winterize the power plant to protect it from freeze damage would be the best compromise.
 

biffdotorg

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And I think a fresh water cooled (isolated antifreeze and water cooling system) I/O would tolerate hard freezes as well as I think the raw water would drain out of the heat exchanger once on the trailer. Your local boat shop would know the answer to that.
The term winterization was created around I/O boats. As they really should have their cooling systems fully drained and most recommend anti-freeze as cracked blocks in my region of the country are all too common. So many I/O's of this vintage or price range will use automotive style engines but use raw water, rather than a sealed cooling system with anti freeze. So yes, they need attention in the cold, and would be a poor choice for off/on use during early or late freeze periods.
 

FSH 210 Sport

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The term winterization was created around I/O boats. As they really should have their cooling systems fully drained and most recommend anti-freeze as cracked blocks in my region of the country are all too common. So many I/O's of this vintage or price range will use automotive style engines but use raw water, rather than a sealed cooling system with anti freeze. So yes, they need attention in the cold, and would be a poor choice for off/on use during early or late freeze periods.
Totally agree! Was just trying to come up with a solution for the OP and get him on the water…. A friend of mine in Idaho with an I/O got lucky and a freeze plug got pushed out. Our boats and the outboards are the easiest for freeze protection.. I operate mine in those shoulder seasons where temps regularly drop into the single digits at night.
 

biffdotorg

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Totally agree! Was just trying to come up with a solution for the OP and get him on the water…. A friend of mine in Idaho with an I/O got lucky and a freeze plug got pushed out. Our boats and the outboards are the easiest for freeze protection.. I operate mine in those shoulder seasons where temps regularly drop into the single digits at night.
100%, budget is killing this search. There may have to be a balance of budget and inconvenience, noise, fishability, etc to get them into a boat.
 

baldnspicy

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Red is a color she can't live with?? We own a 2006 AR210 and it sounds like it fits your bill pretty well. We bought ours (that needed some work) within your budget about a year ago for reference. Yamaha boats are very easy to handle with winterization as it pertains to your temperature fluctuation needs. Let me know if you have any specific questions about that model/year, I'd be happy to help.
She can't live with a yellow one :)
 

biffdotorg

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She can't live with a yellow one :)
Yellow is a very rare color in Yamaha boats. And I have to say, I have only seen an SR210 back in the day in that color. I think you will find yellow a very easy color to avoid in the Yamaha line of all vintages.

It does beg to question, why Yamaha didn't use it more. Some folks must love yellow? Maybe it's too SeaDoo?

 

baldnspicy

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Fishing and jets, as far as trolling or adding a trolling motor will be their downfall. Although there are those that made it work, It's not easy and far from quiet.

You were on the right track when you started looking at entry level deck boats through. I helped a friend purchase a Hurricane with a 100hp Yamaha outboard. You had room to mount a trolling motor, and it was very quiet in comparison to a jet. The biggest fractor, was it was well under your 20k budget cap.

On that same note, prior to COVID, I helped a buddy buy a 2008 AR210 in the $13K range. Those prices blew up over 20K during COVID, but I would bet they dip down once again. These are considered the second generation AR210, as it had twin four stroke motors unlike the first gen that had twin 2-stroke motors. But neither of those would be considered quiet at running speed, but not much louder than anything we all own. It's not a fishing boat, and adding a trolling motor takes some serious bow mount fabrication to do.

Good luck!
Yes, I kinda figured the trolling motor options would be minimal to non-existent. The deck boat would certainly work if I can find one in my price range. I could go up to $25k but since I'll be financing some or all of it, interest rates aren't very kind these days, so trying to keep it reasonable.
 

Thermobrett

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I agree, the price point for something not ragged on is going to be the hardest thing to overcome. Unless you find a diamond in the rough or somebody who has a older boat sitting in a barn with low hours, you may need to up the $$ a bit. Im down in Florida so the prices are naturally higher here than other places, but here is a link to a 2022 Tahoe T18 with a 115 O/B and they want $25,500. This is a one year old boat, but the further you go back in years, the chances the maint and hours will be harder to look past. Dont get discouraged, there are boats out there, but you may need to travel to find them.
 

baldnspicy

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Sounds like you are searching for a unicorn 🦄.

The questions that were put to me when I was buying a boat.
-What are you going to use the boat for?
-Where are you going to use the boat?
-How many people are going to go out on the boat on a regular basis? -Be honest with yourself here.
-How often are you going to use the boat?

If you want to be able to cruise and not have the engines “screaming” at you, a late model outboard powered boat is going to be very quiet engine noise wise. Yamaha made some significant noise reduction enhancements after 2015, but jet boats by their nature are louder than fourstroke outboards or I/O’s. Once you get up to 25-30 there is a lot of wind noise which I find is the most noise.

As far as operating in the shoulder seasons where there can be a hard freeze for a few days then nice, imho you have two choices, well three now that I think of it. The Yamahas only require you to blow out the the water locks / mufflers by rapping the engines a few times after you pull the boat out of the water, all the other water drains out. An outboard drains down if you just lower the motor. And I think a fresh water cooled (isolated antifreeze and water cooling system) I/O would tolerate hard freezes as well as I think the raw water would drain out of the heat exchanger once on the trailer. Your local boat shop would know the answer to that.

Having a place for your wife to hang out in the shade seems kinda easy to me. A bimini top can added to most boats, including Yamahas for not too much money. For swimming you can’t beat the full beam swim deck on the Yamahas. As far as lounging you cant beat the floating patio of a pontoon boat or a deck boat. Again, and to me, pontoon boats are boring, the deck boat would give you the performance you are looking for with more deck space. However, i know of some folks who toss a couple of bean bag seats on their boats, especially fishing boats to make for comfortable lounging.

If you like to fish then make sure you get a boat that is capable of doing the fishing you want to do. Having a live well to put your fish in or keep live bait / minnows is important. I’ve seen plenty of pontoon boats with a trolling motor on them. There are a few members here who have put trolling motors on their bow riders, @HangOutdoors it one on his AR210 and seems to do just fine. I am biased! I love my 210 FSH Sport and think it accomplishes everything well.

To be blunt I think your budget is unrealistic for a good boat in this day and age for what your STATED DESIRES are. If you do find one in your price range it’s going to need a lot of work and is likely a clapped out pos, and will limit your goal of maximizing your time on the water, and will generally be a pain in the ass. I do think that within this next year the used boat market is going to be ripe for finding a good deal on a good boat as the economy goes cold and the correction takes place, but even then the budget is going to be much higher than $15-$20K. Sounds like one of those Tahoes or Bayliners may be your best bet that are in your price range, seems like you could just get an engine compartment heater or figure out a quick way to winterize the power plant to protect it from freeze damage would be the best compromise.
Thank you for the post - I think your assessment of finding a unicorn is correct, especially in this market! I know the budget is low, and that makes me think I may need to more seriously consider an I/O bowrider. It would be easier to add a trolling motor option, and would fit easier into the budget.

To answer your questions:
-What are you going to use the boat for? 85% crusing/swimming/lounging - 15% fishing, etc. I have a buddy with a dedicated aluminum fishing boat, so any serious fishing can be done on his boat. My wife doesn't enjoy fishing, so I'll do some fishing while anchored in, just to putz around a bit during the day.

-Where are you going to use the boat? A couple of lakes around here, Snake River, etc.

-How many people are going to go out on the boat on a regular basis? -Be honest with yourself here. 2 + 2 chihuahuas with the occasional 1-2 other adults, just to go out and cruise around some.

-How often are you going to use the boat? Often - in the summer months, thinking weekly.

The way I'll be using it doesn't require high speeds, but I have no interest in a 60hp pontoon. I enjoy speed, the wife not so much, but would like to be able to cruise at 30+

As for an engine compartment heater, that's certainly a possibility. The power is pretty reliable, but has gone out for a couple hours when the weather is particularly bad. I don't think it would freeze in that time, so would probably winterize it when I know we're done for the season so I don't have to worry about it, then use the heater during the transition from winter to spring.
 
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baldnspicy

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I agree, the price point for something not ragged on is going to be the hardest thing to overcome. Unless you find a diamond in the rough or somebody who has a older boat sitting in a barn with low hours, you may need to up the $$ a bit. Im down in Florida so the prices are naturally higher here than other places, but here is a link to a 2022 Tahoe T18 with a 115 O/B and they want $25,500. This is a one year old boat, but the further you go back in years, the chances the maint and hours will be harder to look past. Dont get discouraged, there are boats out there, but you may need to travel to find them.
Thanks, I was looking at a 2017 Bayliner E18 with 25 hrs on it. They wanted $19,900 but it was 1000 miles away and wouldn't allow for a lake test since they're 90 mins away from the lake. "It's like new, why do you need a lake test" I'm not driving or having it shipped without a lake test. The Tahoe seems like a much better built and more comfortable boat than the Bayliners.
 

baldnspicy

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Yellow is a very rare color in Yamaha boats. And I have to say, I have only seen an SR210 back in the day in that color. I think you will find yellow a very easy color to avoid in the Yamaha line of all vintages.

It does beg to question, why Yamaha didn't use it more. Some folks must love yellow? Maybe it's too SeaDoo?

Personally, I like it, but I don't think it's something lots of people like. This would definitely reduce resell value, IMO.
 

FSH 210 Sport

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Thanks, I was looking at a 2017 Bayliner E18 with 25 hrs on it. They wanted $19,900 but it was 1000 miles away and wouldn't allow for a lake test since they're 90 mins away from the lake. "It's like new, why do you need a lake test" I'm not driving or having it shipped without a lake test. The Tahoe seems like a much better built and more comfortable boat than the Bayliners.
That’s like saying why would you want to test drive a used car its like new… there’s an ass for every seat, I’m sure someone will buy it untested.. when I bought my brand new boat from a dealer roughly 700 miles from my house, I went out on the water with my salesman and made sure everything worked.
 

baldnspicy

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That’s like saying why would you want to test drive a used car its like new… there’s an ass for every seat, I’m sure someone will buy it untested.. when I bought my brand new boat from a dealer roughly 700 miles from my house, I went out on the water with my salesman and made sure everything worked.
Exactly! I was ready to buy a flight down to test drive it since I had never been in the deck boats before, and had heard they slap the waves due to the shallower "V" and I wanted to feel that before buying. Even offered to pay a deposit for their time/effort to take it out. On the first, they bumped it up to $21,900.

I understand it could be because I'm an out of state buyer and they wouldn't get any shop $$$ from me, but to each their own. On retrospect, it would have been very expensive to either go down and get it or have it shipped, which negated the very good price on it. I'll find something local, instead.
 

84rzv500r

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I would say given your initial budget buying a used boat with Jet drives is not a good Idea if your not 100% ready to do your own maintenance...

I didn't look for a poll but I'll bet the majority of the folks here that put any hours on their boat do at least some of their own maintenance...

for me I moved to the Keys and had a list of requirements from Rear Adm. Lower Half Blond Beach Barbie:

Sufficient Beer cooler capacity
RED
High FreeBoard (dont want to fall out)
Good Sound system
place to lay out in the sun
easy in and out of the water
BBQ Grille

My requirements were:
<10K
daily use capable
Jet drive
reasonably fast
shallow draft
sound system
stripper pole

Im still sneaking up on it but Im down to just the stripper pole LOL (this place is a bad influence) [flag]
 
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