Hunting Fishing

Buying a fishing boat? Whether new or used, here are some missteps to avoid

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert and guides in the Central San Joaquin Valley.
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert and guides in the Central San Joaquin Valley. THE FRESNO BEE

Recently I’ve had a lot of anglers tell me they are looking to buy a new or used boat but also share just how hard it’s been for them to make a decision. Yes, choosing the right boat for your specific needs can be hard. I’m no expert on making that selection, but I asked my mechanic, Bill Manuszak over at Ed’s Marine, for his best advice. This is a complex issue, but I’m passing on a few gems he gave me!

First thing we discussed was pairing the right motor with your selected hull. Bill said the biggest problem he sees is that many anglers buy a boat with an engine that’s too small for it to perform correctly. “Dealers are more than willing to sell a boat that’s underpowered – and marginally functional – just so the price is low enough to fit the buyer’s budget. There is no law saying they can’t do this, but selling the ‘baby-sized’ engine stalls out the boat’s performance, overworks the engine – especially if there’s a load – and leaves the angler feeling like he’s got a wet noodle! Even a ‘medium sized’ engine compared to the rating can leave you short on your performance.

You usually need to buy an engine as close to the maximum rating for the vessel as possible. The boat is rated for it and it will perform at its best when it is paired up with the right power plant!

Bill Manuszak of Ed’s Marine

“You usually need to buy an engine as close to the maximum rating for the vessel as possible,” Bill continued. “The boat is rated for it and it will perform at its best when it is paired up with the right power plant!” Yes, bigger engines cost more, but there is nothing worse than an underpowered boat in my opinion. The right engine on the right boat is a wonderful thing.

The next gem I picked up was when Bill told me that the biggest problem with used boats can be the condition of the transom, especially on Fiberglas vessels! Really? “The transom is a critical component and needs to be inspected carefully, even though most boaters don’t think about it much. Older boats can have rotted wood in and around the transom you can’t see, and if the boat has hit anything, the hidden damage can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

“Transom problems mean big bucks! On the other hand, stern-drive units can have the added problem of having water leak into the supporting transom wood right where the hole for the outdrive goes through the transom hull wall. Many builders didn’t put sealants on the wood in this area, and it can be a hidden problem where water seeps in and rots the untreated rear supports. Before you buy a used vessel, you need to have the transom area inspected carefully by someone who knows what telltale signs to look for!”

That used boat with the newer engine may not be such a good deal. “In many cases these rarely used engines have developed unseen problems that have come from not being run regularly,” says Bill Manuszak of Ed’s Marine

Another surprising piece of advice was one I had never thought of before. “Many anglers will take off the cowling of a low hours, used outboard that’s three or more years old and see a pristine engine that looks great on the surface! In many cases these rarely used engines have developed unseen problems that have come from not being run regularly. There can be issues with dried-out seals, unused fuel in the lines, no regular maintenance and internal rotting of the inner liner of the gas lines.

“You would think that not being used is a good thing, but in many of these cases no one has inspected the engine for some time. I’ve especially seen situations where the gas lines have deteriorated and the small plastic bits screw up the engine. Run the engine and have it inspected.”

Funny, as Donna Manuszak at Ed’s Marine told me, you don’t want to “buy a mistake” but many do! That pretty much sums it up!

Buying the right boat is tough work! (Shhh … but I really think every angler needs at least three or more boats to cover all bases!) LOL, says my wife! Not. Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at rogergeorge8000@sbcglobal.net,

at facebook.com/Rogergeorgeguideservice and @StriperWars on Twitter.

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