Wednesday, March 22, 2023

What Boat Would You Recommend


Honestly? None of them. I’ve owned a Skeeter, Waco, BassCat, Baker, a couple Trackers, three canoes, an inflatable Sea Eagle, and a couple float tubes.

The Skeeter came to me with a rotted transom which I had rebuilt by a recommended fiberglass shop. They busted the top cap and covered it up with the trim parts. Eventually my son cut that boat up and put it in the dumpster for me one piece at a time. I did sell the outboard though.

I still have the Waco since it was new in 2003. Its been okay, but it cracked and had to be welded and reinforced at multiple hard points. I would actually buy another one and just pre-reinforce it, but Waco refuses to sell me one with the same specifications.

The BassCat was a tough boat, and as long as you judge a boat company by the honeymoon period the service from the factory was good. I had terrible service from every BassCat dealer I dealt with from being lied to to not getting what I paid for. I probably had grounds to go after a sales person at one dealer, but a very senior executive at BassCat asked me not to because that sales person was supposedly helping them with some of their own recovery against that dealer. They would take care of me later though. Nope. Only the honeymoon service they give every new boat customer. In another case with a different dealer I was wearing a wire when I went into their shop to retrieve my boat. I’m not exaggerating. I was prepared for a bad time due to the way they had already treated me. Even down to an attempt at an 11th hour manipulation. The boat was tough. As tough as an old school Ranger, just as heavy, about as expensive, and with a lot of cheaper choices in hardware and fitment. Would I buy another one? Well maybe if it was a good deal on a great used one from somebody who wanted the money to change brands. I doubt I’d buy another new one.

The Baker is the only boat I have owned that I wish I had not sold. I sold it for the downpayment on the BassCat. In a lot of ways it was not a good boat. As a dual tunnel hull it had three bilge drain plugs, and a couple times I forgot to put them all in. It had zero (not one bit) flotation, so if it ever swamped it was going down. I have heard there are a number of them at the bottom of Lake Havasu. With only 200HP (Mariner) it was a 20ft boat that would run in the mid 60s. With light chop it just ran a little higher and a little faster. It ran pretty smooth upto about 2-1/2 foot of chop. It seemed to just suck the waves into the tunnels and go. It steered almost like a car and the steering was easy. I have heard guys were running Evinrude 300 outboards on them and getting over 100MPH. As deep as it set in the water I sure wouldn’t have put a heavier motor on mine. With those tunnels it set pretty deep at rest. Running up river it ran shallow. Real shallow. A couple times when people from out of town were following me I’d hear their motor race up when they hit a sandbar I shot right over. The reason I let it go was as mentioned to cover the down payment on my BassCat Cougar FTD. I was changing to a more “seaworthy” pad V because at the time I was planning to fish more of the big reservoirs like Havasu and Mead where the likelihood of swamping something like the Baker was higher, and it was never a short easy swim to a sandbar to wait for rescue. Today if I could have either boat back I’d probably take the Baker, but I would never recommend it.

I bought one Tracker cheap ($100 I think) because it was busted up and I wanted to learn to weld aluminum. I sold it again cheap a few years later and never put it in the water. I did note it had cracks in the aluminum at nearly all the hard points, but I can only fault part of that on the design. That being said I’ve seen other Trackers of the same age and construction with similar cracks.

My other Tracker is sitting out front of the shop right now. I bought it dirt cheap from a friend (Garry Summers) who got tired of looking at it. His son had stripped it out preparing to “make it better,” but then he had to go away. My friend was getting old and had cancer. He would walk out and start to work on it, and then just lose heart. One day before he died he called me up and said, “Just get this thing out of my driveway.” Its got a lot of the same issues as other Trackers that age. Its older than my previous Tracker. I know its history though. My friends dad had purchased that boat brand new and he told me a lot about it over the years. I’m piddling with it a little at a time and eventually I’ll put it back in the water. If you want to follow along watch for posts on, “Another Boat Project That Will Probably Never Get Finished.”

The canoes were all great in their time, but none are special. Well one has sentimental value to me, but it needs a lot of work. The others will go int he water just fine. I haven’t put one in the water in probably ten years.

The Sea Eagle has never been out of the bag.

If money were no object and I was going to buy a new boat I might buy a Ranger, but I have heard that while they are a lot fancier with the more expensive trim and hardware the boat itself might not be as good as it once was. If I wanted to go fast I’d go with a Bullet or an Allison. If I was watching cost I might look at Phenix boats. Having been around boats for a while I can’t recommend any of them though. I don’t want you to blame me when it lets you down. There is a reason people with money sell their boat and buy a new one every few years.

Personally I plan to scrap the Waco eventually, fix up the Tracker Pro 17 (Gary’s boat) and maybe build a big 20+ foot john boat. I don’t know if I’ll keep the Pro17 or not long term, but probably for a while. Whatever boat you get I wish you luck and happiness.

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