Advice for first boat

BeMorrNHBeMorrNH Posts: 9 Baller
First, a little background...
40+ years old, skiing other folk's boats for 30 years off and on, 99% family bowriders with I/0's. Once skied behind a Nautique 2001 in high school, only remember the handle being ripped from my hands.
Live in NH with my 8 year old son, have been renting bowriders on Winnipesaukee for 3-5 days a summer for the past few days with my brother and his family, 6 of us all together. $1,000-$2,000/summer to ski and tube for a week.

I'm not getting any younger, deep water starts aren't getting easier and the 19' regal I/O couldn't pull my 210lb brother out of the water, even though his technique was good for a beginner, he's never slalomed, but I would have had him up with more power, for sure! This boat drug me to the point where it wasn't fun, I'm 160 and typically pop out of the water.

I want a boat, really bad boat fever. From vacationing as a kid at my grandparents in Coral Gables, 13' whaler, 21' chris craft, 53' Hatteras, to my small local lake in Ohio full of ski boats, I've been around them my whole life, now it's time for one of my own.

My biggest problem is budget, $5-$10k, it's just all I can do right now, which seems to be enough based on craigslist. Second tidbit of information, 3500 lb towing capacity, 2005 Wrangler Rubicon unlimited. But these are just criteria I need to work with, here's why I joined the forum.

Lake Winnipesauke is a large lake that get's rough, I'm drawn to late 80's early 90's inboards that have been well cared for but have had people actually tell me I'll swamp them in the open water on the big lake on a busy day??? Is that true? How much worse is the ride, compared to a family bowrider with a deeper V? I could always avoid the big lake and stick to the smaller ones.

I've heard a lot about taking a 4.3 I/O and changing props and adding something to the stern drive to make it plane faster, but would this even remotely compare to an inboard. These boats are MUCH less expensive.

I was always under the impression that outboards ranked behind inboards, then third would be I/O's for pulling skiers, was this a fantasy that I dreamed up? I really like the idea of an outboard, if I have to choose a deeper V hull design for the bigger lake.

Anyway, I keep going back to an 86 supreme that looks to be in great shape and just dropped from 5k to 4400... Oh, this boat will be used for water sports 90% of the time, not much for just burning fuel and taking in the sites, want to get as much skiing in as I can while I still can and teach my son to ski.

Thank you in advance for any and all advice!


  • MichaelGoodmanMichaelGoodman Posts: 120 Baller
    I used to go up to Winnipesauke for a month every summer. Always with a ski boat in tow
    three different Nautiques and a Malibu lxi. Any true ski boat will beat the hell out of you
    if you try pounding through the open water. Maney will also take water over the bow if you
    do not power the bow up while heading into big waves. That being said you should be fine
    with a little care. The early 90's Nautiques rode way better than the 1986 I had but even the 1986 got me around the lake fine I but 40 hours running time on it in 6 days most of that was running back and forth from Cow Island to the course in back bay in Wolfboro look at a map thats a lot of open water. I never felt in danger but the ride would beat you up with rough water if you did not slow way down. I would not hesitate to have a direct drive as a primary boat on Winni if skiing is a priority. For general cruising a I/O with
    a good V hull will be better but a crappy boat for skiing. Also just thought of a buddy
    who regularly goes from Alton Bay to Wolfboro to ski. Hope this helps good luck with your
    boat hunting.
  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 260 Baller
    edited August 2017

    As you know Winni is a really big lake. That, in combination with all of the idiots in their 40' power boats racing around in the Broads can cause for really rough conditions that frankly you just want to avoid in a true ski boat. So just stay in the calmer regions of the lake and be smart about it and you will be ok.

    As for the ski nautique that pulled the handle out of your hands - the boat has the power to do so, but a good driver will throttle up properly to pull you up without taking your arms out of their sockets!

    My friend bought an 86 Mastercraft that works really well for skiing. It's not my 2006 SN, but we run the course all the time with it. He retrofitted it to have PerfectPass Stargazer GPS based speed control - which is really handy. Of interest, his older MC hull does cut through rollers more easily that my newer SN.

    My first boat was a v drive (engine in the rear) super sport nautique, which handled the waves better, had open seating (ski pylon is behind the rear seat) but as the poster above points out was not great for slalom as the wake will be monstrous in comparison.

    As for the tow vehicle, will you be able to tow a 80's vintage ski boat, yes as they should be under the max tow rating of your vehicle. BUT... anytime you tow at the max your going to kick the crap out of the tow rig. Also, the Jeep has a very short wheel base, so if you need to make abrupt maneuvers to avoid an accident - I worry you could jack knife your rig and lose control. Another point of concern is the trailers that come with that vintage boat might not have brakes, or if they do they probably don't work anymore - which again is back on the point of the wear & tear this will put on your jeep.

    Hope this helps.
  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,029 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    For 10k you could find a 91-94 era Mastercraft Prostar of the best wakes ever made.

    An inboard is miles and miles better than an I/O...and much better for skiing than an outboard.

    One tip...Consider the condition of the interior carefully when looking. A new interior is one of those things that intuitively seems like it shouldn't cost much; then you go out and get some prices and find that your $10k boat needs a $4,000 interior.
  • bigskieridahobigskieridaho Posts: 886 Crazy Baller
    Agree with @Jordan. Those older MC's are great especially if you find a 205 that has an open bow for your extra people. You could also find an early 90's Ski Nautique with an open bow. There are some great deals out there and you can probably get more than you think. Hit up and there are plenty of options on there as well.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,895 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    My ski buddy has a nice '87 MC Prostar, 1100 hours for sale with PP for $6k. Runs and drives great and wake is great. Exterior is really nice, trailer is really nice. Drivers seat recently reupholstered as was passenger seat bottom. Back seat never used. Motor box and combing pad upholstery sun faded. He's the original owner, wiped down after every use there just are not many uses anymore.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,146 Mega Baller
    edited August 2017
    The questions you need to ask are - how many people do I want in the boat when skiing? What kind of water do I want to use the boat in.
    If the answer to the first is more than 3 then get a bowrider with a bigger engine or explore other prop options on your current boat.
    If the answer to the second is anything more than mild chop then any ski boat old enough to be in your price range will be a submarine starter kit.
    A v Drive can be a great compromise boat but you are looking at a minimum of mid 20's if you found a phenominal deal.

    I hit mid 40's 4 years ago and started having to work too hard to get up behind my 3.0 l runabout (6ft 180lbs) and had to decide on a new boat. It was either going to be a v8 bowrider or v-drive, the dd ski boats my inlaws had were not an option due to seating, storage and rough water manners.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,230 Mega Baller
    edited August 2017
    And an older Malibu can sometimes be found in that price range. And advantage is there were a lot of them, so one can find them for sale in decent shape. I just bought mine lastyear. I think the Response is a great all around boat. Regarding ripping the handle from the hands, yes, that can be done. But the throttle can easily be applied less severely so that does not happen. You do have to watch the bow if it is open bow, when approaching wakes and larger rollers, but that can be learned. And it is not a comfortable long ride over bigger chop. Same as with any competition style direct drive. No better, no worse than the other brands.

    Last, regarding a boat that is better for open water that can get rough, my choice is an outboard over an I/O. If skiing is a priority, the slalom wake is typically better than an I/O. Look at 90's to early 00's Glastrons and similar for example. The disadvantage is the lack of really effective swim step. But I personally would choose the wake over the convenience. And outboard will need to be powered properly to give a good deep water start, so no 115's. A 140-150 and up bare minimum on an 18' boat. My family has a family boat back in Puget Sound, and the anti-growth bottom paint my brother put on it (salt water) slows the boat down so it could use more than the 140 Johnson that is on it. And of course, it is not nearly as good a ski boat as a direct drive. For example. But otherwise a very versatile open water boat. IMO an I/O is not better and IMO worse.

    Mastercraft used to make a pretty cool outboard boat, but they are hard to find, and may be out of your range.

    I personally am glad we purchased our Malibu Response LX used last year, as the compromise works best for us. I just know I need to take it easy across the lake if the wind blows up big at all. I am not skiing or pulling wakeboarders or even tubers if it is blowing up much anyway. And the ski experience is just better. But it is all about what you prioritize most.
  • BeMorrNHBeMorrNH Posts: 9 Baller
    First off, thank you very much for all the great advice and information.

    You can see my dilemma, ranging from, you'll be fine to, a starter submarine! However, I've been on a 13' whaler in 6' seas, so I'm fairly confident I can handle a19' boat on lake winni.

    The true value was the open bow direct drive models with some age, found several online for between 9k and 15k in excellent condition. Spending a little more is something I knew would be a possibility!

    If winni turns out to be too much, there are lots of lake options that don't have the traffic or size to support rough water. Skiing is the priority while I'm young enough to do so!

    Early 90's sport nautiques and MasterCraft 205's will be the focus of my search.

    I'm sure I'll have many more questions in the future, one being, what season is best for boat buying! Until I get closer this has been fantastic, great forum!
  • Kwoody51Kwoody51 Posts: 33 Baller
    edited August 2017
    I had a '95 Prostar 205 and it worked out well for my family of 4 however was a little tight with more adults in it, however doable. The lake we boat on is lake similar to the lake you boat on. It's the busiest lake in all of MN, on the weekend there are large 50+ people dinner cruise boats and personal ~40' pleasure cruisers which throw some big wakes... Often times the main lake is a like a washing machine with rollers crashing into other.

    The PS 205 was manageable in these waters however you had to keep it off plane and just push the bow. Doing this allowed you to push through the waves vs bounce on them. You also had to be ready to 'pop' the throttle in no wake areas if a big boat sent a wave your way otherwise you'd get some water over the bow. Can't say it was alway enjoyable to drive through this but once you got to quieter parts of the lake it was nice!

    All in all I'd say a DD ski boat will be best for your water sports needs however it will 100% be a compromise on ride quality. For your price you can find a decent PS 205 but it will be closer to $10k and ~$12k is more realistic. I looked for mine for over a year and when I sold it I sold it for what I paid for it despite more hours due to the demand for the model.

    Know that in '96 the hull on the PS 205 changed to be slightly bigger but this changed the wake, thus the purest prefer the '95 or earlier PS 205. Also '94 was when EFI was introduced to the PS 190/ 205, something else to keep in mind as you look.
  • raynrayn Posts: 364 Baller
    Ski on Winnisquam. Still relatively crowded so you have to get up early or ski late but you don't have to deal with the big boats at all. You requirements are water sports so stick with a direct drive.
    Ray Newmark -
  • moskimoski Posts: 57 Baller
    I'm considering selling mine 1997 prostar 205. Looking to upgrade to a 2015/2016 TXI.
    It's been a great boat. Runs great and good condition. Corvette engine. 600 hours. I have two people wanting to purchase it.

  • BeMorrNHBeMorrNH Posts: 9 Baller
    Moski, the red is my favorite, Scarlet and Gray! Question, how do you keep a 20 year old boat from fading and cracking, interior and exterior?
  • BeMorrNHBeMorrNH Posts: 9 Baller
    Rayn, I went to Plymouth and skied on newfound, really like that lake and still have friends that live there.
  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 260 Baller
    edited August 2017
    FYI - a few thoughts on your tow vehicle. The late 80's early 90's ski boats should be a little under or at your max tow capacity.

    If you are going to do a fair amount trailering, towing at the max will kick the crap out of your Jeep.

    Another thing to consider is the Jeep has a short wheel base, which is problematic in emergency situations as your more likely to jack knife your rig and lose control, so make sure you take it nice and easy.

    Hopefully the trailer that comes with the boat you buy has brakes, and they are in good working order. My friend bought an 1986 MC boat last summer, no brakes on the trailer.

    Do you have a tow hitch receiver on the Jeep that's bolted to the frame?

    FYI - when I look up your vehicle specs it says your tow capacity is 2k? Where are you getting the 3500 from?
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,146 Mega Baller
    3500 lbs would be an unlimited most likely. A 4.0 will tow pretty much anything you put behind it, just need to be careful with the squishy TJ suspension, bags are a good idea. Brakes on a trailer rated for 3500lbs would be very unusual.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 762 Crazy Baller
    Electric brakes on a 3500lb-rated trailer would be rare, but surge brakes would be normal. I believe tow ratings for cars in the US assume no brakes, so given most ski boat trailers have surge brakes, I wouldn't worry about getting close to the max rating, assuming I'm not long-haul trailering often. But the short wheel base of a jeep, as already mentioned, is a reason to drive even more cautiously.
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,146 Mega Baller
    If it is an unlimited the wheelbase isn't all that short - 103"
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • mopowpowmopowpow Posts: 317 Baller
    We had a 1993 Sport Nautique on Clear Lake, Iowa which can get pretty rough from wind and boats. It was a very solid boat and handled the rough water pretty well as long as you know what you are doing. When we bought it we also demoed a SNOB and a MC205, the Sport handled the rough water much better than the other two. I am assuming you can find one in your price range, we sold ours 5 years ago for $12,000.
  • foxriveratfoxriverat Posts: 480 Crazy Baller
    You asked when a good time to buy is. If you can hold out till end of September into October prices will drop and you have a better chance of getting what you want.
    2000 Malibu Response LX 2016 66 lithium vapor
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,895 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @moski 205 would serve you very well in ski performance and bigger water capability for a direct drive. All comes down to budget as so often is the case.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • BeMorrNHBeMorrNH Posts: 9 Baller
    2005 Wrangler unlimited Rubicon Sahara, one of 1,000 ever made in that particular package. Hitch professionally installed, 2"-3" old man emu heavy duty suspension lift. 103" wheelbase, as oppsed to a short wheelbase Wrangler which has a 2k tow rating. Daily driver is a 2001 Cherokee sport, but it has no hitch. When the Wrangler based pickup comes out with a diesel, the Cherokee will be sold and that will be my tow vehicle. I've been driving Jeeps for 20 years, this thing will tow 4k easy, just not at high speed, planning on slip or mooring during summer, marine storage during winter.
  • BeMorrNHBeMorrNH Posts: 9 Baller

  • bigskieridahobigskieridaho Posts: 886 Crazy Baller
    @BeMorrNH I have seen Wranglers hauling wakeboard boats. You will be fine.
  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 260 Baller
    @BeMorrNH - sweet ride, not your typical wrangler jeep - yeah, your clearly all set - my bad.
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 600 Crazy Baller
    My boat is a 18' bow rider with a 3L 135 hp. It drags me a good bit getting up, but i do ok. Have had a couple other experienced skiers behind it also and they did ok. You can forget about teaching someone to get up without more power. Same boat with a 4.3 would be better. Outboard vs I/O, they should ski pretty much the same on a similar boat but the outboards have a little more low end torque so may pull up a skier better.I have a friend with an 18' bow rider that has a 115 outboard that pops me right out of the water, its probably a little lighter boat, but the outboard does have more pull. My 18' doesn't have a bad wake, but a bigger boat will do better in rougher water....but then the bigger boat will have a bigger wake, so its a trade off. Biggest advantage of a bowrider with I/O or outboard is the trim that can help manage choppy water.....and cost.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 2,909 Mega Baller
    We have a 19' I/O deep V boat and run two Prostar 190's on our lake. @ScottScott is correct about the Trim - but the main thing is the depth of the V and the amount of freeboard and rise on the hull. Our lake is 8 miles long and 2-3 across depending on where, and we're near a lake that's 17 miles long. We regularly have days that make the ski boat uncomfortable - you could take it out but you get wet and docking is tough. In te same conditions the I/O can be run bow up at 20 mph and you'll stay dry.

    There is no replacement for inboards/v-drives for towed sports - unless you want to barefoot or tow pyramids of people then inboards have the edge. I/O's are for cruising, tubing, or towing people on combo skis.
  • escmanazeescmanaze Posts: 573 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Well it seems above that you maybe raised your price range $5k up to $10k-$15k. In this case, I would absolutely recommend my boat based on the criteria you have stated. The problem is that they are really hard to find, but if you see one come up, absolutely go give it a look. My boat is a 97 Ski Nautique Open Bow. Being a 97 it gets a TSC hull, which in my opinion, having skied both, was a really significant upgrade over the previous NWZ hull. By boosting price range (like you I started in the 5-10 range and eventually ended up in the 10-15 range) I was able to get a boat with a world class ski wake, open bow big enough for two kids if/when the need rarely arises, fuel injection, and no wood in the construction. I ended up paying a little under $13k and the boat was probably about a 7 on a scale of 1-10. This was in the fall of 2012, but it seems like the market is still within 10% up or down of that area.

    I also ski in a little cove on a big lake, so sometimes we are heading back to the marina staring 3 foot wind swells straight in the face. I just slow it down somewhere between 7 and 13 mph to keep the nose up and it does just great. The wind will blow some splash in the boat, and we'll get wet, but I don't care because I just skied behind a freaking awesome boat, it's a sacrifice I'll make.

  • escmanazeescmanaze Posts: 573 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Oh one more thing. The weight is listed under 2400 pounds. My double axle trailer is pretty big and beefy, and I would guess takes it right up close to that 3500 pound level.

    However, my Nissan Frontier with only a 260 HP 3.5 still tows it pretty easily, even around the mountains of Utah at times. It sounds like your Jeep has a bigger engine than my frontier, so power won't be a problem. If you had a problem, it would be more related to wheelbase, brakes, or suspension etc. as already mentioned here. And that all seems like nothing that a little bit of chill driving can't take care of pretty well.
  • BdeckerBdecker Posts: 254 Solid Baller
    @BeMorrNH - good luck in your search. If you can stretch your budget a lot I have a sweet Carbon Pro for sale that my 05 Wrangler Unlimited handles with ease. It has only ever been in the Back Bay at Winni. Having both an open (MC 197) and closed bow (carbon pro), you are less likely to swamp the closed bow but either will be a challenge out on the big lake. I've pulled the Mastercraft with the Jeep too. It'll handle a ski boat, technically it is rated for 4K with a 6spd. I rarely tow with mine as I have something beefier, but it'll work.
    As for boats, buy the best one you can. There is nothing worse than the boat being down for a weekend or worse during your vacation. The sub $10k market can be tough. Look for rotted floors, winterization damage etc.. Don't settle for an I/O. I'm in the Manchester area and pretty active in the local tournament scene. I can ask around at our tournament Saturday if you'd like.

  • BeMorrNHBeMorrNH Posts: 9 Baller
    @Bdecker - I appreciate the local help and the great advice! I do however want to make it clear that I'm still kicking the idea around, it will certainly happen before too long, but I'm not sure it will be this year. Would be cool to watch a local tournament though! Where are they?
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