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Finally getting there - WTB Family Boat ~ $25k

justcuzjustcuz Posts: 30 Baller
Story time:
10 years ago we were younger, didn't have kids, and could ski whenever. We purchased a P.O.S. American Skier that we nursed back to life and the thing has been ticking ever sense. It owes us nothing and has been a GREAT ski boat.

Wife is a serious/dedicated skier. Grew up with it, skied on a pro level. I ski rather recreationally but really only slalom. I guess I'm fine at it and typically give er' as often as possible. Wife does it all. We have two kids picking up on skiing; one just learning, and the other working on dropping a ski.

We go through the "should we get a boat" discussion every year. So hard to justify with a perfectly capable boat that has probably the best 30 to 36mph wake I have EVER seen. But alas, it doesn't come without it's rather significant challenges. This year we had a little "oh shit" moment with our boat and thought it's probably time to start getting a little more serious.

We live on a lake. We spend significant time on the water. Wife is off in the summer and they mess around and sends me pictures of them out on the boat during the day while I'm fighting the man for tps reports and pc load letter errors.

As such, we would like to get a boat that we'll keep for the next 10,15, or heck...even 20 years.

We live in Upper MI (think above Wisconsin and closer to MN). We are completely open to options and have limited criteria:
-Prefer less than $25k
-Prefer open bow
-Prefer less than 600 hours
-Please, no projects. I don't have time to take a crap and read BoS as it is.

Other than that, we are open to a V drive, direct drive, big, small, pink, blue----whatever.

Sorry for the long post. Please send along anything you've seen or even better, something you personally know is available.


  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,194 Mega Baller
    If you have kids learning, don't consider a V-drive. At kid-friendly speeds, the wakes are rotten. Even the best V-drives with great 34 and 36 MPH wakes make massive wakes below 30.

    How many people get out with you at a time? Are the kids at "bringing friends" age? Any length requirements? Any disciplines beyond slalom (like would you guys take up surfing or maybe even *gasp* wakeboarding)? Do you take regular trips to the sand bar, use the boat as a pontoon boat for cruising?
  • justcuzjustcuz Posts: 30 Baller
    @UWSkier good questions:
    1) usually it's the four of us.
    2) Kids do bring friends, but we try to limit it to one. Mostly because I'm lazy and don't want to be responsible for other kids.
    3) No length requirements, BUT it'd sure be nice if we kept it under 3600# so I don't have to buy a new lift!
    4) Wife does lots of trick and swivel skiing. If we could surf it, that would be an enormous plus but I realize that's asking a ton. We do have friends with surf boats but it would be fun.
    5) We do run the boat down to our friends (about a 20 minute run at 30mph) regularly. We do not use it for pontooning, however, as we do have one of those. So larger family adventures for dinner cruises usually take place on the pontoon.

  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,194 Mega Baller
    If you're regularly out with four or five, and everyone brings their own ski(s), and you're in the 25k-ish price range, look at a Malibu Sunsetter LXi prior to the 2005 redesign. It's the largest DD ever approved by the AWSA, has a massive trunk, and lays down wakes far nicer than any boat that size should. There are several that come available each year below your price range.

    Other good choices would be a Malibu Response LXi, which has great wakes also but isn't quite as big as the Sunsetter LXi, and the Nautique 206, which is also a real nice boat but isn't as roomy as the Sunsetter.
  • escmanazeescmanaze Posts: 719 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited July 2018
    Please don't get a V-drive. I believe in the notion that whatever boat you buy will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you buy a ski boat that only holds a few, then you will do lots of skiing with small groups. If you buy a big wake barge, then you will be a big party surf family.

    Where you live on the lake, I would love to see you even throw the open bow requirement in the garbage and go pick up a 196. If you must have open bow, though, then how about a response lx and if the open bow must be walk through then a response lxi?

    The lx and the lxi options would work great with a tower, which would create a great amount of storage room just in case the groups do get a little bigger. I've done plenty of days on a prostar 205 (similar in size and layout to the lxi) with a tower where we had plenty of room for some people. Groups of 6 were no problem for many hours at a time as long as all the boards were stashed on the tower.

    Examples: listing listing
  • justcuzjustcuz Posts: 30 Baller
    Thanks all! Will be on the lookout for the above suggestions. That sunsetter for 19k actually seems like a decent deal.
  • Ski_DadSki_Dad Posts: 396 Baller
    99-04 Sunsetter LXI - you will love it
  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 941 Mega Baller
    edited July 2018
    The SLXI suggestion is right on. Great boat. I am a Nautique nut but I'd pass on any OB Nautique from that generation. The SNOB is tiny (they pushed everything back, including the engine, to accommodate a tiny little open bow playpen. The Sport, 206, and 216 wakes are a no-go compared to the SLXI and they are narrow/smaller inside. You can't get anything bigger than a 66" ski into the 206 rear locker, for example. SLXI or 03-06 RLXI would be terrific boats. I'm not a huge fan of the 07-11 RLXI.
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,428 Mega Baller
    edited July 2018
    Ill be the lone dissenter as usual. Look for a malibu sunscape which is the precursor to the vtx. Tons of storage, Room for the family, good wakes for skiing and boarding. Add a tower and racks to get the gear off the floor. We our on our annual family week at the lake, 8 nieves and nephews, my 3 adult kids, 12 adults and 2 boats. Mine is carrying 3 wakeboards, a surfboard, kneeboard, 2 slalom skis and a set of kids skis with 6 to 8 people in the boat unless i am skiing. That is a family boat
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 295 Baller
    edited July 2018
    @justcuz - what was your “oh sh*t” event that’s making your want a different boat? The boat you have now no longer reliable?

    Does your wife still run the course? If yes, I think that takes vdrives off the table. A couple years ago a friend of mine had a Nautique 200v - the sport edition. Could you run the course at 28 off 34 mph, yes - will you want to if a direct drive is available to ski behind instead? Nope! Also note, the wake at 15 off, 30 mph was not good for slalom...
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,259 Mega Baller
    edited July 2018
    @UWSkier said, "Other good choices would be a Malibu Response LXi, which has great wakes also but isn't quite as big as the Sunsetter LXi, and the Nautique 206, which is also a real nice boat but isn't as roomy as the Sunsetter."

    I agree, and would add the Response LX, which has a step over bow rather than walk-thru. I bought a '98 Lx a couple years ago in great shape for under 12. And I have kids and do some family boating. Kids don't really care about step-over vs. walk thru. More a parent preference. I love my boat. Bu, if I had it to do over, I probably would have saved a little longer and found a 2006+ LX or LXi that was ready for Zero-Off, or had it already installed. (please verify with the As your wife is a former pro, and you "give it" as you say, it is worth it. And at near 25k, you should be able to find a good 'Bu. There are lots out there if you are patient. And 2006+ can be converted to have Zero-Off (without motor replacement at least, 2007 may be easier ), and may have Perfect Pass, hopefully with Stargazer, the GPS piece, and maybe even Z-box, which is the part that tries to mimic Zero-Off. There are other threads on whether you really need/want Zero-Off if you have good working Perfect Pass, and if I were shopping now, I would take the time to check that out. But you should buy a boat that is ready to have it if you want it, without putting a new motor in. Older, and it is a more expensive and bigger project requiring a motor swap.

    So yeah, my vote is Response LX or Response LXi new enough for a Zero-Off conversion

    PS, you can make a Response make a surf wave with a velcro or suction cup wave shaper thing and some weight, especially, as @Chef23 says, if it has a wedge. Not like a surf boat (thank gawd) but it can be done. And I love, love, love the slalom wake.

    Example listings: (no indication of PP or ZO, but new enough)

    EDIT: the Zero-Off FAQ's say 2007 and up works. So to be safe, I would go for 2007. And would accept a few more hours on the boat to do that. Hours don't bother me that much if the boat has been treated well.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,961 Mega Baller
    For what you are looking for I like the Malibu options. A LX, LXI or one of the Sunsetters on the diamond hull would be great options. If you find one with a wedge they can be made to surf with either some ballast or one of the suction things.

    The Malibu options all ski great and have good flexibility and can be had in the price range you are looking at. If you were looking for a slalom tug a 196 would make sense but they don’t have a lot of flexibility and the trick wake isn’t as clean as the Malibus.
    Mark Shaffer
  • IlivetoskiIlivetoski Posts: 1,185 Crazy Baller
    We own a 1998 196 and our last boat was a 2004 LXi. The LXi is a much better boat, the 196 skis good but the spray is bigger, and it doesn’t drive as good. I have driven 4 or 5 of the 98-01 196 and not one of them has been a really good driving boat. They move around a lot more than the later edition of the 196
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,589 Mega Baller
    @sunvalleylaw, I believe the Malibus need to be 2007 or newer to make ZO conversion a viable path.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • Rpc29Rpc29 Posts: 198 Solid Baller
    I wouldn't discount the prostar 197 either although I do agree with everyone that the Sunsetter LXI is almost the perfect boat for your family. I sold my parents Sunsetter a couple of weeks ago to a family on BOS.

    Ryan Christopher
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,259 Mega Baller
    edited July 2018
    @MISkier , I went and checked the conversion thread, looks like 2006 can be converted (please check with people such as @Jody_Seal to be sure if you are interested in that.) But might be a little more work. Will fix my post to clarify, and leave the details to members who know. ( @gregy is in a project now, not sure what year ).

    But my advice remains, shop and find a 2006-7 Response that you can later add Zero-off to. Careful shopping seems like that would be possible near the 25k mark, in the malibu world.

    EDIT: the Zero-Off FAQ's say 2007 and up works. So to be safe, I would go for 2007. And would accept a few more hours on the boat to do that. Hours don't bother me that much if the boat has been treated well.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,961 Mega Baller
    I wasn’t sure you could get a 197 under 25k but if you can that would be a good option. No wedge option to build a surfing or wakeboard wake but a great all around boat with a killer trick wake.
    Mark Shaffer
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,194 Mega Baller
    Reason I didn't mention the 197 is it's too small if you're regularly taking out 4 and sometimes 5 pax w gear.
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,259 Mega Baller
    On @UWSkier 's point about room, I just had 5, including 3 adults, one teen, and one kid out for a pretty full day, with all in the boat for the fun. AND one being paralyzed from chest down, and requiring her huge sit ski. We did dump off the sit ski for a bit, but were able to tow everyone with reasonable wake for freeskiing, completely loaded, in my Response LX. The young girl road up front for part of it. The paralyzed skier did lay down in the rear for some of the kid skiing, but we could have just as easily towed them from the rear line hitch. I wouldn't want to go out every time like that, without a place to drop off some skiers and gear, but we pulled it off for a nice family day.
  • 76S&S76S&S Posts: 98 Baller
    There really isn't such a thing as a V-drive with a good slalom wake. I have an 02 x-star, 205v. The 205v is one of the better crossover boats and at -22 and -28 it stinks horribly. You've had plenty of good DD advice so I won't muddy the waters there. Good luck with your search.
  • buskibuski Posts: 114 Baller
    Have an 08 lxi and for how we use it I can't think of a better option (earlier generation LXi or SSXi will be great too). Maybe hard to find that generation at 25k but you do see them near/under 30 sometimes. If we had to be on the water from launch to finish then maybe it would be small, but living on the water or us being in a place with docks to come in & out of, it's perfect.

    I have 2 kids (on the younger end still) but have had them & friends and other people out on it. If you really need, toss on a tower or extended pylon to allow use of the back seat for kid stuff. Wedge doesn't make it a wakeboard boat but does help it be a little more versatile. With the right conditions you can surf them if you want to go through the effort with ballast.

    My 08 skis great and is preferred by a bunch of slower 15off skiers to other boats we ski on that have "better" reputations. I'm usually at 22-28 off.

    I think 08 was the first year you could get ZO (requires new ECM) for some reason but don't remember. I don't really compete so part of me would have been just as happy with PP.

    A friend of mine does the same thing with a 197, it's a little smaller but it works. Really did not like skiing behind another friend's 206. Come to think of it I know another guy with I think 3 teenage kids and they make do just fine on a 197 with their friends too.
  • justcuzjustcuz Posts: 30 Baller
    @Jmoski the moment was related to seeing some milky oil. I seem to have that licked at though. There are a host of other smaller issues with the boat. The words ticking time bomb come to mind. It's just a boat and it wouldn't ruin our life to not have one, but I wouldn't mind getting ahead of the curve.

    Sounds like general consensus is to stick with a DD, and one that keeps coming up is the Response or Sunsetter LXI.

    Might start there.
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,194 Mega Baller
    Yep, but just to be clear, Sunsetter LXi up to '04. They ruined it in 2005 with a redesign.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,589 Mega Baller
    edited July 2018
    @justcuz, like @sunvalleylaw said, you can wakesurf with a Response LX. I tried it with mine for the first time over the 4th of July. As was also stated, the RLX has a great slalom wake and open bow.

    Wedge down
    8.5 mph on the Zero Off display (don't use the factory speedometer)
    2 passengers and driver all on the surfer side with a total weight of about 350 pounds
    No wake shaper
    No additional ballast or weight other than gas

    This was my second ride. We finally figure out the right speed, etc. at about the 1:10 mark. Apologies for the filmographer's camera perspective changes. I stopped and let go because I almost surfed right onto the platform. I hope this foray into wakesurfing doesn't prevent me from getting my slalom badass card.

    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • DynaSkiPeteDynaSkiPete Posts: 137 Baller
    Suggesting people buy an old boat is interesting. While I know many of you own old boats I still don't think it is wise unless you bought the boat new and aged it yourself. A used product may have not been treated well and had scheduled maintenance done timely. One never quite knows what they are getting do they? Would anyone buy a rental vehicle from any of the car rental companies? I would not. I know people that are rough on everything they own. I also know people that take great care of their stuff. If the seller can provide a maintenance log or refer you to the dealer that did the work that is a solid indication the boat or vehicle has been well taken care of. If not move on. Plenty of nice used boats out there as supply exceeds demand. It is was me I'd save my money longer for a new boat or find a way to afford peace of mind sooner.
  • IlivetoskiIlivetoski Posts: 1,185 Crazy Baller
    @DynaSkiPete you can look at a boat and tell pretty quickly how the boat was treated. If everything on the boat has gone to hell in a few years, I would think that care would translate to poor engine care. If it’s a 20 year old boat that’s has obviously been cared for, I would bet the engine has been cared for.

    My brother bought a used rental car. Yeah people can be tough on them, but those rental companies won’t let a car off the lot if it needs any maintenance. They won’t let a car off the lot if it’s 3 miles over due for an oil change. I have actually had them tell me I couldn’t get a particular car because it was 3 miles past due for an oil change. I don’t know one person who will get an oil change when they are 3 miles past due. If I could have found the car I bought recently on a rental dealer lot, I would have bought it.
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,428 Mega Baller
    @DynaSkiPete there is a long way between 25k and a new boat. Especially since nobody makes anything like the sslxi that so many are recommending.

    A note on surfing a ski boat - sounds scary as heck. I dont even like the feel of my vtx ballasted, and ive got a bunch more freeboard.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • DWDW Posts: 2,023 Mega Baller
    I am more than happy to let other people depreciate my 'new' boat, truck, sports car, race car and motorcycle. Would not have them if I didn't. Divorce sales are even better. The promo guys might disagree with Pete on buying used.
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