What is the best aluminum boat for use with Saltwater?
March 30, 2009 9:54 PM   Subscribe

What is the best aluminum boat and motor combination that can be used for saltwater or freshwater that can be towed with a Mazda 6 wagon?

I have been wanting to get a small boat to use for Salt/Fresh water fishing and putting around. I like the Honda four-stroke engines and I'm wondering what you would recommend for a boat? An aluminum boat was recommended to me. What size aluminum boat should I get? What size motor? What type of bottom (hull shape) and aluminum compound (mixture) should I get? I have a Mazda 6 wagon and may not even be able to tow a boat. I need something small but not so small that it would be overwhelmed by the waves while being used in the salt. Sorry for all the questions. Also what prices are we looking at for a decent boat which will last and require minimum upkeep. What would the approximate combined weight be of the trailer/boat/motor
posted by Craiggy83 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I like Lund boats, particularly the Lund Alaskan (probably too big for your purposes, though). The Lund WD14, rated for up to 25hp, looks like a nice boat for easy trailering depending on what sort of salt-water boating you're planning. I suggest that you not take a 14ft boat farther from shore than I'd be willing to row it (and keep a real pair of oars on board). 14ft is enough for 2 people and gear.

On the east coast of the USA, StarCraft are more commonly available than Lund. In my experience, StarCraft do not hold up as well to wear and tear.

The Honda 4-strokes are nice, (relatively) clean, quiet engines. For a 14ft aluminum boat, a 9hp would work but a 15 or 20hp should get the boat on plane with a full load.

A local boat dealer would be plenty willing to help you with questions about trailering and engine rating for different size boats.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 10:55 PM on March 30, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for all the information. There is so much in the world of boating and I'm trying to get a hold on the aluminum boat part of it. What do you think a 14ft. with trailer and say 15-20HP engine weigh. I have a mazda wagon and I think it can only tow very light boats. I'm thinking 1200-1500 lbs? Anyone else have any recommendations?
posted by Craiggy83 at 2:23 PM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: Anyone else have any suggestions?
posted by Craiggy83 at 6:34 PM on March 31, 2009

I am looking for the same thing after downsizing from a 25' cruiser. I just want to be able to get on the water. It is still a matter of how you will use the boat and in what kind of water. Here is a discussion on a website which may be of benefit: http://www.stripersonline.com/surftalk/showthread.php?t=409077

Just like any other thing, especially boats, there are levels of quality and brand recognition. For my needs, the Crestliner Sportsmen 14SS appears to be perfect. It has the higher gunwales needed for bay fishing and is very heavily built. But the used boat market is very good right now if you are a buyer. I should know, just sold my cruiser for one-third of what I had in it. But that's boating!

The four-stroke engines are quieter and more efficient with no smoke. But they generally weigh more, sometimes a lot more.

I want to be able to carry a couple of people and a couple of grandkids and feel comfortable that I won't get swamped by a wake from a bigger boat.

The search is the fun part of boating!

posted by MichaelLloyd at 7:09 AM on April 1, 2009

Why don't you check the user manual of your wagon? It should state the maximum towing capacity I've towed lots of small boats with crappy underpowered cars, you just go slower. Also make sure your trailer is appropriately sized and in good condition. That goes a long way.

As for the boat I think we need some more information as to where you are and where you intend to go because we don't know what conditions you're going out in. I'd consider any aluminum or fiberglass boat with a V-shaped hull. I think you want to look for a "runabout". Have you considered taking a boating course? They'll teach you all kinds of practical things and safety stuff including how to consider the weather and conditions before you head out.. As for engine size, it really depends on the boat and a 4 or 2 stroke engine. Somewhere between 15 and 40 hp seems reasonable for a runabout. Lund is a decent brand.

The other thing you might wish to consider is a RIB - Rigid Inflatable.. somewhere around 14-18 ft. They're hard bottom boats with inflatable sides. They also come with aluminum bottoms which are lighter than fiberglass. They're also a bit more expensive and heavy but are generally pretty good. for moderate wave conditions. There's a reason rescue boats tend to be RIBS... AquaPro makes aluminum ones.
posted by captaincrouton at 9:23 AM on April 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys for the info. I currently live and RI and would mostly be using the boat in the Ocean. I don't believe I would be going to far out, but would like a boat which could handle some rough seas for the days your dying to go out but there is some wind picking up. Right now all I can do is go out with my dad on calm days with his freshwater type boat. The wagon I believe will hand 1200lbs no brake which will probably work for an aluminum boat set-up. I have been looking at a bunch of used boats, but I don't want to make the wrong decision when it comes down to the brand of boat and motor. How much do you think you could pick up a brand new 14' aluminum boat 20HP 4 stroke with trailer for? My brother and dad have taken a boat course, maybe I should as well. Keep coming with answers. I love all the input. Good luck to those of you who are looking for boats yourselves!!
posted by Craiggy83 at 5:12 PM on April 1, 2009


As they say, you are "putting a little more meat on the bones". I know there are "tin boats" that are used on all the oceans, but you have to understand the risk of using a 14' boat (no matter what it's made of) in ocean conditions. What you originally seemed to want was a lake/bay boat. Even then, one would have to be very cautious about when to go out in a 14' boat. There is a 15' Quintrex being offered on craigslist at the Massachusetts/Cape Cod & Islands site. It's one of the toughest aluminum boats made. The owner is asking $7500 for it. I would NOT take that boat into Nantucket Sound, much less any open water. In my own humble opinion, you don't want to go into the ocean or sounds in anything less than an 18' deep-V boat. Even then, I wouldn't go out in any significant chop.

Those four football players who went out on a nice day in a 21' boat certainly found out that a 21' boat is no guarantee of safe boating.

Before you spend your money on a boat, take a boating course. It might just save your life and those with you.

posted by MichaelLloyd at 7:02 AM on April 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Mike for the reply. I probably should take a boating course first and then decide what to buy. I appreciate your safety concerns. I am not one to do something crazy, but it's still nice to understand the safety issued concerning the ocean.


posted by Craiggy83 at 1:20 PM on April 2, 2009


My response was not intended to be a downer. Mucking around in boats is one of the funnest things I have ever done, whether sail or power. And in my humble opinion, the smaller and closer to the water the more fun it is and the less hassle. That's why, at my advanced age, I am going back to the basics of a small, light aluminum boat with oars and a small outboard.

My bigger boat was absolutely gorgeous, but was more hassle and more expense than it was worth.

posted by MichaelLloyd at 5:23 AM on April 3, 2009

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