How To Buy A Boat


This was our 1961

16 foot Span American Boat

This was our 1969

20 foot Starcraft Boat


This is our current boat, a 1980 - 15 foot Gregor Aluminum Car top


How does one go about buying a boat?

One simple word, research, research, research and test drive!

As you can see above, we have had 3 kinds of boats during the past 37 years. Each had its special purpose when we owned them.

We began going to Boat Shows and looking at the new boats out on the market, we soon saw that even then, which was back in the 60's, that we could not afford to buy a new boat, this meant looking at the ads in the newspapers to try to find a boat that we could afford. Back then we belonged to a ski club and during the winter we would snow ski and during the summer we would water ski. Several people in our ski club had ski boats, so we had an idea of what we wanted to buy.

We spent many weeks looking at the ads and going over to people's houses looking at boats, some of which were in very poor shape. We then came across an ad, and called the person to come over to see his boat. The boat was stored in a garage and had not been used for a year. When the gentleman opened the garage door, to our surprise was the clean, sparkling 16 foot Span American! Bill and I did not act interested (something that you're supposed to do) and we walked around the boat and each of us poked one another and in a whisper said this was perfect! When he told us how much he was asking for the boat, we could not believe what he had said, all this for only $1200.00! We made arrangements with the man to test drive the boat on the following weekend at Lake Piru (a lake in California).

The weekend came, and we met him at the lake, bringing Lady Paws I with us to see how she would adapt to the boat ride. All of us got into the boat, and we tested it out on the lake; with the 70 horsepower outboard Mercury motor it went like a bomb. It handled well in the rough water as well as the calm water of the evening. While test driving the boat Lady had to make a shoreline stop, we got out of the boat and had our leash in hand, we thought that if we just set her down on the shoreline for a few minutes without her leash that she would do her thing and we would be on our way. As we were talking to the man about the boat, turning away for only a few minutes Lady was gone! We thought that she had seen a rabbit, and away she went into the small scrub brush. We all called out her name, but nothing, no Lady in sight. What was to be a wonderful trip out on the lake was turning into a nightmare, we had to find her fast as late afternoon was setting in and there were "coyotes in them their hills!" I have heard this phrase before. All of us walked up the slope of the rolling hills and spent several hours looking for her, and yes, we did finally find her. She was tired but all right, we grabbed her up in our arms, gave her water and put her back into the boat. A lesson to be learned here is that even a blink of the eye without putting a leash on your pet, and it could be gone forever, it's not worth taking the chance, always leash your pet!

Anyway, back to the boat. We got back to the dock and pulled out the boat, and we told the gentleman that we will take it, he said, "that he will tow it back to his house and for us to come the following day to fill out the paper work and bring a check for $1200.00." We arrived at his house the next day and signed all the papers and gave him his check, and away we went towing our boat behind. This is how we bought our first boat and with careful planning, research and test driving, you to can find that perfect boat.

From 1966 to 1983 we used our 16 foot boat. We did need the motor overhauled, but that's still cheaper than buying a new one. We boated on Lake Powell when it first was filled back in 1969, covering over 400 miles of shoreline and went back the following year to do it all again, a beautiful spot that we will tell you about later in our travels. Since we like to fish and water ski, we would combine all of this into a weekend of boating on Lake Mead, Salton Sea, Lake Havasu, Lake Mojave and the Colorado River. We would tow our boat over 600 miles for a weekend trip to the High Sierras for the opening day of trout fishing on the famous Lake Crowley in California. As we said earlier, this first boat was perfect for our needs.

After we retired in 1980, we spent our winters as Salton Sea, where we fished, water skied and hunted for ducks and geese. The Salton Sea is a large body of water found south of Indio, California. It is 40 miles long and 12 miles wide. We used our 16 foot boat on this large body of water but we were always careful not to go too far because of the strong winds that can happen in the desert. Since the sea is only 10 to 40 feet deep, the strong winds can create very high waves and that has gotten many people into trouble and many have capsized their boats and drowned. We had a CB in our boat, because many marina's on the sea, and even the people living around the shoreline monitored this and would get help to anyone who called. CB's are still used but more and more people are using the VHF radio's or marine radio's and now even more common are the cellular phones.

Several years passed, and we decided to find a larger boat for the Salton Sea, since it always seemed that the fish were found further away than we wanted to go in our smaller boat. Also, since we had relatives down for fishing and water skiing, our 16 foot boat could not handle more than four people. Again, we researched and looked at the newspaper ads. Being retired, we knew that we could not afford a new boat, so we kept looking and soon found a 20 foot Starcraft boat. We test drove the boat on the Salton Sea. It was an inboard/outboard, fast, very quiet and no exhaust fumes like our old outboard. One trip out on the Sea and we were proud owners of a 20 foot boat.

We advertised our 16 foot boat and in a short time sold it for $1200.00, the same price that we paid for it. It was in very good shape, with a full enclosed canvas sunshade, spare tire, boat cover and a newly rebuilt motor.

Since the 20 foot Starcraft was a used boat, we did have to do some work on it, but it was a joy to have such a great large boat to use on the Salton Sea, we could boat to the far end of the Sea, 40 miles and back and not worry about the winds as we did before. We still watched the weather and the winds, because although it was a bigger boat and would go a lot faster, it was always best to be cautious. We did say to ourselves that we wished that we had this boat for our Lake Powell trips, because it too was scary in strong winds with our 16 foot boat. We used our 20 foot boat on the Salton Sea during the fall through the spring and then loaded up our 15 foot car top boat for the summer. This worked out great and we continued to use our two boats this way for several years.

One thing about living full time in an RV is that you're flexible, you don't have a home to worry about; you can tow your home wherever you want to go. That's what happened in 1986. We had fished and hunted on the Salton Sea for over 30 years, but things changed. The fishing was getting poorer and when reports came out that the most prized fish, the "corvina" had selenium in them and to only eat 8 ounces of fish in a month it was time to find a new place. We sold our big 20 foot Starcraft boat for $4500.00, made a profit on this deal, and away we went to explore new places. We still hunted at the south end of the Salton Sea for a few more years. One thing about selenium, it is a natural mineral found in the soil, and because the Salton Sea is below sea level all the irrigation water runs off into the Salton Sea, therefore causing a build up of this mineral in the fish. You can go to health food stores and buy selenium pills, which people do, but we really can't say that, is it safe to eat the fish if it has higher levels than is recommend. People still fish the Salton Sea and eat the fish, so who really knows for sure!

Well, you have read about our first two boats and if you (Click here "About our RV"), you can read a bit more about our current boat, a 15 foot Gregor Car top. We outfitted our aluminum boat with indoor/outdoor carpeting, our CB and a Lowrence fish finder, a portable radio, a sunshade with removable front, rear and side screens made out of 80% solar sunscreen for those hot days fishing on the river or the lakes in the summer. We have fished the famous "Tyee pool" out of Campbell River on Vancouver Island for King Salmon and boated the Georgia Strait off Vancouver Island in our small 15 foot boat. We have caught a 50 pound King Salmon called "Tyee" out of our small boat and have used this boat for the last 20 years. We have never had to rebuild our 25 horsepower Johnson motor, pretty good service from Johnson! The only thing that we have had to do is replace the water impeller, coil and the power pack, not bad for 20 years of service! On our Gregor boat we had only a very small leak at a weld area that had to be repaired and that is it, it has served us well!


Above you will see two pictures, one is showing how we carry our motorcycle and some parts of our collapsible boat trailer, and the other picture is the boat trailer put together.

We first started using small double wheels on a square shaft that mounted on the rear transom of the boat, and a front tow bar mounted on the bow of the boat. We bought these items when we first bought our boat and loader. These items came from Edie, and we used them for several years to tow our boat from the campground to the launching ramp. This worked out all right for a short tow, but we could not legally tow our boat on the highway. We came across a portable, collapsible boat trailer made by, "By George" in California, this was street legal with tail lights and larger wheels. We bought this for $350.00, but now comes the task of how to carry all the pieces with us.

After analyzing our choices, we decided to use our motorcycle rack for some of the pieces, as you can see above. The two boat wheels are mounted on each side of the motorcycle rack with brackets and bolts to hold them in place. In front of the motorcycle is the transom support of the boat trailer and back underneath this area sitting on the rack is the bow winch. On top of the camper roof, each side rail of the boat loader rack is where we put the long 2" x 2" square center rails. When we unload our portable boat trailer, it takes only 8 bolts to put it together and in 30 minutes we have a street legal boat trailer. We have since sold our smaller wheels and front tow bar and now use our portable boat trailer all of the time. We have towed our boat on the highway for 50 miles without a problem. One thing that this does not have is springs, so we do have to be careful and try not to hit any pot holes, and we usually tow at a speed of 50 miles per hour. We have seen people use a conventional boat trailer that they have cut into pieces and then assembled the trailer as we do, but the weight of a conventional trailer would be too much for us to try to handle, and to try to get all the pieces up on the camper roof and on the motorcycle rack. As it is, when we are fully loaded with our camper, boat, motorcycle, 34 foot trailer and two mountain bikes we are 22,500 pounds!

As you can see, we have a very unusual rig, but we have found a way to take it all with us. It just takes planning and research! We hope that this has given you some ideas of how to buy a boat and take it all with you for your perfect rig!

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