Recommended makes? (18-19' fiberglass runabout)


Old 08-14-06, 01:24 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 50
Recommended makes? (18-19' fiberglass runabout)

Can I ask this question on this forum? Don't want to start a flame war. Any advice on recommended makes for a 18-19' fiberglass runabout, with inboard/outboard, for cruising and skiing on a medium-size lake?

I have owned a Sea Ray and a Thompson in the past. Thompson seemed heavy and too tall (freeboard), I guess it is really a Great Lakes boat. Sea Ray was nice, but time to replace it.

I get the sense that Sea Ray is considered good quality ... Bayliner is perhaps "cost conscious" shall we say? Where do the following fit in: Larsen, Four Winns, Cobalt, Maxum, Mariah? Other major names in this category?

I'm not suggesting that anyone builds a bad boat! But I'd like to have the general lay of things before I start looking. I'm no expert and can't expect to tell the difference in quality by looking at all the various boats in the showroom -- and I really don't want to spent a huge amount of time evaluating 10-12 different brands, if I can narrow it down to 2 or 3 to start. Let's say "Sea Ray or equivalent" quality ...

Any advice?

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Old 08-14-06, 05:11 PM
fellowesman's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13
Cool boat

i can tell you the boat market is real tight now all are trying to get
market share you named the company that i work for. we try to give the customer wants. we build boats from 17' to 42'. every manufactuer builds what they see as what the customer wants.
how much you plan on useing the boat will tell how much to spend on it the more that your on it you want some extra goodies or nesities that you will want (head, sink, ect). i will tell you the people that buy 42' boats are a snob they are real pickie about every thing
with the fuel price the way they are you should be able to name your price
you are correct bayliner near low end and sea ray, cobalt, four winns near the upper end
Old 08-21-06, 06:19 PM
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Posts: n/a
Are you set on fiberglass? Personally I am a big fan of aluminum due to the weight, lower maintenance, and if it gets a hole, I can easily repair it without having to worry about my foam being water logged.
Old 08-21-06, 08:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 24
I would have to agree that what you get should depend on how much you plan to use the boat and what kind of extras you want on it. Also what size are you considering medium for a lake, different boat makes offer different quality rides just trying to judge what were looking at. My personal experiences in boats of that size are the following. Chapparel is a very good boat, more on the top end in quality and ammenities and a little bit pricey. A chap will deliver one of the finest rides.
Mariah, they are a fairly nice boat, they also offer quite the list of ammenities however I don't know if we just had the lemon but we had alot of problems with ours. Ours was a 24 foot with the captains call exhaust, anytime we had it on silent mode everything would go wrong from engine overheating to electrical failures, however running it on open mode we never had a problem at all. Again nothing against mariah i like boats loud anyway so i always had it on open when i was alone but with others i used silent and had some problems.
Sea Ray is also a fairly decent boat. Sea Ray's real niche is in the big cruiser market and you can definately see that reflected in their smaller boats. None of their boats will set any speed records but they offer an incredible ride and comfort of a larger boat.
Baja, probably my favorite boat we ever owned. 180 Islander is not you traditional baja. It had an underwater exhaust so you're not waking up everyone on the lake when you go for a ride at night. It had a suprisingly smooth ride for an 18 foot boat modeled after sport boats. And had very few problems.
And lastly the bayliner. Bayliner makes a solid boat. Their hulls aren't as deep of a V as some of the other makes that i've noticed so they aren't quite as smooth of a ride. And they don't have quite the list of ammenities however we had ours for about 5 years (i think that's the longest we've ever owned a boat, you know how that goes) and never had a single problem with it. The bayliner is the boat that you could take out every weekend and enjoy it but it's also the boat that if you don't take it out sometime it's not a big deal because it's not breaking the bank as bad as some other options. Hope this helps and my last bit of advice if you want to ski spend the extra money (on the boat and gas) and get the V8 option. Most 18 foot boats wil have a v6 or v8 motor option but it is very hard to get up behind a v6.
Old 08-22-06, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 61
The answer to your question really depends on how you are going to use the boat, and the price you want to pay.

For 18-20 foot bowrider i/o's here's my brand list

Premium quality:

Mid priced:
Sea Ray
Four Winns
Baja Islanders

New Mariah

You can have fun on virtually any boat. But nobody would compare the fit and finish of a Bayliner with a Cobalt. One thing about I/O's is that they all use the same engine and drive combinations from either Volvo or Mercruiser. I would make a couple of recommendations for any boat you buy - buy a fuel injected engine - at least a 4.3 MPI and Get an extended swim platform

Hope that helps a bit.

Last edited by mattison; 08-22-06 at 12:06 PM. Reason: Sorry, but links to outside forums are not allowed.
Old 08-24-06, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1
just picked u a 91 Glastron 20 bow rider this year and have been very pleased thus far. it planes quickly and handles the chop well. if your looking at an all fiberglass boat Glastron has to be considered.
Old 09-06-06, 05:09 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 50

Hey thanks everybody! You opened my eyes to a few brands that I think I should consider. We don't use our boat that much, but I'm the kind of person who would rather spend a little more for a high-quality product. So I think my short list will be Sea Ray, Cobalt, Chaparral and Four Winns. There is a local dealer in town with a great reputation, been here forever, they handle Sea Ray and Baja. The small marina on the lake handles Larson.

If anybody cares to comment further -- several people asked how we plan to use the boat -- we have owned two similar boats over the past 15 years, both 19' runabouts. We own a lake cottage on a medium-size lake, which is usually very calm -- rarely any chop and we tend to stay ashore when it's windy/choppy anyway. We do some skiing, mostly adults, pretty tame, we aren't experts and we aren't gettin' any younger! Two young people in our extended family still enjoy tubing and just got a wakeboard, but they're not looking for big wake and fancy tricks, just seems easier than skiing (they snowboard in winter). We're never on the boat all day, just in & out of the cottage doing ski runs or a cruise around the lake for an hour or two. In other words, we're really not heavy-duty boaters, just casual users, and the boat stays at our cottage all summer, we never go to other lakes or bays/ocean and never will.

If that influences any recommendations, I'm all ears. THANKS for the advice so far.

Old 09-07-06, 10:15 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: massachusetts
Posts: 2,215
You sound like my son and my brother-in-law.
They both have the same uses as you describe.

My son has 1989, 16' Fourwinns he just bought this summer from his uncle,and my brother inlaw(uncle) just bought another Fourwinns, but 18'. Both are 4 cyl.(chev.) engines ,inboard/outboard. Comfortable boats with reasonable H.P. (130-135) with good 'get up and go'.
Volvo-Penta gets the nod for the outdrive. As someone else mentioned,Four Winns is the "middle of the road".

Good luck and please post back with what you bought.

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