Got Any Advice For A New Woody Boater? We Got Some Tips To Start With!

First time out! Whilrwind fun. These are my two boys in 2006 That boat was and is amazing! $1,500 and a new engine $3,500

Today we give the floor to you! The great citizens of Woodyboaterville. Yes, even Dim! Somehow I miss him, it feels so boring without a nasty jab! Maybe I am an abused Boater? Speaking of abuse, do you have any advice for a person wanting to get into classic boating? And “run” is not advice.  For example.

This was my first boat. New bottom, sides, engine and a very nice trailer. Paid $20K for it on a whim. 2005 I WAS HOOKED!

  1. Get a fun boat you can enjoy for a year to see if you like the culture.
  2. Start with a plywoody or fiberglassic.

    Donzi, Chris Craft and others are cool, and very collectable these days!

  3. Go to shows! Take rides, ask questions. Trust us, it’s like visiting your Grandfather and asking about his real passion. Bring a chair!

    Join today!

  4. Join the local ACBS group. There are some great folks in the community and they will help you find a killer boat. We all want you to have a great experience. Nothing beats buying a boat from a boat show guy.And some boats stay in the family, if you know what I mean.
  5. Don’t buy a project boat without trying a good one first. Each boat drives and feels differently. Drive many boats. MANY! I spent three years restoring a boat I did not like driving! Ugh!

    Fun boat, drove it once. Our water here is too big. She is a better place now on a lake. Sold her for half of what I had in her.

  6.  Just because the boat is cheap, doesn’t mean its a good deal. Many times a restored boat is the more affordable option. Trust me, I have paid a lot to learn this lesson.
  7. Bottom Jobs. Know what you are getting into. It looks easy and isn’t. There are countless unfinished dreams out there in garages.

    Name it after her!

  8. DO NOT ASK YOUR WIFE FOR PERMISSION! DO NOT! She will tell you, you’re an idiot. AGAIN! This is your first. If you already have cars and Motorcycles, well, it’s over anyway. Now, this is an entire story unto its self. Because, in all truth you should involve your wife. And buying a piece of junk that clogs up the garage will kill you, but if you get a small fun boat that you can plop in the water and go for a fun sunset ride, it will pay in dividends. Now, if you are a wife, and want to buy a boat, and your husband, boyfriend etc is not the kinda guy that wants a classic boat. DUMP HIS BORING ASS!
  9. Visit WoodyBoater a lot. Not a plug for us, but there are over 4000 stories here and from time to time we find a special deal. Like that cool project Chris Craft a couple weeks ago, we did the story and it was gone in 2 hrs. Already had a new bottom. They go fast and we are very focused on you as a first time boater. It’s our mission to get you and keep you involved. Also our sponsors are good people and worth a call. No one wants you to not love it. Our sponsors BTW all have a top reputation in the community and are trust worthy. And if you are really concerned, Katz’s Marina has a Warranty on their boats!

    $6K sold in a couple hours here on WoodyBoater. Turn key fun!

  10. It’s just a boat, have fun in it, on it, and with it. Before you know it, you will launch a website on the topic and be writing top ten lists to encourage others to join you!

    Breaking down is part of the fun! That’s why you need more than one!

There ya have it, my best attempt to help. Depending on the boat you like, and the condition it is in, advice can be different. You can trust the sponsors here. We use them, have had great experiences. There are also great folks out there that can also help. But also land mines and sadly companies that play games and tricks. Just ask us and we will be more than happy to help avoid the tricks. The goal is to have fun, and get out there!

Fun 17 footer with a modern 350! “Moonshiner” Rules.

22 replies
  1. Chad
    Chad says:

    All great tips. If I could add one more (to the top of the list) it would be to figure out how you plan to use the boat;

    Fishing, skiing, going fast, entertaining, cruising or just looking cool.

    It’s just a boat. Have fun.

  2. Ranger
    Ranger says:

    After having gone through the trauma of a restoration, I wholeheartedly agree…buy one already done!

  3. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Excellent tips….explains why I have so many boats….I have no wife! ….but maybe need a shrink?

    I have violated one of the important suggestions as above….bought a boat I later found out I didn’t like to run….ugh.
    DO…sea trials…

    John in Va.

  4. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    11. DO NOT STAND ON THE DECK OF YOUR BOAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE. unless your an athletic specimen like Matt Smith. or if your boat comes form KATZ’S (all boats come with a 1 year warranty).

  5. Gary visser
    Gary visser says:

    Best advice came from old car restorations: if you can’t afford a “good” restored boat, you can’t afford a “bad” one to restore yourself.

  6. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    I’d add; If your new boat is a Chris Craft, join the Chris Craft Club. They can offer a lot of help.

  7. Sean
    Sean says:

    #1, Buy what you like. Not what others say you should like. Ditchburns, Minett and 30′ launches look great at the show but, if you don’t enjoy them or are not interested in their history the shine will be off the penny soon.

    #2, Buy what you can afford. You may like that show boat but think the only way you’ll have it is as a project boat. A sitting project that never gets done because of lack of resources in no fun.

    #3, Given 1 and 2… buy a project boat! If you are so inclined DIY is nice but, as a project manager the job is just as satisfying. You’ll learn all about your boat, the materials, construction, it’s history, the people in the hobby and the industry. Make sure you have something to drive while the project is under weigh.

    #4, Buy a turn key. There’s nothing nicer than just wheeling off to the ramp and going for a spin in a ready-to-go cool boat. Especially if it is a classic glass boat that has a potential quick turnaround if you’re not totally enamoured. You’ll be out on the water and rubbing elbows with the hobbies greatest people pronto!

    #5, Make it your own. This may be as easy as putting a name on the transom, a change of anti-foul colour or maybe a modern power upgrade. However, don’t be discouraged by others if you want to change your boat to suit your likes/tastes/needs. You’re the guy that drives it and pays for it.

    #6, It’s been said but, it’s worth saying again…. join a club (and get involved). You’ll not be sorry!

    #7, Get out on the water. As often as you can. And hopefully in as many places as you can too 🙂 Take people for rides…. often.

    #8, HAVE FUN! Maybe should be at the top of this list.

  8. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    My first boat period was a 1960 17′ sportsman that was a boat that I could pay cash for including a trailer. It was far from perfect but was a boat that I learned alot about wood boat maintenance and bottom repair I might add. It had a 283 chevrolet that parts was plentiful but thankfully never needed more than a tune up and oil changes. Yes the bottom would need swelling if I did not trailer the 30 miles to the lake every weekend but it worked with a little 5200 in the seems. I had a lot of fun with it but soon learned with the short length you needed to boat early or late afternoon for the best experience or go slow to keep from pounding the bottom. So I would suggest to find at least a running usable boat with a fairly stable bottom along with a road worthy trailer so the new owner could have some fun along the way so they do not get overwhelmed by a non running project boat, This same thing happens everyday in the old car hobby, buying a project car then spending lots of money buying all new sheetmetal chrome interiors wheels tires etc and 4 or 5 years later selling everthing for 50 cents on the dollar.

  9. Dean
    Dean says:

    There is a lot of great information here. I would add that you can spend a lot of money on a “restored” boat that is all shiny and pretty, with a new 5200 or West bottom only to find out that it was poorly restored. The restoration is only as good as the craftsman that did it. Just like restoring a classic car at the end you know exactly what you got. Now whether what you got is worth what it cost is another discussion.

  10. Rob
    Rob says:

    Bottom jobs are not that difficult for a diy. Doing one on an itty bitty runabout (< 19') would be easy as pie.

  11. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    Do not look at an old woody as an investment, you rarely ever see a profit when it comes time to sell, especially after doing a restoration. In most cases these things are only worth what someone is willing to pay.

  12. WAYNE
    WAYNE says:


  13. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    If your buying a restored boat and you actually plan on useing it, take it for a good long sea trial to see if anything breaks. If your buying a unrestored vintage boat just figure everything is already broken or ready or break.

  14. Jeff Neppl
    Jeff Neppl says:

    Thanks Matt for doing this story. It has been really helpful and I think it has guided me to the direction I wanna go. (At least I hope so) I’m glad I have had old cars for many years and have owned projects to a magazine cover show car. All period correct motors and parts too. I feel the classic boats have a lot in common as was mentioned by a few people.
    As much as I am obsessed with a classic mahogany and me being a union finish carpenter I think a classic fiberglass might be the best choice for my first boat. I can see what owning my own boat is all about and not spend so much right out of the gate. Plus like you said… I’m in socal so there isn’t a ton of lakes right here. There are some beautiful harbors though. If i love owning one as much as I love being on the water then I will sell the glass and get a mahogany. Do you guys think that is a plan for a rookie ?

  15. Ollon
    Ollon says:

    As for rule #8 I guess I’d have to say I’m a lucky guy. My wife loves the boats and certainly does not believe in waiting for tomorrow to enjoy them. Back in 2000 I saw a neat Lancer in the Boat Trader. We went and looked at it and 2 days later I came home from work to find it in my driveway. She worked out a deal with the guy and even had him tow it to our house because we didn’t own a suitable tow vehicle at the time. If she’s driving you better hold on.

  16. Crystal Lake Kid
    Crystal Lake Kid says:

    Research the history of the boat before buying on who built it and when, how many were built, who has owned it and in what waters has it been used, if restored when and by whom and is the restoration correct, what is the power, is it original or a re power, and what is its installed condition, and are parts missing or incorrect for the boat. If the boats needs restoration get info on probable cost and add 33 percent and get a timeline for completion. Realistically assess your own skills and available time and where you would do the work. Determine where you would use the the boat and how often and where you would store it to keep it out of the elements. The idea is to avoid the frustrations that take the joy of owning a part of history.

  17. AE Carter
    AE Carter says:

    I am so happy with my 18’9″ Truscotteer deluxe sedan “Mon Cheri” Sure, it needed a bottom job and a few coats of varnish, but after ten years in an old warehouse, she is back at home on the water in Northern California. This was the most rewarding project I have had in a long time. My first boat. I love her!

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