Sunday, April 29, 2018

New Found Freedom

Buying a new boat

Family, friends, and RapidGroove readers know that I'm an avid boater and salt-water fisherman. Like many fishermen, I prefer fishing from a boat and have come to appreciate the center console design as one that accommodates groups and also allows a fisherman to move around the boat to fight a fish that makes runs in different directions.

Back on October 31st of last year, I posted here in RapidGroove about selling my long time boat, Freedom, a 26' Sailfish center console fishing boat. As I described then, I wanted Freedom to have another life with a new owner who would take good care of her. I was thrilled to find such a buyer and I'm confident that she will make another family happy for years to come.

Once I sold Freedom, I was pretty well committed to buying another boat before the start of the 2018 fishing season. I was still focused on the center console design and had done my research and had a few top boat makers in mind. Having had a 26' for many years, I was thinking of moving up slightly. Perhaps a 28' or even a 30' boat. On the other hand, 26' has been a great size for my family, and as boats get larger, there are more restrictions on where they can be docked.

I've been on many boats and I've seen many more out on the water, so I had a head start on some ideas. I talked to friends and to my mechanic about different boat makes and models, and I spent time on the builders' web sites to compare features. Most importantly, I visited dealers to climb aboard and get a real feel for the boats I was considering. Sometimes my wife Tacey would come along, too. While she doesn't fish much anymore, she does enjoy a sunny day out on the water and I wanted to make sure that whatever boat I picked would have features that she appreciated, too.

Though I admired some of the Boston Whalers and Grady Whites, I wasn't finding late model used boats configured the way I liked and new boats of these brands configured to order were too expensive. I considered Regulator and Everglades boats but there weren't dealers of these boats in the surrounding area where I boat and in any event these are fairly pricey boats. I did find a local dealer I wanted to work with, and he handled at least two lines of boats that I felt good about. Edgewater, a great boat builder at a higher price, and Cobia, a good mid-priced line of boats. I considered some used Edgewater 28' boats, but they had shortcomings for my purposes. I considered a leftover Cobia 30' boat, which would have been a big jump in size for me. I also seriously considered a custom Cobia build, with exactly the features I wanted in a 27' center console model. It's hard to imagine anything better than a boat built exactly to my specs.

On the other hand, the Edgewater boats had a fit and finish that I really liked. From a great tackle prep station to comfortable seating to dry storage in all the right places. The Edgewater line was just a higher quality boat for my purposes, and is one of very few boats rated "unsinkable" by hull design. I began to feel that I would regret going another way. I still couldn't afford a 2018 Edgewater 28', and the used 28' boats coming in to my dealer were not really capturing my heart. Then I found out that there was a leftover 2017 Edgewater 26' center console at my dealer. This was a new boat with all warranties, it was a great configuration, and only a little out of my price range.

In the end, I was able to strike a fair deal on this 2017 Edgewater 262cc and arranged for electronics to my specifications (two Garmin 12" screens with chart plotter, sonar, radar, etc.) and some other smaller additions, such as a longer anchor line, a better anchor, additional fishing rod holders and some canvas covers to match the hull color.

With all of that done, I picked the boat up this past weekend. I spent over an hour on the electronics orientation with a Garmin expert, and then a licensed boat captain gave me an orientation to the boat and accompanied me back to my dock. Along the way we stopped at a nearby marina to fill the 150 gallon gas tank. Just imagine what that cost!

My new boat is now tied up at my dock and looks and rides like a million bucks. I'm really looking forward to the coming season on the best boat I've ever owned. And the name of my new boat? "Freedom" of course. Why change a name that works so well for me?


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