My boating challenge is, I think, the same one a lot of other boaters face. I have a lot of things I like to do on the water. You probably do, too. The kids and I like to fish every now and then. The whole family loves to ski and go wakeboarding, and the kids enjoy skittering around behind the boat on a tube. It’s also nice to be able to spend the night on board — like camping, but without the dust. I like to go fast for fun, but speed also has a practical side when weather moves in. Getting off the water in a hurry can be handy.
Oh, and I need the boat to be trailerable with a garden-variety half-ton pickup. Surely there must be something that meets all those needs on BoatTrader.com, right?
As you know, you can’t really fish from a ski boat. They’re just too nice inside for handling fish, and most of them won’t even top 45 mph. You can ski behind a fish ‘n’ ski model, but wakeboarding doesn’t really work because there’s no tower. A runabout or deckboat outfitted with watersports and fishing packages might work, but even those will come up a bit short in some respect. And, of course, they’re not very fast and none of them has overnighting capabilities.
But I think I found just the ticket. I’m going to go out on a limb here with what I think is the best all-around boat, largely because it’s typically marketed strictly as a fishing boat. The ideal vessel, for everything most people use a boat for, is a walkaround, about 25 feet in length with twin outboards. Here’s why.
Fishing can ruin a boat not meant for fishing. Once you put fish in a ski locker, you won’t want to put your skis in it ever again. Walkarounds can be hosed out from top to bottom. Most of the surfaces are hard gelcoated fiberglass, so they clean up pretty easily.
A walkaround has berths in its cabin and usually a head compartment large enough to be usable. So you can spend the night on it and fish from it, no problem.
Most of them have somewhere to attach a ski rope or a tube, so skiing is doable. What’s more, you can find one with a rigid aluminum frame around the hardtop, so you could pull a wakeboarder from the appropriate height, and you can add some bolt-on board racks. Because it’s a twin, you have plenty of power for pulling a skier or a wakeboarder, and those two large, trimmable engines and trim tabs on the transom mean infinite adjustments to tune the wake. Throw some nice Garelick chairs on the rear deck and you’re good to go. Those twin engines also provide respectable top speeds.
Of course, that’s just my take on it. You may have your own ideas on the best all-around boat, and that’s exactly what the comments section is for.