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Fishermen's Journal


By Hermit 
(aka... Nope, I won't spill the beans on this man's identity...) 


Some time ago Chark asked me to write a story about an incident that occurred shortly after I purchased a used fishing boat.

I didn’t get to it until now, and wanted to expand upon it in a somewhat different manner. I wanted to examine the actual costs of purchase, operating and maintaining it.

Well…. I got a lesson that wasn’t expected. Most of us have spouses who believe that fishing is just a hobby and not anything beyond that. How many times have we all had to give extemporaneous dissertations to support a any type of fishing gear and/or additional equipment necessary to finally catch (insert fish species) that has eluded us for want of that reel, pole, electronic devices, etc.

I purchased a used 1974 Wellcraft Airslot. It is approximately 25 feet in length with an 8.5 foot beam. A cuddy cabin configuration that has an extremely large cockpit for, YES you guessed it FISHING!!! A Ford 302 with a 2bbl carb powers this particular boat. Now one interesting feature of this vessel is its hull design. Which is a based upon Wellcraft’s early scarab hull, which had small wings that allowed the boat to float or surf over waves and still maintain excellent control and steering capabilities. The boat does 32 knots with full fuel 4 passengers and a 35-gallon bait tank loaded with anchovies! The fuel consumption is around 5-6 gallons an hour cruising at 25 knots.

So much for bragging rights, I didn’t get to this without numerous man-hours, serious sweat equity and lots of green colored paper with past presidential portraits.

I had lots of help in refurbishing this boat. John, my main fishing buddy and neighbor has flat busted his butt and sometimes dug deep to contribute to this project. He has a ride on the Lady Jane whenever he wants. How many of you, the reader can say a friend/buddy/relative has devoted this much to your boat?

I am also blessed with a wife that understands my proclivities when it comes to my interests. She love the water and out first boat together was a fresh water 16 foot Glastron that was WAY over powered and did an easy 60 mph. She knew how to get it on plane and wasted little time putting it through its paces. Having said that let me now admit that I come for a sailing background and am perfectly happy with 7 knots and quiet. It was John that got me “hooked” and sport fishing and now I am permanently hooked.

I have had to replace nearly every item on this vessel over the past few months to eventually wind up with an extremely seaworthy vessel and also learned quite a bit during the process. Needless to say it has cost quite a lot more than the initial bargaining price I originally paid for this boat.

For those of you who have only had a new boat experience CONGRATULATIONS, for the rest of us… WE have been there and know how to fix just about anything that breaks fails to work or just plain a pain in the butt, that words cannot describe it.

One thing is an absolute must, FIND A GOOD MECHANIC! I have been lucky from the get go in finding Don at Cal Best. He and David are simply a godsend to anyone who works for a living/married/has a budget, etc. Honesty and integrity in a marine mechanic is had to find. Not only do you become a customer; you become a friend to these guys. Both Don and David have done many others and me such a service it behooves us all to recommend them to everyone.

Getting back to the original premise for this essay is to make sure you fully investigate the boat you are considering purchasing, especially if you know the person who is selling it. Friends and old business contacts mean well but may forget to mention trivial matters like gas tanks that have to be custom built, or possibly that the battery/electrical system may need a small amount of attention…. Like COMPLETE REPLACEMENT! Lets not forget those little outlays for miniscule parts such as screws, wire, gauges, etc. that wind up costing a small fortune.

I now have a boat that is worth every penny and every hour of sweat equity endured by my friends and myself. How many of us can say that even with a new boat?

Hopefully we can all come forth someday and completely understand our accomplishments either through an expensive outlay of cash or by labor. Sometimes labor wins out, especially when we come away with a greater understanding and security of the vessel we trust the lives of who ever comes aboard.

Hey the decision rests ultimately in the buyer. And remember the old saying “Caveat Emptor” as one day it will bite you in hindsight.

I hope this small diatribe has given someone a pause for thought when he or she decides to purchase his or her next boat.



This is a follow up to my earlier piece about the cost of boats used verses new.

The first factor we should consider is what purpose and/or purposes the boat is intended for.

As the majority of the visitors of this board are concerned is that of fishing, so I will concentrate upon this criteria and leave other uses such as pleasure, skiing and the rest to another.

Initially, our desires often outway our wallets which leads to the dreaded compromise. Compromise can be a good or a bad thing depending on how it is handled. If we compromise to someone else’s wishes it may leave us without our needs being met, yet some compromise coupled with good sound advice can become a blessing in disguise.

Say for example, a new boat with ALL the latest bells and whistles is desired. A prudent buyer will investigate and use all the resources at their disposal, a dealer, brochures, the Internet, etc. The buyer will often become entranced with the boat that common sense is ignored only to realize too late that either finances or some other factor comes up that prevents the acquisition.

If one is indeed well off enough to afford the purchase of a new boat then most of their concern will usually be about amenities and electronics, for the rest of us the used market is within our working budget.

The cost of the boat is JUST ONE FACTOR to consider. The used bargain today may quickly become the proverbial “Hole in the water that money is constantly poured into” and the other joke when you visit the repair shop is that the term

“Boat” is a pneumonic for `bout another thousand`, with regard to the cost of repairs.

Just because a boat has that showroom shine doesn’t automatically qualify it as the best choice. Careful inspection of a boat will reveal all the good and bad points, which can serve to provide a place to begin for negotiation of the purchase price.

A technique I learned at a very young age is when negotiating to buy something is to be realistic in an offer and have a good points to support your position. And most importantly, NO MATTER how badly you want something realize you might have to pass if the price and value don’t match up. I have walked away from deals just because something wasn’t right (gut feeling) or because my price was not accepted.

Later, I learned I was better off due to some unknown problems that resulted after someone else bought it.

Most Boaters are generally honest people and will try their best to present their boat in the best light; it is human nature to sugar coat something. Never take something at face value ALWAYS inspect it yourself. The person may honesty believe the boat to need only spit and polish while in reality it may require much more work.

Find a good mechanic and have them look it over even after you are convinced this boat is for you. Often times our desires cause us to overlook or hastily inspect a vessel just cause we want it. Never let emotion sway you into a purchase! Use you head and then get an independent party to inspect it.

This brings us to Surveyors. Surveyors can be your best resource and other times a dreaded menace depending on your role as buyer or seller. When you select a Surveyor ask around at different places like brokers, friends, etc. Don’t just take the first name in a phone book. Surveyors fees will vary so inquire and get it all in writing. When the Survey comes back remember who paid for the survey keeps the survey. It is also a very good negotiating tool if you are stuck on a particular point and the seller is told that their boat needs a moderate to large amount of repairs.

If the seller tries to play hard ball, walk away and don’t look back. Any Surveyor worth his salt will provide you with information that only the most experienced among us will recognize. A rule to follow is if the boat is going to cost you six months salary or more then get a survey done, or at least have a qualified marine mechanic inspect it. A mechanic may charge less than a survey, but when you insure the boat the insurance company will usually require one.

Now lets get to what average people can do for them when looking to buy a boat. Visit dealers, check out the Internet, look through those weekly magazines like Boat Trader, etc. Try to get a feel for what is offered and for what price. Also remember no price is ever that “firm”, you can deal and must if you want to have money left over for little things like parking fees and fuel to run the sucker.

First decide what budget you can afford and realize the you must purchase the boat, pay mechanic and survey fees AND still have money left over for repairs and upgrades you will want/need to ready it to your particular use.

Next, decide on the make, model, length, and engine, accessories you have to have and those you may want but don’t really need at the moment. Sometimes a seller may be willing to effect repairs and/or pay for some upgrades if the deal is a good one for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for some repairs and/or upgrades when buying a boat you just might get it! If you don’t ask, you won’t.

Decide also what you are willing to do in order to make the boat meet your needs. Are you willing to clean it up? Are you willing and ABLE to make necessary repairs to the motor, electrical system, etc? If you are capable right now then get ready for a shock. YOU WILL BE FORCED AT SOME POINT to become a master mechanic. The best boat in world needs repairs sooner or later and those repairs will often become necessary when you are using it out at sea and when you least expect it. For the sake of your sanity and the safety of all aboard learn to effect repairs. Carry spares of stuff so you can swap out that leaking fuel hose and be able to change out that corroded wire on the bilge pump so it can pump out the liquid filling up your boat before it become an artificial reef. If don’t feel capable then hitch a ride with someone else and forget about bot ownership. You will have to get dirty and clean stuff that would make a cat wretch! You will also find out whom your true friends are by whom pitches in after the trip is over. True friends help clean the boat after you get back to port or home if you trailer the boat.

Next you will need to learn to use you 5 senses; you know the ones that God gave you…

Eyes: Look over every inch of the hull and inside every crevice;

Nose: Smell everything in those places like bins, under bunks, etc., for strange smells like mildew, gas or diesel fuel and like;

Ears: Listen to the engine and how all the mechanical devices for strange noises, it may be nothing but then again it might be a costly repair; (Remember the AAMCO commercial where the guy does a sound comparison between a simple and costly transmission repair)?

Touch: Use you hands and feet, make sure you can pull, push and operate every thing on the vessel. Be aware of the control levers for shifting the engine in each direction and how well the throttle responds when worked. This will give you a sense of the cable condition and also insure you can work the boat. IF you need to be a giant to reach something or Hercules to move a lever, you might want to reconsider this particular boat.

Taste: Bet you were expecting me to say taste the boat, but in this case, taste becomes more so an aesthetic choice and not necessarily that of using your taste buds.

Most of us are familiar with cars and trucks and can claim some knowledge of structural integrity. Does the boat show signs of abuse? More than mere scratches should be looked over carefully. Does the floor creak or bow under your feet? It could mean some rot has happened and will need attention either because of leakage from water or possibly a holding tank has ruptured or even the fuel lines and or tank has started to leak. If it is fuel, FIX it immediately or you might discover what a great napalm bomb you own as it goes off when your or a passenger decides to light a cigarette or the stove. It might just be over spill from the last fueling and then again it just might be years of gas infused foam flotation waiting for a spark to ruin your trip!

Any used boat is going to have some cracks, cosmetic or structural, unless you know the difference ask an expert. Look over the hull… bottom paint? Is it fresh or does the hull and outdrive/outboard look like the Swamp-thing’s family reunion? Check the hull for soft spots or in some cases small to large bumps. This could be delamination of the hull and SERIOUS or it could mean blisters or even a bad paint job. If you don’t know get an expert.

At this time, it must be painfully aware I am concerned about structural integrity and safety with any boat. Never forget that this boat is not only for recreation, it must also insure the safety of all aboard at all times. You may get out on the water but can you get back? Does every trip from the jetty require a tow from Vessel Assist to get you back to the dock?

If so, then roll up your sleeves and get busy. You will benefit from knowledge gained by repairing your own boat and gain confidence and security that if something does break underway, you will at least have some ability to fix it.

Well, this is just a simple examination of some of what one can expect when shopping for their next boat. It is by no means intended as complete, only a starting place to help remind us when emotion can take over intelligence during a potential purchase.

Hope that helps


Your Wellcraft Airslot was designed by my father Richard C. Cole of Miami Fl. I read you article and it was interesting but I wanted to set the record straight. The Airslot was the sole design of my father and had nothing to do nor was based on any Scarab design. The Airslot was also patented under a US Patent. Where ever you got this information, it is wrong. You can learn more about my dad and his boats designs by putting "Richard Cole boat design" in your search engine. Dad just turned 93 yrs old and is well and living in Miami Fl.

Mike R. Cole
Plantation, Fl 33322



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