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Newbie, 1st Boat - Chaparral Signature 280 - Lake Erie


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Hi there,

I'm new to power boating, but sailed all my life back in the Scotland where I originate from. So some experience with motors on the sailing side, but very little. I'm comfortable maneuvering boats in tight situations, know my weather and only sailed in the ocean, West Coast Scotland, so used to some quite large seas. That said, this will a whole new world of power boating, and also to the buying process as I'm not local yet!

So I'm in Cleveland, Lake Erie, wife and 10 yr old lad, and looking to enjoy the lake doing mainly entertaining, tubing and some travel around the lake with friends who have boats. We may stay over night with the boat, but several friends have places on the great lakes and I see us mainly mooring and sleeping ashore, so not looking for anything where the three of us are looking for a cabin to sleep in on a regular basis, but an option to if needed.

I spent hours doing research and came to a short list of a few makers/models, my preference was always for twin engines, decent beam and a size to handle the lake but not too big for a 1st boat/handling concerns, and Chaparral Signature 280 was one of the makers/models I had on my short-list.

A boat just came up, (2006 Chaparral 280 Signature Express), in my price range, at xxx, and ticks the boxes I 'think' I need. (details of boat listing at bottom). As I'm about to pull the trigger here, I have three questions to this community if you don't mind.

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1.  As a water savvy person, but new to power boating, is this a good starter boat? Will there be any areas of complexity, being electronics, engines, batteries, generators etc that will need more experience to handle? I don't want to put my family or others at risk or be the cause of any rescuing missions! From research, I believe this will handle Lake Erie well, but if anyone disagree's, I would be interested to know why.

2.  The boat would be purchased after being stored for basically two seasons, not ran, I would assume that a full survey on the boat will cover basics on the engines, like do they work !!? The buyer certainly has all the service records and it appears to have been well kept, but I would not be comfortable buying obviously without some surety. Didn't know how the US buying process works, if its common to place funds in escrow etc.

3.  One final question, on whether this looks like a good deal, i have found it very hard to use NADA boat prices as there are so many add ons that I don't truly understand what is actually on or not on a boat. This has also been always freshwater kept.

---

thanks and I appologise if I'm being too presumptuous with my questions here or in breach of boating etiquette!

Duncan

-----------------------

Loaded 2006 Chaparral 280 Signature Express. Fresh Water Used Only, Low Hours, Very Clean, Air Conditioning & Heat, Touch Screen GPS & Plotter, Radar, and Much More

The boat has low hours twin MerCruiser 4.3's & Heat/AC 
The following are some of the upgrades & features:

Twin 4.3 MerCruiser with Bravo 3 drives
New Canvas & Glass in 2012
Garmin 5208 Touchscreen Chartploter 
Carmin Raider
2 flat screen Tv's with DVD (one in Galley 1 in Aft cabin) 
Heat/AC
Underwater LED lights 
Blue LED Ambient Lighting
Windless Anchor 
Shower in the head & on the swim platform 
Sleeps 6 
Electric stove 
Microwave
Refrigerator
Vacuflush Tolet 

 

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Hi,

Its not like buying a house, but you may put a deposit down before the survey. After the survey and depending on HOW you want the agreement made out. You may get your deposit back if the dollar amount is too high for the repairs. But you can set the tone in the agreement.

I would take a U.S.C.G. course and join yacht club, not a marina. The course and the club will put you in touch with people that are deeply into boating. people that you can really learn from. 

As to pricing, I would go to  http://www.yachtworld.com/ and alike. To see what you can find for the same boat. That would give you a rough idea.

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I have a very similar  boat to yours -- a 2008 Sig 290.

I think for what you plan to do, this boat will work well.

I recommend (as you have stated) a survey and I think you should insist on a sea trial.  Put down a deposit that shows you're serious and have the owner and your mechanic put it in the water and run it around.  After two years of no use there's no telling what condition the rubber, bellows, cables, fittings, hoses, manifolds/risers, etc.) are in.   You don't specify whether it was stored outside or inside.

I agree with Iggy -- get to a yacht club and check with the USCG for the boating course (it's online or on a CD), and talk to the local USCG office.  I lived east of Cleveland growing up and used to sail on Lake Erie.  My brother still races catamarans on the west end of the lake and in Lake St Clair near Detroit.  One thing that I think is notable is that Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes.  That makes for different interaction between wind and water -- gets rough very quickly and I would think the wave period is much shorter than in the open ocean.

Good luck, and welcome to the US (and Ohio).

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1.  A 28ft boat is fairly large for a brand new person to get used to, but you have had experience in the past with sail boats, so it shouldn't com as a total shock.  If my boating were to be done primarily on the great lakes I would want something no smaller than 23-24ft and would have to have a cuddy or cabin, just my opinion. 

 

2.If at a dealer I wouldn't mind putting a deposit down. With the assumption its refundable, which most times it is.  Private seller, well once we get into negotiations and the ball is moving I wouldn't be apt to give them a deposit.  If they demanded it maybe.  As a seller I wouldn't ask for one, unless the buyer was taking their time and or wanted it held.

3.  Value on older boats can be tough.  Once boats get to be over 10 years old they really start to become a crap shoot.  End of the day Nada is a good start point.  Get as many options as you can and plug it is.  Another way to check pricing is to go to boattrader.com,  look for boats within 500-1000 of you or even the whole country,  look for boats the same model as yours within a year or two.  See what other people are asking.  Remember asking is just that ASKING.  Most people are going to take a 10-20% discount off what they are asking.  Mid-late winter and early fall in my opinion are the best times for buyers.  Late summer/early fall people don't want the hassle or have to pay to put their boat away, and on the flip side don't want to pay to get their boat out.  This time of year my starting point in negotiations would be 30-35% off. 

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I don't want to hog the thread, but I didn't answer any of your specific questions.

As to number 1, the complexity.  If you're a sailor, it's the difference in complexity that you can see (sails, boom, lines, sheets, etc.) and the complexity you can't.  When I bought my boat, with generator, shore power, AC, three batteries, electrical panel, etc., one of the first things I did was make a "start-up" and a "shutdown" checklist, paying particular attention to the panel with the shore power, generator, and 12v system on it, and the battery switch and circuit breaker panel.  I am very careful and always ask myself -- what is charging the batteries?  If the main engines are running, then the battery charger circuit breaker must be off.  If the generator is on, then there's a handy sliding lock-out cover so you can't run 120v current from the generator and also engage the short power -- has to be one or the other.  But there's nothing physical  to prevent you from running the engines and then having the generator run the air conditioner, and inadvertently switch on the battery charger.  Stuff like that.

If manuals are available, I would go through each one you have to get an idea of how the systems work.  Most of mine were installation manuals, which weren't super helpful on operation (toilet, refrigerators, AC, etc), but helped me learn where stuff was and how it was hooked up.

Best of luck.

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On 1/28/2018 at 8:05 AM, Iggy said:

Hi,

Its not like buying a house, but you may put a deposit down before the survey. After the survey and depending on HOW you want the agreement made out. You may get your deposit back if the dollar amount is too high for the repairs. But you can set the tone in the agreement.

I would take a U.S.C.G. course and join yacht club, not a marina. The course and the club will put you in touch with people that are deeply into boating. people that you can really learn from. 

As to pricing, I would go to  http://www.yachtworld.com/ and alike. To see what you can find for the same boat. That would give you a rough idea.

Thanks for the insight. Taking a USCG course is smart and I'll plan on doing that. Im already a member of a yacht club, membership dues and joining fees were part of my package moving here, which was a nice touch. Our owners are big sailors.  That said, as I have met with and chatted with the local club boat owners, Im getting a vast array of opinions on my first boat, that often counter each other, and exaggerated with an exuberance of port and scotch! I imagine though that once I select my boat, l will have plenty of help.

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On 1/28/2018 at 4:01 PM, tanker said:

I have a very similar  boat to yours -- a 2008 Sig 290.

I think for what you plan to do, this boat will work well.

I recommend (as you have stated) a survey and I think you should insist on a sea trial.  Put down a deposit that shows you're serious and have the owner and your mechanic put it in the water and run it around.  After two years of no use there's no telling what condition the rubber, bellows, cables, fittings, hoses, manifolds/risers, etc.) are in.   You don't specify whether it was stored outside or inside.

I agree with Iggy -- get to a yacht club and check with the USCG for the boating course (it's online or on a CD), and talk to the local USCG office.  I lived east of Cleveland growing up and used to sail on Lake Erie.  My brother still races catamarans on the west end of the lake and in Lake St Clair near Detroit.  One thing that I think is notable is that Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes.  That makes for different interaction between wind and water -- gets rough very quickly and I would think the wave period is much shorter than in the open ocean.

Good luck, and welcome to the US (and Ohio).

Hi there, thanks for your insight on the lake. The boat was kept indoors for two seasons. I think this sea trial is key, its a really good suggestion. It may lose me this boat however, I will have to see how this is received from the seller.

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15 hours ago, soldier4402 said:

1.  A 28ft boat is fairly large for a brand new person to get used to, but you have had experience in the past with sail boats, so it shouldn't com as a total shock.  If my boating were to be done primarily on the great lakes I would want something no smaller than 23-24ft and would have to have a cuddy or cabin, just my opinion. 

 

2.If at a dealer I wouldn't mind putting a deposit down. With the assumption its refundable, which most times it is.  Private seller, well once we get into negotiations and the ball is moving I wouldn't be apt to give them a deposit.  If they demanded it maybe.  As a seller I wouldn't ask for one, unless the seller was taking their time and or wanted it held.

3.  Value on older boats can be tough.  Once boats get to be over 10 years old they really start to become a crap shoot.  End of the day Nada is a good start point.  Get as many options as you can and plug it is.  Another way to check pricing is to go to boattrader.com,  look for boats within 500-1000 of you or even the whole country,  look for boats the same model as yours within a year or two.  See what other people are asking.  Remember asking is just that ASKING.  Most people are going to take a 10-20% discount off what they are asking.  Mid-late winter and early fall in my opinion are the best times for buyers.  Late summer/early fall people don't want the hassle or have to pay to put their boat away, and on the flip side don't want to pay to get their boat out.  This time of year my starting point in negotiations would be 30-35% off. 

1.            This is kind of my struggle with Erie, 28 footer is really big for a 1st power driven boat, but everyone tells me you need big for Erie due to sharp choppiness on the water. I also like the twin engines for balance and mechanically as a beginner :) , but its hard to find inboard twins on boats that meet the various criteria as the sizes go down.

2.     Noted

3.     Great advice here on timing. The only challenge I have had with various comparisons is the significant variations I have seen between prices for the same boat and the same year. I'm guessing some is down to condition and maybe salt vs fresh etc, but Ive seen variations of 30% on boats when to me they look identical. Part of the learning and the hunt I'm sure! Was easier to buy my house !

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4 hours ago, tanker said:

I don't want to hog the thread, but I didn't answer any of your specific questions.

As to number 1, the complexity.  If you're a sailor, it's the difference in complexity that you can see (sails, boom, lines, sheets, etc.) and the complexity you can't.  When I bought my boat, with generator, shore power, AC, three batteries, electrical panel, etc., one of the first things I did was make a "start-up" and a "shutdown" checklist, paying particular attention to the panel with the shore power, generator, and 12v system on it, and the battery switch and circuit breaker panel.  I am very careful and always ask myself -- what is charging the batteries?  If the main engines are running, then the battery charger circuit breaker must be off.  If the generator is on, then there's a handy sliding lock-out cover so you can't run 120v current from the generator and also engage the short power -- has to be one or the other.  But there's nothing physical  to prevent you from running the engines and then having the generator run the air conditioner, and inadvertently switch on the battery charger.  Stuff like that.

If manuals are available, I would go through each one you have to get an idea of how the systems work.  Most of mine were installation manuals, which weren't super helpful on operation (toilet, refrigerators, AC, etc), but helped me learn where stuff was and how it was hooked up.

Best of luck.

This is excellent advice, and absolutely hits the nail here on my fears of the unknown and why I'm nervous on starting too big/complex. My head has been spinning on this subject and decision, I used to find myself jumping from a 32 footer to a 15 foot skiff in a night! I am now pretty set on the 24-28 range, simply due to comfort factor and enjoyment, but the mechanical unknowns remain a really big concern for me.

Your checklist suggestions are also terrific, and I think will help me a lot as I learn and gain confidence. Ill make that a sellers requirement :) 

Thanks for your response. 

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Hi Duncan,

Your choice in going with a 24 to 28 foot boat on Lake Erie is smart. I started on Lake Erie with a jet ski then in a 24 foot 8 foot beam single engine Four Winns cruiser. I am now in a 31 footer twin engine 10.5 foot beam cruiser. The 24 footer was down right scary on anything more than 2 foot waves, with the single engine all the weight on the middle of the hull, we would get tossed around like rag dolls. With the bigger boat it’s much better for handling the short waves. Because the waves are short, you will drop off the back side of the waves and you will get wet with the spray coming over the bow. 

Boating on Lake Erie, you will learn when you can and can’t go out. Sometimes you don’t have a choice because You have been out on the lake and the weather turns ugly. When you do go out and you encounter rough weather you just have to slow down and drive to your ability and the boat ability. My advice to you is to talk to a lot of boaters in your Marina and find out where you can and cannot go, winds will play a huge factor, anything over 15 mph, I don’t even bother going out.

Lake Erie has a lot of shallow areas that you will not be able to go with in your boat closer to shore, and watch for very poorly marked fishing nets that usually run north to south at a few hundred yards with flags on both ends and sometimes yellow floats to keep the nets close to the surface. They will not be on your charts and have no lights on them. Learn where they are early in the season and avoid the vicinity because they do move them around from time to time. When the waves are about 3 footers, it’s almost impossible to see the marker flags. If you hit them at planing speed, they will severely damage your running gear. I have run across yellow floats  randomly floating in the water(someone ran through the net),when I do, I stop, reverse straight back a few hundred yards, turn north for a mile then turn on my original course and continue on my way. 

 

Matt

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Hi Duncan-

Welcome to the US and powerboating.  Since you have sailing experience, it is a big advantage compared to those new to boating altogether.   Lots of good advice above.

I urge you to not be intimidated by a 28 footer.  Like Supranut having upgraded from a 24 foot Four Winns Vista to a 310 Sig  then I wondered why I started at 24'.  It was an experience of getting caught on a run from Milwaukee to Michigan City that forced the upgrade.  Erie, as all of the Great Lakes can turn into a snotty mess in a matter of minutes.  You and your family will be happier with the larger boat under you.  Take the operation/running the boat slowly.  Learn how she behaves under different conditions.  Talk with your dock neighbors, if they are like mine they always have advice and a helping hand.  Don't be upset or embarrassed when you pull into your slip banging off the post and the pier.  We've all done it.  Just takes practice.  Twins make it easier to dock though.

The Coast Guard class is a must.  Have your family take it with you.  It is better to have all of them understanding the ins and outs of safe boating.

Have fun!  Let us know what you decide.

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1 hour ago, bcboater said:

Hi Duncan-

Welcome to the US and powerboating.  Since you have sailing experience, it is a big advantage compared to those new to boating altogether.   Lots of good advice above.

I urge you to not be intimidated by a 28 footer.  Like Supranut having upgraded from a 24 foot Four Winns Vista to a 310 Sig  then I wondered why I started at 24'.  It was an experience of getting caught on a run from Milwaukee to Michigan City that forced the upgrade.  Erie, as all of the Great Lakes can turn into a snotty mess in a matter of minutes.  You and your family will be happier with the larger boat under you.  Take the operation/running the boat slowly.  Learn how she behaves under different conditions.  Talk with your dock neighbors, if they are like mine they always have advice and a helping hand.  Don't be upset or embarrassed when you pull into your slip banging off the post and the pier.  We've all done it.  Just takes practice.  Twins make it easier to dock though.

The Coast Guard class is a must.  Have your family take it with you.  It is better to have all of them understanding the ins and outs of safe boating.

Have fun!  Let us know what you decide.

I second all of this. We went from a 21' cuddy to a 30' express cruiser.  The family and I did the USCG class last spring.  Best thing we could have done as it helped the family really understand all that is required in boating.  And yes I have a bent anchor and a few scuffs bouncing off a poles coming in and out of our slip.  So it will happen.  Pick up some carpet remnants and wrap the piers and poles near your slip with carpet.  It will help keep the marks down. Good luck and have fun.  

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13 hours ago, Phillbo said:

Bigger boats are actually easier to manage than small. You just need to learn patience and momentum. Twin screws add to the ease of maneuvering. Never approach a dock faster than you want to ram it.  

very true once you get the handle of it, specially with twins.  But I would say if your a complete novice a bigger boat with twins can be more difficult at the onset.

 

With that said sometimes getting into something smaller means a few things specially for beginners.  One the cost is usually less all around from purchase to operating to maint, assuming your using like vintage.  Also if your newbie going cheaper and smaller also allows you to figure if you like boating, where you like boating, and how you like to boat.  Just as many people jump in and jump out, and if you jump out having something smaller and cheaper is less of a risk financially.

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About weathere conditions just before leaving & just before coming back in   ?????????????

I see positively no excuse to get caught in far from shore building waves.  The marine forecasts. The satellites. prevailing wind direction during most days. Peak wind speed & waves in the afternoon. Should allow enjoyment............ BUUUT

I have been caught in 45 minute squalls & about 5' white caps 3 times. In 80 years.  1 time in a wood rowboat in Barnagat  Bay, N J. Ran the boat up on a marsh island, downwind side and dragged the anchor with me. Lay on the ground.  Other 2  in the Lake Ontario / St. Lawrence River area. 1 I just got behind a island.  Last time I could have killed 6 seniors very easily if I did not rearrange all the bodies to get the bow as high as possible. With the drive tilted to bring the bow up & rpms at 1800. 45 minutes as the squall wids had white caps in the 5' area.  2 1/2 miles dock to dock. Straight line & I thought I would not be able to keep the RAISED BOW and pointed into the waves. Weather report had no mention of squalls on that picknic day. 2002 186 SSI with the 5.0L V8. Several times the bow wanted to swing sideways.  PANIC as I whipped the wheel to counteract the boat trying to go sideways.

Skill & preparation is great.  But severe LUCK saved us.

No SMALL boat is supposed to survive all sudden squalls.

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