Aluminum Boat for saltwater use?

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by h2oOOZLE, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. I've heard good and bad (corrosion of rivets) regarding light weight aluminum boats in the salt. Would prefer aluminum over other materials especially to keep weight down and to not have to worry about banging it up too much dragging it up onto the beach. Looking for a twelve footer. Any comments, experiences or suggestions? Thanks.
  2. LUND.... Thats all that i ever see out on the water and have used them for quite a while. Never had any problems and the one we have is stored on the beach most of the year exposed to the elments.
  3. Dear H2O,

    Here is my two bits for what it's worth. I would stay away from rivited boats and if you have your heart set on aluminimum look for one that is welded.

    I have had 17 or so boats made of wood, Fiberglass, and aluminum. There are pros and cons for all the materials.

    As you noted aluminum wears well but there are cold, cold,cold!!! An aluminum boat can suck the heat out of your feet through 5 mil Neoprene waders with boots on. An aluminum seat can do a job on your butt just as easily. In mid winter it would take me two fill-ups of hat water in my bath just to thaw out. They are also very noisey and if you are after silvers or Cutts you will have to line the inside with indoor/outdoor carpeting. Even that won't quiet the oar locks. If you decide on a drift boat that will do duel duty, river and sound, realize that they do not plane. The more horse power you apply the boat won't go much faster the bow just rides higher. I rate aluminum the worst of the three materials for fishing.

    Wood boats are my favorite but they don't do well pulling them up on gravel beaches and the require a lot of maintenance. They are very quiet and very warm. You can also feel them breath and work in rough water. Wood boats are still alive even after the tree that they are made from has died. I have been in very rough seas in wood boats and never doubted the material.

    A compromise material is Fiberglass. It is better than wood for beaching although not as good as aluminum. It is far warmer than aluminum but not as warm as wood. They are usually very quiet.

    I advise that you not get a boat with a cabin or consol. To sneak on fish you need a low profile. anything that sticks up too high willl turn fish away a lot farther out.

    My suggetion would be to look for a used Hi-Laker 12 or 14 feet long. You can fish two guys and plane from place to place. You can still get them cheap and they were the favored boat of all the old-timers a decade or more ago. They are small enough to plane and row if you need to. They do well in shallow draft situations. Even though I like wood better this is what I am using these days.
  4. Mike, I think you should get a bigger boat so you can take me fishing.
    My Lund 18 is holding up all right, rivets are by far the most afordable way to go, but in the long run you will definitly get more miles from a welded boat. I think the glass sugestion may not be a bad one. I have had glass boats and never gave any thought to smashing them around. Glass is a whole lot eiser to patch than than tin, thats for sure. I think I saw a old glass ply 14 in the PT boat haven the other day. I can check it out if you want.
    Oh yea, come over this week, I have some free days to go catch trout.
  5. "As you noted aluminum wears well but there are cold, cold,cold!!!"

    A buddy of mine addressed this problem by building some custom floor boards out of wood for his. Not only did it solve the cold metal problem, but it is much easier to move around or stand up in. You have a nice flat floor surface. It is also a lot quieter. If I were to buy another aluminum boat, I would build and install floor boards immediately after purchase.
  6. From a safety stand point, I would suggest that you consider getting a boat 14 ft. or larger for use out on Puget Sound. You don't want to get too large of a boat because of ease of trailering and launching considerations. My opinion is that a 14 to 16 foot boat is ideal. I have a 14 1/2 ft aluminum boat that can be a little dicey to be in if you get caught out on the Sound when the wind picks up. However, my fishing buddy has a 12 ft aluminum boat that is down right scary to be in when the wind is blowing. He is going to be getting a bigger boat pretty soon because of that.
  7. aluminum is the sh#t for fly fshing the salt, I got a 14 ft aluminum I bought when I was 16 with a 15 hs evinrude, a sea nymph and took it everywhere I wasn't supposed to and beat the crap out of it, lost the motor with a unfortunate act from a sea lion and now replaced it with a newer honda 15 hs, beached it wherever, now got a glass bass boat also and its brittle and sucks to beach, whatever just ramblin I guess, whatever roger said.
    catch and release wild sculpins
  8. A couple of more thoughts if you don't mind. I would advise against getting anything over 14 feet in a glass boat and 16 feet in a Lund unless you also want to mooch. 95% of all flyfishing in the sound (notice I said the sound and not Neah Bay) is done within 100 yards of the beach.

    The average tide will move up and down 9 feet. This means that it is only a matter of time before you hit a rock. If you have a boat with too much draft or too much mass then you can easily get stove in or lose your lower unit.

    Most older Glass boats over 14 feet are a modified V hull and are heavy. You will sacrifice a lot launching freedom when you go up in size. You will also draft more water. I have two bays I fish in the fall for silvers and with the ability to trim my motor for shoal water I can maneuver in 8 inches of water. There are days when I am in the sweet spot nailing fish while other boats are waiting on the tide.

    No matter how good your seamanship abilities are, sooner or later you will be in rough water. One of the most important abilities of seamanship is to pick the days not to go out but stay and tie flies. For me and my 12 foot Hi-laker it is simple. If the flags are standing out I don't even launch. When I am out on the water and I see the flags stand proud, I head for home. No more "one more cast" BS. I am out of there.

    There are fishing partners that think I am chicken but I never failed to get one home.
  9. Boston Whaler- 16 or 17 foot, drafts like 8-12 inches, weighs very little, indestructable,and unsinkable, much better in waves,yadayadayada.
  10. Thanks for everyones input. It all gives me a lot to think about. Lots of knowledge on this site!
    Greg A
  11. You'll be fine with a 12'. I do agree, DO NOT GET A RIVETED BOAT!!!!!!! Seen too many leak. Plus, you punch enough waves, you'll start popping rivets over time. So go with a welded. Do have an easy fix if you get aluminum. Go to the local autoparts store and buy 2-3 cans of herculiner (gonna take at least two if you do more then the floor of the boat). Follow instructions to the T. Start with the floor, and work your way up the sides. Will run you another $160 or so to the boat, but will quiet it down and insulate a bit for you. We always used a 14' hilaker (loved that boat) and never had one problem fishing the sound with it. If you can find one of those, go for it. I love them, and actually may buy another one someday. My Dad's burned up with the Pt Defiance boathouse (he had a locker there). The hilaker is a wonderful boat if you can get one in your pricerange.
  12. Mike, a buddy of mine who has logged a lot of time out on the salt chasing cutties and what not has fished for years from a Whaler clone.

    Though he likes his boat, he thinks that if he did it all over again he would purchase a custom welded boat. He said that in getting in close to shore, etc., that his boat gets dinged up on the odd rock that sticks up here and there. And, you know and I know that those rocks are typically pretty gnarly and have sharp edges! I thought that was interesting commentary coming from someone who logs a lot of time in the salt.

    Also, doesn't Capt. Tom fish out of an aluminum boat? Your points are well taken, though. There is not perfect one boat!

  13. r. stephens, which 14.5 foot boat do you have that gets a little dicey sometimes out in the Sound? Any observations, good or bad, about the boat model you have? Do you have a long or short shaft boat? I'm looking at boats in that size range, and I'm almost thinking of maybe going up to a 16' boat, if storage area permits . . .

    Your input is appreciated!

  14. A Croft question . . .

    Mike, what boat do you use now? What boat drafts in 8" water? That's pretty darn good, considering you're not a little fella . . . :)
  15. Whaler - tough, wet and hard ride, good resale.

    No dirty jokes or analogies here, please. :)
  16. If you want to line the bottom of your boat. You might want to try Line X, that stuff is bulletproof. A friend of mine had the entire floor of his Jeep Line X'ed and it practically sound proofed him to road noise.
    Theres a shop in Redmond that does it (surface prep, application, curing, and warranty)
    I'm thinking of LineXing the doors on my Xterra below the half line to deflect rock dings when I go on gravel roads.

  17. For a lot of years I fished out of 14 ft. Duroboat with a 15 hp. 2 stroke Evinrude motor. It had a full-V hull and could handle rough water pretty well. I liked the boat but got tired of the lack of floor space because of the cross seats and having to crawl over the center seat.

    So a couple years ago I decided get a semi-V hull 14 1/2 ft Stinger Smokercraft boat with some creature conforts such as side console steering, swivel seats, quiet 25 hp. 4 stroke Honda motor, and open floor plan so that you can walk around in most of the boat. I really like the boat but it doesn't handle rough water as well as the Duroboat.

    I agree with Mike Croft's philosophy on avoiding windy conditions. However, once in a while you can get caught off guard when the wind starts blowing hard unexpectedly. This Spring my fishing buddy and I were fishing on the back side of a point and came around the corner to encounter 15-20 mph. winds. We had to cross 3/4 mile of open water to get back to the boat ramp so it was a slow boat ride to get back. That is the only time that I have had the Stinger Smokecraft out in rough water and the Duroboat definitely handled those type of condition better.
  18. A Croft question . . .


    I use a 12 foot Hi-Laker. I have a 15 horse Yamaha that I can set to run shallow. Just enough in the water for the water pump to keep flowing. I can't go fast but I can go over shoals that are little more than ankle deep. It is still enough engine to get two guys up on a plane.

    You are right Richard I am big, every year the boats sets a little lower....hahaha.

    Mike Croft
  19. Speaking of lineing the bottom of a boat brings to mind one more feature I don't loke about aluminum boats.

    On the outside bottom of an aluminum boat that gets pulled on the beach a lot you can build up sharp micro-gouges. Un like glass which gouges kind of clean the aluminum can be pushed until a little piece of metal sticks out. This can cut your lines. Wood boats can get a splinter and if you get you line inside of the splinter you are in trouble.

    I like to stick my entire rod in the water if I have a fish that is darting back and forth under the boat. But I have taken guys out that won't do that. If they had an aluminum boat with some barnacle scars they would loose fish.

    Mike Croft
  20. I just bought a 15.5' Sears aluminum boat. I hear everyone saying don't buy riveted, but the price was right! Anyway, I am planning on taking it out on the sound, maybe at Camano for crabbing and a bit of fly fishing close to shore. It has a 15hp Johnson motor. The only thing that concerns me is that it rides a bit low in the back, and I worry about water washing in if it gets choppy. Is this a valid concern? Any tips for someone just getting their "feet wet" with a boat?


Share This Page