Jump to content

Welcome to TheMalibuCrew!

As a guest, you are welcome to poke around and view the majority of the content that we have to offer, but in order to post, search, contact members, and get full use out of the website you will need to Register for an Account. It's free and it's easy, so don't hesitate to join the TheMalibuCrew Family today!

For those who have had cabin cruisers... Need advise

Recommended Posts

I am thinking about purchasing a cabin cruiser and putting it down at Norris. Looking at a 30' and was wondering the crews advise. Pro and cons..

Dock expense? Maintenance ....certain brands to look at? Looking at four Winns.

Utility fees? Just want someone to chime in and give me some advise.


Link to comment

My brother keeps a 58' boat on Lake Michigan, and I have a friend who has owned a couple cabin cruisers on Lake Travis. My brother bought the boat instead of a lake house, and the economics work out well for him. But one thing I have learned from both of these guys is to make sure you know what you are getting into. Yes, I know I'm not really helping much, but good luck on your endeavor.

Link to comment

Following this thread...my dad is looking to do the same and is deciding between a 38-46' cabin cruiser or a 50-70' houseboat. I'm helping in the search so looking forward to any info posted.

Link to comment

Not sure if this information helps. I have a friend that has something like a 35' Silverton cabin cruiser. What he says he doesn't like about it now is there are too many levels, meaning you can take more than 5 steps without having to go up or down to another level. Just the nature of a cruiser design. He says if he did it again he would buy a house boat because they have a much flatter (less levels) design. Maybe not as cool, but more functional for staying in.

Link to comment

A Four Winns would be more of a classic sport cruiser, not many steps. The 290 Four WInns is a good size, 10.5 beam and it has a nice walk around, and a big swim platform. The newer models tend to forgo the walk around in order to make the cockpit feel bigger.

Other brands in a similar range would be Sea Ray, Monterrey, Chaparral, Regal. There are a ton out there to be honest. If you are looking at resale, you'll find sea rays on every corner. Especially a 30 footer.

Link to comment

Growing up in Cadillac, MI, where Four Winns are made, I've been on quite a few cabin cruisers. I'd think about size vs ease requirements. If you keep it in the same Lake such as Norris, I'd go as big as you feel you need. Around here, our rule of thumb is if you are going to trailer it all over the state for various large inland lakes or a great lake, upper 20's to a max of 30 ft is a good trailerable, deep hulled, cruiser. I personally like some of the 27-28' weekenders. I feel like they aren't huge but have all I'd need for a nice couple day trip.

Link to comment

I hope you are either willing to fork over the money to have someone fix stuff for you or learn to do it yourself. And that's from sanding and re-painting the bottom to changing out the little rubber flaps & pumps because someone put an unauthorized that time of the month item in the waste system.

Just speaking form experience with helping a very good friend who had a 46 Sea Ray for almost 6 years and now has a 35. Great boats and awesome to go out on, but there are a TON of systems on these boats and can get very costly to have repaired.

Great advice above from SJ and I would ad to make sure you have a good GPS chart plotter. They are well worth the money. If there isn't a good one on the boat already, invest in one.

Link to comment

If you are just looking for a place to crash/stay when at the lake, I would consider a houseboat because of the room and functionality. You have a Malibu, so I'm assuming most of your lake time will be on the Bu. I am planning on getting a cruiser when I retire to travel the intercostal waterways. Slips on Norris run anywhere from $150-400/month plus utilities and pump-out fees.

Link to comment

We sold my GFs 23 foot Sea Ray cuddy last year and upgraded to a 33 foot Chaparral. Background on how we use it: Its docked 5 minutes from our house and we cruise to destinations with it. We've never stayed or entertained on it in its home port (dock). We split time between the bu and Chappy but never use both at the same time which I will go into a little later why.

What I didnt know prior to owning the Chappy:

Purchase process: Unless you are paying out of pocket, its like buying a house where nothing happens quickly and everyone has their hand in your wallet. Lenders need a Survey. A good surveyor is booked solid. When you get a surveyor booked, you need to align everything else up. A worthwhile surveyor wants to see the boat on land, in the water and then take it for a sea trial. In our case, the dealer had to provide a resource other than the salesman to support the sea trial and the marina needed resources to launch the boat. We had to pay for two of the three times the travel lift was used and we had to pay for a transient slip when the boat was transferred to us. I also learned that its common for the lenders to be slow funding the loans, which was the case for us.

The survey was absolutely useful. I worked side by side with him testing and learning every single system. As its been said, there are a bunch of systems on these boats and he was much more thorough than I would have been. Issues discovered during the survey process are resolved or you are back negotiating. In our case, one of two blowers and the forward bilge pump were bad. Because they were deemed safety items, both had to be fixed before the loan could close and the insurer would insure the boat. One side note, about six months into ownership, we received a letter from the insurer requesting status of addressing all the other issues documented in the survey.

Delivery: We wanted to have the boat trucked to our marina, and again finding someone who wasnt booked for weeks out proved impossible. So we opted to cruise her nearly 200 miles home. It was a great trip with lots of memories but it was a LOT of stress.

Maintenance: Ive owned a boat since I was a teenager and worked at a boat dealer through HS and college. So, I have a pretty good grasp of what it takes to maintain a boat. However, its more work than I thought it would be. We considered a marina 20 minutes away from the house this year and Im seriously glad I didnt do that because if the boat wasnt 5 minutes away, it probably would just be ready to go in the water now. Not big stuff, but lots of little stuff that sucks time. This past weekend the destination decision was based on needing to wash the boat or not wash the boat when we got back to the marina... Im so done with washing boats this season!! Having the boat close, we do quick mid-week dinner cruises and I dont think we would if it was even just 20 minutes away. Theres so much more I could say about maintenance overall (ie maintaining four v-8 engines (chapp 2, bu 1, truck 1), small engines (generator, dinghy outboard), but Ill just say again, its more than you ever think it will be.

Sterndrive vs. v-drive: Ask me before I owned this boat and I would have said v-drive all the way. Now, not so much. A few years ago we tapped a prop on a log on bubu's 33 searay with v-drives. There was no getting down there to try to bend it back so we motored back at 6mph for 40 miles. Had we pulled into a marina, around here they would charge $100+ to pull it... Our model Chappy was manufactured with either sterndrive or v-drive, most were sold with stern drives. The v-drive version is an engine service nightmare. Good luck getting to anything on the front of the engines - such as - a water pump, fuel filter, belt, etc... The sterndrives have been getting better and better over time. With v-drives, you give up shallow water use, maneuverability, speed, trim and MPG. I honestly think that if you add up all the costs of ownership over time, they would be close to a tie. Two things I wouldnt do is buy a 10 year old boat with sterndrives or the Volvo composite XDP drives. Google the Volvos to see how bad they are

Canvas: sweat pouring down, mosquito bites, zippers, Velcro, snaps that don't line up... HATE IT! If there is a next cruiser, it will be a sport coupe with a retractable roof and sliding door for sure!

Bottom paint: we use ablative. Wears off, apply a new coat every year and call it done. We had her painted in about an hour this spring.

Marina: last year we were at a marina where all the slips were on a bulkhead and had a pool. This year, we went cheap no pool and we are on a finger dock, almost at the end. Loading and unloading sucks and were going back to the more expensive marina next season!

Cost: more than you think it will

Why we don't use both at the same time: stress, too much work and location. We ski up river and boat down river and the ocean. The bu ain't going in saltwater ever and logistically getting the bu and Chappy north is too complicated.

If there was one thing I could change: more time on the bu and the chappy!

Good luck and if you want to chat more about it, message me.

First time we saw her and the day we wrote the deal:


Survey and sea trial five weeks later:


The cruise home two weeks after sea trial... Nothing like jumping in head first!


Heading to Block Island:


Ski weekend with bubu and their Double Trouble SeaRay (look at that glass!!):




The life:




Edited by CTSunsetter
  • Like 3
Link to comment

^^^^^^^So true! So much maintenance. I remember each day waking up to bugs, spiders to clean off the tarps, platform, rails! We did some great little trips with the boat, but it is definitely a lot of work.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...