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Help buying a used ski surf boat under/around 25K


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Hi all,

I'm brand new to TMC.  I'm looking for some expertise to help us find a good used ski/wakeboard boat to take our family (4) and friends (2-4) out tubing, skiing and learn to surf (we're not in our 20s so I think wakeboarding might be past our time).  My wife and I grew up skiing, but haven't had a boat in way too many years.  We rented for a few years but it's time to buy.  We'll mostly be on Lake Mead, Mojave, Havasu and probably Lake Powell (which can get rough so I think the more freeboard the better and deeper V hull is better than flat, right??).  I did a little research and thought this 'Top 5 wakeboard boats for under 25K' was a good starting point for our search: https://www.thoughtco.com/top-wakeboard-boats-under-25k-3440399   

After talking with a local dealer (thanks John at BB), I thought I should be looking for a 2000-2004(?) 20-24 ft VDrive (for weight distribution, seating layout and, some day, resale value). 

These are some of the boats in my 'area' (local to 6 hr drive) that I think would work: 22' 2000 Mastercraft XStar, 21' 2003 Malibu Sunscape LSV, 21' 2003 Super Air Nautique , 24' 2004 Calabria Cal Air Pro V, 21' 2002 Tige 21V / 22' 2004 Tige VSwitch and a 22' 2002 Supra Launch V

As far as options go: Ballast (bags or fixed) is on the list.  Is Perfect Pass a must for surfing?  I know surf gates are great, but those boats are out of our price range. I figured a Delta Misson wedge (I think) would work since we're beginners. A wake tower (foldable for easy storage?) so you can put the surfers line on the tower (easier to get up then using the tow pylon in the boat, right?) and to store surf board(s). Anything else?

I'm going to look at a few boats in the next week.  I'd prefer the boat was used in fresh water only, but If a boat's been used in brackish water (like Mission Bay in San Diego), what should the owner have done after pulling the boat out of the water?  Is there something to look for or make sure I ask/check?

I've read / heard you should make sure to get an engine/compression check and to verify engine hrs.  Some of these boats aren't local for me so I was going to ask the seller to have the engine checked and go over the report/computer print out/screen shot (?) with them.  Should I ask the seller to do the engine check (if they haven't already) once I've seen it and I want to buy it or should I make sure they've done that before I even look at it?  What should you be looking for on an engine/compression check? (I've seen some dealer boats show the engine hours screen to verify hours, but it also lists faults.... is that normal?)

Trailer: most of these boats are near/over 3000 lbs  dry weight so they all had tandem axle trailers.  Trailer brakes are a must (I think they're required in CA).  Does it matter if they're surge brakes or not? Check the tires, tie down straps condition, lights all work and ensure bearings have been greased/serviced recently (within a year)?  Anything else?

Trailer licensing (if I buy out of state): If the seller's trailer is registered/licensed, then do they just include that in the bill of sale so you can move the boat or do you get temp tags to move a boat?  (I probably have to call / go to local DMV to find that question out, but thought someone might know.  Online DMV wasn't too clear, unless I missed something)

Thanks for your advice on our search (and for having a great site)

 

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Check out this recent thread on searching for a $30Kish wake boat and a lot of the same questions. Getting a clean and mechanically sound v-drive under $30K is going to be tough since a boat like that sells quickly. If you can deal with doing some refurb work, like a new interior, you'll have a few more options.

 

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4 hours ago, dj50 said:

Hi all,

I'm brand new to TMC.  I'm looking for some expertise to help us find a good used ski/wakeboard boat to take our family (4) and friends (2-4) out tubing, skiing and learn to surf (we're not in our 20s so I think wakeboarding might be past our time).  My wife and I grew up skiing, but haven't had a boat in way too many years.  We rented for a few years but it's time to buy.  We'll mostly be on Lake Mead, Mojave, Havasu and probably Lake Powell (which can get rough so I think the more freeboard the better and deeper V hull is better than flat, right??).  I did a little research and thought this 'Top 5 wakeboard boats for under 25K' was a good starting point for our search: https://www.thoughtco.com/top-wakeboard-boats-under-25k-3440399   

After talking with a local dealer (thanks John at BB), I thought I should be looking for a 2000-2004(?) 20-24 ft VDrive (for weight distribution, seating layout and, some day, resale value). 

These are some of the boats in my 'area' (local to 6 hr drive) that I think would work: 22' 2000 Mastercraft XStar, 21' 2003 Malibu Sunscape LSV, 21' 2003 Super Air Nautique , 24' 2004 Calabria Cal Air Pro V, 21' 2002 Tige 21V / 22' 2004 Tige VSwitch and a 22' 2002 Supra Launch V

As far as options go: Ballast (bags or fixed) is on the list.  Is Perfect Pass a must for surfing?  I know surf gates are great, but those boats are out of our price range. I figured a Delta Misson wedge (I think) would work since we're beginners. A wake tower (foldable for easy storage?) so you can put the surfers line on the tower (easier to get up then using the tow pylon in the boat, right?) and to store surf board(s). Anything else?

I'm going to look at a few boats in the next week.  I'd prefer the boat was used in fresh water only, but If a boat's been used in brackish water (like Mission Bay in San Diego), what should the owner have done after pulling the boat out of the water?  Is there something to look for or make sure I ask/check?

I've read / heard you should make sure to get an engine/compression check and to verify engine hrs.  Some of these boats aren't local for me so I was going to ask the seller to have the engine checked and go over the report/computer print out/screen shot (?) with them.  Should I ask the seller to do the engine check (if they haven't already) once I've seen it and I want to buy it or should I make sure they've done that before I even look at it?  What should you be looking for on an engine/compression check? (I've seen some dealer boats show the engine hours screen to verify hours, but it also lists faults.... is that normal?)

Trailer: most of these boats are near/over 3000 lbs  dry weight so they all had tandem axle trailers.  Trailer brakes are a must (I think they're required in CA).  Does it matter if they're surge brakes or not? Check the tires, tie down straps condition, lights all work and ensure bearings have been greased/serviced recently (within a year)?  Anything else?

Trailer licensing (if I buy out of state): If the seller's trailer is registered/licensed, then do they just include that in the bill of sale so you can move the boat or do you get temp tags to move a boat?  (I probably have to call / go to local DMV to find that question out, but thought someone might know.  Online DMV wasn't too clear, unless I missed something)

Thanks for your advice on our search (and for having a great site)

 

I was a buyer for a used boat a few years ago, when I found what I was looking for, I paid to have a boat inspection done, compression test and checked trans v-drive with the fake-a-lake hooked up. If i was buying used again, I dont think it would be the sellers responsibility, usually there are lakes around to do a water test. BTW I go to Havasu 2-3 times ayear, place is rad, and my 1998 sunsetter I would be willing to let go. Ballast and only has 288 hours,, never has let me down. Awesome boat!

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For reference, we picked up our 2000 VLX for $18.5 almost 2 years ago.  I'd rate it at a fair deal for both the seller and I, but some may disagree. The wave doesn't blow your socks off like the new boats will, but based on your comments it doesn't look like you really need that. Throw some bigger bags in the lockers and midship/bow + wake shaper and you'll be fine to get your first surfing fix.  I've enjoyed putting a little minor work into it throughout the process. I could have bought it and just done annual maintenance and it would have been more than plenty for some, but I don't really operate like that. I think you have plenty of budget to find something that your family will love.  Don't be afraid of older boats as long as they meet your criteria. good maintenance is the biggest factor in any used boats.

Happy shopping.

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Agreed that with some searching you should easily find a v-drive under 25K, and certainly under 30K as that other thread OP was looking for.  Finding something under 20K seems to be more challenging, but they are out there, as MattyICE just noted.  

I looked at some similar boats you listed before I found and bought my first 2000VLX.   It was a great boat and served our family well, although we never really surfed it.  My opinion of the SAN210 of that same era was the interior felt much smaller than the VLX, but that is just one man's opinion.  

With some patience, you may even find a 23' boat in your price range, which will handle the bigger lakes better.   I loved my VLX, but I'll be honest in that handling rough water was certainly not a thing it even tried to do.  I never felt unsafe on it, but it rode rough in chop - and I'm on relatively small lakes, so can only imagine what a rough day on Havasu may be like.  

You likely won't find a tower that is easy to fold in those era of boats.  Unless you need that for your own storage, I'd put very low priority on that.  

Perfect pass isn't a must, but it sure it nice.   I would not hesitate to buy a boat without it in that era, but it would be one my first upgrades after purchase (check out the PP Stargazer kit).  I'd probably fact in about $1.5-2K for the install if you have to add it.  

Ballast - if you want to surf, you are going to be adding additional ballast anyways, so I wouldn't worry too much about what stock ballast you have.  MY VLX had the "MLS" system -which consisted of only a midship tank.   I'd just count on adding additional ballast to most anything you buy in that era.  Just know it can be as cheap as buying a few bags and dealing with a throw over the side pumps to fill drain, or can get fairly pricey to install dedicated pumps, switches, and bags.    Again, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a boat without a bunch of pre-plumbed ballast, but I would put a slightly higher value on a boat that has a system with dedicated pumps and valves already setup.  

You nailed most things to look for on a trailer.  Just note that most trailers likely don't have transom tie-down straps, but those are an easy add.   And surge brakes are the industry standard on boat trailers.  

 Boats used in brackish water are usually frowned upon by most buyers (at least the ones that come through this site).   I'd look for a heavy discount to buy a boat used in brackish water and expect the trailer to have issues as well.   If you do go that route, hopefully the previous owner was good about flushing the boat with fresh water after each use to try and take care of it.  

Good luck!

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Thanks for all the the great info.  I'll take a look at the VDrives listed (although there are some nice DirDrives out there too, just limited seating). 

873 eng hrs sounds like a lot (for the 2002 VLX in SD CrgsList) but the owner added a lot of stuff (that I don't know about, but he likely took great care of the boat)?

How's the VLX wake for slalom skiing at 28-32? 

Thanks

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Dont let 800 hours scare you, especially if the boat has features you want and is within reasonable testing distance. Someone will chime in on that series slalom wake I'm sure.

Steve B.

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I bought my VLX with just under 800 hours.   Don't be afraid of the hours.   If it was maintained, they'll run well over 1000 hours.   Keep in mind 50 hours per year is usually around average use.  

I never ski really.  I think the VLX of that area would flatten out at those speeds for some free skiing, but likely isn't going to be something a hard core rider wants to run the course on.   But, I'm certainly not an authority on the ski wake.  

The wakeboard wake of that hull (SV23) is nice.   Easy to dial in and ride.   

One thing you didn't mention is the wedge.   My VLX didn't have it and I didn't miss it at the time, but if I were looking now, I'd definitely lean towards looking for a boat with the wedge.  

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Also, I know you said wake boarding isn't a priority, but if you have younger riders ever going out, Malibu is known to have clean wakes at slower speeds usually.   Also, the Bu wake is less peaky/abrupt than the SAN.   That comes down to preference of course - I mainly ride Malibu and liked the smoother transition, but friends that grew up on a Nautique still prefer the more abrupt shape of their wake.  I even have a saved profile on my LSV now that is to mimic a peaky Nautique wake for one of the riders in our group.   

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Ok, thanks for the info. 

Hethj7: I think the 'If it was maintained' is part of my problem/hesitation before buying.....  Besides an engine/compression check and having maintenance records, what would you be looking for to make sure a boat's well maintained?  General condition of everything (and make sure you look 'under the hood' not just at the clearly visible things that a dealer would 'clean up')

I probably just need to talk w a good marine mechanic, huh.....  Let me know if anyone has a recommendation.  I talked w Boulder Boats Las Vegas lead mechanic, John last week.  He seemed to have some good information about specific types of boats (and he worked for a lot of different boat makers in his career). 

I'm sure I don't know enough about boat maintenance today to know if I'm getting bs'ed

For some of the other info, though, sorry but newbie here..............

Isn't a wedge the bracket w suction cups you stick on the side of the boat to shape the wake?   

By less peaky, do you mean  the Bu has a smoother, rolling wake and the SAN has a defined line with turbulent water/white froth where the wake turns over?

(I think I'm back in elementary school.....)

Edited by dj50
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That's a surf gate ie: suck gate. The wedge is a foil that is in the rear of the boat. Think of it as a wing on a dragster that uses the wing for downforce. The wedge acts the same way, pulling the rear of the boat down simulating ballast.   What you will be looking at in that era/price point are fixed and floating wedge. The fixed wedge comes down and locks into position with a pin and the floating wedge does just that, floats in a position based on the water flow. Both do the same thing tho. 

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you should add the tige 22v and 24v to your list as well.  24v is a big boat and would handle the chop of those big lakes really well.  i see 2003's-2005's going for 25k pretty regularly.

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Get a diamond hull Malibu if you plan to ski it. Only Malibus have "the wedge", so you'll want a Malibu wink wink.

One of my favorite ski wakes was a 2001 Sunsetter VLX (V-Drive with diamond hull). And with lots of freeboard, a wedge, ballast bags and a suck-gate it would surf great.

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Lots of questions. Let me give you a few of my thoughts...maybe it’ll help.😀

RE: your “brackish water” comment. 

Mission Bay is not brackish water. It’s salt water. Big difference. So, if the boat in question doesn't have a closed cooling system, I would pass.

If the trailer is used in the salt and is not galvy, zinc epoxy coated, or aluminum, I would pass.  

If said trailer doesn't have a brake flush kit installed, I would pass.

If I didnt see copious amounts of “Salt-Away” in the owners possesion of said boat, I would pass  

This is coming from a guy who has had boats in slips from Newport to Diego for many years. Nothing wrong with salt water, its just that you have to be rigged appropriately for it...and have a fat wallet too.  

Next, insist on a sea trial.  No sea trial, I’d pass.  

Owner doesnt want to take the boat to your certified mechanic for an inspection/compression test (which you pay for), I would pass.  

Bottom Line-  Sounds like you're in SoCal. There might be a lot more boats that fit your criteria out of state. My advice would be to call Dan Lee at Boulder Boats in AZ. He’s the sales manager for all 3 locations (CA, AZ, NV). Tell him what you're looking for and have him find it for you. And it’ll be lake ready when you take delivery of it. Best decision you’ll make today. 

Hope this helps with your boat search! 😀

Edited by CaptCactus
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On the wakes, the SAN is just more like hitting a wall where the BU is rampier with a longer transition from the water surface to the peak of the wake. 

I know water test is preached and certainly is best practice.  But, due to Travel issues, I bought my first boat without a water test.  I did however get an inspection done and sent to me from the dealer local to the seller.  I also found the boat on this site and after talking with the seller, decided he was a straight shooter. 

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Thanks for all the advice/info to make me smarter on the search.  It all helps.  I hope some day I'm smart enough to 'help' back.

I'm in Vegas, but travel to SoCal once in a while so I turn the trip into boat searching too.  Looking is half the fun.  The other half is being on the water (& trying to get a good boat / deal so the boat's not in the shop half the time).  I'm looking at a Malibu Sunsetter (from a TMCer), a Tige 21V & maybe 22V this week (maybe a 21' SAN too, but I think it's too tight for 8-9 people/kids). 

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