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Help choosing my First Malibu..

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As the title implies, I am on the cusp of purchasing my very first Malibu boat and need some sound advice. For context, I am a 27 year old bachelor who lives in Nebraska, and I would like to take this out to wakeboard/surf/tube about every weekend. I have never personally owned a boat before, but I have grown up around them and the time has finally come to buy my own. After extensive research and talking with some friends, I have narrowed my search down to just Malibu boats, and now I need help finding the right one for me! 

The plan is to split the boat with my dad/mom, so I am looking for two things in a boat: the ability for water sports, and also versatile/big enough to host a lot of people (as my parents will use more like a pontoon). I have narrowed my sights to a 2011 Wakesetter 247 as a boat that can do all of the above, but in talking with the owner of one they said it may not be a great boat to start with as it can be difficult to drive.. 

So my question: what boat would you recommend as a great Malibu boat to start with?

Thanks for reading, I look forward to hearing from some of you!

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For a first boat especially an inboard I would highly recommend a used one.  As learning how to drive especially at slow speed it takes some experience to be good with it.  It will drive nothing like an outboard.   How big of water will you be on and how many people is your typical crew? 

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I will be primarily on bigger public lakes, and my crew would easily be anywhere from 6-12 people depending what we're doing that weekend! The reason I was leaning towards the 247 was to not be limited in having people out with me, and for my parents and their friends too. 

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I had a 17 foot outboard for 24 years. I will say that when I started trailering that boat it was a learning curve for me. That made the jump to a 25' inboard not so bad for trailering. Take your time on the ramp or around the docks while in the water. GO SLOW! 

As far as control and steering, reverse is either slight to the right, or more full to the right on Malibu boats, based on the rudder direction. Going reverse to the left is basically impossible. To steer, you have to use small clicks in the throttle to direct the boat. Put in gear slightly, one touch, then wait for the boat to move to the direction, then you can click one touch to reverse to direct the boat. It is a challenge but you will learn how to use it. 

Inboards are better with a clear shot to the trailer. Some A$$clown fishing boat cut in front of me and my trailer so (they could tie off to the ramp dock) as I was pulling up to the trailer (my friend backed the car in) the other day (they are supposed to go to the party dock) I gave them an earfull. Had to go around them between another boat to get to the trailer and it was dicey. I managed it somehow but would not have been able to when starting out. An outboard is like driving a car compared to the tour bus of a 25' inboard. 

Go for it! You won't regret it.

Edited by Raleigh
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I wouldn't worry too much about the boat being too big to drive for a beginner. My first boat was a 2007 VLX and now I have a 2011 LSV which is a couple feet longer and I don't think driving it is any different. You could argue that on larger public lakes that a slightly bigger boat will be easier to drive as it will handle the open water a little better. Do you or your parents have any friends or other family members with experience driving an inboard boat? If so, get them to take you out a time or 2 and show you the ropes. Like others have said before just go slow and practice maneuvering the boat around in the open water before you get around too many hard obstacles. Had a buddy tell me years ago....."don't approach the dock any faster than you're comfortable hitting it" and have always thought that was great advice for beginners. Good luck and enjoy!

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Nearly identical situation two years ago.

Since you've grown up with boats you may have covered this.  Just in case, have you considered your tow vehicle and storage needs?  Don't forget width when thinking about garages.  We hit multiple issues in this area but at least knew it before purchasing.  At 6-12 people a 23 LSV will be more available and also a good option.  2013 boats come with surf gate, not sure if you can get a 2013 LSV at your budget.  I love my VLX but we don't put 12 people in there, that might be tight.  Especially if you're driving to the lake and putting everything you need for the day in the boat.

Yes, they drive very different.  Yes, you will have a learning curve.  I'm 47 and have been around boats most my life yet put Newb in my ID because that's how I felt after getting my Malibu.  Dad didn't really want to take it out without me as a second set of hands.  Was humbling for both of us going back to driving school.  I'm on season 2 and now feel confident in my driving.  

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I have no experience with a 247, but I would recommend getting something with surfgate. I have an Axis A24 and I got used to driving it pretty quick. The key is to take it slow. Don't make your first trip to the lake on a busy Saturday morning, instead go out on a Tuesday morning or something and take an entire day to unload the boat, learn how to drive it, check things out. Taking it slow applies all the time, not just the first time out.

Here's my experience; I purchased an A22 without surfgate, learned to surf, three years later replaced the a22 with the A24 with the gate. In my opinion there isn't much difference between learning to drive a 21-22 foot boat vs 23-24 foot boat. Also, our A22 was very cramped with 3 families. Good luck.


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57 minutes ago, Fffrank said:

They are a little bit more difficult to drive but I say go for it. The 247 isn't much different from the 23LSV so I'd put more energy into finding the right boat in the right condition than painting yourself into a corner with the 247 (which are much more uncommon.)

Whatever direction you go - I look forward to the follow up where you break something or do something stupid the first time out. The new-boat curse is a real thing and the new-boater modifier will amplify it. You won't find a member on here that hasn't suffered from it and it's going to be a real rite of passage for you!

Ain't that the truth. Got some pretty good scratches on the back of my brand new Malibu on my first boat trip of the year. Lake Powell is not kind to people who make dumb mistakes.

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