Hi All... We are the newest of newbies!

Discussion in 'Newbie Lounge - NEW' started by Louisiana boating newbie, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. Louisiana boating newbie

    Louisiana boating newbie New Member

    9
    Apr 6, 2021
    Searay sundancer 380 2000
    Mercruisers
    We have a 24 ft pontoon boat LOL, a small fishing boat, and a jet ski are all the experience we have but looking at a 2000 380 Sundancer to cruise to Bahamas. So our intent is to cruise the Florida panhandle for the next 5-6 years gaining experience. Then once our youngest leaves the nest ( 4 years), we will cruise the Keys and then to the Bahamas. Our ultimate goal is to be able to live about 6 months on the boat and be home for about 6 months. We are not independently wealthy, just hard working folks...so my question is...is the 380 Sundancer with mercruisers the model we should be looking at or should we be focusing our search on Diesel engines? I am a firm believer in buy it once and buy it right but our budget is only around $100K - $150K for boat. We live in northwest Louisiana and plan to keep in a marina in Gulf Shores or surrounding area. What advice do you have for us newbies? We have so much to learn but are completely committed to making our dream happen. Thanks!
     
  2. yobub

    yobub Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    631
    Jul 29, 2016
    Northern Illinois
    1998 400 Sundancer
    Cat 3116's
    We looked extensively at the 370/380 before ultimately buying a 400. For us, there were small differences that really made a difference, but the boat also overall felt more spacious.

    When we were looking, the price difference between a 370 gas and 400 with diesels was only about $20k. The market has changed since then, but I would recommend that you at least look at one step up, even if you go a little older.

    We could not be happier with our choice.
     
  3. Louisiana boating newbie

    Louisiana boating newbie New Member

    9
    Apr 6, 2021
    Searay sundancer 380 2000
    Mercruisers
    Thank you. I am really leaning towards a diesel for the long haul but i do love the 380. Before you got the 400, what was your boating experience? I am concerned that maybe we need a middle boat before we jump in to such a large boat. Am I being naive thinking we can't manage a large boat?
     
  4. All's Well

    All's Well Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    997
    Jan 14, 2010
    Houston
    '12 58 Sundancer
    900 MAN
    I understand your concern about the bigger boat.
    We went from a 19' bow rider to a 370, got out of boating for a while then goat a 460 and now a 580.
    I will tell you that the 460 was easier to handle than the 370. The 370 had no thrusters and the 460 had bow and stern thrusters so there was some artificial assistance.
    From memory, I think the 400 and up have wider beams which would make a 6 month live aboard situation a bit better too.
     
  5. Jaybeaux

    Jaybeaux Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 3, 2016
    Upper Potomac River
    420 Sundancer 2004
    Naught On Call
    Cummins 6CTA-8.3's with V-Drives
    9KW Onan Genset
    @Louisiana boating newbie ......From one Louisiana guy to another, my previous ownership experience was a 2010 SeaDoo GTX. 135 hp and 11 feet long. Our first boat is a Sea Ray 420. 45 feet long, twin 450 Hp Diesels. It can be done. Like the man said "buy your second boat first".

    Personally, I would go with the diesels.

    Jaybeaux
     
  6. JimG

    JimG Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Nov 4, 2008
    Southern WV
    2007 310 DA
    Kohler 5ECD
    Twin 350 Mags
    Raw Water Cooled
    V-Drives
  7. northern

    northern Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Anacortes Washington
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 Charts Timezero radar Furuno
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    We do not live on our boat full time. We spend 2 months in the spring and 1 in the fall on the boat. There are 2 of us. Aft cabin gives to a lot more room than an express boat and when you sit in the salon you can see out. Out boat has gas engines. At 6 knots we burn 1 gallon a knot at 22 knots we burn 55 gallons an hour. We have been to Alaska in the boat. We got gas boat as I know how to fix a gas engine. A diesel boat would probably make more sense for us if we were concerned with saving money on fuel. Look at all the boat types you can find. Rent the one you like best and see how you find it. On a boat when anchored there is no place to go except on the boat. If you think you will use marinas it cost us 60 to 80 a night so it can get expensive. Heating and cooling will be a problem on a gas boat as you will need to run the generator and that will use 1 gallon an hour. Diesel generator is 50% more efficient and you can get diesel heater that will use 1 gallon a day
     
  8. yobub

    yobub Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    631
    Jul 29, 2016
    Northern Illinois
    1998 400 Sundancer
    Cat 3116's
    We went from a 24' runabout up to the 400. The reality is that you will have to learn to drive a twin-engine boat either way, and you will have to learn that the boat doesn't stop just because you pull back on the throttles. A boat of this size will also be much more impacted by the wind than a smaller boat. With any boat of this size, you have to plan your moves ahead of time - it is all just part of the learning curve. Another concept that will be new to you is that in close quarters you "steer" by putting one engine or the other in and out of gear. The engines give you much more control than the steering wheel and rudders, at least for diesels.

    I had never driven a twin-engine boat before I bought this one, and while there is a learning curve, I was surprised at how responsive the boat is. TBH, I watched a whole bunch of youtube videos on how to dock a twin-engine boat to get the concepts in my head, and then hired a licensed captain to take me through the hands-on application of those concepts - just a couple hours. I'm far from being an expert, but the learning curve was much easier than I thought it was going to be.

    You will learn to drive either boat - honestly don't take that into consideration. Space, layout, features, and range will be much more important to you.
     
  9. ttmott

    ttmott PhD in OCD TECHNICAL Contributor GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    1997 to 2000 400DA and 2000-2004 410DA are one of the finest boats made especially in diesel (CAT 3116TA or 3126TA) and should be within your budget. They are efficient, low comparative maintenance cost, stable, and great handling.
    Remember this though: whatever you purchase plan to "baseline" the boat in all maintenance and repairs right out of the chute even if the previous owners said it was just done. When I bought my 400DA years ago I immediately dropped another $25K into it just to get it cleaned up, waxed / polished, repairs, and all maintenance done.
     
  10. CaptRonn

    CaptRonn Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2016
    on a large body of water
    1999 Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge
    Convert fuel into noise
    Living 6 months on an express type cruiser and you are going to get claustrophobic. a 38 to 40 foot express is tight for two people to live in, limits your storage space.

    As previously stated, figure in maintenance unless you are pretty handy. And get a thorough mechanical survey done.
     
  11. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2003 420DA, 6CTAs
    NA
    Much as All's Well did, we moved from a 260DA up to a 44DB with diesels and never looked back. It had a bow thruster, and it did make a difference in the beginning. Quite honestly, much easier to back the 44DB twin screw than the 260DA single screw. I would not waste time nor money settling for something in the middle knowing I was going up anyway...just my $0.02...

    Bennett
     
  12. Louisiana boating newbie

    Louisiana boating newbie New Member

    9
    Apr 6, 2021
    Searay sundancer 380 2000
    Mercruisers
    Great information, thank you!
     
  13. Louisiana boating newbie

    Louisiana boating newbie New Member

    9
    Apr 6, 2021
    Searay sundancer 380 2000
    Mercruisers

    I figured i would quite a bit of expense early on since i am looking at older models. My broker seems to think that the market will be flooded with boats in the coming months. We aren’t in a hurry so waiting isn’t an issue but definitely need to determine the right style of boat. Thanks for your input!!
     
  14. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    The statement of "buy your second boat first" is a tough one for me - especially saying this to someone new to this type of boat.

    Until you have spent time on an express cruiser (multiple nights at a time) how do you know if it will work for your situation? What works well for 4-5 day trips to Florida panhandle may not work (for you) to live on for 6 months in the Keys or Bahamas.

    Instead of figuring out how big a boat you could initially purchase, maybe think about a different route.

    What is an easy "resell", highly popular boat that at a minimum has:

    Twin inboards
    Genset
    vaccuflush
    marine AC

    For us it was a 340DA. Kept it a couple of years, learned ALOT, then got most of our money out of it.

    You will become a much more knowledgeable boater and have a lot of fun along the way.
     
  15. Louisiana boating newbie

    Louisiana boating newbie New Member

    9
    Apr 6, 2021
    Searay sundancer 380 2000
    Mercruisers

    Great points, definitely considering all options. I know for at least 5 years, 2 -3 weeks would be the max amount of time spent on the boat at one time. We have been rving in a 25 ft rv for years with kids..so i think i am ok with the space. I think 340 would be the smallest i could do. Thanks for sharing your perspective
     
  16. Pirate Lady

    Pirate Lady Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2020
    Chesapeake, Middle River
    91 250 Sundancer, gorgeous, no you can’t buy it.
    454 Bravo 1.
    As Capt Ron said, and I have posted before, if you want to live aboard, get a sedan bridge. With proper doors, windows, not a dungeon. I had 6 Dancers, for fun, but if I had spend more than a week on it I would get a sedan bridge with internal controls.
     
  17. northern

    northern Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Anacortes Washington
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 Charts Timezero radar Furuno
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    We know people who have a 28 foot express boat. They tried to pretend it was a big boat once and went north. On their return they encountered a cruise ship going at high speed. They cut across the wake and it almost sunk. All their electronics failed. Husband had some choice words to say about boating and refuse to go any place they may get into a similar situation. If you can join a yacht club in your area as a non boat owner at a reasonable price join and attend meetings. Boat owners are always wanting to tell people bout their boats.
     
  18. Louisiana boating newbie

    Louisiana boating newbie New Member

    9
    Apr 6, 2021
    Searay sundancer 380 2000
    Mercruisers
    That would be
    That would be very scary.
     
  19. Jeff Delbuono

    Jeff Delbuono Well-Known Member

    736
    Jun 11, 2018
    Edison New Jersey
    1998 Sea Ray 290 Sundancer
    5.0 efi w/ alpha 1 gen 2 drives
    First off, love your plan and think its every boaters dream. I went from a 24 with single screw 7 ft beam to 29 with twin screws 10. 6 beam. I like you have never driven a twin screw boat and was concerned. I watched a ton of you tube and talked to some guys about it so that when it was time i had some knowledge. But best advise is to learn by practice. I took it out on the bay and played with it for awhile learning how she would react. I can now park this like a champ without ever using the wheel and only use the throttles.
     
  20. Josh P

    Josh P Member SILVER Sponsor

    36
    Oct 21, 2020
    London, Ontario, Canada
    2000 460 DA
    Cummins 6CTA
    It's good to know I'm not completely crazy. I have a 2019 SeaDoo GTX and just bought a 460 for this summer.
     
    Jaybeaux likes this.

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