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What is a good, small boat?

Discussion in 'Boats and Boating Equipment' started by Jake, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. Jake

    Jake Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: CA
    I’m interested in buying a small boat to hold up to 4 divers and a pilot, and which doesn’t need to travel more than about 6 miles each way to a dive site.

    Can something like a Zodiac do that easily or is that too small/slow?

    Any suggestions are welcome.

    Thank you.
  2. diversteve

    diversteve always tired Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    In the Pacific?

    I'd want something a little bigger personally. I've been on a 24' boat once in heavy swells and it was not pleasant - we weren't even diving - just fishing.
    Jake likes this.
  3. Gareth J

    Gareth J Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: UK
    In the UK, a lot of clubs use RHIB's (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat). They are used as inshore lifeboats by the RNLI.
    The Hull shape effects the stability when stationary, so selecting the appropriate hull shape is important. They are designed as a planing hull rather than a displacement hull.

    The down side is you are exposed to the elements, no head, or tea making facilities :). These days I prefer the creature comforts, a head, kettle, divers lift (elevator?), and a smoother ride.
    simcoediver and Jake like this.
  4. Johnoly

    Johnoly Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    The legend of Radon.........Great Cali boat !!

  5. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    My first boat was a 12 1/2 feet Achilles inflatable. It worked great for two divers, four tanks and gear. We tried three divers once but it would barely move with the Suzuki 25HP outboard. I see a lot of divers in Boston Whalers. They are quick and unsinkable. If you want to get out of the elements between dives, you really need a cuddy cabin or pilot house boat. I've spent more money than I earned in my last five years at work for my C-Dory Tomcat, but I don't regret it one bit. It's the perfect dive boat for up to four divers.







  6. Ana

    Ana Solo Diver

    IMG_9529-2.JPG P1240074.JPG Grill.jpg P2100082.JPG
    There's so many factors to take into account when deciding the minimum size for a boat. Then after all potential factors have been considered, you make a decision, and use the vessel a few times, you'll start wondering how nice would've been if you got the next size up.

    Depending on the typical seas you'll be navigating, those 6 miles may be fine rowing on a layer of styrofoam attached to plywood or you may need one of those coastguard vessels that can recover from a 360 flip. Most people needs fall somewhere in between.

    Things that were extremely important for me:
    -handle around 8-10' seas, we only go out on 3 or less but there's no telling what'll be on the way back.
    -space to attach a good ladder, seems like we keep getting older so I want easy access back on board.
    -protection from cold and sun, center console's may be sexy but I get cold easily and my husband is a ginger, so the cabin allows me to be warm when all the windows are closed and the oversize top protects my husband from getting burnt.

    Less important but nice to have was:
    -Ability to hang 2 hammocks or place 2 lounge chairs so we can take naps when seas are flat.
    -Rod holders that accept small grills for chilling during the Air Shows, 4th of July or whatever excuse to eat and drink.
  7. Jake

    Jake Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: CA
    Yes, the Pacific. Specifically for the area between Dana Point and Newport Beach (mostly) in case anyone reading this knows the area.

    We wouldn’t be in the open ocean really, as the reefs we’d target would all be right off the shore. Thus why I was thinking that maybe I could get away with something a little smaller.
  8. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    I used to take my 12' inflatable to Catalina from L. A. Harbor. It was fine for two divers, but the afternoon ride back in the wind chop was a back beater. Most of my diving was on the wrecks of Huntington Flats between San Pedro and Huntington Beach. My C-Dory is a catamaran, so it's extremely stable. You can have four large adults stand on the same gunnel and the boat won't list at all. We have to slow down in swells higher than three feet, so we try not to go out when the surf is rough.
  9. broncobowsher

    broncobowsher Solo Diver

    Storage of the boat is another factor. The house I have now was partially chosen because I can store my little 16' boat on a trailer at home. No slip fees, no storage yard fees. Just need to put on a set of tires every few years, pack the bearings from time to time, regular maintenance things. Remember that a boat on a trailer is longer than the boat itself. My 16' boat is a hair over 21' of parking space by the time you add the tongue and the drive on the back. My 16' boat is a horrible dive boat. No ladder, no deck, now way to step off it, no good way to roll off it, and no storage either. Hence, don't get a vintage runabout with style as a dive boat.

    But something like a RIB is a better choice for a small dive boat. You are not doing anything extreme, should be within sight of land (weather permitting). Friend of mine has a 15' Zodiac RIB with a 30HP outboard that they have taken to the Yukon off San Diego with 4 people. I think he even has it for sale right now, all of his local stuff is done off a pontoon boat on a lake. Stores a lot better as well, deflated and the floor rolled up. If you are interested let me know and I'll forward some contact info.

    A lot depends on what you are looking for in a boat. Some won't consider it unless there are twin engines, head, galley, sleeping, etc. Or get a pair of jet skis, that can work too, just not very well. Another thing, are you leaving anyone topside to watch over things while you dive? That can add to the needs as well. How close is your spot to the shipping channels?
  10. Yellowdog

    Yellowdog Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Maryland
    There is a reason you see variations of this hull design all over the world. It is fast, efficient, shallow draft, dry and handles seas better than other designs at the same length. Light weight, easy to trailer as well and they hold their resale value better than most. I had one of the original 18's and sold it for more than I paid.
    22 Captiva
    18 EVO

    Attached Files:

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