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  1. #1

    Default Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    We dont know much about boats. We are looking for a used boat that will be used mostly in 4-11 ft water, but may need to go into 2 ft water. (I think they call this skinny water.)

    1) How shallow of water will a pontoon boat go into? Does it matter how many people are on it?
    2) How shallow of water will a runabout go into?
    3) How shallow of water will a bass boat go into
    4) what is the term for the depth of water a boat can manuever in? Is it draft?

    Right now we are just looking for a generic boat, not necessarily wanting to fish or ski but just learn the lake.

    Thanks
    Janie

  2. #2

    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Draft is the depth that the hull protrudes into the water. Thus, if you have a boat with a 18" draft, you better have at least 2' of water.

    There are 16' pontoons (or runabouts) and there are 27' pontoons (or runabouts). The draft may be different for each one. THus, your questions are too generic for good answers.

    In general, for what you want, an outboard with power trim will be best. Run an inboard aground and you're screwed. An I/O can do shallow water, but not for long periods. An inboard jet is seemingly OK, but at 2' you run the risk of sucking up the bottom and ruining the impeller and wear ring, which isn't a cheap repair.
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Quote Originally Posted by JCOLake View Post
    4) what is the term for the depth of water a boat can manuever in? Is it draft?
    Jim's answer on draft is correct regarding the hull, however this does not include the drive. As an example, I have a deckboat that has an advertised draft of 14" (I also deal with skinny water), but prop sticks down at at least another foot. Anything less than 3' of water and I get real nervous. These numbers will likely be about the same with a bass boat, a pontoon maybe a few inches shallower. The runabout (assuming deep or semi-vee) will need about a foot more water.

    I can trim it up but (raise the motor), but still it 2' of water is white knuckle even at no wake speeds. I have some friends that have the same boat that use an electric motor to get to and from their dock where the water is 2'.

    Depending on the bottom type, you might do best with a jet. It doesn't stick down further into the water than the draft, but like Jim said if its weedy or muddy, you can suck it into the drive.

  4. #4
    Rear Admiral rolmops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    For safe boating in shallow water,consider a Penn Yan with tunnel drive. It's hard to beat 8 inches of draft and being able to beach your rig without having to worry about your propeller or lower unit.
    Make sure the plug is in

  5. #5
    Rear Admiral MH Hawker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    About 24 inches is as shallow as I like to go on my pontoon and even then its kicking up a lot of mud.
    James & Deb

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    If it aint broke your not having enough fun

    my 1988 Riviera Cruzer pontoon rebuild
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    so much depends on your bottom. If you have a soft bottom you can take more chances; if you have a hard bottom you can't. Flat bottoms mean you might glide if you get too skinny; lumpy bottoms mean a sudden stop.

    Talking about the below surface conditiosn; not you.

    You can run on a plane and draw a foot or better less but it's risky due to the prosect of hitting.

    If you run skinny water a lot you have to be prepared--and able--to pole or paddle out. Only use outboards; no I/O or inboards.

    You want a flat bottomed boat, too. Carolina Skiff is one of the best--also carries a crowd of people. You don;t want a deep V.
    A man of constant boat tinkering.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Quote Originally Posted by rolmops View Post
    For safe boating in shallow water,consider a Penn Yan with tunnel drive. It's hard to beat 8 inches of draft and being able to beach your rig without having to worry about your propeller or lower unit.
    That would have been good advice back in the day. However, if you could still find one it would probably not be in very good condition, considering its age. Penn Yan was a fine builder - too bad they are long gone.
    2009 Starcraft 14' FLSS & Yamaha 25
    2005 SeaDoo GTX 4-Tec 155
    1984 Stingray SVB190SS & Mercruiser 3.0 Liter 140
    1964 Sea Nymph 14R & 1970 Evinrude Sportwin 9.5
    1960 Mulray 100 Dinghy, equipped with Beaver Oars
    1952 Lyman 15' Mid Steer & Evinrude Big Twin 25
    63 Outboards: 1919-2008, representing 11 manufacturers
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Quote Originally Posted by Campylobacter View Post
    Jim's answer on draft is correct regarding the hull, however this does not include the drive.
    Pardon my less than complete answer. However, practically speaking I can run at idle speed in water that is only deep enough to float the hull. If you know where your outdrive is, you can position it so that the prop is just above the bottom of the boat. You won't go fast, but you won't go crunch either. Although I can run that way with my I/O, it's much easier with an OB with power trim.
    2009 Starcraft 14' FLSS & Yamaha 25
    2005 SeaDoo GTX 4-Tec 155
    1984 Stingray SVB190SS & Mercruiser 3.0 Liter 140
    1964 Sea Nymph 14R & 1970 Evinrude Sportwin 9.5
    1960 Mulray 100 Dinghy, equipped with Beaver Oars
    1952 Lyman 15' Mid Steer & Evinrude Big Twin 25
    63 Outboards: 1919-2008, representing 11 manufacturers
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    I am surprised nobody has mentioned it an airboat can run on dew.

  10. #10
    Rear Admiral rolmops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    For safe boating in shallow water,consider a Penn Yan with tunnel drive. It's hard to beat 8 inches of draft and being able to beach your rig without having to worry about your propeller or lower unit.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimS123 View Post
    That would have been good advice back in the day. However, if you could still find one it would probably not be in very good condition, considering its age. Penn Yan was a fine builder - too bad they are long gone.
    Just come over to Lake Ontario. You will see a lot of these rigs, LOL they sell for bigger money now,than when they were new.
    Make sure the plug is in

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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba1235 View Post
    A standard large outboard for normal use that can be tilted out of the water and a small air cooled aux. outboard where all you need to do is have the prop at the water surface.
    I forgot about the "mud drive" or "surface drive" option. They are used around here in the tidal sounds and will run in 0" of mud if its wet enough. Probably not what the OP is looking for, but pretty cool

    Surface Drive (Mud Drive) Outboard Engine - YouTube

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    It also depends on how fast you go. The physics of a planing hull (going fast) will require quite a bit less water than a displacement hull (going slow). Some planing hulls will only require enough water for the drive and prop. For example, a bass boat at speed is mostly out of the water. However, if you are going fast and do hit something the end result could be interesting (in a very bad way).

    If you know where you are going and what is out there you could find that there are places you can get across at speed that you could not going slowly. However, prudence suggests that going fast in shallow water is not something to be taken lightly.

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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    A good ski boat like a Malibu Response or Mastercraft 197 will run less than 22" of draft but if you find one from 10 years ago it's less than 18". Drop a few more when you are on plane.
    Maybe not exactly what you had thought but think of the fun. ( carry a spare prop in case you find a rock at 15")

  15. #15
    Vice Admiral 5150abf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Welcome to iboats

    You would be wanting a good sized flat bottom jon boat, that is what they were made for, throw a jet drive on it and you are good, none of the boats in you original post are good for skinny water, especially the pontoon.

    With a good size flat bottom maybe 16' long and 80+'' wide you will only need a few inches draft with 2-3 people and a jet drive only needs @8''-10'' of water to run.

    Are there other boats on this lake?

    Really shallow water is really no fun and can cause alot of problems depending on the bottom.
    GO IRISH!!!!

  16. #16
    Admiral ziggy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    even a plain ol aluminum fishing boat w/ a small outboard is a good way to start to
    just learn the lake
    when i was a kid that was all we had. a 16' aluminum sears fishing boat w/ a 6hp seaking on it(then a 10hp johnson). i did a lot of exploring with this boat in a lot of skinny water. Dad's cabin is on lake belletaine in MN. this is the end of a chain of lakes called the mantrap chain. 12 lakes in all. i ran up 6 of them(a day long trip). skinny water, rocks, logs, reeds, lilly pads, floating grass bogs, etc. with the shallow draft of the 16' aluminum boat and the ease of being able to pull the outboard up or out (then using oars), i could go over near anything. even portaged it over a small dam into one of the lakes. the 16' boat was good enough for fairly large water too.
    with the 6hp it was slow though (non planing). with the 10hp it'd plane and was much better for getting here to there...

    i just got a canoe the other day too. i been running it is 2-3"'' of water. i stilll don't know how it's gonna do in a boat filled lake though (boat waves). i'm assuming it'll do poorly though. but a canoe is getting down to skinny water and i've been having a blast purposely going into skinny water and exploring with it.
    fwiw, this is all done pretty much on the cheap too. no high class boat with fancy seats. but they float and ya can get a lot of enjoyment from this kinda fun imho.
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  17. #17
    Vice Admiral southkogs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Quote Originally Posted by ziggy View Post
    even a plain ol aluminum fishing boat w/ a small outboard is a good way to start...
    One of my favorite setups (especially with oars on board) ... not fast, not fancy but generally very reliable, easy to handle and easy to learn.

    Quote Originally Posted by ziggy View Post
    i just got a canoe the other day too. i been running it is 2-3"'' of water. i stilll don't know how it's gonna do in a boat filled lake though (boat waves). i'm assuming it'll do poorly though. but a canoe is getting down to skinny water and i've been having a blast purposely going into skinny water and exploring with it.
    There are several types of kayaks out there worth looking at. My family has one that will hold 3 people and still slide easily through 8" of water. We've not run an outboard on it, but you could use a light one.

    Quote Originally Posted by ziggy View Post
    fwiw, this is all done pretty much on the cheap too. no high class boat with fancy seats. but they float and ya can get a lot of enjoyment from this kinda fun imho.
    ... for a first timer, go cheap. Get your feet under ya' before you go spend $10,000 on a big perty boat. I've kinda' made a hobby out of seeing how much life I can get out of old obscure boats, and find it fun ... but it's nice to stay on the cheap too.
    ---------

    - 1972 Silverline Comoro 17T OMC 165 Stringer I/O ... yeah, I know.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    As others have said, flat-bottom is best for shallow, but will ride rough in small choppy waves. Crestliner makes an 1860 mod-V jon boat that has some deadrise to the hull that will greatly improve ride, but draft about six inches more - it can be run in two feet of water if you're careful. Pair it with a 60hp outboard (or Yamaha's new 70hp outboard) and you will have a good all-round boat.

    What is the bottom of the lake like? Rocks? Mud? Sand? Vegetation? All of the above? If a lot of rocks, stick with an aluminum propeller until you get to know the lake and your boat much better. If there is a lot of vegetation, stay away from jet motors!

    Big flat-bottom boats can draft very little (3-4 inches), and don't draft much more when fully loaded. However, they are a pain to get unstuck if you stick them in shallow water. Small boats can draft very little when empty, but draft greatly increases when loaded; however, if you stick one in shallow water, you can get out and easily push the boat to deep water.

    As an aside, where I run, it is not considered skinny water until it gets less than ten inches. I run a 25-foot flat-bottom tunnel that drafts 8-9 inches, but needs 12 inches for putt-putting around. On plane, it will run through six inches over sand bottom, 3-4 inches over mud bottom (and less than that for short distances). That is with a 115hp outboard and four-blade SS prop. We don't use jets around here because the ultra-fine sand eats them up too fast. Jets are great for rocks in clean water, not sand or veggies.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Majek boats are big around where I hunt and fish, and as a added bonus they are made here locally in Texas. I have personally seen them run 3-4 INCHES of water, this does not include stopping. If you look on youtube you can find a few videos of them running that skinny. With a hard sandy bottom they can get up in about 1 foot of water. You also have Transcats, look at flats boats in general they run super skinny.

    But the most important part of your post is just wanting to lean the lake, in that case I would suggest a Aluminum flat bottom boat with a tiller steer, they are very forgiving boats. I have one of these for duck hunting the back bays and when trying to run a unmarked channel at night you miss a few turns here and there and get beached, all I do is hop out of the boat and push it back to deeper water. I also tend to hit objects while running the bays at night the only thing that really happens is my motor pops up. When I go exploring I take my 16' john boat and run around the area until I know it like the back of my hand.

    Most important thing is go slow and have fun!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    no word back from Janie; maybe she took offense to our talking about her bottom
    A man of constant boat tinkering.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Quote Originally Posted by Home Cookin' View Post
    no word back from Janie; maybe she took offense to our talking about her bottom
    LOL.....

    Yes we want to learn the lake but I would like to be able to haul a few people.
    What about a pontoon boat? I saw a 1993 pontoon boat for $5000.00 that looked pretty good.

  22. #22
    Admiral ziggy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    between your original post and your last comment. my suggestion is to get hooked up with the us power squadron or the us coast gaurd aux. and take some boating safety classes. there will be folks at either of these organizations that you can talk to about different kinds of boats.
    boats can be much less forgiving that autos when things go wrong. and your wanting to haul a few people too. some education via these organizations will be most useful.
    a good book to get would be chapmans pioloting, seamanship and boat handling. this book is very thick and can educate a person to the many aspects of boating. and there are many aspects to be considered.
    'Lime Time'
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    Quote Originally Posted by JCOLake View Post
    LOL.....

    Yes we want to learn the lake but I would like to be able to haul a few people.
    What about a pontoon boat? I saw a 1993 pontoon boat for $5000.00 that looked pretty good.
    A true flat-bottom boat the same size as the pontoon boat will draft MUCH less than the pontoon boat, especially when loaded with people. However, the flat-bottom will ride quite a bit rougher than the pontoon when the wind kicks up.

    If the bottom of the lake is sand and/or mud, you won't have any problems. If it's rocks and/or stumps, you will likely be replacing/repairing propellers every time you get in less than two feet of water (unless you have a jackplate, which has other issues).

    Either way, go slow and take it easy for the first dozen trips or so. You would be well ahead to take a boater safety course. Hands-on is best, but there are also many free online courses available. Try Boat Ed - Boating Safety Course and Exam - Official Boat License and Boater Safety Test for starters.

  24. #24
    Vice Admiral 5150abf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    A pontoon is really the best all around boat, you can pull water toys, fish, cruise or just waste a day.

    5k for a toon could be a good deal but we will need alot more info to help you decide that, boat brand, length and engine size at least.

    I think you will find most bodies of water fit the desciption of the lake you want to go on so your boat choice really is irrelevant and you don't want to get a boat for shallow water if that isn't all there is, you should get a baoat that will do what you want it to.

    I go to a local lake that is 1 1/2' to 2' deep in spots but it is also 87' deep in other spots, you just avoid the shallow spots, the river I fish is the same way, you will just have to put in some time and learn the lake, it won't take long and you will know where you can and can't go.
    GO IRISH!!!!

  25. #25
    Admiral jigngrub's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best boat for shallow water ( 2 feet)

    How's this for skinny water navigation?

    2011 Mud Boats & Mud Bugs - YouTube
    I consider overkill a job well done... plus a little extra.

    There's as many ways to do something as there is people to tell you how to do it... but not all of them are the right way.

    The drinking and debauchery will continue until morale improves... and maybe for a little while after.

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