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Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

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  • Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

    Greetings, this be my first post here.

    I'm hoping to pick up a boat in the near future, and am trying to narrow down what would work best without closing off any options.

    My background:
    26 years of paddling experience in canoe and kayak, both flatwater and up to intermediate whitewater.
    Past experience driving a Seaswirl Tahoe, with limited experience on a larger outboard Starcraft (don't recall the model, only that it was fiberglass, closed bow, and outboard).

    I'm in western PA, about 1hr from OH and 2hr from WV. My target boating spots would be lakes and rivers flowing into the Ohio, with the occasional road trip probably within 600mi. Would currently be hauling with a compact/mid-size truck with rated towing of 5000lb, though I may want to stay under 3000lb to widen my range of future vehicles.

    I would be intending to get a well used boat at minimum cost, possibly to include sweat equity in cosmetic or other interior restoration. Not looking for a money or time pit either, though.

    Main purpose would be touring. Fishing would be a part of it, but I'm not that concerned with dedicated fishing boat features. I would want it to hold about 6 people, though average adults are more than 150lb so I may end up with more person capacity - not a bad thing since I could then also take more smaller people in time.

    Speed is not a concern for me, except that I do want to go places where there is current. I've clocked the Allegheny at nearly 10mph in a kayak, that's about as fast a current as I would ever imagine fighting. I would be concerned with range, so I would want enough speed that I'm not burning a ton of fuel going slowly up a river.

    I'm pretty much settled on an outboard for maintenance and modularity. One consideration is having a separate 20hp motor for use on lakes with horsepower limits. Not really concerned with speed on flat water, though I would appreciate any estimates on what a given size of boat would get at 20hp.

    I think I've narrowed it down to three types - v-hull bowriders, medium to small deck boats, and trihulls. Realizing of course that they're not necessarily cookie cutter categories.

    I'm biased towards the V-hull bowriders because that's where my experience is, and because of the impression I have from others that they are the most efficient and maneuverable. I'm not looking to dart around, but am concerned with being able to turn in tight places. Downsides are cost and capacity.

    No experience with tri-hulls, but that seems to be what everyone is selling so prices are most attainable. Anecdotally, I've heard that they're designed for stability at the cost of drag and more difficulty maneuvering. As an engineer, my question would be "how much?" The other downside being size, though I've seen a couple adequate ones. So far, it seems like I would be sacrificing something in order for it to be more attainable.

    Deck boats come in because it seems boat capacities tend to hang around 4-6 and then jump to 10-12. 6-8 is really the range I have in mind. If I judge correctly, it seems deck boats are similar to tri-hulls in design, just longer and wider. So I'm guessing the same tradeoffs of maneuverability and drag apply.

    The best fit that I've seen so far appears to be Maxum 20' bowriders, with 8 person capacity but a width and weight less than the Seaswirl I'm used to. Though I've heard mixed reviews of reliability/durability. Any direct counterparts out there?

    So now that I've unloaded everything, please let me know how this lines up or doesn't line up with your experience, or what you think it would take to meet or compromise on these goals.


  • #2
    Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

    welcome to iboats! hopefully my information can give you a little help.

    i wouldnt say that tri-hulls lose much if any turning radious compared to a v -hull. i did notice on my tri-hull with 4 people in the back once on plane i lost quite a bit of turning power so i put some one ahead of the windshield and it turns just fine. they are more stable and tend to cause more drag which means slower going but mine still did 30 mph with a 90 horse. after 10 years brand doesnt matter look for maintaince records and soft floors, after 10 years, a lot of abuse can accumulate and wreck a boat so brand is like color just deal with it.
    repair shops are for the rich and lazy, want something done right? do it yourself.
    with knowledge grants perfection


    • #3
      Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

      Welcome to the forums a lot to take in here. I hate to say this, though I am wondering if a pontoon would be more of what you are looking for. I didn't see any mention of water sports and they have very small engines. Speed doesn't seem like an interest to you. This is coming from someone who would never own one and convienced my folks to get a v-hull intead.

      I think all deckboats are basicly pontoon deck setup built onto the trihull. For people who want the abilities of the skiboat w/ the comfort and room of the pontoon.

      I do own a Maxum and I love it! It is a 2000 19ft Cuddy. They were owned by Brunswick who owns Searay and Bayliner and were a stop gab inbetween those two brands. They share many of the same parts with Bayliners, electronics etc. Though it is a little higher quality and more durable. So maybe the Buick of GM while Searay is more of the Cadillac and Bayliner is the Chevy. Though the most important thing to consider when buying a used boat is who well did the last owner take care of it?

      The deck and the tri-hull will be more stable in calm waters, while the deepness of the v-hull will give you better rough water stability.

      On my Maxum it says it holds 8 people or 1100lbs (1200lbs person, gear). You really can't take 8 adults, unless they are all frome ethiopia or children.



      • #4
        Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

        Welcome aboard. Two things jumped out at me; a desire for maneuverability and what sounded to me like a desire to have something with a kicker; at least that's how I interpret your mention of "a separate 20 hp motor". If so, given your intended pursuits of fishing and cruising/exploring, you might want to broaden your search to include large V bottom metal boats (like Lund, Princecraft, etc.). Such a boat would accomodate every need you've mentioned. However, in order to accomodate six 150 pounders you'd need to seek out a big one.

        I also agree with Hostage that you should consider a pontoon boat. They're not as maneuverable as boats with planing hulls, but they're not the gear pigs they used to be. They also provide a lot of capacity without weighing a lot. For instance, my 21' Suntracker with a 90 horse will move ten people (max capacity thirteen) at twenty plus mph, while the entire rig, trailer included, clocks in at just under 3500 pounds. Most barges don't readily accomodate kickers, but there are some that do, and those that don't can be modified accordingly.

        In the end every boat is a compromise. What you need to do is demo demo demo. It's a bit of a hassle, but nothing compared to being stuck with a boat that doesn't meet your needs. You've taken a great first step by tapping into the wealth of diversified wisdom and expertise available on iboats. Good luck.
        Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
        21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Esquif Vertige


        • #5
          Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

          In general your typical tri-hull is MORE efficient than a typical deep V bowrider. Trihulls more or less react like flat bottom boats, they have very little hull below the waterline while running at speed. Get moving fast enough and the trihulls work like hydroplanes!

          Trihulls also have more interior room, and are vastly more stable at anchor for fishing/moving about. The single drawback to a trihull is the ride. Given sufficient chop, they will beat the fillings, and then your teeth, out of your mouth.


          • #6
            Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

            I'm not into them either, but I'll third the guys above - for your stated use - touring, 6-8+ people, little fishing, easy towing - a toon would seem like a great choice.

            After that, I'd look at a deckboat - 6-8 people in a small bowrider.tri hull will get cramped.

            In then end, it's you budget that will dictate what you get. Again, with this in mind, a used toon with a reliable motor might be the most economical first step. You can always upgrade later.

            Good luck and let us know what you end up with.
            Jon Hunter
            Marion, NY

            2006 Procraft 200 Combo with Merc 200 Opti
            2007 Homemade Duck Boat with Merc 39


            • #7
              Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

              Thanks so much for the excellent input thus far. A couple things I'm wondering right now about V-hull vs tri-hull - what about comparative drafts and efficiency throughout the speed range? For my purposes, I'm concerned as much about the low end of the range as the high end. Someone had suggested tri-hulls as having lower draft and thus being more desirable for rivers/creeks. As far as the ride in a tri-hull, would slowing down be enough to mitigate the effect? The roughest body of water would likely be Lake George in NY, and only rarely, with no problem slowing down if needed. I've seen deck boats out there and no one looked uncomfortable.

              I haven't heard the term "kicker", but I'm assuming it's a smaller motor with a tiller mounted off to the side, which stays attached but raised while the other is in operation, and vice versa. In my mind I've pictured a setup with quick detach lines to allow the motors to be swapped out, but that may be wishful thinking. Before going with a "kicker" I'd look into either that or what I can do with 20hp, or see if the unlimited hp lakes are enough for me.

              My imaginary perfect boat would be a large aluminum tunnel hull fully equipped with seating like a fiberglas bowrider, but I don't think that's attainable at the moment. I'm not against a pontoon entirely, though at the moment it's not my first choice. Maybe I'll come around.


              • #8
                Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                You could always get a small Jon boat w/ a small motor as a second boat. I haven't heard of any lakes in my area that have a limit on HP. Take a look online and compare drafts on different hulls/boats on different websites. That might give you a good idea. It still looks like what you are looking for is more of a pontoon, I would never own one, but it does seem like that is what you are looking for.

                Maybe the best way for you to figure out effiency of the two different types of hulls is to find out RPM at a given speed for a certain motor. If both boats have the same powerplant and the trihull is going 25mph at 3500 RPM, while the v-hull is going 25mph at 3000 RPM, then the v-hull is more efficient. Keep in mind that engines can be in different states and it would be wise to compare newer boats. On my 4.3L merc I was doing 27mph at about 3000 RPM, which gives me a MPG in the low 4's.

                You could always "modify" your kayak like this guy did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stjZH77egxU



                • #9
                  Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                  The only problem is that Pontoons are about lowest on the list of watercraft in terms of maneuverability, lol. You want to talk about wide turns! I think the deckboat serves his purpose best, and perhaps the Lund/Princecraft brands, too. Most of the modern deckboats are a modified tri-hull where it sprt of blends the v-hull and tri-hull to give it the stability of tri-hulls but a bit better ride than traditional designs. A tiller is always an option for most deckboats, but it's probably okay to start out without one. Good fishing platform, especially when equipped with a bow-mount trolling motor, open layout to accomodate 8 people comfortably, and decent fuel economy/handling.
                  1976 Mark Twain 200VBR w/Mercruiser 233 (Ford 351w) "Heart & Soul"


                  • #10
                    Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                    Have you looked at the TAHOE 195 ? It is a deck boat that will hold the amount of people you want and has a modified V hull. Modified V is a hull that starts as a V and flattens out to resemble tri. Very maneuverable, low draft, much softer ride than tri and this particular boat does a good job in transforming from fishing to cruising to water sports and does not weight much. As for a kicker motor I'm not sure there is a need, it will burn more fuel pushing larger boat than I/O idling in gear. Never herd of lake having motor size limit, only speed limit. Just mi suggestion, good luck.


                    • #11
                      Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                      Originally posted by zagger View Post
                      Never herd of lake having motor size limit, only speed limit. Just mi suggestion, good luck.
                      Lots of them do. Usually either 10 or 20.
                      2002 20' Hydra-Sports 202DC 200HP Yamaha HPDI
                      1976 18' Starcraft SuperSport 90HP Evinrude
                      Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=357767


                      • #12
                        Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                        if your trying to be cost effective tri hulls are it. ive had 4 v hulls 15-22 feet, good boats for sure, but i got my first tri hull last week, 1987 16 foot with a 70 hp merc. she will do close to 40 mph, good on gas, way more stable than even my biggest v hull. weight capacity is good, better than v hull of similar size. as for bad manuvering thats a joke. i can turn my boat 180 degrees within its own length...planes off much easier too

                        the boat was near mint and i paid top dollar for sure, 2000 dollars, it came with a mint galvanized trailer and many extras, it does drag a bit more water but nothing a cupped prop and some trim doesnt fix. at a stand still the boat is like a floating island, i had 575 lbs of person and dog in the bow last weekend and still stable and high in the water. i love it so far.


                        • #13
                          Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                          I think a pontoon sounds exactly what your looking for! You want a well used boat, to bring the price down. With a well used boat for cheap you are almost always looking at rot and a lot of restoration, pontoons dont have a lot of these problems! Also they hold more people and can attain decent speeds still.


                          • #14
                            Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                            Here's a pic of my old tri-hull. It might be something like what you're looking for. It had a very large open bow. The railing parted so you could fish off of very easily. I could probably fit 6 adults max and maybe another kid or two. This was a '72 Glasspar rated for 115hp. The larger tri-hulls are not choppy. Mine manuvered pretty good. I had several motors on it, 50 johnny, 65 merc, 100 johnny, and 115 evinrude. The boat drafted very little. It held its own too. I had it on Ontario several times. The waves just bounced right off the hull. Overall the boat weighed in around 1200lbs. I towed it with a 2006 Impala!
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
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                              Re: Trihull vs V-hull Bowrider vs Deckboat - Noob Questions

                              I love tri-hulls and have had two of them now over 20 years - starting waaayyy back when Dad bought the first one for my brother and I ski on. A 15' or 16' will carry 6 people and with a 70 - 100 hp, you'll run between 30 and 40 MPH depending how loaded you are. Fully loaded, they draw as much water as anything else. With a light load, they probably don't draft quite as much - but I've found a bunch of variation in that. A 70hp on a 16' tri will run pretty efficiently and still give you a decent supply of power.

                              I don't know of any way to quick swap motors from a 20 to a 100. Usually the controller systems are pretty distinct at those sizes.

                              Have you looked at any of the center console fishing boats? They're not quite as comfy, but seating should still be pretty reasonable. Something like a Carolina Skiff about 15' with a 50HP might give you a slightly more shallow boat that will fit the trailering bill.