Budget Boats: 5 Open-top Trailer Boats to Suit Your Budget

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It’s time to start looking at budget boats.

Whether you want to fish for your supper or cruise in style with the family, there’s a multitude of open top trailor boats avalible.

From your family friendly 3.85m tinnie through to your high end luxury cruizer, there’s a boat to suit every budget.

Savage 385 Jabiru Pro, from $11,000

Many boat enthusiasts started off in a tinnie, and while the tendency is to upgrade as much as your budget (and live-in accountant) will permit, a tinnie is great for those of us who just need a runabout for those odd flat water weekends.

There’s no reason you need to skimp, as Savage demonstrates with its 3.8m 385 Jabiru Pro. Powered by a Vortex 15hp 2-Stroke, it comes with two pedestal seats and is licensed for four. What sets the Pro apart from the regular model (and most other tinnies) is the carpeted floor and bow-casting platform, moulded bow and stern stowage, and rod locker. Savage recently widened the beam to 1.73m, making it even more stable.

Sea Jay 4.7 Ranger, from $24,999

Sea Jay means business with its 4.7m Ranger v-hull – a 4mm bottom, 11 ribs and a weight of 400kg mean it’s a true knockabout. It’s powered by a Yamaha F60 4-stroke and it’ll seat five, with two on pedestals. The skipper gets a floor-mounted (or optionally side-mounted) console box. Checker plate covers the floor and front/rear casting platforms. The bow rail is split on the port side with a handy mount platform for a trolling motor, and there’s tons of stowage: two hatches in the front casting platform, two in the rear, and a neat trough on the starboard side. Throw in six rod holders and you’ve got a great day’s fishing ahead of you.

Chaparral H20 19, from $43,200

At a glance, the H20 is a 5.9m bowrider geared for watersports, but thanks to dual casting seats front and rear, great drainage and a live well, it’s a decent fishing boat, too. There’s even a mounting plate at the bow for a trolling motor.

The H20 packs in plenty of storage: in the helm, under the bow seats, either side of the 66L cooler/live well in the stern, and there’s even a wakeboard locker in the floor. The sunpad lifts up on the starboard side to reveal a walkthrough and more storage.

A telescopic ladder is mounted on the swim platform and stows away flush in its own compartment. It’ll carry nine with two wraparound pedestal seats at the helm. Under the soundproofing of the sunpad hides a 220hp Mercury MerCruiser 4.3L V6, which will take the H20 up to 48kts at 5000rpm. This is a very fast fishing boat. It’s a bargain.

Bayliner 190 Deck Boat, from $62,000

There’s no mistaking the Bayliner 190 for anything other than a family-oriented leisure craft. At 5.6m, one of its standout features is a squared-off bow, which allows for a seating area that’s nothing short of capacious. It’ll comfortably seat four adults – two either side of the step up to the bow – which is where you’ll find a stow-away telescopic boarding ladder and two hatches for the anchor and wet gear.

Amidships is the smart, if basic, helm, which features cup holders and a handy glove box for the skipper. On the port side is a two-seater lounge and another at the stern. All up, you’ll fit 10 people on board. The 190 has excellent stowage as all flat seating surfaces are hatched and, as an option, the port-side lounge can stow a portable head (toilet) while a privacy curtain can be hung from the bimini. There’s also ski stowage in the floor. Out back is an integrated icebox, transom platform and stowable, telescopic ladder. The power plant is a zesty 115 HP Mercury 4-stroke.

Cobalt 26SD Bowrider, from $113,490

The Cobalt takes the Bayliner 190 formula, stretches it and wraps it in an extra $50,000 of luxury. Its classic proportions and sweeping lines turn heads. Inside, there are two cushioned deckchairs with fold-down armrests. In the cockpit, the port-side lounge converts into a forward-facing helm chair. There’s a head (toilet) under the helm complete with washbasin and glove box. The control console features ebony accent, leather-wrapped steering wheel and stitched cowling. Stowage hides beneath all the flat surfaces, the glove box hides the bluetooth stereo head unit, and there’s a galley with sink and refrigerator. Past the walk-through transom, there’s full-width swim platform with retractable swim step and telescopic ladder. Powering it all is a 300hp twin-prop MerCruiser 4-stroke inboard, which will see it to cruising and top speeds of 43kts and 44kts, respectively. At 2.5T the Cobalt will require some serious trailering.

Even with a shiny new boat, you’ll need to make your own fun: check out five of our favourite boating accessories to make this summer the best yet.


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