It was April 26th, 2020 when every spot we went to fish was closed due to Covid-19. That is when, this mama decided it was time to buy a boat. Thanks to the help of our Florida native, boat loving friends the Wilds, we decided to steer clear of a used pontoon and looked into new. Without a doubt, Bass Pro had what we wanted. A brand new boat, 10 year warranty, 3 year warranty on the motor and the perfect size for our families needs well under $20k.
Conveniently, there was one in Orlando so we would have it within 10 business days. Sure, I wanted it that day but I learned that isn't how it works. In fact, you will find in stock boats are limited and if you are able to wait... you can customize one of these down to the smallest detail and have it in about 12 weeks.
That just wasn't going to work for is and my instant gratification need to spend time outdoors during these interesting times. Nor were we the only ones buying a boat during the pandemic,the salesmen in the boat center were all overwhelmed as the demand was high and the hours all reduced. To be frank, there were a few small hiccups in the beginning. Yet, we put our deposit down at the store and finalized our financing in the days it took to get our boat from Orlando.
As a heads up, out the door our boat came with:
trailer, boat, Bimini top, stereo, fire extinguisher.
So, you are going to need to scoop up a few more items to get going.
Starting off with a bit of advice, pay the extra money to get the custom cover.
Initially, we thought the $700 price tag was ridiculous. So, this thrifty lady found a nice one online instead. If you aren't planning to trailer your boat, this cover is just fine and a fraction of the cost of the custom one. But, if you plan to river roam and trailer to many destinations throughout your state. Well, then...get the custom one from the get.
As a result of our other tearing to shreds during our first trip, we have now ordered the custom one.
Fun fact, it takes 6-8 weeks to come in and only is offered in black.
Don't forget your motor. With the first cover, it stretched all the way over the motor.
But the custom cover doesn't. So, while at the store or perusing online, throw one in your cart that will fit.
Though we are new boat owners, over the years we have been fortunate to have plenty of friends that have had boats. One thing they all have in common for an accessory is an anchor. While finalizing our paperwork at the Bass Pro boat center, we picked up one right in the store. There were plenty to choose from and the middle of the road made it home with us. Works just fine and had an additional discount because you get a discount card for Bass Pro/Cabelas good for a full year with all new boat purchases.
One more suggestion, pick up a little flat rubber mat. Your new boat carpet is too perfect to put gouges into it. Lesson learned here that we're happy to share. Just keep it on the boat always under the mat, pick up only during rinsing and you'll deck will thank you.
This is a really good one if you are buying a new anchor online. Super happy with this purchase as the first one we got managed to find some big rocks and has bent considerably in the several months we have had it.
Also in the cart... enough life jackets for everyone onboard.
The price in the store, if you are there, are comparable to the ones you can find online. However, if you are striving to hit a dollar amount for your Amazon purchase to qualify for 0% financing, go for it. Just know, you must have enough for everyone that will be on your boat. Our thought process, 7 seats so we picked up two four packs of the simple orange ones. Overall cost, less than $10 each.
Next, item is one that Michael, also referred to as dad glamper or husband throughout the posts, said we didn't need to get right away.
"Why add the expense to our loan? I can wait and we can get it like a year from now," he said.
Within our first two rides, it was a totally different tune he was humming.
"How can we possibly do any good fishing without the trolling motor honey? The fish know our motor is running and depending on what water we are in we are going to NEED it," he summarized.
Needless to say, we now have a trolling motor.
The, Minn Kota Riptide PowerDrive Bow Mount Bluetooth Trolling Motor with CoPilot, to be exact.
It's pretty sweet. Works well and its powerful enough to swerve even right up to the last moment possible while still keeping us at that trolling pace.
Shout out to our Bass Pro boat center part lead, Alex, who helped us in our decision making process for our trolling motor and depth finder/plotter.
The motor itself is reliable, quiet, and powerful with a Manufacturer's 2-year limited warranty. Our contact suggested the quick release feature ($80)so it is removable from the boat, in case a repair is needed, or you keep the boat outdoors to prevent theft. We really appreciated he was up front in mentioning we'd also need: Battery ($125), circuit breaker($40), plug and receptacle($40), and a battery charger($80).
While getting the trolling motor, we decided to add on a Depth Finder/Plotter: Lowrance Hook Reveal (5” non-touchscreen) roughly $349 too.
It's not because we are made of money, trust me. It's just that two days after Michael's, " we NEED a trolling motor" pitch, a gift from the universe arrived. Curious?
It was an application for a credit card, 0% interest for 15 months. Fate? That's what we thought. Most interestingly, it worked to our benefit because now that extra chunk of change isn't in the loan amount, adding dollars to the annual interest fee. Rather, it's a payment with an amount that no interest and is easily managed. #Blessed
Side note. You'd think it would have been a simple, call activate the card and book the appointment to upgrade our pontoon. It wasn't. In a covid world, we've learned we are not the only ones looking to buy a boat. Nope, many are.
There are back orders and limited supply galore! Coupled with a higher need for repairs because there's naturally more use of these amazing recreational items in use. Needless to say, we couldn't even get into the shop with our brand new boat to update it until 3 weeks after we called to initiate the process. From there, it took a solid week to get all these awesome new items added.
All in all, worth everything hurdle, delay and cost. Just trying to be as genuine and honest about our experience as possible. Because, covid is still here and these some stumbling blocks might occur for you too. Just stay to course. You will be so happy you did.
Back to the new depth finder. This unit comes pre-loaded with US inland mapping, and a micro SD card slot to add coastal mapping if you wish. It is affordable, and very simple to use for those who aren’t great with technology plus options for larger screens. We are digging it for sure and now know to give it about a foot of variance from what it reads to what it is; mostly adding to the depth
When ready to add some new waterways look for products put out by Navionics.
The Navionics+ Regions Electronic Marine Charts for Chartplotters might be the easiest, most detailed, user-friendly charts on the water with Navionics+® Regions Electronic Marine Charts for Chartplotters. It includes a 16GB card and USB reader with easy updates annually. Best part, this company has lots of great user friendly videos to show you how to do it all, step by step.
Interested in another funny story about our launch into boat ownership?
Due to covid, our registration was delayed by several weeks. Sure, a temporary was given to us so we could start enjoying it right away but the boat sheriff deputy naturally will have a few questions in the event you are pulled over. Well that happened to us.
After, 3 weeks of having our boat, we still didn't have registration or numbers because we didn't know what our permanent ones would be. While taking a new cut on the Indian River Lagoon, we didn't realize where we were was Slow Speed. Anyhow, the officer was very nice and explained why it was slow speed and began asking us about how long we had the boat. "Three weeks," I said and it was then I noticed how big his eyes got when he realized we still didn't have our numbers or registration yet. Thankfully, he allowed us to explain the backlog and he let us go no issues; even "welcoming us to the boating community." It was about two weeks more before we finally got our registration and was able to purchase boat letters to apply.
Check out boat letters and more at Bass Pro, my boys love going into the store but sometimes shopping on line is a better fit.
Next tip, one gas can on the boat is not enough.
Especially if you are going to be a river roamer. In as little as three hours, going at a fair speed, you can burn through the small tank provided. So, we got this right away and it works great! Just plan how long you want to be out and bring enough fuel. Always remember, many rivers can be remote and there may not be any fuel options in your route.
Another important item to have is a spare trailer tire.
Since being a boater who trailers to various ramps throughout the state, we have seen many a fellow roamer on the side of the road without a spare. Don't let that be you. Having bought our boat and trailer, brand new together, it would have been lovely if they included a spare. But, they didn't so here's what we found after trying many local outlets that fail to carry this size in stock. Simply, accompany the appropriate nuts and bolts from your local hardware store and you are ready to roll.
Next recommendation for being able to make the most out of your river roamin', a toilet seat for any 5 gallon bucket.
My boys love this boat and it is one hundred percent geared towards fishing.
Whether it is salt or fresh water, the live well is nine gallons which is plenty big for a nice sized catch or live bait. The seats seats upfront swivel and there are fishing pole holders in every direction. "SOLD" they say right away in the store.
The one thing they failed to consider in these long fishing journeys is where mom would pee after a few hours on alligator or shark invested waters.
See, they can just go up front or in the back and stand on the ledge to relieve themselves, not a care in the world. And most times, not another soul around either. However, us ladies, that just isn't the case. Since my guys always bring 5 gallon buckets for their fishing gear, I just needed the lid.
Need the whole setup instead? Bucket and lid? Click the blue link.
Just the lid? Click the orange button.
Either way ladies, you are welcome.
This has been a life saver and can also be taken off the boat to be used at your campsite while glampin. It is very helpful if the bathhouse if far off like the one at Donald MacDonald. Just a quick empty and rinse, it's brilliant!
Can't get roamin' without some sort of bait.
When you are out there on the water, you are almost guaranteed a few bites when you have live bait. Still, my boys and I love to accessorize and figure out what works best to catch what in the various types of waters the Florida rivers provide.
Click here for some fresh water options.
Click here for some salt water options.
Full reports will be provided with our favorite fishing lures and gear. For now, we are simply enjoying all the research and development.
The Bass Buggy has been a great addition in our family. We feel fortunate to have saved and been able to maintain working during this terrible pandemic that has crippled parts of our nation and the globe. With that in mind, it is probably why we feel so compelled to share we are learning and know. To be open about what we needed to add to our setup in order to make it better while also be open about the mistakes we have made along the way. Just know, if you decide to invest in a boat, go in with the right attitude and willingness to get what you need to make it as good as it can be. From there, budget right and set off to enjoy your time river roamin'.