Originally Posted by DoStep
Savings might go toward a used frame and/or maybe some used oars, but I'm not sure how much college education one can get because a few hundred bucks was saved by buying a cheap raft.
or a few thousand for that matter... one class? maybe two instate?
I started as poverty boater and have remained the quintessential poverty boater until this year... My first boat was a beat down 20 year old wood driftboat. A summer of sanding and painting and I was on the water for $800 with a trailer. My first raft (purchased the year after) was a $50, 12-foot eclipse bucket boat with no valves purchased from the bike shop I worked at. All the valves had been scavenged to keep other rentals afloat. But for another $50 or so in valves (from NRS, the only rafting gear company that had sent me a catalog at the time) it was sea worthy. A couple of drunken college paddle trips latter I stumbled on a frame, cooler and two oars for $150. I ran that rig as is (plus some patches) for the next 5 years, before getting a retired raft company 13' hyside for $1000. I guess I added a used NRS stern frame in there somewhere for a rear fishing seat (after trying many DIY set ups). I ran the "new" boat and old frame for a year or two then bought my first new boat purchase ever to date: a $550 NRS bighorn II frame.
I gave the old leaky boat and rusty frame to a friend bought some new oars and ran that rig until last year (adding a few coolers a drybox and some plywood along the way. That's almost 18 years of boating in 3 boats for less than a $2500 initial investment. When I decided to "upgrade" it was going to be a used boat and I almost bought a 7 year old aire 156D for $2500 with frame and oars, but alas Sotar's SL design had sunken it's teeth in me by that point and I couldn't get it out of my mind. So I dropped more money on that rubber than I'd paid for every other floating item I'd ever owned combined. My marriage would be much improved had I not spent that $, but I'm completely ecstatic that I made the decision and adore the boat. I still consider my self a poverty boater, a poverty sportsman for that matter. Everything I buy is used, I've never even owned a car with less than 100k miles.
As far as bucket boats, in some situations they are superior to SB'ers. They track great and lightly loaded can row like no other (that is back row, for fishing folks). My next boat will be a used (of course) cheap, small self bailer for fishing small streams and jump shooting ducks. If I win the lottery, it will be a narrow 12' SL bucket boat...(I think Sotar knocks off $1000 for a standard floor).
So needless to say I suggest getting what ever will get you on the water too. I will say however that one of the reason I buy used, is so I can get a better quality item for the same price as a cheaply constructed one. I believe that you get what you pay for and a brand new $1500 raft is worth far less than a 15 year old $1500 quality boat - you all know the brands. I'm that way with everything, I might buy a $50 used snap on ratchet over a $15 Kobalt, I'd buy used dewalt over new black and decker and so on.
Long live poverty boaters and other cheap bastards!