My old buddy Craig came out fishing with me yesterday. Sorry about a lack of pictures – I’d like to show off some of the stripers and blues we caught in the Chesapeake, near Thomas Point, but a steady rain kept my camera stowed the entire time – but the morning led to a conversation many fishboat shoppers might be interested: buying a used 19′ to 20′ center console. Craig’s been shopping them for a few months now, and when we talked over the half-dozen or so candidates he was serious about, a common thread emerged: all of the boats had old-tech two-strokes on the transom.

He’s trying to keep the cost down to 15K, and as a result, is looking mostly at early 00′ models with two-stroke outboards. That’s just fine boat-wise, since most boats built in this time frame will show wear and tear that’s easily fixable. But I had to give him my honest opinion about those powerplants - when it comes to a carbureted or EFI two-strokes, you’ll have more problems and a less enjoyable experience onboard. Non-DFI two strokes are loud and smelly, period. Get an old-tech two-stroke guy onto a boat with four-strokes, and his reaction is completely predictable. ”Wow, that motor sure is quiet,” he’ll say. “Boy, it sure is nice not to have smoke blowing all over the place…”

I gave Craig the bottom line, and I’ll repeat it here, for you: put 80% of your purchasing power into a more modern powerplant and just 20% into the boat itself, even if that means looking at older boats with more hours on them – in Craig’s case, late 90’s vintage models instead of early 00’s. As long as you have a sound hull under your feet, you’ll be a lot happier in the long run.