Choosing A Key West Boat

  • How do I decide which is the best boat for me?

    First, accept that no one boat is always right. Sometimes, you will want to do something unusual, such as take the neighbor and his family on the water with your own family. Always choose a boat that suits your needs most of the time, and remember it has limitations in those extreme cases, and nothing will suit your needs all the time. Ask yourself how many people will realistically be on the boat, where you plan to use the boat, and what you would like to do with the boat, and then pick a boat that best fits those situations. Most importantly, make sure it is a Key West Boat.

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  • How much horsepower will I need on my boat?

    At Key West Boats, we try to make this decision easy for the new owner. In the specifications, we list not only the maximum horsepower for each model but also a recommended range of horsepower. The maximum is not always the best choice. Today, we have a wide variety of engine brands and technologies available, such as the new four-stroke engines and DFI two-stroke engines. The best power for you may also involve your choice of these technologies. We are increasingly interested in efficiency, therefore the simplest answer to how much horsepower is to select an engine where it will be running at its most efficient RPM range when the boat is cruising at the speed it will be operated at most of the time. The reason for this is that sometimes you can go with an engine so powerful that to run at your chosen speed it actually runs too slow to achieve its potential efficiency. On the other hand an engine that is too small will run too hard to achieve efficiency and will also wear prematurely. It's not a simple answer and one best discussed with a dealer before the final choice is made.

  • Which troll motor is right for me?

    Which Troll Motor is Best?

    The question is as old as troll motors themselves. Years ago, when electric troll motors were just catching on, the biggest question was ‘bow mount or stern mount?’ They were all 12 volts and relatively low thrust- controlled with a tiller handle. This quickly changed to the bow mount and foot controls. Gradually, additional models were added to increase the power, measured in pounds of thrust. Additional shaft lengths became available. Today, the choices are mind boggling and obviously, one size does not fit all. Here, I’ll give a brief guide to choosing which one is best for you, but ultimately the choice is yours. The investment is considerable, so choose carefully.

    Control System

    How is the motor controlled, steered, turned on and off? The most basic system, and maybe least expensive, is the tiller. Much like a tiller outboard, the motor has a handle used to aim the direction, and usually a twist grip to vary the speed. This system obviously requires the operator to be able to reach it, so mounting location and height of the motor above the deck is important. Since most of the troll motors today are bow mounted, the configuration of the boat, and whether the operator intends to stand or sit while running the motor come into consideration. Typically, the motor will sit higher in the mounting bracket to allow the handle to be easier to reach, so the shaft length may be longer than a foot control unit where the head (top of the troll motor) can be lower. This hands-on system works fine in some cases, but most operators today seem to prefer a hands-free system of some sort.

    Foot pedal controls and be used to steer and activate the off/on features. Some of these are cable operated or even electric steered through switches in the pedal. This frees both hands, but it does require one foot on the pedal. If you will always operate the motor from the bow, this may be best for you. Bass fishing would be an excellent example of a fishing style where the foot control prevails.

    Remote controls are gaining in popularity today. These are usually wireless and operated via a remote attached to a lanyard or wrist mount. The lanyard is usually worn around the neck as is a necklace. With the remote you set the speed and direction. This requires hands on at least temporarily. The buttons must be pressed after all, but many of these have some degree of automation available. With GPS coordination, a track can be set or position held. Several marketing names have popped up recently for this spot hold feature such as ‘Spot Lock’. Whatever it is called, this single feature has pushed the troll motor into the realm of ever larger boats in bigger water- where reefs or other structure hold fish. Another control system to be considered is the ability to link the troll motor to the on-board GPS. If this is desired, make sure the troll motor and GPS chosen are compatible.

    This is a brief explanation of the current control systems available today, but the world of electronics and troll motors is rapidly changing, with capabilities improving constantly. Research carefully before you make your decision.

    Shaft Length: One size doesn’t fit all. A deeper boat needs a longer shaft, but that’s not where the shaft length required ends. As mentioned earlier, the length of shaft is in part determined by the operating system. If a tiller is desired, the shaft needs to be long enough for the operator of the motor to reach the tiller, and the shaft below the mounting bracket must be long enough to reach the water. Other control systems, both the foot controls and the remotes allow the motor to be lowered all the way which can make the shorter shafts long enough, but where and how the motor is used are important considerations as well. Wave action for example should be expected in open water. A shaft that is long enough in calm water can result in surfacing which causes a loss of propulsion as the prop spins free in the air, and noise from the churning which can give fish lock jaw. If open water operation is a possibility, go longer with the shaft. Keep in mind though, the longer shaft must be stowed on the deck when not in use. Shafts today are sometimes 8’ or even longer. That takes up a lot of room on the deck when stowed. It’s always a tradeoff. Another consideration with the longer shaft is water depth. You do not want to run the motor any deeper than necessary with emphasis on shallow water operation. Too deep and you hit bottom with possible shaft or prop damage. Again, it’s always a compromise but choose carefully to get the shaft length that will work best for you most of the time, since nothing is perfect all of the time.

    Power: How many pounds of thrust do you need? The power output of the motors is variable, but you cannot go any more than maximum power, but is more always better? More power costs more, but the other trade off is more thrust also requires more battery power, or in this case voltage. The higher thrust motors are usually 36-volt systems with conventional 12-volt batteries that requires three batteries to be wired in series. Those batteries must be stowed somewhere logical on the boat, taking into consideration the weight of the batteries. and then there is the cost of upkeep on batteries. They only last so long. Lithium batteries are available in lightweight long-lasting packages, but the cost is high and getting higher. In some cases, there is no room for compromise, and you need all you can get, but keep in mind, a troll motor has traditionally been used to guide a boat along a pre-determined path. Guiding a natural drift takes less power than making the boat beat the wind and current. How you use the motor to some degree will determine how much power you ultimately need. And like the size engine you have on the transom, not everyone needs or wants the same power.

  • What are the prices for a new boat?

    Buying boats is not as painful as you might think! Because the banks understand that a new Key West Boat will last for many years, long term financing is often available. Depending on the model you chose you might be able to get into the boat of your dreams for less than $200.00 a month. For the best service after the sale we always recommend that you purchase from the dealer who is most convenient to you. Because of many variables in pricing we do not quote retail prices at key West Boats. Please contact your dealer.

  • Is wood free, all composite construction better than the conventional wood cored boats?

    Every boat from Key West Boats is entirely free of wood in every aspect, therefore it is obvious we feel that it is the best approach. But a better question may be why?

    Wood can rot. We all know that, and anyone with even limited exposure to old wood-cored boats has experienced some level of wood rot. Rot can render an otherwise nice boat worthless since the structural members it is used in are such an integral, important, and hard-to-replace component of a boat. To be fair to wood though it should be acknowledged that it is a strong and resilient substance that can take a lot of abuse before it rots. But isn't it OK if it is fully encapsulated in fiberglass?

    Full encapsulation sounds like a workable solution to wood rot, but the truth of the matter is that fiberglass lamination is still somewhat porous, no matter how well done. Water eventually migrates into even the best-protected wood and the rotting process starts. At this point, the full encapsulation may even be detrimental by trapping the water in the wood and preventing it from drying out to stop the rot process. Therefore, at Key West Boats we have chosen to use the more modern composites for coring.

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Maintaining A Key West

  • Should I be concerned about E-10 ethanol fuel in my Key West Boat?

    Every component used in the fuel system of a Key West boat is the latest and most ethanol resistant material available at the time of production. All of our fuel tanks are either poly or aluminum and we have never used fiberglass tanks. Because of this there is no need for undue alarm because of E-10 fuel. This is not to say that alcohol in fuel causes no problems though and every effort should be made to stabilize the fuel when not in use. E-10 is less stable than straight gasoline and more prone to moisture absorption. Ethanol also contributes to the deterioration of even the most resistant fuel lines shortening their life span. Consequently all fill, vent, and supply lines should be inspected periodically.

  • How is a Key West Boat the best value on the water?

    Our boats have more standard features than other boats in their class, such as a compass and courtesy lights on most models. Many builders use these add-ons as a profit center. We know you want and need certain items, and we can do it for less if we do it on most boats.

    At Key West Boats we build one of the safest boats on the market with not only attention to all important flotation, but in every other aspect as well. It is our sincere goal to never have anyone injured on one of our boats because we did not do everything we could to prevent it. Simple but effective, and we put our families on these boats too.

    Our resale value is one of the highest in the industry because our choice of high quality materials combined with quality construction techniques and versatile designs means that even after years of use it will still appeal to many users and will have many more years yet to go.

    Construction: Our no wood, no rot philosophy extends to the use of the best materials available today building the strongest, lightest, most durable laminations in the industry. This no-compromise approach to boat building insures our owners years of trouble-free service.

    Certification: Key West Boats are built to exceed the standards needed to pass all USCG requirements and the CE standard for export which stresses the same key points we do at Key West Boats; safety, stability, and structural integrity.

    Privately owned and backed for over two decades with one of the most liberal and seldom needed warranties in the industry. The best warranty is the one you don't need.

  • Who do I contact to service my boat?

    To get your boat serviced, we recommend that you contact the dealer you purchased the boat from. If this is not possible, contact the nearest dealer to you. In order to do so, type your zip code in the search box at the top of this page.

  • Can I purchase an extended warranty?

    An extended warranty is available for purchase at the time of the sale, but is usually considered for the engine only since the boat has a long term structural warranty as a standard feature. Read carefully the items covered and your responsibility, then purchase the coverage you are comfortable with.

  • What maintenance will be required on my boat?

    Maintenance on a new boat is usually minimal, but there is a checklist of items that should be checked and maintained on a regular basis to minimize upkeep and to keep you safe. Your engine’s owner's manual is an excellent source for preventative maintenance. Check with your local dealer for more details on maintenance.

  • What is your warranty policy?

Understanding A Key West Boat

  • Why does my live well overflow?

    All live wells in a Key West Boat are fed by an electric pump and drained by gravity. The pumps are often oversized to allow for rapid filling and this can and often does result in a higher fill rate than gravity can keep up with for drainage. The overflow most often happens when the boat is sitting at rest and the level of water in the live well is closer to the level of water outside of the boat. The difference in the water levels is part of what determines the rate of flow with regard to drainage. While on a plane the difference in level is greater than when at rest so the overflow is most likely to occur at rest. It is not caused by the overflow outlet being underwater at rest. The solution is to simply use the inlet valve inside the live well to control the flow into the live well to match the rate of flow out. Smaller pumps could be used of course to eliminate this needed adjustment but that would result in slower live well filling and the bigger pumps seem to last longer.

  • Why is my fuel gauge inaccurate on my boat?

    Several issues affect the accuracy of a fuel gauge on a boat making it less accurate than on your automobile. First and most important, boats float. They tip side to side and pitch bow to stern sometimes with extreme angles compared to an automobile which stays fairly flat most of the time. The fuel in the tank runs back and forth seeking the low side dramatically affecting the float on the sender, which sends an erratic signal to the gauge to tell the operator how much fuel is in the tank. Because of this, it has long been cautioned to not depend on a fuel gauge in a boat for anything more than a suggested indication of fuel level. They are notoriously inaccurate. The next issue that has come about in the last few years is new EPA rules applying to marine fuel systems. Part of these requirements is for air space in the tank to allow for expansion and contraction of the fuel without overflow. To maintain this air space there is a system of valves and floats that cut off the incoming fuel before the tank is full of fuel. Because of this air space, the float on the fuel level sender cannot reach the top, and the gauge can never read full. It stops somewhere around 3/4 tank or slightly better. That takes getting used to but knowing this helps. It also reduces the useable fuel in the tank by some percentage, compared to the theoretical capacity of the tank based on empty volume. Complicating this situation is the fact that there are several suppliers/builders of marine fuel tanks supplying the industry, and they aren't all rating the EPA tank capacities the same way. Some give absolute theoretical volume, while others allow for air space, but none of them rate the tanks at useable fuel. What this means is a 40 gallon tank will likely not provide exactly 40 gallons of useable fuel. Depending on the angle of the boat that useable fuel will change as well. As much as we'd like for them to be dependable and accurate, they aren't.

  • How can stainless steel rust?

    Stainless steel is a name given to many different grades of material with varying degrees of resistance to rust. Key West Boats uses only the high grade of 316 or better S.S., but even this grade can rust under some conditions. Stainless is an active metal that will form its own protective layer called a pacification layer. This protective layer can be compromised by some solvents and abrasives leaving the metal subject to corrosion until the layer can be reformed. The pacification process itself requires oxygen which comes from contact with the air. Therefore if the metal is allowed to stay in constant contact with salt water the protective layer can be broken down and rust can begin. Abrasives and harsh chemicals should be avoided when cleaning your boat to protect the stainless parts along with a freshwater rinsing after use in salt water, but this brings up another possibility. Some freshwater contains chemicals or minerals which can promote corrosion. In some parts of the country well water contains harmless minerals for human consumption but those same minerals can promote corrosion in the stainless parts on your boat. It may be necessary to install a filter in your water supply to protect your boat's hardware in these cases. For a more complete explanation of Stainless Steel and its properties, there are several websites online to use for reference.

  • Are Key West Boats unsinkable?

    By definition, nothing I can think of is truly unsinkable. If enough weight is attached to any floating object it will sink as a result, but it is possible to insert flotation material into a boat in the proper amounts and correct locations to keep it relatively upright and level when swamped. At Key West Boats we like to refer to our boats as possessing 'Positive Level and Upright Flotation'. This terminology is used by the USCG with the definition being that some of the boat can be submerged as long as an acceptable percentage of the top edge is above water and sitting level and upright. This should allow the passengers to remain in the boat. Therefore the Key West boat is beyond unsinkable in the respect that it not only floats when swamped but does so with the right side up. It is important to remember that flotation material can and does deteriorate with age gradually reducing its effectiveness. Closed cell foam when aged or damaged can absorb water as well. Some of our models because of design variations can and do float much higher than others when swamped. Reasonable safety precautions should be taken with any boat.

  • How many people can I carry on my boat?

    Safety is the number one concern here. Never exceed what you feel safe with. A good guide, to begin with, is the capacity plate if your boat is 20' or under, but still remember that a safe load is sometimes ultimately determined by the operator and what you are doing with the boat. A safe load in the harbor or on a small lake may be too much out on a rough ocean. Use common sense no matter what the capacity plate says.

    Also, remember that not all people are equal in weight and a capacity plate's person capacity is always based on average weight. Because of this, you may be able to exceed the rated number of passengers if you have several small children, and you may need to limit the number of people if you have a couple of big buddies on board that day.

    Another consideration is how many logical and safe locations you have for people to occupy. Even if you have the weight-carrying capacity to put eight people on board you shouldn't do so if that means some of them would be required to sit on the edge of the boat, for example.

  • Should I be concerned about the 'dead rise' on my boat, and how does it affect a boat's performance?

    Dead rise is only one of the considerations in picking a boat but it does have a very real effect on performance and ride. A steep dead rise reflected by a high number such as twenty or more degrees is usually referred to as a deep vee. Deep vee bottom boats do have a tendency to cut into wave action thereby providing a better ride in rough water than a shallow dead rise, but there are downsides as well. The steeper the dead rise the less stable a boat is and it requires more speed and power to plane the boat. This results in more fuel consumption. They also tend to be less stable at rest and rock more from wave action. A flatter bottom on the other hand may be more stable and require less power and fuel, but it tends to be a rougher ride and may be wetter for the occupants. So, what is right?

    At Key West Boats we strive to balance the dead rise and other hull design features to give each model the best compromise for its intended purpose. A unique and exclusive approach to this challenge is reflected in the new Duo Lift hull design featured in our twenty one foot recently introduced and to be included on select new models in the near future. See Duo Lift in the glossary for more info on this innovation.

  • 1720CC boats built in 2017 will have a 40 gallon tank. Why more fuel than the older 1720CC?

    Because it fits is the biggest reason, and it only costs a few dollars more than the 30. All of the 1720CCs built in 2017 with the new hull and deck will have a 40 gallon tank. The out-of-production 1700CC carried a 17 gallon tank under the console, and the 1700DC had a 20 gallon tank under the floor.

    Any of the 2020 series, CC, DC, or WA have a 60 gallon fuel tank.

    Any of the 2220 or 225 series will have a 100 gallon fuel tank.

    Any of the 2300 series will have a 140 gallon fuel tank.

    Early production skiffs in the 177SK and 197SK came std with a 20 gallon tank. A 30 gallon tank was an optional upgrade.

  • What size fuel tank does my older Key West Boat have?

    Almost without exception, if your model is still in production you can check the current spec sheet on that model and find your tank's capacity. One exception is in the 186 series where they were introduced in '04 with a sixty gallon tank which was replaced with a forty gallon tank in '06. Because of more efficient hull construction combined with fuel miserly engines, we found it simply did not need that much fuel.

  • What year model did Key West Boats introduce all composite, wood free construction?

    With our introduction of the seventeen twenty in 1992, we used all composite construction for the first time. We were an innovator of this now proven technology, but it was limited to that model at the time. Over the next couple of years, we were so happy with the success and improved quality, that we blended it into the other models. All Key West Boats built from 1995 and after, with the exception of the 2000WA, are completely wood free. This is important, not only from a peace of mind perspective, but it also shows that we are not "still learning" how it should be done. We have a very long and successful history of wood-free construction.

  • Are all composite cored boats better than wood cored boats?

    While composite coring is potentially better than wood coring through the elimination of wood rot, the transition by a builder from wood coring to composite coring is not as simple as it may seem. Composites come in many different forms and strengths adjusted over the years for each application. For instance, the composite core of a transom is exposed to far different stresses than the core for the sidewall of a boat, the floor, and even the deck. Therefore at Key West Boats, we use a product that has been specifically engineered over the years to meet a very narrow application. It would be simpler and less expensive to cut some corners here, but the life of your boat and your family is worth the effort we make.

    Beyond the very specific composite used for an application is the method of installation, or more specifically, the fiberglass materials used to install it. At Key West Boats we have many years of experience with these products and have learned that they require high-tech directional fiberglass carefully installed to provide the strength needed. A good example of this would be the floor of a boat. At any point in the cockpit, a heavy passenger may be standing while riding through rough water. This concentrates an extreme amount of pressure in a concentrated area. Therefore, the reinforcement on the very bottom of the floor, under the composite coring, must be able to withstand the pounding, wave after wave, and year after year. To see how we're doing check out an older Key West Boat and look for cracks in this and other high-stress areas.

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2024 Boat Show Retail Incentives

For a limited time, Key West Boats will offer unprecedented retail incentives for boats sold at authorized shows/open houses. Get your best deal on a ‘23 or ‘24, and then add the following retail incentives directly from the manufacturer! Contact your local dealer to find out their eligible show dates!

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