What to Look for in an Aluminum Boat

by Gary Bennett


It's the publisher's doubtless deranged opinion that a percentage (don't ask, it's depressing!) of the snow storm of press releases we see each month offer more information than sales pitch. We'll post these in the appropriate places for our reader's convenience.

There are different styles and constructions in aluminum boats. What a buyer chooses should be based upon where and how it will be used.

18' Offshore S, dual side consoles with glass windshield, canvas top, side curtains.


As president of Klamath, a 50-year old aluminum-hull boat manufacturer, I would suggest that a prospective purchaser consider the following points.

Will the craft be used on small lakes, big unprotected lakes, rivers, bays or oceans? Once the area of use is determined, an accommodating hull and accessories can be selected.

Flat-bottom boats are best in shallow water, and are generally rough riding. Sitting astern on choppy waters is a wet experience. Deep-V hulls are good on "Bigger water", smoother riding, but less stable when stationary. A semi-V (deep-V bow and almost flat at the transom) will break rough waters and do well in the shallows.

Chine design must be considered. Round chines are easiest and least costly to build, providing the softest ride but giving little stability. A square chine provides easy planing, good water deflection, great stability and requires less horsepower for greater speeds. Klamath uses a double-walled square chine and is known for its dry-riding boats.

Rivets vs. welding has been a longtime controversy in the aluminum boat industry. Riveted boats are less expensive to build. However, constant pounding or beaching the boat can loosen rivets which may lead to a leaking hull.

The consumer concerned about the longevity of his aluminum boat investment should consider welded boats. Welded boats are harder to produce but are worth the effort. Because there are generally no rivets below the water line, there is nothing to bump loose. Many customers select them for their trouble-free and long lasting performance.

15' Advantage SS, w/side console, steering & plexiglass windshield


Accessories also need to be considered. A shopper can choose from various position steering consoles and/or opt for a bow deck or bow rails. Some manufacturers sell packages pre-accessorized. Others allow you to start with a shell, then add items like a self-bailing motor well.

In any event, interior carpet that’s easy to clean and an exterior that doesn’t require touch-up paint or polish is a plus.

Most important is safety. A boat should meet or exceed U.S. Coast Guard and National Marine Manufacturers Association requirements -- look for the certification plate. Klamath boats are tested at the time of certification in accordance with these requirements. All of our boats are designed to float upright, level and support the occupants and gear the boat is rated for.

If you have any questions not answered here, feel free to contact any Klamath dealer or call us at 707-643-0447.


Klamath Boat Co., Inc.,
P.O. Box 6138,
Napa, CA 94581.
Phone: 707-643-0447.

Note: Gary Bennett is the 10-year president of Klamath Boats. Before this he worked at a major steel corporation dealing with marine applications like constructing barges and offshore oil platforms.