May 8, 2012, 11:50 AM EDT
This morning I picked up my new boat. Really, it’s not a “new” boat considering it was built in 1994, but for me it is new and I am tickled to have it. “It” is a Ranger 681C powered by a 1994 Yamaha 90 two-stroke outboard.
To be honest, I can’t really explain why I’ve wanted to own this particular model boat, but for the past five years or so I have been scouring online sites looking for a clean 681 with a good motor. And while there are several of these boats sold nationwide each year, relatively few of them are still in good shape. Plus, there is almost a cult-like following for this boat, which means when a decent one does hit the market, its almost always snapped up quickly. I did look at several boats during my search, yet never pulled the trigger because there was always an issue. In many cases the boat (or motor ) was in too rough of shape, and I didn’t want to buy a headache. So the search continued in growing intensity.
To give you an idea how jacked up I got about buying one of these boats, I once pulled up next to a guy running down the highway with one behind his pick-up and had my embarrassed daughter hold up a sign (written on a paper plate!) that read “Sell your Boat??” I got an emphatic, silent “No” (lip reading was simple) from the driver followed by a shake of his head that clearly indicated he thought I was a lunatic.
So last week I made another visit to www.craigslist.com, clicked on “boats” under the “for sale” heading and then searched the listings for used Rangers.There were listings for five or six 600 series (multi-species models) up, all of which sounded good, but it was the ad for the 1994 681C that caught my eye. First, the price was in the ballpark I planned to spend. Secondly, at least according to the pictures with the ad, the boat was super clean. So I contacted the owner with a list of questions.
I learned the boat was registered in Texas, after the owner was transferred there years ago. I also found out the boat sat unused for several years, stored in a controlled environment, but had been used the last couple years by an new owner who installed a new trolling motor, new trailer tires and new electronics, all of which sounded good. I also learned it was won during a fishing contest.
This model Ranger is just under 17 feet long and features a 79-inch beam. Weight: 1075 pounds. Per at least one online source I checked, the max horsepower for the model boat is 115 hp .
I met the owner at the ramp of a local lake, and was shocked to find the boat in near-show room condition. The carpet, gel coat, outboard, everything was in fantastic shape. So we launched the boat and I took it for a spin in the middle of a downpour. It ran well. There was, however, an issue with the bowmount trolling motor and it became a negotiation point moving forward. He moved down, I moved up, and we struck a deal.
Not too long ago I was at the Ranger plant in Flippin, Arkansas,. In the front lobby is a very-early Ranger once owned by Jerry McKinnis that was fully reconditioned. It stands now as a testament to a quality brand that has won over generations of anglers. In many ways, running a boat/motor combo that pushing 20 years old is like buying the hotrod you owned back when you were in high school. It’s more than a ride; it’s a trip back to a time when things were simpler and fresh. In the case of my new old boat, there is some truth to this, but honestly, that’s not all that went into my purchase decision. I also wanted it because its still one of the best boats ever designed for the type of fishing I do … pursuing just about every species of fish that swims! — Steve
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