4 Most-Common Problems with Key West Boats

In Boating by Morten Storgaard

Key West boats make boats with a focus making long-lasting boats that can provide you and your family with years of quality time out on the water. For their price range, Key West boats are often recognized as one of the best options for boaters looking to make the most out of their money.

For many, this makes Key West one of the top choices for a high-quality family boat within a budget.

Be aware that while these boats are generally extremely durable and retain their resale value if well-maintained, Key West boats are not without their share of problems.

There are a few common problems that many Key West boats face, including bilge pump issues, older wooden transoms, and maintenance required.

Below, we’ve gathered information on the most common problems faced by Key West boats.

Bilge Pumps Issues

Key West boats are known for their attention to detail, but even the most vigilante manufacturers often face issues with bilge pumps. In fact, bilge pump issues are so common that many boaters run with a backup pump, just in case.

The bilge pump serves a crucial purpose, and a malfunctioning bilge pump can lead to taking on serious water if left unchecked.

While the bilge is designed to take on small amounts of water, the bilge pump exists to remove the excess water once the bilge fills to a certain point. This prevents the boat from taking on so much water that it would begin to sink.

Possible Causes for Bilge Issues

The main issues that Key West boats’ bilge pumps feature are often a dealer error resulting from improperly fitted, installed, or maintained pumps.

While installation issues are the most common, some drain plugs are improperly fitted or caulked.

These issues make checking the bilge pump a priority when looking over a potential Key West boat purchase.

Pre-1996 Transom Issues

Key West makes a wide range of boats perfect for the fisherman and family man. Not only do these boats retain their value, when properly maintained, they also hold onto their strength and durability.

Like many manufacturers, Key West gradually switched away from using wood in the construction of their boats. Wooden construction on a boat can cause multiple issues, but the most frequent is wood rot.

Wood rot commonly occurs in wooden transom constructions, and this is an issue many older Key West boats can have.

Possible Causes for Transom Issues

Key West transitioned from using wood starting in 1992 with their 1720 series of boats. The last wood construction boat was the 2000 WA that was dropped in 1996.

Therefore, Key West boats made before these dates or with those who feature obvious wood construction should be checked carefully.

While a wood transom or core does not necessarily spell disaster, it will require extra attention and maintenance as the boat ages. Eventually, the wood may need to be replaced. This is why newer boats feature wood-free construction.

However, properly maintained wooden boats could sail for years out in even the roughest water.

If you buy a Key West boat with any sort of wood construction, be it in the transom or the core, make sure you do your research on what goes into properly maintaining a wooden boat.

High Maintenance

The cost of maintenance will be high for any boat, but Key West boats, in particular, may require extra maintenance to keep them in top working condition.

From regular wear and tear out on the water to prior owner neglect, one should always take the amount of initial upkeep and maintenance when purchasing a used Key West boat.

Thankfully, Key West offers top-notch customer service for those who buy their boats new. Those who plan on buying a used Key West boat should choose a reputable dealer and ask plenty of questions about how well the boat was maintained.

Maintenence Prices and Red Flags

Keep an eye out for signs of poor maintenance such as rust, structural damage, or issues with the engine or electrical gear.

Remember that your boat will come with additional maintenance costs throughout its life on the water. Eventually, you will have to get your boat taken in and looked at to prevent a higher price tag in the future.

Definitely get any boat you own maintained often!

Your maintenance costs will vary based on how well you care for your boat, what conditions you boat in, and the specific Key West model you have.

Fueling Issues

Some Key West boats of various makes and models may suffer from fueling issues. These issues can vary in cause and situation but often result in needing to replace several hoses or vents within the fuel tank.

A small number of fuel tanks suffer from leakage, which can be caused by errors by the dealership or arise from poor maintenance by a prior owner.

Care should always be taken when fueling a boat, and observation of the issues (such as hearing unusual sounds or seeing leaking fuel) can help with pinpointing the exact issue.

While minor issues with fueling can be ignored, such as needing to fuel slowly to avoid spillage into the bilge with improper venting, however, this can lead to serious problems.

If your gas tank leaks or has issues during fueling, it’s important to have your boat serviced as soon as possible and before you take it back out on the water.

General Pros and Cons of Key West Boats

Pros

Many boaters become Key West fans for life due to the durable and quality construction of these boats. In addition, many Key West boats maintain their resale value for years after purchase.

These boats are always in demand, so those looking to buy or sell a Key West boat will have plenty of interested parties.

One area where Key West boats have always excelled is in their comfort and feel. Many boaters cite the roomy and comfortable forward bow seats, especially in the newer models such as the Key West 263FS.

For fishermen looking for a family-friendly boat, Key West makes many versatile models perfect for both purposes.

One of the ways that Key West builds its brand loyalty is through its extensive communication and care for its boat owners.

Many boaters frequent the Key West forum and website, where plant managers and employees are active and engaged in helping boaters solve their issues and get back out on the water.

Cons

  • Problems with the bilge pump are more common on Key West boats than any other type of issue.
  • Many older models of Key West boats feature wood construction that can rot or structurally fail.
  • Key West boats require a high level of maintenance to keep in quality condition.
  • Gas tanks and fueling issues may occur in older or poorly maintained Key West boats.

What Do The Reviews Say?

…Key West’s stepped hull, which in this case transitions from 21 to 24 degrees of deadrise, provides a surprisingly smooth ride in a tight, pound-your-teeth-out bay chop.”

Source: fishtalkmag.com

Many of the Key West models are built to withstand even the choppiest waters under the care of an experienced boater.

The durability and structural integrity of Key West boats have become one of their strongest selling points. Well cared for Key West boats can provide you and your family with a safe and stable ride for years to come.

Changing from fish-mode to family-mode is essentially as easy as snapping on the forward and aft seating cushions, and sliding in the removable forward seating backrests.”

Source: boats.com

The versatility and family-functionality of many Key West boats can not be understated.

With a focus on both fishing and maintaining a family-friendly boat, Key West provides many features for comfort and plenty of seating room on the majority of its models.

What’s the Resale Value on Key West Boats?

Year & Model Price
1999 22′ Key West 2220 CC 18,500
2006 18′ Key West 186 DC 22,650
2008 22′ Key West 225 DC 29,900
2013 22′ Key West 225CC Bluewater 35,900
2015 21′ Key West 210 Bay Reef 39,500

Please keep in mind that these prices are estimates based on research. Actual prices for used Key West boats will vary based on the model, age, condition, and location.

Final Thoughts

From minor fuelling issues to more extensive issues with wood rot and flexing in older models still available after-market, there are common problems seen throughout Key West boats.

However, for those looking for a quality boat that will quickly and comfortably get them to their favorite fishing spot, a Key West boat should be considered.

Their comfortable center consoles are perfect for taking your family out for a day on the bay or on a day-long fishing trip.

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