7 Most-Common Problems With Sportsman Boats (Explained)

Sportsman Boats have a solid reputation for being high performing, reliable, and durable fishing boats.

These boats have a long life, even after many hours on the water. Even though this is marketed as a fishing boat, the Sportsman is a strong and reliable cruising boat.

We have searched through all the Sportsman information to find the issues you might face with a Sportsman Boat.

You are able to find these boats at varying price points. These boats provide comfort with chaise lounges and ample storage for those that are interested in cruising.

However, it has a large amount of steadiness, speed, and strength to be a quality fishing boat.

If you are shopping for a Sportsman Boat, you are in the right place. In this article, we will provide you with the most common concerns faced by boat owners.

1) Cosmetic Fiberglass Issues

There are not many significant issues associated with a Sportsman Boat. There are some common minor problems that many have posted about in the forum. There are a large number of cosmetic issues associated with the Sportsman.

Some of these common problems with the fiberglass on the Sportsman include sun damage, chalking, osmotic blistering, and gelcoat crazing.

While these issues may be annoying and impact the way your boat looks, they are relatively easy to repair. One of the most common problems is damage from the sun. This can be avoided with a high quality boat cover.

Osmotic blistering happens when water gets in and under the fiberglass. This trapped water causes bubbles to be created under the gel coat. If you seal and wax your boat and keep this up, you can prevent this blistering.

Chalking happens when the gel coat on your Sportsman is powdery and dull. You can clean it with a mild detergent. When the gel coat cracks, it is called gelcoat crazing. This can be prevented by using good-quality wax. When you care properly for your Sportsman Boat, it will provide you with years of durable life and enjoyment.

2) Drainage

Some Sportsman Boat owners have reported problems with drainage. For some, water is not draining well on its own.

As a result, the water is backing up into dry storage.

This causes everything to stay wet and mold to grow. It also makes it difficult to clean Sportsman Boats. This problem seems to happen more when the boat is docked.

When it is moving, the water does not back up. This problem is caused because the drainage hoses are too long. When the drain hoses are shorter, they are able to drain correctly because they are below the waterline.

3) GPS

There have been some owners that have posted about Sportsman Boats and the problems they are having with GPS.

In some cases, the GPS was not hooked up correctly, or there was a problem with the antenna.

There have been some responses in the forums that state GPS does not work as well on cloudy days. Others suggested that when the GPS is new, it takes time for it to get adjusted. The more you use your GPS than the faster it becomes.

4) Leaking Areas

There are some boat owners that report they are having problems with leaks on their boats. In some cases, the freshwater down hose was leaking into the cabin

Some of these issues are caused by the main drain for the livewell. The problem was not the livewell but the connection to the drain. The caulking around the hose cracks as it gets older.

When the caulking cracks, then the hose becomes loose. If you recall it and then tighten it, the leak should stop.

In other cases, the water overflows from the livewell into the splashwell by the engine mount. When the hatch for the splashwell is not sealed correctly, then water gets in the bilge.

This tends to happen more when you are running the boat because it bounces around on the waves.

This can be an easy fix to make.

5) Wiring

The Sportsman Boat is durable and long lasting. This means you may keep your boat for a long time.

However, if that is the case, you are going to run into electrical problems eventually.

There are some owners reporting in the forums that on their Sportsman, the lighting was wired backward, and the speaker was not wired at all.

Some of the comments stated that some of the electrical wiring in the panel looked messy and thrown together.

6) Gelcoat Problems

There have been some reports by Sportsman owners that they have found cracks in the gel coat on their boats. Additionally, there is a good amount of information posted throughout all the boating forums about this particular issue.

However, most of the time, it is primarily a cosmetic concern.

Rarely is it a structural problem. However, Sportsman are run hard and, as a result, are prone to stress cracks. This is typically a cosmetic issue and does not allow water in; however, most boat owners do not like the cracks.

Fortunately, you are able to correct cracks in the gel coat on your own.

  1. Your first step is to wash and dry your boat.
  2. After that, you want to gouge small cracks in the gelcoat, making them wide enough to fill gelcoat paste in the crack.
  3. It would be helpful if you used a small grinding tool to widen the crack so you can get the gelcoat in the crack.
  4. Sand the area carefully and clean it one more time, but this time use acetone to clean it.
  5. Once you match the gelcoat color, mix up the gelcoat to fill in the areas with the paste using a putty knife.
  6. You should be careful and get all the air holes out and be sure to fill the hole more than you need.
  7. You want to wrap the area to ensure the air stays out or the new gelcoat will not cure sufficiently.
  8. Carefully sand the area one last time and finish with a high quality polish.

7) Finding Older Parts

There are large amounts of parts available for older model Sportsman Boats. You can find them easily and in large amounts.

The difficulty is that some of the part numbers have changed.

For the parts that the numbers have changed, they may be more difficult to locate. Likewise, if you have a vintage Sportsman, it may be more difficult to locate parts that are old.

When looking for parts, the best place to start is with the dealer. This is a great way to start because they have the knowledge and connections to help you find the parts you need.

General Pros and Cons for the Sportsman Boat


Sportsman boats compare well to other fiberglass boat options. Their performance exceeds expectations.

These boats are intended for and designed to be used for fishing. The Sportsman Boat has features making them ideal for the sport.

This boat is well known for its durability. They can be used in both saltwater and freshwater.

They can hold up to the harshest conditions. Sportsman boats are constructed of high-quality materials.


  • As these boat age, the connections crack and loosen.
  • Stress cracks cause cosmetic damage.
  • Vintage parts are difficult to find.

What Do the Reviews Say?

These boats are intended for use in both saltwater and freshwater.

They are durable and reliable.

“I will never ever own anything but this boat ever. It’s ride is unbelievable in rough water.”

[Source: thehulltruth.com]


What is the Resale Value on the Sportsman Boat?

Sportsman Boats are on the more expensive side of boats; however, they offer such a high level of quality they are worth it.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of data on how well they hold their value.

What there is, however, is a large number of old model Sportsman Boats on the water. When comparing Sportsman Boats to similarly priced boats, you find that you get more features and a higher quality with Sportsman.

They do not have a high number of major issues. While there are some minor issues, many of them you can address yourself. If you are interested in a Sportsman Boat, you may want to consider a used one.

Not only do they hold their value well, but they have already depreciated, and you may get a better deal.




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