Originally Posted by jeffsnox
Would this be a suitable first craft
Yes, something like that would make an excellent first boat.
It wouldn't be suitable for offshore cruising, but in sheltered waters they are great and lots of us here have started with something similar. Launching isn't a problem if there are two of you; if you get some launching wheels to attach to the transom then it's seriously easy.
The Zodiac is at the top end of the price range, but there are cheaper options. The Quicksilver range seem to be very popular at about half the price.
My personal preference would be an inflatable floor like this one
, rather than wooden or aluminium floorboards, for ease of assembly (at the expense of a bit of performance). In my experience it can be a real aggravation getting the boards in and out, and the easier it is the more often you're likely to want to use the boat. For the same reason I'd recommend investing in a really good electric inflator like the LVM Hi-speed
Although this Zodiac will take up to 25hp, a 15hp motor is probably a better all round choice. It will have plenty of power for most use (and if you get seriously into skiing then you'll be changing boat quickly anyway!), but is much easier to manhandle than a 25.
Have fun and let us know how you get on!