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Old 04-10-2008
ScuzzMonkey ScuzzMonkey is offline
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I don't want to contradict any of the excellent advice that has been offered so far in this thread, but I did want to offer a little more encouragement regarding what you can do with your budget. You're blessed to be living in the Pacific Northwest. You're in the middle of some of the best cruising grounds in the country and the perfect place to learn about yourselves and sailing. No need to head down the coast or to Hawaii just yet. That's the big dream for a lot of people, but this isn't really an endeavour where jumping right in makes a lot of sense.

I think what has been said about planning to buy two boats makes the most sense--one for the next few years, to kick the tires and learn on, and another a few years down the road once you have enough experience to decide for yourself what to look for. You'll probably never find the best boat for you based on advice from others; you'll get great advice here, don't get me wrong, but everyone has an opinion in sailing, and as you will learn, at lot of them differ!

But while you should be cautious investing your 10 grand, and make sure you get the best boat you can, I think your budget is absolutely reasonable to do some great and exciting sailing. The numbers that other people have cited here aren't wrong, but they aren't necessarily reflective of what you really need if you modify your immediate goals somewhat and make some compromises. Lose the watermaker, the liferaft, a lot of the electronics, make do with some of the existing systems. There's no question that boats are expensive and that you'll end up spending way more on repairs than you ever imagined. That said, I have found that many people will tell you that you need to do a lot of things you really don't. I wouldn't suggest you compromise your safety (although just leaving dry land does that to some extent; you have to decide what you risk tolerance is) but people have been sailing for hundreds of years without the bells, whistles, and intensive maintenance programs that some people now prescribe.

My GF and I are a couple years ahead of you and yours. We got a 33 footer for $15K and we've put about another $10K into it and had great fun on Puget Sound and in the San Juans for the last few years. This year, we're taking her to Alaska. So there is every reason to believe you can get a good start on your dreams for what you have to spend.
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