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Old 06-16-2004
caswell caswell is offline
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Help me find my budget dream boat!

I''m in the middle of working towards a dream which has possessed me for the past year - a slow, extended, single-handed cruise from Ireland (where I live) to Spain, the Canaries, the Carribean and (possibly!) beyond.

I''ve been crewing for over a year on several boats and have over 2000 miles under my belt, including lots of night, anchoring and other experience and some heavy weather experience. I''ve done a few weeks intensive dingy-sailing, had a taste of the Atlantic off the Irish West coast and around the Canaries, done basic navigation and VHF courses, and read and read and read countless books and magazines. I''ve been up the mast, alone at the helm all night beating into a F7 and helped a friend change his stern gland and cutlass bearings. Now I feel I''m ready to buy my own boat.

I have an idea what I want. I want a boat that''s solid, simple and easy to handle and maintain. Speed, space and luxury are all secondary criteria. I''ve no problem economising on water or diesel, so tanks aren''t hugely important (within reason). I''m used to living simply and actually enjoy it. Most importantly, since I have little money, I am looking for something as cheap as possible!!

Some of the things I''d like (or think I''d like) in a boat are:

- A long keel the length of the hull (for steady handling and gripping waves in heavy weather)

- A solid skeg rudder hung from the stern (simple and easy to get at if necessary)

-A high positive stability range

-A separate forecabin and separate head

After looking at the boats available, the little money I have and the criteria above, I''ve had a few ideas:

Realistically I''m looking for something 25'' to 29''. I''ve discounted a Folkboat because of the wood (weaker than GRP and needs more attention). However I''m very attracted to David Sadler''s boats (which I believe are partly based on the Folkboat). The Sadler 25 is a possibility, and I''d love an unsinkable Sadler 26 or Sadler 29 - but they''re out of my price range. I''m also attracted to the Contessa, especially the cheaper Contessa 26. However there don''t seem to be too many of these for sale in Europe.

I''ve read a little bit about Carl Alberg''s Pearson Triton, which I believe was also influenced by the Folkboat and seems very affordable. However there don''t seem to be any of these for sale in Europe.

I would be very, very grateful if any experienced sailors and cruisers could offer their views on my plans and my search for an affordable boat for long distance, long term cruising. Am I on the right track? Do you know of any other boats that might fit my criteria? What might be the best way to find such a boat?

I know that picking the right boat involves a series of trade-offs, and I''m not expecting perfection - especially on my budget! My plan is to sail the boat for a year in Irish waters while outfitting it and honing my skills before heading off towards the end of the summer of 2005. Any ideas or other help would be much appreciated!

Thank you very much.
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