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Old 06-18-2004
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Help me find my budget dream boat!

This is a tough question. I don''t know what your budget is, so it is a little hard to give you a very specific answer but in a general sense, you are asking for something that is pretty rare.

To begin with the traditional rule of thumb for a distance cruising boat is a displacement of 2 1/2 to 5 long tons per person (roughly 5500 to 11000 lbs). That would suggest a boat between 25 and 30 feet with the boats at the longer end of the range obviously giving more room, speed and in a general sense more seaworthiness.

If you are going to keep your costs down, you are probably looking for a 25 to 40 year old boat. But 25 to 40 year old boats tend to be very tired. Recent studies suggest that fiberglass becomes more brittle over time and that early fiberglass boats, which tend to lack internal framing systems are especially prone to reduced strength due to fatigue and poor layup practices. Unless well maintained and upgraded by the prior owner you can expect to find what I call the ''old boat litany'' on any boat this age. Unless very well maintained and updated by a previous owner, you might expect to need to address some combination of the following items:
∑ Sails, chainplates, mast step and associated suporting structure, standing and running rigging that are beyond their useful lifespan,
∑ an engine that is in need of rebuild or replacement,
∑ worn out or out of date deck, galley, and head hardware,
∑ worn out upholstery,
∑ Out of date safety gear
∑ electronics that are non operational, or in need of updating,
∑ electrical and plumbing systems that need repairs, upgrades to modern standards or replacement.
∑ Blister, fatigue, rudder, rotten bulkheads, failed tabbing, hull deck joint or deck coring problems
∑ Keel bolt replacement (bolt on keel) or delamination of the hull from the ballast for a glassed in keel.
∑ And perhaps a whole range of aesthetic issues.

It can easily cost as much as the boat is worth to address even a partial combination of these items.

Then there is the suitability issue. Most of the boats that get built in any given year (and this is especially true of small boats) are biased towards coastal cruising and club level racing. Small boats designed for offshore were extremely rare in that period in which the prices are likely to be affordable. Small boats generally tend to be shaped to some extent by the racing rules of the era. In the 1960''s this produced boats that had very short waterlines for their length which greatly diminishes thier motion comfort, carrying capacity, seaworthiness, and speed. In the 1970''s small boats were greatly influenced by the IOR Rule which tended to produce boats which were short on stability and motion comfort, and had inconvenient rigs and poor tracking capabilities.

This leaves you looking for something of a needle in a haystack. Probably my default answers would be a F.G. Folkboat (or derivative like a Marieholms, or Contessa 26), a Tartan 27, a Seawind Ketch, or one of the fiberglass H-28 derivatives that were built by a number of companies, with the Tartan 27 being my first choice.

Other choices might include such boats as a Albin Vega, Cal 2-29, Mariner 28, Mirage 27, Morgan 28 (1960''s), Paceship PY26, Pacific Seacraft 25, Rhodes Ranger 38 (which is not the same as a Ranger 28), Sabre 28, Soverel 28, Tartan 30, Westerly 28, Winga 860.

Some of these are pretty modern designs and others are a bit more traditional. My sense is that you would be better served by the boats in the earlier short list but hopefully these will give you a range of designs as a starting point in your search.

Good luck,
Jeff

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