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Boat selection advice needed.....
My wife and I are looking at buying another sailboat. Five years ago we chartered a Cat with a Capt in St Vincent and previously had done a couple of Windjammer cruises. We decided to take an ASA three day weekend class in Pensacola for Memorial Day 4 years ago. We were hooked and bought an inexpensive older Macgregor 26D and sailed it on a local NE Georgia Lake and a few trips to the FL Pan Handle. It was a great boat to make mistakes on. Not the best boat to spend more than a few days one but we did several week long trips and learned more and more. We wanted more cabin room so we made an offer on a 2000 Macgregor 26X and went New Years two years ago all the way to Maine to trailer her home. The fun we had on that trip was worth half what we paid for the boat. We wanted this boat to see if we could go on longer trips and still be able to work our regular jobs. (Inspiration from the book the Four Hour Workweek). I didn’t want to sink a lot into a new boat and only be able to spend a few weekends on it. We hauled it down to the Key this Jan and have spent about 7 weeks on her. Mostly one week and a time and the last was for 3 weeks. We have decided that we can make the “floating office” work. Neither boat is a great boat to sail on but we have had lots of fun and I wouldn’t trade the experience.
I would love to get some ideas and advice on a more serious sailboat. I have read and read this forum and have picked up on many great ideas but would like some advice specific to us.
No Kids but would like to have other couples come and spend several days on the boat with us. We would like to have room for family and friends for a few days.
We don’t want a boat that is too big. Costs, handling it etc. I would think between 28’ and 36’ tops. More likely a 29-32 footer.
Budget: Prefer under $40k but could go to $60k if the higher priced boat was the best choice
Cruising Grounds: Fl Keys, Bahamas, would like to be able to go up the West coast of FL into the Pan Handle or up the East Coast to the Chesapeake. I don’t see being able to spend months in the Carib in the near future but a bluewater capable boat would give us growing room. I do want to be able to go over to the Bahamas and be able to handle what might get thrown at us. Keys and Bahamas have thin water so a shallower draft boat would seem to be a better option.
Cabin: We must be able to use it as a floating office so a good seating arrangement would be a must. A Nav Table with separate seat would be a big plus. Good ventilation is a must for where we would cruise.
Performance: We are not racers and prefer stability vs speed. My wife does NOT like the tender characteristics and quick to heel nature of our Macgregor. She prefers not to experience quick healing. We are still learning so a forgiving boat is a must.
Mechanical: I can do some things but I am not Mr Fixit. The time I have available I would like to be out on the water vs working on a fixer upper.
We don’t like to spend time in a Marina so would anchor out while on the boat. We may opt to haul out vs a wet slip between trips. Depends on cost. Need a boat that would not be an issue when it comes time to haul out.
Would like a boat that has a roomy cockpit and good swim access.
Any ideas or suggestions to help us narrow down the large number of makes and models would be great.
All the best,