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I'm thinking of buying something along the lines of a Catalina 27, or possibly something a little smaller (20' to 23' range) to learn to sail on. Ideally I'd like to sail around the Gulf Islands and explore; probably spending a weekend on board occasionally (with wife in tow), or maybe another couple for a day sail. I will take a sailing course if available, but I think they might be winding down for the season.
Catalinas are very forgiving boats for novice sailors. They are a bit on the beamy side so they're not going to win many races unless it is against other Catalinas but you'll have more room below. If you're thinking about regularly sailing with another couple, I suggest going for the 27. It's still a manageable size for a beginner.
- Am I crazy to buy a sailboat this time of year? I'm thinking I might get a better deal, but might not get as much time on the water. Still it doesn't get "that" cold here.
Not at all. I'm not sure how your seasons are temperature-wise, but if you buy at this time of year it just means you already have the boat and should be ready to hit the water sailing come spring. And, it gives you the down time to make any necessary repairs without taking away from sail time.
My ideal budget is around $5000, but could probably go close to $10000 if I found a fantastic deal, and there seems to be a lot available at this price range.
- Are boats in this price range ('70's vintage mostly) going to fall apart on me in a couple years? Or is it something I'd be able to resell with proper maintenance? I intend to have a sail savvy friend look it over first of course.
You should be able to find something closer to the lower end in price, even more so if you decide on the 20- or 22-footers. Will the boat fall apart? That depends on how much the previous owner(s) neglected the boat and if needed, how much sweat you're willing to put into it for any repairs. Being able to re-sell quickly will depend in part on how much you
neglect it. I think there is a person for every boat, even the old neglected boats.
When buying a boat that old, really think about how much time you want to spend repairing it (if it needs it) or how much money you need to budget to pay someone else to do it.
Catalina and (I think) Hunter have very active owners associations. Speaking for Catalina, each boat category has a website where owners post manuals, step by step instructions on repairs they made, upgrades. It's a good way to find out known issues so that you're aware of what you may get into.
I'm asking mostly because there is a very good chance I'll be moving inland for work in a few years and would need to sell it.
- How does one dispose of a boat that is no longer sail-able? Is there a marine junkyard of any kind?
Catalinas and Hunters do well on the market. Even in this economy when I glance at the listings to see what's out there in the size that we own in our location, the prices have gone up considerably since we bought our boat two years ago and there are fewer listed.
As for disposing of boats, that sort of depends on the condition. Our previous boat was a 22-footer that had sustained damage in an area that prevented it from being sailed and we did not want to put money into repairing it since we were moving on to the next boat. We ended up giving it away to a couple we know who were willing to do the repairs.
Sea Scouts will sometimes accept damaged/neglected/unwanted boats, repair them as team-building exercises or just to learn how to repair different parts of a boat and then sell them at a low cost.
- Is it difficult to repaint a boat? Some that I've seen look very weathered. Do you need a professional to do it like with a car? Or is it something most people could do themselves?
I painted our last boat. It isn't something I did very well nor will I do it again. I also learned that one should not apply wax at dusk.
I chose our marina because of the expertise of the yard. They specialize in all areas of sailboat repairs so that means we don't have to get our boat to another location to have it worked on. So far this has worked really well for us.