age and boat buying
rossir: Here's another voice to let you know you are not alone! I'm 52. I became interested in sailing over 15 years ago. I spent the ensuing years reading everything I could get my hands on, and dreaming all the while. I read lots about "getting your first boat", and weighed the big-versus-small issue carefully. I compromised...I finally got my first "real" sailboat about three years ago, and it was a 25-footer. We had to move to another part of the U.S., and sold our boat. I had many regrets about not having a sailboat, but I had to get used to the new city and surroundings, so I did not bring my first sailboat with me. I finally reached a point where I felt it was time. Once again...boat size came into question. I am 5'11" and 170 lbs. and my wife is a very energetic 106 lbs. She also loves to sail. We decided that my years of study might compensate for our relatively small fund of experience. In particular, we wanted to spend as much time on the boat as possible, which meant many overnights. Comfort was therefore a factor, with the boat having to double as sleeping quarters. Our prior boat was nice, but felt sometimes like camping in a small tent on overnights. There was an earlier comment about comfort as a positive factor when dealing with a lukewarm spouse. I agree. Nothing will kill your chance to sail as easily as a spouse who hates your boat. We went contrary to conventional wisdom about boat size, and bought a 42-foot sailboat on a large lake within driving distance from home. Some would see our lack of extensive experience as a real problem. I anticipate some criticism on this board for the way I have approached this.
My wife loves the boat. I have moved ahead carefully with it. Our neighbors at our dock are incredibly generous in lending a hand and giving advice. I'm still at the steep part of the learning curve withthe boat, and will be for some time. So far, the greatest challenge has been gracefully backing the boat into the slip.
We plan to eventually retire to live full-time on a sailboat, and to cruise long distance. I felt that getting competent handling a larger boat was the right way for us to meet our eventual goal.
My take-home lessons from my personal situation:
1) Conventional wisdom is great, but do what feels right in your own judgment.
2) Be realistic: know your own limitations. This does not preclude being a bit bold, but you must consider the consequences of inadequate preparation and inappropriate risk-taking
3) Prepare, read, then prepare some more. While nothing is a substitute for hands-on experience, understanding underlying principles and how to approach situations can take you pretty far
4) Go for it!
5) The best boat in the world for you is the one that will get you out there happily on the water....today!
6) Pick a safe place to begin sailing, and NEVER go out early on in extreme conditions or if severe weather is in the forecast. Hopefully choose a place where, if you get into trouble the lee shore is not 3000 miles away!
7) You are only too old if you think you are!