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Old 11-20-2012
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jimgo jimgo is offline
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Second boat suggestions?

We had our 1984 Catalina 25 (swing keel) for one season before she was totaled last month in Hurricane Sandy. I'd like to replace her with something in the 27-32 range. "We" comprises myself (novice sailor), my wife (even more novice), and our two boys ages 7 and 4. We learned this season that we need a boat that has a decent size cabin so the boys have a place to play comfortably while the boat is underway. The C25 fit that bill, but only barely. The vee-berth was their favorite place to hide (I had "stuff" stowed in the aft quarter berth or they would have liked hiding there too) while playing games and reading. That bought us 2-3 hours in which my wife and I could (sometimes) enjoy sailing.

We sail in mostly shallow waters - low tide is no more than 2-3' in many parts of the bay. We're considering moving to the lower Barnegat Bay instead, but even there there's a lot of skinny water. Our goal is to have a draft that's no deeper than 4', and preferably in the lower 3's or less, because that gives us a lot of freedom in our preferred sailing area. We'd like something that could handle trips in the ocean, but mostly fair weather trips - we'd be making a run from Ocean City/Barnegat out to Cape May or something like that, not a blue water trip.

I've decided that I have a strong preference against another swing keel (though I won't rule it out). I think I like the idea of a wing keel much better, as I don't have to worry about the lifting mechanism breaking. Of course, in most of the water in which I sailed, we were never deep enough to actually let the keel crash into the trunk (the keel would have stuck in the bottom), but it did occasionally get to 7-10 feet.

I learned last season that I really want the next boat to have a wheel. I know I'll give up "feel" but it seems to me that the wheel makes the cockpit much more conducive to having the entire family above decks (since I don't have to worry about whacking anyone in the head/body with a 4' mahogany staff as I'm trying to keep us from crashing into channel markers - yes, learned that one the hard way, sorry son!).

I also learned last season that my boys LOVE swimming off the boat. That is huge, because it gives them a reason to want to go for a sail. Getting aboard the C25 via the swim ladder was difficult, to say the least. The stern rail is solid and leans outward a bit, making getting aboard awkward for me (5'11"). My boys had trouble tucking under the stern rail, too. Plus the ladder didn't go up high enough for them to climb aboard easily. So, we really want something with a decent swim ladder/swim platform/scoop transom.

Other nice to have options: 1) good visibility, even for kids in the cockpit. The C25's cabin stuck up rather high, making it very difficult for them to see what's going on ahead of us. 2) reasonable "standing" room in the cabin. 3) Separate head. 4) Ability to sleep at least 3 comfortably. 5) reasonably easy to single-hand (for while my wife or I am below wrangling kids). 6) catbird/stern seats. 7) double lifelines.

I'm not partial about the style of engine - inboard or outboard are OK. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I took my wife to see an O'Day 272LE a few weeks ago. She commented that the added beam made her feel more comfortable in the cabin, so a 9+' beam is on the "must have" list, too.

And, I know everyone will ask about budget - we need to stay under $10,000.

My short list is currently:

O'Day 272LE - wing keel (2'11" draft) - the "swim platform" makes this especially attractive
Catalina 27 - shoal draft (3.4' draft)
Hunter 27 - shoal draft or wing (3.3-3.5' draft)

I've also seen an Allmand 31 that looks nice. I know the beam and shallow keel on that mean that sailing to windward in a strong wind will be a challenge. But in my case, I need to prioritize comfort over performance. If I went with a J-24, for example, I'd be solo most of the time. My kids might enjoy the extra speed, but at their age their attention span isn't long enough for the extra speed/performance to outweigh the ability to hide below in comfort and watch a movie while mom and dad enjoy a sail.

So, have I missed any good (or at least decent) boats that are in my budget? Most of the boats I've seen that meet my needs have a 4' or deeper draft, or are too new to be in my price range.
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Home: Western Philly 'burbs
1980 Allmand 31
1975 Albacore 15


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