Re: What to look for in a new boat
Marina vs. Yacht Club
These things aren't exclusive. We're in a marina and we belong to a yacht club. Both have picnics, get togethers, BBQ's, etc.
Like yacht clubs marinas have personalities. Find out if it's a party hearty marina that's roaring until 3am on weekends of if you'll hear the crickets by 11. Have there been theft problems? What's the condition of the docks, shore power and restrooms? Do you have clear access in and out of the marina or can sailboats only get out around high tide?
Look at what's outside the marina. By that I mean bars, restaurants, diners, sub shops, ice cream shops, a nearby supermarket, a marine supply store or West Marine (boats break). And don't forget traffic. A marina may seem wonderful but if you have to drive a half hour every time you need a nut, bolt or screw you won't be happy. You'll be spending a lot of time at the boat so these things are important. And what about a pool and/or a hot tub? Some people will poo poo this but we had them at a previous marina and I miss it.
They're all good boats. I'm in the Catalina camp and can't say enough about their customer service. We're on our second Catalina and as someone else said they seem to get the price/performance/quality balance right most of the time for us. That said we have friends who sail Hunters and Beneteaus who love their boats.
Since you're looking at a used boat condition and maintenance will be big factors. You'll have fewer problems with a boat that's been well maintained. Some boats will just feel "right" to you.
Involve your wife in the process and spend some time aboard each boat. Sit in the cockpit and in the salon. Is it comfortable? Are their places to curl up with a book? To mount a TV? Stand in the galley - can you prep a real meal or is heating up Dinty Moore pushing it. How about storage?
But don't get too caught up in all this. Shopping for a boat should be fun! And unless you buy a condo-slip you can always cast off the lines and move to another marina (we did).
Best of luck in your search,
95 Catalina 30 Island Time
“The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." - Henry David Thoreau