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Old 08-29-2004
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Looking for daysailer input

For the past two years I have been learning/sailing on a Beneteau First235. Although it puts me at a disadvantage relative to those who learn to sail on dinghy, I am still having a good time and know more than when I started.

After sailing a few years, I have come to feel that the First235, while a reasonably nice cruiser/racer, is not ideal for my circumstances. In particular, the cockpit is way too small: three seems crowded!

I have a wife and two children, a brother-in law, a mother, and niece, all of whom would like to go out sailing, many of them at the same time. I would much prefer to have room for 8, if possible. While 8 might fit on the Beneteau, most of them would need to be in the cabin, which is not a great place to spend the afternoon if you are wanting to be outdoors.

The kind of sailing I do is daysailing on a lake, so the relatively large cabin has been underutilized to say the least (we have never spent the night inside, or even anchored to have a picnic below). So, I can certainly do with much less cabin space.

What boats are out there that would be good daysailers with large cockpits around 20-25 feet or so (under $10,000)?

My early research has brought up the following boats:
PEARSON ENSIGN - huge cockpit, much slower than the F235, inexpensive used (but most probably need work)
COLGATE 26 - large cockpit, but much more expensive than my budget
J22 - moderately large cockpit, racing boat
Capri 22 or 25 - don''t know much about these other than the vague notion that they are the "racing" versions of the Catalina 22 and 25.

One advantage of the Ensign is that it is one of the one-design fleets supported at our local sailing organization (other fleets supported include Catalina 22, SouthCoast 21, and J-24).

Anyone with thoughts on the above boats? Are there other boats out there with really large cockpits, that are made for daysailing? Would also be good not to drop too much in performance relative to the Beneteau.

Thanks for suggestions.
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Old 08-29-2004
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Looking for daysailer input

While the Ensign is a nice daysailor, and has a solid following, the cuddy really doesn''t help you much, and as you said, they''re slower and likely to be in need of repair. I''d vote for the J/24. The cockpit is pretty ample, and cushions could make it fairly comfortable. The deck is huge, so you could have everyone bring a friend if they wanted, and you''d still have room to throw the tiller over to tack. When the kids get older you''ll have the option of weekend gunkholing/campouts if you''d like to use the cabin. Should racing become an interest for someone in the family, J/24''s offer enough performance to make that interesting. The fact that there are so many racing fleets will also keep the resale option open when that time comes. J/24''s are also likely to be a little tired, but the oldest J/24 is still at least 10 years newer than the newest Ensign, no? A boat''s degreee of "tiredness" can be worked into the pricing quite easily, and allow you to get new sails, new running rigging, a new porta-potti, a new stove... The mind boggles! Have fun & sail fast!
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Old 09-01-2004
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Looking for daysailer input

We loved our Ensign. Slower than the J-24 but you can''t beat the cockpit for comfort and for social sailing. It is also a very forgiving boat for those relatively new to sailing. It is a great family daysailer.

Because of the full keel, it is not at its best in light winds, so if your prevailing local winds are light, you might prefer the J-24.

Ensigns are not delicate boats and were sturdily built, which is why you still see so many of them around. (Ours was built in the mid-sixties.) Maybe you could use the money you save to buy some new sails. We bought it to determine whether we would sail enough to justify buying a bigger boat and we used it nearly every summer week-end for several years. (We now have a C&C 36.)

One vote for the Ensign.
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Old 09-01-2004
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Looking for daysailer input

You might consider a Cal 25(Mk I, 1965-~1976). The cockpit is around 7.5 feet. The C25 has good following & still has one design fleets scattered around the nation. Nice little boats that sail well.
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