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Epiphany 10-11-2004 10:34 AM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
I''ve been researching boats and rigs for the past several months, and am now approaching a purchase. I''d like to get your thoughts on any conclusions you think are erroneous, or that I''ve missed completely.

By way of background, I''m a recently-retired 57-year-old male in good physical condition. I have little actual sailing experience, but have leared a lot through reading, the internet and DVD''s, and will take a 14-day offshore training cruise in the Atlantic starting next week.

After I purhase a boat, hopefully within the next couple of months, I plan to hire a qualified captain (already identified and contacted) to come aboard for a couple of weeks in the Caribbean for sailing instruction specific to the boat.

Following a few months of sailing and building skills as a single-hander, I''ll decide whether I want to stay in the Caribbean/U.S. or make ocean passages, and will make the appropriate retrofits and equipment modifications.

In terms of basic specifications, I''ll be looking at boats in the 37-43 foot LOA range, associated minimum displacement of 16,000-24,000 pounds, with a full keel, sloop or cutter rig (with a slight preference for the former), skeg-mounted rudder, relatively small quick-draining cockpit, and small portholes.

Seaworthiness (including ability to heave to), and ease of single-handing (with all lines led back to cockpit, appropriately-sized winches, and electric windlass) are more important considerations than speed.

If I buy a used boat, manufacturers I would consider are Pacific Seacraft, Westsail, Taswell, Cabo Rico, Sabre, Pearson and Morgan. If I buy a new boat, it will almost certainly be a Pacific Seacraft 40.

Any and all comments will be greatly appreciated.

Billpjr 10-11-2004 11:27 AM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
In my opinion, lines leading aft for single handing is a bogus idea. A person still needs to go on deck to furl, etc.. Lines leading aft on the deck make more hassle and get in the way. I didn''t find it "better".

Add Cape Dory to your list and stay with a full keel.

ct 10-11-2004 02:14 PM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
Rather than rely on a hodge-podge of opinion here, I would purchase the book "Choosing a Cruising Sailboat" by Roger Marshall. Marshall is a well known and respected designer. His book is highly rated and enlightening.

I believe that it is available through the SailNet online store.

ct 10-11-2004 02:28 PM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
As I thought the book is availabe here at SailNet. (And no, I''m not on commission.) It''s really great book.

Cut and paste the following into your browser or simply go to the book section of the store.

mmccoy 10-11-2004 02:31 PM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
I''m kind of curious if you are going to be singlehanded why you are choosing such a large (37-43'') boat.

I''m your age, singlehanded, in decent condition and I really REALLY don''t think I''d want to deal with the forces involved with anything larger than I find with my Westsail 32. At a certain point it not only just isn''t fun anymore but could be downright dangerous. And we''re not getting any younger either ;)

Jeff_H 10-11-2004 02:46 PM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
Buying a boat is a highly personal thing. With experience we each develop opinions about what kind of boat, and what kind of sailing style, best suits our individual tastes. There are no universally correct answers when it comes to buying a boat to go single-handed voyaging, just as there is no universally correct route to cruise, or reason to go cruising, or wife to marry.

Opinions are likely to be extremely diverse on any topic related to distance cruising. (For example, If I were going to do some distance cruising again, Cape Dories would be way at the bottom of my list, being of a totally unsuitable design and build quality for my purposes, I would never own another full length keel again, and I consider cockpit lead halyards and control lines, [especially the vang and reef lines] to be essential to safely when single-handing either onshore or offshore. BUT that does not make Billpjr wrong in what he is saying, because for his style of sailing his advice represents the exact right answer for him. And in fairness, I am sure that Billpjr would never want to go offshore voyaging in a boat like mine either.)

Getting to my point, and with all due respect, looking at your post it would appear that you really do not have sufficient experience to make reasonable decisions on what type of boat and how it should be outfitted so that she would suit your needs, and your list of preferences includes such a wide variety of boats and features that it would appear that you are really taking a total shot in the dark. Your list includes so extremely different boats in terms of sailing ability, seaworthiness, motion comfort, purpose, and build quality that I strongly suggest that you need to slow down and spend more time learning to sail and and learning about boats.

To begin with, I would strongly suggest that you start with something smaller. None of the boats on your list would be suitable to learn to sail if you wish to learn to sail well. It won''t happen or at least it won''t happen very quickly. The general list of boats and your size and displacement goals are at direct odds with your goal to learn how to sail in a comparatively short period of time. You would be far better served sailing on as many different boats as you can and then buying a smaller boat and doing some coastal cruising until you come to develop a set of preferences of your own. Thisis a much faster and direct approach and one that is more likely to prove successfulin the long run.

I also agree with CT''s suggestion that you do a bunch of reading. Marshall is certainly one good source of info but I would also suggest that you read opinions across the board so that you experience the range of choices that are out there, and the arguements behind them.

I know just how strong the pull of the sea can be but sometimes the fastest way there means taking things a step at a time, running the whole race rather than trying to start at the finish line.


TrueBlue 10-11-2004 04:38 PM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
I just stumbled upon this site while searching for varied opinions on sailing from experienced sailors and decided that this is as good a time to chime in here (for the first time) as any.

Epiphany . . . I partly agree with Jeff_H, mostly because I like his style, obvious sailing experience and logical way of thinking. However, I also see where you are going with your decision and I can relate on a somewhat less agressive level than yours.

I just turned 54 this week and in three days, will be closing on my first sailboat . . . a Nauticat 33 motorsailor (sure to stir up some some boos and bahhs here, but still a s/v). My former sailing experience is limited to Hobiecats and daysailors in my youth, but recent crewing with friends on 33 to 44 ft sloops, which raised my comfort level with larger sailboats. My decision did not come quickly however. After considerable research, it was a choice made mutually by me and my wife/lifelong first mate. We are former powerboaters (25 years, six boats) in search of a different tack at this stage in our lives than reaching a destination in record time.

With us however, after seeing the world by way of air, land and sea in fast boats, we will be content to simply cruise the east coast, always having the option to control the helm from the pilothouse when weather gets snotty.

I''m not independently wealthy (we all have to serve somebody), so I''ll need to continue with my profession (part-time) to support a "semi-cruising" lifestyle.

Congratulations on your successful retirement and grand dreams for ocean voyaging. I''m envious, in a sadomasochistic sort of way.

The point I am trying to make is to just go for your dream, skip the day-sailor step, but continue with your plans for sailor education. You WILL learn to sail a larger boat, just not as well as others who may have started with smaller sailboats many years ago, working up to larger boats within 15 to 20 years. At that rate, you''d be pushing 80 by the time you move up to that 40 foot dream, not an option in my mind.

Best, Steve

Sailormon6 10-12-2004 06:39 AM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
I agree with Jeff. You have a good plan for accelerating your learning process, but there is just no substitute for time spent with your hand on the tiller and adjusting the sheets in a variety of wind conditions. You can learn the basic principles from an instructor, but, after the instructor is gone, when you are on your own, things will happen that the instructor didn''t tell you about. Sailors spend the rest of their lives learning the finer points of sail trim and helmsmanship and seamanship. If you get caught on a lee shore in heavy weather, you need to know more than the basics to keep the boat off the beach. Small sail adjustments can make a huge difference.

I see people drifting down on other boats because they don''t understand the most fundamental principles of how the rudder and keel work.

Take six months to talk to lots of sailors, boat brokers and other knowledgeable people about different types of sailboats. Ask lots of questions and let them educate you about all your options. After that, you''ll have a better base of knowledge, to help you decide what kind of boat will best suit your needs.

You''re retired, and have time to sail a small boat once or twice a week. You''re young enough that you can afford to spend a year buying and preparing your boat and yourself to do whatever you want to do. If you are over-anxious and get in over your head, it could turn your dream into a nightmare. What you are about to do is worth the time and effort to do it the right way.

Epiphany 10-12-2004 12:23 PM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
Look folks. There''s got to be a happy medium somewhere in here. I genuinely appreciate all your advice, including your admonitions to "do it right". But I''m leaning more toward Nike''s slogan: "Just do it".

I could spend the rest of my life reading books and talking to sailors in the interest of getting ready, and end up dying without ever having set sail. There are just too many experiences to be had and places in the world to see to put off getting started much longer.

Having said that, I''m counting on my upcoming instructional voyage to give me a lot more information on how much I can handle and when. In the meantime, I will welcome whatever additional input you have to offer, particularly with regard to your recommendations of suitable boats.

Thanks so much for your time and consideration.

Jeff_H 10-12-2004 02:23 PM

Boat Choices: Double-Check
''Doing it right'' does not mean not doing it, it means doing it a step at time. No one in their right mind would expect to buy a jet air liner and take off and ''just do it''. Most rational people would expect to work their way up from simple easy to fly aircraft, learning as they went. It is the same with sailing.

I have been involved with literally dozens of people who share your dream, in most cases it takes a couple years (and not a whole lifetime) to learn what they need to make a reasonable boat sellection and learn to sail it well. Those who have followed some reasonable learning process usually end up out there sooner and stay out there longer.

Besides, even the learning period is a fun part of the process as much of the time is spent out of the water and jawboning with fellow sailors.


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