First time sail boat buyer
First, if you''re smart, you will print off Jeff''s reply and save it. In the odd event that you really do end up being as interested (and involved) in sailing as you profess, Jeff''s remarks are well worth reflecting on at length. I don''t agree with every word (see below) but IME you rarely run across such a useful, concise summary description of starter ''cruising'' boats and general, good gouge. Especially since so many of those boats are dated, which is what we mere mortals can afford, such info can be hard to find.
Second, I can not fathom how you ''know nothing about sailing'' and yet ''know'' you must do it. Taking you at your word, there''s no doubt but that you need some experience before you need a boat. It turns out that we ''sailors'' find many different things to be rewarding when we ''sail''. In fact, I find sailing normally pretty boring tho'' I enjoy being on the water; it''s the allure of visiting foreign ports, of managing my very own ''space ship'' as I travel to foreign lands that is my turn-on. Some get the juice flowing by sailing competitively, others by sailing ''well'', others by stroking and fondling their pristine boat while she sits in a slip, rarely used. ''Sailing'' means many, many different things to different folks, and the only way you''ll know what truly is worthy of your time, energy & far more $$ than you''d like to hear about is thru experience.
Now, having said all that, here are a few quibbles/additions to Jeff''s notes:
1. Put an Albin Vega next to the Albin Ballad; hardly anyone knows these boats today (ditto for the Cumulus) but of the 3 models, the Vega was built in the largest numbers, routinely crossed oceans, and yet was the sweetest sailing boat I''ve ever been aboard. It was 27'' LOA and had an inboard Volvo.
2. And it had no spade rudder/fin keel, which is another quibble I have with Jeff''s comments, tho'' he''s generally on the money with that remark. My point is that you don''t discount a sweet sailing boat because it doesn''t fall into some arbitrary classification.
3. Cal 27''s and 2-27''s were made into the early-mid 80''s and were great starter boats in California (where virtually all sailing other than San Diego Bay is ''offshore sailing'' - and I include San Fran Bay in that latter category!)
You are waaaay early in the process (which is where every single one of us has been, so that''s not in any sense a negative) and so, feeling like your outside the ballpark, peeking over the fence, you may not realize what follows. Hope I don''t offend but these are super important points for you to consider:
1. Almost any marina and yacht club doesn''t mind well-intentioned interlopers who properly ID themselves, ask to walk the docks, and generally ''big nose'' around the place.
2. Many folks with boats would welcome an interested novice who''d be willing to trade a little sweat equity (wash down the boat after a sail; bring the chips & beer; whatever) for a day on the water. OK, so maybe the guy who''s finally managed to get that cute gal at work to spend the day with him doesn''t fit this description, but lots do: older folks, single folks, sailors who want to spread the joy, etc.
3. Given 1 & 2 above, you can find tons of opportunities to get on the water at zero expense (beyond some effort & a few munchies) and, because this would mean sailing with a variety of folks, you''ll learn far more - about sailing & boats, as well as yourself - than with 1 "professional instructor" or on your own boat. Racers need crew...and what you don''t know, you can learn. Maybe a racing boat isn''t your first sail, but it''s not a stretch to join a crew that''s minus a sick crewmember for sail #5 or #10, perhaps in a Wed night Beer Can race (informal, still competitive). Read the Bulletin Boards at all those marinas/yards/clubs you visit, stick up some ''Bright Lawyer/Dumb Sailor'' ads of your own, and generally cruise around just being ''you'', introducing yourself in a way comfortable to you, and asking each skipper if they know of someone looking for crew or help aboard the boat for the day. (After all, you need to learn about boats FAR more than you need to learn about sailing!)
I''ll be around here for a few weeks (before heading back to Trinidad) so, like Jeff, I''d be glad to field any specific, add''l questions you might have. Hope some of this is helpful, as sailing & cruising have added immeasureably to my and my wife''s life and we certainly would like to pay it forward a bit, if possible.