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cbjwarner 05-23-2006 10:39 PM

Marine desiring first boat to live on and have a few adventures on the east coast

I am an East coast Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC on New River. My marina is about ten miles inland. I am looking to buy my first boat. I plan on slipping at the on-base marina, living on the boat year round, and taking her out on the weekends. I would also like to take a few longer trips to Annapolis, MD and/or Charleston, SC, etc.

I like the idea of going offshore more than staying in the river all the time, although I am sure I will spend plenty of time in the river as I continue to learn the basics of sailing. Other related interests of mine are scuba and occasional fishing.

These are the things I am looking for in a boat:

• I need to be able to finance and I want something used so I don’t loose a third of my money when I sell it in a couple years. Having said that, I am willing to pay up to 50k for a boat that I will enjoy being on and around all the time for the next two years.

• I would rather not have to do a lot of maintenance just to get the thing in the water right at first. However, I will be in an environment where I can continue to learn and tinker a bit as I get to know my boat and enjoy it. I want the freedom of owning a boat that I am not afraid to drill holes in, customize, and make my own.

• Storage space and a functional galley are more important to me than a hot shower and a high class head. I can shower and shave at the marina.

• I want as big a boat as I can reasonably handle solo both 15 miles offshore and in the river.

• I want a boat that can take a little offshore weather for those longer voyages along the coast.

• I also want a decent motor for the bad headwind days when I need to get back up the river before 0600 the next morning.

A Marine who lives on his boat thought I might have a better chance finding a boat in Annapolis than down here. There are not many sailors in NC from what I hear. Is it worth making the road trip?

Semper Fi,

c2cSailor 05-25-2006 02:08 PM

Check out
I would agree that a road trip to Annapolis would be worth the drive if you found a suitable boat. I would look for something in the 30-34ft range for single handed as a guideline. The older the boat you buy, the larger the size you may be able to afford. But don't forget, each additional foot of boat length is exponentially more expensive to maintain since we are dealing with volume, not a linear function.

I would also strongly suggest you buy a brand name that is still being sold today if you plan to resell and actually find a buyer a couple years down the road. For example, I've seen a Columbia Constellation on yachtworld that is in great shape for the age, but one would be hard pressed finding a buyer for a boat that has stopped being manufactured several years ago.

The article arhieve on Sailnet is a great place to narrow your search. Browse articles by Topic, then read through Buying a Boat articles.

Good Luck!

devildad 05-25-2006 03:25 PM

Older Catallinas are worth a look, they are still in business and you can get parts. They are fine coastal boats. Lin and Larry Pardee have written a wonderful book about how to go through the process, they recommend spending some time with a sailboat surveyer and I strongly agree. Not only might they know what might be on the market and values, but they can listen to your needs and make recommendations accordingly,they would be worth hiring for and hour to help you make a list, a dealer would be biased. Annapolis is great, so is Beaufort NC, Oriental NC, Hampton, VA and Deal MD. Get a copy of Sail and Soundings mgs and look through the ads. If you found something in Fl, it would be an easy trip up the intercoastal so dont rule that out. And lastly, have the boat surveyed, I promise the surveyer will find enought to make the cost of the survey worth it.
Michael B

maxbumpo 05-25-2006 03:50 PM

I'll second the recommendation for a survey. I'd also add that you may want to consider the services of a boat broker.

I think that the Naval Academy has a boat re-selling office, to pass on boats that are donated by former alumni and to raise non-profit money - check them out, they had a website when I looked a couple years ago.

sailingdog 05-25-2006 04:20 PM

I would recommend a boat in the 28-35 foot range. Anything longer will be much more expensive to both maintain and store. Dock and marina fees are based on the length of the boat, and the size of a lot of the gear goes up with a larger boat, and so does the cost of maintaining and replacing it... like sails, rigging, hardware, etc. Also, boats larger than this become a bit much to single-hand, unless specifically equipped for such use.

A survey is an excellent idea. But get your own surveyor, not one recommended by the seller or seller's agent. A boat broker may or may not be a good idea. Generally, IMHO, they're not quite as useful for people looking for lower cost boats, as they have less incentive to really help you find one to buy.

A couple more good magazines to get are Good Old Boat and Spin Sheet.

arja 05-25-2006 04:47 PM and surveyor
I'd also look under and check out prices, location and type/size of sailboats. You can reference reviews of any boat you are interested in on Sailnet and Before you buy, clearly a surveyor should be used for your protecion and understanding of any weaknesses the boat or its equipment has, which will help establish a fair price. To single hand, I'd make sure any vessel has gps, radar, autopilot, head sail roller reefing and main reefing, self tailing winches and a windless. I might also consider a cutter with two head sails roller reefed to permit easier sail management. Good luck in your search. You should check out Oriental NC, the self described sailing capital of NC for possible boats as well.

jared 05-25-2006 05:57 PM

The "on base, in service" marina rates you are entitled to are a great benefit. Just be warned, staying anywhere else is gonna be a rude surprise on the east coast if you aren't familiar with marina rates.

I'd suggest taking some "bareboat" or "passagemaking" course with a good sailing school, both will teach you more about small boat systems and how to inspect and maintain them yourself, and you'll usually find the staff very willing to go into more detail with you, and discuss liveaboard issues as well.

Even if you have no interest in it, I'd also suggest a beginning and intermediate racing course, because racing carries over into a crusier's lifestyles--when you need to get back against tide and wind for reveille, THAT'S RACING and the performance sailing tricks you learn, will work just as well when you're only racing the clock.<G>

Again, the staff and the other sailors you meet, will be a good source of information.

But a Marine actually *doing* something on a boat, instead of being carried by it? Isn't that against the Joint Operations rulebook? <VBG>

sailingdog 05-25-2006 09:44 PM

Another good reference to read is the Practical Sailor Magazine's two-volume boat buying set.

Jeff_H 05-25-2006 11:08 PM

A few quick points,
  • In your current sailing venue i would try to limit your maximum draft to 5'-6" with 5 feet or less being quite convenient.
  • In the soft mud of South Carolina I would avoid a wing keel.
  • With the rapid currents I would try to find a boat with a reasonable turn of speed or you will spend your life motoring.
  • If you plan to single-hand offshore I would look look for a boat with a displacement that is in the range of 5,500 to 11,000 lbs with the upper end of the range being better than the lower since you visualize long legs.
  • Since your dockage is cheap where you are, and you plan to go offshore, I would look for a boat that has a comparatively long waterline length and comparatively short ends, even of that means that you end up with a 35 or even 38 footer.
  • Given that you prefer taking longer offshore legs, I would suggest that you try to find something a little more robust than a Catalina.
Good luck,

LyleRussell 05-26-2006 01:08 PM has been the best source of listings and pictures I have found.


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