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Old 06-09-2006
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More Research: The Balance

When I picked out my list of boats my considerations were based on cost, looks and size. It gives a good understanding of what I'm looking for but in my continued research and suggestions made some other considerations have come into play.

I'm open minded to the boat I get but I want to balance style, function, cost and usage.

So with that, the boat I'm looking for should balance these (as much as possible):

- Living on the boat it should be comfortable. I'm looking for a boat that's comfortable to live, play, work in. It should also be able to accommodate at least one other (if not two) besides myself.

- Being able to singlehand the boat is a must. I often escape alone on camping trips; just pack up my stuff and head out to the woods for a few days. The same should be for the boat. Pack up and head out to sea for a few days.

- Something I can grow into. I'm looking for a challenge. I've sailed in the past and am dusting off my skills by taking classes and crewing at my local yacht club. I'm looking for something that will keep me learning for years to come.

- I'm looking for a cruising boat. Some of the boats I considered are racers that have accommodations. I'm not necessarily looking for that, but something that's going to stand open sea.

- I don't' mind hard work. It's almost obvious the boat is something I'll need to maintain. Putting my work, energy and love into the boat is something I'm more than open to.

Ultimately my dream is to "sail to far off and distant shores." It's a dream right. Who knows how close I'll get. But for me, buying the boat means I'm half way there.

One other thing for me is really getting a solid and throughout understanding of the costs involved. This will help me make an educated decision when purchasing the boat and allow me to plan appropriately. The last thing I want to experience is being trapped by a boat. Even if I know it will cost a lot of money to maintain and I make a decision based on knowing that, I've made the decision knowing what I'm getting myself into. Instead of making the decision and being surprised. Understandably, things happen that are
unexpected. It's no difference than buying a house; I'm just looking to make an educated choice. Also I understand it depends on which boat I purchase, the age etc... However, things like average sail life expectancy, rigging etc... are well know (or should be by now) and knowing what I'm purchasing will allow me to make the gauge when I should expected to incur these expenses.

I've collected information regarding Surveyor cost, hauling out, moorage, electricity etc... I'm comfortable with all of that.

There are, of course, other things that I haven't thought of because I'm not sure what else there is. I understand there are costs involved with registering the boat and taxes (sales). I'm not looking for the specific costs (given they all depend on an almost infinite number of circumstances) but rather, what are some of the other costs separate from maintenance I should consider that I don't yet know about.

I certainly appreciate those of you who will provide through feedback given my concerns. I'm also open to you contacting me directly if you have specific questions or want to provide me with direction outside of this posting.

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Old 06-09-2006
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You're going to have to make compromises. All of us who boat do. Most newbie mistakes are in buying too big. I know people who live on 30 foot boats, and those who cruise on smaller boats. There is a lot to be said for buying a Catalina or Newport 30 or the like and using it for a year or two to learn the local area and learn a lot you will need to know about boats. Nice boats in this range can be had for 15-20k and annual expenses will be half what a 36 footer will be. They will also be much easier to handle and maintain. Enjoy your endeavor and pursue your dreams, but don't rule out starting small, any money you loose on your first boat will be minuscule compared to the mistake you could make by getting the wrong large boat.
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Old 06-09-2006
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With your singlehanding requirement you should be looking for boats that have all the major chores close to hand. Primary winches should be within reach of the normal helm position. A furler will greatly ease use of genoas, especially of you get into a mid-to-high 30s footer from the IOR era with their large masthead rigs. Wrestling a large genoa to the deck, even hanked is quite a chore in a breeze by yourself. If it's in a foil its harder still.
You might say, "I'll get an autopilot so I can run all over the boat while it drives itself".. Reality is that few autopilots will handle all conditions well, and the fact that it is there will encourage you to leave the cockpit to do this or that (skirting, tweaking a leech line etc.) Human nature says that you will not be clipped in EVERY time you do this and so you put yourself and your boat at risk. We find that the Autohelm is really only useful when motoring or while setting or dousing sail.

Avoid boats with excessive control lines like running backstays, keep it simple.

I'd look for newer designs that put more power into the mainsail, e.g. fractional rigs or short J-dimension mastheads to ease the tacking. Best of all try to find a boat that doesn't need overlapping headsails, that really makes life easier, but there are not many of those around.

Without a lot of expensive gear, size is a limiting factor for the singlehander. Keeping the loads down to a manageable level also coincidentally keeps the costs down across the board. Those costs, by the way, vary greatly with boat size and so can't be generalized very well.

Finally, given your intended mix of coastal cruising and potential offshore, I'd still favour a well-found performance cruiser type over the traditional heavy offshore boats. Good Luck.
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Old 06-10-2006
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I'd agree with what Faster said. Also, the well-found performance cruiser will handle in tight quarters, such as docking, far better than a full-keel traditional offshore boat.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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