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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum
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  #1  
Old 07-15-2001
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Boxer Ruby is on a distinguished road
Looking For A First Coastal Cruiser

I am a first time boat buyer looking for advice. My only sailing experience is in a Sunfish (20 yrs ago) but my wife and I would like to pick up an inexpensive coastal cruiser for Florida & Bahama adventures to learn on. Its only the two of us and the dog (Ruby). Any suggestions on size, brands, etc. would be appreciated.

Thanks and wish us luck!
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2001
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jack_patricia is on a distinguished road
Looking For A First Coastal Cruiser

Boxer, first off...what a great boat dog a Boxer is! Or at least ours sure did love the water. Ahh, the memories...

You have so many choices in front of you - and we know so little about your finances, how soon you plan to get beyond home waters, your hoped-for lifestyle afloat - that plucking out a specific boat mfgr. or model may not be real helpful (tho'' it sure is fun!). Perhaps Jeff will chip in with some boat recs, since he certainly has an abundant knowledge of older as well as newer models.

Instead, let me offer a couple of related suggestions...
1. Get some sailing experience on a mix of boats before firming up any opinions about which boat is for you. Multiple sails, perhaps in varying weather conditions, on multiple boats is a great way to learn what''s important to you. Sailing clubs, networking at marinas, meeting others at USCG & Power Squadron classes, the local college sailing program (if they have one) are all viable ways to begin getting on the water, not to mention chartering different boats for weekend sails with a skipper (initially). Also, don''t overlook Sailboat Shows that offer free sailing; the Sail Expo show in St. Pete is at a great location on the Bay''s edge and offers showgoers sailing in a mix of boats every day of the show, all for the price of admission.
2. Sailing along the Florida coast, laced on virtually all 3 sides by the ICW, can be relatively unchallenging to a boat if sailed cautiously. Sailing to/from & in the Bahamas is a different story: it''s great cruising with many protected anchorages, but moving a boat across the Gulf & thru even one region of the islands can be extremely demanding on both the boat & the crew''s skills. For this reason, your question is a little like asking what kind of car should you buy to drive around town and in the State Fair stock car race. Give some serious thought to either buying a smaller/cheaper boat for your intro period with the expectation that you may need to move up (in offshore capability tho'' perhaps not more in size) if you begin island cruising.
3. Were we to be cruising with a dog, I''d think about companionway height and sufficient tankage for ongoing dog hygiene that will keep belowdecks clean. This isn''t much of a challenge on a weekend sail but can be a big one when in the islands (with limited water supplies ashore) for an extended period. I''ll add that IMO I think most dogs - especially bigger breeds - don''t belong on sailboats despite the fact that they like being with the masters; it''s often just not a comfortable place for them, and it is harder these days to take a pooch ahsore for a walk. Just food for thought...

Good luck on diving in!

Jack
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  #3  
Old 07-17-2001
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Boxer Ruby is on a distinguished road
Looking For A First Coastal Cruiser

Thanks for the insight Jack. Let me give you a bit more info on our plans. I realize that I should get some time on the H20 before I go out an plop down the cash. But I also realize that I probably will never get on the big lake unless I jump in. Having this realization keeps my budget rather low (<15k) since I do realize my uneducated actions can leave me looking at a rotting heap and staring at an unanswered ad in the Boat Trader.

Our original thoughts were that we needed 28 and up to be comfortable for 2-7 days out and to cross the 58 miles to the Bahamas from our home in Lauderdale. However I never realized that that journey can be so trecherous and will gladly limit myself to the Keys until my male ego takes charge again and I point the bad boy east or plop down more cash for a more seaworthy vessel.

Having this type of budget has changed our perspective on our search. We have rationalized that we can sacrifice length for beam and still remain comfortable. For example Westerly made a 24 in the late 70''s with a 10''6" beam & Irwin''s 25 of the same era had a 10''4" beam. Each have inboards and holding tanks which I think are the most important features for overnights. Is this reasoning appropriate or am I way off base?

Also how important is the inboard? I have been told that swells can keep an outboard''s prop out of the water making motoring ineffective. (And I gather that would not be a good situation with approaching weather.)

Thanks again for the insight and again wish us luck. I don''t believe there''s much that can stop me now! See you on the water!
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Old 07-18-2001
JeffH
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Looking For A First Coastal Cruiser

Beam is not a substitute for length. In all studies that I know of that have looked at seaworthiness and comfort at sea, the single most significant factor was length. Then weight distribution. The hull shape.

Beam provides a ''feel good''sense of roominess on the mooring or at a boat show, but in real sailing conditions, such as the short chop of the Keys and the oft times nasty conditions of a Bahamas crossing, you would be better off trying to find a longer narrower boat. Fortunately, to some extent, boats seem to be priced by their perceived volume and quality. So you should be able to find a longer narrower boat at a similar price to a shorter, beamer boat.

Jeff
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Old 07-18-2001
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mmatthews is on a distinguished road
Looking For A First Coastal Cruiser

Jack: If you''re looking for a great coastal cruiser, consider the Westerly Centaur. It''s 26 feet, has 6-foot head room, and a three foot draft allows it to get in where alot of other boats can''t. The boat has bilge keels that allow it to be beached at high tide. The in board diesel just keeps plugging along! We sailed ours from San Francisco to Charleston over two years and are now looking for a good home for it!

In any event, feel free to contact me about it and any other questions. mmatthews@sailnet.com
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Old 07-20-2001
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Looking For A First Coastal Cruiser

I''d have to agree with mmathews. For the amount of money you have in the kitty it''s hard to find a boat as accommadating as the Westerly Centaur. It''s only fault is in being a slow boat, other than that it does sail quite well and has weathered many storms.
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