Young guy new to sailing; looking for a well recommended boat. - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 26 Old 06-20-2007 Thread Starter
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Thanks all for the good advice, even though my reply is late. I liked in particular camaraderie's post. I work in high end equipment sales and the bargaining tactics in that post are exactly the same kind of thing I use to close deals with customers.

I still have not bought a boat but I'm still looking for 25-35' boats.

One of the things that has changed since my original post is that I have become somewhat experienced in working with fiberglass and carbon fiber. I even created my own body-kit for my car (An RX-7 FD for anyone interested). This has opened up a huge world of possibilities for me in the boat world.

I think I am going to take a course on woodworking (i.e. cabinet making) and then I'm going to try to find another course locally on wooden ship building.

I think my idea is to find a nice big salvage boat and then just fix the hull, redo the keel and build the inside up to my own standards. I guess I will be on shore for a few more years but I'll have my own customized boat to show for it. I don't mind dropping tons of money into a project. I find that whenever I start saving big sums of money in preparation for some future goal, some kind of event always happens to take that money away from me.

I'd rather chip away at a project slowly over time than watch it elude me every time the dollar fluctuates or a friend or family member needs an emergency loan or something.

Thanks all for the help.
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post #22 of 26 Old 06-20-2007
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Going too big is a huge risk... there are lots of project boats that were bought with the same good intentions you have, by people with more experience in rebuilding/modifying boats, and they've cost the person the chance to go cruising. I think that was a major part of the reason a former sailnet member had to sell his boat... and it was 42', and in need of a lot of work. A couple of good books to read are Sensible Cruising, by Don Casey and Lew Heckler, and This Old Boat, by Don Casey.

I would look for a boat with a solid reputation and that you can take bluewater. A few good choices can be found in John Vigor's 20 Small Sailboats to Take you Anywhere. Near the top of my list would be a Southern Cross 28 or 31 or an Alberg 30 or a Cape Dory 30. These boats are reasonably sized for a single person or couple to live and cruise on, are small enough to easily be singlehanded, even by a relative novice, and the long-term maintenance and upkeep costs won't break the bank either.

One caveat, the Southern Crosses are cored hull designs, and a good survey must be done to make sure that water hasn't gotten into the cored hull, as that is often a fairly extensive and expensive repair. I'd get a full, thorough survey done in any case. The hull and deck, rigging and engine are the major components, everything else is far less important IMHO, and those three items are where the really big bucks for repairs are going to happen. The other stuff is relatively far less expensive to repair or replace in general.

You probably want an older boat, where the interior is built around tabbed in bulkheads and pieces, rather than a newer boat, where much of the furniture and fixtures may be a single piece hull liner. Customizing a newer boat with a hull liner can be much more difficult.

The designs I've mentioned are all full-keel, fairly heavy designs with narrower beams than the more modern designs. They are very seaworthy, and all of them have made circumnavigations, with Donna Lange having just completed one in her SC28...and having survived storms including one that thrashed a 44' steel boat.

It might be worthwhile to look at salvage boats, if you want to get into a project boat for low money. I have two friends who just got a CD 30 that was a storm salvage boat and have gutted her completely in the process of doing a total refit and refurbishment. Unfortunately, in many cases, storm salvage boats can have significant problems with the three major components I mentioned above. However, it may be an alternative source for you—since you seem to want to completely customize the interior.


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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.

óCpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 06-20-2007 at 06:32 AM.
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post #23 of 26 Old 06-20-2007
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Do you have a spot in your own yard to do teh work? if not, the $200-400 for space at a yard can eat away a budget real quick!

A smaller boat in the 25' range to use in the waters here in puget sound for me, sanjuans and north for you will work to get your sea legs. There are numerous boats in the 25-30' range that make good beginner boats to learn on. Then once you have a feel for sailing, then you can make a better "what I want for a cruising south boat".

Cals, Catilina 25, 27 even 30's, San Juan 28's, Islander, Ericson to name a few brands are to be had for the amount you want to spend, are sailable right now vs spending time fixing up a boat. There is one fellow on here that has been working on an Alberg? for 3 yrs now on the hard, and is getting rather frustrated at another season of not sailing, and may end up buying a new rig and spend the same monthly output as the fixer is costing him!

I am not going to say what you should or should not do or buy, as that becomes a personal opinion thing a bit too much.


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post #24 of 26 Old 07-09-2007
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I was in your positon a few years back. When I was 23 I finished college and bought a Pearson Ariel (26ft). I moved aboard and fixed her up over the next year. My plan was to sail down to Mexico from Morro Bay, California. I fulfilled my goal over the course of year, and had a blast. I learned a ton, met great people, and became addicted to the "life".

In retrospect, I should have looked for a better deal, but I was so pumped on getting a boat, I went for it. I got her pretty much bare, and I dumped a lot of money into her that I never saw again (but I guess my purchases did save my life now and again!) I bought her for $5000 and put about 13k into her. But I don't regret if for a second. Next time though I will buy a boat with standing headroom. As I am 6'2", the Ariel's 5'10" didn't quite cut it.

I am a big fan of pocket cruisers (with full keels and/or cutaways). They are cheaper to maintain and outfit, easier to take out for a daysail, and quick and easy to re-sell. I think most of the classic plastics that have been mentioned are great boats. Your Morgans, Pearsons, Bristols, etc... will all do nicely. They are built well and most look lovely as well. Sound construction was important to me, and it paid dividends when I happened to strike a grey whale doing about 5.5 knots (a little more than hull speed) off of Cabo.

I dove the boat that day and a bit of paint was scratched off, but that's it. I got lucky though, as the tail's upstroke missed the stern bilge by a few feet. I heard of another sailor who's boat was struck by the tail in the bilge area and sank. (I guess this is one of the weaker parts of the boat?)

Sorry for the long story. Here are my reccomendations: sound construction, a bit of patience, a good attitude, and a timeline to leave by. Have fun!
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post #25 of 26 Old 07-09-2007
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I forgot to answer a few key points to your main questions. Let's see, I single-handed all 7000 miles of my journey, while using 15 gallons of gas, so I can give a few pointers on what worked and didn't. I used an autohelm tiller pilot to do the job of steering. Whatever auto pilot you choose, it will be your best friend and you life saver. I got the bigger autohelm (I believe it was the ST2000 series?) for boats up to 10,000lbs. It did the job in no wind to a gale off of Cabo Corrientes...until it crapped out going north off of Point Conception in CA. Perfect place for that to happen

It lasted one year. The control panel inside got wet. You can make an accordian covering simple enough to pretty much avoid this. I sent it back to Raymarine and they replaced the system. (2 year warranty) I would buy it again, although a monitor windvane or something like it would be preferable.

I think tiller steering is much better for a smaller boat. Wheels get in the way, there are more moving parts to crap out, and a tiller really lets you feel the boat better. You can also rig a sheet to tiller self steering system if you really want. I had a good set of sails: decent main, light air genny, working jib, storm jib, and a drifter. I used all hank on. Boy was that tiring, but the options of lighter jenny and heavy jib were nice. Like I said, I sailed 7000 miles using 15 gallons of gas. That includes the Baja Bash going north.

The Ariel weighed in at 5200 lbs, and I was comfortable with that. I think the Cal would be okay. Just pick your windows as you slide down the coast. Not a big fan of the exposed spade rudder, but hey, every boat's a trade off. Hope this helped.

Email me if I can help in any way.
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post #26 of 26 Old 07-18-2007
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Having sailed a Cal 25 for three years I can say that there is no way I would take one offshore. Thats a very light boat made for light air racing if its the original model. Later Cal made some that don't have the raised deck like most of them did.

That boat had the mast stepped on the deck and if I remember right the chain plates when thru the deck and ours leaked and thus the cored deck is going to be soaked. Maybe.

The ballast was encapsulated in glass and we got water inside there and it broke open and I patched it. Not a well done effort.

As to to comment about autopilots I can say that we had an old Tillermaster on the 25 and it worked perfectly. Way way better than no autopilot. That old Cal 25 is obsolete for everything. Get something else.
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