Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 07-26-2016 Thread Starter
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Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

A week ago this coming Friday I received my US Sailing Basic Keelboat certification.

Got bit by the bug after America's Cup in Chicago. Took 16hr Basic Sailing first, then 16hr Advanced Sailing. J22s, J30s, Tartan T-10. I now have the availability to rent some Hunter 32s from the school as well as the other mentioned boats.

Grew up boating every summer vacationing on Door County. Power boats and sail boats. New to sailing my own boat, but not new to boating in general.

Lots of Pearson 25s, Cal 2 27s, Irwin 30s, Hunter 25.5s, O'Day 27s pop up when I search Sailboatlistings.com in my surrounding area.

Budget is $5000 max. I have been combing throughout the forum and see posts from folks that say $4000 spent on a 25' is better than $4000 on a 27'. Idea being the smaller more expensive boat will need less immediate up keep...

Im not afraid of a challenge or doing most my own work. Do most my own work to my two motorcycles, including cosmetic and engine maintenance. I look forward to the boat giving me lots of projects to be proud of once completed with fair amount of elbow grease.

I intend to day sail singlehanded 2-3 times a week. Take the wife and some family/friends out 2 weekend days per month. Whether the wife or a buddy will come with me, there will be quite a few weekend trips to Milwaukee or Indiana. And a pipe dream to race the Mack, but that will be a few years.

Wish list based on my limited knowledge and my instructor's suggestions, tiller steering, inboard(so it can charge the batteries), enclosed marine head(no porta potty), sink for washing hands, ice box, stove for morning coffee and left overs... Spinnaker not necessary as I don't know how to use it but I'd love to have the option to learn. I am not interested in a 22' boat. 25' at least I'm confident.

The Hunters have the pop top feature which is great, I'm 6'4". The idea of a boat labeled Racer/Cruiser is great. The Tartan T-10 we learned on was awesome. Flat deck, not very wide beam, sliced through the water much nicer than the J-30, and I barely know about boats..

I should say that I won't purchase until March or April 2017, unless the perfect deal hits me upside the head this October or November before storage season.

I know this has been done 1000 times, but if anyone feels like talking their first $5000 boat and all the love/heartache, I'm all ears.

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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

The frist thing that always comes to mind, when talking about $5,000 sailboats, is that one be absolutely sure it doesn't need $5,000 worth of work on sails, rigging, the motor or the hull, and one actually paid anything above zero for it. Be sure you secure assistance is sorting out the difference. The axiom your friend gave you is relatively a good one. Buying a boat in better shape is always less expensive than refitting one. However, it is entirely possible to find a 27 in better shape than a 25, for nearly the same price. It all depends on the seller's circumstances, how long they've been trying to sell and how impatient they've become with storage bills. Good luck.
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post #3 of 22 Old 07-27-2016
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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

Hey,

Welcome.

A few thoughts in no particular order:
Tiller vs Wheel - Why would you limit yourself to a tiller? I understand that some people prefer a tiller (and others a wheel) but I don't think you should limit yourself if a good boat comes along and has a wheel.
Inboard vs outboard - there any many outboard engines that have electric start and an alternator. In a low cost boat, and a smaller boat, you are way more likely to find an outboard than an inboard (especially in good condition)
Size - for day sailing, 22-25 is a find size. For weekend, especially if you have 3-4 people, something 27+ would be way more comfortable. A boat like the Catalina 27 is really the smallest boat that will have an inboard engine, standing headroom, real marine head, decent galley, etc. You might find a decent 27-28 boat for $5K but that will be a challenge (I think).

Another boat you should consider are the Pearson 30 - an older, smaller 30 that should be affordable and is a sweet sailing boat.

Good luck,
Barry

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Mt. Sinai, NY

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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

There are some 'beginner's naiveties' that crop up as repeatedly as this sort of thread occurs. The thread starters seem sincere and many, like you, have some sailing background.
The missing element in the quest for a decent (older) used sailboat is pedigree. And, you'll get a mixed message about that from the on-line community just like you would get chatting with other sailors on the docks, too. There are owners who can articulate why they chose their make and model and actually know it's weakness and (hopefully) its strengths. I have found that less than half of owners have this level of background and knowledge. And some of those are loud and adamant that their boats are qualified to sail in coastal or offshore waters. (sigh)

The part that trips up the beginning buyers is the basic fallacy that "all sailboats are the same" in engineering, construction, and sailing ability. i.e. if they resemble a "sailboat" at a distance, they must the same, or any differences are not significant. (sigh, again)

Given that the vast numerical universe of used boats is left over from the heyday of building, during the fuel crunch of the 70's, and that the numerical majority of those boats were cheaply built, resurrecting one nowadays can be both chancy and expensive.
While there were whole brands with the requisite design, engineering, and construction techniques that are as desirable today as when they were built, they are not the majority of craft on the market.

Lots of buyers seem unconcerned about poorly-engineered hull to deck joints, for instance. Yet this will have an outsize influence on maintenance as these boats age beyond 40 and 50 years. Same thing for actual design. While it's generally better to buy a boat designed by a NA, there were a host of smaller boats drawn up by unqualified builders or even marketing people. Do your research, too, when it comes to the designer. I know of one 'name' designer that designed some exceedingly mediocre small sailboats for a now-long-vanished company.

I have several friends who have paid 50K to 100K in full reconstructions of boats from that era and now have craft that would take around 300K to replace new. If considering a boat in the under-30-foot area, the initial cost gets lower, but the cost per hour to fix things stays the same. A sailor I know that has put a lot of his time and money into maintaining and upgrading a classic 35 footer sez that there are three requirements to do what he (and most of us here) have done. Skill, Money, and Time. You must... have two out of the three. Now granted, there are owners with only money, lots of it, but their numbers are statistically few.... and scarce on the DIY sites like this one.

And.... after all those considerations, you still have to deal with worn-out (major!) construction stuff. Unless you plan to become proficient at glass work, you will be paying yard rates @$100./hr to have chainplates replaced, mast bases rebuilt, and spongy decks recored. No matter how good or ill the original build, ignorant prior owners may well have ignored the need to rebed ALL of their deck fittings and ports... leaving you with hidden moisture and rot. This particular sin does not have to happen, but it does, and to some otherwise fine vessels.

As the aged knight in the movie told Indy, "Choose wisely"

Finally, be prepared to find exact models of a given boat, priced at 4K, 8K, and 12K. And that each one is worth the money.
Often it's far better to spend extra for a well-maintained one and actually get to go sailing rather than spend the next two years working on one (and then finally burn out and dump it).

Happy Hunting. It took us a full year to find our current boat, and we saw horrible things for sale, many at respectable brokerages. The traveling was fun but some of the boats managed to be both weird and depressing, simultaneously.
Some were overpriced and some were underpriced... the later for all-too-apparent reasons.

The "search" worked out well for us. We found a (neglected fixer upper) very high quality boat from a high end builder. Lots of clean up, and for the first several years a number of new parts... and we still have it over 20 years later. I have done most but not all of the work; some things are best done in the yard.

I guess that it's kinda like houses -- look for strong foundations and footings...... it's vastly cheaper to change the color !

Regards,
Loren

ps: and since this is advice over the 'net, YMMV !!
pps: and if Jeff_H seems to say something different, he's probably right... or at least as 'right' as me.
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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

Great words of wisdom, thanks for sharing. I too am making the leap from beachcat sailer to cruiser and am sizing up the options.
Where do you suggest going to learn which boats are solid and which are fluff? I imagine there may be a breadth of opinion on that, but the "serious" sailors must have learned it somewhere, right?

I have a couple of O'Day 34s nearby that seem well-maintained (to my inexperienced eye). Would this model fall on anyone's "GO" list, or the "NO" list? I would plan a marine inspection before purchase but if it isn't worth considering I'll save my $500... I haven't found much info on this model on the forum anywhere. Both sellers say the 34 points better than similar size cruisers. Any thoughts?
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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

Jackson,

I honestly don't think inside your budget it is possible to do what you want. A boat with standing headroom, an inboard engine, and in reasonable condition even on a poorly thought of old boat is going to be worth more than that. So the options are to change what you want, or spend more.

My initial advice would be to sink $2k into a reasonable two person day sailor. Something like a V-15, or if you can find one in your price range a used Weta. Then sail the piss out of it for a few years. For the weekend cruises and whatnot simply charter a boat in line with what you are planning. You have them available, so use them.

The other issue with a budget this size is the cost of maintenance and ownership. A $5k 30' boat costs about as much to own annually as a $30k 30' boat. So it wouldn't surprise me if you spent more on annual ownership costs than the boat is worth. Particularly in Chicago where annual haul outs are required and slip fees can be high. A small dinghy avoids all of that, you just bring it home every weekend, and store it in the garage during the winter.
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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjammin View Post
Great words of wisdom, thanks for sharing. I too am making the leap from beachcat sailer to cruiser and am sizing up the options.
Where do you suggest going to learn which boats are solid and which are fluff? I imagine there may be a breadth of opinion on that, but the "serious" sailors must have learned it somewhere, right?

I have a couple of O'Day 34s nearby that seem well-maintained (to my inexperienced eye). Would this model fall on anyone's "GO" list, or the "NO" list? I would plan a marine inspection before purchase but if it isn't worth considering I'll save my $500... I haven't found much info on this model on the forum anywhere. Both sellers say the 34 points better than similar size cruisers. Any thoughts?
To me, the ODay boats are in the spectrum center with Catalina, as a "for instance".
I have sailed on an ODay 34 but not a lot. It pointed pretty good and seemed to accelerate well. Actually, I was prepared to be a bit disappointed in comparing it to our boat, but in fact rather liked it. That couple did a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

The hull-deck joint is not as strong as the thru-bolted flange on our Olson or the Ericson joint that is glassed over with roving on the inside, strictly IMHO. Note that C&C used a bolted-thru-a-flange system, too. Strength is a good thing.

BTW, boats are not easy to categorize by a "solid or fluff" standard. As a friend of mine sez, very few things in life are Binary, i.e. on or off.

I do prefer the boats on the strong side of the whole curve, like Ericson, Tartan, CS Yacht, Hinterhoeller, C&C, Cascade, Yamaha, Sabre, Valiant, and etc...

Not in any way a complete list, at all! But, a start...

Cheers,
Loren

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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

Thanks gentlemen sincerely for your time sharing your thoughts. Just getting the ball rolling over here.

As with my street and racing motorcycle, I scoured and analyzed and sat drinking beer on the couch for months reading, re-reading, re-re-reading every for sale post, looking up specs, reviews, common maintenance issues, homemade mods to fix issues without breaking the bank on name-brand parts, do-it-yourself step-by-step posts written by modern day MacGyver's who swore paperclips, duct tape and chewing gum could add horsepower to my motors, etc...

As stated, I'll be buying beginning next season. I'm moving my home this weekend, 8/1, and my business the following month, 9/1, and that's pretty much going to have me completely occupied through October. Not much time to concentrate as hard as I'd like to on going to see boats as opposed to looking at them on for sale sites. I hold out hope that as with both my motorcycles, after months of searching and research, all of a sudden when my bank account is ready and so am I, I'll stumble across a boat and just know its for me.

There is a yard on the border of Chicago/Indiana called Crowley's. Apparently within the yard is a non-profit called Nautical Donations. The owner takes donated boats, fixes them up a bit, and sells them to donate the purchase price to youth sailing schools and etc. He has got two boats that really have struck my fancy right now. I almost feel like I shouldn't mention it should one of you snatch one out from under me, but again I can't buy for ~8 months..

1984 Pearson 25 with marine head, sink, outboard and tiller for $4000
1979 Cal 2 27 with marine head, sink, Atomic 4 inboard, tiller for $4700

Both have sail and spare sail inventory, and from pics alone don't appear to be total dumps. But, I have never looked at a boat to purchase and really don't know anything about anything, EXCEPT that I do see ads for boats in my price range that get me excited.

I appreciate the comment that maybe I should spend less and get something smaller and sail it til it breaks for a few years. I understand docking and storage in Chicago is stupid expensive. But I'm the type of guy that says, "Screw it, might as well try it once than never try it at all." Its my lakefront just as much as the guy that has the 80' powerboat at the entrance to Belmont Harbor.

I am not digging my feet in about a tiller either. Just asked my instructor and he said he prefers the "feel" of it and said that lots of traditionalists would agree. And noted that if the wheel breaks, you have to get in there and change the cables. One of those guys who preached the thing about having minimal "points of failure" on a boat. And, with a wheel, it would be much easier for my wife or one of my buddies to take the helm for a while.

Also not digging my feet in about an inboard. Honestly, I didn't know outboards could charge the batteries. And a selfish reason for wanting the inboard is that I don't know anything about diesel engines and would LOVE to learn and work on one. Also the J22s we learned on had outboards with such a small tank, they only had 30 min of engine time. That's no good.

Thanks for all the thoughts, keep them coming please if anyone has the time and feels like reminiscing a little more. I have months to go here and will be processing all this info from now til then.
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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

Sounds like you're approaching this in a rational way. The 5k ceiling's a little low, but who knows what you might find.

Glad to see you're not hung up on the tiller. I certainly prefer them on a boat of the size you're seeking, but would not rule out the right boat with a wheel.

Ditto on the outboard. I sailed a 26 Grampian with an outboard on Lake Michigan for many years. Properly maintained, fueled, and lubed, they do great. My little Evinrude 9.9 was extremely reliable. Consider that if it were to fail completely, another good used one could be screwed to the transom. And if you need to repair your outboard, put it in the trunk of your car and take it home, or to the shop of your choosing, if needed. Diesels are the gold standard, but you're in the 5k range, so how good of an old diesel can you get? And if you need extensive repairs, or worse yet, replacement, oh the pain!

Standing headroom with your altitude. Basically, forget it. If your wife and some of your friends can stand, that's good enough.

You don't need a big boat to enjoy the big lake. We're currently settled into a Catalina 28 and plan on keeping her. Great day sailor, and it gets us up and down the coast (out of Muskegon, MI).

Your goal is good. I hope you succeed.
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Re: Requisite/Repetitive/Annoying First Boat Purchase Thread

If you look around, you'll find boats like the Cal 2-27, Catalina 27, etc for pretty cheap. Lotsa folks slag the Atomic 4 so a boat with an A4 typically goes cheap. (if you want inboard)

It shouldn't, as the A4 is a very reliable and smooth running engine. But it's gas, not diesel.

In that price range be prepared for lots of work. You'll want something that won't need new sails right away. And has working standing rigging, running rigging, and engine. (the expensive stuff)
Having a trailer sailer (Like a Catalina 22) can save a lot on storage - as boat-on-trailer storage is often much cheaper than boat-in-water.

I bought my boat from craigslist. It was pretty cheap. In the grand scheme of things, the boat was essentially free. The maintenance and the absolutely outrageous slip fees in SoCal are now about 2X the purchase price of the boat.

Nobody should EVER consider a cheap boat unless they can fix stuff themselves. For me to rewire my panel was around $300. Paying a yard? More like $3K.
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