First boat advice solicited/mid-Chesapeake
My wife and I are new to boating. My problem started with visits to both Annapolis boat shows a year ago when I signed up for a subscription to Sailing magazine (the young girl was persistent). Though we've lived in MD or VA all our lives, we've never had anything to do with the bay that didn't involve eating. We've just hit 50 and I think I'm hitting a mid-life or something.
Well, last year we actually managed to swing a weekend/eventual retirement cottage with a dock and 4 1/2 feet of water and an easy 2 mile transit to the bay (opens into Fleets Bay). The dock, of course, has a big empty place that's killing me. We took an intro to sailing course last year on a Flying Scot that we both enjoyed (though my wife may possibly be prone to seasickness). We even bought a little stinkpotter (15' whaler) in April that we both love. We have ventured out a little bit in the bay on her (between the Potomac and Rappahannock) but she's really too small to go out very far except on a very nice day.
The problem is that I keep hearing some sort of subliminal siren call from over the horizon (are there sirens in Onanconk??). I've got 4 (4!) quasi-grown daughters aged 20-28 (who I'm finding were overly influenced by "Jaws" and "The Perfect Storm") who think that I've lost my mind. And I have to admit, I'm beginning to drive myself crazy.
My illness was greatly exacerbated by an article I read a couple of weeks ago by John Kretschmer in Sailing that talked about the plethora of used boats currently available for great prices. The Tartan 37 (with its 4' 2" draft which just so happens to match the gaping hole on the dock had smitten me). Jack Horner's review didn't help (though most of the T37 reviews seem to be about 10 years old, I've noticed). I've been fixated on her from afar for a couple of weeks now.
I've been absorbing Calder's "Intro to Cruising" and Kretschmers "Used Boat Notebook" over the holidays and we've actually gone to see a couple of T37s. The thing that bothers me about her is: 1. The lifelines only come up to my knees. 2. The nagging gut feeling that maybe we're getting in over our heads.
Which led me to start to fixate on an IP31 or a Nonsuch 30 (motivated by Kretschmer's book) over the last day or so. But then I saw the Catalina 30 vs IP31 thread on this forum last night and the seemingly good advice of focusing on light wind performance in the Ches. My oldest daughter also pointed out to me that Flying Scot owners seem to be rabid about FS's, Tartans about T's, IPers about IP, Nonsuchers about nonsuch, Catters about Catalina. Arrghh!! (<--- cry for help). How is one to know??
Neither my wife nor I are particularly athletic (both out of shape but not hopeless). We are interested in daysailing/weekending in the Chesapeake. We don't REALLY know if we're born to be sailors (she confesses in weaker moments she's probably a closet stinkpotter) and I the last thing I want to do is to buy something that will be a chore rather than a pleasure. We don't want to sail the world. I can probably scrape up $60k or so through a home equity loan to feed my disease, though would prefer to spend less.
Given these criteria (daysail/weekending mid-Ches), not a boatload of maintenance, good seakindliness, good safe platform for bay sailing, beginners - willing to learn but more interested in daysailing or cruising than the fine points of racing, ticking testeronical clock (I knew men must have one), and the siren call of the Eastern Shore, what SHOULD I be looking at for a shortlist of boats (again, T37, IP31, Nonsuch 30 is my best shot so far)?
Any other sanguine advice from this august group gladly solicited.
Joe F. (aka "Pops" wannabe)
Welcome to the emergency room. It really is an illness, and most everyone here is infected by it. After you get the cure for this one (that means pouring money into a hole in the water) you get the next stage which is called "two-foot-itis". Thousands of dollars later you are still infected, but happy.
First, determine if you really want to sail or be a stink-potter. You are in an area with a lot of sailing schools, so take a class in a larger boat to see if you and your admiral really love it, like it a little, or hate it. ASA 101/103 is taught usually on a 30' yacht, you learn a lot, can usually stay on board or not, and over four days you usually get to experience some different weather. Invest $1200-1500 to find out if both ofyou, or one of you, like it before you invest that $60,000 in something that can become a guest cottage,with a lot of upkeep, on the end of your dock.
The reason that there are so many good deals out there right now is that we are definitely in a buyers market. Fine if you are a buyer, but in 6 months if you become a seller you are on the wrong end of the deal. I believe that the average time on the market is over a year at the moment.
That 4'6" on the end of your dock limits you considerably. That Catalina 30 with a wing draws 4'3" BEFORE you load her. Don't know about the channel to the bay, but its depth will also restrict you.
From experience, you are making a very difficult decision. I have been around water all my life, mostly small sailboats and 18-24' runabouts. Five years ago I got the bug for a larger sailboat. Did the ASA 101/103 on a 30' followed by the 104/105 on a 37', and found that I loved it. Did both of these without my wife as she was really not interested. Knew that if I ended up buying the boat that I would be single handing the boat, or with friends, more than with my wife. She would do some day sails and maybe one week long trip a year depending on the weather. She gets motion sickness and has not found a cure for rough weather even though she has tried most everything from prescription to pet cures.
Bought a 34' anyway because I love it and life is short. Single hand most of the time and with my wife when the winds and waves are realistic for her. Have a few friends that love to sail, and do a couple of week long trips a year with them. Long trips with my wife will be me sailing and her driving to a marina somewhere to meet me. Caught out too many times on longer transits when seasickness has caught her in even benign conditions.
My the God of your choice love ya man, We all know how you feel.
The choices you're looking at will certainly fill your needs.
You may want to take another gander at the catalina 30, only because of the vast number of them available, and the lower amount of schekles you'll have to fork over for one.
In the unlikely event that you find that this thing just isn't for you or more likely that you want to go bigger, you'll be able to "turn" her more quickly.
Heres a personal opinion.
You *can* spend the rest of your life seeking the "perfect" boat. I've been sailing for almost 40 yrs (hobie 16screaming like a girl) and still haven't found one that has everything that I "want".
The boats I have work for me. I never fail to go out without have an absolute blast, and almost never say "I wish I had a different boat".
In short, find one you can live with, one the better half can live with and go sailing.
I ran "sail" and "60,000" through the Yachtworld site (www.yachtworld.com) and came up with 25 boats, ranging in size from 45 feet to 24 feet, and in age from 1936 to 2007. Quite a variety of boats. The two smallest boats were also the newest--a 2006 Snug Harbor Pintail 25 and a 2007 Corsair 24 trimaran. Both of these boats would meet the depth issue you have at your dock, although you wouldn't have any type of sleeping area in the Pintail and a very meager one in the Corsair.
At $60,000, a 4.5-foot depth, and low maintenance, you're looking at newer and smaller. The 25-boat list also includes a 2001 Hunter 290, with a 3'10" draft located in Annapolis (Tidewater Marina, 7320 Edgewood Road). I would also consider either a Catalina 22 or 250. Both have modest cabin space for overnighting, shallow draft, basic stable sailing platforms, and within your budget for a new or late model boat.
Pops...welcome aboard! Given what you've said so far my opinion is:
1. I would drop the nonesuch from the list. Nicely built, easily handled boats but really not a great fit for the Chesapeake wind conditions.
2. Add the Cat 30 back in if you're sure the dock depth AND approaches are OK for it. It is a really nice bay boat, cheap to buy and maintain, good factory support and enough room for your intended purpose.
3. You also might want to take a look at the Bristol 35's as they are lovely boats and the centerboard version only draws 3'9".
Overall though, I am reluctant to tell you to go look at $60K boats given your experience and lack of certainty that you will enjoy what you now merely anticipate. For this reason I'd advise getting an older production boat in the 30ft and under $20K range until you are sure what you want and need in a boat. While the Cat 30 would be my choice in this range, there are also plenty of O'day's, Irwins, Hunter's, Beneteaus etc. that will suit you just fine as an INTERIM boat. Since the depreciation is not a big concern on these older boats, you can't lose too much on a trade-in later on and later on you'll know a lot more about what you want and don't want in YOUR ultimate bay boat.
The Bristol 35.5 is a lovely centerboarder, but may be bigger than you want to learn on. MUCH less boat, but perhaps easier to learn on, and quite quick in light air might be a Pearson 30. It will also be a lot less expensive. We have friends who started out with one, sailed it for two years, and moved up to a Ericson 38. They haven't regretted a day on the water in either boat. Another shallow-draft keelboat might be a J/24. It might represent a camping alternative instead of cruising, however. The large deck might help attract family-member crew for daysails. The costs, including "learning" costs, when you inevitably hit or break things, would be less. As Camaraderie suggests, getting a big slug (as are many full-keel boats) is to be avoided. Not only will it NOT be fun to sail in the Chesapeake's prevalent light air, but when you go to sell it after not having fun sailing it, no one else will want it either, because it isn't fun to sail. There are probably a good number of other boats that will fit your bill. You've got a good four months before the season arrives. There's plenty of time to refine your plans and determine a viable short list, then see what's available that you like.
The depth restriction you face is fairly common here on the Chesapeake. In part, you need to consider how big of a boat you want. These days, people start with boats 30-40 feet quite often, so don't be afraid of getting in over your head. You already are looking at some boats with center-boards, and that is a definite way to go. Also look for boats with winged keels. I've owned 2 Pearsons with wings and think they are great on the Chesapeake.
Frankly, a boat to look at is what I currently sail -- a Pearson 33-2 (meaning the 1986-1991 models.) The earlier models have keel/centerboards that draw under 4 feet. The later models come with a wing keel that draws 4'2". I sail out of the Patapsco and do a lot of gunkholing, so shoal draft is important to me. And yes, I run aground at least a couple of times a year and have always gotten the boat off the bottom by myself, usually in very short order.
Other boats to look at that come with K/CB's are Ericsons and Sabres. Lots of coices out there to fit your needs.
1. Get a subscription to Good Old Boat.
2. Look at boats that you can pay cash for. (You want to own the boat, not vice versa.)
3. Don't go too big. Costs vary exponentially with length.
4. Good quality cruising sailboats in ready-to-use condition are available for way less than $60K.
5. Don't buy until your marine surveyor says OK.
I second all that has already been said and I don't think a Tartan 37 would be a good match for you based on your comments.
You may look to crew on some boats in the spring, checkout Spin Sheet magazine (its free and at most boat stores) or on their website, http://www.spinsheet.com/
If had a place at the bay I would seriously look at a Sabre 28. It's a well built, salty looking boat with good performance for the bay. It has enough room for an occasional overnight, but would truly excel as a daysailer on the bay when you have the option to go home and sleep in your own bed. The Sabre 28 was my first choice for our starter boat, but the wife wanted some more room/amenities since we knew we'd be spending long weekends onboard every time we used the boat. If the end, I'm quite sure we chose the best starter boat for us and expect we'll be keeping it longer than intially expected, but If I had my own place at the bay, a Sabre 28 would be docked there.
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