Young couple seeking advice, buying first time cruiser - SailNet Community

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Old 04-09-2008
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Young couple seeking advice, buying first time cruiser

Hello! We're a couple in our early twenties, VERY NEW to sailing, but we have the opportunity to purchase a boat and are anxious to grab hold of the cruising dream! We want to buy a liveaboard cruiser to sail the Puget Sound, from WA to Mexico, and maybe in a few years WA to Hawaii. We're looking for a boat within the $10,000 price range and have our eyes on two local boats. We're hoping for some advice from more experienced sailors on which would be the best to purchase and anything we should keep our eyes during the surveyor/purchasing process.
The first is a 1977 30' San Juan, displacement:7200, ballast:3500
The second is a 1971 30' Islander, displacement approx:6800, ballast approx:2800

Thank you!!
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Old 04-09-2008
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Welcome to sailnet - both are somewhat respectable cruisers... however, at less than 10K, you are either budget constrained or have good ambitions further..you must get a good surveyor before putting your hard earned dollars on one or the either... and you should budget an additional 5-10K for fixing those things that will need be addressed. For PNW cruising those boats are reasonable however, depending on condition may not be suitable for a sail down the coast...
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Old 04-09-2008
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The san juan is not a great choice for off shore it is an old IOR race boat and just not designed for that, to tender. You need lots of rail meat that you wont have cruising. Don't get me wrong I love all the San juan boats and the builder Clark boat company. Having done the WA to Mexico trip i would not do it in a San Juan 30 but it would be a great weekend and summer vacation boat for local cruising in your area.
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Old 04-09-2008
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Da%mn, Artbyjody is right spot on. I wish i could'a said that.


rather than an islander 3o, I'd look at the 36'ers. I think there's 3 boats made on the islander 30 mold, Erickson, and ...well, another one that I can't remember.

The 36 was made by only one yard (maybe the herrscoff yard) and the work was pretty good. The 30's on this mold had chainplate problems and usually need to be reseated. Watch for soft decks at the shrouds.
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Old 04-09-2008
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Honestly, as 1/2 of a young cruising couple (with a 30 footer) I would have to say buy either of those boats, and sail the heck out of them, but stay within sight of land! The trips you are thinking about are not easy, and will require a refit of any older boat. Once that has been done you will find you have more money in the sails, rigging, paint, electrical, diesel than the boat as a whole is worth. Either buy one now, sail it, learn and grow with it or buy something that is truly worth dumping money into. In the 30 foot range, based on my experiences looking for the right boat nothing at less than 20k was suitable... Of course, there are always those that make it amazing distances in boats most people would consider unsuitable. Just make sure you have your priorities figured out. I agree with jimmy, IOR boats wouldn't make my top 10 list for cruising.

BTW: About dreams and cruising. My cousin and his GF were dead set on buying a boat and sailing from Frisco to Hawaii. His sailing experience was a sunfish and hers was nothing. He agreed to crew for me from Frisco to Sitka. About 3 days out he started freaking out telling me he couldn't take it etc etc... so Instead of sailing off shore I changed plans to bashing up in 2 days coastal stretches. Pretty sure he isn't going to be passage making any time soon. Along the way I also met more than a few cruising couples and families, all in well appointed yachts that were quite disillusioned with the whole thing. Spending 2 weeks, sometimes in misery, to make the same distance you could drive in 2 days doesn't appeal to a lot of people. Get a blood test to make sure you got some salt in there, or at least don't put all your eggs in one boat so to speak. I'm just about 3 years ahead of where you are in this process, so keep in touch.

Last edited by sailboy21; 04-09-2008 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 04-09-2008
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Of the two, the Islander gets my vote.
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Old 04-09-2008
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For the money that your talking about, its going to be very limiting to find a suitable boat. One that "popped" to mind is a Tartan 27. Although smallish and old, but it is very suitable, besides, your young and in love....right???
You'll need to find one in good condition, or be handy at DIY, but you can find decent ones under 10k.
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Old 04-09-2008
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Jody gave some very good advice, and I would have said as much... Of the two, I'd vote for the Islander 30... but I think that Ehmanta's suggestion of a Tartan 27 is a very, very good one.

The Tartan 27 is in that price range. While it is a bit smaller than the two you're looking at, it is a very good choice for a smaller pocket cruiser. There's an excellent book, The Coast of Summer, by Anthony Bailey, about his sailing in a Tartan 27 along the New England coastline.

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Old 04-09-2008
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Jimmy, just curious why you say the San Juan would be tender. It has a ballast ratio of almost 50%. Is it something specific about the hull shape that makes it tender?
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Old 04-09-2008
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Great idea. I am working on a similar dream. I love the SJ 30s. I would get one and coastal cruise. The SJ 30 has a relatively flat bottom and I believe it could turtle. While sailing the SJ, you could get a better feel for what you need and keep your eye out for a more appropriate offshore capable boat before heading to Mexico.
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