Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 14
Comfortable weekend, or extended offshore cruiser for 2....
You''re off on an exciting adventure. I sometimes think nothing in sailing was as exciting or good to my wife and I than our first 2 years of "sailing" - the year of shopping and the first year of owning.
OTOH I think you''re asking a very prescient question about ''older boats'' and ''maintenance''. When you mix a late 70''s/early 80''s boat (take Jeff''s example of a Bristol 29.9 which fits your needs) with your stated quest ("Something that can be comfortable on the east coast for weekend trips and possible extended trips offshore."), you get a huge work list. This isn''t meant to scare you off the search but you just need to be realistic about things. As just one example, would you take your 15-20 year standing rigging offshore? (Rarely do folks who use their boats for local cruising replace their rigging wire unless it flunks a survey, yet the careful buyer is looking for the more lightly used boats and inherits just this kind of issue. You can see the conflict...). Everything from the bedding compound on the portlights to the injection pump on the diesel is losing its battle with age, and to underestimate the commitment or budget that will ultimately be required is to line yourself up for a series of disappointments that really are avoidable.
First, let me offer two suggestions for how to mitigate all this pending grief I''m describing (and perhaps inflating just a tad, but I''ve been there):
1. Consider buying a boat from the New England, Great Lakes or Pacific Northwest areas. Boats there all experience short seasons, low U/V damage (so they keep their looks much longer, and gear like canvas dies slower), and on the Great Lakes the boats see little corrosion. This is the opposite of what many will be inclined to do as it''s more difficult, adds expense, requires travel time (which can also be great fun) and isn''t "easy". This is one perfect example of where a professional, experienced (many years with one firm, preferably his/her own) boat broker can truly earn their commission. (Another example is when helping an inexperienced buyer, provided they are ethical and have a good track record in the area. Such brokers really do exist).
2. Lower your sights. Your stated goal is a huge challenge without buying a lot of work and worry. You''re just starting out; who knows how you''ll feel about sailing in 5 years? (''Early retirement in 20'' will take care of itself). Given your limited experience, the best thing you can do is pick a boat that sails well. It will bring the joy of sailing along with its maintenance needs, and you''ll need the former at times to offset the latter. Pick something that can safely be sailed to the Abacos, Dry Tortugas and Keys - that''s plenty ambitious enough for a beginner to set as ''offshore goals'' from SE Florida, and all those destinations can offer abundant challenge and satisfaction. Stay at or above 30'' as that will allow you to consider more distant cruising with some systems mods. But above all, seek out those boats that are well built, have a good sailing rep, and have a minimum of ''gear'' and ''systems''. In your price range, such gear & systems most likely will be old & worn, and you''ll need to replace them eventually, anyway. Better most of your money buys a soundly built, good sailing boat with decent sails and a reliable engine. Period. Anything further is gravy and perhaps a distraction for a newcomer.
Now, a specific rec: if you use Yachtworld (which is down right now, or I''d give you the URL for this boat), search for ''Albin Ballad'' and ''30 ft''. You should find an excellent example of what''s possible for less than your budget, little used and with a great rep among N European sailors who sail the Ballad in the North Sea. It''s layout is spartan but highly functional; it''s a great sailer which is why it''s dimensions are modest by contemporary (CatHuntBen) standards. Worried about transport cost? It comes with its own galvanized 6-wheel trailer (according to a fellow who almost bought it). It''s enjoyed short seasons being sailed on the Great Lakes, which is why it looks in good shape (tho'' some wood work is needed on the companionway and locker lids). It''s been on the market since I was in Trinidad (summer of ''01) and, with fall looming, the price should be quite negotiable. And it will cross the Atlantic, tho'' it will hold fewer friends for cocktails in its cockpit.
Obviously, I don''t know if this is a ''good boat'' for you, but it''s a good example of what some shopping and a little knowledge about boats can turn up. I''m sure there are many others. Good luck on the hunt!