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  #1  
Old 08-30-2008
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First boat - Hunter 170?

I've been lurking in sailnet for some time now, reading all the threads I can as my interest in sailing has continued to grow. From all my reading, it seems that the recommended way to learn to sail is by starting with a small boat, which will be more responsive, letting the novice know what to/not to do. I want to learn to sail right, so I figured I'd start small.

So I started looking at Sunfishes and Lasers, as those seem to be the most popular small sailboat. But given that I want to eventually graduate to a larger boat, I want to start on something with both a mainsail and a jib, which will let me practice things like trimming and reefing the sails, heaving to, etc. With that in mind, I went to the local sailing shop today and spoke with a salesperson who recommended a Laser II or Hunter 170. I could go with either, but am leaning towards the 170 - both boats have a jib, but the 170 seems like the better option - small enough to learn on, but with a roomy enough cockpit for a few guests.

From reading posts here on sailnet, I've seen both positive and negative feedback on Hunters, but not many reasons supporting either the positive or the negative opinions. Can anyone provide some substantive information regarding whether they would/would not consider the Hunter 170 for a beginner boat? For those of you who don't like Hunter 170s, is there a similar sized boat you'd recommend?

My main considerations are these:
1) I want to learn to sail well, so it sounds like smaller is better. But I'm not opposed to a larger boat, if it handles well, and others think it would be a better starter boat than the 170.
2) I live in Kansas, so I'll be sailing on Lake Perry - I imagine this will limit the adverse weather that the boat will have to endure.
3) At this point, my budget is limited - I may have more to spend on a boat in the future, if my wife enjoys the hobby with me, but until then, we're counting our pennies. At present I'm entertaining used boats like the one advertised in yachtworld at tinyurl.com/5h236t (can't post links yet - it's a '99 170 for $4800)
4) At some point in the future, it's my intention to upgrade to a boat that I could spend decent amounts of time on. I dream of sailing the Caribbean, - that's obviously a ways out, but I figured mentioning what I want to do in the future might effect what I start with.

Thanks for your advice!
~Dean
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Old 08-30-2008
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I too looked at the hunter 170 a while back. It is a neat little daysailor, has a good size cockpit, and is priced right. I had 2 concerns about the boat however.
1 - Rudder bracket seemed grossly underbuilt.
2 - I don't like the idea of plastic construction. While it is very durable, I don't know how you could fix it in the event of a crack/puncture. I have dealt with plastic welding on kayaks in the past, and have never been happy with the results.

Overall, I do think there are better starter boats in that price range. And remember, while 17 may seem big if you have never owned a boat before, it will get real small reall quick. A boat with a small cabin will allow you to do some camp style cruising/ overnighters if you so desire.
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Old 08-30-2008
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Nothing wrong with that choice at all. But do consider older boats and perhaps a little bigger to allow you to do overnighters and really enjoy the boat. O'day Mariner 2+2 and similar would be worth looking for in your local boat trader or craigs list.
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Old 09-02-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
Nothing wrong with that choice at all. But do consider older boats and perhaps a little bigger to allow you to do overnighters and really enjoy the boat. O'day Mariner 2+2 and similar would be worth looking for in your local boat trader or craigs list.
Thanks for the replies!

So I started looking around for O'day Mariner 2+2's. I found one in Michigan that sounds like it's in decent shape for $2700 without the outboard. I could purchase an outboard separately, but want to know if that's a recommended way to go. I'm handy with tools, so I'm not concerned about that - I'm mainly wanting to avoid the cheap fixer-upper that ends up costing more than it should to fix up. Is this something to be concerned about for a "starter" boat that I'd like to keep for a few years? Also, I've heard that I should always get a survey, but I'm wondering: at a price point of $2700, is a survey going to cost more than it would be worth?

Following is information about the boat, the questions I've asked, and the responses I've gotten. I'm sure there's more for me to inquire about - I'm just new enough to not know the right questions to ask.

(Original ad)
Mariner day sailer, 19 foot, centerboard, kickup rudder. BLUE and WHITE, hull # . Large cockpit, sleeps 4, cushions, wood trim. Trailer. Asking: $2,700.

(Questions, replies)
How long you've owned it? 3 years, kept in pole barn by previous owner. We only used it 3 times last year.
What shape is the hull in? great, only one scratch.
What shape is the deck in? Are there any soft spots? deck has no problems, no soft spots.
What sails come with it? What shape are they in? Replacement mainsail, original jib come with, original mainsail thrown away, jib is still good.
Centerboard - no problems, rudder - restored by my husband.

They say they'll send pictures over the next couple days. Aside from that, any pointers as to what questions I should be asking would be greatly appreciated! I'm in Kansas, but would be willing to drive to Michigan to inspect/buy/trail the boat back. But I'd like to get all the right questions answered before possibly wasting a trip.

Thanks again for your help!
~Dean
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Old 09-02-2008
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camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough
I would expect a decent Mariner without an outboard and with a trailer in decent shape to sell for around $2k. I don't think you need a survey provided the interior plywood and framing shows no signs of rot and you are satisfied with the condition of the sails and the rest of the boat upon inspection. Careful attention to the centerboard and trunk for evidence of leaks and repairs. I would ask over the phone:
1. Is the interior plywood under the v-berth and supports all in good shape?
2. What additional equipment comes with the boat?
3. Are there any leaks around windows or the hull deck joint or fittings that allow water into the boat when stored outside?
4. How old are the trailer tires and what shape are they in? Do the trailer electrical connections all work?
4. Why are you selling? Is there anything else you are aware of about the condition of the boat that I haven't asked?

Note Dean...the 2+2 would be a nice boat for your described needs. It is not the ONLY boat...just an example I gave of how a boat with a nice cuddy cabin might be much nicer for the weedends than an open day sailer.
Don't fall in love too quickly and keep looking at other similar boats!
Here's another:
1986 Pearson 18 Boat For Sale
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Old 09-02-2008
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Thanks a lot for the help - knowing what questions to ask will make a huge difference. I'm realizing that I know all the questions to ask when buying a car - but I don't know enough about sailboats to know what pitfalls to look for!

I'm not limiting myself to the 2+2 - I just started looking around. But it's good to have suggestions - the more options I have, the pickier I can be!

Thanks again,
~Dean
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Old 01-24-2009
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Hi Overdrive,

Not sure if you have made your choice yet, I own a 170 and love it. It is easy to tow, rig and launch, and is a blast to sail.

I bought it for exactly the same reason you did - so I could learn to sail and buy a bigger boat. There are real trade offs with bigger boats. I think I still plan to move up some day - but I am afraid that with a bigger boat I would spend more money, sail less often and be further removed from the things about sailing that I have come to love on my small boat.

There will probably come a time when the call of sailing on bigger water and sleeping on board catches up with me . . . but 5 years after purchasing the 170 it hasn't come yet.

Something to keep in mind - it is a pretty unstable boat.

When I first went on it I was scared to death. My previous sailing experience was on a flying scot - which is the a very stable boat. The 170 is very light and carries a far amount of sail - it will dump you in the lake if you make the wrong mistake. After being dumped a few times I learned where the tipping point is and how to flatten it out again - but it heels quickly - not all day sailers are created equal!

The upside is that it takes almost no wind to push it around the lake. Often when the lazers and flying scots are paddling back in when the wind dies in the evening I am still ghosting along. OK - it's not a thrill ride but it does beat paddling!

I guess what I am trying to say is that it behaves best in light air. 5-10MPH is probably ideal, much more than 12 mph and I am reefing and furling the jib - it does sail pretty well on just a reefed main - doesn't point as well - but stays much flatter on the water.

My daughter and I love sailing this boat, my wife is OK on it but would probably trade a little performance for a little stability, my son will not go on it at all!

I think every boat is a compromise, the 170 is a decent one for me. I still go to boat shows and troll the internet looking at 30 footers.

If you are ever in Michigan and you would like a test sail give a shout out.

John
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Old 01-24-2009
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I would agree with the previous post. In my experience sailing the 170, the boom is situated quite high above the cockpit, which is great for headroom, but makes the boat rather unstable when catching gusts. Check out the Precision line of sailboats - the 15 or 185 are great daysailers with large open cockpits, or they have the smaller trailerables with cabins - the 165, 18 and 21.
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Old 01-24-2009
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I would suggest a colgate 26. It has winches, jib, can reef etc. just like a larger boat.

PJB
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