make a porsche into a mini-van?
I am a novice sailor looking to buy my first boat. I learned to sail on a Laser and a 20’ O’Day sailor, so I am quite a landlubber. I want to go coastal cruising with my girlfriend around Chesapeake Bay and the ICW, then cap off a summer of cruising with a single triumphant run at the Bahamas. (The thought scares me now, but I hope I’ll have drastically improved my knowledge and skills with three months on the boat.)
I have the opportunity to get a fantastic deal on a Cal 9.2 (under $8000). Normally, I think the Cal 9.2 might not be the right boat for me (seems like she’s built more for speed than cruising), but my question is, should I take a great deal on a less than ideal boat if the deal is so good I might be able to re-rig and re-equip the boat for my intended purposes? My impression is that this boat is normally a $15-20K level boat, so I am under the impression that I could spend $10K or so to set the boat up exactly the way I need and still have a pretty good deal. In other words, should I buy a Porsche if the deal is so good I’d have enough money left over to make her over into a mini-van?
My knowledge of cruising is coming exclusively from reading. I have no practical experience at it at all. From what I’ve read, though, here is why I think the Cal 9.2 wouldn’t normally be the right boat for me and the things I might try to change on it:
1.) I want to cruise with my girlfriend for most of the summer. Unfortunately, she is afraid of boats and particularly afraid of the idea that a boat might heel over. So I’m looking for a boat that I can practically guarantee is the most stable it can be, even in bad weather. I’ve read that the Cal 9.2 is fairly bouncy in rough water, so I’m thinking it might be too jumpy for us. I’d like to assure my girlfriend that there is no possible way for this boat to tip over. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can do about this except live with it. Are my concerns being overblown here, though?
2.) Water tanks seem tiny (20 gallons, 10 gallons for waste.) I don’t mind the idea of foot pumps to push water to the lav and the galley (I think, don’t really know), but I think I might want more water than this for cruising. Can I upgrade the water system easily?
3.) As my girlfriend has no experience sailing and I have limited, I’ll be doing most of the driving single-handed at first. This boat comes with 9 sails, but all I think I could handle by myself is a mainsail and a jib or gen. At the moment the boat is rigged with a tuff luff headstay (whatever that is), but I’d rather have roller furling, I think, for ease of use. Does it make sense to rig this boat a little more simply after the sale? All I want is a main and a jib on rollers if I can have them, but maybe I am being stupid here?
4.) The boat has an icebox, no reefer, and a decent head, but no shower. I’m willing to try to work around these things, but am I being unrealistic here for the kind of cruising I want to do? I don’t mind marina showers and icebags every day or two. Should I think about adding a reefer? Is it even possible to add a shower?
5.) The boat has tiller steering, but does have an autopilot so I’m thinking this is okay for now.
6.) Her draft is about 5’ 9” (I think). I’m thinking there might be a few 4 foot areas where I want to go. Not much I can do about this, but should she be disqualified on this count?
7.) Lastly, I’ve read a few places that this engine (Universal 13 hp?) shouldn’t be run in saltwater. Is that right, and if so, that sounds like reason to disqualify her for the Bahama run.
That’s all the analysis I’m capable of at the moment. Please let me know if you think I’m being misguided here and thanks so much in advance for the advice.
I don't know what a "Cat 9.2" is. Are you referring to some model of Catalina, or a catamaran?
Without knowing more, I can only say that a Porsche makes a terrible minivan.
Also, I have never heard of a sailboat engine that could not be operated in saltwater.
More info on the make/model of the boat would be helpful.
P.S. Welcome to Sailnet!
Sorry, it's a Cal 9.2. I made a few edits for typos. But thanks for the welcome!
Okay, I see that while I was typing you changed the boat model to "Cal". That begins to make more sense.
Let's see what other folks think.
I don't know how much comfort you (and your girl) need, but if I were going to live on a boat I would need to have pressure water, hot water, and a shower. i could live without a reefer (as long as I had good ice access). Shade and protection from sun / rain is also very important. Make sure you find a boat with (or add) a dodger and bimini. Note that it's expensive to add later.
As far as I know, the Cal 9.2 is a good sailing boat, better than many, and would be fine. Regardless of the boat you choose, choosing the weather you sail in will be the most important fact.
You better make sure you have good ground tackle, a good dingy, and the right attitude. That will make the biggest impact on your successful cruise.
If you want to keep the girlfriend and keep her interested in sailing, get the boat that appeals most to her. In this economy there should be plenty of bargains for you to find in your price range. Find one with a nice head/shower, plenty of water, comfortable bunks, etc. Basically whatever creature comforts she might be interested in.
Also, get feedback from people with more experience than me who can point you to more stable cruising sailboats. You want a boat that is not going to bounce around - no sense is driving away the mate! You know her preference - work with it.
I just did a quick search in Google for the Cal 9.2 and looks like a nice boat. I looked at some for sale listings and they were al above the 8k that the boat you are looking at is being sold for.
First thing, which I am sure you have heard, get it surveyed before you buy. Espcially when a boat is being offered for sale at a lower than normal price, sounds like something could be wrong with it.....
To answer a few of your Q's:
1)My girlfreind doesn't like when the boat heels over either, she doesn't like to steer the boat on anything but a downwind run when the boat has a lesser chance of heeling (normally). This is something that takes getting used to. I think my biggest mistake was taking my girlfreind out on a windy day on my first sailboat, a small and light Macgregor 25. I was pretty inexperienced and I definately should have had a reef or two in, not full canvas flying. She was scared to death and that was her first impression of sailing, and that was definately the wrong way to bring her into it. So, if she has never been sailing, make here first impression a good one by: pampering her, make sure the weather is perfect, don't let the boat heel much (go out with very light winds.
2) Manual pumps are a good thing in my opinion, they are low maintenace, cheap, require no electricity (which is difficult to come by on a small sailboat). The tankage doesn't sound to bad, modifying could be difficult and the easiest way would be to carry extra jubs of fresh water. As for the holding tank 10 gallons is a little small, it might be possible to replace the current tank with a larger one or to add another.
3) I like roller furling, it's easy and I have never had it fail on me (knocks on wood). If you outfit the boat how you want it and have some extra money left over, then I would consider adding it. If the 9 sails are in good condition you could sell some of them to help pay for it.
4) A reefer isn't a must have. I don't have one and I don't plan on getting one. If my next boat has one I would probably take it out and use the space for something else. Reefers just take alot of power to keep running and add more complicated things to tear up on your boat. Some of the best advice is to "Keep things simple!" Are you sure the boat doesn't have a shower?
Most sailboats in this size range do not have designated "showers", just a shower head in the head and you do your business there. If the boat doesn't have on it, it might have a place to hook one up. You say that the boat has foot pumps, so I am thinking the boat has absolutely no pressure water. This can be an easy project and you can add a shower pretty easily. They have faucets were you can screw a shower head hose into it an there you have a shower.
6) Draft can be a concern but you can cruise around the problem, you just have to watch yourself close.
For what you want to do the Cal will be fine BUT I think you are unrealistic about what it will cost to make her ready for cruising and provide the upgrades you will need after all the problem you will find on survey are fixed.
Also...you don't head south during hurricane season!! Bahamas are hurricane central! Best time to cruise there is in the spring but winter is fine too.
Welcome & good luck!
What I'm hearing so far
Okay, so here is what I am hearing so far....
No one seems to think the lack of a reefer is an issue, so I won't hold that against her. Likewise, no one seems to think the draft is a big issue. Ditto that. As for tippyness or bad weather handling, everyone agrees I should do everything I can to please my girlfriend (I wholeheartedly agree), but most people think I can address the bounciness issue by being selective about what days I sail and what days I stay at the marina another day.
I haven't heard a consensus, though, on sails and rigging. Some seem to think the boat would be fine and I could make it work as is. Others seem to think it will cost a fortune to re-rig it and I should pass on that because I'll end up giving back all the original savings from the low purchase price. Likewise, I don't hear a consensus on the water issues. Some think the 20 gallon tank is fine, others wish for more. Some think the lack of a shower is not a big deal. Others think it is a deal-breaker.
Not that I'll be guided exclusively by groupthink, but am I at least hearing things correctly?
I know these boats well. The Cal 9.2 was Cal's attempt to build an IOR race boat. This was a Ron Holland IOR design during a period when that was not a very good thing. These boats had a series of construction issues some cosmetic like the liner design and some structural like the mast support structure which allowed the mast to crush the deck. The ones that have been raced hard have been disassembled and beefed up, but more typically, the few that I have looked at are in need of some serious and expensive structural work. The cheap price may reflect a whole host of serious
While these are reasonable boats for the Chesapeake Bay, they are a poor choice if your goals are extended cruising (lack of carrying capacity) and as a boat for a girlfriend who is afraid of heeling. Like any IOR boat of that era, the 9.2 has a rig that is very dependent on using very big headsails in light to moderate breezes (the kind of breezes that you would expect on the Chesapeake). But this is not a rig that deals with changes in windspeed, as is also common on the Chesapeake (as in you go out sailing in 5 knots of wind and come home in a unpredicted 18 knots of wind). When you place that rig on a hull that was by design tender you end up with a very poor choice indeed.
Adding a furler to a Cal 9.2 does not really help the matter since large genoas do not furl down to a useable shape when furled as far as the sail would need to be, and Cal 9.2's do not sail well under mainsail alone.
More to the point, there are boats out there in your price range that would make a reasonable performance cruiser that would suit your goals, the Cal 9.2 isn't one of them. (The Tartan 30 and Bristol 33/34 although both have similar rig proportions would be good starting points).
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