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  #1  
Old 04-26-2009
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Looking to buy our first sail boat, your opinions/expertise are wanted

My wife and I are relatively new to sailing, but we have been around water as far back as we can remember, and we want to purchase our own boat this year.

I've been sailing on/off with friends (and who ever else might need a crew) for ~5 years, getting more seriously in to it the past 2 years. I am getting comfortable on a sail boat, and feel that I am just a little ways away of being very comfortable on my own boat.

My wife is quite green, but took beginner sailing lessons last year, and she is feeling very comfortable now.

I love where we live in NE IL/SE WI, but the sailing season here is just too short. I don't want to stick a ton of money in to something that I can only use for 6 months out of the year (if we're lucky), but I have no problem in spending the money to get something reliable and in good shape.

We have sailed everything from 20' boats to 36' boats, and a few boats in between, and we had fun on all size boats.

We will be sailing 100% on Lake Michigan, which as most of you probably now, can kick up very quickly. It's not like sailing off-shore in the ocean, but it can get hairy very quick, so we need something that tracks great and is stable even in rough weather.

I'm writing this post so that I can hear from you experienced folks two things...1) what is the best size range of boat for our criteria below, 2) please list your top 5 to 10 proven boats for reliability (hull and general equipment) --- brands and models would be appreciated.

Criteria for our boat will be:

*Up to 6 adults on board at one time
*We will be using the boat primarily for day sailing, but 25% of the use will be for overnight trips of 1 to 3 nights, and 10% of the use will be for overnight trips to 4 nights or more with 4 adults
*Relatively comfortable accomodations in cabin
*Decent racer to participate in club races --- nothing major, but something that will keep up with the rest of the boats out there
*We would like to stay <$20k to leave room in our budget for upgrades, but if we can get a boat for $10k we would be thrilled

If I need to post any other desired details, please let me know.
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Old 04-26-2009
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Hi.

Your requirements and budget are going to make it difficult for you. In order to get a boat big enough for 4 adults overnight on for 4 days you are looking at something 35'. If the adults are two couples, and they are real friendly and you don't take much gear, then maybe a 30' boat would work. You'll have to decide how comfortable you need to be.

For 20K you're looking at old (late 70's / early 80's) Catalina, O'day, Newport, Pearson, Hunter, etc. 30' boats.

If you want something bigger, then you'll be looking at even older boats.

To be honest, if you really want to fit 4 adults in the cockpit, spend 4 day trips with 4 adults, and be competitive on the race course, you're looking at 30K easy.

good luck,
Barry
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Old 04-27-2009
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Your budget is not realistic. A SAFE boat that can sail 6 comfortably cannot be had for $20K. I also wonder if you understand how much it costs to maintain a boat that is comfortable for 6. Figure between 5k and 10K annually - not just the first year when you are upgrading.

So...

For your first boat, I think you would do well to buy something like a CS22/Tanzer22/Catalina 22 and sail it for a couple of years. Learn what is involved in boat ownership and how to sail properly. Then move up.

Failing that, look for a C&C 27 or a CS27, perhaps an Alberg 30, Bayfield 29. You should be able to find a fair specimen under 20K.

Be advised though, that is costs more to bring a oat back up to Bristol condition than it does to buy one that has already been updated. When you look at the boat sales sites on the internet and you see 30 foot boats averaging 30 to 50K realise that that's what they cost. You can spend it up front or you can spend it along the way, but you will spend it.

Good Luck !
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Old 04-27-2009
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Thank you for the feedback.

I figured the money figure I threw out there was somewhat unrealistic for a boat on the larger side, say 30'+, but I was hoping that for that price we could get something good on the smaller side.

In the discussions we've had regarding getting a boat, my wife and I figured $5k/year to spend on it (plus storage, both in and out of the water) was a good safe figure to have to spend on upkeeping it. I honestly did not know the price for upkeep on a larger boat was that much - thank you for opening my eyes to it.

I have spent a fair amount of time on a 28' boat with up to 6 adults, and I found it comfortable and felt very safe. That was the basis for my 4 adults for an overnight trip. We're very used to packing light and camping in close quarters with others, so that kind of stuff does not bother us, but I also want to make sure that 4 adults (total combined weight of approx. 650 pounds) plus gear for a few nights would be safe aboard a 26' or 28' boat for on Lake Michigan or Lake Superior.

Also, thanks for the suggestion on a smaller boat, learning, and then working up. That's similar to what I did with power boats (started with a 16' boat when I was 16, and then worked my way up to the mid-20's), which taught be a lot about being on the water, operating safely, reading the weather, etc.

Honestly, 75% of the time on anything more than a day sail it is just going to be my wife and I, and the rest of the time it will probably be one other couple at most.

Is a 24 to 26 foot boat something that is safe enough for the above listed scenarios on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior?

I have been around power boats all my life, and in some cases I wouldn't think of going out on Lake Michigan in a 35' boat, but I have not been in rough seas very much on a sailboat. My most experience on rough seas came in a 28' boat with 5 adults on board, and I felt very safe and secure and was impressed on how a sailboat handled versus a power boat.
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Old 04-27-2009
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I disagree with those that say you can't find a boat for under $20K that would be suitable for your requirements. A decent older 28-30 footer can easisly be found for that budget. Since you want a boat that can be competively raced, I'd look at boats like the J30, Cal 9.2 and Pearson Flyer. You can even find a decent Tartan 10 for under $20K.

I wouldn't consider a 24-26 foot boat. Too small for what you describe.
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Old 04-27-2009
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Hey,

My second boat (first 'big' boat) was a Newport 28. I was looking to move up from a Catalina 22 to something my family of 5 could spend weekends on. The Newport 28 was great for day sailing: easy to handle, capable of handing 25 kt wind and 6' waves, spacious, etc.

It was fine for a night (and OK for 2 nights) for my family (wife, daughters 11 and 8, son 5), and everyone had a bed. The problem was there was no room for gear when we were in 'sleeping' mode. By the second night I was tired of stepping over gear, moving stuff from the cabin to the cockpit, and otherwise having very little space. If you can tolerate those conditions for the length of your trip, then a 28' boat would work for you. The good things about 28' boats is that they are affordable, you can definitely find a good boat for under 20K.

For me personally, when I wanted to start spending a week or so onboard, I sold the 28 and bought a 35'. The extra length and width and interior space makes spending a week aboard very comfortable.

In 28' boats I like Newport (obviously) o'day, Sabre, Tartan, and a few others. Catalina 27 is very affordable, but may be too small.

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 04-28-2009
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I think I would try to stretch the budget a bit and look for a 30 something footer for your needs. Some boats that come to mind for you to consider are the Catalina 30, Sabre 28 and Oday 322. The Sabre would be the best sailor of the three but the trade off is space and I think 4 adults would be problematic on an overnight. Our first boat was a O'day 322 and I think its a boat that can meet your needs if you can find a good one.

The C30 is one of the most popular boats in its size range and I think it offers a lot of what you are looking for, though its a long way from a Sabre 28 in terms of aesthetics.

I took sailing lessons on a Tanzer 22 and while they are a well regarded boat, I think you'd quickly find yourself limited in what you could do based on your stated use. The only time a boat feels too big is close to the dock and you get over that pretty quick. Since you already know the basics of sailing, my advise would be to buy the size boat that meets you needs and get some instruction on that boat until you are comfortable manuvering around the docks and then just go for it.
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