Hi everyone. I'd like to use this post as a sort of public brainstorm to try to gain from the knowledge of all you experienced sailors out there. This is all still a ways off, at least a year. But this is a big purchase, and a goal instead of a thing, so I don't think it's too early to start. And besides, it may all fall apart before then, who knows? I sure hope not! Anyway, I'm throwing up a bullet list of points that are important, or that I'm keeping in mind, then a list of what I've seen out there and thoughts. Please comment/criticize on any of this. I'd rather have my pride hurt than end up in an unmanageable or unsafe boat!
- Area: Central South Carolina. I will most likely put in at Lake Murray, as I'm somewhat familiar with the waterways, very familiar with the surrounding land area, and feel comfortable with the idea of things going wrong there (not that I want them to!). I also know there are marinas that welcome live aboards in the area, which is a plus. Consider it the 'training pond'. Once I've got the boat and more importantly my skills up to par and ready to go, I'll most likely transport to coastal SC, or on a very VERY outside chance move back to San Diego (where I spent some time landward for a while, a few good friends out there, love the area, etc). The where for that stage I haven't decided yet, and will investigate it seriously after I'm comfortable with the freshwater living and the LA experience as a whole. I do want to stay south rather than north though, for sure.
- This is going to be my first sailboat and barring unforeseen problems remain my only boat for several years. I am not new to boating however, as I grew up on Lake Murray in SC. (more on that later). I will also am single, and will need a boat that can be safely single handed. A pretty middle of the road kind of boat, and I'm looking for ease of use/relative comfort over speed. I'm a cruiser at heart anyway, never did dig speedboats
- Due to growing up in and spending most of my life in the area, I have access to storage, namely a corner of a three car garage in the family. Obviously, less is more (and I can fit everything I own barring furniture into my 99 Mazda 626 already, anyway, so it's not like I have much) but knowing that the option is there is potential burden off the mind.
- I'm looking up sailing classes and training courses in the area, as well as applicable certs, and plan to begin taking some ASAP. Even though some of it will probably be general boating info, a refresher never hurts when going from operator to owner/operator!
The boat -
As mentioned, ease of use is important. Specific features/concerns
- Freshwater vs Saltwater. Due to price and manageability, I'm looking in the 30 ft range. Most of these that I see are in the sea. Is this too big for freshwater in your experiences? Are there differences to bear in mind on the actual design of the boat itself? I plan to head to some of the local marinas and look and ask about this, but welcome opinions here. (note, here I'm concerned mainly with the boat's suitability to the environment, minor rigging changes or whatnot for salt vs. fresh I'd wrap up into the cost of ownership. Like tire chains, I guess)
-transport post purchase - looking around, it looks like my boat will come from Florida, or potentially somewhere in the NE. Since it's destination is again almost 100% sure to be inland, what kind of costs are typical for transportation? I'm asking so I can build the war chest with that in mind.
-Holding tank size - I drink lots of water. It has never been an issue before, growing up. Is this the type of thing you can retrofit later, or does it depend on the boat? If this is upgradable, anyone have a ballpark cost range in mind? I can see a mental image of dollar bills burning in my head when I think of doing this. I could go around with a bunch of water jugs strapped to the deck as far as I'm concerned, but what would the neighbors think?
- table - This is important in that it'll help mesh my existing hobby with my new way of life. I'm an avid board gamer (T&E, LNOE, Settlers, PR
, that sort). While I expect this to slow a bit in favor of, well, sailing and fishing (which I love but have fallen out of touch with), I will still keep a game or two stowed away for those rainy days, and the rest stored on land so I can rotate them out from time to time. Table space is a concern. Is expecting around 4x4 of table unrealistic? 3x3? Board gamers are an inventive bunch, so I can make room for all the bits, but there has to be space for the board
A better way to phrase this: What sort of table space do you have if your boat is around the 30' mark? Or bar space, or something you've rigged, as long as people can get to 3/4th of the edge or circumference, it's golden. Would there be space for a fold away solution?
- Stove (low priority)- I see lots of mentions of alcohol burner stoves in this size range. I'd consider upgrading this to propane as a priority, simply because I enjoy cooking enough that the stove is important. Again is this something that can typically be upgraded? This seems less costly (and to an extent more DIY possible) than upgrading a holding tank.
- Oven (lowest priority)- From what I've seen a proper oven is out of the picture in this size range of boat. From your experience, does a toaster oven stack up to the challenge? I'm used to cooking small (I've only got a tiny casserole dish) so scaling isn't the problem as much as feasibility. This is curiosity more than anything. I can live without the oven and just adjust my cooking habits to go more stove top and raw.
- computer space - Currently and most likely in the future, my work is in IT. As such, I need a computer. I don't need as much of a computer as I have now, but need one. I have a few thoughts on reducing all this and I'm really not worried about it in the long run, but until all that money comes into place (as the boat will have first priority) does anyone have a typical mid-tower desktop machine on board? Find a good room for it? I can't think of a spot for it, and it probably doesn't really exist. The more I think about this, the more I think I'll have to upgrade to a laptop before I have a computer on the boat. Oh well, this thing is a few years old anyway
Names I've seen around:
Alberg - I can't find a bad thing about these. I've read bad things about how people have treated them, so caveat emptor indeed, but the boats themselves seem like the stuff of legend if you go to some sources.
Catalina - I see one of these for sale that is in the size range and it's at the upper end to outside of what I want to spend. Worth the price upgrade for any particular reason?
Islander - I see lots of these about for sale. Is there a bad reason for that?
For information purposes, my typical search criteria is cruiser, sloop, 25-32 feet length, less than 20k (I read that this is routinely possible price, is this too good to be true?)