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Old 08-25-2009
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Is 3 feet worth the cost ?

I'm looking at purchasing a new (2009/10) entry-level sailboat. For my general-use learning and coastal needs I was entertaining a Beneteau 30-something. (Vancouver area)

My question is for those of you with experience working your way from a 20 something foot boat, through the 30's and upward; why would I spend thousands more $$ going from a 31 to a 34, or 34 to 37, etc. ?

Specifically comparing a Bene 31 vs. 34 - what you get seems almost identical insofar as rigging and amenities are concerned; a little more room at the nav station?

I'm really waffling on this one; jumping up in length to get that additional cabin is understandable, but would I really notice that much sail performance improvement for the extra 3 feet? Are there any factors I should be considering other than pure dollars and cents?
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Old 08-25-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacNorthWestNewbie View Post
Are there any factors I should be considering other than pure dollars and cents?
In Vancouver, a qualified yes... Moorage at 30/31 feet will be easier to find than at 34/37 - though it could be tough to find good moorage these days at any size above 25 feet.

As far as the boats go - moving up from 20 feet to 31 will be impressive - esp if it's an older 20-something, the new boats have very large interiors (at a loss of storage, however) Whether or not 34 is worth the extra $Ks is hard to say.

Personally, I'd lean towards looking for a late model used boat that's been looked after - chances are it's already been upgraded from factory state, and will have literally thousands of dollars of ancillary gear on board that you'd have to buy up front with a new boat. Also, if you can find a good used boat that's to your liking there's a real possibility that you can get the larger boat for a similar price, and someone else will have worked out the bugs.

Good luck however it goes, some brokers are offering moorage with new boat sales, but moorage in town is pricey where ever you go....
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Old 08-25-2009
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That is a very good question.

If you already owned a 31 foot boat, it would be easier to offer an answer. Which, in my opinion, would be that it really is not worth the extra expense to make such a modest upgrade in size (3'). If you had a 31 footer already, I'd push you to stretch a bit more for the larger boat (i.e., the 37 footer).

[There are exceptions, of course. For instance, if you had the 31 footer but the 34 footer was your dream boat in every respect, and it wasn't so much the extra size that you were after.]

But here you have no boat at all, so the slate is clean. If you were moderately experienced, I'd say definitely get the boat with the extra space that you could reasonably afford. The price delta might actually save you money in the long run if you ended up having to upgrade the smaller boat later. Transaction costs and depreciation can be steep.

The glitch is that you indicate that you will be "learning". In my opinion, a 31 footer is a much more reasonable platform on which to cut your teeth than a 37 footer. The other factor is that it is rare for a novice sailor to truly know what he/she wants in their ultimate boat. So you should really be thinking of this as your "first" boat. Which says to me you're going to be eating those transaction and depreciation costs down the road eventually.

Perusing those brochures is like joining a theoretical arms race. It's very tough not to be tempted by the next size up. But, all things considered, this time around it might be best to resist the 3'-foot-itis.

You'll hear other opinions for sure.
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Old 08-25-2009
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You make a good point about availability of moorage in Vancouver area.

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Old 08-25-2009
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This is one of those entirely subjective questions only you and your sailing partner can answer. spend some time on a 40 and then go look at a 35 - you'll feel claustrophobic the first time it rains.
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Old 08-25-2009
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If you're buying new, sit on them both at a boat show before deciding. I had been looking at buying a Beneteau 323 for a while. The boat seemed perfect. On check-writing day, the dealer took us around to a 343 before showing us the 323 one last time. The man knew his trade, because the Admiral felt claustrophobic in the 323 and we bought the 343.

If we ever decide to move up, it will be for more than an extra couple of feet. I imagine we'd end up doing a 40-footer.
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Old 08-25-2009
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Having started on a 32 foot boat and moved up to a 36 after 3 seasons, I'd say that the learning curve would not be a whole lot steeper, if you started with the 36-37 footer. However, as some pointed out previously, your first boat is going to teach you a LOT about what you want on your next boat. We searched for a year to find a boat in our price range that offered the things we felt were lacking on our 32 and we're very happy with our current boat, but I think we needed that experience with the smaller boat to learn what was important to us.

We also find our larger boat inspires more confidence in SCA conditions than the 32, which might be a consideration where you sail.
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Old 08-25-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by painkiller View Post
If you're buying new, sit on them both at a boat show before deciding. I had been looking at buying a Beneteau 323 for a while. The boat seemed perfect. On check-writing day, the dealer took us around to a 343 before showing us the 323 one last time. The man knew his trade, because the Admiral felt claustrophobic in the 323 and we bought the 343.
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Old 08-25-2009
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Keep in mind, a few feet adds exponentially for haul out, maintenance, insurance, sails, safety and most marinas - by the foot moorage.

Sure, bigger is better, but in the long haul, buy the smallest boat you are comfortable with, learn, upgrade, and turnover to another sailing enthuiast.
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Old 08-26-2009
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Thank you for the wise words; both my gut and wallet are saying to stay smaller. I've sort of accepted there will be a trade-up depreciation hit in the future, only because the number of 4yr old or newer boats in the Pac NW seems limited. Maybe come October things will change ?

I would never had thought that the most complicated part of owning a boat would be moorage but that also seems to be the case in Vancouver.
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