Newbie needs boat buying advice - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-05-2009 Thread Starter
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Newbie needs boat buying advice


My name is Beth. I know absolutely nothing about sailboats. I had a sailing class in college about 14 years ago but don't really remember much about it. But I scuba dive, kayak, and love the ocean. I'd like to try my hand at learning to sail and see where it takes me.

There is a Cal 21 for sale locally that I'm interested in. The asking price is $1200. Here's what the ad says:
"This is a great solid boat. Needs nothing to sail today. Trailer is good with new tires. boat has stereo w/ speakers, new wiring & fuse panel. sleeps 4, and has a portable head along with stainless solar fan."

I think this sounds very promising as a good starter boat...the price is definitely right. But I don't want to waste my money or get in over my head...what do I need to know about this boat? Is it a good starter boat? Are there any problems I need to be on the lookout for? Can you find parts for it? What type of maintenance should I expect to do to it? Where the heck am I going to store it? Can one person sail it easily? I'm planning on sailing on an inland lake, but could I take it on the ocean (bays?) if I wanted?

Feel free to explain things as if I am a six year old. Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!


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post #2 of 6 Old 09-05-2009
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ahoy Beth,
The Cal 21 is a great starter boat. I would ask the owner for a copy of an "inspection" that is done by reputable businesses/persons. The inspection will be needed if you were to insure your boat and trailer. Have the boat put in the water and set up for you. Video this process to recall each step. Have the boat taken out of the water and ready for the road, video this as well.
If you see any patch work on the hull, ask , what the heck happened here? If you do not ask, the seller may not tell. Make sure the flat foredeck is not soft and mushy. Do the navigation lights work? What are the chattels of the boat and what is not included in the price? I would even have the trailer inspected at a MoHome or trailer shop to make sure the bearings are not sealed and that the tires are road worthy. If you have a friend with sailboat knowledge have them join you on your first visit. Do not buy on impulse. Look at lots if you can as there are lots out there.
good luck,sail on,
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-05-2009
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It is customary to make an offer if it is what you want, but have a condition of sale on successful sea trial, survey and if you like, finding the financing to your interest rate. (if not in cash). This allows for additional haggle points or allow you to back out if you find that the boat need$ work that wa$ not apparent. Surveyors do mi$$ important item$, so also find a local marine mechanic to take along for a second opinion.

Cal 9.2 #19 SilverSwan
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-05-2009
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That boat might be ok, but since 90% of all boats offered for sale are junk, you'd best look carefully. Start by reading over this thread
Boat Inspection Trip Tips
and inspecting the boat yourself. Take lots of pictures and post them here. The folks on this forum are incredibly experienced and helpful. They'll pick up all kinds of things from looking at your pictures.
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-06-2009
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What your looking at seems like a good deal most boats with trailers sell for twice that, I would look at it and see if you can't get someone's help but don't let it get away.

I had less then $500 into my 1975 Chrysler C-22 when it hit the water and its a great boat. Yes I had alot of work , most was building a trailer, but enjoyed making the boat mine. (it found me)

I'm sure theres a Cal sailboat group that could help you with everything to have you sailing.

Good luck
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-06-2009
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Kind of similar to what some others have suggested but -
find someone who knows about boats and bring him/her along to look at it. Make an offer if you both see what you like contingent upon further inspection (a boat survey) and sea trial (during which you will see how to rig the boat and find out how it sails and identify any faults). It is common to bring the surveyor along for the sea trial. All of this, however, can often cost half of what your price is so it may not be worth going past the knowledgeable friend part.
Whatever you do, don't buy it without somebody you trust having looked at it first.
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