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Old 09-24-2009
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advice: sailboat for young family

I wanted to ask advice about what boat I might think of buying. I have sailed a bit - lasers, 420s, and have foredecked on J30s, J105s, and a Morgan 27. I've been out on a 505 once, too. I have not had a chance to sail in about 5 years as I have a very young family. I weigh in at 175 lbs. I live near the Potomac River and about 1.5 hours from the Chesapeake Bay.

So, I've been pondering buying a boat. I investigates what fleets were at the nearest marina (Washington Sailing Marina). This narrowed my search down to the Buccaneer, Lightning and Albacore. (The laser, another fleet at the local marina, bores me to tears. I like a much more complex sailplan with lots of lines to fiddle with. And doodads. I like doodads, too.)

laser... *yawn*

My MO goes something like this. My family is too young to sail with
me at present. My wife has a bad stomach () and is out of the picture
although she is willing to let me buy something. (If I could get her over this with one of those electronic wrist gizmos I would love to sail with her.) My first child should be ready in a couple of years. I'm an awfully, awfully busy
guy and don't expect to live at the marina so don't have heaps of time
to cultivate a standing crew. I was hoping for a boat I could sail
alone until I can scrape a few friends together or get a kid to help.
I also have the idea that I may just actually want to sail alone
sometimes, too.

I also have this idea of taking a long daysail with some camping gear packed into the front of a boat... okay, well, maybe that is putting too much on this first boat purchase. But I could see working my way up the Chesapeake or the Patuxent River stopping at B&Bs each night. That would be a fun adventure!

I read on the Albacore website that the boat tends to
turn turtle pretty quickly and needs 1.5 crew to right. I also read
about a guy that sailed all the way up the Patuxent in an Albacore by
himself in one. Sort of a puzzling contradiction there. The jury is still out on the Albacore.

I read on the Lightning website that it can be raced by 2 people ....
ah ha! I'm trying to put all of this together to
see if it could fit my needs, see. I think it may. I weigh in at
175 lbs. Could I do it? Could I sail this alone?

Another item is - how important is having a fleet? I *think* I want to occasionally race - nothing too serious though. Should I consider other boats like an O'day Daysailer? Given that I would like to maybe do gunk-hole cruising with my kid? What about a Lightning for such an expedition?

One thing that sort of worries me is if I get a Bucc, say, and get it up and running. I then take my kid out for his first ride and dump it. Will I inoculate him against sailing forever? Me, I don't mind swimming a bit - but what of my wife or kids?

Well, what do you think? I need some advise. In particular, what
have you seen of single sailors sailing the Lightning? the Bucc? Etc. Can it be done in
light airs? What about taking down the headsail and reefing the main? Could I then sail the Lightning, say, alone? What about family sailing? What about righting these boats? Can it be done by one man with a little kid floating nearby laughing at him... or do I need a standing crew of five swarthy, heavy-set, tattooed men to be ready every time I want to sail?

Thanks in advance!!

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Old 09-24-2009
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You could also consider something like a Catalina 22 or 22 Sport. Could be sailed singlehanded, although you'd probably want at least one crew member for racing. They're very common, so you should be able to find a fleet, and you could certainly do some gunkholing/overnighting on the boat. There are quite a few boats that would fit this bill, although few as common as the C22.
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Who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little.
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Old 09-24-2009
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Buccaneer 18 is too unstable for young kids or singlehanding in a breeze. We tried ours for sail camping, but it's incredibly wet and doesn't like weight in the ends. Fast, fun, and sedate enough in light air -- but a real battle above 12 knots. Terrific people in the class, tho, and a nice choice for OD racing.

Albacore is fun, a bit old-timey like the Thistle -- and like the Thistle, a real pain box. Lots of sharp edges: a choppy afternoon will leave you bruised in strange places.



Lots of Albacore sailors in the Mid-Atlantic states, with big turnouts at Governor's Cup regattas.

The Lightning is an awesome fit for you. It races with a crew of three, and powered up it's as fast as the Bucc. It'll really roll downwind. Tricked out for racing, it has a ridiculous number of strings and twings and GoFast things to play with. But because of its hard chine, it will sail flat and comfy with kids or when singlehanding if you match sail area to winds. It will settle down under a reef in a way the Bucc (with its soft chines) does not. The Lightning is a more versatile boat, suited to a greater range of wind and crewing situations. Not quite as easy to right if it does go over, tho -- tradeoff for the hard bilge. Huge, huge class with big events & top-flight sailors, but friendly to newbies.

Couple of other possibilities, more towards the camp-cruising/family end: O'Day Daysailors (as you mentioned), Rhodes 19, Flying Scot, Venture17 or SJ21 (dinghy-like keelboats). Gotta watch that draft on the East Coast, tho.
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Last edited by bobmcgov; 09-24-2009 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 09-24-2009
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You seem to have very different wishes in your post. You sound a lot like a guy who wants the Porsche but knows he should get the Sedan.

A lightning is like a supercharged 420. It's a racing dingy, fast and fun. If you have an active class near you, you might get a lot of use out of it but would your family race it with you? And with your weight, you could never max out a lightning singlehanded.

A lightning is NOT a good boat for kids to learn sailing on because of how delicate handling all that power can be. Also, how could you ever take a lightning on an overnight?

If you want to race and cruise a little, you could look at something like a little C&C or a J24 if you want to go a bit bigger and bring the fam for weekend trips.

My personal choice for what your describing with young kids, a wife who gets a bit ill, AND you want to singlehand, would be a nice little centerboard catboat. Big, stable cockpit with high sides and some room up front for a cabin or some stowage for that camping gear (or space tuck in for the night.) It's a simple and forgiving boat that kids can easily learn on that still carries a lot of sail to move it along. It's so freakin' versatile, and you can just hop in, raise one sail and go! Shallow area? Just pull the board up!

I probably have a bit of bias being from New England, but I <3 catboats.



Whatever you pick, remember you want a boat you can share with your family. You can always race and fiddle with doo dads on other people's boats (and you would probably need to if you lack the crew to man your own)

Last edited by NaviGsr; 09-24-2009 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 09-24-2009
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If the OP yawns on a Laser, he'll drop dead of boredom on a catboat. Srsly. Freakin. Slow. Sounds to me like he wants a fun boat to singlehand or put together a racing crew, with possible kids aboard as they get older. Fun primary, family sailing secondary. He doubts the wife is in the picture no matter what.

I've sailed an old wooden Lightning in 30 knots, just two of us kids surfing down whitecaps and screaming our heads off. We never did capsize that sucker in two years of trying. When the wind piped up, we reefed the main and hanked on the jib stenciled "STORM" (probably a 90%, with a high foot) and kept sailing. I was twelve years old and ninety pounds. The Lightning has 130 lbs in the keel and is perfectly manageable singlehanded or with kids if you match sail to conditions. Kids aren't made of spun glass, you know. They like a thrill -- and as long as Daddy's smiling, they're fine.

You camp-cruise in a Lightning the same way you camp-cruise in any dinghy: tent, propane or gas stove, everything else in dry bags. Maybe a tarp to hang over the boom. Everything tied down in case you roll. It's a soggy minimalist business that gets old fast, and that's why we plumped for the SJ21.
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Old 09-24-2009
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I would go with a Flying Scot. Very stable, family friendly, yet technically challenging enough to keep it interesting (spinnaker). They have fleet racing down on the Potomac at WSM and at a number of other locations in the nearby Chesapeake vicinity.

You can take your whole family in the Scot, or sail it alone. But unlike the Albacore you will have to try awfully hard to turtle it and even then you probably won't be able to.

Check in with George down at Belle Haven Marina -- he may have some leads on used Scots.

Don't get an Albacore for family sailing, whatever you do...
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Old 09-24-2009
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Wow! This is great, heady stuff! Holy smokes. I have got a lot of new ideas now. One thought I had was that my work does have a sailing club with a bigger boat that one can rent. (Windrose.) Meebee I could join that club and use that boat for my occasional big outing and buy a smaller boat for racing and fooling around. My club keeps its boats on the Chesapeak bay about 2 hours each way. They also have flying scots so I can play with those potentially.

For the nearby club - if I want any racing at all - it is Albacore, Lightning, Laser/Byte, Buccs, and Hampton One Design (whatever that is). I'm not ultra-keen on racing just now but could really like to have a boat that I could take racing if the spirit moves me.

What I see myself doing in the near-term is sailing alone or with a friend or kid. So, what I want to get clear on is this:

Can I single-hand a lightning? Can I just leave the jib in the hold, shorten the main and sail it? I figure I could have two sets of sails. One for cruising, daysailing and potting about by myself and one that is a competitive set. The daysailing sails could be a smallish jib together with a main with reefs. What say? Possible?

Now that the idea of renting the Windrose for longer outings is on the table, perhaps this opens up the Lightning for some more thought.

Hey NaviGsr, that catboat picture sure is beautiful! Really nice! Really romantic looking job.
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I got a PM from Gary who suggested the Thistle. I could not reply as I am SO junior on the site. (You can't PM until you have five posts.) Anyhoo, the Thistle is another idea along the lines of the Lightning I guess? I looked at the class website and the first line of the boat description is...

"The Thistle is a high performance one design racing sailboat that is generally sailed with a three person crew. "

I am thinking "Hey, great. If I just want to go for a sail, I have to manage to round up two other experienced sailers and deal with all of their noise and issues."

I don't know. I'm feeling pretty confused about this. I had been thinking that something that was smallish would need less crew. I remember sailing the Morgan 27 with three hands. Why the heck does a tiny Thistle need three hands to sail it?

Ugh.
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Old 09-24-2009
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Yeah. You know, the entire "...sailed with a three person crew" bit really does seem to put me off of my feed. My idea of sailing is sort of communing with nature. I can certainly feature getting back into some racing but, for now, I mostly just want to share some cool experiences with my little kids as they grow up... and maybe, just maybe enticing my wife onto the dang thing.

Just the idea of having to get on the phone and start dialing my way through the marina crew list just to go for a quick sail is a real bummer of an idea for me.
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Old 09-24-2009
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In working my way UP from a race-dingy to a V-18 to a J24 back to a Holder 14 and than back to a J24 and working on a Cal 29

I got a wife (married 28 years) that can take or leave sailing and two childern 21 and 24 that have the time here and there

Theres NO getting past a wife that does not like sailing and believe me her feelings rub off on the childern when there young


I should have got the Laser in 08 BUT it cost more than the race ready J24 i found BUt the finding crew thing has been a PITA and i am allways tracking down Juniors to sail the boat
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