Join Date: Mar 2006
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Some points to ponder from someone who was in your shoes just a few years ago.
First, Annapolis is absolutely the most expensive place you could choose to keep your boat on the Chesapeake Bay. You can cut your ongoing costs by half or three quarters by looking further afield for a slip. There are places like Herrington Harbor where 1/2 the cost of Annapolis will buy you a slip in a truly beautiful marina facility and that is just one example. Annapolis is very cool if its in your budget though.
Second, crewing is a great option to get on the water and learning a ton about sailing, but "crewing" is about racing and your spouse may not care for that aspect of sailing which could end the larger dream, if she gets the idea that all sailing is like racing. That said, my wife and I did crew on another boat (after we'd bought our first boat). Since us guys sometimes don't think on the same wave length as our SO's I'll relate that as we were walking down the dock to meet the owner of the boat we'd volunteered to crew on my wife wondered aloud how she'd be accepted by the all male crew. Uh Oh! It had never dawned on me that the rest of the male crew might not like a female along or she might be uncomfortable as the only female onboard. As it turned out, the owner was a great guy and when my wife immediately coiled the lazy sheet after our first tack it became apparent the rest of the crew was glad to have us aboard, which is likely to be the case most times but you might run into a crew of curmudgeons. Crewing for us proved to be a great way to make some new long term friends and greatly accelerate our learning curve. We are on our second boat now (a Catalina 36) but still sail with this group as often as we can.
Sailtime or other sharing options could be a good way to get a taste of the experience of owning a boat without some of the downsides. The issues I see here are it may be hard to convince your spouse to buy a boat you can afford to own, after they've gotten used to fairly new "rental" boats, if you decide you want to become an owner. A time share boat will at least let you experience the joy of a sunset at anchor in a peaceful anchorage which is the absolute best way to sell sailing to your spouse IMHO. I like being able to leave all my "stuff" on the boat so I don't have to haul my own charts, foulies, etc, etc, etc to the boat every time.
Lastly, you are probably going to need to up your budget or downsize your boat. We started out with a 32' Oday and 0 sailing experience, so I don't think its unreasonable to start out on the size boat you are considering. We took ASA 101 the weekend after closing the deal on our Oday, then took another day of private instruction on that boat and haven't looked back since. We still make mistakes and occasionally have a "character building" experience, but we love sailing on the Chesapeake.
My advice would be to stick with one of the well known production boats from the early to mid eighty's for your first boat (Catalina, Oday, C&C, Cal, Sabre, Tartan, Beneteau, and Hunter are some brands that come immediately to mind) and buy the most pristine example you can find regardless of brand. The nicest boat always sells faster if you want to move up later.
Good Luck in your search,
s/v Palmetto Moon
1991 Catalina 36
Last edited by PalmettoSailor; 10-23-2009 at 06:49 PM.