Time to buy a trailer sailer - which one? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 21 Old 12-08-2009 Thread Starter
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Time to buy a trailer sailer - which one?

I need (really, it is a need!) a trailer sailer for use on Lakes Allatoona and Lanier here in GA and the occasional road trip to salt water for a coastal kind of weekend. I've owned 12' - 14' daysailers and have sailed / chartered 22' - 37' boats - but I've never bought/gambled on a 20 to 30 year old swing keel, cuddy cabin weekender.

Looking online I see lots of boats for less than $3,500 and I plan/hope to spend less than $3,000. I plan to keep it on the trailer, sleep no more than 2 adults, daysail with no more than 4 adults, fish out of it, and maybe race it casually (just want to participate and learn, don't have to be at the front of the pack).

I don't want a project that needs work to sail, but I'm happy to cosmetically renovate and update.

What boats say 19' to 22/23' are known to be sweethearts and which ones should I avoid? (Please let me know if you're speaking from ownership experience or relating what you've heard/read.)

Should I pay for a survey for a $3,000 boat or just do my best inspection with book guidance?

Should I even consider a boat that I can't test sail?

Finally, what are the real gottcha's in an older trailer sailer - water logged core decks, leaking centerboard trunks, etc, etc

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 21 Old 12-08-2009
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Can't go wrong with a Catalina22. The little O'days are a rip, Precision makes great boats (tho not many in your price bracket.) Lake Lanier has a number of San Juan 21s, a boat which fits your criteria and definitely rates as a "sweetheart." Also rates almost 20 pts faster than a C22 on handicap. Fleet 8 out of New Bern organizes OD racing in the region, and the boat does well in summer PHRF races. It's a fine light-air boat.

Some in your region HERE.

Buccaneer18, Grainnia
SJ21, Diarmuid
Albin Ballad 30, Fionn
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post #3 of 21 Old 12-09-2009 Thread Starter
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Thanks - the SJ21 is one that has caught my eye (I prefer the earlier 'traditional' cabin trunk design) - beautiful lines, looks light on her feet in a 'quick' way - how about any quality of construction comparisons/issues between SJ21 and the C22.

I love the look of a dark blue hull - how happy will I be (aka, how good will the result be) with an 'at home' hull paint job?

If a trailer sailer lists for say $3200, where do I start with my initial offer - 40% below asking price?
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post #4 of 21 Old 12-09-2009
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I just purchased a 1976 San Juan 21 with trailer last week for $2,500 without motor. I too was debating between a Catalina 22 and the San Juan 21. Decided on the San Juan 21 because of the active fleet and racing opportunities in this area, plus a large SJ21 local community for answering questions and assistance. The main thing to watch out for are spongy deck cores.

The San Juan comes in 3 flavors; MKI, MK II and MKIII. I chose the MKII because of the larger cabin space. Serious racers seem to favor the MKI because they are lighter. Prices range from $1,500 for fixers to $4,500 for ones in great condition with lots of extras. Average asking price seemed to be around $2,800 with motor.
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post #5 of 21 Old 12-09-2009 Thread Starter
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What do you think about 'lowball offers' to get the best/lowest price?

If I may ask, how did your negotiating go?
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post #6 of 21 Old 12-09-2009
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I also prefer the "doghouse" coach roof of the Mk1, and the larger cockpit for social sailing. But the interior is quite small compared to the Mk2, and waaaay smaller than the C22. SJ21s are mediocre build quality (like the C22), but their issues are simple to deal with. Even wet decks are more tedious than difficult to repair and can be ignored for years. Most SJ21s have or once had wet decks, and they are/were sailed anyhow.

Other known issues: Transom core around bottom gudgeon and motor mount may be wet. Fixed portlights leak. Mk2&3 have bulkheads that bear inspection for leaky chainplates. That's about it -- the reason these boats are still around is that they are cheap to own and a blast to sail. Here's a website about a guy who painted his SJ21 (dark blue, no less!). Doesn't look too hard. We're going to try it one of these days.

Prices are as Joekano suggests; they've actually risen the past two years, for some reason. Figure average base price around $2k; less if it's been neglected and has wet decks, more if it has racing upgrades, new sails, and an outboard. $3000 is probably all any SJ21 is ever worth.

Performance is dinghy-like, very quick. Flat bottom and bluff entry means the boat will exceed hull speed if driven; also means it can pound a bit in chop and gets kinda squirrely on big following swells. Points well inside a narrow window (8-12 kts); its weatherly qualities diminish markedly outside that window. A genoa is useful in light wind areas, but the boat has a bit of lee helm and the 100% is a better choice above 12kts. We've sailed comfortably in 40 kts on reefed main only (boat loves main-only in a blow) and survived a 50+ knot squall, tho we don't advise it. One person can step the mast. Unless you have strong currents, a 2hp motor will push it fine. We get 3kts from a trolling motor. Keel retracts fully, so launch & retrieval are easy; we often tow with a 2.4l 4-cylinder van.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the sailing qualities of the SJ21, even if I occasionally want to choke the Clark Brothers. C22 has bigger fleets & better parts support (also a real nice bunch of people). Both are excellent boats for messing about in.

Buccaneer18, Grainnia
SJ21, Diarmuid
Albin Ballad 30, Fionn
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-09-2009 Thread Starter
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bobmcgov - Thanks for the detailed insight on the SJ21 - though you may not own a C22, can you give some insight as to how the C22 and SJ21 compare in performance in a manner such your well written SJ21 performance paragraph above?
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post #8 of 21 Old 12-09-2009
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I also own a San Juan 21. MkII, 1500$- best 1500$ I could have spent. It has a few leaks, but it was 1,000 less than most, and I'm proficient with fiberglass work..
It's quick, sails on a breath, but can power right through lulls. You can pull it with practically anything, and it can hold 4 people very comfortably.
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post #9 of 21 Old 12-09-2009
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I had a SJ 21. It was a nice boat but it was definetely on the tender side. I initially bought it with the intention of sleeping on it but I found it so cramped down there I never got around to it and just used it as a day sailor. I think I paid around $2500 without a motor.

I would definetely recommend the boat for its sailing qualities but would think twice about buying it if you do plan to spend long weekends on it.
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post #10 of 21 Old 12-09-2009
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The boat is plenty big enough for a friend and I to spend a weekend on, you just have to know how to utilize the space properly
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