Here's a quick update on our boat search:
Because of our interest in comfortable cruising and my 6'5" son's desire for as much headroom as possible, we continued to increase the size and price range of boats that we were looking at. I placed unsuccessful offers on a couple of Catalina 320s. My prices were right in the middle of the range of comparables from soldboats.com, but because these boats are very new on the market and in very nice condition, the owners are still optimistic about getting prices that are 20% higher than soldboats says they should get.
That's their right, and I've moved on.
Over the past week, practicality has taken over, and I started thinking of the 80/20 rule. If we find a smaller, less expensive boat for daysailing near home on the Delaware we would have 80% of the fun for 20% of the price and much lower slip, storage, and maintenance costs. Realistically we could not spend more than 1-2 weeks a year doing cruising while I am still working, and I had to wonder whether it is worth the extra cost of owning a big boat when we only need that amount of space for those 1-2 weeks. Such a boat is bigger than we would need for daysailing on protected waters.
I think I could have the "best of both worlds" with the smaller, less expensive boat near home for sailing after work and on weekends, and charter a 32-40 footer down on the Bay for the 1-2 weeks of cruising each year. (Ulladh mentioned in a prior message that he does this to supplement his own sailing on the Delaware.) I could also avoid the choice of where to keep it - I'd have my own boat near home, and could get a charter boat almost anywhere.
The economics are pretty simple: Under $1000 to slip a 25' boat on the Delaware vs. about $3600 for a 32' boat at an upscale marina like Haven Harbour. The difference of $2600, plus difference of maintenance cost, could pay for 2 weeks of chartering, and if I have a busy year that prevents us from cruising I'm not ticked off that I'm spending so much on a boat that we can't fully use.
Also, while chartering (and daysailing the smaller boat), I would be learning a lot more about my preferences in boat features (as well as upgrading my sailing skills), so if we were to decide to move up later it would be a much more knowledgeable decision.
My wife really wants the Catalina perch seats and walk-through transom, so I have my eye on a Catalina 250 that's in really nice shape. We could keep that near home (or move it to Lake Wallenpaupack someday if we want), and charter on the Bay, Keys, USVI, etc. to fill in the rest.
Comments? Do any of you have nightmare stories about bareboat charters?