Smaller and well equipped, or larger and less equipped? - SailNet Community
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-09-2010 Thread Starter
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Smaller and well equipped, or larger and less equipped?

Hello!

First of all, I'm a new member here at SailNet. I've sifted through the forums in the past, but since I'm in the market for my first sailboat, I've decided to make the next step, and join the SailNet community!

I'm seeking the advice of experienced sailboat buyers. In your opinion, is it wiser to buy a smaller and more well equipped boat, or a larger and less equipped boat.

For example, I am trying to stay within my budget of about $14000. In my online searches, there seem to be many decent 70's vintage 25' to 27' boats, that have some luxuries like roller furling, self-tailing winches, dodgers/bimimis, cabin heaters (I'm in the Pacific NorthWest), spinnakers, etc., but there are also several 30' to 33' boats that lack some of these luxuries. Anyone have opinions or experience on this subject? In the long run, which do you think is the wiser choice?

Initially I'll be cruising around the Gulf Islands, but later on, I'd really like to sail down south, transit the canal, and head to the warmer waters of the Caribbean, so I will be spending a decent amount of time on board, and want to be as informed as possible before I buy my first boat!

Your opinions and advice are greatly appreciated!

Cheers!
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-09-2010
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Many people make the mistake of purchasing a larger boat than they can easily afford. Older boats can often be acquired for a very reasonable purchase prices, but the costs of owning and maintaining a boat rise dramatically as the boat gets incrementally larger.
In many cases a 'fixer upper' can end up costing far more
than a boat that is initially more expensive but in better
overall condition. I have seen many new boat owners in shock
when they discover that replacing the old, tired sail inventory
that came with the boat, will cost more than they paid for
the boat. Be dilligent in doing the math on the budget it will
take to get a boat in the condition you need it to be in.

Islander 30 II 'COOL'
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-09-2010
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With that budget, I would stick to a smaller, newer boat in better condition. It will allow you to get out sailing and get some experience without devoting your life to repairs and updating. Recognize however that a 25 footer is not going to be suitable for that trip though the canal to the Carribean. I doubt any boat of that price range would be. Plan on moving up to a more suitable boat when the time comes.
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-09-2010 Thread Starter
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Thanks Cool and Jim,

Cool, the dramatic increase in costs of maintaining an incrementally larger boat certainly makes me think the smaller, more well equipped boat is the better option. But it's hard to give up the space! I guess I have to think that less space = less spending = more sailing!

Regarding sails, I realize that replacing sails can be hugely expensive, and it might be nice to purchase a boat with a variety of them, but since storage space is at a premium on smaller boats, I'm guessing it's somewhat challenging to make space for a whole collection of sails.

Jim, I've heard of people doing blue water sailing, circumnavigating, and even rounding Cape Horn, in such small boats. I'm hoping I can find a boat that is quite seaworthy even though it may be small. You think this is a bit unrealistic? Or just unrealistic for this budget?

Cheers!
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-09-2010
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This probably isn't going to be what you want to hear. You aren't going to get a boat that is offshore capable and offshore equipped for 14K, doesn't matter what size it is. Ain't gonna happen. Being a new sailor you also aren't going to know what you want or like as far as boats go until you get some experience. I don't know what your time frame is for heading to the warm waters (what, PNW water is too chilly for you ), but I would look at this as a two step process. First, find a small boat in excellent condition and well equipped. Get some experience with it, maybe go around Van island, etc. Second, when you are a year or so out from wanting to take off, sell the boat and find the offshore boat that you need to do the cruise and spend a year getting to know it and equip it the way you want based on all that experience that you got in the small boat. Fast-no, cheap-no, reality-yes. Good luck, stop by and see us if you get up this way in your new boat.

John
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-09-2010
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You don't know what you don't know

Hello,

Considering that this will be your first boat, at this point, you don't know what you don't know. What I mean by that is you really don't know what you are looking for and / or want in a sailboat. I also am willing to be that the first boat you buy won't be the boat you take on a long trip (assuming you really do make such a trip).

I would suggest getting something in the 27-30' range, with the basic gear for a boat, and going sailing as much as you like. There are a lot of benefits to boats that size. They are way more affordable than larger (34+) boats, are more seaworthy than smaller boats (25 and under), and you can still dock one without too much heartache.

i would insist on a boat that was ready to sail today (with some minor maintenance like bottom paint, good cleaning, engine tune up, etc.).

If you plan on doing some simple cruising, say weekends or longer, I would look for a boat with standing headroom, pressure hot and cold water, good sized ice box or refrigeration, usable galley, good sized head, and a decent bunk. I would also want a boat with roller furling headsail, autopilot, and, of course, in decent condition.

Once you have a boat and start using it, you will learn more about is important to you and what you can live without. Some people need a nice onboard shower. Others don't need refrigeration. It's really up to you, but you won't know until you try.

Good luck,
Barry

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Mt. Sinai, NY

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post #7 of 9 Old 06-09-2010
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Difference between offshore capable and comfortable

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Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
This probably isn't going to be what you want to hear. You aren't going to get a boat that is offshore capable and offshore equipped for 14K, doesn't matter what size it is. Ain't gonna happen. Being a new sailor you also aren't going to know what you want or like as far as boats go until you get some experience. I don't know what your time frame is for heading to the warm waters (what, PNW water is too chilly for you ), but I would look at this as a two step process. First, find a small boat in excellent condition and well equipped. Get some experience with it, maybe go around Van island, etc. Second, when you are a year or so out from wanting to take off, sell the boat and find the offshore boat that you need to do the cruise and spend a year getting to know it and equip it the way you want based on all that experience that you got in the small boat. Fast-no, cheap-no, reality-yes. Good luck, stop by and see us if you get up this way in your new boat.
What we noticed this winter in the Eastern Caribbean is that Europeans often cruise on smaller boats than North Americans. We saw a couple of Contessa 26s and three Vega 27s from Europe. These are certainly offshore capable but would not be very comfortable, especially for someone, like myself, who is getting older.

BTW, I would not describe items like self-tailing winches and furlers as luxuries. Luxuries are things like watermakers and A/C units. I would agree that you would be better buying something cheap to get sailing, save your money and make the second boat a more serious vessel (of whatever size)

Back home on Lake Ontario after something over 36,000 nm circumnavigator. Not surprisingly there is a lot of stuff I want to get done on Ainia both cosmetically and functionally. Getting an early start so it will be ready to go for next summer (Lake Superior?).
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-09-2010 Thread Starter
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Wow, there really is a lot to consider.

I'd like to clarify, that even though this is my first boat, I have spent a little time on the water. I have logged approximately 4000 NM on 4 different boats, including a couple three-four day passages. All of the boats were much larger, and outfitted much better than what I can afford, but at least it gives me an idea about what I liked and what I didn't like in a vessel.

So, with your feedback, I think I'll look for something around 27' that is well kept and equipped as well as possible (within my budget, of course). This should allow me to have a decent time on the water, and hopefully won't break the bank with repairs and maintenance costs. When I'm ready for some more serious sailing, I'll find something a little bigger and more offshore capable.

Now, I just need to find my perfect 27'! Does anyone have an inside scoop on a great little boat for sale?
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-10-2010
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Can't help you with the boat search, but I'll keep my eyes open for something. Sounds like you're making the right decision to me. Have fun.

John
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