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  #1  
Old 06-15-2010
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Purchasing First Boat - Answers & Recommendations Wanted

Well, I am now officially in the market for a nice, pre-owned, and well cared for sailboat. Previously, I thought that I would wait until we moved to the ocean to buy the coastal cruiser I've been dreaming of.. But thankfully some old salts have recently talked me out of it.

Currently land-locked, I didn't really consider getting a boat for the lake. I'm now thinking otherwise after a few local Wednesday evening races.

More than a few folks have said that to really learn and get comfortable sailing you need to be able to spend a significant amount of sailing w/o an agenda/solo, learning the to-dos and not-to-dos by trial and error. This way you can quickly get past the constant translation of maneuvers in your head that all of us newbies go through. Hopefully you all went through that...

Also, no there's no better way to learn about boat systems and how to fix / troubleshoot those systems than by having to tinker with your own boat's issues. Shoot, hopefully you confirm how much you see yourself loving this hobby.

Below is my current short list of boats, some purchase considerations, and a few questions I still have outstanding.

Current Short List:

All of the below boats seem to have been produced in fairly high volumes making parts and community advice/assistance more easy to come by. Welcome thoughts, recommendations, and for-sale links for boats that are located in the SE area that you feel would be worth checking out.

- Catalina 27ft
- Pearson 26-30ft
- Hunter 27-30ft

Boat Considerations/Questions:
- Would like to spend less than 10k
- All major systems must be in fair condition
- Sails in fair condition
- Boat can have smaller issues that can be fixed with some DIY elbow grease.
- Would like to keep ease of resale in ~18-24 mo/range in mind.


Q: Should you look for a boat with a particular sail inventory? I'm thinking that in my price range I may not have the luxury of letting sail condition be a major factor in my decision making process.

Q: Where should sails be in the boat grading process as compared to engine, hull, rigging, and primary systems?

Q: Should you try to get a boat that has a wheel vs. a tiller? Seems that at ~30ft, most boats grow a wheel.

Q: Are there any major recurring costs to look out for in a boat this size?

Thanks!

Last edited by gene80; 06-15-2010 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 06-15-2010
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I have recently gotten out of my 'first' boat. I'll tell you what made it hard to sell, which might have some bearing on what you want to buy...

Try to avoid a gasoline inboard. It seems to be fine to have the heavier than air gas called propane in the bottom of your boat, but gas auxiliary's are not 'de rigueur' these days. Outboards are well accepted and really easy to fix / replace.

Make sure your sails will outlast your ownership and be in good enough condition to sell when you are done with the boat. Remember that most boats for sale aren't being used regularly. If you take out those sails and work them hard, make sure they will take it, or at least can be mended, meaning the fabric must be sound. You don't want to have the boat when the sails are shot, then you'll be looking at a very nice, new, expensive set of sails on a boat that is reaching the end of it's life cycle.

A tiller will teach you to trim the sails. You'll get sick of holding it if you don't! If you have a wheel, it will be less difficult to sail out of trim. Most boats in your range do have tillers... Don't mess with a good thing, I've seen very few malfunction. (unlike my wheel).

Use a competent surveyor to inspect your boat. I hate paying for people to "look at stuff", but I'll bet you can use his report to negotiate at least what he cost you out of the purchase price, plus you'll have a second set of eyes on the boat. He won't go up the mast (likely) unless you ask, and the rigging as you mentioned is important. If it is in good shape, it will last. If it lets go one blustery day, you'll wish like hell you'd fixed it first. It is generally inexpensive components that need inspection and replacement, and may not be a deal breaker, but you gotta know.

If you are looking for a lake boat, you probably won't get much, if any heavy weather experience that you are going to stay on the water and fight out, so looking for storm trysails etc. would be a waste of time. Just look for a good jib and main. You can always find a cheap chute to try if you really want one.

The boats you mentioned are fine for your purpose, IMHO, but difficult to move. If you are on a lake and plan on upgrading, have you thought about a 26' MacGregor? They are far lighter boats, and have some advantages and disadvantages, but might fit in to your plans well.

As far as major reoccurring costs? BOATS are the reoccurring cost! No matter what you buy, it'll be two feet too short.
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Old 06-15-2010
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Q: Should you look for a boat with a particular sail inventory? I'm thinking that in my price range I may not have the luxury of letting sail condition be a major factor in my decision making process.

For lake sailing and in your price range, I wouldn't expect a huge inventory nor would you really need it. I'd look for sails that are in good condition but it wouldn't be a deal killer for me. Sails are much easier to replace/repair than hulls or engines.

Q: Where should sails be in the boat grading process as compared to engine, hull, rigging, and primary systems?

On a sailboat, the sails are the engine but as stated earlier, these are easier to replace than the engine or hull. Check around to get a ball park figure for new sails, you might be able to use this a negotiating point later but you need a realistic number to do so.

Q: Should you try to get a boat that has a wheel vs. a tiller? Seems that at ~30ft, most boats grow a wheel.

MotorMark made some excellent points but for me, I'd prefer a wheel if I was planning on moving up in boat later. After sailing tiller boats, it took me a while for "muscle memory" to set in with the wheel. For a bit there, I felt completely backward at the wheel. Of course, I am a bear of little brain so this might not be an issue for you or your crew.

Q: Are there any major recurring costs to look out for in a boat this size?

Same recurring costs as bigger boats, just on a smaller scale. Maintaining a boat of any size will always require more money and time than you expected. The payoff will come when you get ready to sell her. A well maintained boat will sell for significantly more than the poorly maintained one.
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Old 06-15-2010
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Hello,

Your plan seems solid. I would suggest looking at almost any 'production' boat around 27' in length. In addition to Catalina, Hunter and Pearson, you should add O'day, Newport, Tartan, Sabre, S2, Irwin, and probably some more. Since you don't plan on keeping the boat long, and don't have any real ambitious plans for the boat, finding a good one close to home would be better than searching all over creation for a particular model in so so condition.

Regarding sails, all you really want are two - a main in good condition, and a headsail, in whatever size is typical for your area, probably a 135 or a 150.

I would insist that any boat I bought have:
Roller furling
Decent canvas - bimini or dodger
Engine in good condition - and preferably, like REALLY preferable, an inboard diesel (unless you find a GREAT boat with an outboard or Atomic 4).
10 year old or newer sails


I don't know if you can get all that for $10K. I couldn't back in 2004, but the market has changed since then.

Find a boat, buy it, sail it, have fun with it!

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 06-15-2010
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Sounds like a good plan so far. Couple of ideas...

-If you get a basically sound boat that needs this and that and the other thing, consider a trailerable boat. Your size requirement makes this tough, but Pearson makes a nice 26' that sits proudly on a trailer. Big cost savings by going slipless, and it's a lot easier to work on in your driveway - everything from through-hulls to exterior painting to carpentry. Downside is, of course, the time it takes to get in the water each sail, issues associated with swing keels, and neighbors that don't understand the valuable fertilizer potential of fiberglass dust on their lawns.

-Sails: I just bought a boat, upgrading from a trailer sailer to a slip. Well, I actually kept my trailerable in a seasonal slip but bought a Catalin 25. Here's what I have stumbled on about sails... If you think you want to primarily cruise and occasionally race, a roller furler is a good thing. So is an assymetrical spinnaker in a sock. But these are pricey upgrades and the seller will want to charge for them. If you primarily race and enjoy running around the boat to change headsails when conditions warrant (not a terribly tough thing to do with one other crew on a boat this size) then you can get more boat for less money, or maybe more sail for the same money, or something. I had a jib dowsing line on my previous two small boats and could drop the jib from the cockpit as easily as pulling in a roller furler if the wind came up suddenly. I intend to put this on my new boat, too.

Great times. I think $10k is a good price to shoot for.

Carlos
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