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  #1  
Old 08-20-2010
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Realistic to get my first keelboat for under $10K?

I'm at the point where I think what I really need is just to get a boat and sail it a bunch. However, I have a lot of practical constraints, such as no trailer storage space (apartment), no vehicles capable of towing, etc. This means I need something I can stick in a marina that has access to interesting places to sail to, etc. And of course, the biggest constraint is relatively limited cash. So I think these are my requirements:

1) Able to safely sail in the conditions typical in and around the San Francisco Bay
2) Monohull keelboat of some sort acceptable for a beginner, but with some room to grow
3) Not a project boat: basically seaworthy and ready-to-sail, with rigging and sails that work
4) Reliable motor
5) Basic overnighting capability of some sort for multiple-day trips

My budget is $5-10K, including survey and miscellaneous closing costs, but not including insurance, berthing, etc. Obviously, I'm willing to accept a boat that has cosmetic problems and typical wear and tear.

Is this realistic? Or do I just not have enough money to make something happen?

I have about a million secondary questions; I'm not actually sure what length boat I need to be looking at, but I'm assuming something around 26 ft? I see lots of classified ads for boats that fit my budget in my area, but I am really concerned that they must have major problems to be offered so cheaply. I'm also worried that I might not have enough experience to be able to evaluate the condition of a boat before getting it surveyed. With my budget, every survey eats a pretty good chunk of boat.

I've been reading up on boat buying a lot, but I'd very deeply appreciate any advice for my particular situation.
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Old 08-20-2010
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Yes, this is possible, but it will take a good deal of looking. I'd highly recommend you start by looking at James Baldwin's Boat List as well as reading John Vigor's book, 20 Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere.

I'd also recommend you read the Boat Inspection Trip Tips thread I started, as it will help you determine whether any boats you look at are even worth going forward on, saving you the price of a survey on boats that aren't worth looking at further.

I'd point out that you're probably going to want to keep the boat on a mooring, since that will be far less expensive, if less convenient than a slip. You'll want to either have a launch service at your marina or a good dinghy dock.

I generally recommend that 15-20% of the purchasing budget be set aside for refitting, upgrading or repairing whatever boat you buy, since it will more than likely need some work to make it work for the way you will sail it. Boats are not like cars, and generally need to be modified to some degree for each individual.
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Old 08-20-2010
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Absolutey possible. Both of my first two cruising sailboats (which would fit your requirements) were purchased for less the $10k combined. Your biggest allie will be research. Be sure you know the market and the boats and then you'll know when something worthwhile comes along in your budget. Get out and look at as many boats as possible in your price range and just above.

Good luck!
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Old 08-20-2010
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I would also have to agree it can be done as that is where I am looking also money-wise. SD's tips page is loaded with great info and I have used that along with advice from others and Don Casey's book, "Inspecting the Aging Sailboat" when I have looked at boats. Have yet to find "The One" but, I think with good knowledge and perseverance it can be done. Good luck!
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Old 08-20-2010
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There are many boats available in the Bay Area that fit your requirements. Start looking here: Latitude 38 Classy Classified Categories
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Old 08-20-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
There are many boats available in the Bay Area that fit your requirements. Start looking here: Latitude 38 Classy Classified Categories
Second that! It helps that the boat is already where you want it, and within reach of 1) good boatyards & marinas; 2) lots of knowledgeable sailors who can help you inspect a boat; and 3) Lots of sailors moving up and willing to almost give their smaller boats away to a good home. Lat38's classifieds are an excellent place to look, as are Good Old Boat and 40 North in Seattle. Sailors selling to sailors. Also, walk the docks looking for For Sale signs and shaking hands.

Lat38 has a Cal 2-27 that's worth a glance. Outboard motor, but that's not bad for bay sailing and will reduce your hassle factor. The Pearson Ariel is also a splendid little boat. Do be aware lots of Bay boats have been raced VERY HARD and may carry fatigue from that. Your Catalinas and Cheoy Lees and Ericksons are probably not in that category, but I'd be wary of the Olsons and Santanas. Great boats, but their owners tend to be racy types.
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Old 08-20-2010
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I think a Catalina 25 or 27 with an outboard motor and fixed keel would fit your needs perfectly. You can probably find one of either in excellent condition for around $5k if you look long enough, and then have another $5k left over for any unexpected repairs, equipment upgrades, etc. These boats are very abundant, parts easy to get, etc.

I've seen a few 30 footers for around 10k, but then you'd probably want yet another $10k for repairs and upgrades.

I have a Catalina 22 and really like it because I can trailer it with a regular car (Volvo 740) but I don't think it would make sense to go this small if you don't have to trailer it and step the mast.
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Old 08-20-2010
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There are a lot of boats on the market now. The initial asking prices haven't come down as much as you would expect considering the current economic crisis but there is a lot of bargaining room because boats just aren't selling. I'm not saying you should go out and low-ball every offer but be objective. If a boat is in great shape but has lots of deferred maintenance items the price should reflect that. If the boat is unused and is costing hundreds of dollars a month to store, the owner may be willing to entertain a lower offer to avoid incuring extra expenses. On the other hand, if the owner is enjoying his boat he may be less willing to negotiate.

I would be wary of deals too good to be true or super bargains. These boats will tend to eat you alive with unexpected costs. Also don't be tempted to buy a bigger boat than you can afford to maintain just because of a low initial purchase price. The bigger the boat the more expensive everything gets.

If you are primarily looking in the mid 20' range I would try to stay closer to 5K than to 10k. You should be able to find lots of boats in that range with good sailing characteristics and accomodations in your price range that aren't thrashed or ready for complete refits.

I have a Cal25 (not for sale) that is in very good condition. It has been completely restored including hull fairing, barrier coat, complete interior refinish, has a functional galley, head with holding tank, water tank and sleeps 4 adults comfortably. If I were to put it on the market I would probably list it around 5k.

Happy hunting, to me it's almost as enjoyable as sailing.
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Old 08-20-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronwindward View Post
I'm at the point where I think what I really need is just to get a boat and sail it a bunch. However, I have a lot of practical constraints, such as no trailer storage space (apartment), no vehicles capable of towing, etc. This means I need something I can stick in a marina that has access to interesting places to sail to, etc. And of course, the biggest constraint is relatively limited cash. So I think these are my requirements:

1) Able to safely sail in the conditions typical in and around the San Francisco Bay
2) Monohull keelboat of some sort acceptable for a beginner, but with some room to grow
3) Not a project boat: basically seaworthy and ready-to-sail, with rigging and sails that work
4) Reliable motor
5) Basic overnighting capability of some sort for multiple-day trips

My budget is $5-10K, including survey and miscellaneous closing costs, but not including insurance, berthing, etc. Obviously, I'm willing to accept a boat that has cosmetic problems and typical wear and tear.

Is this realistic? Or do I just not have enough money to make something happen?

I have about a million secondary questions; I'm not actually sure what length boat I need to be looking at, but I'm assuming something around 26 ft? I see lots of classified ads for boats that fit my budget in my area, but I am really concerned that they must have major problems to be offered so cheaply. I'm also worried that I might not have enough experience to be able to evaluate the condition of a boat before getting it surveyed. With my budget, every survey eats a pretty good chunk of boat.

I've been reading up on boat buying a lot, but I'd very deeply appreciate any advice for my particular situation.
My first keelboat was a Victory 21 that I sailed all over SF Bay. I picked it up for all of $1300, or so. While it wouldn't meet your overnighting criterion, unless you want to feel like you're camping in a pup-tent, it was fine for the rest of your list. A Catalina 22, or similar boat, would be fine for overnight or multi-day stays. You could even go a bit smaller and get a West Wight Potter, or something similar. In any case, you should easily be able to pick up something to meet all your criteria for less than $5K.

If you can, get something with a trailer and "dry sail" it. I kept my V21 at Alameda Marina and paid a whooping $55/mo in the early 1990's (mast up storage; I'm sure the prices have gone up since then), including 24hr use of the hoist (i.e., I didn't need to use a ramp).
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Old 08-20-2010
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Since you are in the Bay area, the first thing you need
to do is get a hold of a Latitude 38, every month, and read it
cover to cover. It is by far the most sensible sailing publication
anywhere.
There are lots of functional boats available in the size and
price range you are considering. Just make sure you carefully
weigh all of the expenses associated with owning a boat, and do
not get lured into buying a boat that is larger than you can afford.
The purchase price can be a minor expense compared to annual
berthing and up keep.
A Santana 22 would be a good starter boat for the bay,
and it has an active fleet. There is also a 23' Sprinta Sport
listed for $3,500 in Ltitude,that would be a good boat for
bashing around the bay. At the extreme high end of your
budget you can find Olson 25's for just under 10K, which are
a very cabable boat for handling S.F. sailing.
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