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Old 08-25-2010
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Learning Boat: San Juan 21 vs Catalina 22 vs ???

My wife and I are looking for a first sailboat. Our experience thus far is limited to a little time on friends' boats (a Hobie Cat 17 and an Islander 32). We've very much enjoyed what we've done thus far, and think we're ready to make the plunge into a boat of our own.

A dinghy might be the best (and cheapest) choice for learning to sail, but we have a 2 1/2 year old, who really enjoys sailing, and we'd like to ensure that he continues to enjoy it. So we want to minimize the risk of dumping the boat, and we expect he'll have a better experience if he has a bit of a cabin to escape the wind and spray when he likes. I'm sure we'll all enjoy our sailing days more if he's happy.

We plan to mostly day-sail on a nearby lake and on the Columbia river. Perhaps an occasional overnight; we're long-time backpackers, and can probably manage with a camp stove and minimal amenities. I certainly don't expect stand-up headroom in a starter boat.

Our criteria are:

--Budget around $2500. Definitely an older boat. We know buying any boat is a risk, and we'd rather not wager big to start with.

--Easily trailerable and launchable - which most likely means a swing keel. It would be nice to be able to get in an evening sail after work, which is probably doable if we can go from towing to water in a half-hour or so. Any accumulated wisdom on how practical that is? How much does the launch time increase as you move from a 16-18 footer up to 20-22?

--Displacement <= 2500 lbs (~3000 with trailer). Our main tow rig is rated for 3500 lbs; I've towed that much quite comfortably, but would prefer not to push the limits pulling up a ramp.

--Cabin of some sort: enough room for our son to play, a porta-potti, etc. Berths would be nice, but the size isn't crucial.

Speed is not a priority, although decent light-wind performance would be nice. We'll mostly sail as a family (2 adults + 1 child), so single-handing and cockpit space aren't huge concerns. For the areas we intend to sail, draft shouldn't be a big issue either, although as I mentioned, I suspect a swing keel would make launching and recovery much smoother.

We're considering the SJ21 and the Catalina 22, mostly because they are reasonably priced and in plentiful supply. Any advice on comparing those two models?

I think we could be happy with something smaller, but don't see a lot of 16-18 footers with usable cabins for sale (We looked very briefly, but just a bit too late, at a Sanibel 17; we probably should have jumped on that). Other models we should be watching for?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-25-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aarond View Post
Easily trailerable and launchable - which most likely means a swing keel. It would be nice to be able to get in an evening sail after work, which is probably doable if we can go from towing to water in a half-hour or so. Any accumulated wisdom on how practical that is? How much does the launch time increase as you move from a 16-18 footer up to 20-22?
I love my Catalina 22, but it's usually 1-2 hours of exhausting work getting it in the water, and about the same on retrieval. It gets faster the longer you've had it- and if you're willing to buy/make special equipment for speeding things up.

I wouldn't do single daysails with a C22, because you'll spend very little of the day sailing. My wife and I use ours for 2-3 day all weekend cruises and have added a queen sized bed (boards to fill walkway), porta potty, and combo BBQ/stove.

One thing that works good is getting short-term slips or mooring buoys for trips. If you want to do after work sails with a trailered boat- you should really get something small with an unstayed mast.
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Old 08-25-2010
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Either boat would be an excellent choice. I've sailed on C22s and own a SJ21, and really, it's a toss-up. May come down to timing, condition, and price. There are about 50 other equally good candidates, but these two sound right and, as you say, are known quantities in plentiful supply.

The C22 is a heavier boat by about 700 lbs. It won't ghost along in 3 kts wind like the SJ21 (which is a light air killer), but it will punch thru chop much better and offer more reassurance in bigger seas. Sails a bit dryer, too. C22 has much more volume belowdecks, and something like privacy for the head. OTOH, that privacy involves basically stashing the head under your face in the V berth.

Keels: The C22 has a Big Dumb Slab of a keel, not particularly well-shaped; its keel pendant drags in the water, making humming sounds and corroding. Failure of this pendant is common, tho not a huge deal to fix. Keel does not retract all the way into the hull. The SJ21 has a fully-retracting keel, so it sits lower on its trailer. Its keel is foil-shaped, and the pendant stays out of the water. The downside is the winch is on the front of the compression post: hard to reach and it bangs you in the head while sleeping.

The C22 has a smaller cockpit than the SJ21. You can fit 3 adults and a kid it it, tho, so it's still functional. The SJ21 came in basically two versions, a doghouse coachroof (Mk1) and a flush deck (Mks2 and 3). The cockpit is roughly 14" longer on the Mk1, at the cost of interior volume. We can fit five adults (or four adults + two small kids) on our Mk1.

As for sailing qualities.... They are both fine, honestly. I'd call the C22 more of a pocket keelboat, while the SJ21 is a dinghy on steroids. The San Juan is quicker to accelerate, surfs nicely on swells, and spins in its own length. It's substantially more tender than the C22, but it hardens up at 25 degrees heel and never feels scary. The C22 typically relies on a large genoa to supply drive, and I hear rumors it does not like to sail on main only. By contrast, the SJ21 has a small (100%, ~85 sqft) working jib and loves to sail on main or reefed main only. That's useful in bad weather or when shorthanded: you don't need to wrestle a big headsail, and you don't need to fuss with a jib when it's blowing hard or one parent is busy with the tyke.

Build quality is basically the same on both boats (middlin' fair) and cost of ownership will be roughly the same. Both set up quickly: budget 45 minutes on launch and 30 on takedown. Many C22 owners seem to rely on gin-pole mast raising systems, but that may be demographics more than anything. I can muscle up our SJ21 mast by myself, tho it's a grunt. If you can, find a marina or club that will let you store the boat on its trailer with the mast up. "Dry sailing" it will save buckets of time and you'll use the boat more often.

Cheers, and keep us appraised of your search!

ETA: Here's a C22 in Seattle area (needs a keel cable, ahaaha) for $1k.
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Last edited by bobmcgov; 08-25-2010 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 08-25-2010
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Thanks for the info thus far.

Regarding the sensible suggestions about keeping a boat rigged at a marina (in a slip or on the trailer): I should have mentioned that we have a decent day-sailing lake 30 minutes from our driveway, but the closest marinas are on the Columbia river, about an hour-and-a-half away (+ traffic).

In general, I'd rather spend the time rigging than driving, so I've assumed thus far that we'd keep the boat at home. But perhaps I should be rethinking that assumption.
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Old 08-25-2010
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I dont have any experience with a C22 but i heard that they are excellent boats. You might throw Oday and Chrysler on your short list. They also have great reputations.

My first sailboat was a SJ21. It was a great light air boat that handled very well. The major drawback is that it is very tender. It didnt take much of a gust of wind for me to heel the boat past my comfort level. With that being said i was new to sailing and my comfort level wasnt very high.

Another problem with the SJ21 is that the cabin is small with not much headroom. It would be fine for a small child to get out of the elements, but if you plan on spending the weekend on your boat i would look at other models.

I dont think I ever really timed it but I could probably rig the boat in under a half hour. They are pretty simple straight forward boats. I mostly went out for day sails so I wasnt bringing a whole lot of gear with me so that also sped up the rigging time. It also helps that I could step the mast by myself with only one other person to secure the forestay.
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Old 08-25-2010
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I got the same situation with a 5 year old. My wife and I had limited experience on a sailboat before we bought a ODay 222. Its a perfect size for an overnight and gives our 5 year old plenty of space to play down below for extended periods.

Although I keep mine on a floating dock, 5 mins from the house. I would hate to step mast it every time. Have you looked into a Oday 192? Those are fairly easy to trailer and set up at the ramp. There are a few folks here that do it on the weekends by themselves. It even has a little cabin to keep your 2 yr old preoccupied.
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Old 08-27-2010
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We have owned both a CC22 and SJ21. The SJ21 is a little over 2000LB including trailer. Very easy to tow, rig and launch. We find rigging and launching the CC22 to be quite a chore. The SJ21 is great fun to sail in light winds, and she is very manageable in not so light winds. We raced the SJ21 without great success but it was the best way, for us, to learn to sail well. The CC22 definitely has more room below, but I do not consider her to be a better built boat. Watch out for deck core rot in the balsa deck of the SJ21. Having said that, we didn't have any problems with the deck in the SJ21 but had a soft foredeck in the CC22. Even though we owned much bigger boats later on, my wife and I still look back fondly to the three weeks, thirty years ago, we spend in the SJ21 cruising the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands as one of our best and most care free sailing experiences....a little cramped, but no systems to maintain, just drop the hook and relax, what a life. May be we just had tougher bodies then, when we were young, and hazier memories now, when we are close to being senior citizens.
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Old 08-27-2010
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I apologize for referring to my ex-Catalina 22 as CC22. It should be C22.
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Old 08-28-2014
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Re: Learning Boat: San Juan 21 vs Catalina 22 vs ???

For beginning sailors with a tot on board, I believe comparing the design differences between old, trailerable cruisers in the low 20's is splitting hairs. The big differences will be condition of the boats available, or from a different perspective, how much time and money will the new owners spend on repairing the boat should be a more important factor than the particular model.

You should be able to get a good, ready-to-go boat that meets your needs for $2500. Be diligent in your search and be ready to act fast and pay cash. Good deals are gobbled up fast in the category you are targeting.
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Re: Learning Boat: San Juan 21 vs Catalina 22 vs ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwing View Post
For beginning sailors with a tot on board, I believe comparing the design differences between old, trailerable cruisers in the low 20's is splitting hairs. The big differences will be condition of the boats available, or from a different perspective, how much time and money will the new owners spend on repairing the boat should be a more important factor than the particular model.

You should be able to get a good, ready-to-go boat that meets your needs for $2500. Be diligent in your search and be ready to act fast and pay cash. Good deals are gobbled up fast in the category you are targeting.
Good advice ... exactly four years late.
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