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AlaskaMC 10-07-2010 04:42 PM

Help needed in FL/NC from AK. :D
Sounds crazy I know. But, we have done a bunch of reading, spent the last couple months dingy sailing, read more posts on forums than I could possibly count, and our plans are getting more firm now. But, now we need your help, especially those out east. First, the plan...

We now both have jobs that will allow us to take significant time off in December, and well over a month in Summer, mid June - early Aug. We are planning to boat during that time in NC/Florida and later the Bahamas as our confidence increases.

Of course at first we did the usual drooling over big boats with lots of teak on deck, old shoe, bluewater capable (cause one day we might...). But, after reading many almost identical questions on the above, cooler heads have prevailed. Now we are thinking smaller, easier to sail, much cheaper to purchase and upkeep etc. The Catalina 27-28s, Ericson 28, etc seem the best way to go. It seems like we would be able to reasonably buy one for under 10k, with reserves left over. Thinking we would store it on the hard when out of state (advise here please).

But a dark reality has set in reading about folks shopping for boats. How long it takes. So, we are thinking that it will take LOTS more research, and help. Our first couple trips south may end up spent looking at boats and hanging out on the beach or other such fun. So this is where we need suggestions and help. We have a great friend in Ft Lauderdale who is a captain and can help.

So the thought is, get a list of boats we want to see on the internet etc. Plan to come down starting this December and look at them. Accept that we may (likely) won't find a boat and start again next summer. Is this even realistic?

You may be wondering, why would folks with such great sailing in Alaska want to go somewhere else. Think cold! We love Alaska, skiing, snowmachining (mobile in lower 48), winter camping, but after many years we need a couple months in the heat.

So our use would be almost entirely "boat camping" or that is how we see it. Sitting in a slip doesn't hold much interest for us at all. We would want to be out exploring, and heading in for supplies. We have a little girl, so a boat with a quarter berth would seem the way to go. We are used to all camping out of a very small trailer (those tiny teardrops) so are used to close quarters, but want us all to have our "space". We are both over 6' tall so we understand that bumped heads are likely in our future, but what boats are a tad bit taller?

So the questions; Is finding a boat in this manner realistic (we know it will be difficult).Specific boat suggestions and experiences? And, any suggestions on a good place to base out of with close access to beaches and allowable mooring/anchoring would be a bonus. And, would storing a boat on the hard be the best solution as we will be gone from it so much a year?

Sorry for the LONG post, but I see so many "help me pick a boat" threads that have no info on why/how/where it will be used.

Boatsmith 10-08-2010 08:23 AM

Catalina 27s are great boats and are available in good shape for $10,000 and under. I would think that compared to a teardrop trailer it will be the Ritz. Another boat that I. think offers good value is the Cal 28.
Basing out of the Fort Meyers area would provide lots of cruising areas within reach and reasonable hard storage within reach. The east coast of Florida offers better wind, better access to the Bahamas and NC but does not have as many cool places to go IMO. Maybe start in SWFL and as your abilities and confidence grow move to the east coast. Have fun, David

CaptainForce 10-08-2010 08:56 AM

I do like southwest Florida and Ft. Myers Beach excels; however, there is not a greater need for confidence to cruise on the East Coast. Four areas along Florida'a east coast allow for casual protected sailing as well as ocean access. From north to south these are: The St. Johns River south of Jacksonville; The Indian River from Titusville to Melborne; The St. Lucie River at Stuart; and Biscayne Bay south from Miami to the upper Keys. Fort Lauderdale is a wonderful boating community, but no sailing except offshore. The St. Johns River has the best hurricane protection (my opinion); Titusville has the best storage on the hard (Westland); Stuart has the best mooring field; and Biscayne Bay has the most protected sailing area and Bahama access.
'seems to me that you would do better with headroom at 28'-30'...'lots of good deals about!
.....and an emphatic NO! Those of us in Florida are not wondering why cruisers would want to be somewhere else than Alaska; however, beware, most of us here are well adapted to the heat and humidity. Take care and joy, Aythya crew

Boatsmith 10-08-2010 09:25 AM

My comment about ability and confidence referred to the Bahamas and NC part of original post. Biscayne Bay certainly has of beaches and destinations. Biscayne and Fort Meyers both offer lots of close places to cruise and get away from people and also are close to the Keys

CaptainForce 10-08-2010 12:12 PM

Hey, Boatsmith, What a "beauty on the beach" photo! ....excels!

AlaskaMC 10-08-2010 04:30 PM

Wow! Thanks for the great information. That is just the stuff we were hoping to hear. I would love exploring all of the Florida coast over a number of visits. Seems like there will be a ton to see before we even venture out to the Bahamas etc. Am I hearing correctly though that NC is a bit trickier than some of the other areas mentioned? Mostly we had started thinking up that way due to the number of boats that were available in NC.

So it sounds like this isn't too crazy an idea. We have looked at the 28 Cat as well and it looks really nice, just newer and a tad more expensive but not out of reach. Any other boats anyone would suggest? Thanks so much! Can't wait to show this to my wife, we were both a bit nervous that the general response was going to be we were nuts! :hammer

Boatsmith 10-08-2010 05:06 PM

CAL 28 Cal 28 Sailboat Cal Sailboats Cal Boats Cal Yachts Classic Plastic Jensen Marine Cal 28 Bill Lathrop Jack Jensen Good Old Boat This is an older boat with a lot of room and a pretty good sailor at usually a great price theses days.

CrazyRu 10-09-2010 07:27 AM


Originally Posted by AlaskaMC (Post 652567)
Am I hearing correctly though that NC is a bit trickier than some of the other areas mentioned? Mostly we had started thinking up that way due to the number of boats that were available in NC.

I don't think that NC is more trickier than Florida. NC, SC and Georgia have excellent protected cruising areas. The areas are less "tropical" and picturesque, more rural, however there are still people leaving from a sea, and, in some aspects, the coast between Georgia and Virginia is more "authentic", sort of. :) Also there are plenty of anchorages and protected bays. You will need shallow draft boat to explore ICWW. It shouldn't be a problem with boats under 30 ft. NC town of Oriental is sort of sailing capital of the coast. There are thousands of boats sitting, some for sale, and town itself is worth a visit. Also boat storage is much cheaper there. So I'd not skip NC.
Also I don't see why you want to keep your boat on hard. There is no other reason than bottom job, to pull the boat out. Accumulating coast of hauling out will be higher than difference in wet and dry storage costs, if any, in my opinion.

I kept my boat some 3000 miles south from my place for a while. I and my girlfriend have had wonderful spontaneous three-four day vocations in midst of a winter, just fly in, get on a boat and go sailing for couple days and fly out.

After sailing Catalina 27 for a week, I, personally, don't think that this boat is all that great, I found it uncomfortable and poorly designed on outside, anything on a deck was out of sync, and in a way. It is very good boat inside at dock or anchor :).

I'd suggest to look at Pearson 28 (not a Triton, next version), You can find one at $10000-15000 range and this boat can take you out of sight of land when you outgrow protected waters, or smaller Tartans.

I can also pitch for Freedom line of boats, however I understand that it is sort of unconventional boats and may not be everyones cap of tea. They tend to be more expensive too.

CaptainForce 10-09-2010 12:24 PM

I like these obsevations made by CrazyRu above. Oriental is one of our favorites, along with Elizabeth City, Little Washington, Belhaven, Beaufort....and as far as storage on the hard, I only see it in the frozen north or when people are doing major refits...or worse, when the vessel is in probate. We've been out for only one week periods for the last twenty-five years on this boat with the longest span in the water being four years. ....and yes, those Freedoms are nice, too! Take care and joy, Aythya crew

AlaskaMC 10-09-2010 02:48 PM

Oriental is exactly where we are seeing some of the boats we had interest in, and one of the things that drew our attention towards NC. One thought we had was to purchase in one place, lets say NC, and work our way into other areas, storing the boat in a new location after a few trips and exploring that area. Lets say working south over a number of years.

Our thoughts regarding storing out of the water had less to do with fees, than with maintenance with us out of the state. I was thinking a boat stored in salt water would require much more attention than a boat out of water. That has been my experience knowing folks with boats up here, they pull out their powerboats after each use to avoid the maintenance, more so than slip fees. This is for boats in the 20-30 foot range. Of course, much easier to pull out a powerboat, no haul out costs.

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