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PAFireSail 04-23-2011 09:24 PM

I Could Use a Ton of Advice
Hi, everyone. I'm looking to purchase my first boat and I want to live aboard. I'm young and single so I figured now is as good a time as any. I think I have the theory behind sailing pretty well covered, I have just never put it into practice and I don't know most of the terminology yet. I guess everyone has to start somewhere. :)

I want to make sure I get a good vessel that won't leave me stranded somewhere or sinking should I wind up in a storm. I'm looking to spend under $6,000 if at all possible and I think that 23-30 feet would be pretty good. (Please feel free to bring me back to earth if you think I have my head up too far in the clouds. I'm really hard to offend.) I really only need something with minimal storage, sleeping area for 2, a stove would be nice but is not necessary, must have a toilet and a shower would be a HUGE bonus. I'm an electrician by trade so I'm planning on mooring off shore and kayaking into shore every day to go to work. I'm also planning on adding solar panels to the vessel so I don't have to charge the batteries on shore. At some point I'm planning on adding a water maker so I don't have to buy water on shore.

If you need any more information from me, please feel free to ask. If you have any idea what year, make, model, length, etc. I should look for, please give me any suggestions you can. If you know where I can find a boat like this, that's even better. I live on the east coast so I'd prefer if that's where she was. Preferably from Rhode Island to the Carolinas so I don't have to travel too far.

Thanks in advance!


SlowButSteady 04-23-2011 09:44 PM

The best way to learn how to sail is on a dinghy. You'll learn more about boat handling, sail trim, the effects of moving weight around, et cetera, on a 13 or 14 foot sloop-rigged centerboard boat in a few weeks than you can pick up in months (or even years) on a larger ballasted boat. For $500 to $1000 you could get the boat, trailer, and maybe even a little outboard (although that probably wouldn't be necessary) and get on the water. Once you're comfortable with actually sailing, THEN you'll know a lot more about what to look for when you start shopping for a boat big enough to live on.

mitiempo 04-23-2011 10:03 PM


I disagree about buying a small trailerable dinghy. But a sailing lesson or 2 could give you a good idea of what it's all about at less expense. Based on your budget that might be a better fit.

Your budget is tight though. A 23 footer is attainable but the more you increase the size for that 6k the more of a project it will be. There are real bargains out there but they are rare. Most inexpensive boats are projects that end up costing more than a ready to sail boat at a higher price.

I think I would forget the shower. They are rare on older boats even at the 30' size.

MARC2012 04-24-2011 04:40 AM

A small sailboat is excellent to learn sailing on but can learn on larger.Budget is quite tight but we all had to start someplace .Best of luck.marc

MarkCK 04-24-2011 08:03 AM

I will answer your liveaboard question. 23 foot is going to be hard to live on with the requirements that you mention. There are some tubby 23 footers with a lot of amenities but they are boring to sail. They are heavy unresponsive boats meant for long passage making. You would quickly get bored of sailing if you bought one of those as your first boat. They are also pretty rare and expensive for what you get. The Dana 24 is a perfect example of this type of boat although there are several others have been built over the years.

Now if you move up to a 28-30 foot you are going to start having the typical livaboard amenities. You will get a head, maybe a shower, enough storage for all your possessions, provided you don't have a lot in the way of possessions. There will even be room to have a water maker. Although I water makers are expensive and use a lot of electricity.

Hunters, Catalina's and Beneteau are mass production builders that have been building 28-30 foot boats like these for years. Although in the 70-80s and later there will be many boats that fit into this category. Irwin, Sabre, Oday to name just a few.

The $6000 price limit is going to be tough on a decent boat of this size. Maybe you can cram yourself into a decent 25 footer. No shower, very limited storage, probably a head. If you step up to 10-15000 you can get into a 28-30 foot boat. I agree with some of the prior posters that 23 foot is a nice size to learn on but I would hate to live on it.

JimsCAL 04-24-2011 08:20 AM

Where will the boat be kept? Living aboard in the northeast is something I wouldn't want to do.

The logistics of living on a mooring are not trivial. Having an inboard so you can charge the batteries in a reasonable time would be valuable. A watermaker will need far more power than the typical solar panel will provide. And how will you empty the holding tank? If you find a mooring with access to a public dock with water and pumpout facilities, that might work.

QuickMick 04-24-2011 09:02 AM

well, lets see. i live aboard. my 30' with over six foot head room is about a perfect fit. in theory she could sleep six, but it would be cramped~me and the occasional guest is about a perfect fit. my turtle smedly doesnt take up much space. lol. while the head/shower are serviceable i generally use the marinas locker room facilities.
she was def. a project boat. Im only pointing that out due to your budget. I happened to get lucky, as they (the marina) had acquired her due to a title lein for nonpayment so they didnt have really anything in her. they wanted fiveish and i ended up getting her for around 35hundo. good luck. if you have local marinas with sales depts i would spend a day climbing around boats-boat people i find are generally nice by nature. i did find that it felt to me that anything 27ish or under were too cramped for comfy living. good luck. feel free to pm me with any questions....

edit-as to $ i should probably point out that i dont know how much ive sunk into her, but its lots.. stereo, grill all new running, redone the cabin, dockbox, tools etc etc etc

TQA 04-24-2011 09:36 AM

28 footer for $1750

Don't know if it is still available but similar abandoned boats are fairly common in marinas and boatyards.

Good thread on a cheap repairs here

As for learning to sail, well it really is not rocket science a day or two out with someone who knows which bit of string to pull and when will get you going. Ask around and you might find somene who will do it for a 6 pack or two. Going offshore is another matter though.


Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.
T. E. Lawrence

I guess you might be a "dreamer of the day"

hellosailor 04-24-2011 03:11 PM

Toilet and shower (shower head, not dedicated shower) generally are 28' and up. $6000 is generally 23' and down. Sailing is full of conflicts like that. 23' is outboard motors, 28' is getting solidly into inboard engines, big change and cost difference. Then there are the sails, would you buy a used car with a used-up engine? The sails are your primary engine on a sailboat, and sails that have good shape and good life left in them will add to your cost, possibly $2000-3000 for a main and genoa in that size range. Yeah, there goes the budget.

So the less boat and less frills you can make do with, the further your budget will go. If you plan to dock at a marina, they'll probably require liability insurance, add the cost of that. Taking a US Power Squadron course or other basic boating safety course may decrease the cost of that, as well.

And beware the "it just needs a little work" cheapies. A little water damage to the chainplates, deck, or keel structure can turn into a major problem. If you're not familiar with these kind of issues, even on a cheap boat you should have a surveyor or other pro take a look at it to make sure you're not stepping into a quagmire.

rjg23 04-24-2011 04:46 PM


Previous, and first, boat was a Paceship PY26. I owned her 6 years very happy with the experience. Nice sailing boat, very manageable for a beginner, and tons of room inside for its length. Seems like it meets most, if not all, of your requirements, including $$.

Good owners website: The Paceship Website Homepage

Here's an example of one for sale in Virginia ($7000):
1978 Paceship PY26 sailboat for sale in Virginia

Another in Rhode Island ($3500):

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions regarding the PY26.


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