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Old 09-16-2011
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Boat selection advice needed.....

My wife and I are looking at buying another sailboat. Five years ago we chartered a Cat with a Capt in St Vincent and previously had done a couple of Windjammer cruises. We decided to take an ASA three day weekend class in Pensacola for Memorial Day 4 years ago. We were hooked and bought an inexpensive older Macgregor 26D and sailed it on a local NE Georgia Lake and a few trips to the FL Pan Handle. It was a great boat to make mistakes on. Not the best boat to spend more than a few days one but we did several week long trips and learned more and more. We wanted more cabin room so we made an offer on a 2000 Macgregor 26X and went New Years two years ago all the way to Maine to trailer her home. The fun we had on that trip was worth half what we paid for the boat. We wanted this boat to see if we could go on longer trips and still be able to work our regular jobs. (Inspiration from the book the Four Hour Workweek). I didn’t want to sink a lot into a new boat and only be able to spend a few weekends on it. We hauled it down to the Key this Jan and have spent about 7 weeks on her. Mostly one week and a time and the last was for 3 weeks. We have decided that we can make the “floating office” work. Neither boat is a great boat to sail on but we have had lots of fun and I wouldn’t trade the experience.

I would love to get some ideas and advice on a more serious sailboat. I have read and read this forum and have picked up on many great ideas but would like some advice specific to us.

Age 40
No Kids but would like to have other couples come and spend several days on the boat with us. We would like to have room for family and friends for a few days.
We don’t want a boat that is too big. Costs, handling it etc. I would think between 28’ and 36’ tops. More likely a 29-32 footer.
Budget: Prefer under $40k but could go to $60k if the higher priced boat was the best choice
Cruising Grounds: Fl Keys, Bahamas, would like to be able to go up the West coast of FL into the Pan Handle or up the East Coast to the Chesapeake. I don’t see being able to spend months in the Carib in the near future but a bluewater capable boat would give us growing room. I do want to be able to go over to the Bahamas and be able to handle what might get thrown at us. Keys and Bahamas have thin water so a shallower draft boat would seem to be a better option.
Cabin: We must be able to use it as a floating office so a good seating arrangement would be a must. A Nav Table with separate seat would be a big plus. Good ventilation is a must for where we would cruise.
Performance: We are not racers and prefer stability vs speed. My wife does NOT like the tender characteristics and quick to heel nature of our Macgregor. She prefers not to experience quick healing. We are still learning so a forgiving boat is a must.
Mechanical: I can do some things but I am not Mr Fixit. The time I have available I would like to be out on the water vs working on a fixer upper.
We don’t like to spend time in a Marina so would anchor out while on the boat. We may opt to haul out vs a wet slip between trips. Depends on cost. Need a boat that would not be an issue when it comes time to haul out.
Would like a boat that has a roomy cockpit and good swim access.

Any ideas or suggestions to help us narrow down the large number of makes and models would be great.

All the best,
Bob
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Old 09-16-2011
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In the 40-60K range you'll find quite a variety of suitable boats. Catalina 30,34 and 36s can all be had in that range, but to get one of those with the transom cutout may be more difficult. The MKII versions have the best cockpits and swim access but go for more than that in the larger sizes. Also, an early Catalina 320 might be had at that price. The Hunter Legend series 33.5, 35.5 of the late 80s early 90s have good layouts and could be suitable for coastal cruising that you are contemplating. These open cockpt models allow the best swimming access, but a good, deep stern ladder can make most boats perfectly satisfactory on that score.

Depending on what age you're prepared to go to will also impact your selection. C&C, CS, Sabre, Cal, and other once-prominent brands could well fit the bill too.

The big adjustment for you will be the departure from trailer sailing. Hauling a keel boat 'between trips' may not prove feasible or practical. You'll lose that flexibility to easily/inexpensively travel from Maine to the Keys.. and may have to choose a narrower sailing venue.
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Old 09-16-2011
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Thanks for the advice. I don't feel that age is a big factor as long as the boat has been taken care of. Some of the older boats look very attractive. I do plan on limiting my range mostly to FL and Bahamas.
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Old 09-16-2011
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You should definitely have a lot of options, assuming you'll be shopping in these parts (Florida). Lot's of boats in that range, but, consider that any older boat, unless it's had a very recent major refit, will require time in maintaining and upkeep. 32'-34' is a great size, but not sure how comfortable it will be for two couples, unless you guys are tight, lol. Looking on craigslist in Tampa, there's a nice "looking" 37' Irwin in your price range;
SAILBOAT IRWIN CUTTER KETCH
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Old 09-17-2011
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For the Bahamas, a shoal draft will open up more options. Several mid-to-late 80s boats that might fit your requirements and budget: Cal 33-2 shoal (my boat!), Tartan 34-2, and Sabre 34 CB.
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Old 09-17-2011
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I would be very wary of the Irwins. The build quality was a crap shoot with no real rhmye or reason to it. Some were built well while others were simply crap. The Tartan 34-2 is a nice boat with a 4'6" scheel keel that will meet a lot of your criteria but will be a compromise in others. This is my personal favorite for the cruising grounds that you have mentioned. Naturally what I like or what anybody else likes is totally irrelavent, its what you like that matters. For example: The traveler on the Tartan is located directly in front of the wheel with the primary winches in close proximity to the helm, for me this is great yet there are others who simply hate this configuration. The hardest part of choosing a boat seems to be defining the way that you will ultimately use it. Sometimes the romantic ideas we have don't match the reality of our real usage. There a lot of " Blue Water " boats out there that don't ever see any blue water.
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Look at Island Packet - beefy stable boat -
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Old 09-17-2011
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Beneteau Idylle is worth a look one in your range here 1985 Beneteau Idylle 11.50 Sail New and Used Boats for Sale -

4'6" draft and I think an opening transom. Nice liveaboard although the 43 foot version is better IMHO.
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For the Keys and Bahamas do you feel that a 4'6" is a good combination? We want a boat that can be used often in the Keys and will be a safe good sailing boat if we want to sail up the FL coast. Or do you think we should look at some of the 3' draft with Centerboard options that are out there (not as many as 4" plus)?

We are use to a 2' draft but realize we have given up a lot of sailing ability for a light shallow draft boat. I want to find that "happy median" where we can access those Keys bay areas and still be able to go out in the gulf.
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Old 09-17-2011
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I have friends who live on a shallow canal (less than 3' at winter low tide).
They bought a newer beneteau 31 with a centerboard and twin rudders because they could keep the boat at their home. It sails pretty good when the board is down and could do the Gulf O.K. I think they paid around 65k a few years back and you might be able to get one a little less than that now.
It would be a little cramped for a couple for even a weekend but do-able. You could look into one of these they may even make a 34 in this configuration not sure.
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