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-   -   Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses (http://www.sailnet.com/forums/boat-review-purchase-forum/7945-freshwater-vs-saltwater-boat%3B-asa-courses.html)

NJW3 09-05-2003 04:09 PM

Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses
 
Hello out there.

I''m a committed but novice sailor. I''ve spent the summer learning to sail on a lake near Dallas aboard a friend''s Ericson 32-3. The plan is to find an older 30+ ft bluewater cruiser this fall, get some coastal/offshore experience out of Houston/Galveston, then go live the dream in the Carribean/S. America.

I''m 55, recently divorced, and on a budget. Since I''ll have to poor-boy it, I''m hoping to find an older, structurally-sound, bluewater cruiser. I don''t mind cosmetic imperfections (I''m fairly handy and have a lot of tools for DIY projects). I will likely be limited to less than $30K including required refit.

My primary questions at this point:

1. Freshwater vs saltwater boat -- would the lower corrosion factor typically justify the extra expense to transport a lake boat to saltwater (say $5-7K), all other factors equal?

2. I''m planning on taking the ASA series of courses (including passagemaking and celestial nav) to supplement my unstructured training this summer. Any good/bad experiences in the Houston/Kemah/Galveston area, and does it justify the cost? Should I delay buying a boat until after completing the courses?

Thanks for any help.

Jay Wardlaw
NJW3@sailnet.net

Dking59 09-05-2003 06:00 PM

Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses
 
Jay,

Not only would I look at "fresh water boats" I would try to find a "northern boat". One that has not baked in the sun, sat in the warm salt water and. most importantly, one that has been hauled out every fall and had 8 months to "dry out".

After owning boats on the Atlantic Coast and Lake Champlain I can say that the differnce can be striking.

Dennis

Jeff_H 09-05-2003 07:17 PM

Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses
 
My sense is that both freshwater and saltwater has their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Salt water is harder on the raw water side of engine (heat exchangers and exhausts), hardware and standing rigging. Freshwater is harder on fiberglass laminates. Saltwater boats tend to have been upgraded and have more frequent replacements of salt affected parts and so may actually be in better shape than a fresh water boat getting by on thirty year old fresh water cooled engine parts and deck hardware. Northern boats tend to be in better shape cosmetically but the freeze thaw cycles are hard on caulking, laminate and deck cores. Hauling out is hard on a hull. Northern boats also tend to be much more expensive.

Also with the age of the boat that you are considering on your budget, the cost of transporting (which should be way less than 5K) is still not worth it for any minimal benefit that you might obtain. A $30,000 ready to go offshore cruiser is a $15,000, 25 to 40 year old, 30-32 footer with $15,000 in new sails, and rebuilt gear. You need every dollar that you can save.

You should absolutely take the courses and get a bunch of sailing in before you buy the boat because that will shape your thinking about the boat that you choose to buy.

Jeff

NJW3 09-05-2003 09:19 PM

Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses
 
Dennis,
Thanks for the information. Is the anuual fall-to-spring haul out what is meant by "dry sailed" in some of the ads?

Jay

NJW3 09-05-2003 10:51 PM

Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses
 
Jeff,

Thanks for responding. I hadn''t thought of the more frequent upgrade/replacement factor in saltwater boats. I would actually prefer to find one already located in the Gulf or Atlantic seaboard anyway, just to eliminate the hassle of moving it. And my figure for transport costs came from anecdotal evidence only. I haven''t gotten any quotes. I''m glad to know it would be less costly if I do stumble upon a real deal on a lake somewhere.

By the way, reading your thoughts in other messages on VCG and hull shapes has changed my thinking somewhat. When surfing the ads I''ve started paying more attention to the ballast/displacement relationship, and can also now see how longer, narrower boats for a given displacement would be advantageous.

I think I''m beginning to understand this stuff a little better, but I''m mainly finding out how little I actually know. Sailboat knowledge seems like an inverted pyramid -- the more I learn, the more new questions I have. I guess at some point I''ll have to use the NIKE philosophy and just do it.

Speaking of new questions, a few more occur to me:

1. As to the sailing courses, is there any substantive difference between ASA and US Sailing schools?

2. Would you advise using a buyer''s broker when I begin seriously shopping in another month or so? I''ve heard both sides of the argument.

3. How do I find out for sure if a boat I''m looking at has been in charter service? I''m not saying I wouldn''t buy one that had been -- just that I would want to look at it differently than one owned by a knowledgeable private owner for a reasonable period.

4. West coast prices (especially Calif) seem to be lower for comparable boats. Is this just a function of supply/demand for used boats there or is the Pacific environment tougher on boats for some reason?

5. Finally, do you have an opinion of 70''s -80''s vintage Pearsons? A friend said some are sturdy enough for blue water and suggested I look at them, but their lower values make me think there is a reason they''re priced that way.

Thanks again for your generous help, Jeff. I didn''t intend this to be such a lengthy follow-up.

Jay

Jeff_H 09-06-2003 05:18 AM

Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses
 
I see what you mean by an inverted pyramid of questions. Here is a stab as best that I can answer:

What is meant by "dry sailed" in some of the ads?
Dry sailing is different than hauling out for the winter. Dry sailing literally means that the boat is only put in the water to go sailing and then hauled out again. The boat lives out of the water. It is mainly a racing boat or a small boat thing.

This is a double edged sword situation. The good news is that these boats do not have the day to day, bouncing that comes from being in the water and which does contribute to wear and tear over time. The downside is that unless very carefully designed, the storage cradles or trailers place a lot of concentrated load on the hull which is harder on a boat than being supported by water. Often these boats don''t have barrier coats or bottom paint. This is ok for short exposures of a day or two. But you don''t know whether that boat will develop blisters if left in the water for prolonged periods of time. Launching and hauling is pretty hard on a boat.

1. As to the sailing courses, is there any substantive difference between ASA and US Sailing schools?

I have not had all that much contact with these course curriculas and so I really don''t know how they differ. I have a friend who in trying to learn to sail and cruise took a combination of both curriculas. (I believe she ended up ASA certified.) What I think both she and I agree on is that when you finish the certification process you end up with the absolute minimum knowledge that is required to sail a charter boat in moderate conditions. It is no where near enough knowledge to go off cruising or to really know how to sail a boat well.

2. Would you advise using a buyer''s broker when I begin seriously shopping in another month or so? I''ve heard both sides of the argument.
I am a strong proponent of using a broker. I have enough connections that I could probably track down and buy a boat without working with a broker, but over the years I have found that a good broker is worth every penny of thier commission and then some. I have actually gotten many of my best deals when a broker was involved. Often owners have an unrealistic view of what their boat is worth and tend to discount an explanation from the buyer as a negotiations ploy. A good broker is able to talk to the seller and adjust their expectations aand by the same token tell you when you are off-base as well.

I don''t think that it makes much of a difference whether you use a ''buyer''s broker'' or not. If you stick with one good broker, that broker will try hard to learn your goals, will provide useful insights, and will fight for you during negotiations. A bad broker (buyers or not) won''t try to understand your specific needs and tastes and worse yet will try to sell only what is in their best interest or only boats which meets thier prejudices. Of course a good broker can be a little difficult to find.

3. How do I find out for sure if a boat I''m looking at has been in charter service? I''m not saying I wouldn''t buy one that had been -- just that I would want to look at it differently than one owned by a knowledgeable private owner for a reasonable period.

That is a difficult question. You can often tell simply by asking. Most owners are pretty candid about that. You may require that the owner fill out a disclosure form (You will have to make one up since I have not seen one published) that asks the owner to certify in writing to the best of thier knowledge such items as whether the boat was ever damaged in a colision or grounding, was the boat ever in charter, are there any leins or outstanding debts against the boat, does the owner know of any known defects, etc. Some sellers will refuse to sign something like this but most if will fill out and sign such a form if it is presented as a requirement as part of the offer to purchase. The offer agreement should require that the form be filled out prior to survey since it may affect those areas of the boat that get surveyed more intensely. While the disclosure form may not provide a real answer (and I am not a lawyer) but it is my undertanding that if it includes language that requires that the form be notarized and that deliberate misinformantion will be deemed to constitute fraud, you at least have some leg to stand on should the owner delibrately mislead you.

If you are concerned enough about a particular boat and the boat has been documented there should be a continuous record with the Coast Guard of the owners going back to the original builder''s certificate.

4. West coast prices (especially Calif) seem to be lower for comparable boats. Is this just a function of supply/demand for used boats there or is the Pacific environment tougher on boats for some reason?

I generally find that California built boats are cheaper in California and that East Coast built boats are cheaper in Florida and the Gulf. On the other hand these boats generally do have more wear and tear as they are used year round and exposed to a lot of sun and salt.

5. Finally, do you have an opinion of 70''s -80''s vintage Pearsons?

I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but during the period in question Pearsons (or Odays for that mater) were the Hunters of thier day. In fact if you look at a 1979/1980 Hunter 30 and compare it to a 1980 Pearson 30, 31, Flyer, or Peason 10M, the Hunter was a better design and in my experience with both, the Hunter was better built.

That said, individual model lines within Pearson seemed to vary greatly in build quality and design. In the late 70''s and early 1980''s, Pearson produced a series of cruising oriented designs that seem to be pretty good boats for more extensive cruising. In your size range that series included the 303, 323 and 365. The 323 in particular has always struck me as a nice design. That said, I do not think of any of these as being truely "offshore" designs. I agree with your friend that this series are sturdy enough for blue water use such as cruising to the Bahamas or jumping around the Atlantic or Gulf coasts where safe refuge is usually pretty close at hand, but I think that they lack the robust engineering, interior layout, storage, cockpit drainage, linerless construction and the like that are so important for a boat that will spend substantial amounts of time making offshore passages.

Respectfully,
Jeff

NJW3 09-06-2003 06:42 AM

Freshwater vs Saltwater boat; ASA courses
 
Jeff,

Thanks again, you''ve helped me further clarify my thinking. And I do understand that I can only expect the sailing courses to give me some of the basics. But I assume they''re organized in such a way as to help me structure my preparation.

I must admit I''m getting anxious to hoist the sails and actually go somewhere. Lake sailing has been great, but you always end up where you started.

Jay


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