Novice at sailing and first time buyer. - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 23 Old 10-09-2011
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I started looking exactly 2 years ago thinking fall was "the time to buy" and expecting to have a boat in a few weeks. As we started shopping around and realized that every boat is a compromise and many of the boats were waterlogged junk, we realized it would be a complicated decision. We spent almost every weekend over the entire winter shopping (through snowstorms in the northeast) and purchased at the very end of March. So we shopped for 6 months. We actually enjoyed the process. Some here have shopped for multiple years, but if you want to be on the water by next spring, it's not necessary to shop that long.

My advice is take your time, see as many boats as you can, and try to envision what are the most important things you will want to do both outside and inside the boat. We kept getting pushed up in size, thinking we had to fit the whole family for a week long trip. Ultimately we realized that 95% of our sailing would be daysails in very protected waters, we didn't care about racing, and the kids were old enough and disinterested enough that it would just be me and my wife. So we got a boat with a comfortable cockpit, but enough cabin to do an occasional weekend, and small enough to maneuver easily in river currents.

My life is such that we may never do a week long cruise, but if I do I'll spend a couple thousand to charter a larger boat. My experience sailing our pocket cruiser will give me the skills to do bareboat chartering when that time comes.

Personally, I don't think that boat prices fluctuate all that much between seasons. The well cared for boats have owners that will pay for winter storage while they wait for the right offer. If a guy's desperate to save winter storage costs, he may be too short on cash to have maintained the boat properly. Remember, also, that often people move up in springtime, so new boats may come on the market at that time with the owners wanting to unload quickly. But, bottom line, it seems to be a buyer's market right now, and I doubt that will change by spring. But don't get your hopes up too much about low prices - well cared for boats will still command more money than project boats. If you want a project boat, those fixer-uppers that may have sold for $2,000-$3,000 before might be had for free now. The risk is that you could end up with something that costs you more to fix up than it will ever be worth.

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
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post #22 of 23 Old 12-28-2011
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In one of the post the person advised spending time with someone on another boat. Sailors are really friendly people and eager to share their passion for sailing. My experience is I started out with a 16 foot compac legacy. Took all of 10 minutes to set up. Easy to get in and out and you could haul it with just about any size car. A very well built boat and stable. I learned basic skills in the beginning and soon I was learning about how to shape a sail so on and so on. Did I make some mistakes. You betcha. But they were small mistakes because I was on a small boat. I have since moved up to a precision 23 and am looking forward to this level of sailing. My last piece of advice. Buy a good but that is in demand, even if you have to pay more. One day you ll have to sell it and it won't sit around for long. Wish you well and you have chosen a hobby worth your time and passion

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post #23 of 23 Old 12-29-2011
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Originally Posted by AdamLein View Post
It was only very recently that I was in your shoes. The best advice that I ignored was to spend some time on OPBs ("other peoples' boats") before buying my own.

Right now you are asking some good questions but in many cases there is not one right answer. Instead, it will depend heavily on what you want in a boat. Right now, you have no idea what you want in a boat, besides the (correct) knowledge that sailing is awesome and you are damn well sure you want a sailboat.

So really what you should do is see what a few different boats are like. Maybe there is a local sailing club you can join, though most of them only have sailing dinghies. Look for a club or co-op that has boats in the 22-30 foot range. Around here we have a sailing co-op where for vastly less than the price of owning a boat, you get lots of time with their boats, and they will teach you a lot about maintaining a boat. If you can find something like that in your area, I would jump on it.

Another option is to get on a racing crew. "But I'm not all that interested in racing," you may say, as I did. Whatever. Pretend it's just a "daysailing crew". You will get to see how a boat's deck is organized and how her interior is laid out. The latter is especially important as it's almost impossible to change. Talk to the skipper and other skippers about why he made the decisions he did, what he likes about his boat, what he would change. Be open to the possibility that you will not be permanent crew on a single boat; seeing lots of boats is what's best for you right now. No amount of looking at pictures of boats and their interiors on the internet gives you as much information as five minutes in the cabin of a boat.

In they end you may be restricted by your budget, as I was. In my case, I got a reasonably good boat and it has taken me several years to figure out what I liked about it and what rubbed me the wrong way about it. Now I'm in a much better position to shop for my next boat, but even though I got a really inexpensive boat, the annual cost has added up quite a bit, and it sure would be great to have all that cash to put as a down payment on a boat I *know* I want.
Three years ago I was in the exact place you are right now. What make? What size? What draft? What engine? and on and on it goes. Adam's advice is as sound as your going to get. There is no hurry to buy a boat right now is there? Some of the questions you are asking sound like my questions early in the game. Pretty much everyone has the perfect boat. Perfect for them of course. Take your time, do your research and sail as much as you can on as many different boats as you can before you buy. I sailed for a few years, crewing for different people on different boats and learned tons of information about what I wanted or didn't want. Go to the marina's and wander, offer to help if someone is working one their boat even if you don't know them. Eventually all your questions will be answered and your new boat will come to you when you least expect it. I am actually glad I didn't buy the boat I originally wanted. By the time I was done figuring out what i wanted I ended up buying a 38 foot boat. Not a length for newbies but you wont be a newbie if get the experience before you buy and your purchase will probably be more long term than fixing up, selling and trading up. Beware of fixer uppers too. If they weren't maintained, then they weren't treated very good and there is too many hidden surprises that turn out bad and waste your money. Anyway, read Adam's advice again. My advice is for you to listen closely to Adam's advice.
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