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post #1 of 9 Old 03-05-2004 Thread Starter
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat

I am a begginning sailor, and I am looking to buy a used boat by the end of this summer. I am looking to get as much advice as I can beforehand to better my search.
I know that I will need a fairly rugged boat for the type of sailing I wish to do. It must be seaworthy. My fiance has family in Jamaica, and Cuba. We are both born and raised in the US. I have family in Florida.
I work in Massachusetts, Landscaping from March until late october. So between the months of October and March, I would like to sail with my wife in the carribean, leaving from Florida.
I am not picky about anything. I just want a seaworthy boat that will allow me to island hop.Sailing for a week and then staying in port for a few weeks at a time. Correct me if I am wrong, but sailing to Cuba isnt that diffucult. 90 miles, and then from their on in you can cruise the coast until you make the turn around the eastern tip of Cuba and set off for Jamaica, which is no more than 150 miles soutwest of Cuba. None of those sailing trips seem too extensive...I am not crossing the atlantic or anything. So I figure I can get away with a boat from 27-30 feet, with a decent ballast. There are boats out there in my price range, under $12,000 dollars that fit that description. The question that I am asking is, what kind of boat can I get away with for this type of cruising? Blue water boats are usually more than I can afford. But there are alot of boats, branded ''coastal cruisers'' that are seaworthy enough to make the trips I want to make. Like the Catalina 27, Hunter 27, and Morgan 30. There are alot of these boats on the market from the late 70s to the early 80s. That are under $12,000. Those are the kind of boats I can afford. If there is anyone out there who can give me advice on the seaworthiness of these boats, I would appreciate it. My impression is that these boats can make these types of trips. I dont think that they are seaworthy enough for crossing the atlantic, but I figure that they can make trips in the open ocean no more than 100-150 miles from land at any one time. I am currently looking at a 1977 Morgan 30. 1977 Catalina 27, and a 1983 Luger 30. Any advice is very appreciated. Sincerly. JIM
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-05-2004
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat


Not to be a spoil-sport but here''s some thoughts. Perhaps the ocean is just as nasty and dangerous 75 miles out from Cuba, as 750 miles East from Burmuda? I don''t think the distance really matters as much as how far over your head the water will be - it only takes about six feet. You need a boat that won''t come apart in a storm and leave you floating somewhere....As to living on a boat of this type, you might first spend a summer in a four person pup tent with your wife to confirm that that style of living is in fact fun...

Good luck.
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-05-2004 Thread Starter
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat

True sailingfool. My boat could sink in the harbor, that is true. But the probability of this trip being scary to me would increase if I was in the middle of the atlantic. People raft across the straits of Florida from Cuba. So granted, the water can get rough. But on average the seas in the straits of Florida and the north coast of Cuba are much smaller than in the Atlantic. I wont be going during hurrican season anyway.
All I am asking is what would you do if you were in my shoes. Would you sail a morgan 30, catalina 27, Luger 30 or Hunter 27 to Cuba? Do you think these boats are seaworthy?
I have lived in a cramped tent, for months at a time in a Massachusettes winter. I can handle it. I am looking forward to the adventure of it all. Thanks for the relpy though. James
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-05-2004
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat

I would say that a well maintained Morgan 30 or an early 1980''s Hunter 27 would be better choices than the Catalina 27 and I would scratch the Luger all together.

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post #5 of 9 Old 03-05-2004
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat

Hello Jim,
I would simply offer that there is a Seafarer 31 for sale in Ct and it is supposed to be in pretty good shape. This is a Bill Tripp design and the early Seafarers were good boats. While this isn''t considered a blue water boat,IMHO a Seafarer 31 would be as good as the boats you are currently considering. _boats=967300&slim=quick&
Good Luck
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-15-2004
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat

I have a Hunter 30, 1981, which has sailed over 50,000 miles in 20 years crossing the Gulf many times. It has been to the Bahamas, and up to Texas, Keys, and I personlly brought her from Alabama to Florida 100 NM offshore. She is goin to the Dry Tortugas in April 2004. Hunter 30''s early eighties retail under $20,000 and are a lot more sturdier than later models. This boat is seaworthy and solid.
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-20-2004
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat

Might look into the Alberg 30. They''re very sound boats, very affordable--several avail on Yachtworld, and they have a great owners association--check out site usually lists several for sale as well. Prices range from low teens to low 20s, it''s a full keel, shoal draft boat. There were quite a few built--they were in production from roughly 1964 to 1985.

Very forgiving and easy to learn on--I know from personal experience ;-).

Good luck,

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post #8 of 9 Old 03-20-2004
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat

James, I think you''re overall goal is reasonable, especially if put together in thoughtful segments with a bit more research than you''ve done to date, but I think it would be a lot easier to reverse the route.

First, a few comments about the boat. You''re asking about a fleet of potential boats (27-30 footers, let''s say) all of which are going to be old, in various stages of upkeep (or lack thereof) and alteration by their previous owners, and which therefore defy a general ''yea/nay'' comment. IOW for any given design that''s recommended, you''ll find individual hulls that won''t be at all suitable. (Just so you know...) You''ll also need to carefully order your boat selection priorities (see my suggested list, below) which, in turn, will require a bit of research about boats sailing in big water.

It''s fine to say the waters in which you''ll be sailing are near coastlines, but you omit to mention that those coastlines have few nav aids, no rescue services (at least the USCG is out there...) and are full of current, reinforced Trades during your planned passage season and plenty of convective weather. It''s true that rafts do cross the Florida Straits but most don''t make it, and you should have seen the condition of the 3 crew on the one I found. It''s correct that the runs can be short (tho'' longer in a smaller boat) but the main advantage of a short run, from a safety standpoint, is that you can time your run for decent weather...which means you need a reliable way to obtain wx f''cast info while offshore (don’t expect local radio info to be available) and to use it knowledgeably (another research project!). I guess what I''m saying is that it''s a good thing to be attracted to the adventure inherent in your idea - good on ''ya! - but don''t underestimate the undertaking or enjoy your ignorance too much.

IMO your chosen boat will, assuming it''s generally suitable, have a totally trustworthy rudder (and quadrant/steering system if so equipped – none of this being taken for granted on a 20-30 yr old boat), a somewhat fresh rig (wire and hardware), a reliable engine, at the least a SSB Receiver & laptop (for wxfax and b’cast text f’casts), decent (not tired, not cheap) basic sails, a robust anchor system (at least 2 full anchor/rode combos), and good sun protection.

Assuming a Maimi environs departure, I’d suggest a clockwise route. Enter the Bahamas at Cat Cay, head SE from Nassau and enjoy cruising the Exuma Banks, exit via the Ragged Cays or Crooked Is. Passage, catch your breath at Mathew Town, Great Inagua (boats regularly get pasted there; it’s a lousy anchorage so watch it…), and make for the Windward Passage. At that point, your options all continue down or across the wind – you can choose to clear into Santiago de Cuba (does the Trading with the Enemies Act apply to you?) and begin cruising the Cuban S Coast, or head for Port Antonio’s colonial charm on Jamaica’s N Coast. You could even stop at little Navassa Is. along the way to Jamaica with all the Haitian fisherman, the only Caribbean island I know of run by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (check it out at From there on, you’ll continue downwind until you round Cabo de San Antonio at Cuba’s western end to head home. Clearing in/out at Isla Mujeres, Mexico allows you at least a shot at avoiding being prosecuted for visiting Cuba but not a guarantee. (If you think you should be able to visit Cuba like you can visit e.g. China, you might be sure to register for your absentee ballot before leaving…).

The route you suggested is problematic. Exiting Key West for Havana forces you to either file for a zone exclusion with the USCG (putting you into someone’s data base) or violate the law. Also, the easy ride westward with the wind along the Cuban N coast will be the last good news you have on the cruise; from there, all your options are to windward…in a small boat, against prevailing swell, wind wave & current, I might add. Ugh…

A couple of references: Wallace Stone’s Cruising Guide to the Caribbean (30 years old but the routing and wx strategies are timeless and you’ll find it used for only a few bucks; Bruce VanSant’s Passages South (best guide I’ve ever used) for the Bahamas run and general Caribbean weather savvy – paperback and good value; John Lethbridge’s cruising guide of Jamaica, also dated now but not much changes in Jamaica – his wife still sells them; Nigel Calder’s Cruising Guide to Cuba, somewhat the bible…but keep in mind Nigel is a Brit and has been reasonably discouraging about the realities of U.S. citizens visiting Cuba given our current political circumstances.

You’ve combined family ties and a sense for adventure into a great idea; don’t give up on it because it’s harder than you might initially think. After all, it’s easier than sleeping in a pup tent up there in the winter.<g> Let me know if you have any other questions you think I can help you with.

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post #9 of 9 Old 03-21-2004
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Begginner sailor, looking for advice on purchasing boat


Listen to Jack, he helps me all the time! The only thing I could add (since I am ready to cruise, but not there close) is to keep in mind is that if your budget for a boat is around $12,000, you should plan on about 1/2 of that sum or more to outfit an old boat to cruise. Now, we don''t have any fancy electronic gadgets on our boat,so I don''t say that you have to have that stuff, but we had many "essentials" we simply had to buy, for sailing 1 mile offshore or 1000 miles offshore, there no difference. For instance: a real sextant and SR tables (used is many times good enough) a reliable handheld GPS, cruising guides (again, used is many times good enough), SSB, VHF radio, some new cushions for the cockpit, 3 fittings for the galley stove, 100 feet of new anchor rode, a couple of Wichard shackles, spares for the engine, and a couple of good bottles of Kentucky Bourbon....well, all that can rack up to $6,000 pretty quick. So, just make sure you have enough in the budget to outfit her safely. You may look at a used Com-Pac in the 30 footer range. I think they made one. I''d go in my little Com-Pac 19 if my wife were willing.

Good Luck and fair winds

Paul G.
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