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emcentar 10-03-2012 03:36 PM

Champagne taste on a beer budget
I have $10,000 saved for a first sailboat for weekend sailing on the Chesapeake. Ideally, I'd like to bump it up to a budget of $15,000 next spring plus a contribution from my spouse for first-year expenses.

My problem (part of my problem) is that my tastes tend toward small cruisers that are out of my budget. I could describe what I like, but it might be more telling to list the boats I like: the Bristol Channel Cutter, the Nor'sea 27, the Pacific Seacraft Orion, Dana, & Flicka, the Shannon 28. In any decent condition, most of those would send me 2-to-6 times out of my budget.

My specific question is - is it better to just get out on the water in a decent boat within my means, or should I wait a few more years to try and save up enough for what I really like? Part of me just really wants to get out on the water, the other part of me knows that whatever boat I get with my $15,000 will eat up any savings that could be going to the dream boat.*

Any advice?


*This is the other part of my problem - I'm not the worlds greatest saver. Those rules for retirement accounts that don't allow you to touch that money without severe penalty were built for people like me - I'm great at putting money away, just also really good at pulling it out again.

Tim R. 10-03-2012 03:47 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
Get out on the water. Your tastes may change with the boat you get.

emcentar 10-03-2012 04:04 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
But won't the expenses of keeping up one boat prevent me from being able to upgrade?

sailingfool 10-03-2012 04:17 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
54 Attachment(s)
You only get some many summers in one life. You dont want to let any more go by hoping for a better boat down the can't get those summers back.

Buy a decent boat you can afford and go sailing.

padean 10-03-2012 04:44 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
I agree with getting out on the water. In my experience (and observation) it is rare for someone to wait for years for that "perfect" first boat and find that indeed it really is the perfect boat after a year or two of sailing. While all your choices sound nice, only a year or two of sailing and working on your boat will give you a good perspective of what you may really need/want int he future.

Find a good boat that you can learn from and appreciate, and upgrade later once you have the comfort level and experience to have a better idea of what you want at that time. Good luck.

JimMcGee 10-03-2012 04:56 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
I bought a nice '94 Catalina 22 for $6K back in '06. Sailed it for two years. Did some minor maintenance and upgrades and with some elbow grease, bottom paint, varnish and wax made her look bristol. Sold her at the end of two years for $7K in three days.
  1. Really nice boats sell.
  2. Really nice small boats sell fast.
  3. Older boats have already depreciated. Make 'em look clean and you'll get your money back.
  4. If you go a little smaller you can buy something nice without busting your budget.
  5. Once you start sailing your ideas of what you want will change and small boats are great teachers.
This way you're on the water, you're learning and your budget's not busted. Small means less money, cheaper slip, less $$$ for bottom paint, etc.

If I was starting over today I'd do it the same way.

Best of luck in your search,

JSailer 10-03-2012 05:01 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
Get on the water now.
I waited for many years for everything to be perfect, the money, the stars lined up, the kids old enough... I spent hundreds of hours dreaming in marinas, reading magazines, reading blogs and then a life changing event hit me over the head and I woke up one day and bought a "cheap" boat.
It was the best decision I've ever made.
We've since spent the last four years creating life lasting memories with my young children, daysailing, weekend cruising, vacations in the Keys and Bahamas. None of this would have happened if I kept waiting to have the money for the "dream" boat. Right now, we love this boat. I paid $6500 for it and yes, spent some time and money since then in maintenance or improvements, but that would happen on any boat.
Of course there are times I wish we had a bigger, newer boat but even if that days never comes, I can look back and smile at the time on this boat.

On top of that, the experience earned from owning a first "cheaper" boat and learning to work on it and fix it is priceless and will always be with me.

I can't tell you how much I wish I had done this earlier.
Maybe one day I too will be able to please my champagne taste.
Perhaps like with wine, before being able to appreciate a good expensive fine one, one can first learn to appreciate those is his price range :)

Just get out there!

doug1957 10-03-2012 05:40 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
Ditto on the sail now. There are many fine boats below your price point that you should be able to sell for near the same amount if you take care of her. A Pearson 26 to 28 comes to mind, but there are plenty others out there.

Also, keep in mind that if you stretch your budget in the future for one of your dream boats, you'll likely be wanting to put a significant amount into it to get it the way you want. It's like buying a house you didn't design. It's a house you can work with, but you add stuff here and there to make it the place you want to live.

emcentar 10-03-2012 05:44 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget far the received wisdom is pretty clear - just get out there! (I may be too worried about trouble selling my first boat. Some people have warned me how hard it can be to sell a used boat, but perhaps that's not conditional on quality.)

ccriders 10-03-2012 05:45 PM

Re: Champagne taste on a beer budget
First of all, your dream boats are not particularly well suited for the Chesapeake. You really need a boat that can sail well in light air and is shallow draft for gunkholeing.
Second, where will you keep the boat? And what will that do to your budget?
Find a slip you can afford, then find the boat that will fill it and let you actually sail in light airs. You will rarely be out in a ful-fledged storm and in the Chesapeake you are never that far away from a safe harbor, so you don't need a boat designed for the North Sea, just a good all arounder with the accomodations you need.

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