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  #1  
Old 10-24-2012
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Looking for my first boat

Hope this is the right place to post this. A little background. My wife and I are new to the hobby/lifestyle of sailing. We are looking to start enjoying the water. We are still very new and very dumb with sailing so please bear with me and us on the stupid questions.
Where we are in this process. We are wanting to start out on Lake Lanier here in Atlanta and eventually get out on the open water. We are wanting to do overnight and weekend trips now and hopefully transition to living aboard in a few years or so. So we are thinking of 23-30 foot. I'm thinking fixed keel so we won't have to upgrade immediately to get out onto open water. Obviously a head and galley area are kind of important. I'm tall (6'3") but am not overly concerned with height as i'm somewhat accustom to watching my head but I don't wanna have to crawl on my knees. I'm thinking sleeping 4 as we would probably eventually have the in laws or other couple coming with us some. A wind direction indicator of some sort, GPS and depth gauge are a bit important I think. A way to cook will be somewhat important too but I think a portable grill can suffice for the time being.
Ok, so dumb questions:
1) what is the problem with buying a boat that's been on the dry for a long time? I know there are a lot of seals and stuff that can break down, but I'm thinking structurally. I can repair just about anything (my other hobby is woodworking) but I do understand there comes a point where fixing something is just not worth it. I understand the cost vs value issue. That's why I'm looking at structural issues and such.
2) What issues to look for on a boat? I know to look at the hull integrity, keel damage, rudder issues, chain plates and and soft spots in the deck etc. But what kind of things are really deal killer type things? Like some soft spots may not be as bad as others, right?
3) inboard vs outboard? Pros and cons? Is there a rule of thumb of some sort on the size of the motor to the size of the boat? Diesel or gas? Does it really matter or is it a tree hugger personal preference thing?
4) Any specific features to look for?

Ok, I think I've made myself look like enough of a newbie. Thanks for the advice and insight. I've been trying to immerse myself in this and take it all in so please feel free to throw out any advice you have.

Thanks!!
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  #2  
Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

First of all; Welcome to Sailnet. - don't be afraid, we don't bite (hard).

Quote:
Originally Posted by future sailor View Post
1) what is the problem with buying a boat that's been on the dry for a long time? I know there are a lot of seals and stuff that can break down, but I'm thinking structurally. I can repair just about anything (my other hobby is woodworking) but I do understand there comes a point where fixing something is just not worth it. I understand the cost vs value issue. That's why I'm looking at structural issues and such.
Usually, boats that have been on the hard for an extended period of time are neglected. The surest way to ruin a piece of complex machinery is to let it sit unused for a long time. Small problems that could have been quickly addressed, turn to big problems, and eventually reach the point of no return.
Quote:
2) What issues to look for on a boat? I know to look at the hull integrity, keel damage, rudder issues, chain plates and and soft spots in the deck etc. But what kind of things are really deal killer type things? Like some soft spots may not be as bad as others, right?
Hull to deck joint, hull to keel joint, transom, rudder post, overall mechanical condition. these are all things that could kill a deal for me. Although, when I had my boat surveyed, the keel was falling off . After the PO fixed it, I bought the boat.
Quote:
3) inboard vs outboard? Pros and cons? Is there a rule of thumb of some sort on the size of the motor to the size of the boat? Diesel or gas? Does it really matter or is it a tree hugger personal preference thing?
Outboard = easy to fix, and easy to replace if you cannot fix. Outboard also (usually) = gasoline (explosive).
Inboard = bigger boat (>27 feet), harder and more costly to fix unless you DIY (mechanic comes to the boat)
You need a motor that is powerful enough to get the boat from 0 to hull speed in about 2 min.
Quote:
4) Any specific features to look for?
Look for the boat that you and your wife agree will suit your needs & budget.

Also - I suggest that you pay CASH.


I was where you are in 2007... I now own a 35' sailboat with an inboard, and I have rebuilt just about every system on the boat. It is costing me a LOT more than I though, but I am getting a lot more out of it than I planned.

Enjoy!
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Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by future sailor View Post
Hope this is the right place to post this. A little background. My wife and I are new to the hobby/lifestyle of sailing. We are looking to start enjoying the water. We are still very new and very dumb with sailing so please bear with me and us on the stupid questions.
Where we are in this process. We are wanting to start out on Lake Lanier here in Atlanta and eventually get out on the open water. We are wanting to do overnight and weekend trips now and hopefully transition to living aboard in a few years or so. So we are thinking of 23-30 foot. I'm thinking fixed keel so we won't have to upgrade immediately to get out onto open water. Obviously a head and galley area are kind of important. I'm tall (6'3") but am not overly concerned with height as i'm somewhat accustom to watching my head but I don't wanna have to crawl on my knees. I'm thinking sleeping 4 as we would probably eventually have the in laws or other couple coming with us some. A wind direction indicator of some sort, GPS and depth gauge are a bit important I think. A way to cook will be somewhat important too but I think a portable grill can suffice for the time being.
Ok, so dumb questions:
1) what is the problem with buying a boat that's been on the dry for a long time? I know there are a lot of seals and stuff that can break down, but I'm thinking structurally. I can repair just about anything (my other hobby is woodworking) but I do understand there comes a point where fixing something is just not worth it. I understand the cost vs value issue. That's why I'm looking at structural issues and such.
For a fiberglass boat it's probably not too big a deal if the boat has been out of the water for several years. However, there may be blisters on the hull that will only become apparent again once the boat has been soaking for a few months. Also, if the boat has been sitting for a long time, it has probably also been neglected. Rain water, termites, rodents, raccoons, et cetera, can all take their toll.

Quote:
Originally Posted by future sailor View Post
2) What issues to look for on a boat? I know to look at the hull integrity, keel damage, rudder issues, chain plates and and soft spots in the deck etc. But what kind of things are really deal killer type things? Like some soft spots may not be as bad as others, right?
I would steer clear of any boat with deep blisters in the hull, severe rot in the interior wood, severe metal corrosion, or any obvious structural damage. It's a buyers market right now, so you don't have to commit to a project boat to get a pretty good deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by future sailor View Post
3) inboard vs outboard? Pros and cons? Is there a rule of thumb of some sort on the size of the motor to the size of the boat? Diesel or gas? Does it really matter or is it a tree hugger personal preference thing?
It's somewhat a matter of personal preference, but the trade-off point for outboard verses inboard is about 27 feet, give or take. Less than that and an inboard just takes up too much room; larger than that and an outboard will cavitate too much as the boat pitches in larger seas. Also, above about 10hp outboards are basically too big to man-handle back into the lazarette, and leaving an outboard sticking off the stern while sailing just looks wrong, dammit.

A diesel inboard in a larger boat is really the only sane choice (that should get the discussion going). Diesel is far safer in an enclosed space than gasoline, and modern diesels are incredibly reliable and efficient. On a smaller boat a gas outboard is the only real alternative, if you want to have any storage space at all. Diesel outboards are so few and far between that they really aren't an option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by future sailor View Post
4) Any specific features to look for?
I would look for something with decent-sized bunks, and a big enough cockpit to allow you to stretch out and take a little nap, or even sleep under the stars on a nice night. An enclosed head with a holding tank large enough to last at least a weekend is nice. Other than that, I would try to keep things as simple as possible on your first boat. A handheld GPS and paper charts, a cheap fish finder, a basic VHF are all the electronics you'll probably need. I would also avoid getting a propane stove in favor of a non-pressurized alcohol unit.

Look for a basic sloop rig (or maybe a catboat), nothin' fancy. A roller-furling headsail is nice, but not an absolute necessity. Don't worry about a spinnaker and its associated do-dads until you get some experience, and even then they're often only worth the trouble if you're racing. On a smaller boat don't worry about lazy-jacks, et cetera. If you get something less than about 24 or 25 feet, I would make sure the mast has a tabernacle so you can work on the mast when necessary, as with that small a boat you probably won't be able to climb the mast anyway.

Hope that gets you started.
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  #4  
Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

Hello:
My thoughts:
1. Unless you're buying a wooden boat there's really not a lot to go bad when they're on the hard, structurally that is. You already realize that rubber can go bad in time so that's a good place to look. General condition of things is important.
2.You've obviously thought about some issues outweighing others. So-get out there and look at boats. Really look at them-climb around look inside all the places you can including lifting floorboards and cushions and moving stuff if you have to. Look with an inspection mirror. Take along a digital camera to photo those places you cant see like under engines or around the keel step(this is an invaluable method to find issues). Turn the wheel and wiggle the rudder and knock on it while you're at it. Dont be shy about it. Corrosion is red/brown on steel and puffy white on Aluminum so watch for it. Look close when you find it. You already know about sponginess in decks etc. Look for signs of leakage of any kind and investigate.
Surprising what you'll see and what you'll learn about boats. Eventually you'll get a feel for the type of boat you want and how the others like it you've looked at compare. Don't take anyones word for a boats condition- look for yourself. Dont be afraid to look at lots of boats and say no to all but one. Everyone has to look before buying a used boat. You'll develop feel for the conditon of boats fairly quickly. A survey of the one you pick will help determine structural issues. Make sure you point out all concerns to your surveyor-they can miss stuff too!
3. If you are serious about going open water you must have an inboard diesel IMHO! Size of at least 3 to 4 HP per ton of boat. More power is good but just eats more fuel. Gas in a boat is scary! 1 gallon of gas = two sticks of dynamite!
4. Dont hurry the buying and look at each one as long as you need to. Even if you find the right boat you can always find another one just like it another day. When it comes to used boats you will spend a lot of money on it so try to get what you really want. No sense spending a lot then finding you want something else very soon. Dont buy too small if you want others aboard.

Hope that helps!
Good hunting
Wayne
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Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

While I don't have 30 some years of sailing and boating experience I do live in MN which has some nice lakes to sail on. I bought my boat 24' Westwind six years ago and have been hooked ever since, even though I have been refitting her the last three summers. I noted that you are planning on sailing on Lake Lanier in Atlanta. Now I have never been to Alanta, much less Lake Lanier but I note that the lake is a reservoir about eight miles or so from the dam to Browns Bridge Road, The majority of the lake being about two to three miles wide. This is a little smaller then Lake Mille Lacs where I do most of my sailing.

I am going to suggest that you look for a boat on the smaller end of your range. My experience has been that:
1) Smaller boats are easier to tow behind your truck (mines about 7000 lb with trailer and boat and gear).
2) Because you can trailer your boat without having a semi pull it makes it much more likely you will make it to the coast with your boat. In my case taking my boat from Mille Lacs Lake to Lake Superior.
3) The slip fees are less.
4) All those things you didn't know about maintenance and repair of a boat increase exponentially in complexity and cost with the waterline. Best to start out a little smaller and enjoy more sailing in the beginning.
5) There are a lot of good small boats on the market and they are cheap. I paid $4000 for mine which included a two axle trailer with an 9.9hp outboard motor. I figure the motor for $700 and the trailer for $2500 which leaves $800 for the boat. Which came by the way with four good sails and was in very good shape, until the unfortunate incident with the dock which is another story.
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Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

Consider sailing on other people's boats. A quick search shows many clubs on Lake Lanier. Reach out to the contacts listed on their websites. Be square about your interest and enthusiasm. I expect that you'll find yourself sailing without having made an investment. Your time on OPB's will quickly provide more insight into what you should be looking for.
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Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

Future Sailer welcome to the site. I would say learn small go day sailing for a year and if you both like it, then start to look for a larger boat. When I say start small I mean a 17 foot day sailer not a cabin cruiser. Some thing that you can pop in and out for the water for a summer or 2 take lesons on her, learn to sail her, anchore her, naviagate her. It is easyier to sell a 17 footer than to sell a 30 foot some thing. Catalina made a nice 17 foot day sailer with a swing keel quite stable. So far in my sailing carrier i have had a Laser, sea spray 15, a Sanjuan21, Captiva240, Beneteau First 285, and now a Beneteau 340. It all takes time baby steeps, Really learn to sail before you buy a big boat, their is real alot to learn. You might think when you cast off your lines its all fun and games but their is a lot more to worrie about.
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Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

Thanks for the input guys. It's all very welcome. I'll be putting it to use. This is not something that I or we are going into with blind eyes and empty minds. I am trying to get all the info I can. It seems like with fiberglass that if stored properly the structure shouldn't degrade being on the dry. The only reason I'm asking about it is because I'm trying to see if buying a boat on the dry is fighting a losing battle. I don't want to get a good deal that turns out to be a bad deal. I'm not saying I am only thinking or wanting just one boat, but it's one that is on the list of lookers, if it's not a bad thing to get one from on land.
The gas vs diesel and explosion concerns. Is that mostly just a concern bc of the heat from the sun or possible leaks or is there something else I don't know about yet?
I would like to have a little racer/cruiser type boat to play on and learn to push limits on, but the boss is dead set on being off the grid and relaxing for a day or 3 at a time so that kind of puts a day boat on the shelf for now. I think we have determined that the boat needs to be trailer-able to take home and tinker with and go other places with, but I think with the need to be weekend friendly and passenger friendly, anything less than 24 might be a bit too tight. Is that correct?

Thanks again everyone and happy sailing.
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Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

Gasoline fumes are the real danger. The fumes are heavier than air and can fill enclosed spaces like a boat. Boats with gasoline inboard engines have a blower to expel the fumes from the inside of the boat before starting the engine.

In addition, gasoline has a lower flash point than diesel fuel. You can light gasoline with a match, whereas you cannot light diesel fuel with a match.

Diesels engines do not require the complicated ignition systems that gasoline engines do, making them simpler and more reliable.
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Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Looking for my first boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by future sailor View Post
Hope this is the right place to post this. A little background. My wife and I are new to the hobby/lifestyle of sailing. We are looking to start enjoying the water. We are still very new and very dumb with sailing so please bear with me and us on the stupid questions.
Where we are in this process. We are wanting to start out on Lake Lanier here in Atlanta and eventually get out on the open water. We are wanting to do overnight and weekend trips now and hopefully transition to living aboard in a few years or so. So we are thinking of 23-30 foot. I'm thinking fixed keel so we won't have to upgrade immediately to get out onto open water. Obviously a head and galley area are kind of important. I'm tall (6'3") but am not overly concerned with height as i'm somewhat accustom to watching my head but I don't wanna have to crawl on my knees. I'm thinking sleeping 4 as we would probably eventually have the in laws or other couple coming with us some. A wind direction indicator of some sort, GPS and depth gauge are a bit important I think. A way to cook will be somewhat important too but I think a portable grill can suffice for the time being.
Ok, so dumb questions:
1) what is the problem with buying a boat that's been on the dry for a long time? I know there are a lot of seals and stuff that can break down, but I'm thinking structurally. I can repair just about anything (my other hobby is woodworking) but I do understand there comes a point where fixing something is just not worth it. I understand the cost vs value issue. That's why I'm looking at structural issues and such.
2) What issues to look for on a boat? I know to look at the hull integrity, keel damage, rudder issues, chain plates and and soft spots in the deck etc. But what kind of things are really deal killer type things? Like some soft spots may not be as bad as others, right?
3) inboard vs outboard? Pros and cons? Is there a rule of thumb of some sort on the size of the motor to the size of the boat? Diesel or gas? Does it really matter or is it a tree hugger personal preference thing?
4) Any specific features to look for?

Ok, I think I've made myself look like enough of a newbie. Thanks for the advice and insight. I've been trying to immerse myself in this and take it all in so please feel free to throw out any advice you have.

Thanks!!
What you're planning for is fairly close to my recent experience, so I'll share some thoughts- firstly, you might consider a smallish (~ 25 ft) boat for now, while you're on the lake and then look to move up when you start on the ocean. I say this because once you have a first boat you will start to learn what really works for you and what doesn't. For example, you say that you're 6'3" but don't mind stooping a bit. That's fine for day sailing and some weekends, but once you're living aboard it probably won't be. I'm 6'1" and I had to stoop a bit on my first boat. Once I started spending weekends aboard it got old. It's nice to be able to stand up straight.

Also, I wouldn't worry to much about a full vs fin keel. Unless you're planning to cross oceans you can sail just fine with a fin keel. I don't know what your lake is like as far as depth but you may need a shallower draft on the lake than you would on the coast.

And if you want room to sleep 4 adults in reasonable comfort you're probably going to want something around 30 ft or more. So if I was in your situation (and I sort of was a few years ago) I would spend some time thinking seriously about whether I should go small and simple for now, and then move up in a few years (which is what I ended up doing), or try to find a bigger (and less simple to maintain) boat right from the start.

Either way, best of luck to you...

-Steve
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