What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 34 Old 04-13-2013 Thread Starter
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What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Mr. cthoops and I started sailing last year (after sailing when we were kids) and we've been bitten hard. So much so that tomorrow we have appointments to start looking for our first sailboat.

Our budget is $5,000 or less and we're looking for something in the 24' - 27' range. Outboard engine only, portapotty only. We want to be able to sleep on it for a few nights, but we're trying to keep it simple here. Kind of like tent camping, but on the water.

Anyway, the only thing I've ever bought used is our house and we don't have a lot of experience so I'm a bit apprehensive about this whole process. We have the Don Casey book and will be doing the quick 30-minute survey for our first visit to each boat. I'm looking for any tips or thoughts re: what you wish you had known before you went looking for your first boat. From what I can gather, it looks like we should make at least one visit to see a boat and never offer full asking price. Anything else?
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post #2 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Your boat needs to meet three different needs;
1) sailing - obviously. It needs to sail. It would be nice for it to sail well. You need to be able to handle the boat, so the gear must be placed so that the crew (two of you?) can reach everything and not get in each others way.
2) camping - as you describe weekending on it. The port-a-potty needs some amount of privacy, you need to be able to store and prepare food (and beer - lots of beer if you're gonna be sailors!). Room for all your stuff for a few days.
3) sleeping and living on deck and below - can you lay flat out in the cockpit? Is there room enough in the bunk for both of you? If the main traveler cuts across the middle of the cockpit is there room to sit and lounge (the cockpit will be a place where you spent a lot of time). Obviously #1 and #3 can conflict.

The biggest thing I can recommend is that you lay down in the bunk (I know, it looks silly but you need to know if it fits you both), lay down in the cockpit. On a warm night you may want to sleep in the cockpit. Sit in the cockpit as if to eat a meal. Both of you stand and sit below in the salon. If its raining you may both be there reading till the sun comes back out.

Folks here can give you lots of advise on which boats sail well and are well made in your price range. You need to know which one "fits" the two of you.

And then you will buy one. And then you will learn what you didn't know and what we didn't think to tell you... sorry for that in advance!
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post #3 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Try to avoid the 'rose coloured glasses' syndrome and keep things real as you shop. Ideally you should have someone at least a bit knowledgeable along to put a less enthusiastic/more realistic spin on what you see.

I think many new buyers get caught up in the whole affair and end up spending more and getting less... I know we did.
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".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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post #4 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Don't ever love something that can't love you back.
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post #5 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Never look at a boat and think "oh that does not matter, I'll easily fix that later". It will be like a constant sting in your side. Think about the long time costs of owning a boat, mooring, storage, insurance, fuel, upkeep, engine servicing etc. Sit down together and calculate how much time you will be realistically spending on the boat. Maybe chartering or boat share might actually be cheaper and give you access to something even better.
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post #6 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Buy a sound boat, ignoring how "pretty" she looks inside. Given your budget, you don't expect a perfect boat but spend the right amount of time checking out the important things that could end up ending your fun pretty quickly. Overall regularly maintained? Any rot detected? Loose stanchions? Bulkheads sound? You've no doubt had access to the before your purchase lists but I can't emphasize enough to spend the time checking out the right things. And, have a realistic understanding of the associated costs of boat ownership.

In the end, if you're smart, it's the most amazing hobby-have fun!

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post #7 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

You're going to see a lot of good responses here and I wish you the best.

sd1953 ended with:
And then you will buy one. And then you will learn what you didn't know and what we didn't think to tell you... sorry for that in advance!

I think Id go a step further and suggest this first boat may only last you a season or two and will provide you with your own personalized "need to have in our next boat" list.

Paul
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post #8 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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+1 to what Paul said.
We bought our 1st boat in Nov. Got one sail in it before winter kicked in. Then the more I looked at it the more overwhelmed I got. In the spring these guys set me straight. Go sailing and have fun. Don't invest in too much the first year. Well, we did have fun. So much so that in less than a year we bought a bigger boat that better suited our needs. We also kept it simple w outboard, PP and minimal other mechanics. That can all come later.
Have fun!
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post #9 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Wish I had known I would end up wishing my hull was built of steel, and how easy steel is to deal with .

Brent Swain, Boat designer, Builder, and author of "Origami Metal Boatbuilding"
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post #10 of 34 Old 04-13-2013
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Re: What do you wish you had known before buying your first boat?

Also, I wouldn't say never offer the asking price. Offer what you think it's worth based on comparisons to the market, your budget, etc. Some people do actually *gasp* offer there boat for a reasonable price, and get annoyed when everyone want's to offer less, just because. (Yep, personal experience here)

I've also seen people blow great deals, cause the owner priced it to sell, but they haggled around, and someone else came in with the reasonable asking price offer.

But on the flip side, if they are a little high you think, don;t be afraid to offer less, or if it's just out of your budget, offer what you can, it can't hurt.

S/V Lilo
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