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Old 09-06-2010
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New sailors request help -- catalina 27?

Hello everyone. My gf and I are new sailors. We've taken a basic Keel Boat course and have rented Rainbows a couple of times at Annapolis.

We're looking to buy our first sailboat. Here's our parameters/trade-offs:

Small enough for us to learn and gain experience (we don't want too much boat), but large enough to be comfortable. We'd like to do some overnights. A shower would be great, but not necessary.

We'll be sailing in the Chesapeake and would like to explore for example islands off the Eastern shore.

We have a pier (gf's Dad's house is on Rock Creek in MD). The water is 4 feet deep, but there's soft silt under that.

We don't know about winterizing. And, we're also learning about maintenance and other expenses. We expect costs and some time expenditure, but of course, the less the better.

We're both middle aged and have some disposable income -- though we're not rich.

We're initially considering a Catalina 27. It has a draft of 4 feet (ideal for our intended pier). It's popular as we've found out. Lots are available and there seems ample room for an overnight.

We're not sure though... for a Catalina 27, should we get an inboard outboard? We're leaning towards an outboard as being less hassle and expense... and does an inboard with the fixed propellar create drag? We've had enough of light winds in the Chesapeake and don't wand to be slowed down anymore? Or, is the drag not a big deal? What are the pluses and minuses?

Steering wheel or tiller?... we're leaning towards a tiller so there'll be more room in the cockpit.

Should we consider a Catalina 30? We need to look at these, but don't want too much boat... and again the pier we'll be using is 4 feet deep (and we've run aground in our rented rainbow out in the bay .

Thanks for any advice and recommendations!
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Old 09-06-2010
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C30 shoal draft would a great choice. and very very livable. Smaller is not always easier to handle either. Also, there are quite a few shoal draft with swing keel boats out there.
outboards (imho) are not less of a hassle. Diesel is way way safer. Anything you don't know how to do, you will learn.

Too much boat? I don't think that is possible! (within reason)
My O30 is seeming small lately!
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Old 09-06-2010
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In my experience, progressing though dingies, daysailors, pocket cruisers and now sharing a 33' Hunter on Lake Ontario, the 26' to 30' range would be a good size for a first keelboat. Manageable, but adequate room for most couples to do some coastal cruising and still have the odd guest on board. (Maybe just my camping background?)

The smaller boats tend to have simpler systems, which, in a used boat can make the difference between being a sailor or a handyman. Over 10 years, I put tons of water under the keel of on my little 25' Tanzer, including 200nm passages, and week long island hopping cruises, and spent very little time having to fix stuff.

Up to 26' and 5000 lb displacement or so, a good 4 stroke 9.9 hp outboard is a great option. Much beyond that, inboard diesel....just make sure that you have it checked out.

Having said all that, I know people who have made their first boat a 36 footer. Different paths for everyone...!
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Old 09-06-2010
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What Denise said.
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Old 09-06-2010
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A Cat 27 with an outboard and a tiller is a great boat. As boats go this would allow you some comfortable cruising while still having a pretty responsive sailing. Diesels are cool, but come with their own set of hassles and props and shafts do cause drag and do get caught on traps. just MO.
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Old 09-06-2010
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I have a C27, with tiller and long-shaft outboard. It's a great, great boat - and is very comfortable for us as a family of 4 (2 young boys) for daysails, weekends or longer. As was said above, the systems are really simple (I've re-done most of the plumbing and electrical myself). I would definitely recommend it.

I'm mixed on the question of the OB versus IB. I do like being able to pull the motor and take it in for servicing. But it's always a bit dicey if the chop gets up as the prop will come up out of the water every once in a while. And that's not a great thing. I do prefer the control an IB gives you - but have not had to maintain or work on one yet. Furthermore, don't worry about the drag from a prop. No biggie.

Personally, I prefer a wheel. I'll have one in my next boat for sure. But the tiller's not bad. Just more work.

The only thing that seems problematic from your post is the draft. I don't know anything about the tides in your area, but 4' seems to be cutting it too close. You might get some more feedback on that one.

Enjoy it. There's nothing like sailing.
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Last edited by smackdaddy; 09-06-2010 at 02:03 PM.
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This is an excellent forum -- thanks for all the replies!

There are always trade-offs... and you explain them well for IB vs. OB. I'm completely undecided. It's important to know that the drag is no biggie, thx.

Why is diesel safer? Because an outboard uses gasoline (more flammable) and you may have to bring gas cans? And, as mentioned, the outboard can come up out of the water and the propeller is more exposed?

denise030: we'll try to check out a shoal draft c30... at least for comparison... we haven't even seen a c27 yet, so things often change when you see for the first time.

The 4 foot depth at our pier should be okay... but I'm not sure what the tide was at the time so will need to confirm... it's very soft silt underneath.

I was thinking in general of spending say $5 to $10. But, a good value is most important (being cheap often just means paying more later). I've seen a few cat 27's for around the 10k range. I guess condition is paramount.

Without asking for specific advice, but in general, does this seem reasonable? I didn't want to go above $10, but that was just an arbitrary figure. Still, this seems expensive compared to ads for other's around that year. Or, maybe the condition makes up for that and an extra 1 or 2k would pay for itself in reduced costs and better resale in the future?

"1983 catalina 27' saiboat: very clean & well maintained , roller furler, spin, main all v g condition. 11 hp universal diesel low hrs, runs great. tiller pilot, depth, vhf. propane 2 burner stove cockpit shower, hot water heater. dodger, boom tent, c g pkg,pfd's extra filters, belts etc. will post picts soon. boat in water winterized in... condition: excellent." $15,500. Note: the seller dropped his "asking" to $13,500.
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Old 09-07-2010
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I have a C-27 on the Bay. Mine is a standard draft, standard rig with outboard. $10K is more than plenty to get you a good C-27.

We opted for the outboard mainly for maintenance and servicing. Something goes wrong with an OB on a C-27, you can fix it. Something goes wrong with an IB on a C-27, scrap the boat. There is virtually no access to a C-27 outboard under the cockpit and what access there is will drive your labor costs way up.

Admittedly, our repowering costs were almost as much as a used Atomic 4 but for that we got power tilt, electric start and remote controls. We have a new 2010 Yamaha 8hp four stroke long shaft on our C-27. It *barely* fits the well for the old two-stroke outboard with a modified top cover.

We paid $5K for our C-27 and put $8K into her. Most of that is the aforementioned engine but also new standing and running rigging, recommended Catalina factory upgrades, ground tackle (I love Fortress anchors), paint, solar panels and new electronics and its associated hardware. Where the inboard would be is a nice open storage space that makes a perfect place for a 184Ah dual battery bank and all of the wiring.

So keep that in mind with your budget. If you're shopping for a turnkey boat, get a survey. Make sure you aren't going to need new rigging, for example. If so, you just added $1500-2200 to your budget right there. If the IB needs serious work, walk away. The cost of IB repairs can easily exceed the value of the boat.

I've seen several C-27s advertised in this area in the $3-5K range. I plan to sell our C-27 in a few years for $10K. Only because of the all the refurbishment we've done and continue to do. Well-cared for boats fetch higher prices but make sure it is what you want. One thing to check on any older C-27 are the keel bolts, nut and the keel joint. Make sure the boat isn't suffering from the dreaded "Catalina Smile".

The 4 foot draft can be limiting at times but most of the Bay is open to you. Personally, I consider 8 feet or less to be shallow water. If you're in a 4 foot slip, look at finding a 5 foot slip so you can leave and come back at high and low tide. Otherwise, you'll find being trapped in the slip very aggravating. Having watched a Hunter 27 try to muscle their way in and out of their shallow slip at my marina over the weekend and the abuse they were heaping onto their boat, I strongly recommend looking for either deeper slip or a shoal draft C-27 and avoiding the hassle.

By the way, gas is fine. People prefer diesel because it doesn't go "boom!" if it is leaking into the bilge. But with simple safety precautions, gas is just fine. For outboard equipped C-27s, which sail best anyway, this is a non-issue since the gas tank is in the aft lazarette locker with the engine and it has a vent to help purge any fumes.

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Cat27's are great boats. Love 'em.
4 feet of water is NOT ENOUGH.
You're thin as it is. You add a six pack of coke, a couple of copies of good old boat, a screwdriver and a half a tank of gas, she ain't gonna float in 4 ft. of water. (tall rig)
The shoal draft wing keel is 3 and a half feet draft. If you'd like to chance that last 6 inches, knock yourself out. Just pack light.

I'm going to be very "kind" in the inboard/outboard thing, as well as the gas/diesel thing. (nothing personal)

IB/OB. You're not going to like the cavitation that will result in even with a long shaft OB. period.

You owe it to yourself to take a look at an inboard equipped cat27. There is PLENTY of room to do routine maintenance unless you're 300lbs. (if you are, find a trainable skinny kid)
Prop drag on a C-27 is the least of any worries. This ain't a Melges.

Gas/diesel.

Ok, this has been beat to death.
Find sailboats, not sea-ray, larson, glastron,go-fast or fishing rigs... I said SAILBOAT, that in normal operating order, has blown up due to gasoline. Yes, there are less than 5 that I can find with years full of searching.

Don't use the haul gas in cans as an excuse, unless you're going to refine your own diesel, you'll be hauling that too. (last I heard, some marinas even sell the stuff trust me, you're not going to be buying much)

Diesel stinks. A lot. All the time. Everywhere, For a long time.
Diesel is less lending to do it yourselfers. (fuel, filters, bleeding lines...)
Gas (atomic 4's) have over 40,000 installs, they must have done something right. Parts are available online, maintenance items from your local auto supply. Try getting a diesel injector for a yanmar/universal/volvo at pepboys.

In the light of day, it doesn't matter, gas/diesel, just personal preference.
(as you may tell, I'm an "inboard" guy", nothing against outboards.)

Tiller vs. Wheel. Spend some time on them both. Sit in the cockpit, move the tiller around, a lot.
Do the same thing with the wheel. Stand behind it, quick, grab that jib sheet (with the wife sitting on one side or the other.) Again, its personal preference.

Just don't take preconceived thoughts with you when you look at a potential boat.
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Last edited by cardiacpaul; 09-07-2010 at 12:51 PM.
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