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Old 08-22-2001
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Wisdom for Boat Shopping

Could you list several boats in the 38 to 46-foot range that you would purchase yourself if you planned on taking your family on a passage around the world?

Jon Shattuck responds:

This is a great question, but one that is nearly impossible to answer without getting to know you and your boating interests better. You might be inclined to buy a multihull because you prize performance over other qualities, or you might want something that's a little more classically styled. Instead of giving you specific options, I'm offering you some general words of wisdom that I have gleaned over the years regarding boat-shopping:

  • There is no such thing as the perfect boat, but there is such a thing as a perfect compromise.
  • The farther away from home you sail, the better (stronger, more conservative) boat you want underneath you.
  • Buy the best (not the biggest) boat you can afford.
  • In the long run, it is cheaper to buy a more expensive boat that has been properly maintained, and well equipped. Fixer-uppers have a voracious appetite for your budget and your time.
  • Buy quality and you'll only cry once.
  • Some boats are racers—you'll have better success racing a cruising boat than you will cruising a racing boat. Racers have big rigs, keels, and minimal interiors, most of which aren't desirable qualities when cruising.
  • Most boats are designed and built for weekend cruising, or coastal cruising at best.
  • If draft is a concern, go with a shoal-draft monohull or a multihull.
  • If you're an ex-basketball player, a raised salon, pilothouse, or motor sailor will give you more headroom than other boats.
  • Not all boats are created equal. Most are built to a price point, and a few are built to a quality point. If I were sailing over the horizon with my family aboard, I would rather be on an older, smaller, higher-quality vessel than a newer, larger, lesser-quality boat.
  • If you are not comfortable picking out the best boat for you and your crew from the vast fleet of options, then find a broker, and let him or her weed out the chaff and present you with the best options available. An experienced broker will be able to figure out your personal likes and dislikes (play matchmaker), present you with what he or she feels are the best candidates, and most importantly, dissuade you from less desirable choices. If you are comfortable with finding a boat on your own, then you're in good stead. However, the small amount of additional cost you may incur by using a broker will pay off tenfold—or a hundredfold if you shop solo and end up with a lemon.

Once you're ready to start looking, log on to BoatSearch.com (www.boatsearch.com) and have a look at the thousands of boats we have listed there. It makes for a good start and sometimes you'll find just the boat you're looking for. Good luck.

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