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Old 01-30-2000
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The Starting-Out Boat

What boat size is adequate for two people to live on and sail long distances safely? How safe is a 25-year-old boat? Is it common for world sailors to settle back into living on land and sell their boat? How much do you think it would take to get started?

Brian McVickers

Sue and Larry respond:

Hi Brian,

Here are some answers to your questions.

Generally the larger the boat, the faster and more comfortable ocean passages will be. Most boats, if properly equipped and rigged, should be able to handle 20-foot seas without a problem. There are people on all size boats everywhere. Generally it isn't the boat; it's the people that are the weak link.

A 25-year-old boat, however, will be in need of a complete refit if not already done. We mean electric, plumbing, rigging, chain plates, engine, etc. After all this is done, it's as good as a new boat.

Finding a boat is hard work. Today, there are more cruising boats for sale in Florida than probably any other place in North America. It is very common to find boats such as you describe in places like Ft. Lauderdale. Another plus is that you can test sail them 12 months a year.

Once you buy your boat, it's very easy to spend another $20,000 outfitting it. Then, you'll realistically need $1,000/month for living expenses. This monthly figure does not allow for major breakdowns that will happen along the way. Work is possible to find, but usually low paying jobs. Nothing is impossible, but your budget for boat, prep, and first year living needs to be adequate.

Good luck with your dream,

Sue and Larry

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