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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum
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  #1  
Old 04-22-2005
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I have been interested in sailing for the last few years, just could never afford it (I was in the military and didn''t make a whole lot of $). Now I''m a civilian and making a decent salary. I want to spend about $20-25K on a sailboat and take a few (2 to 3) years off and go sail around the Caribbean before returning to land. Is it realistic to buy a decent 28 to 36 foot boat for that price? I curently have no actual sailing experience. I plan on taking classes (specifically ASA 101,103, 105 and 106). Would it be impractical/unsafe after much reading and the above classes to jump on a boat and take off for a few years?
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Old 04-22-2005
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Read "advice on books for the VI" on the learning to sail forum. My opinion of your plans is summed up in my response there.

You could certainly find an appropriate boat in that price range if you are willing to go old, get dirtly, and don''t mind sanding and grinding. This would mean forgoing most luxuries - like on board showers and hot water. The old Pearson Vanguard pops into my mind and I am sure you could pick up a decent speciman in this price range. Be sure to budget for a new set of sails. Even cruisers need decent sails to sail safely.
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Old 04-22-2005
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Thanks for your reponse!
I know that I will be getting an older boat and don''t mind doing some of the work on it.... Don''t know anything about diesel engines, but I am willing to learn. I am currently in the IT/Electronics field so that should be pretty easy for me. I''m more concerned with the safety aspect of everything. I''ve had basic first aid training every year in the military so i''m pretty sure that I could handle the minor stuff. I don''t plan on going sailing for at least 2 years (working in Germany on a contract right now so I''m kinda stuck here for a little bit) so I have time to take classes and read everything I can get my hands on.
Thanks again
Andy
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Old 06-28-2005
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I bought a Morgan OutIsland 33 in March. The owner refurbished it with new sails, roller reefing, standing and running rigging, a new teak cabin sole, a Perkins 40 horse Diesel engine and then contracted cancer. There is no crazing in the fiberglass anywhere or apparent deck delamination. Although it is due for some deck paint the topside appears clean. I got it for $21,000. The cabin is comfortable enough for extended cruising with two or three people. The previous reply was right. Some creature comforts are missing, shower and hot water as well as electronics that were either missing or not connected. We added an auto pilot, chart plotter and new depth finder. The previous owner concentrated on the necessities before contracting cancer and deciding to sell the boat. It needed a good cleaning and organizing down below as he had not had the strength to housekeep while undergoing kemo. He had also stowed every part ever removed in a drawer or locker.Every drawer was a junk drawer. I feel I got an exceptionally good deal. I had a couple of bad experiences with brokers before buying from a private owner. I found the keel on a Kettenburg had separated 8 inches and the hull was blistered after paying for a survey. The boat had been in the broker''s slip for more than 6 months so I figured he probably knew about it. I also traveled too far to look at a Columbia 34 that was in terrible condition. The best advice I can give is to be patient and a good deal will turn up. Old is not necesarily bad. Some of these older boats are really sturdy.
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Old 07-01-2005
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Andy posted:
<blockquote>Would it be impractical/unsafe after much reading and the above classes to jump on a boat and take off for a few years?</blockquote>
Quite right: absolutely impractical and unsafe.

It''s certainly possible to buy a used boat for the price you mention, and throw in up to half as much again to fit it out properly for your purpose. No problem there.

And you''re intelligent, enthusiastic, flexible, and still young and hale. Those are all points in your favor.

However, even given the classes mentioned, and allowing for a voracious reading regimen, you will need to add enough time to your equation to allow you to gain the experience to embark on such a foray successfully, i.e., time enough to become a sailor.

Let''s assume that you complete your classes in one summer; that you purchase a boat during that first off-season; that you then spend your weekends working on it; and that you spend evenings immersing yourself in a pertinent course of study. And let''s assume you are extremely fortunate in your boat purchase, and only require two years of weekends to repair/refit your craft. (Can''t devote every dollar of your disposable income, or every hour of your weekends? I''m not a slave-driver: take four years). <b>Where will you fit in the actual sailing time that will let you gain the on-the-water experience that will allow you to lose sight of land?</b>

I''d suggest, very humbly, that a much more efficient, and emminently more practical and safe, path to your goal would be to take the classes, then as you do the reading, purchase a trailerable weekender, around twenty feet or so, that you can use to daysail and then extend your range into weekend mini-cruises. That way, you''ll be able to take all the meat of those classes and reading, and season it with salt, as it were.

After at least one season running empty halyard shackles up to the masthead and untangling the mainsheet from around your feet, begin to take a look at yachts in your local market to see what is available that will meet your requirements. This exposure will bring up all sorts of questions and reveal huge gaps in your knowlede that will steer your education from basic sailing skills to the question of what boats of what types in what age ranges and conditions of what capabilities will be suitable for your plans. It will take at least one off-season of educating yourself, sorting through these options and narrowing your choices before you can think of entering the market looking to buy. Try to shorten this time/learning step, and you may be saddled with an expensive, long-term project/money pit/nightmare/albatros hung ''round your neck, out from under which you may feel you will never wriggle. You will have solved one problem: but it will be the seller''s problem you''ve solved. <em>Caveat emptor</em>.

If you''re really sharp, and have put in 400 hours, as a bare minimum, of coastal cruising in the weekender (even giving you credit for a full 48-hr. weekend, that''s only eight weekends: better to spend two seasons) you may be ready, <em>if</em> in that 400 hours you have gotten real <u>hands-on experience</u> working with charts, and in navigation, piloting, heavy weather tactics, anchoring/mooring, and meteorology.

That will take three sailing seasons or so, or whatever the minimum time will be required to educate yourself for/purchase/repair/refit a suitable boat, and will require sacrifices in your finances and social life to accomplish.

Now that the boat is nearly finished and you know how to tie a knot and shape a course, it''s time to scrape together a cruising kitty. You want to be gone two to three years, so the question is: how much money will it take to live on and keep the boat in reasonable repair for two or three years? This figure varies for every boat and cruiser, generally growing along with one''s age and waistline, and the attendant amenities such as refrigeration or the need for a night life ashore.

For sake of argument, I''ll use a gross income of $40,000/yr. Can you save 30% of your <em>gross</em> by living frugally? Then you will have $12,000, plus a few bucks in interest. Will that last you two years? Tropical cruisers report monthly budgets ranging from a spartan $600/mo to a few who spend in excess of $1200/mo. Split the difference and estimate $900/mo. That''s thirteen months of Carribean cruising. You indicate a desire for a cruise from two to three times that duration. Given these numbers, that''s three years of saving, once the boat is repaired/refit/provisioned. You can shorten the total time if you sell off assets, like the weekender. You''ll have to work this out using specific figures of your own.

You asked for responses concerning the practicality and safety of buying a boat and setting off with minimal education and no experience. You certainly can jump into it without solid experience underneath you. Just make sure you bring a working flare gun.

These are just my thoughts. Hope this gives much food for thought, and encourages other posters to give contrasting viewpoints.
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Old 07-05-2005
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Wow excellent slap in the face for those of us who want to do the same thing. Now that I''m back into reality time to get started.

Courses start on the 23th and hopefully I''ll find a nice trailerable spring of next year. I can''t wait!

Thanks Jeff
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Old 07-07-2005
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I would write a contrasting viewpoint to Jeff C''s, but he''s dead on. The biggest consideration in cruising is not whether or not you have a good handle on the basics of sailing, but rather are you prepared for the unexpected? Having cruised Mexico and the South Pacific, I found the YEARS of preparation, shakedown cruises, intentional beats to strong weather, etc., only moderately prepared us for the conditions we faced. Time on the water is essential, in all types of conditions, because that is the only thing that can prepare you for unexpected, and often unwanted, eventualities. Cruising isn''t all mai tai''s and sunsets, but with proper preparation, you definitely can work in a bit of both!
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Old 07-07-2005
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Still, as the old Chinese proverb says, "A journey of a thousand nautical miles is begun with a single tack."
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Old 07-07-2005
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I know it will be experince I''ll need the most however since I''m located in Montreal I''m not going to get to practice on blue water. Should I move to a coastal city and practice there or can I use what I learn on the lakes and take it to the sea?
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Old 07-18-2005
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Notwithstanding the coments above which are all quite reasonable, I think you can get the experience you need along the way if you just take your time and do it step by step. You and motor & sail down the Hudson after doing your lake sailing...they do some short day hops in settled weather along the Jersey coast. Then bash up the Delaware and cruise the Chesapeake Bay and get some experience in wider open spaces and squalls. (Also a good place to make repairs ad further outfit your boat as you discover what is needed!). From there you can head down the ICW to Florida and the Keys or make your first "Ocean" passage over to the Bahamas as you feel more comfortable with your skills. Passages south of the Bahamas or out to sea tend to be a bit more challenging (or downright scary) but can be undertaken once you really know your capabilities are up to it.
Go for it...but not all at once!!
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