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post #1 of 5 Old 11-06-2002 Thread Starter
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Hi, I am one of many people on this board that is looking to change their life. I am a 20 year old male with some money to spend and I want to spend it sailing around central and south america. I have some small boat sailing experience but will get lots of certs before I try anything. Mainly I am looking for advice on what type of boat I should be looking at. I plan to sail two handed (me and a friend) for some months perhaps as far as Panama and around to Florida (if that is not too impossible) If you were going to buy a boat for less then 30,000 what would you buy, what type of keel, what kind of construction and so on. I was thinking of a 1971 Columbia 39 but know nothing as of yet about her design. I want to know for sure my boat can handle any weather that region could throw at me assuming I stear clear of any hurricanes.
Also I was wondering what kind of money I would be spending, how much money should I budget to live well (spend some time ashore) for each month I plan to be sailing. What kind of time frame am I looking at here if I was going to go around panama to florida from San Diego at 5 knots, anyone hear of someone trying a trip like this, really I don''t know what is and what is not possible.
Thanks for your help.
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-06-2002
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If you want to spend $30K, buy a boat for $20K because you will be spending money to bring it up to your standards for the trip.

Here''s a list, not complete but it gives you the idea:

You will spend between $1000 and $2000 per month. More or less, its pretty much up to you.

You don''t need cert''s, you need time and miles under sail in different conditions on your boat or on someone elses. Sailing with someone else is a good way to learn from others, but you will also need to learn good judgement. Good judgement comes from experience, and experience often comes from bad judgement.

Plan your trip by the seasons and don''t push yourself too hard until you have a good idea what your boat can do.

Start by buying a boat, preferably a boat that the previous owner loved and cared for, and live aboard at anchor in a friendly harbor. Then move one harbor south, and hang out for a while. Then move again and maybe jump a few harbors. Repeat a few times and then start planning.
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post #3 of 5 Old 11-07-2002
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Hi Jason,
Good for you! I have a few thoughts for you on this....we''re planning to head south ourselves and spent a good deal of time researching affordable boats, budgets, etc. I''m 35 but in my 20s I sailed transatlantic, down W side of S.America from Jamaica, to the Galapagos from Panama. (Just to let you know that my advice isn''t ALL just theory!)

For one thing, read a bunch of books. For fun, and ''cause the guys are roughly your age, I''d recommend "Dove" and "Lionheart". Also Tania Aebi''s "Maiden Voyage" might be interesting. Read "Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts", & "Heavy Weather Sailing", for sure. (You can get these books cheaply on or, used books, or ask you library to get them for you if they don''t have them...) Another resource I HIGHLY recommend that will be immensely valuable in looking for the right boat, evaluating it, and fitting it out, is Nigel Calder''s "The Cruising Handbook" it is GREAT. Spend the $$ on that one for sure.

OK, boat prices. If you have only $30,000 to spend on the whole boat, including making her seaworthy, I would not start out looking at 39 foot boats. For one thing, no matter how well-cared for the boat might seem, it is going to need some money put into it before you make the trip. A decent liferaft costs over $3k, for instance. You might need new batteries, or a new GPS, or a SSB/Ham radio, or a new sail...etc etc etc. A 39 foot boat will likely have much more complicated (and bigger) systems, which are much more expensive to maintain or replace. We are sailing with our daughter, and were bummed sometimes because there were a lot of great boats that would have suited us for substantially less $$ if there were only 2 of us.
With 2 guys you will probably be perfectly happy if one of you takes the V-berth and the other takes the quarter berth or pilot berth. Also, think about the level of luxury you really need. When I was your age I was a lot more willing to "rough it" in some respects than I am now!

My point is, if you look at smaller boats, you will be able to afford a VASTLY better built and more seaworthy boat for $30,000 than if you set your sights on something as big as 39 feet.

As far as design characteristics, again I recommend reading "Desirable & Undesirable...(above)" and Calder''s Cruising Handbook. Some people feel fine in a flat-bottomed, deep-keeled, spade rudder speed machine; others won''t go to see in less than a full keel, wicked heavy cruiser....personally i feel much more comfortable with a decent compromise: a long fin keel or full w/cutaway foot, skeg-hung rudder. I''d steer clear of ferro-cement as a hull material: fiberglass or aluminum are best for cruisers and fiberglass wins for easy maintenance. External lead keel would be preferable. Go for a cutter rig if you can find it, for versatility of sail plan and heavy weather sail setting. Ketch might be good, but wont go to weather as well. Above all, get a WELL built boat. if you are going to sea you don''t want a boat that was built for coastal cruising. And while there are some fabulous deals on very sound and lovely cruiser/racers from the 70''s, be careful about boats that pushed the IOR rules to the limit and are not safe (the above books will explain that...)

There was a recent thread on this ($30k cruising boat) on the Cruising World bulletin Board recently... you might want to look it up in the archives.

Here''s a partial list....

If you can find a Hallberg Rassey in your price range, check it out. Swedish built world cruisers.

Other well-built bluewater boats include
Albin Vega (though may be a bit small for you)
Contessa (though may be a bit pricey)

Some solid UK-built boats:
Camper nicholson
Westerly (the 32'' Renown has 2 cabins, kinda akward looking but great privacy!) also 31'' Berwick

Sparkman & Stephen''s designs that might do, pretty well-made though not top-of-the-line:
Tartan 34 (keel/centerboard)
Chris Craft''s 37'' Apache, or the 35'' or 32''

Other fairly decent boats:
Bristol (maybe Bristol 30?)
Cheoy Lee, various designers and built in Taiwan, I think....pretty, several have crossed oceans, but notorious for leaks, esp at deck.
Challenger...don''t know much about them. West Coast boats that seem appropriate. Not top-notch bluewater but maybe OK for your trip.
Allied Princess 36'' or Seawind 30''. Kinda pokey but several have circumnavigated.

and last but not least: various Pearson models such as the 323 or vanguard. Actually, the Vanguard might be the PERFECT boat for you. late 60''s, early 70''s, very solidly built, sails well, etc. Dan Spurr ("Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat" and other books and magazine articles) I believe had one, and there''s the famous Mollymawk often featured in Cruising World magazine.....sheck it out!

Remember that any older boat is going to have issues you''ll need to address. most of these boats have cored fiberglass decks and all the previous owners did not keep up with thier deck-hardware-rebedding, so there are bound to be some rotten core areas you will need to repair. 30 year old standing rigging should probably be replaced, and chainplates removed and checked. Et cetera.

Have fun looking and good luck!!!

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post #4 of 5 Old 11-07-2002
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Hola Jason. My partner & I have completed 3 yrs cruising (with some off time caring for ill parents)in our 1964 Alberg 35. Since the previous message mentioned looking at Pearsons and Vanguards, I must mention Carl Albergs great little boat. (We may want to sell her, BTW)But we have spent many months getting her ready, replacing or renewing many systems and gear. We left The SF Bay in ''99 and sailed south taking our sweet time. We sailed up into the Sea of Cortez, crossed over going as far as Puerto Vallarta, then back up into the Sea as far as San Carlos, where we''ve been based for 2 yrs. while traveling back and forth. We hope to get back to the boat (SAGA) Spring of ''03 and start heading south again towards the canal. We''ll be headed to the Carib and Cuba and then Florida. Don''t forget these great boats that Carl Alberg designed.
You can learn more from our website:
And, when you''re ready to leave San Diego, contact and join the Baja Ha Ha rally for lots of fun and company heading south to Cabo San Lucas. We met on the Ha Ha and loved it!
Nancy & Jann
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post #5 of 5 Old 11-07-2002
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Agreee. Alberg 35 would be a great one. I forgot about it! Extremely pretty boat, too.

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