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jimgo 11-20-2012 02:15 PM

Second boat suggestions?
We had our 1984 Catalina 25 (swing keel) for one season before she was totaled last month in Hurricane Sandy. I'd like to replace her with something in the 27-32 range. "We" comprises myself (novice sailor), my wife (even more novice), and our two boys ages 7 and 4. We learned this season that we need a boat that has a decent size cabin so the boys have a place to play comfortably while the boat is underway. The C25 fit that bill, but only barely. The vee-berth was their favorite place to hide (I had "stuff" stowed in the aft quarter berth or they would have liked hiding there too) while playing games and reading. That bought us 2-3 hours in which my wife and I could (sometimes) enjoy sailing.

We sail in mostly shallow waters - low tide is no more than 2-3' in many parts of the bay. We're considering moving to the lower Barnegat Bay instead, but even there there's a lot of skinny water. Our goal is to have a draft that's no deeper than 4', and preferably in the lower 3's or less, because that gives us a lot of freedom in our preferred sailing area. We'd like something that could handle trips in the ocean, but mostly fair weather trips - we'd be making a run from Ocean City/Barnegat out to Cape May or something like that, not a blue water trip.

I've decided that I have a strong preference against another swing keel (though I won't rule it out). I think I like the idea of a wing keel much better, as I don't have to worry about the lifting mechanism breaking. Of course, in most of the water in which I sailed, we were never deep enough to actually let the keel crash into the trunk (the keel would have stuck in the bottom), but it did occasionally get to 7-10 feet.

I learned last season that I really want the next boat to have a wheel. I know I'll give up "feel" but it seems to me that the wheel makes the cockpit much more conducive to having the entire family above decks (since I don't have to worry about whacking anyone in the head/body with a 4' mahogany staff as I'm trying to keep us from crashing into channel markers - yes, learned that one the hard way, sorry son!).

I also learned last season that my boys LOVE swimming off the boat. That is huge, because it gives them a reason to want to go for a sail. Getting aboard the C25 via the swim ladder was difficult, to say the least. The stern rail is solid and leans outward a bit, making getting aboard awkward for me (5'11"). My boys had trouble tucking under the stern rail, too. Plus the ladder didn't go up high enough for them to climb aboard easily. So, we really want something with a decent swim ladder/swim platform/scoop transom.

Other nice to have options: 1) good visibility, even for kids in the cockpit. The C25's cabin stuck up rather high, making it very difficult for them to see what's going on ahead of us. 2) reasonable "standing" room in the cabin. 3) Separate head. 4) Ability to sleep at least 3 comfortably. 5) reasonably easy to single-hand (for while my wife or I am below wrangling kids). 6) catbird/stern seats. 7) double lifelines.

I'm not partial about the style of engine - inboard or outboard are OK. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I took my wife to see an O'Day 272LE a few weeks ago. She commented that the added beam made her feel more comfortable in the cabin, so a 9+' beam is on the "must have" list, too.

And, I know everyone will ask about budget - we need to stay under $10,000.

My short list is currently:

O'Day 272LE - wing keel (2'11" draft) - the "swim platform" makes this especially attractive
Catalina 27 - shoal draft (3.4' draft)
Hunter 27 - shoal draft or wing (3.3-3.5' draft)

I've also seen an Allmand 31 that looks nice. I know the beam and shallow keel on that mean that sailing to windward in a strong wind will be a challenge. But in my case, I need to prioritize comfort over performance. If I went with a J-24, for example, I'd be solo most of the time. My kids might enjoy the extra speed, but at their age their attention span isn't long enough for the extra speed/performance to outweigh the ability to hide below in comfort and watch a movie while mom and dad enjoy a sail.

So, have I missed any good (or at least decent) boats that are in my budget? Most of the boats I've seen that meet my needs have a 4' or deeper draft, or are too new to be in my price range.

CalebD 11-20-2012 03:18 PM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
Sorry to hear that your C 25 was totaled by Sandy.

Have you considered sailing on the Delaware River/Bay?

I wont add any more boats to your list. I can only comment on winged keel boats which can be notoriously difficult to get un-stuck if you ground them.
I was on an O'Day 272 on LI Sound not long ago and we ran aground on a falling tide (8' tidal range) and could not get off. Well, the tide ran out, all the way out, leaving the boat standing high and dry with the winged keel on the relatively flat sandy beach. Hours later the water came back and we motored off.

jimgo 11-20-2012 04:07 PM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
Thanks for the feedback, Caleb. Yeah, we thought about the Delaware, and the Chesse, too. One problem we faced with where we sailed this past season is that, at low tide, the bay got VERY shallow. I ran around just outside the marina the day we launched (I stupidly didn't pay enough attention to what time it was, and when low tide occurred). That was the only major time I had any problems, but I learned my lesson! As a result, though, we were somewhat limited in when we could sail. We knew this going in, and it wasn't TOO bad, but we did miss out on a few good weekends.

As I've looked to replace the C25, I'm looking for something that will meet our newly-defined needs. In many cases, that unfortunately means we're likely going to be in the 27-30 range, and it seems like once I get into that range, I'm either stuck with a 4+ foot draft, or compromising and getting a wing or shoal draft (though the wing and shoal are hard to find).

That has meant reassessing where we sail, since we don't have 4' of water under us in most of our bay except for an hour or two on either side of high tide. So, we're back to doing the same discussions we had last season about where to keep her. If next season is like this past season, proximity to Avalon, NJ won't be as big a deal as we had expected, which opens up the Delaware, Barnegat Bay, and Chessapeake Bay as potential options. My concern about the Delaware are the strong tides, lack of wind during the summer, and narrowness of the waterway. On the plus side (and its a strong plus) we'd be a lot closer to home.

tomperanteau 11-20-2012 04:16 PM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
Have you considered a Catalina 30 with a fin keel? 3'10" draft and they are really beamy/roomy. If we had not needed a bit more boat, we would most certainly have ended up in one.

CalebD 11-20-2012 07:42 PM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
I hear you on the calculus of what boat to buy for wherever you choose to sail. At least you have some options: Chessy, Delaware, Jersey shore.
You are also correct about boats in the 27 - 30' range in that usually they are deeper keeled, for good reason.

I happen to love sailing on salty water, like the LI Sound. The salt gets on you even if you don't go swimming if you are out there long enough. I have had to compromise and we moved our boat from the Sound to 30 miles up the Hudson, which is brackish and tidal like the lower Delaware. The Hudson is also pretty deep compared to the Jersey shore. There is also a nearly 2 knot current in the Hudson that comes and goes with the tides, like the Delaware. The current only adds to the challenge especially when racing. All locations are compromises just as each boat is a compromise.

The Chessy can be a great place to sail as well but is fairly shallow, but not quite as shallow as the Jersey shore. The summer traffic getting to and from there could add a hassle factor, just as keeping our boat on the LI Sound was a traffic nightmare sometimes. I assume that there can be some traffic getting to the Jersey shore on weekends as well.

If you really like the salty Jersey shore you might consider staying at 25 - 26 feet in boat length. Have you looked at any O'Day 25's? There are 2 at our club. Yes, these are center board boats but that makes them easier to get off any grounding. I was impressed with the size of the cabin on the O'Day 25' I looked at. The cabin on the O 25 might be bigger than my old Tartan 27' (shoal keel of 3'6" - but yes, center board). The O 25 cabin might not be much bigger than your C 25 though.

The Catalina 30' cabin will seem immense though compared to the above boats. Finding a C30 for < 10K in good working order will be a trick though. There may be several at rock bottom prices after Sandy but they may need a lot of work. Choosing a boat like this would likely rule out sailing on the Jersey shore where you were though.

It's all about compromises.

Good luck.

seaojoe 11-26-2012 06:42 AM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
hi Jimgo: its great that you've got your needs identified. Sorry it took the loss of your boat to define them.

I'm not sure how many of your boat needs will change if you change your sailing location.

Lets look at 'quality' boats under 10K, that could fit.
Sabre, Cape Dory, Alberg to name a few. Problem with them is their shoal draft version, isnt very shoal. I find the less I draw, the more chances I take, ergo touch bottom more often than I did when I had a big boat with more keel. My present boat draws 2'11" and I take advantage of that by sailing in places I've never been. Rivers and back bay sailing with the tide have opened up a new pallet on which to paint my daysails.

In looking at your price point, you'll be testing your skills to 'fix' things that will be wrong. While the boats I mentioned will have a big boat feel, they'll be older than catalina/o'day/hunter's.

As to where, which should be on the top of the list, then the boat type should follow. I'd pick Cape May or something near, on the Ocean or the Bay side of it. Mooring in Cape May harbor is a hoot. Lots of transients, lots of locals. A good blend of providers of local knowledge and possible future destinations. Cape May is a good jumping point to LIS, Block Island, Newport.

Caleb said it best 'its all about compromises'. There's no perfect boat and no perfect home port.

JimMcGee 11-26-2012 08:48 AM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
We sail a Catalina 30 wing keel on Barnegat Bay. From your post I'd guess that last season you were sailing on Little Egg Bay or somewhere south of Barnegat Bay. We started out down there and the difference is depth is significant.

First if you sail in the bay you WILL bump bottom no matter what you sail and TowBoat US is a good idea. The good news it's a soft sand bottom and so far we've had no problem getting off on those rare occasions we've found an uncharted sand bar. A lot of people make it sound like grounding with a wing is the end of the world. It's not, at least in soft sand.

With kids Barnegat Bay offers more options for swimming and dock and dine stops. Tides on the Delaware are 6 to 8 feet with very strong currents. Not the place for kids to jump in the water. We've looked hard at the Chesapeake more than once. For us it's about an hour to the Barnegat from home (near the Betsy Ross bridge). It's two and a half hours to the northern marinas on the Chesapeake. That's a big deal if you're driving it every weekend.

As for wing keels going to windward you'll never notice the difference cruising. The reality is your sailing skills have more effect on your windward performance than your keel; and with a couple of kids on board you and your wife aren't going to be tweaking sails with every puff for maximum speed. BTW, all "shoal draft" Catalina's are wing keels.

You should be able to find a 27-28 in your price range with most of those features. What you will find is that stretching a little on price will get you a LOT more boat. For example check out this Catalina 30. Assuming it survived the storm it will give you double the living space below deck of a 27 and it will probably sell for around $13-14k. Just something to think about.

Best of luck in your search,

jimgo 11-26-2012 09:05 AM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
Thanks guys. I've looked at the C30's but they seemed to have a deeper keel, and finding a wing/shoal draft in my price range had been tough. It really seemed the perfect boat otherwise!

I don't NEED to move up in size; but most boats in the < 30 foot range, especially the older boats in my price range, seem to be tiller steered. That's why I looked the O'Day 272LE's.

I have basically come to the same conclusion regarding the size/depth trade-off, and that is really making me question whether a sailboat is practical for us at this point. I can always rent a power boat a few weekends during the summer if I want to, and that will get me out on the water, too. I have a 15' Albacore that I can keep close to home and sail on for low cost, so that should help satisfy my sailing bug. I just worry that it won't be as comfortable or fun for my kids.

Oh we'll....decisions, decisions...

Alex W 11-26-2012 09:25 AM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
1986 Pearson 28-2 Sail Boat For Sale -

I recently moved up from a fin keel/tall rig Catalina 25 to a fin keel Pearson 28-2. It has most of the features that you are looking for (everything except for price). I don't know anything about this boat listed for sale, but it does have the shoal keel that you desire and is close enough for you to check out.

I'm loving the Pearson 28-2. Build and fit and finish quality are quite a bit nicer than the Catalina. The sailing performance also seems to be better (it points higher, but has similar performance in light air to my C-25 tall mast). The amount of storage and open space in the cabin is incredible and it is really nice having standing room. It feels huge because the main cabin is forward with a double sized quarterberth and head aft. The forward cabin is open to the V-berth.

Being under 30' long keeps my moorage lower. Ours has nice creature comfort systems including a heater and hot water. Motor access is pretty good.

The only downside that I can think of compared to the C-25 is that there are really only two double berths, although kids could sleep on the 5' long settes. There is a lot of freeboard which makes it get blown around quite a bit in high winds even with sails down, but the same is true of the C-25. The P28-2 feels a lot more stable in rough water though. Our fin keel heals quickly, but then stiffens up a lot and provides a nice ride.

jimgo 11-26-2012 09:38 AM

Re: Second boat suggestions?
Thanks Alex. I've seen a few Pearsons listed in my price range. Most have been deeper draft, though. I'll have to keep this in mind.

I've seen a Allmand 31 and a Contest 31 which both look nice, too, and are in my range. The Contest has a deeper draft (4'10") while the Contest has a 3'9" draft. They are both tempting, but I'll also have crossed the "magic" 30' threshold, when docking/mooring becomes more expensive.

As you can see, I've got a lot to consider. It's nice to be in a position where I don't HAVE to buy anything, and don't have anything (major) to sell, either.

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