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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum
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Old 03-15-2001
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Libby is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

I need some advice. I am looking for a boat in the 24-29 ft. range for around $10K with full keel to liveaboard and do moderate coastal cruising in New England area until my skill level is up for a Caribbean trip in a couple of years. I have been looking at old Tartan 27s, as I like the keel/centerboard option, heavy displacement, shallow draft, and have read that it is seakindly, forgiving, and a good starter boat. I have been sailing Lasers since I was 7 (now 31) and have been sailing my mom''s Catalina 22 with her on an inland lake for 2 summers. I am a "seat of my pants" sailor, but am now catching up by reading lots of sailing books, magazines, and websites for the last two years. I am concerned I lack the skill to singlehand a boat that is large enough to live on. I plan to only sail in fair weather at first, possibly get sailing friends to help, and take a training course if needed, but wonder I my plan seems a little far fetched...all comments welcome. Thanks.
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Old 03-15-2001
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kimberlite is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

sign on to the sailnet tartan list. it is very active and we can answer any questions you have about a tartan
regards
eric
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Old 03-20-2001
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Libby is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

Ok. Thanks.
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Old 03-30-2001
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SFBay is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

My situation was somewhat like yours a few years ago (comparable skill level and ambitions). I bought a slightly larger (30ft) boat for slightly more money, but I think my experience may be useful.
1) I found actual formal sailing lessons (ie by a sailing school) very helpful. Even when the instructors were less than great, I learned from the other students (even from their mistakes). Also, having a much more experienced sailor around gave me confidence to try things I might not have normally tried, and also, being in an educational environment in a sense gives you permission to make mistakes- after all, you''re supposed to be learning.
2) I am an avid reader but I found that what one of my instructors called "stick time" (ie time at the tiller) to be one of the greatest teachers. I found myself deliberately curbing my reading and making sure I got out not only on my own but on other vessels to improve my skills.
3) I bought an older boat with the intention of fixing it up. I''ve enjoyed that process, but my background in light carpentry didn''t prepare me for the intensity and multiplicity of tasks incumbent in making an older vessel perform the way it could. Time spent fixing up a boat can often be time subtracted from sailing. If your first aim is improving your sailing skills and enjoying sailing, you might want to avoid a "fixer".

Good luck. It sounds like you have a good attitude.
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Old 03-31-2001
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Libby is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

SFBay:
Thanks for your feedback. I am looking for an older Tartan 27, but definately avoiding fixers. I want to sail! Glad to know others have succeeded in what I am trying to do! I agree that a course would be good. I have considered paying an experienced sailor friend to sail with me for a week or so. Even though she is not an instructor, she has her captain''s liscence and is very experienced. That way I could get training on my own boat, one-to-one. I haven''t heard of this approach, but since I don''t thrive in groups as well as with just one person, so I thought I throw that idea out for everybody. Happy sailing!
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Old 04-30-2001
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adamgrabowski is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

Libby,
I think you are on the right track. Finding the right boat is the hard part (particularly when your new) learning to sail it is the fun and easy part. If you have some experience, I would have to say avoid the group lessons. Have your friend help you pick out a boat that you both think will work for you and then have him give you private lessons on that boat. I wish I would have done the same, after a $500 sailing course! Plus if your instructor is good and makes you do everyting and just coaches from the side you will have experience and confidence in sailing "your boat". The rest can be learned from books and pratice. Have fun...
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Old 05-15-2001
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svdragonseeker is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

Com-pac makes a very shippy pocket cruiser. I had a 23 about 10 ywears ago and it was a well built, solid boat. I beleive that one can be found for about $5,000. They seen to maintain their resale value when you wan5t to upgrade.
SV
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Old 05-20-2001
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jack_patricia is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

Libby, yours is a great question & also a common one, as it mixes together skill-building, boat choosing (& buying) and the aspiration of cruising. Here are a couple of thoughts, some of which contradict others'' comments...
1. There are no mutually-exclusive methods re: learning. You''ll learn tremendous amounts by sailing a boat yourself, and possibly meaningful amounts by sailing with others (depending on what they''ll let you do, how many crew, etc.) Visit yacht clubs (they will not throw you out), marinas, etc. and post your own crew-wanted notices, and then get out on the water.
2. Reading can be especially helpful if you read truly practical, balanced & thoughtful comments from others in your about-to-be shoes. E.g. I can not recommend Latitude 38 enough, because it''s Letters column (many, many pages) and Changes In Latitude column are exclusively written by other sailors (but commented on by the publishing team, which is very experienced). This monthly free mag (as contrasted by the biker-sailor mag of similar title, which is sold) is available at no charge at all West Marine stores; since we began full-time cruising, it is the only subscription I have maintained.
3. Realize that you have set contradictory goals for yourself and so must accept substantial compromise in them. Small boats are less capable of long-term (multiple months) cruising re: seakeeping, food & water stowage, comfort, etc.) tho'' easier to single-hand. Buying a $5-10K boat that you hope to safely cruise just means needing to spend more money to prep it safely (how old is the rigging? how about that centerboard pin and rudder bearings? how many coats of fresh bottom paint?) This doesn''t mean you can''t find an old/cheap boat and head out, just that you must accept more compromise in the experience (altering your route to take on water more often; making more repairs once you''re out there vs. before you leave, and so on). Understand that the Pardeys legitmately but overly emphasize the benefits of small boats, but have only cruised on well-found, new (initially) and custom designed small boats. Eric & Susan Hiscock sailed multiple times around the world on their "30 footer" but, if you saw it, you''d be struck by how big & strong it was (displacement, draft, storage, etc.). The same is true of the Pardeys 2 boats (I''ve seen one, pictures of the other). OTOH we have great friends who''ve sailed many years to and thru-out the South Pacific on a Vancouver 25 (another not so small ''small'' boat), so it can be done.
4. There are some great pocket cruisers tho'' the good ones (aka: strong, thoughtfully designed for cruising; strong enough for the occasional groundings, squalls and such) are probably not in the $5-10K category but - again, with compromise - decent cruisers are out there. I''d strongly recommend considering a Swedish-built Vega 27 built by Albin Marine in the late 60''s thru the late 70''s. This full-keel light but seakindly boat is the best-sailing boat I''ve ever handled, was routinely used to cross the Atlantic since the early 70''s, and should be inexpensive these days. A delightful read - Log of the Mahina by John Neal - is still in print and has an Appendix covering in detail how John set up his used Vega for a 1.5 year cruise to the South Pacific from Washington State.

Good luck with your plans, and please understand that your goals aren''t easily reached but are certainly obtainable: read tons, get on the water, and prowl around boatyards every chance you get, asking any question you can think of. Boatyards are boatshows for the important stuff!

Jack Tyler
Aboard WHOOSH, lying Port of Spain, Trinidad (but visiting Pensacola to see his son get his Navy wings)
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Old 06-20-2001
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Libby is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

Dear Jack. Thank you for such a thoughtful and thorough response to my question. I am happy to say that I have made some progress. I moved to Maine, and am currently a rigger in a boat yard. I have found this to be an excellent way to bridge the gap I was experiencing at the time of my posting. You are right: it is easy to find people to sail with around boat yards and yacht clubs. I now regularly sail 30+ ft. boats a couple of times a week, 1/2 cruising and 1/2 racing. I have actually decided to hold off until the fall to purchase a boat, and am looking for sturdy roomy cruisers in the $10K minimum to $30K maximum range. Thank you for the suggestion regarding the Vega. There is an incredible Vega 35-40 footer where I work, and its interior is like a ballroom--it is the most spacious I have seen. I will definately keep my eyes open for their designs. Another boat I have been considering in the $30K - $60K (mortgage) range is the Westsail 32. They seem like a good liveaboard until I am skilled enough for longer cruises, and from what I have read they are very seaworthy, but sluggish sailors. I am more interested in safety over speed, (although I am familiar with the faster is safer philosophy). But, after sailing my Laser and other people''s JBoats all summer, I may change my mind! Happy sailing. Thanks again for all of your comments.
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Old 06-23-2001
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Libby is on a distinguished road
Intermediate sailor seeks advice re: liveaboard pocket cruisers

Jack,
Correction: The boat where I work is not a Vega; it is an Allied Mistress, called "Vela". (Not sure how I mixed it up that bad...) Anyway, I read your comments about the Westsail 32 in the other column -- very helpful. Thanks for all of the information and support.
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