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campbellmeister 09-16-2012 08:47 PM

Buying our first sailboat
I am looking to buy our first sailboat. We already have a 19 foot powerboat parked next to the house so we are trying to purchase a boat that will not require a trailer and can be transported in the back of our pickup truck. We would love to have a boat that would allow my wife, 7 year old son, 3 year old daughter and I to sail together. Our primary water will be the Columbia River but we will also be sailing multiple Central Washington lakes. Right now we are strongly considering a Banshee but I would love to hear your recommendations.

MarkSF 09-17-2012 12:40 AM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
With dinghies there are really 2 approaches : try to get something stable enough to never capsize, or plan on it happening regularly and wear wetsuits, life jackets, etc. That Banshee is firmly in the second category, and it's much too small for 4 anyway. How happy will your wife be about a swim in the Columbia? Could the 4 of you right the dinghy and get under way again? What's happening to the 3 year old when you're all swimming?

If you want good stability and room for 4 you really have to go for a daysailer with a weighted centreboard or keel. Then you're very firmly on a trailer.

Something has to give in your expectations.

snaxbox 09-20-2012 10:26 AM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
I maybe not much of help but hope you'll find the right boat for you and your family. Good luck!

SHNOOL 09-20-2012 11:01 AM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
+1 on centerboard boats being tough for starting with a (young) family. It can be done, but probably a better idea once they can all swim. Rogue wave or puff in inexperienced hands, and everyone swims.

What makes it tough is we'd be hard pressed to give you a sailboat that isn't a centerboard that you can fit into the bed of your pickup, that would be stable for the whole family.

If you have to car-top or truck bed it, then light 12 footers would work to learn on (zuma, snark, escape).. but they aren't real big or comfortable for several people.

If you move up to trailerable, then a stable keel-boat is a great starter boat for a family, like a Com-pac 16, or West Wight Potter 15, or a Precision 16, or keel- centerboard boat like a Catalina 22, or Precision 18.

Another option that is an easy starter is a cat boat, and something like the com-pac picnic cat might be an option, but you'd still need to trailer it.

campbellmeister 09-22-2012 08:31 PM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
Thanks for the advice everybody. It sounds like I'm going to have to sacrifice the stability for the family or find room for a trailer. At this point I might just start with a two-person boat to see if the family grows an interest in sailing… Then upgrade at a later time.

Does anyone have recommendations for a lightweight non-trailerable boat?

Thanks again,

caberg 09-23-2012 07:53 PM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
Something like a Laser would be a blast on the Columbia, but definetely not a family boat. The 7 year old would have fun with Dad on it, and would be whipping back and forth across the river on his own in a few year's time.

I know the Columbia a little bit (used to live in Eugene, OR) and I don't really see it as a family day-sailing body of water, so you might be disappointed if you did go that route. It's known for it's high winds with little chop, so small and high performance is what I think of for that area-- get out the harness and trapeze.

elspru 09-27-2012 07:01 PM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
You could get a 10ft dinghy or tender, such as a baywalker, they can be rowed or sailed, and big enough for 3 adults.

Theoretically at least, people can use tenders if they have to abandon ship in the middle of the ocean, so should be quite stable.
Though if the winds are high and you're not very experienced or there are no winds to speak of, may be good to simply use it as a row boat.

Another benefit is that if you do later decide to upgrade to a keelboat, you can use it as your tender, or boat for going to and from shore, if you are at anchor or moored.

I'd strongly advise against a laser or any other racing class dinghies, since they aren't as stable nor as roomy. For instanec in a laser there is only enough room for your shins in the boat.
wheras a tender boat while slower, is roomy enough to carry cargo along with passengers.

In terms of the three year old, as with everyone should be wearing a life-jacket, and it would be best to practice swiming beforehand. Children are old enough to swim as early as 6-months, and at 3 they can do it in a variety of ways.

It would also be a good idea to practice capsizing and recovery, it will actually enhance how safe everyone feels, as they can overcome their fear of capsizing or ending up in the water and build confidence. You may wish to take a basic dinghy sailing course, so can learn about the proper procedures yourself first. Though basically it is, walk off the boat when it's capsizing, when in the water ask if everyone is okay and make sure, then point the bow into the wind, pull down or even get on the centerboard to right the boat, then swim around to the transom and get in, with preferably some lines like the mainsheet to haul yourself in, then help others in, while making sure boat stays in irons, bail out the boat, ang get underway. So that way if it does happen in an unplanned fashion, everyone will know what to do, and you can continue sailing afterwards. Who knows, maybe on a hot day, when the water is warm, everyone will be up for a swim, it certainly is one of the ways of doing so.

Also it's good to also know and practice crew-overboard procedures, which is useful not only if someone falls out, but also if something gets dropped overboard. Go on a beam reach, perpendicular to the wind for around 3 boat lengths, then tack or turn through the wind onto a broad-reach or going 45 degrees with the wind, then harden sheets to a close reach, going into the wind, and loosen them to break as you approach the overboarded on the leeward side, practice with something like a spare lifejacket.

Sal Paradise 09-29-2012 05:43 PM

Re: Buying our first sailboat

I had the same scenario. Had a 19' powerboat. We have an old sunfish we loved too. The Sunfish you can throw on the roof or in the bed and its a good little boat. I wanted to move up.

Sailboats require a little more. It hard to find the perfect size. Anything big enough to be stable needs a trailer at least. Then setup is a pain. Came to the conclusion that I'd rather have a boat worth putting everyone on. Got a Cat22 on a trailer. Its perfect for us.


Capt. Gary Randall 09-29-2012 09:12 PM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
Ian, When I was seven years old, my dad bought me and my sister a (optimist Pram). This little boat was not big enough for four people, but for me and my sister it was perfect. They used to have pram races sponsored by different organizations including yacht clubs.They were Gaf-rigged.and very easy to rig from a pickup truck with a square Bow. ,However after reading post 7 I think that would be a much better option.

Cruisingdad 10-01-2012 04:31 PM

Re: Buying our first sailboat
From someone that spent a year and a half in Vancouver, WA I would never get a boat that wasn't pretty stable. That water is wiked cold!

A hard to tip sailboat that is still trailerable would be a Catalina 250, Compaq, maybe even something like a Catalina 22. The 250 has a head that would make it more enjoyable. I would avoid the water ballast, but that is just me.

You will hate trailering boats of that size. THere are a lot of marinas right around there to keep her at. I think you would use the boat more if you kept her in the water.

I have owned the C250 and still own the Compaq. Neither will break any speed records, but pretty stable little boats.


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