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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising and Sailing with Children
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Cruising and Sailing with Children All things sailing and kids related, from safety to life aboard.


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Old 03-15-2013
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First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

I'd like to get my daughter her first sailboat. She's weighs about 50# soaking wet and is just over 4 feet tall. I thought an Optimist was the obvious choice, but wow are those things expensive. I'm thinking $500 tops, preferably less.

Am I being too cheap? What other boats should I look at?

- Jasen.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

Sunfish, Sunfish clones, or even cheaper - a Snark Sunflower - built like a drink cooler, styrofoam covered with plastic - unsinkable - I learned on one. After she outgrows it you can bring it out for backyard barbeques.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

Watch Craigslist. With enough time you'll find an El Toro or Opti in your price range. You could make an El Toro too.

I have a Dyer Dhow Midget that was a little more than $500 and would be good for a kid to sail in, though it won't sail as well as an El Toro or Opti. Just keep an eye for all dinghies with sail kits. I see one or two options in your price range go by Seattle Craigslist every month.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

Make it a family project and build your own Sabot!

5850--How to Build Sabot
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Old 03-16-2013
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

Build an opti. While they have gotten rediculously expensive the class originally was intended for home builds, and the specs are pretty easy to get right if you follow the designs. I haven't looked, but I am sure there are tons of websites detailing opti builds.
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Old 03-16-2013
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First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

I had a snark for years growing up , I loved it , it was fun , light boat , they made two types ,
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Old 03-16-2013
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Make it a family project and build your own Sabot!

5850--How to Build Sabot
This is a great suggestion and I found working with one's daughter a lot of fun and will give her a real sense of accomplishment when your done. Let her pick the paint colors and design the painting scheme. The Sabot is a good boat but a Sabotina in stitch and glue can be built with two sheets of 1/4" ply in one's garage or basement and can easily be ready to launch by Spring. You'll/She'll love it.

FWIW...
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

I assume you are a sailor yourself. Question is, can your little girl sail already or is she just starting out? My grandson started when he was 8, at a local sailing school. I think lessons, and seeing how she handles herself, will help you. Also, will she be sailing alone - in which case you will want something with a single sail - or will she have "crew"? Remember, these things don't have an engine, so she must be able to return to dock even (especially) when there are off-shore winds. The boat must be light enough so that she can right it by herself when she turtles (and she will). So, the question is as much answered by the skills she has, if not more so, than the actual boat she will sail. She will be on her own out there, no matter how close you try and track her.
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Old 03-16-2013
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

my first boat was a Minifish with a sunfish rig.. made for a VERY fast boat.

Even thought it was built by AMF, it near impossible to destroy, as my numerous attempts to ram a dock proved
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Re: First boat for small 9 yr old girl?

$500 should buy you a used sabot, sunfish, a good used snark, or, as suggested earlier, make it a father/daughter project and build a boat, although i recommend building a D4 and adding a polytarp sail and rig.
Let's build a boat - Our D4 Dinghy Project

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