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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 09-29-2010
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What boat do I want?

Hello to everyone. I am new to this forum and am considering purchasing a sailboat to not only sail, but live aboard. While I used to sail small Catamaran's and dinghy's as a youth, I have not sailed period as an adult, so I consider myself a complete rookie.

Since this boat would be "home" as well as a hobby, I want something on the larger side. I know some people recommend starting small, then moving up, but I'd rather get what I want long term now, most importantly because I'll be living in it. Also, with the economy so poor, and little turnaround in sight, I don't want to be in the unenviable position of having to sell a boat in order to move up to another.

So, getting more to the point, I'm trying to decide where to focus my attention as I start looking around. I was hoping for suggestions as to which boats might suit my particular needs. While I'll mostly be sailing around the Puget Sound for the first few years, my goal is to sail to Hawaii and beyond. Obviously, I'd need an offshore worthy boat, but it seems there are many which would fit the bill and aren't on the huge side. I'm kind of overwhelmed by all the different brands, rigging, equipment, etc.

If I had to pick one quality that is most important to me, it would be well-built and durable, and the Westsail 32' seems like maybe it might be a good fit. Some people prefer speed, agility, etc., but I'll happily sacrifice all that for something that can take a beating in a storm. I have no plans to ever race, and I want to get there in one piece. I will also sleep much easier by myself on the sea when I know that the boat can withstand the coming gale. I don't want to have to try to run away and hide from storms, etc.

The biggest limiting factor, for me, is going to be money. I am NOT interested in financing a boat, so it has to be within my budget of cash. I have to keep it below $40k. Some of you may laugh at this, but that's the maximum. One thing I have going for me is I am very handy and have a lot of tools. So, I may be willing to take on a "fixer." I say "may", because it would all depend on the price. I am well aware that oftentimes these projects end up costing WAAAAY more than a completed one would have initially. With this in mind, I'd only grab the one that needs work if it was a screaming deal.

I will be living in the boat by myself, but I have a large dog which I like to consider as another person space-wise. I'd also like to factor in the chance that I meet a woman who would like to join me. So, I'd like a boat which was comfortable for two people and a dog. Other than that, I'm pretty much open to suggestions. I have read quite a bit here, will continue to, but I wanted to just get a post out there, and see what people thought might work for me given these criteria. I am happy to answer further questions. Thanks a lot for reading!!

Last edited by SoundBear; 09-29-2010 at 02:34 AM.
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Old 09-29-2010
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You are asking a lot for $40,000. If you just want a floating condo a Hunter, Catalina, Bene would easily fit the bill. Big roomy affordable. The whole sailing to Hawaii and possibly points beyond would put you more in the Westail category which are older and less comfortable to live on but much more seaworthy.
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Old 09-29-2010
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Have you read through James Baldwin's site?

Atom Voyages | Voyaging Around the World on the Sailboat Atom

I'd probably start with the boats on his "Good Old Boat List"
Good Old Boat List

You should be able to find something, and still have the cash to fit her out within your budget.
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Old 09-29-2010
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If the budget is 40K or so, the are a few westnails around for that price. West marine in lk union has one IIRC, talk to JeffC.....

Reality is, if you want to really enjoy the experience, look at Ruby Slippers at MSC, that boat took the owner on a 2 yr cruises from here in Seattle, to Oz and back. Included mom and dad, and their twin daughters. BUT, you will probably need your budget plus another zero! but it is ready to go!

Frankly, back when you were sailing, as was I as a teen. boats today vs then are similar, but different. frankly, todays boats are lighter built, fster, but have some better seaworthyness if you will vs a west snail. A west snail wll get you somewhere in say 14 days, Ruby slipper about 7, A westsnail you WILL hit a gail, ruby slippers, or even a smaller version, you can travel 25-50% faster, so hitting gail+ winds, will be less of a chance.

I would suggest thinking over the boat choices, types and styles.......but that is me.

Also, if you want to "sail" here in puget sound, an heavy full keel overbuilt boat is pretty useless, unless it has a BIG strong reliable iron genny!

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Old 09-29-2010
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Welcome Soundbear, there are a lot of nice captains here will keep you entertained for a long time.

I will let others to point you to the right direction(s). But I wanted to let you know that once I met a Stanford professor who brought a new Westsail and had plans to take one year off on sabbatical. He and his wife did not come back to U.S. until 17 years later. They have circumnavigated the global twice and spent their time mostly in Far East. I met him at the shipyard two weeks after they return to U.S. It was a culture shock for them.

I was so envy;I turned green.
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Old 09-29-2010
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Funny how some people take delight in trashing the westsail - a very good value cruising boat that is faster than people would have you believe.
They are also VERY roomy for a 32' boat, I have yet to board a 32' boat with more interior space than a W32

Dont be in a hurry to buy and educate yourself on the boats you are interested in. Also, hire a good surveyor - this could save you a lot of money.

Have fun looking
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Old 09-29-2010
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Full keel boats do have lots of interior space. the link is from sailboat data.

WESTSAIL 32 Sailboat details on sailboatdata.com

and the owners assoc.

WOA Web Site

Owners love em it seems.
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Last edited by deniseO30; 09-29-2010 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 09-29-2010
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You have listed a few contradictory criterion.

- "I want something on the larger side" vs. "I have to keep it below $40k"

Larger boats are more expensive. Small to mid-size blue water sailors are more expensive.

-"I'll mostly be sailing around the Puget Sound for the first few years" vs "my goal is to sail to Hawaii and beyond"

Boats that are appropriate for sailing conditions in the Salish Sea are not necessarily the same boats appropriate for passage making. We tend to have light air and strong current. While we can get storms, they should never come as a surprise. Also, sea conditions are rarely a factor outside of a few locations and that can be avoided by simply paying attention to wind and tide conditions.

- "I want to get there in one piece" vs "I don't want to have to try to run away and hide from storms"

I have no off-shore experience. However, it is my understanding that it is prudent skippers that generally survive.

- "I'd like a boat which was comfortable for two people and a dog" vs "I'd need an offshore worthy boat" and "I have to keep it below $40k"

Have you ever slept, cooked, showered, and used a head on board a boat? Have you ever done any of those things while underway in weather? You really need to get some experience with those if you are trying to decide what boat to purchase to live aboard or for passage making. When you buy a house or rent an apartment, you have enough experience with home living to make reasonable choices. If you have never spent living time on a boat, you have no frame of reference to make those decisions.

Comfortable boats for two people and a large dog are not the same boats as blue water capable boats that can be had for under $40k.

I would suggest that you buy a boat that is appropriate for what you intend to do now, live and sail on the Salish Sea spending under $40k.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have a boat that fits that description. I have a 1984 Catalina 36 for sale. It is in in good shape and well equipted except for: Some delamination on the decks that has been there since my Dad originally bought the boat used in 1999. It has some blisters on the bottom. Nav light bulbs are burned out. Shower pump needs new wiring. The boat is available for much less than your $40k limit and is in Tacoma.

There are other boats available. A quick search at Yachtworld dot com found 16 boats in WA between 29-36 feet under $40k between 15-25 years old. Keep in mind on your budget that you will have to pay tax on the purchase price and figure out what you will be paying for moorage and insurance.
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Last edited by dhays; 09-29-2010 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 09-29-2010
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Thanks for the positive responses! And, a special thanks to dmcMaine for the link to the "Good Old Boat" list. I'm afraid that I will feel a bit cramped in some of the smaller boats as liveaboards. I do understand my budget is kind of small for what I'm looking for, however, I think this economy will produce more boat for the money than I could find years ago. I will be patient, and cross my fingers. I do plan on having a surveyor look at anything before I buy. Keep the comments coming! I like to hear all opinions.
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Old 09-29-2010
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Are you planning to primarily spend your time crossing oceans, or primarily living aboard in port and coastal cruising?

It seems to me that something like a W32 makes HUGE sacrifices in comfort, roominess, and light wind sailing ability in order to be seaworthy, and you pay much more money in the process. Narrow bunks with leecloths, gimbaled stoves, etc. make it possible to sleep/live months on end in rough seas, but are much less comfortable and easy to use at a calm dock or anchorage. The extremely heavy displacement means you'll be motoring most of the time in coastal waters, when lighter coastal cruisers can sail. When you can sail, it might be only half as fast.

You also get a much smaller boat, with older equipment for the same money. For the price of a beatup W32, you can get something like a Catalina/Yankee 38 in great condition- a massively larger and more comfortable boat that's still seaworthy to weather most any storm if properly maintained, equipped, and skippered.

It seems to me that people put too much faith in having a "bluewater" boat, instead of keeping their boat in proper condition, and studying/preparing/outfitting for storms. I'd rather weather a rough storm in a lightweight coastal cruiser with everything in top condition, and a proper storm plan and equipment (storm sails, parachute drogue, etc.) than a $40k Westsail 32 that has 30 year old rigging, blown out sails, and an over-confident skipper whom didn't form and practice a storm plan because the W32 can "handle anything" on it's own. Of course, if you're crossing an ocean and encounter a powerful hurricane you're going to need both a stout bluewater boat AND proper storm tactics/equipment to survive.

It seems like lot's of people seem to go for boats like the W32 for coastal cruising (which they're not designed for), because it puts their mind at ease over their lack of confidence in their sailing abilities.

After reading and practicing the techniques in "Storm Tactics Handbook: Modern Methods of Heaving-to for Survival in Extreme Conditions by Lin Pardey, Larry Pardey" I'm much more confident in rough weather, and don't see any need for a heavily built bluewater boat for coastal cruising due to fear of bad weather.

Last edited by casioqv; 09-29-2010 at 03:18 PM.
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