Best Small Boat For Cruising the ICW ? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 11-29-2010
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Best Small Boat For Cruising the ICW ?

Hello all, and thank you for taking the time to read my (first) thread. I have been surfing this site for a few months now, reading up on different things, and have finally joined.

Now to my question- My buddy and I are graduating college in the spring, and we both have been wanting to do a trip down the ICW to Florida from the Chesapeake Bay area, (Norfolk). We dont have a real time table, just until all our money runs out, and we want to purchase a small(er) sailboat to do the trip. We were thinking anywhere from 24-30 feet would be of good size. I would love to hear your opinions on which types of boats would be ideal for this trip, as I know the majority of the trip will sadly have to be under power. Questions I have are, Which types of boats would be the best cruise/sail type for this trip? outboard or inboard? wheel or tiller? etc. Probably looking at a price range of 5-8 k, if that is doable. I have seen Catalina 27s online that are well within that price range, but i dont know if that would be my best, or even a smart option. We have some experience, and will surely gain more, and also take our time and do small, safe legs of the trip in the beginning. Any info from you guys would be greatly appreciated, and im sure I will have many more questions in the future.

Thanks a lot, ATWJMU88.
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Old 11-29-2010
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If your mission profile is to essentially stay inland and sail in decent weather, the necessary capability of the boat isn't going to limit you much. Tillers, wheels, inboards, outboards don't matter, they are all acceptable. You may focus more on what you need to be comfortable aboard with two people for whatever length of time you intend. 24 ft is pretty cozy for two people, unless they intend to be cozy. Do you need a private head, and therefore, a holding tank. How about a galley, refrigeration, separate sleeping quarters?

You should also consider you budget to outfit a boat beyond its purchase. Essential life saving equipment, communication, navigation, lines, fenders, and on and on can chew through a small budget quickly, if they aren't included.
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Old 11-29-2010
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You have a small budget and more or less no repair time so 27' would be big assuming you would want some basic insurance above 24' as in 25' it becomes and issue

Way back when (1981) i had no issues cruising in the J24 with a solar shower and a porta potty as there is good sitting room and full size berths for good sleeping and a two man tent rain fly makes a great sunshade
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Old 11-29-2010
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If it's your first boat...then I would get a well-maintained 24 or 25-footer for 4-5 grand and save your money while you learn a bit more about the pitfalls of buying on the used market. Nothing wrong with most of the boats in this category...Hunter 25 Cherubinis are good as far as they go in this range...Catalinas always good for the most part...Pearson 26's were good production boats..lots of 'em out there cheap.....C&C 25 might cost a bit more....There's British-made Westerly 24 down here selling for $2,500 bucks and seems to be in good condition.. a solid hand-built boat...slow but strong...

It all depends on alot... BUT....a cheap smaller boat ...even a 23 footer for $2,500 that is in great condition is way better for a trip down the ICW with short jumps outside than a 25-27 footer for twice that that is in crap condition...

I'd try to stay with a 25-27 footer for that trip...read as much as you can...read this site and others... a good engine is pretty important ( if your still getting the basics down)...as much as sails really ( for your trip)...It will be a nice challenge for you...good luck....!

Last edited by souljour2000; 11-29-2010 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 11-29-2010
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Go with the smallest boat you can get away with and save at least 20% of the budget for upgrades, modifications and repairs to the boat. I'd also recommend you read the Boat Inspection Trip Tips thread I started, as it will help you determine whether a boat is worth getting survey on.
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