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  #61  
Old 01-11-2011
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As I have read this thread I thought that there is a lot of good advice but there are some things that should have been said but wasn't. To begin with, I would suggest that you need to clearly define your goal for this boat. Since you are new to sailing, I would suggest that your primary goal for the boat is to have a good platform to learn to sail and a reasonably good platform to learn to own a boat.

It should be a given that this will not be your final boat (unless you discover that you hate sailing) and that this boat will not be ideal to meet your longer term goals. But this should be a platform to learn what is important to you when you do look for a boat that you intend to own over the long haul.

And assuming that you agree that this boat is primarily intended as a learning platform then I would suggest that you look for a used but in good sailing condition, moderately light displacement, simply rigged, good sailing, 22 to 26 foot, fin keel, spade rudder, production sloop.

Boats like these are easy to find, easy to buy, easy to resell, and will be responsive enough to teach you to sail well in as short a time as almost anything else.

If you have the boat surveyed before you buy her, and the boat is simply set up there is not all that much dramatic that can go wrong. The boat will already have scratches and so if you make a few small faux pas its not the end of the world.

Given your budget, and objectives, you are really pretty well stuck buying a boat that is 25-26 feet or less, which is not a bad thing (except that it is very hard to find a boat with 6 feet of headroom that will sail worth a darn). Even in these times, small simple, inexpensive decent sailing boats sell pretty well. Heck, your looking aren't you? Well there are a lot of folk who come here daily who are in your shoes and there will be a fresh flock of them following you when you are ready to sell. And with a $3,000 its not like you will end up paying a lot of taxes or big commission when you sell her to the next guy.

With all due respect to some of the well meaning posters above. Having taught perhaps 100 or more people to sail in my life, the traditional cruising boats suggested above would be just about the last boats that I would ever recommend for a first boat. Even if you had the budget to buy one in decent shape, (which you don't) I would suggest that you put boats like the Albin Vega 27, Folkboat 25, Contessa 26/ Taylor 26, Cape Dory 25D, Pacific Sea Craft 25, Pacific Seacraft's Dana 24 ,Nor'Sea 27, the PSC Orion 27, and the PSC Flicka 20 put them all at the very bottom of the list for a first boat, or cross them out entirely. You might be able to learn to sail well on something like these but they are obscenely expensive cult boats that have such docile sailing capabilities that frankly would not be a great choice for a place to learn to sail. (and that from a guy who loves Folkboats). And whoever suggested a Pearson Vanguard; good grief man, what are you thinking?

So while it may be tempting to look for the perfect boat, or your long term love of your life, trying to buy your long term boat as beginner makes about as much sense as marrying the first girl you ever went out with after only one date. Think about it.....That's my story and I am sticking to it.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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  #62  
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I agree with Jeff_H: considering your experience and budget I'd suggest you'd be best off with a simple smaller boat that is easily handled (Santana 22 or something similar).

For your budget, you'll not be able to get standing headroom on a boat in decent shape, so best to drop that requirement. I've done quite a bit of weekending and even longer trips on small boats and - especially when the weather isn't bad - it has worked fine for me (and I'm 6'6").

When your budget allows and you've gained some experience it might be time to upgrade to a 30 footer (make sure you get a good survey!). This will allow you to learn a whole new set of skills that are not directly related to sailing, as such a boat may have a large number of systems that will have some learning curve to use and maintain (inboard engine, electronics, wiring, plumbing).

When you've sailed this boat for a while you'll realize what works and what doesn't for you, for your type of sailing. By then I think you'll be in a position to formulate what it is that your perfect boat should look like.

Just a word of caution: don't spend a lot of money trying to convert a non-perfect boat into the perfect boat for you. It's unlikely you'll get your money's worth out of such "investments" when you sell your boat.

And of course, don't let thinking of the boat you don't have interfere with enjoying the boat you do have!

Cheers,
Chris
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Old 01-11-2011
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Our last two boats we got from people who were tired of paying slip fees. I think in the case of boats that are free or practically free, get the boat, have fun, be okay with giving it away. I have seen plenty of people around the marina take boats from 22ft to 26ft that were less than desirable and turn them into fun boats. Cosmetic stuff, basic engine repair, and overall neglect is okay if you don't mind working on stuff. Getting a boat without any one of these single items; no sails, no running rigging, or no motor, you might as well buy a boat that is turnkey for a couple thousand dollars. In southern California on any given day you can have your pick of Catalina 22, 25, and 27's all of age for free to $3000, owners sadly just want them gone. Also check out Cal's, Newport's and macgregors. Just my thoughts.
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Old 01-17-2011
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Here's a good post on some cheap boats in the 25-35 range: What Is The Best 25 to 35-foot Cruising Boat For Under $15,000? | Daily Sailing News from North American Sailor. But for just starting out on lake sailing, a 22 footer is easy to handle. I first learned on a Cal 22 - it had enough storage down below for beer, snacks, and the anchor. About all you need at first. First boat I bought was a 29 footer with a full cabin down below - it was nice to have the option to spend the night and have a real head. :-)
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