newbie needs some advice on which boat to buy
As the title states, I'm new here and fairly new to sailing. I'm looking to buy a sailboat and I'm not sure which would be best. I'd love any input anybody can give me. I'm not a super sailor - I've sailed a sunfish and laser before - just for fun, and I would like to buy a boat. I would like a small boat (I think 16 feet or under). I've only sailed boats that just have a mainsail, so I'm not sure how difficult it would be to learn how to sail with a mainsail and a jib. I'm open to trying though if it isn't horribly difficult. I don't want to spend a ton of money, so nothing fancy or super high end. I would be sailing the boat on a small-ish lake.
I've looked at some sunfishes and lasers, but would I be better off buying a different boat? I really don't know a ton about this, so I'm just trying to make sure I explore all my options.
Thanks so much!
This question gets asked so much here.
It is scary when you first start looking into this sport and figuring out where and how you fit in.
It sounds to me like you just want to get your feet wet. This is good. Too many people decide to plunge in head first, buy a 30,000$ boat, sail it a few times, sell it and that chapter of their life is over.
First things first--- Check your local area.
Are there any sailing associations or clubs nearby? (Rudder club, Sail Lazer, ect.) What about yacht clubs that do races where you could perhaps gain a spot as crew?
If you REALLY have none of these resources near you or you simply want your OWN boat then you go to step 2. Check out Boattrader, craigslist, boats.com ect. Search for boats like the Bethea or Flying Scot or Laser. These boats are all of the dinghy class but have the bigger boat set-ups of mains and jibs with cunninghams and boom-vangs ect. ect. These little boats are easily trailored and set=up. launched and sailed by one person with very minimal skill. On craigslist you should be able to find one of these boats for between 500-1000$.
Before you make a purchase buy a book like "Inspecting the Aging Sailboat," or something of the like. This will give you the knowledge to buy a boat that is not a lemon. (We are not taking big boats sailnet, dinghys here, not much to it for inspections! Lets not advise surveys on a laser mmm k?)
If the boats hull looks good, mast is straight and not cracked or corroded, and the sails are not ripped or torn you are pretty much good to go. Give a good look to the rudder attachment too.
It is a bit scary starting out, but once you get your feet wet you will quikcly see its not so bad, especially when starting on a dinghy. The real learning curve is when you start getting into REAL sailboats with electrical,plumbing, and engine systems to maintain and fix. THAT is where the real curve begins.
All you need is your points of sail and a fair breeze mate.
Just want to add-- I grew up sailing Sunfish. I would sail a catamaran with my uncle but never at the helm.
The first time I took out a bethea by my self I figured out the jib in all of about 5 minutes. Really there is not much to it.
I think a lazer is the perfect boat to start with. Cheap, dependable, lots of boats out there and a plethora of guides and parts for any questions or needs you may have.
If you want to go a little bigger I would recommend the Bethea. 18' with a full sailboat set up. Those things can MOVE to! Loads of fun on a breezy day and great boats for taking out more than just yourself. Lazers get cramped pretty quick.
Thanks so much for the advice.
I was looking around on craigslist and some other sites and I found a nice looking used M16 for a pretty decent price. How manageable is an M16?
Here is the class website for the M16: M16 Scow Sailing Association
Check out their section on 'sailing hints'.
You could find a less challenging beginner boat to start with but I think it would make a good starter boat. It is a pretty fast hull, which should be fun if you can master it.
I was going to recommend something like a Snipe which is 15' 6" but the M16 will likely be less expensive.
If you're looking for a dinghy and not interested in class racing, you might consider a Howmar Phantom (not to be confused with the British boat of the same name) if you can find a good used one. We've had loads of fun with ours, and we still sail it even though we've gotten a larger pocket cruiser. They're almost identical to the Sunfish, but with some significant improvements like a seamless cockpit that is much more comfortable to sit in. The improvements (including slightly larger sail area) make it a little faster than a Sunfish, so you probably would not be allowed to race against Sunfishes.
Howmar went out of business years ago, but another company has taken over the design and makes the new ones under the name "Pointer 14," which should make replacement parts much easier to get. J-Point Marine, LLC - Manufacturer of Fine Sailboats (no affiliation)
A sailing dinghy or a scow of some sort are great boats to learn on. Depending on the boat and your home waters they can be very challenging. Not to say they can't handle some good wind. I watched a 15 year old kid on a sunfish the other day while the winds were in the 20 to 30 mph range. (I think he's a little better sailor than I am but that's another story.)
If you're looking to do some class racing then most dinghy's or scows would be great boats and a lot of fun. What you should also take a moment to think about is what do you want the boat to do? If you just want to take it out for the afternoon then you're looking for the right type of boat or you might want to consider a small catamaran. The trampoline on a small cat is a great place to hang out and offers a little more room should you decide to make a sailing "date" or have more than one friend go with you. The scow and many dinghy's don't really lend themselves well to this type of activity.
Since you already have a little sailing experience and if you think you may want to take friends with you then you also might consider something like a Catalina 22. You can pick those up for a very reasonable price. There are also a lot of other comparables that will give you the ability to spend a night out if you so desire. (Guess you can see there are a lots of options at very reasonable prices.)
So before you get to far into this take a few moments to think about what you really want to do with your new toy. It will help narrow the scope of your search and you'll be a lot happier in the long term with the purchase.
My last piece of advice. Once you decide and purchase something GET OFF THE COUCH, AWAY FROM THE TV AND GO SAILING A LOT!
Penguin1, a last word of advice,
My kid sister recently asked me if I would go with her to inspect a Sunfish she had found on Craigslist and wanted to buy. She knows how to sail and I am confident in her abilities to safely go out alone in such a boat. I told her I would go but not before I questioned a few points.
Did the boat have a trailer?
How much does a trailer for the boat run for?
Do you have the money for a trailer and/or replacement parts/gear if the boat isn't in sail-ready condition?
Where are you going to keep the boat and trailer?
Long story short, we never went to look at the boat. You need to think past the sunny days and warm breezes to the practicality standpoint as well. Owning a boat (even a small one) does cost money and often times cost a hefty portion. This is one of the reasons I advise people wanting to get into the sport of sailing to check out local clubs and such that allow you to rent THEIR boats. You get the sunny days and warm breezes, they get the maintenance and storage costs.
If you want your own boat, any of the above listed will work out for you. Truth is there is no perfect boat for you right now because you don't know enough about the different styles and their performances to know which would be "perfect."
I cannot sit here and pretend to KNOW the difference in swing-keels vs fin keels, vs full keels vs centerboards vs multihulls ect I know what I have read, I know what I have been told and heard. It will take years for someone to acquire all the knowledge they need to even begin to consider boats in terms of perfections. Besides, your not even sure if you like it out on the water yet!
Go take a look at the boats you see in your price range. Do not concern yourself with performance downwind or sail areas. Look at the boat, note its condition, note hot much room is in the cockpit. Is their a cubby hole for storage? Or is it just an open **** pit (One of the main dislikes of mine towards the lasers btw). Do you like how the boat looks? (aesthetics DO play an important role in boat ownership and subsequent happiness with the boat.) Does the boat have all the sails it is supposed to have? Does boat have the equipment you need to go out sailing and not require more money and time to "restore her."?
Chances are if you look at three boats one will be pretty much ready to go. Buy the boat, get in the water. Figure out the rest later, when its not breezy and cold preferably =)
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