Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 28 Old 04-13-2015 Thread Starter
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Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

Hey all,

I am looking into buying my first sailboat, and I plan to learn how to sail on it as well as live aboard it. I'll be sailing mostly in the Chesapeake Bay, on the East Coast of the US.

Now, I started looking first at the 22'-27' range, and found a great Catalina C-27 that I have already boarded and gotten a good look at. However, this also opened my eyes to some of the live-aboard issues such as headroom and lack of appliances (mini-fridge, stove, etc.). That said, I know I can manage living on a 27', but I am wondering if it would be better to go a few feet more for the extra living space.

I have been looking into a Hunter 31' and a Morgan 32', both of which have great kitchen space and a comfortable living area. Of course, I can imagine those 4'-5' more in length can make it a much more difficult sail for a beginner.

I definitely want to be able to sail and operate my boat solo, so what would your advice be? Should I tough it out on a 27' while I learn the craft for a year or so, or should I go ahead and try out something bigger?

Thanks for the help, guys.
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post #2 of 28 Old 04-13-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

Are you a complete beginner, or just haven't sailed the bigger stuff?

Ordinarily I'd encourage you to get some small-boat sailing in first, ie "learn the basics of driving in a smaller car before driving that truck or RV", but if your question is whether you should start out on the Cat-27 before getting the Morgan-32, I'd say you could as easily learn sailing on the one as the other.

Your wish to sail solo, however, might tip me toward the 27-footer, you'll run a shorter personal track meet trying to trim and ease those smaller sails by yourself. But please learn with a crew first? Sailing alone is one thing. Docking, undocking, mooring, anchoring, raising and dousing sail, and many other chores too, *alone*, is another thing.... ;-)
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post #3 of 28 Old 04-13-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

It really depends on you and the particular boat, moreso than the length.

A 32' sailboat is not necessarily difficult to sail poorly. I've sailed plenty of boats from 35' to 55' without much sailing experience. I wasn't a good sailor, but I was safe and had a ton of fun. But when I bought my own boat, I got a 19'. Pure sailing pleasure is greater on the small boat and I'm quickly learning things that the big boats didn't teach me very well. I don't serve cocktails, but I have a cooler with beer cans. I can't live aboard, but I have a house to live in. I don't have a toilet or electricity, but I don't have to spend time maintaining systems and a big hull.

What's important to you?
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post #4 of 28 Old 04-13-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

The smallest boat I've ever sailed is 33' and I thought that was a small boat. Bigger is better!

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post #5 of 28 Old 04-13-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

Your aptitude for sailing and commitment to training are the biggest factors.

That said, I don't think there is an appreciable sailing difference between a 27 and 32 ft boat, nor is it out of the question that one could learn to sail on one. That last part varies by individual.
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post #6 of 28 Old 04-13-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

32 feet won't give you very good feedback. Smaller boats will talk to you and let you know when you've "hit the groove" - that point where the boat lifts it's skirt and starts to boogey - much sooner, imo.
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post #7 of 28 Old 04-13-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

32' is not too small. ESPECIALLY if you are going to live on it. Just make sure it has a reliable engine...learn to get in and out of your slip under power...then go out on mellow days and start learning to sail...first with your main, then add your head sail. Read a bunch and watch a lot of how to videos. It's not that hard. Just keep things under control by picking light wind days.


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post #8 of 28 Old 04-13-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

Bigger is better for everything but learning anything about sailing. Buy the biggest boat you can manage. But rent a small boat, a dinghy, to learn on. Some monohull dinghy about 14 feet with a headsail. Take lessons in it. Race it if you can.

That said, about 80% of the people out here cruising are really beginners as far as sailing experience. Rather stunning. But they are out here!

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post #9 of 28 Old 04-14-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

My first and only boat is a 40'. Got her new in 2003 after my 1st sailing lesson in 2001. Since then been up and down the USA east coast a couple of times, all the Carib, across the Atlantic and now year 3 in the Med. Just have patience and practice a bit. It will work.

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post #10 of 28 Old 04-14-2015
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Re: Is a 32' Sailboat Over-sized for a Beginner?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolatom View Post
Are you a complete beginner, or just haven't sailed the bigger stuff?

Ordinarily I'd encourage you to get some small-boat sailing in first, ie "learn the basics of driving in a smaller car before driving that truck or RV", but if your question is whether you should start out on the Cat-27 before getting the Morgan-32, I'd say you could as easily learn sailing on the one as the other.

Your wish to sail solo, however, might tip me toward the 27-footer, you'll run a shorter personal track meet trying to trim and ease those smaller sails by yourself. But please learn with a crew first? Sailing alone is one thing. Docking, undocking, mooring, anchoring, raising and dousing sail, and many other chores too, *alone*, is another thing.... ;-)
Good post by Nolatom .....

The smaller and lighter weight the boat - the faster and steeper the learning curve ... translation: you overcome the 'trepidations' and learning of sailing much quicker. Sailing like other sensory linked activities (skiing, playing musical instruments, flying aircraft, etc.) usually is gained by pursuing a sequence of 'plateaus'. The steeper the learning curve, the faster that learning curve will be ... especially in the pursuit of a personal goal.
Smaller boats are 'more reactive' and their lack of mass/weight, smaller sails, etc. will not hide operator errors due to the relative sluggishness and slower response that you would encounter with a 'bigger' boat.

Suggestion: buy that 32 footer for the convenience, interior space and amenities; but, also consider to buy a cheap (abandoned, etc.) sailing dinghy, sail it often, crash it and capsize it often, dont put much $$$ into it ..... as a 'beater'; apply what that small boat teaches you and apply what you learn to that larger boat. Time on the water, actually sailing, is what will get you to your next plateau. The small boat with its rapid and tender responses will get you there much faster and these 'plateaus' will become more obvious to you as you progress. When you know you've arrived at your goal (mastery of sailing, etc.), walk away from the small boat or give it to someone else .... I'll make the bet, that youll keep the small beater.

Most who start their sailing in small boats, usually always have a small boat to sail on, even if eventually they own a 'sailing monster'; smaller boats are simply more 'fun' and so much easier to sail ... the learning process never ends if you let it.

If you observe the population of just about any marina, those who started sailing in larger boats are inevitably the ones who never or rarely ever actually go sailing in their 'big' boats, ... especially when the wind 'pipes up'. The prevention of this is to (also) buy a small 'beater' and sail it as often you can.

;-)

Last edited by RichH; 04-14-2015 at 10:24 AM.
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