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MichaelQ 01-10-2001 09:06 AM

Help! Where to start???
I am considering the purchase of a sail craft wthin the next 2 months. It has been about ten years since I have sailed. At the moment I am considering a Catalina 28. Points to consider: Do I want wheel or tiller control?
Do I want furling genoa or jib since I will sail alone usually?
Do I want inboard diesel or outboard?
Do I buy new or used?
Most of the sailing will be on lakes in the midwest. Moving to goal of live on Hunter 450 or Catalina 470 within ten years. And NO! not in the midwest...San Diego or Fl
Any help would be very much appreciated.

Jeff_H 01-10-2001 05:37 PM

Help! Where to start???
First off, while 28 foot Catalina is not a bad size for a first boat and a Catalina is probably a reasonable boat boat for lake sailing it is a little bit big to learn to sail if you are also going to be single-handing most of the time. Also since the Catalina 28 is a comparatively new model and from the nature of your questions, I am assuming that you are buying a new boat. I cannot recommend strongly enough that it is a really bad idea to buy a new boat for your first boat, both from a cost and from a time to get the boat properly set up standpoint. Getting a new boat sorted out takes considerably more time and skill than buying a reasonably maintained and prepared used boat.

As to your points to consider:
Starting out, if you want to learn to sail a boat well you definitely want a tiller on that size boat. Wheels do not have enough feel and take up too much room in the cockpit on boats that size.

Furling jibs are a convenience that come at a compromise. They are very popular because they offer a little more convenience in some ways than other ways of flying jibs. I have owned a number of boats in that size range, and have owned a 28 footer for the past 12 years that I frequently cruise and I personally consider roller furling a nusance and a safety hazard for single- handing on a boat that size but that is a pretty unpopular opinion.

I strongly prefer the reliability and conveience of an inboard diesel. On a lake you might get by with an outboard if you are a pretty handy mechanic.

There is no way that I would recommend that you buy a new boat. Setting up a new boat right takes a lot of time, money and skill. For most people a used boat makes a lot of sense, especially for a first boat. After all if the first owner blew it you don''t have to buy the boat. If you make bad decisions, it is your time and your money that gets lost.

As to the next boat, hopefully the experiance of owning your own boat will teach you a lot about boat ownership. While you may indeed end up buying a Hunter 450 or Catalina 470 ten years from now you may also learn a lot of lessons that would steer you towards other boats that may be better suited to your goals.

Good luck and feel free to ask more questions as things progress. This is a great BB with a lot of knowledgeable people.


MichaelQ 01-11-2001 03:47 AM

Help! Where to start???
Thank you for the advice. I was a little sceptical about setting up a new Hunter or Catalina. In the mean time I have run across a 272 O''Day for sale in the area It is tiller but does have an outboard. (I guess we all have to suffer with trade-offs). It seems to be a very well maintained boat, but I have no information on the O''Day for a first boat and how well it handles. It also has a furling jib. (Thanks for your opinion on the furrling question...I know how you feel about having upopular opinions. Being a salmon swimming upstream has always worked for me.)
Thanks again for all the help!!

Jeff_H 01-11-2001 01:44 PM

Help! Where to start???
The Oday is not a bad boat for a first boat and as I noted an outboard is probably OK for inland lake sailing since you don''t have to deal with heavy chop and probably are not motoring long distance. I say that assuming that you are not on the Great Lakes which can have some pretty rough stuff.


BigZ 01-13-2001 11:42 AM

Help! Where to start???
You mentioned that you intend to sail on lakes in the Midwest. Does this mean you intend to trailer? Do you need a swing keel? Trailerable boats can be different animals; especially if you intend to use a launch ramp and raise the mast with each outing.
I agree with Jeff that furling is probably not necessary on a boat this size, despite what many people might say. Without furling you need to accept the fact that you will have to scramble during sail raising/lowering when you are single-handed. You will also be subjected to decisions regarding which sail to use and when to change it. You may need to add some extra bits of hardware, etc. to accomplish all this single-handed, but it can be done. Anyway, you might find that most used boats in the range you are looking at are already equipped with furling and the expense to change back might not be worth it.

I prefer an outboard for the fact that you can pull it off easily and take it to a shop if necessary. I feel that an inboard adds to maintenance time/costs. Outboards, if reasonably small (15hp or less) can also be tilted up when sailing to keep a clean hull. However, in boats in the high 20 foot range you will probably find more inboards, especially in the used category.

When I purchased my first fixed keel boat about 10 yrs ago I went through many of the same questions you are asking. To keep it hassle-free I looked for a non-furling boat, tiller steered, driven by an outboard. Ended up with a Ranger 26. Not a bad boat.

Good luck,

gwilli 02-08-2001 04:19 AM

Help! Where to start???
Whether you go tiller or wheel, furling or hanked on jib depends on boat size and type of sailing you''ll do. I strongly disagree with the comment about furling being unsafe in that with furling you don''t have to go forward to take down/change sail when winds build. If you''re single handing you need to do everything you can to guarantee you stay on the boat! You simply reef to what you need from the safety of the cockpit. Of course the heart of this is a reliable and well maintained furling system that doesn''t jam. The advantage of hanked-on sails is that the cut is more efficient and you don''t have that wad of rolled up sail creating turbulence. In other words for racing you don''t want furling if you want to perform! Also, if you race you''ll want a tiller up to 30 ft. and from 28 and over a wheel for cruising comfort. A tiller gets real uncomfortable sitting sideways and turning to look forward after hours at the helm. I don''t believe tiller pilots are not as effective (or durable) as wheel pilots (I''ve had both).
With respect to outboard vs. inboard an inboard will far outperform an outboard in any kind of chop where the outboard is otherwise screaming half the time out of the water. The inboard will have much better reverse(stopping) characterists. The inboard will be quieter. However, the outboard is easier to upgrade and maintain. I wouldn''t buy an inboard unless it was a diesel and would definitely stay away from "saildrives" which are outboard type motors extended through the hull to try to act as inboards - too many problems with these. An advantage of an outboard is that it can be pulled up out of the water for less friction and hence better speed but in racing you get penalized by your rating anyway vs. the same boat with an inboard but you are faster! Over 28 ft. everything is mostly inboard anyways. In a used boat a diesel will have much more longevity than a gas engine. The diesel is also safer in that you don''t have to ventilate since the fume are not explosive like gasoling vapors.

Evaluate what you will mostly use the boat for - racing vs. cruising and keep asking people who own sailboats to form your own conclusions.

Don''t rush into a boat until you''ve thoroughly researched it. Only buy new if you''re flooded with spare change or know (most unlikely) that you''ll never want to move up.

Russ_W 02-10-2001 06:29 AM

Help! Where to start???
I am generally a self- taught sailor mainly from my service days. However I now intend to do some island hopping from Australia to Indonesia and Malayasia. I was wondering do these countries require any formal qualifications as to my boating experience or as captain?
What paperwork would I require.
(Roberts 25)


vdavis 02-21-2001 04:47 AM

Help! Where to start???
My sailing experience began last summer aboard my new husband''s 22'' MacGregor in the middle of Lake Clinton just outside of Lawrence, Kansas. Having grown up on the banks of the Cottonwood River in the middle of Kansas, my boating experience was limited to ''jon'' boats and canoes. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of sailing and have agreed with my husband, whose sailing experience spans most of his life having grown up on the shores of Lake Michigan, to consider ''retiring'' in a few years and sail the world. He has mentioned things like learning diesel mechanics, learning a foreign language, advanced first aid, navigation, and sailing school for both of us. My question is - Help! Where do I start???

Any suggestions as to priorities, or helpful hints from someone in a similar situation, would be greatly appreciated.

gwilli 02-21-2001 05:41 AM

Help! Where to start???
Before cruising the world I''d suggest that you bareboat charter to get some off shore experience and the feel of a larger boat. Sailing a 22 footer on a small inland lake doesn''t nearly cut it for ''round the world cruising. Visit the Cruising forum herein. Read some books on cruising. Not the best way to test a new marriage! Get some local cruising experience in first to work through the relationship dynamics of living on top of each other day in and day out with no more than deckspace to separate you. If you survive that then maybe the next step is the world! Check out for a woman''s view on global cruising.

vdavis 02-23-2001 02:49 PM

Help! Where to start???
Right now I rather enjoy the ''on top of each other'' part of the marriage, but do understand what you are saying. We plan on going to offshore sailing school this summer in the San Juan Islands which will really get my feet wet, both literally and figuratively. I have read most of the articles on sailnet and have found most of them very informative. We have purchased several books, mostly for me to read. Right now I am waiting for the ice to melt on the lake so we can put the boat back in the water.

Fair winds,

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