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  #1  
Old 12-16-2009
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Noob questions about buying a first Sailboat

I've been wanting to buy a sailboat for quite some time now and I finally have the funds to do it. However my experience is very limited so I wanted to ask a few questions first. Just as some background; I took a several week sailing class a few years ago did OK. However since then I've been so busy with work and family I haven't sailed much. The largest boat I sailed was only 22 feet (I think it was a Santana 22 or something like that) . What I would like to buy is a small Schooner. I just like the look of them. I've been looking around on the internet and I see a few in my price range. I was thinking of something around 30 feet. Ok so here are the questions.

1) Is 30 ft an OK size to start with? I would like something with a reasonable cabin that I can take family and/or friends places on weekends. How big can I go before it gets hard to handle with two people?

2) Is a Schooner OK as a first boat? As I said I mainly like the looks. I understand it won't go to wind like a sloop but I'm willing to live with that.

3) What are maintenance costs like? I know they vary based on the boat but I just want a rough estimated based on size or length (whatever makes sense)

That's all I can think of for now but any comments and opinions are welcome. Sorry in advance if these are stupid questions or have been answered elsewhere. If there's a good FAQ on this feel free to direct me there.
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Old 12-16-2009
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Hey poly, welcome to SN, dude.

There's tons of info on here - as well as many, many salts that will talk you through just about anything.

You can start poking around in this thread: The Salt's Corner Table

It's a thread with some of the best info to some of the most asked questions around here - including yours. And you can see who some of the go-to guys are.

Enjoy.
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Old 12-16-2009
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Not to put you off at all, but if you spend some time searching and reading past threads you'll get many of the answers you seek.

Thirty feet is a perfectly OK level to jump in at, it seems these days many people are starting with larger boats than that, and often with little or no experience.

As far as your dream schooner goes, yes, if you like the look by all means pursue that angle. But you should be aware that such boats are likely to be complicated to rig and handle, a typical 30-ish foot schooner will be a rather small boat in terms of interior volume, esp by today's standards, and in the end will probably be a difficult one to sell in the event you want to move up or to a more weatherly, responsive type of boat.
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I second what Faster said. A 30 is not a bad size boat to start out on but where you sail also should factor into your decision. A large boat on a small lake can take some of the fun away and a small boat on a large body of water may be more of a challenge Keep in mind that repair prices go up exponentially on a larger boat. Replacing a winch on a 30 is much more than on a 22.
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I just bought a 32' schooner

I started sailing over 35 years ago in high school on an O'Day 22. After college I progressed from a Sunfish, to a Daysailor, to a Catalina 25, Catalina 30 and then our current boat, a Rob Roy 23 yawl.

On your first point, I'd agree with others here that a 30' boat is fine as a first boat - recognizing the higher costs of acquisition, dockage and upkeep; and the inherent challenges of handling a bigger boat - greater weight, bigger turning radius, more complex systems, etc. But a 30' boat isn't all that different than a 22' boat, the principles are the same, just the scale (and cost) is different.

I also agree it's important to choose a boat that matches your primary sailing area. One of the reasons we downsized from the Catalina 30 to the Rob Roy, is that I was transferred from Long Beach, CA to San Diego, and would be sailing in shallower water, and so wanted a shallower-draft boat. In our current waters in Mobile Bay, boaters with drafts over about 5' have issues with our shallow waters.

I just bought a Hermann Lazyjack 32 schooner - I suspect that some of the others currently for sale are among the schooners that you've seen on-line. We're comfortable with the boat's size given our prior boats and experience, and like you I'm really taken with schooners - but I have to say that I'm not sure that I would have picked this for my first boat. This is a BIG boat - it's actually 39' overall, 12,500 pounds displacement, probably around 15,000 all-up, gaff-rigged foresail, 50hp diesel engine, etc. And it's over 30 years old; the survey turned up some issues that don't seem too big to me, having dealt with similar ones on prior boats, but could seem intimidating if encountering them for the first time.

A boat this size can be great fun - we're planning long-range for cruising in the Gulf, Keys, Central American, Bahamas and up the East Coast ICW. But it can also be limiting in some ways. For example, given the length, we're somewhat limited as to where we can dock her; and at $7-10/foot and up, dockage can get expensive fast. I just bought insurance today and it was almost 3 times the cost of insurance for our 23' Rob Roy. Replacing the diesel, when the time comes, can run well over $10,000 - a lot more than buying a new 6hp outboard for a 22' boat. To say nothing of the fact that we spent more than twice what a friend is looking at paying for a much newer, very well kept Hunter 34.

And - heaven forbid you ultimately decide it's not the boat for you - it can be hard to sell; not everyone wants a schooner. Our boat was on the market around 8 months, and I've seen others that have been on the market going 2 years.

All said, I don't want to discourage you - I'm a big schooner proponent - but for a first boat you might want something a little more middle-of-the-road and manageable, to get into boat ownership and see what you really want given the type of sailing you'll be doing.

If you want more info on the Lazyjacks, let me know - there's not a lot out there on the web. Our Rob Roy is still for sale - I'm not trying to sell you my boat (well, not too hard), but take a look at the listing at Sailing Texas, sailing lessons, sailboats for sale, sailboat rentals, charters, sailing videos or google "Rob Roy yawl for sale" to see any of the many listings I have for her out there - she's also a traditional, split-rig boat that has some shippy allure in a smaller package. Similar boats are the Nimble boats, also a couple on the market right now.

Mike Turner
Rob Roy 23 yawl "Fiddlestix"
Mobile Bay, Alabama
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Smile

First off, thanks for all the advice guys!

Just to respond to a few comments; my goal is to eventually get a bigger boat that I can take long trips comfortably in. However for now I thought I'd start with the 30 footer to get my feet wet so to speak. I'm not supper money sensitive. I would rather get a boat in reasonable shape than a fixer. On the other hand I'm thinking a new boat is probably a waste of money. In any case I'm leaving myself with a large budget to spend on things I will need/want after I buy it. My friend just bought a power boat on a tight budget and now he's just scraping by trying to get everything to get it on the water.

I plan to be sailing in the San Francisco bay. When I get some experience hopefully I can venture out the golden gate bridge.

I suppose I could start with a sloop and then move to a schooner later, if there is some good reason for it, but on the other hand I'd have a hard time plunking down a lot of money on a boat that doesn't appeal to me that much. I have seen a few sloops I like so perhaps that's an option. I'm just not real fond of most modern looking hull shapes that much.

Mike, I did indeed see a few Lazy Jack 32s and have bookmarked a couple. However the boat I really like best so far is a "30' Custom Gaff Rig Schooner" on yachtworld.com (sorry it won't let me post a link).

Any thoughts?
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Old 12-17-2009
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Ever think of a trailerable? A San Juan 21, Catalina 22, maybe even one of those newer Catalina 250's (even have wheel steering on some of those).

Great way to enter the sport and keep slip and maintenance costs very low as you could definitely do all the work ever needed in your driveway on a trailer rather than haul. Also, bottom painting/diver costs become less necessary. A 30 ft/mid 30ft is a lot of boat, with a lot of systems...which means lots of maintenace, especially if its an OLD 30ft/mid 30ft boat.

To give you a feel for my costs of buying a new mid-30 ft production boat:

25% Down payment...thats about $30k when you factor in the closing costs, fees that get tacked on
$800/mo boat note
$150/mo insurance (down this year because I negotiated...woo hoo!)
$500-$700/mo boat slip...need this year round in FL (mine is actually zero since my dock is behind my house)
$80 a month for bottom cleaning/diver/zincs replacement (my boat eats zincs since i'm in brackish water and no magnesium zincs are available)
$1500 a year for annual haul and bottom painting...you could go 18 months here if you're religious with the diver and your bottom is done well. Mine was not done well by the dealer
$100 a month for the "oops" fund (saving for insurance deductible or named storm deductible)
$200 a month for equipment, repairs, & upgrades (no repairs yet thankfully)
$100 a year for boat registration for the state (you'll have that with a small boat too...and for the trailer too)

Its a lot of money...and made WORSE by the fact that this money could be going into a nice savings account earning me 2-3% or a bond fond getting 5% and could eventually BE my retirement...ha! Above is the reason why most sailors encourage you never to calculate the true cost of our habit...er hobby, its enough to make one crazy!
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Last edited by night0wl; 12-17-2009 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 12-17-2009
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Don't let anyone induce you not to get a schooner if that's what you like, especially if she's gaff-rigged. There are way too many Maconi-rigged cutters and sloops out there, and if you ask non-sailors they usually think just about any other rig is prettier. We have a ton of schooners up here in Maine and everyone loves to see them sailing. If you're just looking for a day/weekend sailor you could even get a smaller boat. Many couples have sailed around the world on 30 ft-ers or less, so no need to go big. It is hard to find schooners under 25 ft, but there is definitely a comfort factor with size on the SF Bay.

Here's a classic if you're into that:

1977 Atkin America Jr. Schooner Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

She's a little bald-headed schooner (meaning gaff-rigged without topsails). More info on the design here:

Atkin & Co. - America Junior

Of course, a schooner is at her most beautiful when she's gaff-rigged and flying topsails and several headsails, but a little bald-headed schooner would be great to learn the rig on. Despite the fact that there will be more sails to handle, they will be more manageable in size and therefore much easier to handle individually. A gaff-rigged schooner will have great performance downwind or on a reach, too (probably beating out some of the Marconi sloops and cutters), and will drop sail easier in a blow and often be safer, too. Plus less performance to windward often means a more comfortable ride.

And to think, I own a Marconi-rigged cutter, a traitor to myself!
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Last edited by marujosortudo; 12-17-2009 at 08:11 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 12-17-2009
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More on Schooners

Polyp -

Is the custom 30' boat in Norfolk the one you're referring to? Very pretty. The one on the West Coast posted above looks pretty nice, too.

I do agree withe sentiment above - if you really want a schooner, go for it. I did.

Mike Turner
Rob Roy
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Old 12-17-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Turner View Post
Polyp -
Is the custom 30' boat in Norfolk the one you're referring to? Very pretty. The one on the West Coast posted above looks pretty nice, too.
Yes that's the one. From the description it looks like the hull has been repaired and glassed over recently so I'm thinking it might be lower maintenance than the America Jr. with its pure wooden hull. It's also has a bit more room but then it's 4X the price.

I'm wondering if I buy it, what's the best way to get it to SF. I think its way too far for me to sail especially given my level of experience. I've read you can hire someone to sail it to you or you can have it shipped if it's small enough.
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