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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 06-08-2010
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First boat (help choose)

My wife and I would like to start sailing. Been reading the posts and I think i'm leaning twoards dingys. Wondering what to look for. We'd like to be able to toat a cooler and some gear. Thought about keel boats but I know as we get better we wouldn't mind being out on a wire. Really not looking to spend alot because after a few years of sailing we'd like to buy a big boat we can spend weekends on and do some traveling. What should we look for. Were not interested in boats like a "Butterfly" (sit on top) any advice? Thx in advance for your time.
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Old 06-08-2010
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For my money, I would go ahead and look at a small keelboat. I was in almost exactly the same position you are in last year at this time. I bought a 17' O'Day Daysailer. It's a great little boat, and there's a huge online community around these boats, both for racing- and cruising-related technical support. But, I had two gripes with the Daysailer.

1. It's an inconvenient size. It's too big to have any of the benefits of a really small boat (easy to handle on the hard, no standing rigging, can be towed with a small car, etc.), but it's too small to have the big advantage of a larger boat, which is a usable cabin (usable for something other than stowing gear.)

2. It's not as stable. With just an unballasted centerboard, it was prone to knockdowns.

Neither of these are specific gripes against the Daysailer; they are applicable to any centerboard dinghy in the 14' - 19' range. So as a result, within 6 months I had sold the Daysailer (at a handsome profit, due to good luck on my part), and bought a Hunter 18.5. It's not significantly larger at the waterline, but it has a cabin that sleeps two comfortably (four if they're all real good friends), and it has a 500lb keel against the 1500lb total displacement, so it's more stable. The difference between what I sold the Daysailer for and what I paid for the Hunter was only like $600, and they were both less than $2,500. If you look around, I'm sure you could find a keelboat to match any dinghy you'll find to well within 25% of the price.

So if it were me (and last year this time it was), I'd go for a small keelboat that you can go ahead and start weekending on now instead of a large centerboarder that you'll just be trading up later.

For what it's worth.

Last edited by jcalvinmarks; 06-08-2010 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 06-08-2010
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I would say the cabin time at anchor is more for the wife and I but I know myself and also have 2 sons one being 20 and I wouldn't mind spending some time out on a wire. Also with the keel I worry that if cruising down the Indian river here in Florida in summertime in extreme low wind I wouldn't be able to stop on a clam bar or sand bar to do some fishing etc. Or can I?
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Sounds like a swing-keel sort of situation if you're worried about draft or being able to beach the boat. May also check out the West Wight Potters, which have a weighted daggerboard that lifts vertically. Either that, or you might look at a twin-keel boat. It's a British sort of affect on a boat, designed to sit upright on the mud flats at low tide around the Solent and the estuaries and whatnot. Two parallel keels, both pretty short short, which balance the boat slightly nose-down.

If you're really after a high-performance kind of ride, something with a trapeze that will get up on plane, then yes, an unballasted dinghy with a daggerboard or a centerboard will fit the bill just fine. If you really want a fast ride, you might look into catamarans.
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Old 06-08-2010
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I've considered the cats as well but as far as spending a day out on the water I'd like a little cubby hole for coolers bait buckets tents(lots of islands to land on here) etc. A keel that raises sounds like something to look into.
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Old 06-08-2010
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Same spot as you. If I am here for another year, I think I will be looking at the Flying Scott. True daysailer at 19' with swinging center. Add on of the rudder swing and you can beach it. Great community for racing. I learned on a 29' C&C, so I too am torn between a small cruiser and a day sailer.
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First choices

I have been teaching sailing for 35 years this summer and can offer some advice. But first some questions:
Have you ever sailed before?
How old or more importantly agile are you and your wife?
What size are you and your wife?

If you are agile and fit then get a good fast learning boat. concentrate on sailing and don't be afraid of capsizing. In fact it is a mandatory part of every program I run. your kids will be more likely to like sailing the boat as well.

If you are not as agile and fit then make sure you sit in the cockpit with the sails rigged before you buy the boat. Bending over for a boom or reaching for a daggerboard could really impact how often you sail and in turn how you enjoy the experience.

The final advice, don't spend a lot of money until you know you like the sport.
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Old 06-08-2010
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Well the wife is 38 and I just hit 40 she's 105(in case she reads this) and I'm about 150 she's tall(5,10) I'm short(5,6) were both in decent shape as were active we fish, kayak, surf(me) and are looking to spend only about 3-5k on th first boat to test.
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