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Old 06-07-2011
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Help in choosing first sailboat

My family has been boating forever just pleasure and fishing however. The wife and I are really anxious to get into sailing. The kids are older now although were not close to retirement and were looking for weekend getaways.
Being total noobs to the world of sailing we do not know where to start. We are trying to narrow things down to (type) before we head out to start looking as we do not have much time to waste traveling around on days off to look at boats.
We are a little confused about what we might need.
I don't really wanna buy a boat to learn on that we cant grow with to end up with a boat we can sail but does not fit our needs and get stuck with trying to sell in 6 months to a year.
Were looking for a simple sailer that must at least have one bed and a tiny galley and if possible more than enough room if we do intend to bring family members out for a day sail. Also something big enough that after a year of learning can sail down to the keys from palm beach and spend nights on.
The prices vary way to much on the same kind of boats from what we see in adds so we were also wondering what is the best way to buy. We see so many "broker sites" selling 2 30 footers lets say, of the same brand a year different but one is 25,000 the other is 145,000. There seems to be too much of a price change to be valid through being a year newer with more upgrades.
Very confused.
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Old 06-07-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shortnsalty View Post
...We are trying to narrow things down to (type) before we head out to start looking as we do not have much time to waste traveling around on days off to look at boats...
I suggest that you spend time looking at as many boats as you can get on and try to envision spending the night aboard at anchor. Don't view the 'tire kicking' as wasted time, try to think like a sailor, you are in no hurry and the time spent looking is gaining you knowledge and adding to your toolbox of experience.

Boat shows are going to be a great way for you to visit a bunch of boats in a short time. Spend a weekend, take notes, get brochures. Production boats don't change that drastically from year to year or model to model from the same builder. Find a builder you like and feel comfortable with and narrow your search that way.

As you see a bunch of boats you will begin to recognise the reasons for the price differences.

Take sailing lessons, not only will you learn the basics but you will begin to get a feel for what you REALLY want in a boat and what will bring you headaches and you would rather do without. A couple hundred bucks to gain a lot of knowledge and start to narrow in on what you do and don't want seems like $$ well spent when starting out.

Learning on a 22ft Catalina then buying a 31ft Catalina was an easy step for us. We have been and are still growing into our boat and challenging ourself with longer trips, new anchorages/docks, and planning several multi-day offshore runs this summer.

Good luck!
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I agree with these guys
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If you are too busy to go look at boats won't you be too busy to go sail boats? Do you have a budget? New or used? It would be hard for you to be in the water by October with a boat fully fit and ready to go unless you are buying new and the one you want is at the dealers (its not like buying a car).
Used will take several visits to really get familiar with the boat choices you have, time for a test sail, time to negotiate the deal, time to get a survey, time to finalize negotiations, time to prep for sail away.
And that would be a fast track and assumes a pretty good knowledge of the whole process.
Most boats at 32 ft or less often have more "beds" than space for people in the cockpit. All boats below 32 ft have tiny galleys.
Regarding the galley; do you need/want an oven? do you want alcohol or propane to cook on? Do you want a refrigerator or an ice box?
Do you have to have air conditioning/space heating? How about an enclosed head or shower?
Your answers to these questions will push you in a direction as to size and complexity.
Now think about the actual sailing apparatus. Sloop (masthead or fractional), ketch, yawl, or cutter?
Do you want all controls to come aft to the cockpit? Wheel or tiller? What draft is reasonable for where you will sail?
There are way too many decision points to list here. As recommended above a 22 ft starter is, in the scheme of things, almost a throw away boat (although you will probably not have to do that) on the way to a really nice cruiser in which to go down to the keys and where ever wanderlust takes you.
Have fun with your entry into sailing. It can lead to the best of times.
John
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Old 06-07-2011
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you might keep in mind that all boats seem too small.think of a 25 or 30 footer as a very small studio apartment. so don't make a quick committment until you know much more. i like the idea of getting a small 20-25' sailboat and learning to sail. some sleepovers in the cuddy cabin will help you learn what's important to you. nothing like a sleepover and cooking onboard to help you separate the nice from the necessary. But before that take some lessons, then make friends with a boater. the best way to get started is go out with a friend.

as for boat shopping, its not much worse than buying a used car but with cars you know what you want. set a budget you can afford and start researching how much boat it can buy. be aware the lower the price the more you will be investing in repairs and cosmetics.

most of all remember its supposed to be fun so enjoy the process.
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Old 06-07-2011
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I second the idea to make it fun.

As for starting with a 22 footer, that's what we did and we now have a 30 footer (both Catalina's). For us it was the right way to go.

With a popular boat like a 22 Catalina you can sail her for a season or two while you figure out what's important and sell her for what you paid, or even a little more. I'd recommend getting a boat in good condition rather than a fixer upper. Others will disagree, but it will allow you to focus on sailing rather than repairs. Just remember you'll look at some dogs before you find the boat that's right for you.

If your home is in Palm Beach you're about a two hour drive from the biggest boat show on the East Coast. Spending two or three days walking the Miami boat show and getting on different sized boats will help you decide on what you'll eventually want. Official Site of the Miami International Boat Show | Miami, FL

There are some great sailing schools in Florida. They can give you a leg up on learning to sail, and some offer cruising courses on larger boats that will help decide what's important for those cruises to the keys.

Best of luck and enjoy your search, after all you're buyin' a boat!
Jim
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Buy the smallest boat you think you can stand. Small boats are much more easily managed, tend to sail better, and for a new person generally more enjoyable.

I'd suggest a Lido14 which used can be had for less than $2k. It is a perfect boat to learn on.

some other good small boats (these with cabins)

Santana 20
Santana 22
Santana 525
Santana 2023

These boats will sail better than their Catalina peers and will tend to be better built.
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Old 06-07-2011
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22 ft catalina on craigs list asheville nc for $2100.00 it happens to be mine. want it?
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Old 06-08-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WDSchock View Post
Buy the smallest boat you think you can stand. Small boats are much more easily managed, tend to sail better, and for a new person generally more enjoyable.

I'd suggest a Lido14 which used can be had for less than $2k. It is a perfect boat to learn on.
As someone who owned a Catalina 22 I would disagree. The boats are well built for their intended use -- day sailing, overnighting and being easy to set up when sailed off a trailer. There's a reason they're the best selling boat of all time.

I looked at smaller boats and in hindsight I'm relieved I didn't go that route. My wife wouldn't have been comfortable in boat that size (wet & tippy) and it wouldn't have worked for hanging out at the dock and having a glass of wine to toast a sunset.

Also the original poster is sailing off Palm Beach. For those waters a bit larger boat like the 22 would be a better choice in my opinion.

That said there are any number of good small boats out there from various builders. An advantage of the Catalina is that because it's so popular re-sale is easier if it's a clean boat. There's also a lot of support for these boats with parts and active user groups.

Your mileage may vary,
Jim
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Old 06-08-2011
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The reasons I chose my Catalina 25:

Inexpensive boat to learn on.
Fully depreciated, so as long as I take care of her I'll get most of my money back.
Big difference in cabin comfort over the C22 for not much more $$.
Has a head, galley, comfortable berths.
Very forgiving boat to learn on.
Paid cash, she's all mine.

She's a great weekender...sort of like a pop up camper in the RV world. A great starter camper without spending $$$ on a cushy 5'er. I'm learning to sail, learning to work on her, and most importantly, learning just what I really do want and do not want...so my next boat, which will be purchased in about 3 years from now, will be what I learned that I want/need...and will be the boat I sail until retirement when I drop serious $$$ on a blue water cruiser.

Take a look at the Catalina 25's and 27's.....great entry level boats that should meet your needs for now without breaking the bank....save that for later when you "know" what you want.
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