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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Boat Choices: Double-Check
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Topic Review (Newest First)
10-13-2004 06:40 AM
BarryL
Boat Choices: Double-Check

Hello,

Please write back after you complete your 2 week course. You will know a lot more by then.

Regarding boat purchase, my only advice is to purchase used. Find a boat that someone outfitted for solo blue water sailing, used one, then decided that cruising was not for them. The boats are out there, and you will save a lot of money and time.

Good luck,
Barry
10-13-2004 02:36 AM
WHOOSH
Boat Choices: Double-Check

E, I can just *feel* your eagerness, and since we''re about the same age, I can appreciate how you''re ready to get on with this plan - a plan drafted much like a MBO statement, drawn up in a business setting, the steps laid out but perhaps without being anchored sufficiently in real world realities.

I''ll go in a different direction than Jeff but not because I disagree with any of his major observations. Your boat choices reflect a well-intentioned, knowledge-deficient circumstance, you''re way too optimistic about what you can get from your two ''captain-based'' experiences, and you''re looking at boats too large for you, given the open-ended nature of your plans and the possibility you might want to do long-distance single-handed cruising.

Still...let''s overlook all the above, assume that you''re ready (at least financially tho'' probably not in other ways) to jump into the deep end of the pool (which is what you''ll be doing if purchasing a $100-200K boat in the 35''+ category), and now the question is how to ''execute'' while minimizing risk and optimizing cruising options at a later date. Let''s even assume, as you suggest, that you haven''t the patience to read a bit more (e.g. the relevant section of Beth Leonard''s Voyager''s Handbook, which discusses the financial and cruising budget consequences of boat choices, or Nigel Calder''s The Cruising Handbook, which talks about a range of design and construction issues - both of which I recommend and you probably need). It''s a mistake IMO to wave off suggestions to build your knowledge base a bit more when you keep getting that advice...but so be it.

Given the above, I think the only advice you can expect here which will truly be helpful is that which coaches you on how to minimize the predictable pitfalls of your plan. (And forget about getting a consensus recommendation on the boat to choose...). Here are a few suggestions I''d make to you:

1. Buy based heavily on perceived quality (for resale purposes, because you may well end up selling after 12-18 months, whether to get back out of sailing or because you now know what you really want)
2. Shop the regions that offer the best pricing (S Florida, Great Lakes in winter, Gulf Coast), again for the same resale-related reason (sell in Annapolis, San Fran or L.A.)
3. Buy the smallest boat that meets your REQUIREMENTS (as opposed e.g. to the one that seems to offer the most features for the buck, or the most ''nice to haves'') because you are far more likely to discover you have too much boat (for you, and for your pocketbook) than you have too small a boat, and because it forces you to...
4. Draw up a specific list of concrete requirements. You don''t get to write down things like "high build quality" because you don''t know what that is, and broker''s opinions will vary on that, and there multiple ''quality'' ways to do things. E.g. your displacement target is too broad; refine it to a ton or so. To the extent you can be specific, concrete and end up with a clarifying list of criteria, start boat shopping. To the extent your list isn''t that helpful, reconsider how ready you are, no matter how ready you want to be.
5. Minimize systems on the boat you buy while maximizing their quality. Preferences vary widely on which systems a boat should have and so you''ll protect more of your investment plus give yourself maximum span in choosing the systems you want as they become clear to you.

I''m guessing there is no way you would buy a financial product in this fashion, nor would you decide to enter into marriage after a few weeks trial run with a marriage counselor...but that''s just a guess on my part. The above suggestions will at least keep you in the ballpark of minimizing risk while ''going for it''.

Good luck. People have done worse things than what you''re planning and, in your case, if it''s a choice of doing something - now - or doing nothing, then do something...just do it wisely.

Jack
WHOOSH, currently wintering in London, England
10-12-2004 03:23 PM
Jeff_H
Boat Choices: Double-Check

''Doing it right'' does not mean not doing it, it means doing it a step at time. No one in their right mind would expect to buy a jet air liner and take off and ''just do it''. Most rational people would expect to work their way up from simple easy to fly aircraft, learning as they went. It is the same with sailing.

I have been involved with literally dozens of people who share your dream, in most cases it takes a couple years (and not a whole lifetime) to learn what they need to make a reasonable boat sellection and learn to sail it well. Those who have followed some reasonable learning process usually end up out there sooner and stay out there longer.

Besides, even the learning period is a fun part of the process as much of the time is spent out of the water and jawboning with fellow sailors.

Respectfully,
Jeff
10-12-2004 01:23 PM
Epiphany
Boat Choices: Double-Check

Look folks. There''s got to be a happy medium somewhere in here. I genuinely appreciate all your advice, including your admonitions to "do it right". But I''m leaning more toward Nike''s slogan: "Just do it".

I could spend the rest of my life reading books and talking to sailors in the interest of getting ready, and end up dying without ever having set sail. There are just too many experiences to be had and places in the world to see to put off getting started much longer.

Having said that, I''m counting on my upcoming instructional voyage to give me a lot more information on how much I can handle and when. In the meantime, I will welcome whatever additional input you have to offer, particularly with regard to your recommendations of suitable boats.

Thanks so much for your time and consideration.
10-12-2004 07:39 AM
Sailormon6
Boat Choices: Double-Check

I agree with Jeff. You have a good plan for accelerating your learning process, but there is just no substitute for time spent with your hand on the tiller and adjusting the sheets in a variety of wind conditions. You can learn the basic principles from an instructor, but, after the instructor is gone, when you are on your own, things will happen that the instructor didn''t tell you about. Sailors spend the rest of their lives learning the finer points of sail trim and helmsmanship and seamanship. If you get caught on a lee shore in heavy weather, you need to know more than the basics to keep the boat off the beach. Small sail adjustments can make a huge difference.

I see people drifting down on other boats because they don''t understand the most fundamental principles of how the rudder and keel work.

Take six months to talk to lots of sailors, boat brokers and other knowledgeable people about different types of sailboats. Ask lots of questions and let them educate you about all your options. After that, you''ll have a better base of knowledge, to help you decide what kind of boat will best suit your needs.

You''re retired, and have time to sail a small boat once or twice a week. You''re young enough that you can afford to spend a year buying and preparing your boat and yourself to do whatever you want to do. If you are over-anxious and get in over your head, it could turn your dream into a nightmare. What you are about to do is worth the time and effort to do it the right way.
10-11-2004 05:38 PM
TrueBlue
Boat Choices: Double-Check

I just stumbled upon this site while searching for varied opinions on sailing from experienced sailors and decided that this is as good a time to chime in here (for the first time) as any.

Epiphany . . . I partly agree with Jeff_H, mostly because I like his style, obvious sailing experience and logical way of thinking. However, I also see where you are going with your decision and I can relate on a somewhat less agressive level than yours.

I just turned 54 this week and in three days, will be closing on my first sailboat . . . a Nauticat 33 motorsailor (sure to stir up some some boos and bahhs here, but still a s/v). My former sailing experience is limited to Hobiecats and daysailors in my youth, but recent crewing with friends on 33 to 44 ft sloops, which raised my comfort level with larger sailboats. My decision did not come quickly however. After considerable research, it was a choice made mutually by me and my wife/lifelong first mate. We are former powerboaters (25 years, six boats) in search of a different tack at this stage in our lives than reaching a destination in record time.

With us however, after seeing the world by way of air, land and sea in fast boats, we will be content to simply cruise the east coast, always having the option to control the helm from the pilothouse when weather gets snotty.

I''m not independently wealthy (we all have to serve somebody), so I''ll need to continue with my profession (part-time) to support a "semi-cruising" lifestyle.

Congratulations on your successful retirement and grand dreams for ocean voyaging. I''m envious, in a sadomasochistic sort of way.

The point I am trying to make is to just go for your dream, skip the day-sailor step, but continue with your plans for sailor education. You WILL learn to sail a larger boat, just not as well as others who may have started with smaller sailboats many years ago, working up to larger boats within 15 to 20 years. At that rate, you''d be pushing 80 by the time you move up to that 40 foot dream, not an option in my mind.

Best, Steve
10-11-2004 03:46 PM
Jeff_H
Boat Choices: Double-Check

Buying a boat is a highly personal thing. With experience we each develop opinions about what kind of boat, and what kind of sailing style, best suits our individual tastes. There are no universally correct answers when it comes to buying a boat to go single-handed voyaging, just as there is no universally correct route to cruise, or reason to go cruising, or wife to marry.

Opinions are likely to be extremely diverse on any topic related to distance cruising. (For example, If I were going to do some distance cruising again, Cape Dories would be way at the bottom of my list, being of a totally unsuitable design and build quality for my purposes, I would never own another full length keel again, and I consider cockpit lead halyards and control lines, [especially the vang and reef lines] to be essential to safely when single-handing either onshore or offshore. BUT that does not make Billpjr wrong in what he is saying, because for his style of sailing his advice represents the exact right answer for him. And in fairness, I am sure that Billpjr would never want to go offshore voyaging in a boat like mine either.)

Getting to my point, and with all due respect, looking at your post it would appear that you really do not have sufficient experience to make reasonable decisions on what type of boat and how it should be outfitted so that she would suit your needs, and your list of preferences includes such a wide variety of boats and features that it would appear that you are really taking a total shot in the dark. Your list includes so extremely different boats in terms of sailing ability, seaworthiness, motion comfort, purpose, and build quality that I strongly suggest that you need to slow down and spend more time learning to sail and and learning about boats.

To begin with, I would strongly suggest that you start with something smaller. None of the boats on your list would be suitable to learn to sail if you wish to learn to sail well. It won''t happen or at least it won''t happen very quickly. The general list of boats and your size and displacement goals are at direct odds with your goal to learn how to sail in a comparatively short period of time. You would be far better served sailing on as many different boats as you can and then buying a smaller boat and doing some coastal cruising until you come to develop a set of preferences of your own. Thisis a much faster and direct approach and one that is more likely to prove successfulin the long run.

I also agree with CT''s suggestion that you do a bunch of reading. Marshall is certainly one good source of info but I would also suggest that you read opinions across the board so that you experience the range of choices that are out there, and the arguements behind them.

I know just how strong the pull of the sea can be but sometimes the fastest way there means taking things a step at a time, running the whole race rather than trying to start at the finish line.

Respectfully,
Jeff
10-11-2004 03:31 PM
mmccoy
Boat Choices: Double-Check

I''m kind of curious if you are going to be singlehanded why you are choosing such a large (37-43'') boat.

I''m your age, singlehanded, in decent condition and I really REALLY don''t think I''d want to deal with the forces involved with anything larger than I find with my Westsail 32. At a certain point it not only just isn''t fun anymore but could be downright dangerous. And we''re not getting any younger either
10-11-2004 03:28 PM
ct
Boat Choices: Double-Check

As I thought the book is availabe here at SailNet. (And no, I''m not on commission.) It''s really great book.

Cut and paste the following into your browser or simply go to the book section of the store.

http://www.sailnet.com/store/item.cfm?pid=28830
10-11-2004 03:14 PM
ct
Boat Choices: Double-Check

Rather than rely on a hodge-podge of opinion here, I would purchase the book "Choosing a Cruising Sailboat" by Roger Marshall. Marshall is a well known and respected designer. His book is highly rated and enlightening.

I believe that it is available through the SailNet online store.
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