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  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-20-2010 01:51 PM
gallan947 I agree with Dylanwinter1 - and not just because we're both from Oxford,

Few years back a friend (who told me he could sail) and I bought a 24' bilge keel boat from Ebay, the next day we're sailing it into the Solent (south coast England) how we didnt die is beyond me, in the few times we took it out, we tore the sails, ran aground, damaging the keel so when the tide came in the boat filled with water, we even lost the outboard over the back..

I went right back to square one - I've done my RYA lvl 1 and 2 this summer, and now had about 50 hours sailing dingies - mainly a wayfarer - i've just bought myself a nice small, non expensive West Wight Potter 15 - and i'm going to learn slowly, I paid 850 for a good condition boat, with trailor and outboard, and a mooring for the next 2 months.. I SO wish i'd done this in the first place.
07-28-2010 08:03 PM
T37Chef Start small and cheap learning to sail and all the other things associated with boat ownership...then after a couple of seasons if you find you actually use it and can afford it, go as big and expensive as you comfortably can. It worked for us, and I'm so glad we didn't mess around and jumped from a 20' $400 boat to our current one.

My $.000002
07-28-2010 06:57 PM
MarioG We started On the C-22 and weekended 13 times while we were teaching ourselves to sail including never haveing a motor on it and had a great time every time even when the first mate had me storm chaseing solo.

Our Chrysler C-26 has been just as enjoyable, but I'm glad we started with the 22.

We do like the size of the C-26 for the coastal curising.
07-28-2010 01:28 PM
mpickering Your big challenge in wanting to sail on the Potomac beyond draft issues is finding a slip. They are notoriously difficult to get in my experience. If you're on base with slip access (Quantico) you might have an easier time. But usually the Potomac marinas that support sailboats have waiting lists 1-2 years long.

I had an O'Day 22 on the Potomac. Bought it as a turnkey boat. It was at Washington Sailing Marina south of Reagan Airport and my experience has been borne out that the only way into the marina short of a long wait is to literally buy a boat already there. They'll transfer the slip to you if the seller agrees as part of the transaction. I see ads fairly regularly for boats at WSM that include slip transfers.

Draft is an issue. To maintain access, a draw of 2 1/2 feet or less is ideal. Deeper drafts can work but you'll have to pay close attention to your charts and stick to the channels. Given the narrowness of the Potomac in many places this can severely limit your sailing options. Even with my O'Day's sub 2-foot draw I still ran her aground once.

Despite wanting to start out small on the Potomac, my wife quickly wanted to upgrade the next season to something that didn't require us having to tack every 10 minutes as well and play dodge the powerboat in crossing two shipping channels. Now we're on the Bay with a lot more open space.

You don't necessarily need to take the courses to get the big boat experience. Get to know local sailors and groups for various boats and you'll have no problem finding rides on other people's boats.

In terms of boat type, that is up to you. What can you handle cost and rig-wise? Given my wife only likes to assist in pulling the jib sheets, I single-hand the boat most of the time so that drove a lot of my decision making. Like your spouse, mine wanted a galley, a head, some space down below. To get that you'll need to be looking at boats usually no smaller than 26 feet to get at least six feet of headroom down below. 27-30 feet is the usual "sweet spot" for first boats in terms of affordability, ongoing costs, sail handling, docility and so on.

But with the Potomac, you'll have to pay very close attention to the keel setup to get a boat in that size with low draft. Most are shoal draft keels or swing keels.

Consider the Chesapeake Bay. Seriously. Middle Bay between Pax River and Annapolis is within an hour's drive and there are lots of options for marinas and boats. And with the exception of the marina approaches, you won't be constrained heavily by draft in most cases. My Catalina 27 draws 4 feet. Can't get into some places say a shoal draft keel can but shallow enough for most of the Bay and more access than boats that draw 6 feet. And lots of wonderful places you can daysail or overnight to and enjoy the dinner/cocktail thing.

07-28-2010 01:09 PM
dhays My $.02.

Annapolis is great from what my Uncle tells me. He has sailed there for decades.

Stay under 30 feet at this point. Save a ton of money. Build your skills along with your wife. A small family can cruise great in a 27-29ft boat.

FWIW, my folks would spend two weeks with them and 5 grandkids on a Cal 29. Worked out great.

Good luck and thanks for serving.

07-28-2010 01:09 PM
glmark I'm going to sort of agree with Dylanwinter1 because it's what I did, though lessons are a really terrific way to avoid the incredibly stupid things you can do on any boat. Bigger doesn't mean too expensive. There are an awful lot of great boats out there for bargain prices. Mine was in better shape than the day it was made, more gear, plus trailer for $6K. Walk around the marinas and haunt the web. Get a survey when you finally find the boat of your dreams.
07-28-2010 01:01 PM
glmark I bought a 1980 Hunter 25 this year to sail around Wisconsin's largest inland lake. I find that it's fun and easy and draws 3'6". BUT when we entertain there is not much room in the cockpit. Nobody in their right mind wants to sail in the cabin. Go bigger if you'll have guests. Other contributors have also mentioned that a transom hung rudder and aft mounted traveler give the cockpit more useable room. One other thing, the combination of 90 degree weather, 100% humidity, rain, and mosquitos make overnighting in the boat less than a joy. Plan on buying an air conditioner and a boat big enough to accomodate it.
07-28-2010 12:36 PM
don't buy a big boat - don't take any lessons

My advice is to buy a small sailing boat with a reliable outboard and teach yourself to sail

use it for daysailing - picnics with the family

what you do is to motor into the wind - turn around and unroll the gib and sail downwind - its lovely - leave the main furled

then repeat the excercise a few times

try sailing across the wind a bit

once you are confident doing that put away the gib and play with the main a bit - find another boat - watch what they are doing and follow them - putting your sails in the same positions as theirs.

keep the cheap boat for a year - then decide what to do

all that training will get in the way of simple sailing fun and yu will save yourself one heck of a lot of money

the other good thing about a small boat is that you can sail it single handed

no need for crew - and if your wife decides she does not want to go sailing you can still go out - besides with a wife and a child on board you will effectively be sailing single handed anyway.

so buty a small catalina or even a west wight potter

of course I know nuffink so take no notice of me - splurge out $50,000 ona 30 footer with two bogs and winches as big as trash cans and run into the usual eye watering marina bills

07-28-2010 12:25 PM
zimm17 Thanks, great info. My dad also chimed in and said the same thing- commute to Annapolis. That okay with me. I'll start reading about 30 footers.
07-28-2010 12:04 PM
Catalina 30

You should also consider a Catalina 30. They are easy to sail and great for weekend trips, very roomy cabin. Also, they are many of them in the area, especially on the Chesapeake Bay. I agree that the Bay is much better sailing than the Potomac. There are also many marinas to choose from out there. I would stick to a Laser or Hobie Cat on the Potomac.
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