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post #1 of 26 Old 10-06-2006 Thread Starter
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Young guy new to sailing; looking for a well recommended boat.

Hi all, I'm 21 and am looking to buy a boat to call my own. I'm able to spend up to about 10-20k on a used boat. I have basically no comitments, I've got all the free time in the world, and I basically just want to sail to wherever I feel like going.

I'm fairly new to sailing but I am not new to boating or the sea; I've lived next to the ocean basically all my life and I know that a sailboat is what I want.

I'm mostly interested in making fairly long trips to various (far away) destinations. I'll eventually be sailing from Vancouver, Canada to places like Mexico, maybe south america, and I'd like to make the trip to Florida within a few years.

I also don't mind having a very old boat (i.e. late 60's, early 70's), I'll be having it surveyed of course before I buy it and transport it here. I've heard from many people that some of the older fiberglass boats are built like tanks. But I am not so keen on dropping several thousand dollars into all sorts of modifications and adding gizmos to the boat. I just need something basic that's known to be seaworthy and moves well on sail power. It doesn't need to be that spacious either - I'll be singlehanding it. Wheel steering would be a bonus.

I'm interested in hearing anyone's opinion on a used boat that has stood up to the test of time and the sea. So far I've seen the CAL 25' as a major (possibly top) contender for this kind of purpose.

The only thing I don't like is that the CAL25's are a bit light, the pacific is unforgiving and I'm not sure I want to be riding around out there, even near the coast, in a 4700lbs tub.

Anybody have opinions on older used boats in the 10-20k range that you'd take from SanFran to Hawaii, Vancouver to Mexico or Panama Canal, etc.?

Last edited by paradoxbox; 10-06-2006 at 04:55 AM.
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post #2 of 26 Old 10-06-2006
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The Contessa 26 is probably a good choice, if you're planning on going bluewater. The Alberg 30 is also a pretty good choice, as are many of the Cape Dory series of boats.

I would get and read John Vigor's 20 Small Boats to Take you Anywhere.

Almost any of the boats there would be a good choice, but I don't know how many will be in your price range...however, it gives you someplace to start.

I would highly recommend that you reserve about 15-20% of your total budget for re-fitting, upgrading or repairing whatever boat you plan on purchasing. This means that you should probably spend a maximum of about $15000 for the boat and save $5000 for the survey and re-fitting.

All boats are a work in progress, and it is almost impossible to get one that you will find perfect for you in every way. You will probably find that any boat you do end up purchasing will need to be modified in some way to make it more suitable to what you will be doing with it.

As monohulls go, I like the Cape Dory 25D, the Contessa 26/32 and one person I know just bought an Alberg 30, which looks to be a pretty solid boat as well. All three of these are listed among John's 20 selected boats.

Wheel steering is a bit rare on most smaller older boats, which are generally designed with a tiller in mind. Wheel steering adds complications, and multiple points of failure, as well as often reduces the effective usable cockpit space on these smaller boats. Some of them have been retrofitted with wheel steering, but it is generally problematic, adds weight and complexity, and reduces space on what is already a space limited boat.

I find it strange that you're willing to say that you don't mind having an older boat, yet aren't willing to invest some serious time, effort and money into making whatever boat you get seaworthy and comfortable to handle. Given your goals, sailing from Vancouver to Mexico, Latin America, and will probably need to tweak the boat setup and layout a fair bit.

Here's a quick search of for some possibilities. An Alberg 30 is one of the first dozen listed.


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Last edited by sailingdog; 10-06-2006 at 07:03 AM.
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post #3 of 26 Old 10-06-2006
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The boat model is a little old but it is a good boat. The holder 20 is a racing sloop designed to race in the San Diego Bay. It is easy to sail and fast, but not very good for sleeping on.
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post #4 of 26 Old 10-06-2006 Thread Starter
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Hi sailingdog, thanks for your post.

I'm not opposed to spending time and money on making a boat good and seaworthy, but I figure I'd rather get a boat that already almost meets my expectations / standards (which are not that high anyway) instead of spending 5-10,000 dollars extra on a boat that was never meant for doing what I'm going to do with it. I.E. I don't want to add wheel steering modifications at an expense of 3,000$ if I can buy a bigger boat for 2,000$ more and already has it.

I found a Cape Dory 28' that I liked the looks of, though it appeared to need some new paint at least, and possibly the deck would need to be redone judging by the age.

Thank you for the link, I'm having fun 'window shopping' here at work. I'll be one happy sailor when I'm able to pick the boat I want and call it my own!

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post #5 of 26 Old 10-06-2006
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One thing that has struck me as I have read this thread is that the last thing you want on a single-hander this size is wheel steering. On small boats it is really critical that you be able to steer while doing other adjustments. Autopilots help when you are trying to hold a course in steady state conditions, but because of the faster motions of a smaller boats, and the need to trim sails as you make course changes, autopilots are not always as useful as they are on bigger boats. Tillers, especially when coupled with a tiller extension allow you to move about the cockpit making adjustments.

In boats the size that you are considering, all control lines need to be lead to within easy reach of the helm. Reefing should be simple two line reefing lead aft to the cockpit. As suggested, the main halyard should be marked with reef points, and spinnaker sheets should be marked with jibe settings.

With a tiller it is easy to rig shock chord across the cockpit, which can be wrapped a 3-4 times around the end of the cockpit. It is easy to twist the shock chord around the tiller to make precise adjustments, and the tiller stays where you left it. It is much harder to do that kind of quick on and off adjustment with a wheel.

The suggestion about a steering line is a good one, although I have had problems making this work effectively, but again it does seem to work better if coupled with shockcord on the tiller.

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I'd suggest looking for the Albin Vega or Ballad as well. They're not the most common boats in the US but Albin always built a solid boat, and they have gone around the world. Owners tend to keep them.

Part of you budget will have to be repairs and replacements. You can figure a cheaper old boat will need new batteries, possibly a new alternator & regulator, and the biggest single item: New sails. Sails don't last forever, with even five year of reasonably active sailing they are ready for replacement. If you think of new sails as a V8 five years of age, two or three cylinders just aren't firing any more. By ten years, four of the cylinders are blown.
The difference in performance and speed (which is also safety offshore) is HUGE. New sails will have a plastic coating on them, once that's gone and they start to feel like bed sheets....That's what they should be used for. You're looking at very roughly $4-5000 for a new main and 150 genoa, if you don't have roller reefing for the headsail you'll need a 100 as well. And for offshore us, a set of storm sails--which can be fairly inexpensive.
Having the ability to switch down to heavy weather sails also saves you money--because you won't be blowing out the light/normal weather ones.
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post #7 of 26 Old 10-12-2006 Thread Starter
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Hi all, just a little update for everyone;

After looking through various options, budgeting and my current needs, I decided I'm going to buy a CAL yacht as a 'starter boat'. I'm strongly looking at the CAL 25's but also the 27 and 30+. The cal 25 definately seems to have the most going for it at this point though due to the number of them on the market, the good condition most are in and the number of features the boat has right from the start.

I think what I'll do is just sail it around in the strait of juan de fuca for the rest of the year or so, to better familiarize myself with sailing. At around 5 grand to buy a used cal25 in good shape, it's pretty reasonable. And I could probably resell it for the same amount once I'm done using it, at which point I'd like to buy something over 33 feet.

I'll put another post with pictures on this forum when I've bought my boat and have it docked in a nearby marina. Within a few months I think, winter is the best time to buy a boat up here.

Last edited by paradoxbox; 10-12-2006 at 04:33 AM.
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post #8 of 26 Old 10-12-2006
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I also like the newer Cal 25s as an affordable boat with a decent interior. I haven't been on the flush-deck model, but I've heard of them being used for a lot of Puget Sound sailing.

One caveat-- one newer Cal 25 I saw locally was really knocked down in price because of damp decks-- the core was rotting, and the surveyor warned that the boat was sailable but likely not safe for rough conditions. I'd be careful about this, because conditions are very changeable in the Sound and you want a boat that is up to the challenges.

Fair Winds!

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post #9 of 26 Old 10-12-2006
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If you're still shopping and in the Pacific Northwest, have a look at the Haida 26. Similar in accomodation to the Cal 25, but a much better performer. There are usually a few around, mainly in the Victoria Sidney area. The same caveats apply - check the decks and chainplates for water intrusion, but it's a great little boat if you get a good one.
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post #10 of 26 Old 10-13-2006
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I'm not sure how common they might be on the left coast but a Sabre 28 might be a good fit for your budget.

It's larger siblings are on the list or potential bluewater cruisers.
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