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post #1 of 23 Old 12-03-2010 Thread Starter
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Advice on sailing & sailboats

I'm looking at used sailboats and researching them, but am dumbfounded as to the size of sailboat that would meet my future plans. I have no sailing experience besides being aboard them, so first I have to learn how to sail.
As a teacher, I've all summer to sail, and once I am experienced enough, wish to be able to sail somewhat long distances.
I've been looking at a 26' Pearson and a 31' Seafarer. I like both of these boats, but for long distances and living, the seafarer seems to more amenable. Would the Pearson accommodate long voyages south? Any advice would be helpful and most appreciated.
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post #2 of 23 Old 12-03-2010
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littlejohnw - Welcome to Sailnet. Your question is very popular here, you may find some of your answers searching through the various threads here.

There are a number of things that you need to figure out before looking at any specific boats as well. There is budget, how many people will be staying on it, what are their sailing expectations and expected sailing skill set, where do you plan on sailing it. What is your "goal" for your sailing? Do you plan on coastal cruising or going further? There are many things that determine what boat you will "need". Its all about finding out what you want and can do and then finding the boat that fits your criteria, it's all a compromise as well. No one "silver bullet".

Poke around here and I am sure you will find some great information as this question comes up quite a lot. Keep asking questions and researching too. You will find "the one". Personally I would steer clear of full keel, heavy displacement boats as they are slow and speed is not your enemy.

Oh yeah, this is a good starting place for looking at boats as well... link

Umquam Porro

Seeker 1992 Beneteau First 235


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Last edited by cb32863; 12-03-2010 at 01:16 PM. Reason: Added SD's Boat trip tip thread link.
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post #3 of 23 Old 12-03-2010 Thread Starter
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CB- Thanks for the reply. My ultimate goal is a boat that I can handle, even alone, (I've talked to another sailor who believes with experience I should be able to handle the 31' alone with no problems) and live aboard for up to two months while traveling; will handle well in rough seas - fairly stable; and would feel comfortable sailing (as my experience increases) from Charleston, SC to the West Indies.
I am leaning towards the 31', but if the 26' could do that ..... it just does not offer many on board living amenities as the 31' already has ..... and the cost of the 26' is considerably less .... ultimately, I want a boat on which I will safe traveling long distances.
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post #4 of 23 Old 12-03-2010
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First boat

If it helps I don't think it's necessary to start out with a smaller boat, I didn't and have been very happy with my decision. I started out with a 37 footer and still have her after 12 years. So don't make your decision thinking you must start out small.


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post #5 of 23 Old 12-03-2010
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I sail a Pearson 26 quite regularly, it's the boat I use through my boat club, and I would not think of it as "comfy", even on the lake I sail on. Could it be done, probably but I am thinking there are far better boats out there for you to consider. There is a list of "blue water" capable, or someones idea of it, boats here. They also have good info on choosing a boat for cruising. Look at this thread also from CruisingDad, though he is biased to Catalina's...

As I said, lots of things to consider and you are in the early stages. I was where you are now at this time last year and everything in my mind has changed since then.....

Umquam Porro

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post #6 of 23 Old 12-03-2010
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Comfort, comfort, comfort should not take a back seat. I travelled, and lived on a 30ft. Columbia for years. Everything had it's place, and within minutes I could sail. It was comfortable for me, and I was single at the time. Newlyweds would have been comfy too. After lessons she was my first boat.

If you will go as far as the W. Indies you will want a sea kindly boat. At times it can be a challenge to get there. I can't say enough about a cutter rig. Especially if you can reef the main from the cockpit. The easier it is to reduce sail. The more likely you will do it early, and safely.......i2f

20 MPH ain't fast unless, you do it in a 1000sq 3/2 house on 10foot waves
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post #7 of 23 Old 12-03-2010
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As CB said, sail boats are all compromises, and I think that is not really understood by most people when they first start looking around.

There are couples sailing the world on small, inexpensive 24' boats which are very sea worthy and very cramped, but they are having a blast. Then there are single handed sailors with $500,000 45' boats who could not imagine doing it on less. The important things when deciding where you are on the spectrum is to figure out what you can afford, what you must have, and what must haves you can give up to make the too meet at a place that makes you happy.

Some absolutely need a separate, stand up shower with hot water and enough tankage to take a shower every day. Others are happy with a couple cups of warm water in a bowl and a wash cloth every few days. Which are you, and are you willing to compromise if needed?

Sailnet has a wealth of information and view points on all sides, and reading books from cruisers can help a lot to. Just remember that for many things, if you ask 3 sailors, you will get 4 different answers on the best way to go.

I have not done any real long distance sailing yet. but we plan to take an extended 1 - 2 year trip very soon, in the next year our two with my wife and two daughters on our 32' Islander. Most people think we are nuts, and that we will not be happy with out a 45 - 50' boat. They may be right, hopefully we will find out soon!

My basic list of MUST HAVES is this....
1. Strong hull and rigging.
2. Seaworthy design (Many opinions on what that means )
3. Dedicated sleeping for all permanent crew.
4. Enough room for all four of us to sit below comfortably.
5. An enclosed head.
6. An oven (I love hot, fresh baked cookies and bread)
7. A Dodger
8. Comfortable cockpit.
9. Ability to for me to stand upright in the main salon.

These are MY must haves, I know many would not require some things on MY list, and others would add A LOT of items to THEIR list. You will need to get out and sail and spend time on boats to decide what is on YOUR must have list. Just remember to keep the MUST HAVES truly MUST HAVES, move anything you possibly can to the NICE TO HAVE list.

For me, all else is negotiable. Exact length, electronics, showers, sail plan, engine type, etc. This does not mean I do not want any of these things or ave strong opinions, just that these are areas where I am willing to compromise and take trade offs. I would like three separate cabins, but want a boat one person can sail, and have a limited budget. Therefore we ended up with a v-birth and 2 quarter births open to the main salon. Good enough, and affordable for us.

We managed to find all this for the four of us in a 32', inexpensive boat, but it took a lot of looking. Compared to the 21' boat we had, this one is huge. Of course, 2 more feet would be perfect, but that is always true.

Anyway, good luck and have fun learning what you want, that is half the fun of buying a boat I think.

S/V Lilo
1964 Islander 32
Saint Helens, OR
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post #8 of 23 Old 12-03-2010
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You should try joining a sailing or charter club where they have several different type and sized boats. They will give you lessons and certify you on the various boats. I found that being "in command" verses being a passenger gives you a different perspective. If you rent a boat and are in charge, you will attemp to feel everything that is going on with the boat. You will find a boat that you find comfortable.
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post #9 of 23 Old 12-03-2010
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The 31' boat is going to provide a lot more room than a 26' boat and be far more livable in most cases. For a single person, the 26' might be workable, but if you're going to be living aboard, I think it would be a bit tight.

Also, when you sail you want to sail long distances, what do you mean. Ocean crossings are one thing. coastal passages are another—and the type of boat that is suitable for one is probably not the best choice for the other.


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Originally Posted by littlejohnw View Post
I'm looking at used sailboats and researching them, but am dumbfounded as to the size of sailboat that would meet my future plans. I have no sailing experience besides being aboard them, so first I have to learn how to sail.
As a teacher, I've all summer to sail, and once I am experienced enough, wish to be able to sail somewhat long distances.
I've been looking at a 26' Pearson and a 31' Seafarer. I like both of these boats, but for long distances and living, the seafarer seems to more amenable. Would the Pearson accommodate long voyages south? Any advice would be helpful and most appreciated.



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post #10 of 23 Old 12-03-2010 Thread Starter
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I really appreciate all of the replies and they have given me a lot to think about. I believe, too, for my purposes the 31' will be the better boat in the long run.
As for ocean crossings, I've thought of that, but the idea both terrifies and excites me. I did read earlier of someone who sailed a 24' Shark transatlantic - granted he was an experienced sailor and racer.
My foreseeable ultimate goal would be to be able to sail to South America through the West Indies, and yes it is about being comfortable aboard and not feeling cramped.

"I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: ... we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -- but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor." O.W.H

s/v Estella
1963 Rhode's Meridian


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