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post #1 of 5 Old 02-04-2020 Thread Starter
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Looking to buy first sailboat

Looking to buy a first boat. New to sailing. Any advice, even snark, is appreciated. Here are the parameters of descending importance: 1. Looking for something 24-30’ to race in light, intermittent wind on an inland lake. 2. Would like to trailer to coastal Florida and sail along the gulf coast National seashore and in shallow bays. 3. Trailer to South Florida and sail to the Bahamas and/or the Dry Tortugas.

I don’t have the sailing ability to do any of this yet. I don’t know if these 3 items on my wishlist are mutually exclusive for one boat. I have a good deal of woodworking experience but none working with fiberglass. Plan to keep the boat in a wet slip year round. Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 5 Old 02-04-2020
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Re: Looking to buy first sailboat

Welcome and Best Wishes!!

I think thay you have great parameters. In my opinion, each of the three uses you have discussed have different boats that would be best for that intended use. Buy your lake boat first. Buy something that is ready to sail and take it out A LOT!! Have fun, be safe and learn how to sail. Maybe take some lessons. You'll also learn what types of sailing are most attractive to you (casual racing, "hard-core" racing, messing around, overnighters, etc.). After a while you may choose to upgrade your boat to one that can take those longer trips. My thoughts are to buy somthing less expensive and a bit on the smaller side so that you can learn on a boat that is easier and perhaps less expensive, then go to a more expensive boat. (What can I say, money is an issue in my life). I can understand the point of view of those who encourage you to get a more expensive or bigger boat now. Your boat, your choice.

At any rate, hope you have a great time!!
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post #3 of 5 Old 02-05-2020
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Re: Looking to buy first sailboat

My suggestion would be to buy a 15 foot or smaller very cheap dinghy that's pretty beat up, but serviceable. This is not going to be a boat to take your friends out on, but instead you will be crashing into docks, running aground and even tipping her over on occasion. This is the boat to make all your beginner's mistakes on, before you buy a nicer, more expensive boat. And believe me, if you start with the more expensive boat, you are still going to make all the same mistakes, classes or not, but the repair bills will be much more expensive, and if you load the boat up with friends, there is the possibility of someone getting hurt. Sailing isn't rocket science, but it does take a lot of sailing to get it.
This is how almost every professional sailor of note learned to sail, not through some expensive cookie cutter course.
Along with your little beater, I would highly recommend a great little book called Royce's Sailing Illustrated, a fun yet very comprehensive book filled with important information for the novice sailor or experienced professional. No massive preachy tome this, just a well put together book with everything from rigging, docking and even splicing. I've been using it to teach sailing for over 45 years, and still refer to it now and then, myself.
Good luck and remember, sailing is supposed to be fun, so keep that in mind when you are having a hard day.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #4 of 5 Old 02-06-2020
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Re: Looking to buy first sailboat

As for a boat to buy sounds like you're looking at a trailer sailer. The most ubiquitous trailer of them all is the Catalina 22. Can likely get one at a good price. Been around forever, probably a strong class organization that can give you advice and with whom you can go on cruises. Class organizations also often have races. As for light weather I've found that has to do with the sail inventory. On my Cal 20 I had a big genny for light airs. I think you'd feel a lot safer in a boat whose working sail plan is for moderate wind and which you can go up and down from there by reefing or having different jibs.
At this point I'd recommend getting into a sailing class on a smaller boat. Then consider renting out a boat to see how comfortable with it.
Fair winds and following seas.

Walt Elliott
Kingston WA
Puget Sound
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post #5 of 5 Old 02-19-2020
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Re: Looking to buy first sailboat


I'd suggest something in the 25 foot range. So many to choose from in the 1980s. Catalina is a strong contender. Many others though. It's still trailerable giving you so much flexibility but you can learn on, loose a bit o'gel coat, maybe run her aground (aka really F-up!) and loose little more than a bit of pride. Ask me how I know.

First time I sailed was out past the jetty into the Gulf of Maine. Stupidity should be hurt more, but now, 7000 miles ish, under my keel, sailed charters in BVI, Florida and St Lucia/St Vincent, i feel i might just be getting the hang of this sailing thing!

Hang in there! You just may come to your senses and realize how stupid and insanely expensive sailing is! But . . . you just may get the Genoa-virus . . . then there is no hope. Hand me you credit card and a glass of Merlot!
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