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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Disclaimer..... after reading everything I can get my hands on for the last two months I know a little but have yet to actually sail a day in my life.

I am just trying to decide between these two boats and need a little help. Currently both of the boats are on the lake where they will stay for the next year and a half until I move to Jacksonville, FL where which ever one I choose will end up in the atlantic.

The Columbia:

Has an inboard yanmar that is running well
Standing rigging in good shape
Running rigging that... and I quote, "May need to be replaced according to your standards"
Has no major hull or deck problems but may need bottom job soon
Needs some stuff on the inside (new setee back, cushions)
tiller steering
roller furling
comes with depth gauge, knot meter, VHF marine radio
no trailer (not that big of a deal, I'm a welder and I can build trailers although, never for a sailboat..... yet)
West marine heater and AC

The San Juan:

Has an outboard (not sure of the model but it runs)
comes with 4 NEW sails (no roller furling)
No major hull or deck problems but may need a bottom job soon
VHF marine radio
and comes with a trailer

Assuming that the boat will eventually end up as a coastal cruiser (no, I'm NOT circumnavigating) around the east coast I wonder what would be the better boat. I have seen both boats and they are in similar shape. One thing I worry about is the outboard vs. the inboard. I would prefer to have the inboard but it being from 1978 I worry that replacing or rebuilding it would be super expensive where the outboard is a pretty simple fix.... just get a new one. I also wonder if the outboard would be capable of motoring in the ocean if I needed it to and how long the fuel would last. The columbia owner says the yanmar uses about a 1/2 gallon / hr and it has a 10 gallon tank.

I've tried to give as much background as I can and am just wondering what the better option would be. Both boats are about the same price.


P.S. I have no idea what I'm talking about :D Well, maybe I have a slight idea.

::::::::::: EDIT :::::::::::::

I know that to put a roller furling on the san juan would run about a grand (so I've read) but I'm not really sure if I want want. I've read that they aren't as good into the wind. Most of the time I will have my girlfriend and 10 year old with me (which means I'll probably be single handing the boat lol). Anyway, any advice is appritiated.

5,257 Posts
As for the roller furling question it's a lot like automatic transmission on your car. You really don't need it but once you have it you may not want to give it up. You could always try it without for a season and put it on later.

An inboard will keep the prop in the water more often. If the waves are just a little more than you may like the outboard prop may lift out of the water and you will loose power. This is besides having less horsepower to start with.

The last two boats I have sailed extensively had inboards and in both cases on the Long Island Sound there were at lest one occasion each where an outboard probably would not have had the punch.

On both of these boats we have had engine trouble. I would recommend a diesel engine survey because you are right engine trouble can be very expensive. And don't forget you have fuel tanks that can be corroded etc.
For the same price the boat without the diesel should be a much better boat as the diesel should add a few thousand to the value if it's any good.
The diesel boat will probably have a bigger elect system with a charger and maybe hot water.
In short a boat with a diesel is often in a significant different class than one with an outboard.

Of course I have not answered your question as you have to decide if the added complexity of the diesel is worth it.
That size boat is a little small for a diesel but for every guy that takes the diesel out to save some money and put in an outboard there is a guy thats sick of the outboard and pony's up for the diesel. And of course the diesel takes up a lot of space on that size boat and my be very hard to get to.

Since you are new at this the significant difference between a diesel and outboard boat is probably hard to grasp.

5,257 Posts
I found this for you:
Welcome to the San Juan 26/7.7 Cyber Slip
Columbia 7.6 Specifications

if you haven't seen it already.

Also you should check yachtworld to see if the prices are in line with others.
I have found that for very similar boats in the 27' range a diesel usually increases the cost (value) of the boat by at least 5,000. I'm basing this wanton generalization based on my experience with the Catalina 27 that is sail-away condition as a diesel in the 80's will go for about 15,000 but out board will go about 10,000.
When the diesel works it is fantastic. Power, charging, hot water, no gas tanks, not going to get stolen or bumped. When it doesn't work however.
If the Columbia diesel passes survey with flying colors and the price is the same and there is nothing else awful and you don't just love the SJ it may be a better deal.
Then again the trailer is worth something. I would guess $500 to $2500 depending.

1,142 Posts
Columbias were built much, much better than the Clark boats. And this is a SJ owner talkin'.:( As I dig deeper into our SJ21, I am mildly appalled at some of the construction methods: best practice ain't in it. San Juan 7.7 is the faster boat, but for cruising I'd take the solidity, interior volume, and appointments of a Columbia any day, prices being ballpark. Yanmars are highly-regarded. Does it have an Hours meter? How much motoring do you expect to do? That will have some bearing on both the inboard/outboard question and on the relative urgency of an engine survey.

If you plan to race or trailer often, the SJ is a nice ride. For fambly cruising and coastal sailing, the Columbia wins going away. If neither serves your exact needs, you have roughly 15 million boats of similar age, size, and price to choose from.:)
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