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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
OK... After years of being boatless due to constant moving during a military career, the boat buying bug has hit hard with a vengeance. Years ago I had a little Lazer (nice boat) then went to a Com Pac 14 and then to a Columbia 22. Now I am in the market for another boat. I live in San Diego and intend to do coastal cruising (no trans Pacific trips to Hawaii........ yet). For the money and size I really would like to find A Catalina 30. However due to my budget I am probably limited to an older boat. My questions are:
1. Should I be afraid if a boat is 20-30 years old?
2. Is a 30 footer too big for now and should I start off smaller?
3. What are the BIG red flags I should be on the lookout for while searching for a boat?
I am fortunate enough to have access to the Navy marina and will benefit from a huge savings on slip fees. My intent is to be able to address some of the issues of an older boat by being able to do some work myself.

Basically, am I crazy for wanting to go out and buy a 30 year old 30 foot boat?
I am hoping for some sage advice from those in the community that have sailed these seas before.

Thanks for the insight.
 

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Go for it.

In the Toronto area, a clean newer 30' boat runs upwards of $30K(CDN). I bought a 30 year old 30' Northstar 1000 (older S&S design) for 11K. I went into the deal knowing that it needed new wiring, new charger and lots of elbow grease. The sails are reasonable, the standing rigging is in good shape and the engine is in good condition. I can handle making new cushions and that sort of thing. They wanted $5000 to rewire the boat so I did it for $500 in parts (retail!). They wanted $2000 for new cushions so I bought a sewing machine for $100 including shipping and taxes. The secret is to be willing to learn. Ask people. If you do pay someone for a job, watch how it's done and ask questions while they do the job. I find most tradesmen are willing to teach at the same time.

Get a pre-purchase survey, the best $300 you could spend. Watch for the major structures. Hull (includes keel and rudder), Deck, Spars, Standing rigging, Engine - these are big ticket items. Running rigging is relatively inexpensive on a smaller boat. Wiring is easy to replace. Plumbing is a snap. Batteries are cheap. Safety equipment is easily (and probably should be) replaced. Those 8 year old flares should be tossed and it isn't good when the ring buoy sinks.

Good luck and go for it!
 

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The boat inspection sticky thread is a good start. If you can afford it, why not? Sailing is a healthy vice for the most part.
 

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30 years old.. heck thats just getting started. There are plenty of 40+year old 30 footers cruising all parts of the world. Do it. ( I was in the same situation, used BAH to help pay for the boat and slip) But wait for the right boat. Look for boats 5-10K above your price range and try to negotiate them down. Avoid beaters if you want something spend money on and still sleep at night. Personally, I would never buy a fiberglass boat that was soft or spongey anywhere, had any funky "custom" rigging done, and hull modifications, or serious mechanical or structure problems with the hull or mast. Anything else can be fixed. Wiring can be ripped out, interiors can be gutted, engines can be rebuilt.
 

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Just bought a 1985 42' sailboat...first sailboat.
Most old boats will have some issues. If you do your homework, you can keep it to small stuff like cosmetics and replacing hoses.

enjoy!
 

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Size Right

If you want to be fairly comfortable then go with a 30 footer. The smaller boats gave you the basics for sailing and thats going to remain the same. Just take your time [as in go slow] getting used to the longer and heavier boat. But you knew that already.
We bought a 1977, 30' Morgan OI and are having a blast cruising. Its solid. You are in a good position because its is a buyers market and there are a lot of sailboats out there. As mentioned earlier, get a good surveyor.
 

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AEOLUS II
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I spent a little more on my 20+ year old boat instead of a 30+ year old boat and find it worth the money.

We tend to keep things for a long time.
 

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I think 30' is a good size for someone with your experience level -- it's definitely not oversized, if that's what you're worried about.

The Catalina 30 that you mentioned is a nice all-around coastal boats. It has gone through several iterations (Mark1, Mark 2, etc), and the problematic plywood keel stub was eventually discontinued (year?). It might be worth trying to stretch your budget to get a little bit newer version...
 

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Telstar 28
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OK... After years of being boatless due to constant moving during a military career, the boat buying bug has hit hard with a vengeance. Years ago I had a little Lazer (nice boat) then went to a Com Pac 14 and then to a Columbia 22. Now I am in the market for another boat. I live in San Diego and intend to do coastal cruising (no trans Pacific trips to Hawaii........ yet). For the money and size I really would like to find A Catalina 30. However due to my budget I am probably limited to an older boat. My questions are:
1. Should I be afraid if a boat is 20-30 years old?
Many boats even older than that are in perfectly seaworthy shape.
2. Is a 30 footer too big for now and should I start off smaller?
No, you should be fine with a 30' boat.
3. What are the BIG red flags I should be on the lookout for while searching for a boat?
Too many to list... blistering, soft rotten deck coring, delamination, etc..
I am fortunate enough to have access to the Navy marina and will benefit from a huge savings on slip fees. My intent is to be able to address some of the issues of an older boat by being able to do some work myself.

Basically, am I crazy for wanting to go out and buy a 30 year old 30 foot boat?
I am hoping for some sage advice from those in the community that have sailed these seas before.

Thanks for the insight.
You can do about 90% of the work on a cruising sailboat yourself, provided you have a decent amount of common sense, manual dexterity and intelligence. Usually, of the three, the first is the one that is missing. :)

A couple of good books to start your library with would be:

Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual
Don Casey's This Old Boat
Daniel Spurr's Boatbook
 

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I'm not a C30 expert, but I think the plywood keel stub thing was changed in 1986, which was the Mark II. They also introduced the shoal winged keel that year, and made some other nice changes. If I was personally looking for a C30, I'd look for a 1986+, but I'm sure there are well-maintained earlier boats to be had if you're on a budget. The Catalina Boat Owners Association site has a lot of information about the boats themselves: URL is International Catalina 30 Association. Hope this helps!
-J
 

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One thing is for sure, there are a ton of C-30's out there. You should be able to find plenty available. And No, you are not crazy!
 

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Another vote that says a well-maintained thirty year old boat is a good thing. The C-30 is a nice boat, but you might also want to check out the C-27. Still a "full-sized" boat with standing headroom, a real head, etc; however, you can get a newer (better condition, more tricked out) 27 for your money. Yes, its a smaller, lighter boat, but if you are only going to be out for a couple of days at a time, the loss of space might be worth it. Just a thought. Either way, you are in a buyer's market. Let us all know what you decide.
 

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Another vote of support for an older boat. 30' size sounds good - we've lived on a 33 for 6 years now. Others have posted things to look out for related to the hull (that being about the only thing you CAN'T change); expect to replace most of the electronics and some other systems and think of that as a good thing - you get to choose exactly what you want.
 

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I think that 30 feet is the largest size that I would recommend as a first boat if you are concerned about really developing your sailing skills, but seeing that you have owned several boats previously, 30 feet is a nice size. Of all of the inexpensive 30 foot designs that are out there, by far my favorite is the Tartan 30 based on build quaility, sailing ability across a wide wind range, sensible layout, and ease of maintenance.

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank You everyone. I have pretty much decided to go for the C30 and will begin narrowing down some promising boats. I have plenty of questions still but I will leave those to some differnt threads since they are likely to be more specific.
 

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If you are serious about going places make sure to find one with a dodger. I have no idea why they thought it would be a good idea to have the companionway sloping inward... Nothing like having to put ALL your boards in just to keep a little rain out.
 

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Don't worry about going "too big". Small sailboats are great for teaching the fundamentals of sailing, and you've already been there. Bigger boats (within reason) are actually easier to sail. They have more momentum, and things happen slower.

Can't go wrong with the C30; it's one of the most succuessful boats ever made.
 

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We just bought a 1988 catalina 30 this fall. Great boat and lots of good deals on them. I'd recomend finding one with the larger motor. Lots of the earlier ones had the Universal 5411, I like the M-25 better as it gives you more power and if you're in an area with strong currents that could become important. Best of luck to you...
 
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