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Lazerbrains is correct on Cal and Ericson. I owned a Catalina 27. Great/beautiful/efficient boat. Fell into a deal on a Cal 31. Seems like twice the room and great headroom. Relatively unknown since they didn't build many. I would recommend it.
 

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OK I will give it a go.

Anything with substantial parts of the boat made of wood, this includes glass sheathed plywood.

Any foam cored hull.

Anything with a teak deck.

Anything with a weird engine or an old Volvo. You may need to do some research on this as some weird engines are just rebadged Perkins or Kubotas and spares are available for those.
rubbish
 

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Lazerbrains is correct on Cal and Ericson. I owned a Catalina 27. Great/beautiful/efficient boat. Fell into a deal on a Cal 31. Seems like twice the room and great headroom. Relatively unknown since they didn't build many. I would recommend it.
A good buddy of mine has a Cal 31 - don't see too many of them. He is a former racer, and can really make his go!
 

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.....
Any foam cored hull.

Anything with a weird engine or an old Volvo. You may need to do some research on this as some weird engines are just rebadged Perkins or Kubotas and spares are available for those.
Is a 'new' Volvo OK? If so, where is the break between new and old? Or all Volvos bad?
What 'weird engines' were rebadged as Perk or Kub?

If foam is 'bad', is balsa OK?

Let us know, please.
 

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Boats to avoid? The ugly ones. You will know when you see them.
Boats to buy? Older boats their owners loved and maintained well. You will never lose with a boat like that. Any boat made in the 70's or 80's that looks like she was well taken care of, is a good choice.
A good boat is worth spending money on and pampering.
 

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Given what you want to do with this boat, which is realistic and sensible for a first time owner IMHO, there are practically no boats brands I would avoid. Here's what i would NOT do:

1. Buy a fixer upper. You will severely underestimate the cost and time of repairs. You need to go sailing.

2. Buy a boat that's been sitting on hard for a long time. It may not look like it is, but it is a fixer upper too. Sometimes hours are worse than time.

3. Buy an offshore brick - sh** house of a boat. You're going to go coastal cruising. Performance and livability more important than it's ability to round cape horn while your crew is sleeping in the sea berths with lee cloths.

4. Buy an expensive boat. This will not be your last boat, don't think about it that way. Hit the dock with this one a couple of times, go aground, scratch it, put it away wet...just keep the systems running well.

What to do:

Buy a boat that is currently heavily used and cared for by a meticulous and knowledgeable owner. One that has been kept in sea worthy condition with all systems functional. I'm not talking cosmetics, talking about engines, running rigging, standing rigging, plumbing, seacocks, sails, rudder, hull, deck, engine....etc. Get to know the previous owner. Make sure you like him/her. Have fun with the purchase. Pay a fair price. Have it surveyed before closing, even though many will say at lower prices not worth it, IMHO it's even more worth it to avoid buying something that will cost you more than the purchase price to fix.

Good luck....don't wait. Time is ticking away!
 

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Having bought only one boat after a lot of looking and learning, I will only add one thing. You say it's you and your wife and that a galley and head are requirements. I will suggest that you might (or might not) find that features like cockpit size, ease-of-use, berths, storage etc. might end up being more important than not. You like bikes — think of it this way: would you take your wife on a 2-day ride on a chopper with a tiny foam pad perched atop a fender for a passenger seat? And if you did, would she ever go again? Or on the other hand, if your first trip was on an old 80's era Goldwing with armrests, might not both of you be tempted to make more and longer trips?

When we bought, knowing we would eventually buy another boat someday, we bought a comfortable and easy to sail boat so we could learn without too many other distractions. A good nights sleep goes a long way to making the next day easier to cope with :)

All that said, I would take all these suggestions (and any others that come up) and immerse yourself in Yachtworld for some months. Two years after buying I am still doing that and still learning.

Oh, and having recently sailing in a MacGregor, I would suggest, for your purposes, that that is one to definitely stay away from. ;-)
 

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Is a 'new' Volvo OK? If so, where is the break between new and old? Or all Volvos bad?
What 'weird engines' were rebadged as Perk or Kub?

If foam is 'bad', is balsa OK?

Let us know, please.
There a number of boat "candidates" in the 30 foot range from the 70's that came with the saltwater cooled Volvo MD-7. There is one in my Cal 31. I never liked the thought of it, but the boat was such a good deal, I took it anyway. I went though a difficult cooling problem cycle, but now that it is taken care of, I believe it is a good engine. Simple and heavy duty. However, I would never buy a new one or invest in an expensive boat that has one.

I have a Yanmar 3GM30 that I will install when the Volvo dies.
 

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Besides, I've always been under the impression that trailerable sailboats are made for lakes, not oceans. I'll be on the ocean exclusively.
I think this might depend a little bit on what you mean by ocean. What you are describing sounds a little bit like coastal or even near coastal ocean to me.

For example Catalina island is only 22 miles off shore. Figure 5 hours, leave at 7 arrive by lunch time. Or 2 hours with decent wind on a beach cat...

I would think a trailer sailer like a Catalina 22 or Catalina 25 would be just fine for a trip to Catalina Island.

I was recently talking to a guy who had taken his Sea Pearl 21 to the Bahamas from Florida. No engine, just oars for auxillary power, that's about 4 times the distance.

However, if you're talking about significant ocean passages, say to Hawaii, then fewer and fewer trailer sailers would be appropriate in my opinion.
 

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As much as possible, I would try to avoid falling in love with one particular boat. When the time comes, you will have a hard time finding one (unless it is the Catalina 27). Try to keep the number of things that are deal-breakers to a minimum. Ideally, there will be a blob of like, and dis-like features that will blend together in final choice. At some point, when you start narrowing the criteria, start a spreadsheet. It will still take a lot of research.
 

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Avoid any "sailboat" that has an outboard motor bolted to the back. Get something big enough to house a reliable diesel like a small Yanmar. My 80's C&C 30 was a single hander's dream out of the Chesapeake Bay and fast for that era.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G925A using Tapatalk
 

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Is a 'new' Volvo OK? If so, where is the break between new and old? Or all Volvos bad?
What 'weird engines' were rebadged as Perk or Kub?
Westerbeke and Universal engines may be Perkins. Lots of Beta engines use Kubota base engines. The Volvo MD22L started life as an Austin Montego diesel, was marinised by Perkins and painted blue (sold by them as a Perkins Prima 50hp) or sold to Volvo who painted it green and fitted it with their gearbox instead of a Hurth. But there are engines that are based on VW diesels Mercades diesels etc.


If foam is 'bad', is balsa OK?
No balsa is jut as bad I would not buy a boat with a cored hull under the waterline. Foam balsa or ply I have seen old rotted core removed with a shop vac.

Let us know, please.
There is lots of stuff on the WWW about what to avoid. Do your own due diligence.
 

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There is lots of stuff on the WWW about what to avoid. Do your own due diligence.
I sort of agree. Probably, the OP thinks he is doing his due diligence by asking questions here. I think, however, more than just asking people if something is good or bad, he should be delving into "why" good or bad and then making his choice based on his own tolerances rather than a majority vote. That will take research beyond this forum.

For example, I get told to stay away from Volvo engines. A sailing friend started out with a Volvo but has had to machine so many new parts that it is barely identifiable as a Volvo anymore. My own marina is a dealer and advised against them when we repowered. Why? We were told that parts seem to be more expensive and harder to find in the U.S. On the other hand some of the boats we're looking at have Volvo engines. From one boat to the other (same manufacturer) within the same-ish years they were made, the few with Volvos are considerably less expensive.

When asked his preference John said he was up to the challenge of keeping a Volvo running but he has a diesel background. Also, we don't intend to sail exclusively in the U.S. A boat with a Volvo is still not in my preferred column of the Next Boat checklist. It's barely making the Maybe column ahead of a sail drive.

So yes, due diligence beyond the forums will probably make anyone happier in the long run.
 

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Mattbastard: Depending on what you mean by "full head and galley," many, if not most, boats < 36' be eliminated from your consideration. Surfing Yachtworld doesn't give a good feel for how small the accommodations really are. I recommend that you figure out ways to get aboard boats in your targeted size range. Boats for sale are obvious. Or go down to the marinas and ask owners about their boats. It helps if you have some business at the marina other than lurking. Maybe you can find one that has a club that rents sailboats to members. Or just buy a small boat and sail it out of a good marina. Meet people and go sailing on their boats.
 

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Mattbastard: Depending on what you mean by "full head and galley," many, if not most, boats < 36' be eliminated from your consideration. Surfing Yachtworld doesn't give a good feel for how small the accommodations really are. I recommend that you figure out ways to get aboard boats in your targeted size range.
Good advice. I chartered a Catalina 28 which which had like 5' 9.5" headroom in the head. I'm 5' 9" so it worked for me, but if you were 5' 10" you'd be hitting your head every time you used the head.
 

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Avoid any "sailboat" that has an outboard motor bolted to the back. Get something big enough to house a reliable diesel like a small Yanmar. My 80's C&C 30 was a single hander's dream out of the Chesapeake Bay and fast for that era.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G925A using Tapatalk
As an owner of a boat with an "outboard motor bolted to the back" I can speak to this.

This wouldn't be a deal breaker for a sub 30ft boat purchase in my eyes. I've owned one for 3 years now and know the pros and cons, to each their own.

CONS
-In steep sharp waves you can run into issues where the motor can drown (engine submerged) if you aren't attentive to the transom mount setting locked in. It's easily adjusted, but eventually you can get to a wave size that will be steep enough that the motor drowns OR when set to a height not to drown the prop will breach the surface. Usually when these conditions come up it's better to sail than motor anyways as the boat is more stable. But it's still a con.
-Depending on where the motor is mounted (boat transom design varies) it may not be the most efficient "push" due to the prop being off center compared to an inboard.
-Small engine on a transom, in the elements may age it faster. I've got a Honda BF100 and had little issue with it, especially considering it's from the 80's, but it's not as "protected" as an inboard.
-Fuel tank is usually stowed in the cockpit somewhere and has a fuel line that comes over the transom to the motor which may get snagged on stuff.

PROS
-EXCELLENT directional thruster for coming back into the slip. This took so much pressure off me over the years docking my boat, I have a ton of control being about to "point" the prop.
-Alot cheaper to replace if you 'kaboom' it. Dime a dozen used, even new are alot cheaper than a new Yanmar.
-Easy to work on, it's all on the transom, can be pulled off in 2mins and brought to the garage for you (or a pro) to diagnose and fix.
-Cheap on fuel.


I love the outboard on my 7.5m boat, that being said I know my next boat will be over 30ft and have an inboard. The single biggest drawback I find with my outboard is the #1 con I listed above. I've been caught in STEEP sharp great lakes waves more than once that threatened to drown the motor or breach the prop (or both sometimes). Every boat is different, but for my setup this threshold is hit with Lake Huron waves (different than ocean swells) that are starting to break and stacked about 6ft from ditch to tip high.

I agree with others to the OP's inquiry. Other than "fixer uppers" there really isn't a "bad" boat out there for the size and money you want to spend. Make sure nothing looks scary, the seller seems honest, get a survey if you want or at least look up videos on how to do your own survey to be informed. I would also add if this is your first boat, you want to sail coastal, and there is a chance for big(ish) waves I would say get something with a headsail furling system. A friend of mine owns a CS22 with a hank on headsail and in anything other than flat seas he and his wife find it "death defying" heading up to the bow to fly or douse the sail. I furl mine in the cockpit without breaking a sweat and can say from experience now that I've been in waves and wind before that would have altered my perspective on life had I been on the bow dropping the genoa. Small boats especially will be "tippy", maybe tender is more the word, in bigger seas and anything you can do as a new sailor to remain in the cockpit will reduce the scare factor.

EDIT: I know some of the Columbia models had deck mounted chain plates for the inner shrouds. This maybe wouldn't be a deal killer for me, but I'd sure want to investigate and know the decks don't have delam or rot in them before sailing off in one.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
Mattbastard: Depending on what you mean by "full head and galley," many, if not most, boats < 36' be eliminated from your consideration. Surfing Yachtworld doesn't give a good feel for how small the accommodations really are. I recommend that you figure out ways to get aboard boats in your targeted size range. Boats for sale are obvious. Or go down to the marinas and ask owners about their boats. It helps if you have some business at the marina other than lurking. Maybe you can find one that has a club that rents sailboats to members. Or just buy a small boat and sail it out of a good marina. Meet people and go sailing on their boats.
Basically if there's a sink and a single burner cook-top (stove not mandatory but nice), and an enclosed toilet with sink I'm happy. I suppose I may have overused the term "full" describing the galley, but some of the small boats that come with a sink only won't cut it. Nor will a porta potty under the v-birth. Something to whip-up a warm dinner, and a separate enclosure to crap in, is all I need. Also, I've learned that anywhere we're planning on going in the SoCal area will have some type of shower facility on land so the shower requirement within the boat isn't so important anymore.
 
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