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Looking for suggestions for a sub-30ft cruiser or cruiser/racer to hunt for in the New England area. I've got a two year old and my wife is expecting our second in six weeks or so. I wasn't planning on looking for a boat for another couple of years, but I've been presented with the opportunity to buy a really mint Sea Sprite '23 for about $6500 and it's gotten me thinking...

I've got a mooring available in West Falmouth, MA and I'd be looking to sail around Buzzards Bay up through the Elizabeths and into Vineyard Sound - potentially as far as Nantucket. My priorities in order are:

1. Stay under $10K in budget but in good condition - not looking for a big project, I've got enough on my hands.
2. Something stable - my wife is new to sailing and I have little kids.
3. Something where the 4 of us could stay on board for a weekend (relatively comfortable) and potentially go as far as Nantucket.
4. Something that isn't a complete slug - that I could potentially PHRF race with some friends.
5. Would prefer diesel inboard I can work on over gas outboards but that's just a nice to have.

I realize the Sprite really only checks off the first 2.5 to 3.5 of those priorities and there might be a more practical boat for what I'm looking for - but maybe I should just pull the trigger? I know the owners of the Sprite personally and I've admired it for years.

Thoughts and Suggestions?
 

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If you can find one, and I were to recommend a single model, I would suggest a Tartan 30. They are still PHRF Competitive at a club level, have a nice layout, are reasonably easy to handle, and sail well in a board range of conditions.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If you can find one, and I were to recommend a single model, I would suggest a Tartan 30. They are still PHRF Competitive at a club level, have a nice layout, are reasonably easy to handle, and sail well in a board range of conditions.
Thanks for the rec, Jeff! I love Tartans! I didn't think I could find one in that price range but I've barely started to look. Adding the 30' to my list.
 

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Hey,

Back in 2004 I was in a similar position. I had 3 kids, girls 10 and 7, and a 3 year old son. I had a Catalina 22 which was great for day sails but I wanted to go somewhere for a weekend and the C22 was too small.

My requirements:
Decent sailing ability (I didn't even know what that meant at the time)
wheel steering
self tailing winches
roller furling headsail
Standing headroom
Inboard diesel
marine head in enclosed space
hot and cold pressure water
small galley
bunks for 5

I looked at Catalina 27 and found it too small. I looked at Catalina 30 and it was perfect. I was not able to find one in my price range. I looked a bunch of 30 footers: Tartan, Pearson, O'day, S2, Lancer, and a bunch of other odd ball boats.

I went to one broker to see an S2 9.2A. It was junk but the broker suggested a Newport 28 he had. It was JUST big enough and had everything I needed. I bought it and it was great for a few years. Great for day sails. Good for a weekend. The problem that that with three kids, once you were in 'night mode' it was just about impossible to walk from the back of the boat to the front of the boat.

Anyway I would suggest you look at a Catalina 27. Some come w inboard diesel. If that's big enough then you're set. It not, look at some 28' boats like O'day, Newport, etc. I would strongly suggest an inboard diesel over an OB, especially if you plan on making long(er) trips. A Pearson 30 might work for you. Sweet sailing, Small for a 30' most have tiller,

Good luck,
Barry
 

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You may find the Sea Sprite 23 pretty cozy for 4. My brother cruised an Alberg 22 for several years with a family of 4 and one of the reasons the sold it was it just wasn't big enough for 4 people to spend a week end on, especially at anchor. And it was slow by modern standards. Sea Sprite looks to be pretty similar to the Alberg 22, but 6 inches longer. At any rate, I would think there are bigger faster 22-23 footers, even from the 70s.

I am not sure what all is available in your area, so can't really recomend a different model.

What I can recomend is not waiting until your kids are bigger, you will miss out on some great years of cruising and sailing.

When my son was born we had him out sailing in about 3 months. When my daughter was born, my son was 3 and we had her sailing on a 21 ft boat by about 4 weeks. Those were great adventures, we stuck to mild conditions and protected waters while they were very small.
 

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25 foot is about as small as I would go with a couple and 2 small kids. Bigger is obviously better, but with a $10k max budget, the bigger you go the worse shape it's likely to be in. I am not quite so adverse to you considering a boat with an outboard. Wife and I cruised all over LIS and southern New England in a Pearson 26 back in the 80s. Don't get hung up on a particular make and model. Lots of boats were built in the 70s and 80s that will work for you. See what you can find.
 

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Given your criteria and the manic state of the used boat market right now, I'd keep saving the boat kitty. Your options get a lot better in the $12,000-$20,000 price range, especially in the 28-30 ft range which is where I think you need to be. A couple of things I'd add to your list.

On a mooring ball, you've got to get two toddlers safely into and out of the boat from a dinghy every time you get them on the boat. I'd defer to some parents on this (I just have to get a big dog on board) but with two very small kids I'd seriously think about splurging for a slip.

Again with two toddlers you are probably single-handing this thing until they are older. That's tough on a small boat with four in the cockpit: a wheel gives you more room for passengers, but harder to single-hand.
 

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The 30 is my idea of a minimum small family boat. You might expand your interest in the Tartan 30 to the comparable boats of that era: Pearson 30, Pearson 31, Pearson 303, Catalina 30, O'Day 30 or C&C 30, or a little more money to a Sabre 30. The Tartan and C&C offer the best performance, but the others aren't bad, however being old now, condition and updates would be king. You may have to spend a bit more if you want a diesel instead of an A4, and frankly you'll save money if you buy a premium example versus a fix-it-upper.. Here are some examples:


 

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On a mooring ball, you've got to get two toddlers safely into and out of the boat from a dinghy every time you get them on the boat. I'd defer to some parents on this (I just have to get a big dog on board) but with two very small kids I'd seriously think about splurging for a slip.
If you go the mooring route I think a walk through transom with swim platform will go a long way to making things easier.

I think Hunter started putting this feature on smaller boats in the 90s and many of their designs were family freindly. You might find one within your price range.

There are certainly good family boats well below 30 feet. I am just not sure a Sea Sprite 23 is one of the ideals. I would think, for example, both Catalina 22's and Tanzer 22's would be both more spacious and I would expect a Tanzer to be quicker as well.
 

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Lots of good advice here. I understand that you have access to the mooring, so if you are wedded to that plan, then the walk-through transom is going to be a must, especially with kids. Makes getting on and off the dinghy a lot easier. Not to mention that one of the things my kids always loved most about going on the boat was jumping off and swimming. And I can tell you from bitter experience that those ladders that fit over the gunnels are really tough for kids and adults. Even the ladders that swing down from the push pit require you to climb over the railing to get on and off the boat. The walk through sugar scoop transom is really a game changer. I bought my first boat when my daughter was 3 or 4, and she needed help climbing up the ladder to get back on the boat. When I upgraded to my Catalina 28 (a boat that ticks off all of your boxes by the way, except for price) with the walk-through transom, the first time my then 23 year old daughter swam off and used the ladder and walk through, she said that that alone was worth the purchase price.
 

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I thought of recommending a walk-through transom instead of a slip, but this feature isn't available on boats until the 1990s and I didn't think that would be anywhere close to his price range. But if I had it to do over again, I would have saved another year so I could afford one of these myself, I really didn't appreciate how handy these were until I was hauling a 50 lb boxer out of a dingy and onto the sidedecks.
 

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.... I really didn't appreciate how handy these were until I was hauling a 50 lb boxer out of a dingy and onto the sidedecks.
I'm totally impressed that you managed that feat!
 
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If you can find one, and I were to recommend a single model, I would suggest a Tartan 30. They are still PHRF Competitive at a club level, have a nice layout, are reasonably easy to handle, and sail well in a board range of conditions.
Tartan 30' for $10,000? What are you smoking!?
 

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Looking for suggestions for a sub-30ft cruiser or cruiser/racer to hunt for in the New England area. I've got a two year old and my wife is expecting our second in six weeks or so. I wasn't planning on looking for a boat for another couple of years, but I've been presented with the opportunity to buy a really mint Sea Sprite '23 for about $6500 and it's gotten me thinking...

I've got a mooring available in West Falmouth, MA and I'd be looking to sail around Buzzards Bay up through the Elizabeths and into Vineyard Sound - potentially as far as Nantucket. My priorities in order are:

1. Stay under $10K in budget but in good condition - not looking for a big project, I've got enough on my hands.
2. Something stable - my wife is new to sailing and I have little kids.
3. Something where the 4 of us could stay on board for a weekend (relatively comfortable) and potentially go as far as Nantucket.
4. Something that isn't a complete slug - that I could potentially PHRF race with some friends.
5. Would prefer diesel inboard I can work on over gas outboards but that's just a nice to have.

I realize the Sprite really only checks off the first 2.5 to 3.5 of those priorities and there might be a more practical boat for what I'm looking for - but maybe I should just pull the trigger? I know the owners of the Sprite personally and I've admired it for years.

Thoughts and Suggestions?
I think you should be more realistic with your expectations. While sometimes bargains may be found, for a safe accommodation, handling and reasonable performance with a family over weekends etc, a boat of 27-30’ in a good and safe shape not to drag you into immediate $10-20K refit, under $10K is a unicorn or a project for years with a lot of misery.
 

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A Tartan 28 will be closer to your price range, but still quite a bit above it. You can probably find one for 15k. but it will need some work and investment over time. We love ours and it’s plenty of space for a couple. I’ve had my older son it and it gets a bit cramped with 4 people. We payed a bit more than that for our boat and have doubled it in refit and maintenance over the last 3 years. Be aware that its an expensive hobby and will require signficant ongoing cost.
 

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I think you should be more realistic with your expectations. While sometimes bargains may be found, for a safe accommodation, handling and reasonable performance with a family over weekends etc, a boat of 27-30’ in a good and safe shape not to drag you into immediate $10-20K refit, under $10K is a unicorn or a project for years with a lot of misery.
You must be in an expensive area because there are loads of sub 30 ft sub $10k sailboats I would use for week enders for a family of 4. The boat he was looking at is a smallish 23. Most 21-22 ft + trailer sailers with pop tops are laid out for a family of 4, and sometimes can be had in reasonable shape for as little as a few grand. As the size gets closer to 30 feet, the $10k window starts to close, but in the 22-27 ft or so range there should be loads of options.
 

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Tartan 30' for $10,000? What are you smoking!?
Start with this one...?

The Tartan 30 is a very desireable boat, but they are old and most will be overdue for upgrades. I would say $5-8,000 is a typical price, there was one recently on CL for free, it did go in a few days. A good one, well maintained with an upgrade diesel, and good sails, electronics and canvas, can run $15,000...
 
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