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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well... My husband and I are looking for a good starter boat. Something that we can use as a weekender/overnight boat around Florida. Something fun, raicer/cruiser, comfy and reliable. That we can leave in the water for sailing season and trail to other coasts/lakes when we want to. We have now 2 options. One is a Catalina 18' 2004 that has EVERYTHING, and I mean even with a working autopilot. Includes: lazy jacks, roller furling, motor, batery, anchor, lines, trailer, and many more equipment, all in excellent conditions, ready to sail and the owner is asking $8K. In the other hand we have a SJ21 1981 that is ready to sail with just the neccessary riggins, trailer, all in good conditions but that's it. We need to put in all the other neccessary things so we can stay the weekend. Including life jackets, radio, and battery for the running/anchor lights. The owner for the SJ21 is asking $3500. I made a list of all the things with appx prices and it will be up to $6,900 including the boat. But we would not have all the nice things the C18 has. The SJ21 has a bit more space but it needs more TLC...

What should we do in order not spend more money than we should and have something that it will be fun, safe, easy to handle, and reliable!? Any suggestions or a different prespective!?
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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I think you'll find both those choices being too small when you actually spend a few weekends on them. That size boat is considered a daysailer for a reason. My first boat was a 21' Mirage, and by the end of that season, I'd bought a Hunter 26, so I could enjoy my weekends, not just survive them.

Also, you mention trailering, but not what size vehicle you have to tow with. That's certainly a consideration in choosing a boat, if you're serious about trailering. While there's any number of boats in the 24-27 foot range that are towable, you might find, as many do, that the effort is greater than the reward, especially for weekends.

Based on what you've said though, I'd say something like the Catalina 22 would be the best compromise between trailering and interior space.
 
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Lauriana,

Welcome to SailNet.

If you're ok going older, I think you can find a larger, nice Catalina with decent trailer for that price to add to your list. It may not have autopilot (not sure why you need that in a boat that small), but you don't really need a lot of electronic bells and whistles to day sail (in my opinion).

You don't say what your sailing experience is. When I bought my first boat, a 22 footer, I had none. I found an inexpensive boat and trailer, asked an experienced sailor to tell me if it would at least float, then I used it to learn on. Not just to learn how to sail but to learn how to repair stuff. I could practice sailing without the distraction of complicated systems to worry about. My repairs weren't always professional looking, but I now know more about fibreglass, hull paint and marine electric systems than I did before I bought the boat.

When we bought our second boat, the Catalina, we weren't interested in a lot of electronics. I think sometimes sellers count on new boat buyers and new sailors thinking that all that cool stuff is necessary so the asking price goes up. We looked at where we sail and decided to wait a season, sail it, and see what we REALLY needed. In the meantime we sailed and used the $ to repair what was important. Five years later we still don't have an autopilot. Or chartplotter. Or solar panels. Or AIS. Next boat, yes. This boat, not necessary. By then we also knew, based on our experience with Boat #1, spending time on other people's boats, and reading a lot, exactly what we did and did not want in a larger boat and that made it easier to quickly get to the short list.

Looking for a new boat is fun. You can learn a lot. Good luck with finding something suitable.
 

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Lauriana,
If you are in Florida, or where ever you are, try to rent a boat that size for the day. Sail it around, then have lunch on it. After that figure out how/where you would sleep & try it out. You may find that you need something a little bigger to be comfortable for a weekend. I agree with PBzeer- 24+ for a weekender. You could make a small boat work, but comfort is the key! As Donna said, you really don't need all the bells & whistles on a boat that small. Going without autopilot in a small boat will give you the chance to make mistakes & hone your skills. Good luck!
Mike
 

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Barquito
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The Catalina 22 would have a cabin big enough to get out of the rain. However, it is sitting headroom only. That gets a little tough on the back. The C18 would be similar. Agree that you should be able to find a pretty decent trailerable for $5k with all the stuff you need (reasonable standing and running rigging, good sails) without the stuff you don't need. The only electronics you need are a handheld VHF, and handheld GPS. Need a small battery for running lights. Nice thing about getting handheld electronics is that you can keep them for the next (bigger) boat!
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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Nothing wrong with either boat. When I was in a similar position I was looking at 18 ft boats and when I asked the question why are you selling they said to buy a 22 ft boat. So I bought a 22 ft boat and it was a good decision.

I would look at a Catalina 22 before you make your decision. There are lots around and spares are available. This one is maybe a little pricey but if it is truly turnkey then maybe a good buy. Certainly looks like it has been well cared for. .
 

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Lauri,

Welcome to the asylum. One thing to keep in mind. There isn't a boat out there that isn't loved and hated at the same time by knowledgeable folks and for very good reasons. If you were a guy, I'd compare a boat to a woman and how when the chemistry is right, you know it. Talking to a girl on the issue is unknown territory so I'll stray from those borders. I will, however, recommend a book: The Complete Trailer Sailor by Brian Gilbert. Lot's of great info on small boats especially a compilation in the back that includes data, photos, pros and cons of maybe 50 small boats from 10 to 28 feet. It can really help you find out what makes the chemistry for you.

Some pointers.
For your thin water think shoal keel, lifting keel or centerboard. If you go with a fin keel, your laughable tides probably won't float you free. On the interior, two things to look for: headroom and head room. Headroom as most smaller boats have crouching room only in the salon. Head room since most small boats don't have a head at all, at best a porta-pottie in the salon for all to see.

We own a Lancer 25 that we step and launch every weekend. It takes about an hour from the time I stop the truck to the time my wife pulls the trailer out of the water to park it. 6'-0 head room (ish) and it has a small but functional head. With the shoal keel we draft 30". We'll spend a week at a time on it. You can pick one up on a trailer for about $5000 in good repair.

Post pics as soon as you can. We all love new baby pictures.

Don
 

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... If you were a guy, I'd compare a boat to a woman and how when the chemistry is right, you know it. Talking to a girl on the issue is unknown territory so I'll stray from those borders. ...
Me being a girl and recently staring, slack-jawed, for longer than is considered normal at what I hope to make our next boat, I can say that chemistry is important to us as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the warm welcome!! This is fun!

Ok well we do not wish to go bigger bc 1. Our car can't trail it, 2. the bigger the boat, the bigger the cost. Not just up front but maint and repairs, I have been in boats for ever and I know how can be. And lastly we do not have the interest right now. Also we are a petite couple and that C18 has an extra cusion that makes a king bed! anyhow, I understand to have more room but we do not need too much space for now. The C18 is like new with all the comfortable gidgets to sail and to stay. BUT the dilema is if the value is right and if we will find something as nice as this one (without all the add electronics) for a bit less... We will keep looking and getting more info! But I def felt the connection with the Catalina 18!! Haha
 

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Assuming you find the smaller boat large enough to do what you want (and I think the other commentators are right that this seems pretty small), and it is already very well equipped, then I would go with it. Even assuming that if you add all the same equipment the price favors the San Juan, it only favors it by $1,000.

But that $1,000 doesn't take into account the time or effort it will take to install all the new equipment. Sure a vhf only takes an hour to install and a roller furler only a few hours, but that's assuming nothing goes wrong with the installation process... Not to mention the cost of having a loft modify the sail to fit the new furler, add a UV patch.

In short the better equipped boat may have toys you wouldn't be willing to buy, but most of them are certainly toys you will use. And the current owner has already eaten the depreciation on the stuff.
 

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S/V Calypso
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Welcome Lauriana,

My wife and I recently purchased our first boat together. It is 22' and cost under $2000. We've been working on fixing her up but at the same time enjoying sailing her. Not sure what type of people you folks are but the wife and I have been campers for a long while. We are fairly comfortable sleeping on the boat, and (until I fix the electrical system) use led lights that run on batteries for both inside and anchor lights (we don't sail at night). We bought a single burner butane stove to cook on that works well for us. Hand held VHF radios can be purchased pretty cheaply during online sales.

I guess with all that long winded talking, my advice to you would be find a boat that you can start sailing now and worry about the "nice to haves" like chart plotters etc... later. Unless you are sailing off shore all you need is Mark 1 eyeballs, a decent map and a compass.

Good Luck,
Chris

P.S. We just spent a week on our 22' boat and had a blast. Don't let the nay sayers tell you that you have to have a huge boat to enjoy it.
 

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baDumbumbum
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I'm not familiar with the Catalina 18, tho it appears to be a handsome pocket yacht. We've owned a SJ21 Mk1 for seven years now, so that's a boat whose virtues and vices I can speak to. We've taken it to inland lakes all over the West & to Catalina Island twice. Have camped -- and I do mean camped -- for eleven straight days aboard, the two of us.

cat hotel

It is small below, small even for a 21' boat. That's the wages of a large cockpit (which is great for daysailing & social sailing, however.) The Mk2&3 have a cockpit 12" smaller and flush decks, yielding slightly more space below. Still, not quite sitting headroom. The quarterberths on the Mk1 are coffins indeed, and the V-berth has that darned keel winch (aka, The Chastity Winch) right next to a sleeper's head.

Virtues: Light on its trailer and sits low for launching. Keel fully retracts for beaching. Not fast, but has dinghy-like handling. Very few bad sailing habits. Super cheap to buy or own. Small but fun-loving and friendly One Design community, which is growing after years of teetering on the edge. Attractive in a Dutch canal boat sort of way.

Vices: Doesn't like to be horse-whipped upwind. Not the greatest pointer ever designed. Bluff entry slaps & stalls in chop. Transom squats above hull speed. Very touchy about weight distribution, so you are always moving around to get the heel angle just so. Not spectacularly well-built. Most have wet balsa core decks. Tends to sail at anchor.

Still, we love to sail ours. It's a joyful little boat to throw around protected waters. Sort of the Golden Retriever of small keelboats: not gonna win at Westminster, but playful & loyal & well behaved.:)

Okay, price. $3500 is out of line for almost any SJ21 unless it is in immaculate racing trim and has had every major bit of work done on it. $2000-2500 is the correct price for a middlin'-fair SJ21. We paid $2300 and that was about $600 too much, given its condition. If one needs TLC, as you put it, $1500 is the top end. Specifically, find out if the decks are wet before you even think about buying. The areas around the jib tracks and mast step are the worst, but in truth most of the balsa is susceptible. I'll bet 80% of these boats had issues with water in the core. Wet decks are worth $800 off any asking price. Also look at the sails. If they aren't crispy & new, chop another $800 off. It's a nice boat, but it ain't rare or particularly special in its class.
 

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That Catalina 18 looks pretty sweet! Of the two, I would go for that one.

However I would like to put in another vote for a Catalina 22, if you can find one. I just finished my first year with one, so I might be biased. The size is nice, the feel is nice, the sailing is nice. A 22 is only 750 lbs heavier than the 18, so if you can tow the 18 you can probably tow the 22.
 

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Sounds like you are sweet on the Catalina. Don't let your heart overrule good sense when it comes to negotiating a price.
 

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Me being a girl and recently staring, slack-jawed, for longer than is considered normal at what I hope to make our next boat, I can say that chemistry is important to us as well.
How long IS considered normal? :D I recall once I was slack jawed for well over an hour looking at a brand new Garden Walloon.
 
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