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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, third post on this vast forum. I need advice/opinions from those who have been there.

The dream; Retire in 6 years at 39 years of age and want to live.

The means; Little debt other than my house and truck. Substantial disposable income. Good retirement coming for the rest of my life in a small amount of time.

The mentality; I am a minimalist, always have been.

Now the question.

I have been scouring forums for some time now, read Atoms voyages, Fiberglass Vengeance stories, studied vast replies from very salty people who know better and yet I am still slightly confused. All I want is a small boat- under 32' with the basics or at least the capability to add them, that with a good skipper-(me with experience and training)- that I don't have to "trade in" later in life to fit my at the moment dreams, whatever they may be. Basically a boat that can be sailed single handed, cruise the ICW yet with proper prep sail anywhere.

I fully understand watching the weather and making good decisions regarding when to leave port or not. However, stealing from many years of power boating on the Chesapeake Bay and off the coast of Northeastern Florida, you never know when a squall will come through that brings with it large and confused seas. That being said, a boat that will not fall apart underneath me. I have been caught in storms in a Boston Whaler that by my miscalculations became fully swamped- yet I was able to bail it out and help someone else who was not so lucky...nothing like 20' breaking waves in a 15' open boat to calm the soul.....yea right.

I know nothing about sailboats.

Based on weeks of reading- including many good books at the library, I have nailed it down to a few old boats. Keeping in mind that I don't want to splurge on an expensive boat. I am keeping the cost under 10k for the purchase price.

After creating a long list based off of the following criteria,

1) Aesthetics
2) Cost
3) Support
4) Reputation
5) Inboard
6) High ballast to displacement ratio
7) Standing headroom
8) Small cockpit
9) Good drains
10) longest waterline length

I have drastically shortened that list

All that is left are the following;

Pearson Triton
Bristol 27/29
Sailmaster 26
Cape Dory 25
Albin Vega- though it falls short in the Aesthetics department.

The usage of my boat will be 90% Coastal Cruising for the next six years, 10% Bahamas and island hopping- then, provided cigarettes, Iraq and Afghanistan don't kill me, Pacific ocean passages and Atlantic crossings- with the intent of staying at the final destinations until I tire of them to see more of the world.

I have no interest in a 40'+ boat. (I live in a 2500 sq' house yet use bedroom and kitchen....don't even have furniture in the other rooms. )

Am I missing out on anything by narrowing my choices to these particular boats?

I have a Hobie 16 for the wet, speed enhanced excitement.

I have read all the reviews regarding Columbia's, Flicka's and Contessa's but they do nothing for me in the looks department. To each his own I guess. Some like blonds and so forth.

There are many good cruising boats out there other than what I have listed, but they are either to expensive, ugly or are generally unavailable with little support. Yet, people travel and live their dreams on O'days's and the like regularly. These people are already on the islands in the sun while I sit here pondering on my boat selection. However, would you want to endure a Gale 8 storm in one? Some would say "not in any boat you listed either" but given a choice? The best weather planning is still at the mercy of nature- and it would seem that at that point the things that matter are the skippers ability, luck and then the boat holding together. In that order.

What are your views/ opinions on what I have said? Are my choices sound? Logic correct? Notice that for some reason all my boats are full keel older designs. Why is that?

Thanks and I look forward to your replies. Alan
 

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10K seems to me unrealistic for a solid, heavy-use boat you describe. The "sail anywhere" criterion would mean more initial money invested to get a solid and bluewater design boat, and more money to get it fully equipped.
I have somewhat similar aspirations and have decided on a Catalac catamaran. I hope to be buying one soon.
 

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Alan
Your's is a variation of the same question asked seemingly every day here by at least one person who has a dream but no real offshore experience. Rather than reiterate all the same answers and conflicting opinion, just imagine being your own diesel mechanic, electrician, cook, plumber, HVAC expert, refrigeration repairman and, if you have kids, school teacher, all simultaneously with constant boat maintenance, navigation and do ao while sleep deprived, sea sick, smelly and hot. Add being in a confined, constantly moving space for prolonged periods.

This isn't intended to be condescending; just a true picture of what it's really like. some people love the life. Some do not. Do you know which you are?

Once you can accept that reality, it's time to start either boat shopping or beach condo shopping.
 

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I dunno. 10K? It's more and more a buyers market. There are 2 pretty nice Bristols on eBay right now. The 28 footer is at 4K, the 29 footer at 6K. Not bad at all.
 

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The Cape Dory 25D would be my dream pocket cruiser but it will cost more than 10k for one in good enough shape.

Expand your price to 25k and your dream is much more possible. I say this because, if you buy a 40 year old Triton for 10k, it will be at least 15k extra to get her up to speed for the trips.

It sounds like you do not want to finance the boat, but paying off a 25k boat over 5 years is not a big undertaking. You plan to coastal cruise during that time anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
k1vsk....you should try being in a combat zone for 9 tours...I have gained a new perspective on what harsh and reality really is all about...:))) I am simply looking to slow everything down and enjoy everything that is right about the world. But that is for a VA forum...lets talk sailboats.


yes, it seems my concerns have been addressed in many different ways on a multitude of different forums- including this one. I feel as I have read many of them and still walked away somewhat confused.

I have learned lessons with cars, where no matter how much money you put into a Camaro, its still not a Corvette. I do not want to make the same mistake with a boat. I get long winded at times but I will try and summarize my concerns.

Am I missing out on anything by looking at full keel heavy displacement inboard boats?

Would it make more sense to get a lightweight racer/weekender type hull and push limits until I am ready to retire and cast off? Or does it make sense to start out with what I want to end up with- all the while improving and upgrading for the eventual use?

In these very forums I have read countless opinions on why one should not use a ocean prepped boat for coastal cruising, an article regarding a man who bought a Valiant 40 for use on lake Lanier, Ga comes to mind. I do live right on the Atlantic Ocean- this is where the boat will be used. It is not a harbor or a sound, it is beach- then ocean.

The very reason I don't want a true "bluewater" boat is due to the coastal use I have planned over the next six or seven years. However, those listed boats did not appear in my mind on a whim. They are highly decorated boats recommended by the people on these forums. Sailors, cruisers and some brave enough to circumnavigate solo on them.

Six or so months ago when I finally decided to start actively pursuing my dream, knowing nothing about sailboats, I almost bought a 1968 Graves Constellation. Beautiful boat but.....after researching I found that it was not anything near what I would want or need a few years from now. Wow, I may have just answered my own question.

Are the reputations that keep these old boats alive worth the compromises that come with them?

They are good boats because they are strong and perform well enough to offset the weight and other trade offs of being built strong. Correct?

I was not asking for anyone to judge my dreams and aspirations, though feel free to do so. Having researched, dock walked and yard scavenged boats and compiling all the information I have read or received by talking to people, these were the boats that were left standing after the weeding out process. I simply wanted to bounce all this off of everyone who reads this and get some last minute- "they will do what you ask or that boat will fail...I have tried it advice" Hence the posts name...

Man, i am long winded....Anyway, the boats listed have an aura surrounding them by so many people regarding their capabilities that I wanted to see if it was mystical hype/owner bias or are these boats really solid/safe/accommodating foundations to start with. I really only want to kickstart this project once and not waste time and money on something that is past its service life.

To sum it up..no holds barred. Are these boats really that good? Good enough to overlook other boats? Please clarify my confusion. Thanks for your input so far. Alan
 

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Discussion Starter #8
One further question before someone kicks me off of here for talking to much.

Why does everyone quote 15-20k to outfit a boat? I have priced new running and standing rigging, ports, sails and lines, winches and thru hulls and whatnot and it comes nowhere near $20,000. This was for a Triton by the way. As far as glassing goes, have not received any offers in the crew wanted section so i bought a bunch of glassing material and have been making molds of things in my garage..(I really need a hobby...) These materials are not even that expensive. As far as labor cost...0 (zero) I can do electrical/mechanical and wood working blindfolded. well maybe not woodworking...its hard to measure when you cant see. Am I missing something major in the costs to oufit a boat?

Oh yea, electronics. Provided nothing is serviceable in the boat I buy- GPS and depth sounders are not that expensive. 2k for a gizmo that not only tells me where I am, but will practically tell me what type of fish are under me and how to properly cook them...
 

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If you're singlehanding, you'll want some kind of self-steering (Ares or Monitor windvane, etc). Thats big money.
 

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everyone says it will cost more because refitting a boat is like remodeling a house.. it takes longer and costs more every time... No matter how careful and prepared you are it is going to wind up being more and harder than you thought. Just the nature of the beast.

I.E. The water pump doesn't work and in removing that hardware you find the plumbing lines are compromised and as long as you are under there you might as well replace them. Then you get back to the water tank and when you remove the hoses from the nipple lo and behold, the tank has deteriorated (we ARE talking about an older boat, non?) and instead of just putting on the darn faucet you got a great deal on at the marine salvage store you are building cardboard models of water tanks to maximize usage of the space the tank is in currently and researching everything you can find about water systems in general...

Honest. Always bet on the unknown nippin yer tush.

And as far as picking a boat, I know only enough to be dangerous so I wouldn't dream of advising anyone on whet to buy, but I will say that I truely believe that there is a bit of magic involved in the process of selecting a companion as intimate as a boat...

Research until you have a solid understanding of what you are looking for and at.

And then go looking. All that brain knowledge will oversee the gestalt of your emotional connection when you step aboard the right one.

At some point what seems complicated, obscure and difficult will become clear and straightforward.

Good luck!
 

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Alan,
I doubt that you will be 'kicked off' this forum for talking too much. It is also true that your questions are somewhat quotidian and everyday on this forum.
I happen to like your list of boat choices as I too like the old school style of full keel heavily built sailboats. There are others here who will trumpet the newer style, less robustly built boats as blue water cruisers. I don't have an ax to grind in this debate, I just like what I like and I like boats that were built a bit heavier then the production models of today. I also have no plans to go (back) to Iraq or Afghanistan (never been there).
I do like the Cape Dory boats and I also like the Tartan 27' that I do own. One of my fellow owners did some modifications and has his T27 out in the South Pacific near Vanuatu. Most of us just stay closer to home - wherever that happens to be.
My boat partner always wants to get new sails for racing our old boat and I seem to want storm sails (trisail and storm jib). Who is thinking about longer range cruising?
Blue water safety equipment is expensive: life raft, SSB radio or SAT phone, computer, chart plotter hooked into dependable autopilot, Radar and/or AIS, Jack lines for clipping on tethers while going forward, etc, etc. This stuff does not usually come cheap. Add in new standing rigging wires and you are easily at 10K even if your boat only costs 4K.
My best.
 

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I know nothing about sailboats.
Welcome aboard Alan. I think I know exactly how you feel. I was in the same place 30 years ago and still remember the indecision and frustration.

You asked a lot of good questions in a forum filled with people with thousands of years total experience. Unfortunately however a good answer for you to each question is going to be based on what kind of sailor you are and what kind of person you are.
Since you are not a sailor and we know almost nothing about you, all the answers you get are going to be based on just guesses regarding you.

So I'm going to attempt to give you some general guidance that you can apply to your own situation.
I'm going to make one assumption. That assumption is that you do not have a trust fund that you can tap for a few 10's of thousands whenever you want to and are looking to achieve your dream for the least money. If you do have access to a lot of cash please mention it as the recommendations may change.

Rather than focusing on what kind of boat to buy, full keel, coastal, blue water, standing headroom etc. focus on becoming a sailor. Do not spend a dime extra that doesn't move you toward that goal.
You may not have to buy a boat to become a sailor. Clubs, other peoples boats, work at a boat yard etc may get you on the water for the next six months.
If you do have to buy a boat the only goal is to get a boat that will get you on the water as much as possible. A club 420, laser, small day sailor anything sail-able. If you get something that needs work you will be working on a boat instead of becoming a sailor. A big boat for 10 to 20k will take up a lot of time not sailing.

If you work at it hard for two years you will have spent almost no money and then you will be a sailor.
The little boat you can sell for what you paid for it.

You have a huge learning curve to be a safe, happy competent ocean sailor.
You can with luck and hard work accomplish anything.
The problem with ocean cruising is that the chances of someone making all the hundreds of decisions correctly that there life depends on then make the hundreds of decisions correctly to make if affordable and the hundreds of decisions correctly to make it fun takes more luck than most people have.
If you focus on becoming a sailor first, make the personnel contacts, learn about yourself in the context of sailing I believe your journey will be more fun, safer and you are much more likely to achieve your dream.

You are welcome to call If you just want to talk as I have some personal experience in exactly this subject.

One of my favorite sailing stories the idea that all sailors start out with a big full bag of luck and an empty bag of experience. The goal is to fill up the bag of experience be for the bag of luck is empty.

In short the reason why this is so hard for you is because "you don't know nutten". Do what you need to do to get some water under you keel and you have an easier time.
 

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... And as far as picking a boat, I know only enough to be dangerous so I wouldn't dream of advising anyone on whet to buy, but I will say that I truely believe that there is a bit of magic involved in the process of selecting a companion as intimate as a boat...

Research until you have a solid understanding of what you are looking for and at.

And then go looking. All that brain knowledge will oversee the gestalt of your emotional connection when you step aboard the right one.

At some point what seems complicated, obscure and difficult will become clear and straightforward.

Good luck!
Wow! Now there is some of the best boat-buying attitude and philosophy I have heard in a long time.
 

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alanr77
The posters are right. It takes a fair amount of money to equip a small sailboat for extensive offshore travels. I am doing that right now. Just today on another post on this site a link was posted to a Vega 27 that was for sale (now sold) listing the equipment additions the owner made. I think you will find it informative. I'm not talking about fixing what needs it (although that is going to happen with any 20 - 30 year old boat as well), but additions like rewiring, electronics, wind vane, sail additions, etc. Look at this site and add up the prices - you might be surprised.
Brian
Whisper is for sale!
The Log of Whisper
 

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Where are you stationed?

When I was stationed at Camp Lejeune I had a friend who used his VA loan to buy a 30-odd footer and lived aboard at the MWR marina. It was really cheap. His dock fees and utilities were way less than paying property taxes on a house.

That may be a way to go for you. Just get a decent coastal cruiser and learn to sail locally. Once its time to retire, you can always sell that boat and buy another once you've figured out what you really want.

The one thing you can absolutely guarantee is that with no experience, you will no way, never (no matter how good your research) pick the right boat the first time. Best bet is to buy something decent and cheap that is good enough for what you need right now and sail it as often as you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you all for the advice. Points taken and considered.

No, I have no trust fund. Just a good income and some assets that will serve me later in life. However, even if I did, I do not want to spend 25k on the purchase of this boat. There is no need based on my goals and ambitions. Besides, that goes against my way of doing things. Example: My neighbor bought a 3k riding tractor last year. I got on craigslist and found one for $100.00. $65 in parts and for the last year and a half I have his wife yelling at him for spending the 3k on a tractor when my $165 one cuts the grass just as good, starts just as easily so on....you get the point. I have a little money because I don't spend alot of it.

Maybe I am making this much more complicated than it really is. I never had this issue when choosing a powerboat. You simply went with what you liked- and I liked Chris Craft speedboats and cruisers- spent alot of time on a 32' Constellation and a 20' Rivera. There just seems to be so much more to sailing than powerboating. So many different factors. I never thought I would witness two people arguing over a hull design because one goes 1 knot faster than the other.

If there is one thing that I will take immediate heed to it is the advice to get on the water now in a keel boat- and continue with my training. I am registering for the RSA courses here shortly. I have tried to get in touch with the local sailing center here but know one likes to return phone calls or emails. I guess they have enough students and are out sailing all the time.

Parts are about complete for the 16' Beach cat I have and I should be on it soon. Apparently it does not count as "real sailing experience though"..?..? -I have read many articles as to why...some convincing, some not.

I forgot about the vane. Though wouldn't this be something I would need a few years from now? Remember, I would be sailing the coast of Georgia and Florida for the next six or seven years.

OhioTom; I am stationed in Savannah Georgia. Unfortunately, my VA certificate is tied up in a 2500sq' house on an acre of land that I rarely use. Not to mention Georgia has a nice little "no live aboard" law that is apparently enforced. After serving this chunk of land we call the US for the better part of my life, I am still appalled by some of the laws WE allow to pass. But that's for another forum....:)

Thanks for all the opinions, perhaps in the RSA courses I will meet others with similar ambitions....cause as of now all my powerboat friends do nothing but laugh at me...have a friend who just bought a 30' sportfish, twin 300 mercs who has already "volunteered" to come pull me out when I run out of wind and ground my keel into the sand... such good friends..... A
 

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Thanks for all the opinions, perhaps in the RSA courses I will meet others with similar ambitions....cause as of now all my powerboat friends do nothing but laugh at me...have a friend who just bought a 30' sportfish, twin 300 mercs who has already "volunteered" to come pull me out when I run out of wind and ground my keel into the sand... such good friends..... A
Having some sailor friends will make all the difference. The power guys can be nice but they just don't get it.:)

I love your tractor story.

The advantage of getting a little more water under your keel is to reduce the risk of spending 10,000 on a boat that needs more work than you anticipated and then spend a year or more (not sailing) and who knows how many thousands and it still doesn't work out well.
Don't ask how I know.
 

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alanr77,

I like your plan -- retire in six years on a 32 foot sailboat, relax and enjoy life. Also your shortlist of boats is thorough, cautious, reasonable, and modest. Seems that you have done your homework.

Just like the others on this thread, I have a few reservations.

All I want is a small boat- under 32' with the basics or at least the capability to add them
What do you consider the basics? AC electricity? Hot and cold running water?, clean dry clothes? The smaller the boat the less likely you will have these luxuries when not "tied to the dock." Not all of us need that stuff, some do.

I don't mean to be a killjoy, but a sailboat is not a riding tractor, rarely does anyone who had little or no sailing experience spend less than they expected on a boat.
- One of the pitfalls of buying a used boat is you don't know the history of the boat.
- The second is having to replace things that you thought were perfectly serviceable at the time you made the purchase.
- A third is fixing things that were not done right the first time, or improperly repaired.
- Forth, electronics do not last forever, they are generally expensive. Eventually they become obsolete and no one can find replacement components to fix them. Older systems may not be compatible with newer ones (analog vs. MNEA 0183 vs. N2K vs. CANbus)
- Five, repairs take longer than you expect. A good rule of thumb is to think of everything conceivable thing that you will need to do to make the repair and assign a time value, add it all up, then double it. (if you're not experienced with the job, double it again.)
- Six, sails cost money: to maintain, to repair, to replace.

with a good skipper-(me with experience and training)
To gain blue-water sailing experience requires the knowledge and skill acquired over a period of time, especially that gained in the most adverse conditions. For many it takes a lifetime to gain enough experience to calmly withstand the most averse weather conditions. Next time there is a squall, gale, thunderstorm, hurricane, typhoon, etc. consider what it would be like to be out in it -- if you were 100 miles offshore, you would be 20 hours away from the nearest shelter. Now imagine your engine stalls: clogged fuel filter, water in tank, line wrapped around the prop, etc. OR Your rigging fails: broken gooseneck, parted halyard, the roller-furling unfurls, a spreader breaks, etc. OR Your sea-anchor breaks the hardware off the deck and drifts away . . . You'll find that a 26-32' sailboat handles very differently than a 15' Boston Whaler in those conditions.


We all want you to enjoy your dream, we also want you to avoid the many pitfalls that may discourage you along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks everyone for some very thoughtful replies to some of my concerns.

bheintz; Basics to me are:

A place to cook

A place to hang a sun shower

A place to safely store dry/canned goods

A comfortable place to sleep

Ability to stand up when below deck

Ability to get out of the weather and warm up/cool down or dry off

And finally, a head that I don't have to be a contortionist to use

I was serious when I said I really don't need much to be happy. If I want to sit in a hot tub I will go to a Hotel. I am sure there are plenty in some of the areas I want to go.

Not to mention, I have to intent to "set off towards Australian waters in six weeks"...while spending three months at sea. Hell, I may find that I like the Islands south of Florida and never really leave there.

Storms...I can remember quite well at the age of eight helping my father ride out a storm that blew through the Chesapeake Bay area in the fall of 1985. Some of you may remember that storm. It was safer to ride it out than to stay at the dock. That was in a 45' CCraft Connie. that kind of weather demands respect and I would prefer to watch that stuff on TV than be out in a boat through it. Proper weather planning seems to be of the utmost importance.

I am starting to see a trend in the replies though- and it is shaping some thoughts in my head. It seems that the idea (and I agree) is that I need to get on the water. So, there are plenty of small trailer able weekenders in the local area that are ready to sail. (or for the most part) and would require minimal investment to launch. I can afford both worlds- buy a 1500k daysailer, spend time on it learning the intricate art of trimming sails and such. Keep the Beachcat for when the wind is to light for anything. Find the Triton or Bristol I want- put it in the building I am constructing behind the house and restore it. In the end, all can be sold except what I choose to keep.

What are the benefits of swapping an Atomic four for an equivalent size diesel? Fuel economy?
 
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