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Hello all, my name is Justin. I am new to the sailing world and would love some advice on picking a sailboat that would fit my lifestyle. I am 21 and will mostly be sailiing the great lakes but have dreams of cruising the great loop, and staying a while in the Bahamas. I have been sailing small boats (420s, lazers) I love speed but my girlfriend who will be with me for all my adventures needs a more stable and comfortable boat. I of course have been spending way to much time on boattrader and Yachtword and am fully overwhelmed with all the choices ranging from a 1979 C&C 40, Fuji 35, 1988 Compass Cutter sloop (just some examples). Not having a huge budget I need somthing I can get out on the water on without too much work done. Any advice would be great!
 

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Figure out a budget. The first boat I ever looked at with a broker was a Pearson 43. I would not have been able to pay the mooring fee for a boat that big, but what did I know? There are boats in every price range. Your goals have to be matched to the budget available and the boats that are capable of doing what you want to do. It's an ongoing balancing act that can be fun if you can make it work.
 

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Cape Dory 30
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I agree, be honest with yourself and figure out what you can spend. Don't go into a bunch of debt, smaller in good shape is better than a big land anchor. There are some good old boats out there for under 15k. Get one that uses an outboard instead of an inboard, simple to replace and much cheaper than a 30 year old diesel. Dennis
 

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When I was shopping for. boats over the past six years, I read many many boat reviews. I found the reviews of Spinsheet Magazine, very helpful. Most of them were written by the late marine architect and surveyor Jack Hornor.


I have a different opinion to offer than Max Force above. I recommend a boat with an inboard motor. Anything big enough to live on comfortably while cruising the loop (30 to 35 feet) is best powered by an inboard motor, to navigate the currents of the big rivers you will be traveling on, and getting in and out of the locks you'll be passing through.

On the Great Loop you have to pay a boat yard to take the mast down on a sailboat, from Chicago to past St Louis, because of low bridges. So consider the convenience of a deck stepped mast versus a keel stepped mast.

Be aware that everything that is done to a boat, from renting a slip, hauling it out, cleaning and painting the hull, and storing it on land is charged by the foot. If traveling the Great Loop, your girlfriend will want to stop in marinas from time to time for better showers, and to do laundry. Call a few marinas and ask them how much they charge for a slip for a week for a 30 foot boat versus a 40 foot boat, and this will give you an idea of some of your travel expenses.
It will cost more to pull the mast in Chicago, and re-install it in St Louis, depending on the size of the boat, and height of the mast.

Your personalities and the strength of your relationship have a lot of bearing on what size boat you'll need. If your girlfriend is a good sport and loves rugged camping, and you have a strong relationship, you might be fine in the cramped space of a 30 foot boat. A 40 foot boat offers more comfort, space and luxury, but costs considerably more in maintenance and travel costs. My wife and I settled on a 35 foot boat as the best compromise for us, in terms of big enough for comfort, and small enough to still be affordable.

Consider Catalina's. They are the quintessential American floating recreational vehicle for families. Their livability rating is high, and there are a lot of them. I chartered a 30, and 34 before and they were both very nice. The 34 is considerably more roomy, to live aboard. You will probably want to consider the shoal draft keel, for navigating some of the shallow waters in the smaller lakes and rivers of the Great Loop, and the shallow waters of the bahamas.

Good luck with your search, and your plans for your adventure.
 

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I doubt that at 21 you have the budget to buy and maintain a 35 or 40 footer. Since you say the Great Loop or Bahamas are a dream and sailing would be Great Lakes, I would look at smaller boats. Explore the local options for keeping a boat - slip, mooring, launching from trailer, etc. Up north, you are looking at winter storage, so figure those costs also.
 

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I doubt that at 21 you have the budget to buy and maintain a 35 or 40 footer.......
That may be true. But Heck, some 20-somethings have more disposable income than many of us who are over 40, (or 50, or 60). There are young cruising couples with computer skills, who are doing computer consulting, remotely. It makes me wish I had learned coding in college.
 

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Cape Dory 30
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OP if you circle back and check on this this, give us an idea of what you boat budget would be. A few of us are assuming you are not a trust fund kid. A 35 to 45 foot boat needing a little work as you mentioned is going to require a huge budget either to fix up or ready to step on. At least by my definition of huge. I am going to throw up some fixer up prices for a 30 foot boat. Let's say the 40 year old boat has sails older than 20 years. New main $1800, New head sail $2000, new running rigging $1 per foot, repower $15K. Add 5 or 10 feet to the boat and you would probably double or triple these numbers.
I do agree midwesterner that boats in the 30 to 35 foot range are better served with an inboard.

I am 60 years old and made a good living all my life. We have a 30 boat that is 40 years old that my wife and I can stay on easy for months at a time. Dennis
 

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Discussion Starter #9
When I was shopping for. boats over the past six years, I read many many boat reviews. I found the reviews of Spinsheet Magazine, very helpful. Most of them were written by the late marine architect and surveyor Jack Hornor.


I have a different opinion to offer than Max Force above. I recommend a boat with an inboard motor. Anything big enough to live on comfortably while cruising the loop (30 to 35 feet) is best powered by an inboard motor, to navigate the currents of the big rivers you will be traveling on, and getting in and out of the locks you'll be passing through.

On the Great Loop you have to pay a boat yard to take the mast down on a sailboat, from Chicago to past St Louis, because of low bridges. So consider the convenience of a deck stepped mast versus a keel stepped mast.

Be aware that everything that is done to a boat, from renting a slip, hauling it out, cleaning and painting the hull, and storing it on land is charged by the foot. If traveling the Great Loop, your girlfriend will want to stop in marinas from time to time for better showers, and to do laundry. Call a few marinas and ask them how much they charge for a slip for a week for a 30 foot boat versus a 40 foot boat, and this will give you an idea of some of your travel expenses.
It will cost more to pull the mast in Chicago, and re-install it in St Louis, depending on the size of the boat, and height of the mast.

Your personalities and the strength of your relationship have a lot of bearing on what size boat you'll need. If your girlfriend is a good sport and loves rugged camping, and you have a strong relationship, you might be fine in the cramped space of a 30 foot boat. A 40 foot boat offers more comfort, space and luxury, but costs considerably more in maintenance and travel costs. My wife and I settled on a 35 foot boat as the best compromise for us, in terms of big enough for comfort, and small enough to still be affordable.

Consider Catalina's. They are the quintessential American floating recreational vehicle for families. Their livability rating is high, and there are a lot of them. I chartered a 30, and 34 before and they were both very nice. The 34 is considerably more roomy, to live aboard. You will probably want to consider the shoal draft keel, for navigating some of the shallow waters in the smaller lakes and rivers of the Great Loop, and the shallow waters of the bahamas.

Good luck with your search, and your plans for your adventure.
Thank you MaxForce for the great advice. I have been trying to calculate the balance of what is livable for us and it seems that a 30-35 leaning toward 35 is a great place to start looking. When you are not taking all the expenses into account it is really easy to start looking at bigger boats and think of all the room for activites! I'll jump on and check out the Caralinas they seem to be soild boats from what I have seen.

Thank you, I hope to see you out there when I finally cruise the loop!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you MaxForce for the great advice. I have been trying to calculate the balance of what is livable for us and it seems that a 30-35 leaning toward 35 is a great place to start looking. When you are not taking all the expenses into account it is really easy to start looking at bigger boats and think of all the room for activites! I'll jump on and check out the Caralinas they seem to be soild boats from what I have seen.

Thank you, I hope to see you out there when I finally cruise the loop!
Oh my bad I meant to say "Midwesterner".
 

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Discussion Starter #11
OP if you circle back and check on this this, give us an idea of what you boat budget would be. A few of us are assuming you are not a trust fund kid. A 35 to 45 foot boat needing a little work as you mentioned is going to require a huge budget either to fix up or ready to step on. At least by my definition of huge. I am going to throw up some fixer up prices for a 30 foot boat. Let's say the 40 year old boat has sails older than 20 years. New main $1800, New head sail $2000, new running rigging $1 per foot, repower $15K. Add 5 or 10 feet to the boat and you would probably double or triple these numbers.
I do agree midwesterner that boats in the 30 to 35 foot range are better served with an inboard.

I am 60 years old and made a good living all my life. We have a 30 boat that is 40 years old that my wife and I can stay on easy for months at a time. Dennis
[/QUOTE

Thank you, you are right Denis, I don't have a huge budget, and sadly no trust fund either. But I have been working my butt off for the last 5 years for this goal and shoud be able to put 15-20k-High end toward my boat. You have pointed out some really big costs that I would like to put off for a few years such as the sails. How old of sails would you think I would be able to get without having to replace them right off the bat? You are really lucky to have a wife who loves to sail as much as you I hope my girlfirend will take to it just as well! Thank you again for the great advice!
-Justin
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Figure out a budget. The first boat I ever looked at with a broker was a Pearson 43. I would not have been able to pay the mooring fee for a boat that big, but what did I know? There are boats in every price range. Your goals have to be matched to the budget available and the boats that are capable of doing what you want to do. It's an ongoing balancing act that can be fun if you can make it work.
Balance seems to be good way to put it, Ill make sure when I pull the trigger on a boat i'm taking all the expenses into account without tipping the balance to the debt and sadness side of the scale🙂

Thank you
Justin
 

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I have been trying to calculate the balance of what is livable for us and it seems that a 30-35 leaning toward 35 is a great place to start looking.
A few things I have learned during my several years search for my boat:

Once you hit the 40 foot and above range in boats, prices of used boats that size jump up considerably. Then the cost of everything having to do with the care and maintenance jumps up considerably, because of the length.

There are people who live comfortably on a 30 foot boat, but I am 6'1" and the V berths are tight and, on most, I can't close the door when I'm on the head, or my knees are bumping against the door.

My week-long bareboat skippers certification course was on a Hunter 31. With each subsequent charter trip after that, I slowly tried out larger boats: Catalina 30; Endeavor 32; and Catalina 34. The Catalina 34 was the first boat where I felt that my wife and I could be comfortable on long stays.

Our Bristol 35.5 seems about the best for us.

Thank you, I hope to see you out there when I finally cruise the loop!
It would be great to connect with you sometime. Good luck in seeking out your dream.
 

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Hello all, my name is Justin. I am new to the sailing world and would love some advice on picking a sailboat that would fit my lifestyle. I am 21 and will mostly be sailiing the great lakes but have dreams of cruising the great loop, and staying a while in the Bahamas. I have been sailing small boats (420s, lazers) I love speed but my girlfriend who will be with me for all my adventures needs a more stable and comfortable boat. I of course have been spending way to much time on boattrader and Yachtword and am fully overwhelmed with all the choices ranging from a 1979 C&C 40, Fuji 35, 1988 Compass Cutter sloop (just some examples). Not having a huge budget I need somthing I can get out on the water on without too much work done. Any advice would be great!
We must have the same guy sending us boats. That Fuji 35 is the bomb. Well built ketch, 50 hp perkins shallow draft, globe trotter, good speed and beautiful. They all look good but that would be my pick. Its beautiful. 1974, make sure the core is good.
 
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