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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I have been reading these forums off and on for information and decided to join. My fiancé and I are looking at our first sailboat tomorrow and I wanted to know if there are any specific questions I should ask?

We are both very new to sailing. Took the 101 course in June, and then got hooked(She more than I which I am thankful for) We sailed all around the Chester river in a Cal 22. Had an amazing instructor that gave us confidence. So we basically just sailed sailed sailed for three months. We then took the basic cruising course a month ago on a Hunter 28 and got even more hooked. So after that we took the Hunter out a few times, the last time sailed to the Bay Bridge and back which was a big deal for us. We slept on the Hunter many times and loved that as well. Anyway, we have decided to buy, or at least begin looking.

We are looking at a 1985 Catalina 30 tomorrow. I know there are many pros/cons to each vessel. We like the Hunter, but this is the first time looking at a boat we know nothing about. Actually, to be honest, after reading and spending time listening to other sailors, I can say I know absolutely nothing about sailing and have much to learn.

My dad was a Navy diver and his trade was a bottom cleaner on boats. He taught me a little about boat years. "Try and find a boat pre 1973......gelcoat blisters...." Anyway, he's sick now so I cannot really have him come with me tomorrow.

I wanted to know if there were any specific questions I should ask the owner? Besides if the hull had any gelcoat blisters? I do not even know if that's even an appropriate question. I am not going in to buy, rather, just look and get an idea of another boat. Though if the price is right, we have talked about it in a month or so. Anyway, appreciate it!
 

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There are plenty of blister-free (or already treated) boats out there, but there are many that may show blisters too.. these days, except for the most extreme cases I think it's mostly considered cosmetic, esp in un-cored/solid glass hulls like the Catalinas.

The C30 will be much less tender than what you're used to in the H28, maybe not quite as nimble, but more comfortable/liveable I'd think. Catalina has great customer support all the way back to early models.

More concerning would be issues with deck delamination and moisture intrusion, engine hours/condition/type, things of that nature.. any unpleasant odours when you first step below? Window/port leaks, lots of water or oil in the bilge, and so on.. these are the things to watch for in addition to, or maybe even before, the issue of possible blisters.

It's a buyer's market these days so don't get stuck on any one boat, spend some time looking at a variety - looking is free - and be ready to pounce when the 'right one' appears.

Good luck and welcome to SN
 

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First of all, remember that no deal is too good to pass up.

Will the boat be in or out of the water? You'll want to see it out of the water if you are concerned about blisters.

I would definitely plan on this being your first look, and if you like the looks of the boat either hire a surveyor or, at the very least, come back with an experienced boat owner.

Check out this sailnet thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks guys, I was just reading about delamination. I guess since it is the first time looking I will just go for the experience and learn to look sorta thing. I think the hard part is just weeding through all the opinions, and trying to sort out what is fact, and what is opinion. Things like "stay away from atomic 4's" "Stay away from drop down keels, shoal keeps, centerboards." And then hearing the opposite! Anyway i will let you know how it goes tomorrow. Thanks again


Whoa, thanks for the read Scratchee. That is something I will print! Thank you! Good stuff. Also made me realize I now know less than I thought I knew LOL! Damn! Had NO idea surveyors could rip you off. I just figured you hired one and if things checked out, Good to go! Yikes, I am more naive on this than I thought. Anyway thanks again. hopefully it goes well tomorrow. Flashlight I shall bring, again, did not even think of that.
 

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I don't know your personality or budget, but I would also caution you about getting wrapped around the axle over the 10,000 things that can be wrong with a boat. Read over the inspection tips, get comfortable with the level of financial risk you are taking (is this entertainment money, vacation money, or retirement money you are spending?), and find a boat that you like, understanding that it will require maintenance and probably at least some level of repair.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well fiancé and I are elementary school teachers, so we do ok between the two of us, but our budget is nothing huge. We put a spread sheet together and discussed what we could afford, and hopefully it works out. Right now our goal is to get a 28-30 footer. Spend the next 5 years sailing the Chesapeake and basically learning how to sail, amongst other things about it. Then maybe upgrading and sailing further. We also really like the sailing community. Anyway, that's the goal. Plans change and so do dreams so we shall see. I am wanting to jump in and get a boat so we can really start learning. She is being much more reserved which is best. I guess if we bought a boat now we would have to start winterizing in a month which again is something I need to learn.
 

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Well fiancé and I are elementary school teachers, so we do ok between the two of us, but our budget is nothing huge.
I wasn't really referring to the amount of money as much as the relative expense compared to the rest of your finances.

We got a 27-foot boat for very little money (less than $5k) a few years ago, in the Baltimore area. My wife and I agreed that we would give it two years to see if we wanted to continue with the ongoing expenses. We just finished our third year, and although we didn't get out much this summer, we still enjoy having a boat. The important thing is, we are able to take this as a "see what happens" type of thing because we did not take a big financial risk. Yet we still got a sound boat that did not require any major repairs, and sails well, and has a clean interior in nice enough shape for overnighting with our two boys.
 

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A good piece of advice given to me was to take lots of pictures and notes about what I like and didn't like. If anything stands out to you, good or bad, make note of it. Jot down owner comments to your inquiries. Take pictures of detailed things as well as general views. This will help you recall the specifics of the boat later after you've looked at several.

You could also ask to see maintenance records and previous surveys. When was the rigging replaced, if ever? Last bottom job, haul-out? Engine hours and maintenance? Age of batteries, sails, electronics, etc? Get a copy of Inspecting the Aging Sailboat by Don Casey or something similar to start learning to do your own preliminary survey.

I don't necessarily agree with "No deal is too good to pass up" but I do think that no deal is too good to at least sleep on and get a second opinion (survey).

Good luck with your search!:)
 

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Daniel - Norsea 27
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My first thought was to post the link that scratchee already got to.

I used that post and did a bunch of research during the year after I did ASA101. I was living overseas so I couldn't rush into anything.

Try looking at different models of boats and you can see the comparison of how they're setup. If you start getting interested in certain make/model, maybe join an owners group, research, ask questions if needed, etc. Research isn't going to stop even after you buy a boat. If you're a DIY kind of person, then looking up how repairs are done will take up quite a bit of time as will doing the work itself.

I probably wouldn't get hung up on how much work it is to maintain a boat. Every boat has projects to do from basic maintenance to a complete refurbish. Just find the best one that fits your budget and the size you want. When I first saw my boat, I saw immediately that it will need a lot of work and it was in a big mess so I kept it on a trailer to work on a year and a half after I bought it, had it in a local lake for one year and now hauled back out and going through a refit to fix/upgrade/replace things as needed so it's setup the way I want. There's still a lot of work to do but it'll be worth it in the end.

There are plenty of boats. If something doesn't look right, don't be afraid to walk away. You could fall in love with one boat only to end up walking away and into one in an even better shape/condition. Take your time and hope it all works out for you.

Best of luck to you.

Daniel
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah Scratch, that's pretty much what we are looking for, great pics, she's beautiful. Anyway fellas, we are going to be heading to Baltimore in an hour or so to get the party started. Great advice from everyone. Hopefully it goes well. One of my biggest fears is falling in love with a boat, and then a week later seeing an 18th century frigate sell for the same price. Or what I mean is, an even better boat in even better condition for less! But that is life, and why I know I need to really take my time on this one. Weather is not as cold and rainy today as predicted so hopefully it will be a good day. Talk to you all soon
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well we are back. This is what I saw or observed:
1. Universal diesel with 650 hours. Has not been winterized in three years.

2. The forward/reverse cable was jammed so the lever would not move.

3. Needs one new battery.

4. Boat had not been winterized in three years.

5. The helm pedestal wiggled maybe back and forth a 1/4 of an inch maybe a little more.

6. Head did not work.

7. Was not on the hard so was not able to see the bottom. It did need a cleaning though from what I could see. Hull was painted three years ago.

8. Spiderweb cracks on the port and starboard lockers. Some chips maybe an inch in diameter.

9. Wheel felt nice and smooth to turn.

10. Rigging looked good except the traveler and the furling sheet.

11. Bilge had some dark brown almost black water but he said the pumps worked.

This was my first time in a Catalina and I really liked the large beam. Very very roomy. Anyway, price is 11k. Was a good experience. Very nice guy. First boat I have ever looked at so it was not stressful. Asked good questions that you guys gave me. Thanks again
 

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Good observations.
The C30' cabin is huge compared to some 30 footers.
One item I have not seen mentioned is which version of the Catalina 30' is it? There is a std rig version, tall rig version, plus at least 1 shoal draft version. The tall rig version will be the better sailor.
What you have found is true on all boats. The more systems, the more there is to check, the more that can need fixing or go wrong.

To address your observations by #:
1. Which model of Universal diesel? 5411? 5432? what? HP matters. On the Chessy you may get away without winterizing, if you are lucky. Was the engine start-able?

2. Shift cable not working. If the cable itself is bad expect to pay over $100 to replace it. Teleflex cables aren't cheap.

3. Batteries wear out. No biggie here. Get 2 new batteries instead of one and enjoy worry free 12V power for about 7 years.

4. Not winterized? Was there a moldy smell to the boat? Some plumbing lines may be suspect if any water froze in them.

5. Binnacle had movement? Maybe a bolt or two need tightening or need backing plates down below. As long as it doesn't fall over you should be ok.

6. Head no worky. Not at all unusual given the non attention to winterizing. Head may need a rebuild kit or just replace entire head with new cheap Jabsco model, or model of your choice.

7. You may want to have the boat hauled so when you hire a surveyor they can easily see it.

8. Spiderweb cracks? Cosmetic.

9. Wheel smooth. Good.

10. Some lines (if not all) will need replacing from time to time.

11. Black water in a bilge is not a red flag, unless the engine is leaking oil (bad) or the holding tank plumbing has a leak (worse). You should be able to tell what is making it black by smelling & feeling the "water".


And remember $11K is an asking price. The seller should expect to have offers as much as 20% lower than his asking price, so $8,800 (unless something else is drastically wrong).

Well done teach!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thanks Caleb. We were really surprised at the roomy inside. I was also surprised at how big she looked from the helm. I have slept and sailed on a Hunter 28 and really enjoyed it. Was just shocked at the difference. Anyway, glad everything I listed does not seem out of the ordinary. I did forget one important thing. The main does not go up all of the way. The halyard stops I would say 4 to 4 and a half feet from where it is supposed to. Was not reefed, made sure. He said it's a recent problem and it first happened the last few times he went out. Inside did not have any musty smell, actually no smell at all. one of the starboard portholes leaks, so when it had rained in the past some water got on the wooden cabinet and is pretty cracked and distorted.
Was a little worried about the head but I was reading up on compost heads and they seem a lot more easier to deal with, though, BIG THOUGH, I could be completely wrong on that.

Again, very nice guy, very genuine, no pressure, he just wants to sell. So I guess I will spend another two or three months doing this and looking at boats and see what happens. Was actually much more fun than I thought it was going to be. Only downside was my gps took me through Baltimore LOL!

Oh yeah, she's a tall rig. not sure about the model number of the Universal. It came with the boat, 1985 year.
 

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I did say you'd notice quite a difference from the H28!..

Sounds like you're going about this the right way.. After looking at a half dozen different boats you'll have a better idea of what appeals to you both - then zone in on a couple of preferred models and start getting more detail oriented.

A usable Cat 30 for under $10K is a nice way to get into cruising and sailing!
 

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Daniel - Norsea 27
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It all adds to the experience. Good luck with the search.

For my thoughts of your findings, I wonder if the engine turned, weather by the starter or by hand (not seized/frozen in place)

The pedestal movement might be suspect. Maybe not sealed right, water could have penetrated. If it's cored (wood in between the fiberglass) then there could be a source of rot causing the movement. This should be checked along with the rest of the deck for soft spots. I haven't done a core job but from what I've read, it's just a tedious job.

Like Caleb said, maybe just a rebuild kit is all it needs. Then it could be due to other problems. I've heard one of the worst jobs is to clean up after someone else's crap (pun intended). I never used my head when I got the boat and good thing. When I ripped it out because I wanted a composting anyway, there was a 3" hole on the holding tank that was hidden from any possible inspection. Installing a composting head may take some work, I actually drilled a hole in my cabin top for a vent but I planned it well ahead of time that I had no issues with the installation.

You'll want to see the bottom of the boat you'll buy. You could see how much growth there is in case you need to get rid of an ecosystem, lol. You could (hopefully) see if there's damage from either blisters or being run aground. If there's a keel joint (keel bolted to the boat) you'll want to see if there's issues there too.

I would take a closer look at the bilge too to make sure you don't have any oil/fuel leaks that will cause hefty fines later.
 

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Well we are back. This is what I saw or observed:
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11. Bilge had some dark brown almost black water but he said the pumps worked.
I saw this a lot when I was looking. I suggest you bring a shop vac to your boat inspections and remove the water from the bilge so you can inspect it.

Why was this boat neglected for 3 years?

Where are you looking and where do you intend to sail?

In the Chesapeake, it is very much a buyer's market - you can't give away a used sailboat. Despite the news reports to the contrary, we are still in a down economy. There is no harm in taking your time. If anything, prices will drop further.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Scratch, I did not se that one. I was on craigslist last night sending some emails and not sure how I missed it.

James, the current owner bought it cheap from the original owner that had to move in a hurry. So he has just been sailing it every so often and did not maintain because it is a "pain in the arse" is what he said. Did not want to put anything in it because he knew he was not going to keep it. I am looking in the Maryland Chesapeake area. My intentions are to take what I learned from the summer courses and spend the next few years really learning how to sail.

So it looks like next weekend I will be going to the boat show, but then seeing a used Hunter 31. Then the following weekend a Morgan 34, and an Irwin 32. I will definitely giving you guys the heads up. I am hoping if I look every weekend, eventually I will find someone that will just hand a perfectly clean boat over to me and I will sail off with it as they wave from the dock. Reality check, I am hoping to keep looking and have a boat by spring. That's the plan. I really want to learn not only how to sail, but do what you guys do and become a DIY guy. SO perhaps spend much of the fall and winter reading.
 
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