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I am looking for some advice on selecting a used sailboat for my family. This will be my first sailboat purchase but not my first sailing experience. I sailed an 18ft Laser several dozen times many years ago and enjoyed it very much. Now that I can afford a decent sailboat I want to get back into it and share it with my wife and kids.

I am looking for a fiberglass sloop not older than 1980 and under $75,000. The problem is that in order to get the 6'6" headroom I want and need down below I am forced to go to a much larger boat than one would normally choose for a first sailboat. Unfortunately there are not many boats than can provide that kind of headroom and still fall into my budget. I did find a few "project" boats but I don't want to go that rout. It needs to be almost ready to sail and of course have no major problems that are found during a survey.

I would like to purchase the shortest sailboat in my price range that will give me at least 6'6" headroom without going over my budget. So far I have only found 1 boat that meets this criteria. Here is a link to it. I am considering this boat but I am still looking of course.
It seems like the older boats don't have as much headroom as the newer boats of the same size and I have no idea why that is. If I could afford it I would buy a newer, shorter boat with the headroom I need and I would be happy with that. Not very many boats list the headroom and some have listed it incorrectly as well.

yachtworld.com/boats/1989/Beneteau-Oceanis-500-2633626/Rochester/NY/United-States

The only thing I don't like about this boat is no cabin heater, lots of hours on the engine, and a stand-up nav station but that certainly wouldn't be a deal breaker for me.

I have ruled out boats outside of the US just because of the transportation cost and the amount of time in saltwater which leaves some uncertainty in my mind. Mostly because I can't afford to travel all over to inspect boats and I also don't have the time either.

All of my family is very tall so the headroom is very important to me. My mother is 5'11, my dad is 6'4", 2 of my sisters are 6'1" and the other is 5'10"(the short one in the family). My brother-in law is 6'7", my 12yo is 5'5" already and still growing, my 6yo is 4'2", my 4yo is 3'2 and alot of my friends are also over 6'. Obviously long beds and lots of headroom for living aboard is a must.

Headroom and long beds isn't the only thing I am looking for though. It needs to be fairly roomy, easy to sail, with nothing major needed to be done to it to make it seaworthy, and if it all possible not need any majorly expensive things in the future. I can do most repairs that don't require a high degree of skill myself and I am in pretty good physical condition. I don't think lifting heavy sails on a big boat would be a problem for me and I would most likely have some help as well. The one thing that I really like that comes with a longer boat is that I can go faster than the shorter boats because of the hull length, and I love to go fast. A fast would is great too but not a must.

I also need to figure out if it would be cheaper to pay someone to sail the boat here and put them on a plane to go home, or to take the mast down and put it on a trailer and have it driven here on a truck. I just want to know the entire cost of getting it here before I make a decision on a boat because for a big boat it will be a significant chunk of change to get it here.

I probably won't be making a decision until a few months from now. I am hoping to find a boat that is on the great lakes that has already been hauled out for the winter. This is because it will save me several hundered bucks to have it hauled out for a survey because the owner will have already done it. Any ideas and advice on finding the right boat for me and my family will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Brian
 

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In Duluth, MN the sailing season is what, 3 months? You sure you need that much head room for such short time? Most boats can get 6'4" headroom, which would be more practical in every other way. You are most likely talking 40+ foot boat and these are not cheap, even if made in early 80's. My approach would be to visit a few marinas with brokerage so you can take a first hand look at various boats. That will give you a feel for the size and cost of boats out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The sailing season is about 6 months here. The winters aren't as long as you would think. What if I want to take it to Philadelphia to visit the in-laws or to NYC to visit my sister? I don't think I could live on a boat with only 6'4" headroom for that long. I addition to that I believe that the beds would also be shorter as well so my feet would be hanging off the end or I would be in the fetal position which wouldn't be quite as bad.

Nevertheless comfort is a big deal for me and I will continue my search at the local marinas and see what it is really like down below. Around here it's rare to see a sailboat over 40ft but at least it will give me a better idea of what it's really like in cramped quarters.
 

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The sailing season is about 6 months here.
Six months would be May 1st to October 31st. That's an extremely ambitious schedule; I don't know anyone who sails Superior that early or that late. Most people have a five or even four month season.

What if I want to take it to Philadelphia to visit the in-laws or to NYC to visit my sister?
That's also quite ambitious! :)


You could drive over to Bayfield, Wisconsin and look at the boats for sale at Pike's Bay/Port Superior. There are some bigger boats there. I know Superior Charters has a 44' and a 49' from their charter fleet for sale. And no transportation costs! Just sail it back to Duluth.

You could also charter a boat from them so you could get a feel for how much space you really need.
 

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You folks don't think out of the box....
A Catalina 25 Tall rig with a pop top will fit his bill quite NICELY...
WHY? Cause the pop top goes up... he can stand there, and the boat is trailerable to PHILA.

Done...

Your welcome.

PS: The berths are 6'6"...

I only slightly jest but headroom isn't what many think it's supposed to be. Comes down to HOW you use your boat.
 

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My thoughts, for what they're worth...

That 50' Beneteau is an awful lot of boat, for someone's first... Way too much, IMHO... Especially for a sailing ground like Lake Superior...

Placing such a high priority on headroom is misguided, in my view... And certainly not a good reason for going for something larger than you really want, or need... Furthermore, there is rarely any direct correlation between headroom, and the length of the berths aboard, 6' 6" seems to be pretty standard even on many boats of relatively modest size...


Headroom and long beds isn't the only thing I am looking for though. It needs to be fairly roomy, easy to sail, with nothing major needed to be done to it to make it seaworthy, and if it all possible not need any majorly expensive things in the future.
In that event, you might want to steer clear of a boat with 8,000+ hours on the engine... ;-)

The one thing that I really like that comes with a longer boat is that I can go faster than the shorter boats because of the hull length, and I love to go fast.
Sounding more and more like you might be better off with a powerboat... In the larger scheme of things, I've never considered the difference between "Slow", and "Fast", to roughly equate the difference between 6, or 7 knots... ;-)

Nevertheless comfort is a big deal for me and I will continue my search at the local marinas and see what it is really like down below. Around here it's rare to see a sailboat over 40ft but at least it will give me a better idea of what it's really like in cramped quarters.
Perhaps something like a week's charter aboard a mid-sized boat in the BVIs would be a more productive means of sorting that stuff out?

What if I want to take it to Philadelphia to visit the in-laws or to NYC to visit my sister?
Do you have any idea what such a trip involves? I recently ran this boat out to Ohio... Trust me, by the time you've unstepped the rig, and locked through for the 35th time, one of those stinkpots with headroom to spare might be sounding pretty good...

;-)





I don't think I could live on a boat with only 6'4" headroom for that long.
Seriously, if that is indeed the case, then perhaps living aboard might not be for you...

Oh, and for the record, I'm 6' 5", myself...

;-)
 

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Oh, and for the record, I'm 6' 5", myself...

;-)
I think to stay constructive since you are close to the the same height, what is the headroom in your 30 foot boat? You are able to live aboard for months at a time. As to the idea of taking it to Philidelphia I think he may not really understand how slow sailboats are.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks to everyone for all the good advice! There are certainly some things to consider that I didn't think about initially.

I will definitely head up to Bayfield, WI and see what I can find. I will also do some research on the Catalina 25 as well. Maybe headroom shouldn't be my biggest priority at this point in time. I might have to rethink that one. I will see how it is on some boats with less than 6'6" and see how I do before I base my decision only on the space below.

I never actually calculated the difference in speed between different hull lengths so maybe it's not as big of a difference as I was thinking it would be.

I do know that sailboats are slow and going to NYC or Philly in it was kind of something on my wish list that I might want to do if I had the time. I know it would probably be a couple weeks to get there and a couple weeks to get back again. Just wishful thinking at this point in time for something I would like to do in the years ahead without getting another boat in the meantime.

I am not interested in a power boat at this time and will probably get a Crestliner if I feel the need to go fast. I will be getting a sailboat sometime in the near future after some more research is done so I can make a better decision on what will work for me and my family.

Maybe someone else will chime in on what a shorter boat with good headroom might be. I just want to make sure that I will be happy with the boat that I purchase and not curse it every time I go below or use a berth. It needs to be enjoyable for everyone!

What's the best way to be absolutely sure that I have chosen the right boat when the time comes?
 

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You really just need to get on a bunch and see what you like. Keep in mind most of your time will be sitting. But you will want to see if you can move around in the head (bathroom) enough to use it. It will be the smallest place. And if you cook much check out the galley. The Catalina 25 has a small section that pops up like the old VW campers did and has canvas sides.

Also keep in mind age is not all that important it is all about condition! A well maintained 50 year old boat may well be a better buy than a 15 year old boat that has been abused.

Sent from my XT1080 using Tapatalk
 

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I think to stay constructive since you are close to the the same height, what is the headroom in your 30 foot boat? You are able to live aboard for months at a time.
Funny you should ask, I've never even bothered to measure it... My guess would have been about 6' 2", as I have a very shallow bilge and what appears to be pretty decent headroom for a 30-footer...

However, having just gone out and measured it, turns out it's not even 6'... More like about 5' 10", even less as you move outboard...

Damn, and for almost 20 years I've thought the headroom on my boat was adequate, little did I know...

;-)

As to the idea of taking it to Philidelphia I think he may not really understand how slow sailboats are.
Yeah, I think "a couple of weeks" each way might be a bit 'optimistic'... ;-)

The trip I just did out to Vermillion, I departed Annapolis early on a Thursday, and entered Lake Erie the following Friday around midday... That's moving along at a pretty good clip that exceeds what most cruisers would be maintaining when making the trip for pleasure, running through most of the night heading up the Hudson, maxing out the operating hours of the canal, and being very fortunate with the timing of a few critical locks... Nor does that account for any time spent un-stepping/re-stepping the rig, the mast was on deck the entire way...

For most folks, western Lake Superior to NYC or Philly and return would likely involve an entire summer, at least to do it 'right', and actually see some of the sights along the way...

;-)
 

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Mr. cthoops is 6'4", so I get the fact that headroom is important to you. He also insisted on full standing headroom which, as you are discovering, severely limits your options when you're looking for a boat under 40'.

I would suggest that you actually get on some boats and see if headroom continues to be your number one priority. In our case, as we went on different boats, Mr. cthoops eventually realized that there were other factors that were more important. We ended up with a Bristol 29.9 which has 6'2"/6'3" headroom and he is thrilled with the boat.

Good luck.
 

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Yeah, I think "a couple of weeks" each way might be a bit 'optimistic'... ;-)

For most folks, western Lake Superior to NYC or Philly and return would likely involve an entire summer, at least to do it 'right', and actually see some of the sights along the way...

;-)
My way STILL gets him to PHILLY in a couple of hours. There are certainly plusses to owning a trailerable... that is one of them.
 

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Perhaps you should find a broker to act your behalf. Ask him to find boats that meet your criteria (if they exist - that is a lot of headroom). The buyer's broker is paid by the seller - the two brokers split the commission so it would not cost you anything other than the fact that you are limited to boats being sold by a broker, which would be most boats in your price range.
 

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Wouldn't some older cruising catamarans fit the bill here? I know the salons are a bit more spacious than on older monohulls. That would also address the speed question, and if one doesn't care about trailering, etc., it's a worthwhile consideration. Not sure what would be required to get inside of the $75,000 budget on a cat that was in good enough shape to be long-term reliable, or big enough to liveaboard with a whole family... but then, what is there that's safe, huge inside, perfectly reliable, and big enough for a family of adults to live aboard together for that price? I'd be curious myself :)
 

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You might want to have a look at a Bavaria 37 cruiser. The most headroom I ever encountered on a charter boat was in a 2006 model of that kind. never seen that again, neither on older nor newer years nor other european brands I usually charter.
And I found it to sail quite well and comfortably, as well as good for small crew (we were 2)
I'm not sure about the US market, but in Europe you have plenty of those, especially ex charter tboats, as hey run reliantly in charter all over the med and baltic in great numbers. One of those might suit your budget.
beeing 6' 5" (196 cm), headroom has alway been an issue for me as well and certainly will be, when it comes to finding "my" boat for extended cruising one day. I do not make it priority no. 1 when chartering, though...

The picture attached is me in that boat 5 years ago. Its still running in charter here:

:| not allowed to post links, yet...

good luck, curious how this will turn out for you.

v.v
 

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Just a quick comment about something you asked. When will you know you've picked the right boat? For me it was the moment I stepped on my second one. Then, the day after signing the paperwork, I wished I would have looked at some other boats. lol!

Something else to think about headroom wise. I'm 6 ft even. My boat is advertised as 5'11" headroom. And that's the case when I first go below standing dead center of the cabin. All I have to do is slightly incline my head and I'm fine. As I move to either side or forward it gets less and less. The kicker - I hardly notice. The small amount I have to move my head doesn't bother me at all. My first boat was barely 5 foot of headroom and I hated it. I was always hunched over. My current one, doesn't bother me at all having to simply move my head. I think you'll be surprised when you see a couple of inches isn't that big of a deal.

The advice you've gotten here has been great. Go look at boats. When you're down below think about the actual time you'll be spending down there. Mostly you'll be sitting or laying down. While underway you'll be on deck or in the cockpit (if not, you're doing it wrong). The two most important headroom spaces are the galley and the head - at least in my opinion.

Have fun looking! I had a blast doing it. I ended up with a solid boat that needed a lot of little things fixed or updated. I don't regret it at all. The work brought me closer to the boat and made it feel more mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for all the great feedback on the headroom issue! After rethinking it I have decided NOT to make it my main priority and I have also decided that a 40ft will be the largest that I will consider buying. I think I will be very happy with something in the 35ft-40ft range.

I did some more research asking sellers about headroom and found 2 different models made by Hunter that should work out pretty good for me and my family as far as headroom and price are concerned. They are the Hunter 37.5 and the Hunter 40.5. There was only 1 40.5 that I found listed for sale at $75,000 and several 37.5 boats for sale about $10,000-$15,000 less than the 40.5. The newer ones are usually more expensive and out of my price range compared to the older models which is true for most boats.

I like the way things are laid out, the way they look, and the amount of room there is down below. I haven't found anything yet that I don't like about them but I am sure something will come up once I actually see them in person. As far as I can tell there isn't much difference from one year to the next for those of them built in the 90's. The year doesn't really matter to me as long as it is sound and functional.

Now what I need to do is to actually go below on both of them and see what makes the most sense for me. Supposedly the headroom is about the same in both of them. Mostly 6'6" and down to 6' in some places.

I am leaving for a 2 week vacation to Philadelphia in a few days so hopefully I will find the time to check them out while I am there. If not I will just have to travel to the nearest ones to where I live.

Does anyone have any pros or cons about these boats that they could share with me? Any Hunter 40.5 or 37.5 owners care to chime in about their own experiences with these boats? Is there any reasons why I should or shouldn't buy one of these boats? How much difference is there between the 37.5 and the 40.5 other than length and width?
 

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You are on the right track.

I am 6'6" and the only place I can stand up fully is at the bottom of the companionway steps. I also had "height" as high up on my list and it gradually got wore down to where I didn't really care. In the galley I have to lean my head forward (unless we are heeling to port, then I have LOTS of head room!). Most of the time you are sitting or sleeping. One thing is to make sure there is a place to hang your feet off. The amidships bunks on mine are not quite tall enough for me to lie flat, but the fore and aft cabins are both long enough that I have quite a lot of space.

My boat actually has tons of space for a 35 (maybe more than any other 35), so I am guessing you may be headed closer to 40 than 35 to meet some of your height requirements. Just look at a LOT of boats. It's like a woman...you'll know the right one when you are on her...

Or as I heard of another sailor mention: "If you want headroom, go out on deck". Good Luck!
 
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