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How about any other boat brands to consider? Or avoid?
That is getting into personal preference. Have you made a list of desirable/undesirable characteristics? That will help guide your choice.

Are you willing to put up the money for a well found boat, or are you willing to pay more over time in maintenance and sweat equity for a fixer-upper.

Honestly, as you are just getting started, your preferences are going to evolve quickly as you get on the water.

As for boats to avoid, they are the under-maintained dock-queens, no matter the brand.
 

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How about any other boat brands to consider? Or avoid?
This question is a bit of a conundrum. JeffH posted a list of suitable offshore yachts. There are many to choose from going back to the 80s.

You can't know what you need without some sort of experience. It's like a motor vehicle. All of them get you from here to there... but there are so many types to choose from... mini, compact, mid size, large sedan, station wagon, hatch back, compact SUV, full size SUV, convertible top, sports car, pick up truck (2 and 4 door), van, caravan.. and even motor cycles.

So... begin with your basic interior accommodation needs... this will include tanks and storage space. Bigger costs more so try to consider the smallest interior which is comfortable for you. And same for the cockpit.

Then you need to look at technical aspects... hull shape, keel form, steering system-rudder, sail plan and rig, anchoring system, running and standing rigging and deck hardware.

But in the end you can't evaluate anything unless you understand what you are looking at. You have some learning to do... and no one can do it for you. Sure an "expert" can lead you to a good boat.... using his experience and knowledge and his assumptions what would work for you. But then it's up to you... and you'll learn by "trial and error".
 

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Discussion Starter #65
That is getting into personal preference. Have you made a list of desirable/undesirable characteristics? That will help guide your choice.

Are you willing to put up the money for a well found boat, or are you willing to pay more over time in maintenance and sweat equity for a fixer-upper.

Honestly, as you are just getting started, your preferences are going to evolve quickly as you get on the water.

As for boats to avoid, they are the under-maintained dock-queens, no matter the brand.
Probably somewhere in between. Here also lies the problem.. .. finding that initial sweet spot of cost/value/. .. sooner to purchase or save up for possibly a better boat for later? .. and let's not forget over thinking vs underthinking?
 

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Probably somewhere in between. Here also lies the problem.. .. finding that initial sweet spot of cost/value/. .. sooner to purchase or save up for possibly a better boat for later? .. and let's not forget over thinking vs underthinking?
as far as "upgades" and systems go.... make a list of what you feel you need... eg pressure hot water... AP... stall shower... etc... what you don't want... eg tiller, hank on sails etc... anchoring is extremely important... you'll probably want a windlass with chain.

MAKE lists...
 

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@lovebluewater so I'll discuss a plan that worked well for me. Maybe it will help you shape yours.

Consider treating your first boat as a learning lab. Not the one to sail for years and years, or to entertain lots of people or take more than a long weekend trip. You're going to buy it, learn to sail, maintain, upgrade and repair it. Then sell it after maybe 4 years once you have developed a solid foundation and have a better idea what you like.

I purchased my first boat, a 26' keel boat in 2014, when I had about 12 hours of sailing experience (including about 6 hours of actual instruction), and had read Sailing for Dummies and a couple of other books (absolutely no exaggeration).I took my first ASA course in 2017 with about 280 sea days experience. The takeaway: You can spend money on sailing classes or spend money on a boat and learn to sail. There are some obvious advantages and disadvantages to each method.

When I purchased, I understood basic boat characteristics. I knew I wanted a fin keel, I knew I preferred a skeg. I thought I wanted a wheel but am happy with the tiller I ended up with. I did not understand the finer points (or even the rougher points) of assessing a boat's condition. As a result I purchased unidentified problems I would describe a deal breakers now. However, these problems forced me to make repairs, and learn. The takeaway: The boat will teach you, and she will teach you at her pace, not yours.

Your boat is not a financial investment, it is an expense. My purchase price was $1,500, including the trailer she sat on. I sold the trailer for $800 (roughly the cost of the chartplotter). When I sell in the next year or so, I plan to ask ~$7,500 (I won't get that). I've replaced all of the bulkheads, replaced running rigging, chainplates, floor, made deck repairs, rebedded almost everything, added a mainsheet traveler, run all the lines to the cockpit, added a deck winch, done a complete electrical refit and upgrade, rebuilt the fresh water system, and replaced the cushions, and a zillion other little things. The standing rigging is on this spring's to do list. I paid others to make the cushions and and laser cut the chain plates to my specs. I will NOT make any money on this boat, I will not even come close to breaking even. The takeaway: Your return on investment is in the knowledge, experience, and skills you will accumulate along the way.

Consider a 25-27' keel boat. Small enough to handle short or single hand. Big enough to comfortably take 4-5 guests out for a daysail. Keep systems to a minimum. You don't need hot running water, or refrigeration. You're learning to sail and keep the boat happy. You want an inboard diesel, not because that is what your 25-27' boat requires (an outboard will suffice). You want the inboard because the next larger boat will have one, and you want to understand that system before you upgrade. Remember, it's a learning lab.

The best way to learn sailing is to go sailing. The best way to sail whenever you want is to own the boat.

I hope this is helpful. It's just my experience and there are many more (and more experienced) perspectives here.
 

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Discussion Starter #68
I agree with this thinking for sure. I admire the work you did and i can see where.you gained a lot of education.
 

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@lovebluewater so I'll discuss a plan that worked well for me. Maybe it will help you shape yours.

Consider treating your first boat as a learning lab. Not the one to sail for years and years, or to entertain lots of people or take more than a long weekend trip. You're going to buy it, learn to sail, maintain, upgrade and repair it. Then sell it after maybe 4 years once you have developed a solid foundation and have a better idea what you like.

I purchased my first boat, a 26' keel boat in 2014, when I had about 12 hours of sailing experience (including about 6 hours of actual instruction), and had read Sailing for Dummies and a couple of other books (absolutely no exaggeration).I took my first ASA course in 2017 with about 280 sea days experience. The takeaway: You can spend money on sailing classes or spend money on a boat and learn to sail. There are some obvious advantages and disadvantages to each method.

When I purchased, I understood basic boat characteristics. I knew I wanted a fin keel, I knew I preferred a skeg. I thought I wanted a wheel but am happy with the tiller I ended up with. I did not understand the finer points (or even the rougher points) of assessing a boat's condition. As a result I purchased unidentified problems I would describe a deal breakers now. However, these problems forced me to make repairs, and learn. The takeaway: The boat will teach you, and she will teach you at her pace, not yours.

Your boat is not a financial investment, it is an expense. My purchase price was $1,500, including the trailer she sat on. I sold the trailer for $800 (roughly the cost of the chartplotter). When I sell in the next year or so, I plan to ask ~$7,500 (I won't get that). I've replaced all of the bulkheads, replaced running rigging, chainplates, floor, made deck repairs, rebedded almost everything, added a mainsheet traveler, run all the lines to the cockpit, added a deck winch, done a complete electrical refit and upgrade, rebuilt the fresh water system, and replaced the cushions, and a zillion other little things. The standing rigging is on this spring's to do list. I paid others to make the cushions and and laser cut the chain plates to my specs. I will NOT make any money on this boat, I will not even come close to breaking even. The takeaway: Your return on investment is in the knowledge, experience, and skills you will accumulate along the way.

Consider a 25-27' keel boat. Small enough to handle short or single hand. Big enough to comfortably take 4-5 guests out for a daysail. Keep systems to a minimum. You don't need hot running water, or refrigeration. You're learning to sail and keep the boat happy. You want an inboard diesel, not because that is what your 25-27' boat requires (an outboard will suffice). You want the inboard because the next larger boat will have one, and you want to understand that system before you upgrade. Remember, it's a learning lab.

The best way to learn sailing is to go sailing. The best way to sail whenever you want is to own the boat.

I hope this is helpful. It's just my experience and there are many more (and more experienced) perspectives here.
I like this approach... however...
My "journey" was different.
I started out with little knowledge and minuscule experience. I had a best friend (RIP) who was there to help me every step of the way. My first boat was to be a share with him... but it didn't work out.
I decided to proceed anyway and looked at used boats in the lower to mid 30s, None appealed to me as much as the two Contests I was exposed to.
My budget was driven by the "sharing deal" which required me to put up 50% which as I recall was between $60k and $75k.... admittedly a good budget for a starter boat. The used boats I saw were much less than this. But I could see with each of them a lot of spendy immediate upgrades.
I got a good deal with Contest which was fully equipped and ready to sail.... and new. I still had a survey done... which it passed of course. The surveyor clued me in to the fact that the boat was sound but needed upgrades and equipment for offshore. I like the idea that everything would be new from the get go. I bit the bullet. Financed half the purchase price and so my learning and upgrading began. Jack sailed with me every weekend that first summer.
I sailed the boat whenever I could... from early Spring until late Fall... in any and all weather... even once snowing when I was sailing back to winter storage.
As I learned the boat and how to sail it... I figured out the upgrades I needed and the sequence to do them. I attended sailing class and navigation, piloting and meteorology course as the NY Hayden Planetarium.
I took 5 years to complete the upgrades for "sailing off". This included:
below decks AP - Alpha 3000​
Loran C and then one of the first GPS (Trimble NavTrac)​
SSB​
RADAR​
battery monitor - Cruising Equipment w/ smart regulator​
Gas sensor & solenoid​
refrigeration (engine drive)​
cockpit cushions​
dodger upgrade to stainless steel bows & Sunbrella​
electric windlass & chain​
removable inner fore stay​
staysail mast track​
Dutchman sail flaking system​
Pro Furl roller furling​
storm sails​
replaced alum stanchion bases w/ stainless steel​
gale rider​
safety gear: jack lines, harnesses, MOB pole, life sling, horseshoe, PFDs, strobes, EPIRB, dye marker etc.​
foul weather gear​
life raft​
dinghy & OB​
2 solar panels​
Espar diesel forced air heating​
Groco Model K head​
cockpit shower​
various interior joinery projects / galley, head, aft cabin, V berth and salon storage​
I continued upgrades while cruising offshore and after I returned and sailed locally again in LIS and Southern NE... Many of the upgrades were replaced and there were repairs and maintenance of course:
new sails​
4 new winches (total 7 on deck)​
new windlass​
anchors & new chain​
engine repairs including added racors, high output alt w/ smart regulator)​
Electric (Link20 monitor, 8D AGMs, Optima start batt, new mains wiring, switches, fusing, new alternator, regularor)​
LED lighting - cabin & navigation​
new 110v system w/ 5 sockets​
running rigging​
standing rigging & life lines​
teak grates for cockpit and shower​
teak slat benches for cockpit​
dodger canvas​
cockpit canvas​
interior upholstery​
more interior joinery (re built nav station)​
electronics (GPS-MFD plotters, radar, VHF, AIS, fluxgate compass)​
And things I can't remember.

I have owned only one boat. It's a quality boat from a builder of excellent reputation and the resale value is good... but one never recovers the cost of upgrades... which were labors of love and necessary IMO.

Lots of money... lots of learning... lots of experiences which were priceless... and money well spent... and I have a beautiful boat to show for it!
 

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Discussion Starter #71
Help!... So a hunter 31 1984 has caught my eye. Enough so that I have spoken to the owner. For what it's worth, the owner seemed honest, and told me the few things that will need attention. It will need a bottom job.The owner is telling me of all the care that she and her husband have given this boat.. I am inclined to believe she is being honest. I am willing to make the 4 hr drive to Florida to check out the boat. I'm researching like crazy anything and everything I can think of. The owner will meet us, and even take us out for a sail ( weather permitting) as a pre-survey. ( Yes, I will get a survey!!) I have so many questions-- I'm writing them all down. One big question I have is --- since I am so new to sailing, I might need to hire someone to sail my boat ( if I purchase it) from Niceville Florida to ultimately Lake Ponchartrain -- or Gulfport.. Any one know how much something like that would cost?
 

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Discussion Starter #74
If you could post a link to the ad for the boat (is it being publicly advetised yet?) it would help people to give advice.

It's also listed on Yatchworld
 

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Discussion Starter #75
Any thoughts? I can take criticism if this is a bad idea? I'm trying to consider all costs-- including transporting/sailing it from Niceville Florida to Slidell La. --- My initial searches look pricey.
 

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Any thoughts? I can take criticism if this is a bad idea? I'm trying to consider all costs-- including transporting/sailing it from Niceville Florida to Slidell La. --- My initial searches look pricey.
I think you'll find (or maybe have already found) road transport is prohibitive - you also need to factor hauling out and dropping the mast, then putting it back in the water and having the mast re-stepped. No idea what kind of a trip that would be by water.
 

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200 miles is a 2ish day trip straight through, or 3-4ish in daylight. I don't know prices in FL, but a good delivery skipper up here is running near $400 per day, plus provisions and transportation back. The good news is that 200 miles is easily driven, so you either personally drive them back, or rent a car one way for them.

You should go with them, if you can find a skipper that's good with that. You'll learn your boat inside and out. If you're not experienced enough to be helpful, they'll want to bring a mate. The mate can sometimes be free (other than provisions and transport), but most often about half the cost of the skipper.

Be sure your insurance covers the boat with someone else piloting it, if you're not aboard.
 
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200 miles is a 2ish day trip straight through, or 3-4ish in daylight. I don't know prices in FL, but a good delivery skipper up here is running near $400 per day, plus provisions and transportation back. The good news is that 200 miles is easily driven, so you either personally drive them back, or rent a car one way for them.

You should go with them, if you can find a skipper that's good with that. You'll learn your boat inside and out. If you're not experienced enough to be helpful, they'll want to bring a mate. The mate can sometimes be free (other than provisions and transport), but most often about half the cost of the skipper.

Be sure your insurance covers the boat with someone else piloting it, if you're not aboard.
As a delivery captain I require that the owner submit me to the insurance company as an authorized vessel operator and I believe this is a common solution to the vessel insurance issue.

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