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Discussion Starter #1
Now that the snow is (nearly) gone, I've been checking out local boats every chance I get. Over the winter, I read Casey's Inspecting the Aging Sailboat, and I am taking every opportunity to get better at inspection. I think I've looked at about a dozen in the last two weeks.

I'm planning on daysailing/drysailing, singlehanded about 50% of the time, and for a variety of reasons specific to my circumstances, I will be purchasing locally, by which I mean within a 4 hour driving radius of Minneapolis.

I'm finding that I am most interested in boats in the 16-19' range, and have found that I like the idea of a small cabin, if not for overnighting, at least for an occasional mid-sail nap. Two issues keep coming up as I look:

1. Mast stepping. If I good 5-10 yr old Suncat/Sunday Cat or similar comes around locally, I will likely jump on it. There is a price to be paid for quick-rigging, but given my plans, I think it is probably worth paying. Unfortunately, I am in Minnesota, and the only one I have found so far was a total piece of work. Among the contenders so far, I've looked at several WWP's, a Sanibel (same rig) and today, a Precision 18. The prospect of stepping even these small sloops solo strikes me as a little daunting, and have convinced me to ignore the inevitable chorus of replies telling me that I need a larger boat. If anything, I'd move down.

2. Centerboards. Everything I'm inspecting is on a trailer. Although I've crawled under every boat that looked promising, I can't get a good sense for the functional condition of the CB because I have no opportunity to lower it. The P18 owner today said that he never, in five years, lowered his (even at the dock) because he never felt the need. I took that as a bit of a red flag, although the boat otherwise seemed solid.

The choices so far this season have been very limited, but I think I'm getting closer to being able to confidently purchase a boat. I welcome any wisdom the forum has on boats meeting the criteria below, and how to get a better sense of CB's and/or retractable keels, which seem nearly ubiquitous in this class.

Criteria:

1. Trailer sailing/daysailing. Sailboat will be rigged, de-rigged and stored every time out.
2. Towing weight 2000# or less, easy off the trailer (sorry Cape Dory's, I love you, but...)
3. Comfortable sailing for 2, ideally for 4 on occasion
4. Non-project boat. I'll happily maintain and do minor repairs, but I don't have any experience working with fiberglass.
5. Small cuddy/cabin: enough for storage, a portapotty and possibly a brief nap.
6. 5k-15k, obviously expecting more out of the more expensive boats.
 

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bell ringer
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I think I've looked at about a dozen in the last two weeks.
You have already looked at more boats than I have in my lifetime. If you can't decide what you want how do you expect a bunch on internet strangers to?

Get the one that just gives a "good feeling"
 

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If you are looking to trailer and daysail, I agree that a small boat that is easy to rig is VERY important. And stepping the mast solo is not trivial, so should be looked at carefully. Many years ago when I first got into sailing, I trailered a 14 foot daysailer (Jet 14) and my wife (then girlfriend) and I would rig and unrig it each time we used it. It was a lot of work for a few hours on the water. Staying small is a good idea.

As to the centerboard question, I do not understand the seller that says he never used his. I guess he never went upwind? Yes, inspecting the CB while on the trailer is not going to reveal all potential issues. Less of a problem with a true CB, more of a problem with a swing keel.
 

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Lake Sailor
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Hello,

My first boat was a Catalina 22. It had the swing keel and we trailer sailed it the first season. After 5 or so rig, launch, sail, recover, de-rig, trailer home, we had the procedure down. It still took a solid hour of work marina arrival to sailing, and another hour when we were done. The next year we got a mooring and that was much more fun.

So, if you must trailer the boat I would stick with something in the 16-18 size. The only trailerable boat I am familiar with is the Catalina, so I can't help too much with the boats you have identified. I can tell you that I was able to rig and un rig the Cat 22 by myself. The hardest part was stepping the mast. I made a mast crutch that supported the mast while I pinned it in the mast step. Then I used the trailer winch to raise the mast. I'm sure you would be able to do something similar with any boat you buy.

The Precision 18 seems like a nice boat. Regarding the centerboard, I don't know what could really go wrong with it. it's just a fiberglass foil.

Here's what's on the Precision site:
The board itself weighs only 65 pounds so that it does not form a major portion of the total ballast, stability is not dangerously reduced when it is retracted, and it can be raised easily by a child with no need for a winch.

I would definitely want the board down when sailing upwind. i suggest that you make the seller demonstrate the centerboard function. Perhaps he can jack up the rear of the boat when on the trailer and lower the board a few inches? Or agree to hold back some of the purchase price until you are able to launch the boat and check the centerboard yourself.

Good luck,
Barry
 

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S2 7.9 Bear Lake, UT
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For ease of launching and retrieving consider a Potter or Montgomery 15. The size of the mast and rigging means you could rig and launch the boat solo in under half an hour. At around 19 feet you start needing a gin pole setup or one or two more hands to get the mast up in any wind.
 

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Master Mariner
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Well, if "The P18 owner today said that he never, in five years, lowered his (even at the dock) because he never felt the need.", I'm guessing he never took her out of the slip and actually sailed the boat; he probably just motored about. Chances are there's so much gunk up in the board housing that the board won't even come down.
If I was shopping board boat, I'd tow them to the nearest yard hand have them lift the boat in the slings so you can lower the board and make sure everything works fine and see that the board is in good condition. It is quite possible to run a board into a rock or somesuch and you'd never know if it was damaged until it broke while you were using it. Also, check for poor repair jobs that might hinder the board's ability to go up and down easily. And check the cabling.
You will want to fill the boat with some inches of water to ensure the centerboard trunk doesn't leak around where it attaches to the hull if you are not launching the boat. Many board trunks leak and this could be the reason why you are getting a good price.
You say you don't mind a bit of DIY work on a boat, but stick to the esthetic things and not extensive difficult fiberglass repairs on a centerboard trunk or board for your fisrt time out.
 
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If the boat is a keel center board design it's not surprising he didn't feel the need to drop the board. The shallow keel will give some resistance to leeway hard on the wind and plenty enough for all other points of sail. Have a much larger keel/center board board and only use the center board hard on the wind and then only when I remember to drop it. If the boat is flat bottomed with no stub keel, I would take the P18s owner comments about never using the board with a grain of salt. A swing keel boat, especially, needs the keel down and locked in position for ballast. For what it's worth, Columbia made a trailerable boat with a very shallow keel and NO center board. Boat sailed well enough though it was't going to win any races hard on the wind without a center board.

Take Capta's guidance on evaluating a c/b boat on the trailer. Center boards are extremely simple devices with little more than a pivot pin and some way to raise it. There could be issues with the trunk, etc but Capta details how to check them out on the trailer.
 

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Sounds like you are on the right track to me. Easy to launch, easy to rig, a cabin to sit out a rain storm in.

Sounds like you just need to wait for the right boat to come on the market.

There are a lot of nice trailer sailers that size. Siren 17s, Sandpipers and Nordica 16s are all nice Canadian boats which can often be found in the northern states.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You have already looked at more boats than I have in my lifetime. If you can't decide what you want how do you expect a bunch on internet strangers to?

Get the one that just gives a "good feeling"
The fact that I seek the opinion of others does not mean that I am ruled by it. You ought to give it a try.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by how many people think that one should make major purchase decisions on impulse, but I still am.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sounds like you are on the right track to me. Easy to launch, easy to rig, a cabin to sit out a rain storm in.

Sounds like you just need to wait for the right boat to come on the market.

There are a lot of nice trailer sailers that size. Siren 17s, Sandpipers and Nordica 16s are all nice Canadian boats which can often be found in the northern states.
I think you are right. I think most folks who have waited through the winter to sell a boat are probably patient enough to present it cleanly to optimize selling price. The snow isn’t even gone, and it’s still muddy as a stable.

The P18 I looked at yesterday was tempting other than the inability of the seller to even vouch for the centerboard, and if I believed it was the best chance I’m going to get all season, I might have made an offer. I don’t believe that. Regarding Sandpipers, I’ve never seen the Canadian version, although the Marshall catboat of the same name would be ideal.

Do you happen to know what the customs rate is on bringing a boat across from Canada to the US? I know Canada charges a 10% tariff on new boats heading in the other direction.

It seems to me that there is an exponential increase in difficulty of solo mast stepping as one goes from 15 (painless), to 17 (ok), to 19 (challenging) to 21 (forbidding). We only did it once a season, so we never really worked out a mechanically assisted method, but raising the mast on my father’s Johnson C-scow was also a bit of a balancing act. Doing that every time out would not be conducive to sailing often.
 

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I think you are right. I think most folks who have waited through the winter to sell a boat are probably patient enough to present it cleanly to optimize selling price. The snow isn’t even gone, and it’s still muddy as a stable.

The P18 I looked at yesterday was tempting other than the inability of the seller to even vouch for the centerboard, and if I believed it was the best chance I’m going to get all season, I might have made an offer. I don’t believe that. Regarding Sandpipers, I’ve never seen the Canadian version, although the Marshall catboat of the same name would be ideal.

Do you happen to know what the customs rate is on bringing a boat across from Canada to the US? I know Canada charges a 10% tariff on new boats heading in the other direction.

It seems to me that there is an exponential increase in difficulty of solo mast stepping as one goes from 15 (painless), to 17 (ok), to 19 (challenging) to 21 (forbidding). We only did it once a season, so we never really worked out a mechanically assisted method, but raising the mast on my father’s Johnson C-scow was also a bit of a balancing act. Doing that every time out would not be conducive to sailing often.
I am not sure what the customs rate is, but I do know the exchange rate is very favourable for you right now.

Btw, I trailer sail a 21 foot boat solo, launch every time I sail. It's great way to go, provided you chose a boat with a good mast raising system and variable draft. Mine has a mast tabernacle system, something fairly similar to Compacs system. The tabernacle system makes it very easy. My 21 foot boat mast with tabernacle is much easier to step than my 16 foot boat with mast hinge at the base.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think you said you already had been out to Hooper's but, did you see the Sanibel 18 (maybe that is the one you looked at with the WWP) or the COM-PAC SUN CAT 17? Each seems to fit your requirements.

http://www.hoopersyachts.com/Index.cfm?PageID=11&usedboatid=2528

http://www.hoopersyachts.com/Index.cfm?PageID=11&usedboatid=4706
I like Hooper’s a lot. It’s a good place to kick a lot of tires in the same afternoon. I have been out a few times and looked at everything that interests me, but I’ll definitely be open to looking again as the inventory rolls over if I haven’t found a match by then.

The Sanibel was in good shape. The not-quite-so-center board design sounds quirky on paper, but in fact it makes for a nice little cabin layout. Not worth $12k, but at the right price it could be an option.

I preferred the design of the Suncat, but the one there was a mess. Generally not maintained and there was moisture around the port side chainplate soaking the nearby trim boards inside to pudding. As a $2000 project boat? Possibly. For $10k? Pass.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I would definitely want the board down when sailing upwind. i suggest that you make the seller demonstrate the centerboard function. Perhaps he can jack up the rear of the boat when on the trailer and lower the board a few inches? Or agree to hold back some of the purchase price until you are able to launch the boat and check the centerboard yourself.
Honestly, I’m going to pass on the P18 because it isn’t my ideal boat and I think options will broaden soon, but pushing for a test-sail on an iffy boat is an excellent suggestion. Thank you.
 

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It seems to me that there is an exponential increase in difficulty of solo mast stepping as one goes from 15 (painless), to 17 (ok), to 19 (challenging) to 21 (forbidding). We only did it once a season, so we never really worked out a mechanically assisted method, but raising the mast on my father’s Johnson C-scow was also a bit of a balancing act. Doing that every time out would not be conducive to sailing often.
I think it depends more on how the mast is setup than on the size of the boat.

On my Catalina 22 I can lower the mast alone and only need someone to hold a line for a minute while I raise it.

Conversely I have a friend with a 17’ boat and it’s an absolute squirrel circus every time she raises or lowers her mast. It takes like five people and I’ve seen them drop it once.

And I hear you on the C. I sail 16' MCs on Lake Harriet and it is more work to raise those little masts than it is on my 22’.

I love the Compac system. I’ve never used it, but I’ve watched a guy that brings his to Lake Nokomis and it looks so slick.
 

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Gemini 105Mc
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I won't make any comments to the OP, it seems he has picked out a few boats he likes and will end up with one of them. However, to those talking about stepping a mast. Here is my video of my Catalina 25, almost 11 years ago, doing it by myself.....

 

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Gemini 105Mc
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Sorry, don't understand she? What the heck does that mean?

Opps you meant She as in her, sorry about that.........
 

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\ Have a much larger keel/center board board and only use the center board hard on the wind and then only when I remember to drop it. ues with the trunk, etc but Capta details how to check them out on the trailer.
If this is actually the case you are missing out on many of the benefits of a centerboard boat. A centerboard is not just for hard on the wind but can be used to balance the boat (take away lee or weather helm) on any point of sail, slow the rolling motion running downwind and give you a much better turning point when running in heavier weather. It is not an all or nothing proposition, but something someone with a board should play around with every bit as much as the sheets.
As a liveaboard, we get more use out of the board at anchor to stabilize us in rolly anchorages than we do for making the boat go to weather better. Of course, it is nice to stick that thing all the way down (10.5 feet) and damn the balance when it's blowing over 25 knots in 6 to 8-foot seas and we are hard on the wind. lol
 
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