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Advanced beginner
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm trying to narrow down my search for my first sailboat, and could use some advice.

I'm looking for a good first sailboat for a young couple. We are mostly interested in sailing and weekending on the boat in the Chesapeake Bay. We don't have any children but would like to occassionally take friends out to sail. Ideally, we'd like something simple to sail with simple systems to maintain as we are both fairly new to sailing (we've taken lessons and practiced largely on Flying Scots). We plan to keep the boat at a marina and do not need a trailerable boat. We have saved $9000.

I've spent the last few weeks combing through Craigslist, Yacht World, etc. It's already clear I could spend every weekend through November inspecting potentially worthy boats in my price range, so I'd like to narrow it down. Would my outdoorsy girlfriend be so cramped in a 22' Catalina that I should cross it off the list from the start? Are all 30' boats in my price range going to need too much work to make them worth the effort? Is there a shorter list of relatively seaworthy and roomy 24'-27' tiller-steered good-value sailboats that I should concentrate my search on? Should I forego ads and instead spend my weekends hanging around marinas finding out if any good boats may be going on the market?

Any suggestions to help me narrow down my choices would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for your advice
 

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Apropos of Nothing
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Spend some time walking the boat yards. Bert Jabin's in Annapolis is huge and has a million boats for sale. There are also a couple of brokers and dealers in the marina, so they can show you onto the boats.

Some of the new boat dealers have open-houses where they open up all of their used brokerage boats in addition to showing off the new models. With this economy, the open houses are being done more frequently. There are several events in Annapolis where the dealers collaborate and offer shuttles around to the various yards that keep their used boat inventories. Call up the Annapolis Catalina or Hunter dealer and ask about those events. Annapolis Yacht Sales is the Beneteau dealer. They also have a bunch of Beneteau and non-Beneteau used boats for sale.

You won't really know until you check out some boats in person. I think 27-30+ feet is a great size for a first Bay boat. Big enough to not mind the Bay's chop so much, small enough to handle without a problem.

I wouldn't forego any data source. The more ideas you have, the better. But don't be afraid to call a broker and ask them to show you their used inventory.

Good luck!
 

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AEOLUS II
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Here's my look at our boat, an O'Day 272

http://www.sailnet.com/boatchk/showproduct.php?product=1312&sort=2&cat=444&page=2

There is much more room in this boat than a Catalina 25, and I thought it superior to the Catalina 27.

Either of those are plentiful and would also be reasonable choices also however.

Each time the winds blow 15+ or seas approach 2ft+ I'm very happy to be on a 27' instead of a 22'!!
 

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I bought my Pearson 30 last year for a very resonable price (60% of asking price and very close to your number). It did not need anything. I had it launched and sailed it around the Bay for several hours.

Just because someone is asking $15K for a boat does not mean you have to avoid it. You can offer less. Keep in mind that you will want a survey and you will probably want to do a few small things to the boat. I would plan for 15% of the purchase price to cover this stuff.

No matter what you do, do not settle for a boat you are not enthused about. It took me 6 months to find the right boat. I was ready to give up for the year until my wife talked me into looking at one more Pearson 30. I am glad I did.

Before you settle on a model, try to get a ride on one or two of them to see if you really do like it.
________
Colorado Dispensary
 

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Apropos of Nothing
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I'll second WouldaShoulda's recommendation for the O'Day 272. It's awesome. A buddy of mine had one. Plenty of room, fun to sail, fast, and it'll sail in a sneeze. The shoal draft wing keel version will have you slipping to leeward a little more than usual, but you'll enjoy not having to pay too much attention to your depth.

Hey, Woulda, when did you buy yours? It would be funny if you bought my friend's 272. I think he sold his in 2008 or maybe late 2007.
 

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I'll second what Painkiller said, you have to get out to the yards and climb on some boats. Try to envision bringing aboard clothes, food, etc. for a weekend. Make sure to do more than a quick walk through. If you're starting to narrow in on a boat or style of boat spend some time just sitting below and just sitting in the cockpit without the broker yapping in your ear. It will tell you a lot about how comfortable the boat will be to cruise.

Catalina 22's are great boats. But they are basically a pop-top camper on the water when it comes to weekend cruising.

It's also important to find a boat you can love. If she doesn't look good to your eye you will soon be looking for another boat. Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

Jim
 

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I agree with the advice you have been getting here. I don't know what prices are like down in the Chesapeake, but $9000 won't buy you much of a 27' boat here in a Conn. However, its still a buyer's market and you will probably be able to get a deal now that would have been unheard of a couple of years ago.

My two cents on the choices: The Catalina 27 and the equivalent Oday's (27 and 272) are the "usual suspects" in this category, and with good reason. They are both really nice boats for the money. I have an Oday 23 and consider the Odays to be every bit as well constructed as the Catalina, and they are generally less expensive. However, I must admit that I like the Catalina 27 more than the Oday. If you drop down a size to a 25, I like the Catalina 25 much better than the Oday 25, but only if the Catalina is the pop top, fin keel model. If you are stuck with the standard coach roof, swing keel model, then I prefer the Oday 25. I think the Oday stub keel/centerboard design is better (simpler, easier to use) than the Catalina swing keel.

Unless you have a real preference for one over the other for some reason, buy the one that is in the best condition. Inexpensive boats are older boats, and you want to find one that has been well-cared for. While no one wants to have to undertake a major repair, I think it hurts more when you are forced to spend something like half of what you paid for the boat to fix a spongy deck or some other major problem.

Welcome to the wonderful world of sailing.
 

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I would recommend looking at the Bristol 27 or Pearson Triton as a first boat. My Bristol is my first as well, and I think it is very comefy for the Chesapeake as well as being roomy enough to stay on for a few days. They are very simple boats and you can find them for great prices. Mine has a draft of 4 feet which is fine if you keep an eye on your charts and it has a lead encapsulated keel which gives my more confidence that I won't sink the thing!
 

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AEOLUS II
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Hey, Woulda, when did you buy yours? It would be funny if you bought my friend's 272. I think he sold his in 2008 or maybe late 2007.
It was 09/07 in Baltimore from Gary H. and a partner he had in the boat.

I have pictures of it in the gallery and it was named Desperado.



Look familiar??

We took off the back stay tensioner.
 

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Advanced beginner
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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I'll make a trip to Annapolis this weekend to take a look at that marina - a possibility that hadn't even crossed my mind.

Keep the suggestions coming - great so far. I totally agree that getting in the boat makes a difference. Unfortunately, I keep getting invited to sit on boats I can't afford. (Right now I'm in love with a Pacific Seacraft Dana but sadly she's out of my league, at least for now.) Going to some place where I can look at a bunch of boats will help.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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I spent a couple of seasons dating the owner of a Catalina 22. She and I had a great time sailing that little boat, including a number of weekends. The boat has the additional advantage of having values that are pretty well bottomed out so you can buy one, sail it for a year or so, and sell it for what you put into it.

Regardless, I strongly suggest avoiding wing keels on the Chesapeake. Sooner or later you'll run aground and a wing is the toughest to get off. Catalina 22s are around with wings, fins, and centerboards.
 

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Tartan 37
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Just a thought

So many ways to approach getting into sailing and owning a boat. Great suggestions and input so far so no need to add there, but...

I'll share our experience and maybe it will help you? maybe not? :) I'll skip the pre-sailboat owner experiences and try to get to the point...

About 7 yrs ago we started looking for a boat, on-line and visiting boatyards. We looked at many, many boats, seriously at a Catalina 27 followed by a Catalina 30. Man I wanted that boat badly, lots of heated discussions about why we should/shouldn't buy the boat. But something wasn't right, so we backed off from the search for a while.

A couple of months later I got a call from my uncle, there was a cheap, P.O.S. 20' Buccaneer for sale for all of $300.00. We bought the POS and were so excited we spent the entire winter, sometimes in the snow, working to get it ready for the coming season. Mostly re-doing teak, polishing, and fixing or replacing safety related stuff like running lights, bilge pump, etc. The marina owner was so happy to have a somewhat respectable boat sitting in the slip vs. the neglected POS that was there :)

We sailed it for two years before we started looking again, we found our next boat quickly, a 37'er.

Is there a point to the story, I think so...

We waited, got the boat we really wanted, and most importantly (IMO) skipped the saga of buying a 20' boat, followed by a 27' boat, followed by a 30' boat, and so on.

My $.02 FWIW ;)

BTW: We sold the 20' Piece Of S*^t Buccaneer for $1000.00 :D
 

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also consider a Pearson 26, mine is more toward the boat camping end of the spectrum though others have been more modernized. it's a great sailing, solid boat for the Bay/Potomac IMO. Cockpit is a bit tight with the One Design variant having more cockpit space and smaller cabin.
 
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