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Suggestions for a first time sailboat

7590 Views 35 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  cutterorient
Ok I am looking to buy a sailboat, and don't want to spend more than $30,000and would prefer to pay no more than $25,000. This would include the cost for upgrades/repairs. I would plan on using this boat for daysailing and weekend trips. Also I will be sailing in the chesapeake bay/deltaville area, and will probly be doing the majority of the work and sailing by myself. My experiece with sailing was mainly with a 15 foot dingy and the boat was unbelievely stable. With that said my questions are what size and model boat would you recommend. I don't have any problems doing work on the boat, and would really prefer a used boat.
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Catalina 250 wing keel or water ballast. Can be bought new for your budget or used but with options packages plus can be kept in your driveway to trailer around.

May be a bit smaller than you'd hope for, but the next step up (27, 28, 30 ft) have many more systems. more complexity, and aren't very trailerable and have mooring/slip costs.
Hey Squal - welcome to SN dude. You sound like you have way more experience than I did when I got my first boat. But here's my take: I drive a C27, and I got into it INSANELY cheap. And that's been a great thing. I'm learning a hell of a lot about boats working on the thing - and I don't cry all that much when I bang it into the slip fingers on a 20 knot cross-wind docking. Just part of the learning curve. It's been great.

I think the very first boat should be something you feel pretty easy dumping some money into (because you got it cheap) and that you aren't hyper-protective of so you can learn. But that's me.

I do agree with with nightowl on finding something trailerable. Slip fees are a killer.
Squalfrost, check out the Catalina 30 for sale at the Deltaville Maritime Museum. At $5000 with an inboard diesel, I'm sure it will need a few things, but it's well within your budget. Plenty of cash left to get her the way you want her and a good sailing vessel .

How many people are going to be on the boat? What sort of creature comforts do you want / need?

For example, if it's just you or you and one other person, then a boat around 27' would be a good size. Big enough to have an inboard diesel and wheel steering (if that is important to you), a real marine head, decent galley, standing room below, etc. And small enough to single hand easily, dock by yourself, afford decent sails, etc.

Some good boats in that size include Catalina, Beneteau, Sabre, Tartan, Newport, C&C, and a few others.

If you need more space you'll have to move up to a 30' boat, but everything gets way more expensive.

Lastly, IMHO, you can't get a decent '34 or bigger boat for that money, but 30' or less should be fine.

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Thanks for all the responses guys. The majority of the time it will just be me and my wife, but every now and then there will be four of us spending the weekend on the boat. I am about 6'-2" 200 lbs so I don't think I will find a boat in my price range that would fit me. My main concern is will I be able to handle the boat myself? I have looked at a 35 ft Morgan, which even to my untrained eye looked like a ton of work, but looked way to big for me to handle myself. I also looked at a 27 foot C&C, which looked fairly reasonable for me to handle myself.
Catalina 27 or 30.
With four adults overnight, you don't want to go below 28 foot. With your budget of $25k there are lots of choices in the 28-30 foot range. And you should be able to find a newer boat (mid 80s) in good condition. In addition to the Catalina 30, I would put the Pearson 30 and 303, Tartan 30, Cal 28 and ODay 28 and 30 on the list.
I once heard:
Cocktails for six
Dinner for four
Sleeps two!
A 26' trailerable would be a very manageable boat for one or two. You would get a lot more use from it if you slipped during season and hauled out for winter but transient moorage is not always easy to come by.
I have a 26' MacGregor (26M) that I bought new and have sailed since 2003. You can get a well optioned one second hand in your price range. They are inexpensive, very versatile, forgiving of mistakes and easy to maintain. They also have as much or more livable space below as any comparable 28-30' sailboat. They are water ballasted and easily trailered with a class 3 tow vehicle. It is a hybrid though and not everyones cup of tea, but I have enjoyed seven summers on it and never looked back. They have an amazing amount of room for a 26' boat and can handle some fairly rough weather. I am in the Pacific Northwest and sail the San Juans and Gulf Islands and my boat gets me anywhere in the Georgia Strait I wish to go. It is a nice weekender boat and will sleep more than two but we never have, just my wife and I, Nice couples boat.
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If I were you I would look for boats in the 28-32' range. Do look at a Catalina 27 and see if you think it's big enough. If so, there are many available in your price range. If the C27 is to small, then there are lots more boats for you.

Before you buy anything, look at lots of boats and see what features are important to you. Things like swim platform, walk through rear transom, forward or aft head, stateroom with a door, etc are available on some boats but not others. Also, some boats may come with more features, that while you could add to any boat, would be very expensive. For example self tailing winches can easily cost over 1K. Same with dodgers and biminis. A good set of sails is worth a lot of $$.

Probably the best thing you can do is find a good broker and work with him. I don't know any in your area so I can't help.

Yachtworld is also your friend. I did a quick search:|1

And got some great looking boats (but all boats look great in ads).

Good luck,
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Add my name to the list of people suggesting the Catalina 30. That was my first boat and you should be able to find a decent one in the mid 20's range with diesel, rollerfurling and wheel. I've been in power boats for the last 12 years but am seriously thinking about going back to sail and am leaning towards the Catalina 34.
Catalinas are nice and the 30 is a good boat. Also keep a lookout for the O'days such as the 302 and the 31. Great boats that sail very well.

I am looking at a 30 foot O'Day and a 33 foot Morgan Racer. If I like one I will hire someone to survey the boat for me. Is there a list of surveyors for the deltaville northen neck area?
I am looking at a 30 foot O'Day and a 33 foot Morgan Racer. If I like one I will hire someone to survey the boat for me. Is there a list of surveyors for the deltaville northen neck area?
One place to start is the Society of Marine Surveyors at The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors, Inc.® - (SAMS®).
I am looking at a 30 foot O'Day and a 33 foot Morgan Racer. If I like one I will hire someone to survey the boat for me. Is there a list of surveyors for the deltaville northen neck area?
I highly recommend Tom McCann. I think he is in Kilmarnock. He surveyed our boat we were selling which made him the bad guy, but we were impressed with him. I'm going to be buying early spring and plan to use him.

I even asked a broker in Deltaville for a list of surveyors that had earned his respect and Tom's name was at the top of the list.

Where are the boats you are looking at?
A trailer sailer is by far the most cost effective for day sail/overnight use. Rent a bigger boat for the cruises. I once did a paper in the economics of this for a grad course. Sounds like you've got you heart set in a bigger boat.
Some other things. Boat depreciation statrs to flatten out at about the 5 year. Depends on the boat. At that point you also have some years left in the electronics. Rather than planning on doing a lot of upgrades look until you find a boat that's has most of what you want and competent TLC. Preferably an owner whose boat is a monument to thier existence. You only get a small fraction out in resale of the money you put in. The excaption are boats sold for pennies at auction... often marinas do this. Then you need a real good survey so you don't end up with a multi year costly project. If you have a few boats in mind that are acceptable your search will be more effective than locking. Still plan on spending a lot of time looking a lot of boats. For a new sailor getting a boat that's got a strong class organiation in your area is a big help. Not only do they do cruises but also there's a lot of experience on how to do repairs and upgrades. They also know about the boats that are being sold. Catalina 22s and 30s often are ubiquitous.

I have a 30 ft Cal and a trailer sailer so I half follow my own advice. I got the trailer sailer when I relocated from Seattle to D.C. and Rhode Island. I could hitch the trailer sailer and cruise waters from Penobscott Bay to Chincatogue (sp?) It was also great for gunkholing in shallow waters. Now that I'm back in deep cold water the keelboat is a great comfort.

Good luck
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My families property is located in Dymer Creek right past were grog island use to be (not much more than a large sandbar with some dead trees now).
The boats I am looking at are in norton's and the deltaville marina, I prefer a larger boat.
The boats I am looking at are in norton's and the deltaville marina, I prefer a larger boat.
I'd love to hear what you think about dealing with Nortons.
I would suggest a C30 also or smaller, if you are new to sailing and want to solo as a new sailor. If you get too big you may not be able to solo for a while. I have been out cruising on a C30 with two couples and it is a good fit. I had looked at a C27 this summer and liked the space below except for the bunks. The bow was too small. It had some type of shelf around the perimeter limiting the space. I am only 5'10" and did not think the bow had enough space for a couple. The C25 seemed to have more bunk space for two couples for a weekend. If you could find one cheap enough ($5-6K locally on trailer in UT this summer) it would be a good boat to get started in and move up in a few years when you were comfortable in your sailing skills.
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