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Old 22-08-2008, 10:21   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: northern Indiana
Boat: looking for one
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Advice needed for first boat


My husband and I are wanting to delve into the world of sailing with our 3 young children (8, 5 and 3). We had our first sailing experience this past weekend and LOVED it!!!! We would like to hear opinions on what our first boat should be. We live in northern Indiana so would dock and sail primarily on Lake Michigan (at least to begin with ). The sales manager at the Marina we were at suggested a 30' or 31' Catalina from the 1980s. We are looking to start with a boat less than $25,000. We would like to be able to take it out for weekend cruises that would comfortably sleep our family, but during the day also take others with us. Suggestions? (We will be taking ASA 101 and 103 courses next spring). We also are planning on attending Strictly Sail in Chicago come January. We look forward to your suggestions.

Sean and Lonna
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Old 22-08-2008, 10:46   #2
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Welcome Sean and Lonna,

A Catalina 30 should fill the bill nicely for your intended use/budget. They perform reasonably well, are reasonably well built and have a great deal of interior accomodation for their size/vintage/price. I would, however, recommend trying to find one with a diesel instead of the Atomic 4 gasoline engine that was used in many of the earlier boats. You will have greater safety (no explosive fumes from gasoline), no ignition system to worry about, get better fuel consumption, develop some experience with routine diesel maintenance and get better resale value.

In terms of gear/equipment, I would certainly want furling for the jib (it makes sailing so much easier), and a dodger. Other equipment beyond the basics (coast guard mandated safety equipment, VHF, speed/log and depth) is nice, but not essential if all else is in good shape.

Finally, I would certainly recommend hiring a qualified independant surveyor that you are referred to by someone not involved in the transaction. Finally, while the Catalina 30 would be a good choice, don't get married to the idea of one make and model. If you have any other boats you'd like opinions on, this is probably a good place to start.

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Old 22-08-2008, 10:49   #3
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Hi S&L welcome aboard. There are many What boat should I buy threads here on the forum but they are all different. The sales manager is steering you in a good direction. A 30' boat is good for families such as yours. I would suggest that you find out if any of the boats have active racing or cruising fleets. If they do buy a boat that has an active fleet. That way you can have the best chance of selling it again. Usually for close to what you paid for it. I have a 10 year old and an 11 year old. We started on a 22' boat and had a blast. The kids loved it. From there we started looking for a bigger boat and ended up with a boat that is about 3 feet longer than I wanted but we love the Sceptre 41. Good Luck finding the boat that you want.

PS Ditto about the diesel engine. Preferably one that has been repowered. IF you have to replace the engine it adds less to the price of the boat than the cost of putting it in.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
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