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Old 30-09-2011, 14:48   #1
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Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

My wife and I are in our mid-40’s living in Kansas. I have an incredibly good job, making low six-figures. We’re renting an apartment and have no debt. We want to kiss our comfortable world goodbye for life at sea. Our child finishes high school in 3 years, and 3-5 years seems like a great window for saving up a nice kitty and hitting the sea.

The problem is, I want to sail now! I envision three options:

1- Live simply, save like crazy, then go. This is the case Jim Trefethen makes in The Cruising Life. I understand the dollars and cents of it, but I’m itching to sail now!


2- Buy a charter, use it three weeks a year, and then cruise when I take ownership in 5 years. This is appealing because I could sail while I’m saving. The downside is that this might be a little expensive, and I have my doubts about whether good chartering boats make good cruising boats. For the money, is that the boat I want as my home?


3- Buy a trailer-sailor to sail on local lakes while I save. With this option, I could sail on weekends six months a year (I’m reasonably close to Perry Lake and Stockton Lake, and Kansas is windy). The downside is that owning a boat will be a drain on my finances and make it harder to save for the kitty.

What do you think I should do?
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Old 30-09-2011, 14:54   #2
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Re: Caught the Sailing BugÖ.in Kansas; Now What?

Get a small boat and learn to sail and trim it well. In that 5 years you'll gain a lot of knowledge with a small boat. Then when the time is right buy the boat that suits your cruising lifestyle desires and go. You actually learn to sail a lot better (IMHO) on a smaller boat. I find larger boats actually easier to sail than smaller. SC
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Old 30-09-2011, 15:02   #3
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Re: Caught the Sailing BugÖ.in Kansas; Now What?

Me I would get a little 20-22 foot sailboat for a few thousands and spend the time sailing and docking/ anchoring in lake Perry. Lake Perry is a good size to learn on. I sailed it once, years ago and sailed Smithville lake (north of the KC airport) for 6 months. If you can sail a 22 footer then a bigger boat will be easier. Plus you'll know more about sailing, weather, etc,etc.

In a few years start looking for a bigger boat closer to an ocean. You'll not loose too much money when you sell a 22' sailboat either.
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Old 30-09-2011, 15:16   #4
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

If you look at that little boat as a money drain you aren't going to make it later.

Nothing wrong with a charter type boat as a cruiser! Just depends on which charter boat. Lots of people go the charter boat ownership route.

When I got the bug 4 years ago I:
-took ASA classes
-joined a local club and sailed 33' boats on the weekends for 3 months
-bought my first boat, a Cal-39 and sailed it for 2 seasons
-traded the Cal for a Hunter 410 that I'm sailing now with the goal of paying it off while building the cruising kitty for casting off in another 4-5 years

In the 3 years of ownership compared to the club boat I'm out not that much more money between the 2, as long as I disregard upgrades as far as operating/using the boat (not counting tthe payments).

No right answer beyound just being sure you get to go sailing!
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Old 30-09-2011, 15:28   #5
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

I agree. Take classes. Sail with a club and learn from others. Sounds like the smaller boat on your local lake would give you more opportunity to sail, learn, ask questions and then when the time comes for an upgrade you will make a better decision.

For some ocean fun, I'd suggest you sneak in a charter for one or two weeks in a year and that would give you the chance to try some different boats, maybe even a cat, different sizes, etc. Again, you will make a better decision in the end.
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Old 30-09-2011, 15:38   #6
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

The consensus seems pretty consistent, and it is what I agree with. Go small(er) first.

While Jim Trefethen makes some good points in "The Cruising Life" I disagree with his premise (as I understood it) to focus on the cruising kitty at the expense of all else: including owning a boat, taking lessons and not chartering. Going his route may get you there faster but you won't be as well prepared and may in fact find you don't like the lifestyle. There are people who have cashed out, got their boat down to the islands and then left it there to rot for what ever reason.

You may also find that sailing smaller soon will satisfy our itch for a few years as you build up your resources and skill.
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Old 30-09-2011, 15:49   #7
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

I would agree with the rest of the advice on here as well. I've been sailing for about 30 years and I started out in a 22' Columbia. That boat taught me a lot of what I wanted in my next boat. Sail as many boats as you can get on, offer to be crew and each sailor will teach you something. I learned that I enjoyed full keeled boats better than fin keel, however to each their own, that's what makes it so interesting. After restoring a Cape Dory 27' (which is for sale, byw) I am now restoring A Cape Dory 31. As I get up in years, I am sure I will make the full circle like everyone else does, probably back to a Cape Dory Typhoon, she's 18.5 but a sweet sailer...Fair winds, Randy
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Old 30-09-2011, 16:06   #8
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

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Originally Posted by ADMPRTR View Post
The consensus seems pretty consistent, and it is what I agree with. Go small(er) first.

I didn't see any consensus for going smaller first. Only agreement that if that was only way to do regular sailing on the lake to do it.

Myself and lots of others have never stepped foot on a "small" boat! Not sure I would have been able to keep to my cruising goal alive if I had spent time crammed in one of those.

But I have no issue with accepting that for some this route seems correct. Just that to me the goal should be to spend as much time on boats in the size range you plan to end up with.
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Old 30-09-2011, 16:16   #9
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Devil's advocate...

If you're pulling in low 6 figures you don't really want to toss it all away in this economic clime. I'll conceded that those who pay you may be getting a little blood with their pound of flesh, but once the money's gone it may never come back.

I'll put a small bet that part of the few drops of blood that earns that money is not a lot of time. Now a small trailer/sailer would be great if you had a fair amount of time, but any boat is a full time commitment. It never goes away until you sell it. With a trailer sailor on the local lake you'll still be in Kansas.

The other aspect is that you don't mention family and friends, but they've got to be there somewhere. Putting your significant others in that cool lake air in a leaky old boat may not endear them to the concept of cruising. A catered charter in the warm laid back Caribbean on the other hand...

You probably get a few days off from time to time. Its a long way from Kansas to the Virgins, about a day each way, so you'd need a stretch of at least four days to make it work, so why not charter?

Once you step onto the boat all the stresses of Kansas may fade into the distance. Even if you never get the sails up you could be happier. And once you step off its not your problem anymore.

Its why they call it "island time", Mon.
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Old 30-09-2011, 16:20   #10
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

I submit that with a "good job, making low six-figures" (that means 200k a year to me) and thinking a club membership or a trailer sailor will hurt you means you are wasting an awful lot of your income.

Join a club and see if you even like sailing.

Charter some to see what they are like.

Don't charter a cat. You will be sorry. They cost a lot more and you will want one. Almost guaranteed. And the wife - don't even let her visit one.
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Old 30-09-2011, 16:30   #11
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

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But I have no issue with accepting that for some this route seems correct. Just that to me the goal should be to spend as much time on boats in the size range you plan to end up with.
I guess it depends on how dedicated one is to the ultimate goal of sailing off. If one knows exactly what to do then yes, start off with the boat that best matches that plan.

OTOH, smaller boats are cheaper to buy and maintain and may be easier to sell, or at least, unload. It is a way to get into sailing with a modest investment.

I started off with a 26 footer and I went with that size because it was the largest I could afford (after realizing that 22ft had too many opportunities to bang my head). Then I moved to a 36ft when the 26 was too small and limiting. In both cases, I had a learning curve to over come.

But anyway, my main point, regardless of boat size, was to gain experience, and THAT does seem to be the consensus. If one goes the "Cruising Life" route you may end up with a nice nest egg and no confidence to use it.
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Old 30-09-2011, 16:34   #12
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

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Originally Posted by KC Cruiser View Post
My wife and I are in our mid-40ís living in Kansas. I have an incredibly good job, making low six-figures. Weíre renting an apartment and have no debt. We want to kiss our comfortable world goodbye for life at sea. Our child finishes high school in 3 years, and 3-5 years seems like a great window for saving up a nice kitty and hitting the sea.

The problem is, I want to sail now! I envision three options:

1- Live simply, save like crazy, then go. This is the case Jim Trefethen makes in The Cruising Life. I understand the dollars and cents of it, but Iím itching to sail now!


2- Buy a charter, use it three weeks a year, and then cruise when I take ownership in 5 years. This is appealing because I could sail while Iím saving. The downside is that this might be a little expensive, and I have my doubts about whether good chartering boats make good cruising boats. For the money, is that the boat I want as my home?


3- Buy a trailer-sailor to sail on local lakes while I save. With this option, I could sail on weekends six months a year (Iím reasonably close to Perry Lake and Stockton Lake, and Kansas is windy). The downside is that owning a boat will be a drain on my finances and make it harder to save for the kitty.

What do you think I should do?

Sorry you're so sick! Thankfully, there's no cure!
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Old 30-09-2011, 16:43   #13
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

Wow, I was just looked at map of Kansas. Not to many lakes near by...

First thing: move to a coast (any coast)
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Old 30-09-2011, 17:37   #14
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

Woo hoo... new sailors.

Get yourself a small boat and get some experience.

We have both a 14' Hunter and a 27' sloop... they are very different animals.

Go out as much with the small boats...as you can for a year or so. then start moving up. There are plenty of lakes in Kansas, Colorado, Texas that you can day sail..

When you are ready you'll be prepped with some experience..

Nothing wrong with buying a charter, but three weeks a year won't give you the experience you will want or need as you look for your final boat.
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Old 30-09-2011, 22:47   #15
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Re: Caught the Sailing Bug . . . in Kansas ! Now What ?

Thanks for the advice everyone--here are some more details.

I have a moderate amount of sailing experience from my childhood, often going to lakes on my dadís sunfish, and later Catalina 22. I always loved sailing. After high school, I was always either too busy or too poor to sail, until this year when I took my wife on a bareboat adventure out of Tortola. It was magical.

The good news with regards to my renting lifestyle is that the weekends are pretty free--I donít have to worry about mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, or whatever else folks with houses have to do on weekends. That gives me the time to head up to Perry Lake.

Unfortunately, the golden job wouldnít follow me to the coast, so Iím stuck in Kansas for a while. While my personal inclination is to have fun with the challenge of a sailing a leaky small boat and enjoy the low financial risk of that, my wife thought the 37-footer we chartered was small, and ultimately sees herself in a 50-footer.

Choices for boats include a 22-foot Catalina for $3,000, a 30-foot Ericson for $16,000, or a 40-foot Hunter for $50,000.

Would the Ericson the best compromise?
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