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Old 02-05-2012, 22:48   #1
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Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

Without trying to spill my entire life story, i'm young and poor by comparison to most cuisers (29 and less than 30k a year). My life long goal is to own a sailboat.

I'm going to have to do this the cheap (hah) and handy way. I'm looking at a budget of $5k ~ $10k, maybe 15k for the right boat, which will be purchased in the next few years. A fixer upper, if you will. I will have to do the fixing myself. This is the only way I'm going to be able to get one. That being said, i've been landlocked my entire life, so aside from the studying i've done, i've got no experience sailing anything beyond a 12 footer in a lake.

What i'd like to know, is when looking at boats, what should be a deal breaker? I.E. what things am I going to run into that I simply am not going to be able to handle myself. I'm not afraid of doing a bottom job, but any in depth fiberglass work i would probably not be able to handle right off the bat. Mast step destroyed, also probably a no-go. Replacing riggin? Yeah i could probably do that. Replacing an engine not so much.

Basically, anything that would be considered standard maintenance, and I would need to be able to do anyway, I can handle. Simple, easy fixes not a problem, either. What I'm worried about are things that are going to take 40 man hours, expensive specialized tools, or thousands of dollars to fix.

No, I'm not trying to skip the apraisal, just doing some homework. Hopefully, this will save me several appraisals on boats i should have said 'No' to, if i had know what to look for. And because I know somebody is going to ask me what I am looking for in a boat, I'll go ahead and drop that in here too. Something that I can take out on the weekend and get some experience with, after it's fixed up and I'm confident with my abilites (Lets say 5 years after purchase) sailing to Belize from the USA to visit my mom, maybe living aboard one day. Full keel, shoal draft, wide beam, sturdy, less than 30ft prefferably, not more than 35. Not worried about it being fast, just getting there safely and comfortably. I'd like to be able to put it in the water right away, keep it in a mooring, and do all the work on the water if possible. The last bit may be wishful thinking though.

Thoughts comments suggestions?
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Old 03-05-2012, 00:18   #2
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Re: Looking for first boat, need advice

Boats 30' and under are a drag on the market. People are either trying to sell and move up or bypassing the smaller boats for 40 footer for their first boat. With time and effort you should find a deal on a boat around 30' or even up to 35'.

Deal killers are wet core in the decks, non functioning engine or one that's very old, and/or rotten mast step unless they are very very cheap. You can correct these problems yourself but only at high cost in time and/or money.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:56   #3
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

There are some good reasons why 27'ers are cheap now. Moorage can be really expensive compared to the cost of the boat. When you're sinking $2,500-3,000+ per year into moorage for a $5,000 boat, it really makes you want to pull your hair out. Just my personal experience. It makes those weekend trips very expensive items. I worked it out that between moorage and maintenance costs, my 27'er was costing me close to $200 per night when I took her out (weekends mainly, not enough vacation time for longer than that). That's not including the purchase price.

I am 29 and make maybe a little more than you. My suggestion is you either live aboard or bag the idea until you either make a lot more or you are ready to live on board.

I moved up to where I live in order to have a boat, always wanted one, sailing with my family every year in this area growing up...but the sad reality is that the middle class isn't what it used to be, especially if you're young, and it's just too damn expensive to own a boat for us unless we live on it.

I'd say wait and save until you're ready to live-aboard. With your plan/timeline, let's say you could spend $10k now. In 4 years, if you take the money you would have spent on maintenance and moorage, you might have another $13-15k. That gives you $20-25k to spend on a boat which gives you a MUCH nicer boat and one that is more up-to-date for your voyage. Then live on it for a year, save for living expenses, and sail off.

If you have somewhere you can get free moorage (e.g. a friend's mooring buoy) that might be the exception.

The other option is a buy a cheap trailer-sailer to learn on and then sell it and upgrade later.
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Old 06-05-2012, 16:06   #4
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

3-5k for moorage? That seems a little steep. I'll do a little research into moorage prices for my target area. Either way, the money I am making now is not what I'm going to be putting towards the boat. In a year, the company i work for will reimburse me for computer certifications I pass. So i'm going to get my CCNA and MSCE, work here as an engineer for a while, then find a job on the coast. Shootin for tampa, miami. Key west would be nice, but I doubt they have a serious tech industry. Even if I did have the money to put 25k into a boat, I think I'd still rather buy a beater and fix it up. Either way, it depends on how the search goes.

Roverhi, thanks for the info, that definitely seems to be the first place to go. Anyone else?
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Old 06-05-2012, 16:38   #5
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

The Texas coast has places to sail and tech. I went the trailer sasiler route myself.
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Old 06-05-2012, 22:42   #6
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by DataPhreak View Post
3-5k for moorage? That seems a little steep. I'll do a little research into moorage prices for my target area. Either way, the money I am making now is not what I'm going to be putting towards the boat. In a year, the company i work for will reimburse me for computer certifications I pass. So i'm going to get my CCNA and MSCE, work here as an engineer for a while, then find a job on the coast. Shootin for tampa, miami. Key west would be nice, but I doubt they have a serious tech industry. Even if I did have the money to put 25k into a boat, I think I'd still rather buy a beater and fix it up. Either way, it depends on how the search goes.
$3-5k/year for maintenance and moorage would be pretty normal. If you can get away for less than that all power to you. The cheapest moorage I could find for my 27'er was $175/month + electricity + required insurance so around $200/month. Then add routine maintenance. Then expect every now and then to have an expensive problem to fix. For me, a broken outboard motor (new one was a bit under $2k).

My advice would be to buy a boat that's had a lot of money and effort dumped into it. It is damnably expensive to fix up a boat that has problems and you will never even see the cost of materials back, much less your labor. There are plenty of boats out there that were 70-80% through a total refit and the owner gave up. Usually sell for a song and a dance.

Anyways, good luck to you. I had some fun on my last boat and managed to not lose much money (except on moorage). But I would never buy a weekend boat again. I really do think it has to be all or nothing unless you've got a really good income.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:45   #7
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

Look really closely at the chainplates (& rigging), they hold the mast up! If the mast comes down, it could be economically unfeasable to replace it. Often times you will see discoloration in the fiberglass at the chainplates- that's a sign of moisture - if so, run the other way!
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:21   #8
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

Reading your wants made me think of the Island packet 27, the older ones. The market is really good for buyers, so hopefully with patience and vigilance you can find a good quality vessel for a cheap price.

I sailed an IP27 from Texas to Mexico, once I figured out her quirks, she really sailed like a dream!

Buying good quality older boats, the key features to look for is whether someone has done something to her to render her a problem child. Her design has already proven herself, there will be countless documents and reviews, rebuilds, and blogs, about the design. The trick to buying an older boat is to get one someone hasn't screwed up Example, turning a pacific seacraft 25 with no standing headroom into a pilothouse.

Having said that, the Catalina 27-30 are not the highest quality but are great work horses and you will see them in just about every anchorage in the Caribbean ( the 30s at least) I have yet to talk to a Catalina owner who didn't think their boat was a good boat .

Hope that made sense and was helpful.
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Old 07-05-2012, 20:27   #9
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

My two cents are to get a boat just off the handle of a concerned sailor, of course he is dying. You will have everything! Pay him everything he wants. He will give you all documentation! I am working on my friend who has a Flick and I want to sail it everywhere with him forever
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Old 07-05-2012, 22:16   #10
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Re: Looking for First Boat - Need Advice

JM sounds like you're referring to moorage in a slip, not a mooring line. I don't intend to put this in a slip, so the costs will be lower.

Thanks for the chainplate tip, tabby. That was one I hadn't considered.

Ocean girl, I went and checked some specs on the Catalina 30's, and the draft is 5'3". I was actually looking at something more around the 4' range, like a Hunter 30 sloop. Also like the head being in the back next to the galley as opposed to near the v-birth. That being said, the mast step in hunter 30's was made out of regular steel and sit in the bilge. Every hunter 30 over 20 years old needs to have the mast step replaced. However, most hunters over 20 years old have already had the mast step replaced. These things have 6 ft of headroom, a 10ft beam, and are built like a brick s*** house from what I understand. I'd definitely consider one in my price range. Are there any other boats with similar specs in the same range/category?
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