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Old 04-09-2010, 11:09   #1
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Total Newbie Looking for First Boat - Help !

Hi All!
My wife and I want to learn to sail with the eventual goal of ending up with a live-aboard blue water cruiser in 3 or 4 years.

My first thought was to start out with an open day sailor, but my wife pointed out that this would not tell us whether or not she could sleep onboard. Another friend who is into full cabin powerboats suggested that I start out with an 18 or 20 foot pocket cruiser rather than be looking for another boat in a year. The more I thought about it the more sense it made.

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions about what sort of boat would work for us? It will just be the two of us, so cabin size is more important than cockpit.I think we can set something up that will be comfortable enough for a few days.
We know next to nothing about sailing, so stability and ease of setup is more important than speed. Also it would need to be towable not just transportable. We have a Crown Vic with a V-8 so we should be able to tow a ton or so with no big issues.

I did run into a 1977 MFG 19 footer, fixed keel that looks good to me. Hasn't been sailed for past 8 years, stored inside, gel coat showed no cracks etc. Fresh water only. Overall looked like it had been taken very good care of.
Would this be worth considering or is it just too old? I did notice that most all the older swing keel boats have issues with the keel which was why I'm leaning tword a fixed keel boat.

Thanks in advance for your time,

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Old 04-09-2010, 12:52   #2
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Some good rules of thumb. Wanting to cruise is a good thing! Trying it out for real is better. Skip the day sailor and the boat too small to sleep on. Charter in the BIV's for a week with a captain. If you love it you'll learn so much and know why and understand more about boats than you can imagine at this point. You want to really know how good it can be so you'll do all the things it takes to get there.

Before that charter start with a basic course from American Sail Association (ASA) or US Sail. They both do the getting started with real keel boats. You want to learn on a small keel boat because it's most like a real cruising boat but of course smaller. 20 ft is a good place to start. Smaller boats can be fun but it's not the same thing. So take the class and learn the basics of how things work then do the charter so you know how good it might be down the road. Once you can get that experience you can decide if you would want to do it more and on what terms. Lots of types of sailing and while you can like just being out there the hows and whys of what you want and need takes some time to sort out. Give yourself that time and make it fun all the way.

Then you come back from the charter and maybe do the next two classes to get to the bareboat charter level. Now you could seriously think about getting a boat or doing a charter on your own without a crew. All these gradual steps are to avoid buying your first boat and skip right to the second boat. The second boat will be the one to keep.

If you have any sail clubs in the area they are a cheap ways to have access to a boat owned by the club. We started that way for a summer and avoided the first boat totally and saved a fair bit of money. Our sail club some years ago was $3000 / year all expenses paid June through September. Check out costs of ownership and you may find something like that as a way to just get started, have close access to your boat, and meet more people and generally learn how to have fun on a boat before you run out and spend a lot of money. Getting started is about getting out there and sailing. 3 to 4 years is not a long time with the season as short as it is up north.

Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 04-09-2010, 14:49   #3
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Pblais has the correct plan for finding out if both of you are really into this "cruising thing" style of life. Rather than buy a boat, take the courses and do as many charters as you can afford. The idea is to rent different boats each time you charter. Then you can get a feel for what make/model/size and style of boat fits your idea of a cruising life. Just like you would "test drive" quite a few automobiles before settling on the one you want - - rent a wide variety of cruising boats from bareboat charter companies. Also take advantage of the experience by chartering in different locations around the world. This way you can get a feel for what a life of exploration and cruising is all about in small "mouthfulls" rather than swallowing the whole thing in one gulp and regretting it later.
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Old 04-09-2010, 16:14   #4
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Get as much experience on other boats as you can, including sailing school boats and charter boats. You will then be much more educated on what type of boat is right for you. Many make the mistake of buying the boat first only to find out later it was an inappropriate choice for their own tastes and preferences.

Life begins where land ends.
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Old 06-09-2010, 12:41   #5
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Mega ditto! Chartering is expensive but it could save your making mistakes that cost far, far more. Try to go for 10 days to two weeks (even more if you can swing it) to get a real feel for the realities of everyday life, food, hygiene, laundry, shut-in days because of weather or mechanical problems, etc. On a one-week charter too many people just have fun all week and come home with the laundry, hangover, bills, sunburn, etc. When you live aboard a cruise you ARE home and must deal with real life.
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Old 06-09-2010, 12:49   #6
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My argument on why you should learn to sail on a dinghy:

Rebel Heart - Sailing, cruising, liveaboard blog and website - Eric's Blog - why you should learn to sail on a*dinghy
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Old 12-09-2010, 00:43   #7
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The different approaches don't have to be exclusive -- you can learn and improve basic sailing skills on a dinghy AND learn big-boat handling and systems while taking classes and charters and crewing on bigger boats. In my opinion, mixing things up is a great way to get the most bang for your boat bucks. Time on the water is good.
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Old 17-09-2010, 12:55   #8
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rgscpat is absolutely correct. One tells you if you want to sail (and how) and the other whether you want to be a live aboard/cruiser. There are tens of thousands of happy sailors out there who will never cruise.

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Old 18-09-2010, 09:33   #9
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Here is our experience. We love to sail and owned a Stiletto which is a racing cat. We bareboat chartered from 8 years never really considering "cruising". Then my husband started following the journal of a couple who had never sailed and circumnavigated the world ( I am giving you the short version). After following this blog for a couple of years, I got interested in the blog and the cruising lifestyle started to intrigue me. But during all this time I never thought I would give up my home of 27 years and live full time on a boat smaller that 1/2 of my garage. Then almost on a whim ( I normally am not impulsive AT ALL) we bought a Seawind 1000 (another story we explain on our blog). We had sailed enough different boats that we knew what we wanted. That was soooo important. Chartering was so important because it let me experience the "good stuff". Last January we took 6 mths off and sailed the Exumas. I loved it! I loved it so much that we came home in July and we just old "the big house" and 35 years of "stuff". I am now on SYL and we plan on leaving in December for the Exumas.
All this is to say, owning a smaller sailboats and sailing in the Gulf of Mexico or Toledo Bend in did not influence greatly us buying a cruising boat. The experience is so different than cruising. Following that blog vicariously influenced me a lot and chartering.
This is my opinion and is worth exactly what you paid for it ZERO!
Cruising was the best decision I ever made and so out of character for me.
Sea Yawl Later!!
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Old 19-09-2010, 03:19   #10
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What was the blog?

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Old 19-09-2010, 04:58   #11
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Our blog is

We have been journaling our adventure on our web site It has been so much fun! It is nothing fancy just our thoughts and experiences with some pictures. The other blog is

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