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Old 04-04-2007, 22:48   #1
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23' for $3500?

As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm completely new to this hobby and looking to get my foot in the door.

Well, I've been browsing various sites, including, to get an idea what the cost would be of getting a boat. It seems that it will cost me nearly $2000 to purchase a decent sailing dinghy. A little more than I'd hoped. I decided to take a look at used boats for sale in my area and I came across this 23' sailboat. $3500? Not much more than a dinghy... I'm assuming it must be in need of work. I think I'm going to give the owner a call and find out a little more about it, maybe stop by and have a look for myself. From what you see, what do you think? Could it turn out to be a good ship to learn off of or would I be getting in over my head? I'm trying to gauge just how much this boat would cost to get in good condition.


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Old 04-04-2007, 23:33   #2
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Try here trailerable Classified Ads

They speciallize in the smaller boats.................._/)

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Old 05-04-2007, 02:08   #3
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Some casual comments...

1) If you really have little knowledge of fibreglass yachts it is wise to get a second opinion from someone with at least good common sense and preferably knowledge of small fibreglass yachts. A mate who is into cars could be useful. Wives, girlfriends or mothers are good as a last resort.

The hull is described as balsa cored. Look to see if the fittings have been screwed into the skin so that water can seep into the core. Other forum members are better able than me to suggest how to determine if there has been any water ingress. Ask if it has been stored under cover.

See if you can get a history for the boat.

Any damage would most likely be as a result of a towing accident. Check as you would a car by looking at reflections in the hull to gauge fairness and for colour changes in the gelcoat.

Look for fibreglass repairs. Stress cracks would indicate past and potential future problems.

Gently wobble all fittings to see if they are secure.

See if the centreboard can be carefully lowered to check it.

2) There is no motor mentioned so you would probably be up for a reasonable (new if possible) outboard (one with included generator is good) and fuel tank. A battery and mains charger may also be needed. Make sure the battery is properly secured.

3) There is no toilet described so check if a Porta Potti can be carried.

4) The trailer looks to be very light for the size of boat. An upgrade may be necessary. You would need a suitable vehicle to tow it.

5) The specifications make no mention of lifesaving gear so this would need to be purchased. Some may be included if you ask. I would strongly recommend buying a 406 EPIRB and a handheld VHF radio. Don't forget a couple of correctly sized buckets (smallish and square?) and sponges. (A small amount of water slopping round inside the boat could ruin your day, not to mention what a large amount would do.)

6) Anchoring equipment suitable for your area would also be needed.

7) There are special techniques unique to trailer sailers.

NOT going under power lines with the mast up comes to mind as does the method of recovery from a capsize and how to raise and lower the mast.

Launching and towing would need to be learnt. If you can find someone who owns a similar boat and can assist you this would be very desirable. Check out your local Yacht Club or ask at the local launching ramp or even at a driving school.

The dealer should really take responsibility here so see what you can get.

8) It looks very clean and bare. Ask what could be included to sweeten the deal. The condition of the additional gear will tell you a lot about the boat and how it was used.

9) Looks nice in the photos.

And on a personal nostalgic note keep your wits about you in terms of interpersonal relationships. I missed an opportunity that altered the course of my life when I built and sailed a similar boat.
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Old 05-04-2007, 02:43   #4
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Here’s a couple of other Merrit 23's for sale - at higher prices.
Merit 23 for sale, sailboats for sale, used sailboats
Merit 23, 1985, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, $4,950
1984 Merit Racer/Cabin Sailboat 22' sailboat for sale in Iowa

Some info on the Merit 22 & others:
1986 SBJ Sailboat Sea Trials: Merit 22
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Old 08-04-2007, 08:59   #5
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The boat doesn't look too bad, but would not be an ideal starter in my opinion. The cored hull is an issue. Basically, the boat is two very thin layers of fibreglass with balsa wood between them. When the balsa gets wet and stays that way - it rots. The hull is then very weak and not safe. Fixing this would cost you far more than the boat is worth.

If you go look at the boat, then spend a good half hour pressing hard against the hull with your thumb - really, really hard. If the hull depresses at all - walk away.

A second, and probably more important issue, is that these are boats that are designed to race. They are not very stable, comfortable or forgiving of mistakes. This is not to say you won't have fun with it, just that you might have more fun with something else. Consider:

Balboa 20 - a legendary little boat with excellent seaworthiness. Boats and Yachts for Sale=

other boats - Catalina 18 or 22, Precision 18 or 21, West Wight Potter, Cape Dory Typhoon, O'Day - anything up to about 23 feet...
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:03   #6
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Pardon the length: there is so much to say that seems essential: this is half the length I want to write.

Sailormann's post is generally helpful. I'll be reflecting largely from Chris31415's post, with a few ideas of my own.

Gribble, he say:
As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm completely new to this hobby and looking to get my foot in the door.
I'll assume you have zero sailing experience, but are very enthusiastic and have a smattering of common sense.

I'm going to make a case for educating yourself a bit before you run out into the market with a fist full of hundred-dollar bills. The education and confidence you gain will be well worth the short delay in purchasing, and will likely lead to a more satisfying overall first ownership.

Reading a primer on sailing is a great way to ingest the basic knowledge of the function of the various pieces of equipment, handling the controls, the points of sail and how to trim sails for each point, and other small boat skills that you will want to know as soon as you can. I cut my teeth on Bob Bond's Handbok of Sailing, but this is only one of several good choices. A book like Brian Gilbert's Fix It and Sail: Everything You Need To Know To Buy and Restore a Small Sailboat on a Shoestring is a good investment that will help you avoid buying a pig in a poke. I wish I'd read it before my first purchase. For example, I bought my first keelboat in this size range knowing virtually nothing, and didn't even inspect the sails: they were old, worn, and stretched out. Had I known, I would have taken my $3000 elsewhere.

Though it' not a bad idea in any case, if you intend to purchase a keelboat instead of a sailing dinghy as your first boat, I'd recommend a sailing course. A quick look in the local phone book will list the local providers. Look/ask for the course ASA (American Sailing Association) 101.

When you get around to buying, a few months, a sailing course, dozens of bookmarks on your browser and a few good books from now…

You likely intend to dry sail the boat (launch from and recover to the trailer each time you go out). There are many people who do this, and a little searching around on the 'net will yield a lot of helpful information. Let me just throw in here that some boats require more than one person to step and unstep the mast. Some have mast-raising systems that increase safety/reduce the minimum number of people required. Stepping/unstepping the mast were the "hairiest" moments of my trailer-sailing day, by far. There aren't normally power lines in the parking lot next to the launch ramp for obvious reasons, but there are plenty of other people's cars parked all around you, and you have a wobbly, heavy aluminum strut waving about in the air. A mis-step could total a car or kill someone. Sober thought, pre-planning, adequate manpower, are essential. Practicing in a vacant parking lot (okay, now check for power lines) on a windless day is a very good idea.

Crazing (tiny little spider cracks) are not a concern and are unavoidable; larger cracks are signs of damage.

The smooth operation of the swing keel (most likely you will not be looking at boats with centerboards, but swing keels) is important, but is almost impossible to determine while the boat sits on the trailer. Once the seller knows you are a serious buyer, demanding that he take you an hour out on the water to demonstrate that all the gear functions as it is intended to could spare you a big dose of buyer's remorse ("sucker-itis"). After telling him that you like the boat and you want to buy it, the seller really has no reason to want to avoid taking you out briefly.

The condition of the trailer is important: rusty trailers can be dangerous. Don't want to have it snap on the highway. Take a pocketknife and poke around. Bubbles on the trailer paint indicate water under the paint, and rust will surely follow. Surface rust is not a problem, but if it's eating away at the structure, weakening it…

Most trailerable boats do have some kind of electrical system, even if that only means a battery and navigation lights. Some are set up with an installed VHF (very high frequency) marine radio, and some have conveniences like stereo systems, etc. Many daysailors get by carrying a handheld VHF. The EPIRB 406 mentioned is a rescue signaler used by sailors going offshore, and is not commonly carried by inshore day sailors. However, a basic set of safety equipment, some of which is legally mandatory, starting with the afore-mentioned buckets/sponges, and working up to PFDs (life vests) unexpired flares, and fire-extinguishers (you'll be working around gasoline, right?) is a smart idea. A stop at the US Coast Guard website can tell you about the legally-required equipment. I would consider basic anchoring gear to be necessary safety equipment, even for day sailors. Ask for/know how to evaluate an equipment inventory when looking at boats.

Depending on who is going to be on the boat, a porta-potti may be a nicety. If you're going to be by yourself, a sealable bottle has served the purposes of uncountable day sailors who have, um, "passed" before you.

A keelboat will not normally capsize as a dinghy will. Several hundred pounds of cast iron ballast hanging down from the hull prevents this.

Anywhere there is a launch ramp there is entertainment. Finding a place to sit and watch the fun (er, I mean study good technique) some Saturday could be very instructive, and prevent you from being part of the show.

The Catalina 22 is a Hall of Fame boat that is a good choice for what you're after. There are literally thousands of them, a large owner's network, and unbelievable factory support. Really can't go wrong. Not a racer, forgiving, and a great learning platform.

s/y Eagle's Wings— Catalina 30 MkII
"Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them." — G. K. Chesterfield
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