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Old 26-06-2008, 23:52   #1
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A few questions for a new guy :)

Good evening all,

I'll start off by saying I've never sailed a day in my life. I've always wanted to be a boat owner, and with the cost of fuel these days, I've decided to stay well clear of Power boats, and go with Sails. Ive just enroled myself in some sailing lessons, and when their done I'll be looking at making a purchase!

What am I looking at buying, well something around 31 - 34 feet is favourable. I want something I have the ability to take the other half out on a long weekend cruise around the caost, maybe a few friends as well. The one I'm thinking of purchasing is a 1981 Sunstar 31, Cruising Sloop built by Spencer Yachts in Vancouver. It looks to be in excelent condition - but obviously I would get it inspected before making the purchase.

There are a few things I would like to know before making the purchase, and hopefully you guys can help me out.

1 - What are the maintenance costs (roughly) on these watercrafts? What should I expect to incur yearly? (IE new sails, paint, fabrication and so on...)

2 - For those Canadians in the forums, what would insurance costs be on a yearly basis?

3 - Should we decided to take an extended trip down the Pacific Coast of North America, will something in the 31 - 34 foot range do?

4 - Should we perhaps in a few years (as sailing experience builds up) decided to perhaps head out towards Hawaii during the summer, is this size too small? and how long would the trip take to make?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 27-06-2008, 05:00   #2
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Welcome to the forum,

A lot of the questions you ask are a bit complex. The complexity lies in the issues that come to the conclusions that the length of the boat is the net answer. Rather than length look at the displacement. Displacement is the ability to haul stuff, as in tonnage, and in your stuff. You water, fuel, personal gear and actually anything not directly attached to the boat. That includes things you know you need like an anchor. If you can forget about length as only one measure of size the answer gets less complex.

For cruising on the weekend or say a week or too the boats mentioned can carry enough stuff for a trip of that duration. Longer trips tend to require more stuff as your need to carry spare equipment starts to increase. The amount of water and fuel you can carry sets up limits as well.

Quote:
The one I'm thinking of purchasing is a 1981 Sunstar 31, Cruising Sloop built by Spencer Yachts in Vancouver.
That seems to be a bit over specific for a first boat. I was able to find a 1981 28 ft listed for sale. I would not consider them overly remarkable either positive or negative. The 28 ft is 6000 lbs displacement. For a typical long distance cruising trip you need 3 tons of stuff using minimal numbers. The 28 I saw was far short for water and fuel tankage. So I would say the 28 is not something to head off into the sunset BUT it would work fine for two people to do short hops for a week or so with not a great deal of amenities. Space requirements can be confusing. It's easy to say you need a king size bed with 6ft. IN. of head room but that requirement might take a very long time and a lot of money. The queen sized berth with 6 ft of headroom is only a little more money.

How you both get along living in the back of a pickup truck will help you figure out if the boat is too small. For me 31 ft is too small but I've owned a 33 ft boat I thought was actually quite big. We now have a 36 ft boat that is as much boat as we require and all I can afford in terms of time (not being retired) and money. The little bit bigger boat costs a lot more to maintain.

There really is no lower limit to a boat except the short comings that go with it. California to Hawaii to Australia has been done in a boat 8 ft 9 inches. The guy that did it was not like you or I. There is a huge part of this that is about you and not about the boat. You are in the end out to have fun. With that primary purpose it becomes even less about the boat and more about you having fun? So how fun are you. What do you think is fun?

I would use your time and lessons to start getting a better feel of the boat and what it is like to be out on it for long periods of time. You need to really find your own sense of cruising be it short trips or extended trips. You need some experience under your belt to see what you really want and need. The more you can do on other peoples boats the better you will fit to any boat you decide is "it". It is easy to find a first boat but then fixing it and selling it to get the right boat can take a few years. It's the process of really knowing. Spend some time and read the stories here. One of them may be just like you while all of them seem to start just like you.

Boat expenses! We have many many discussions already posted and reading many of them will give the sense of what it entails. There is no end to that topic and so we talk about it every day. It costs a lot to keep a boat and gets harder as the boat gets bigger. New boats take a lot of work as do older boats that need even more work. You should enjoy the work in one sense because you need to do a lot of it. It becomes a way to forget about time because everything on a boat takes a lot longer to fix than jobs you take on around the house or car. Ordinary expenses include a basic haul and bottom paint every year or every other year depending on climate. Cleaning and maintenance of just about everything is common. Replacement of a few things is to be expected. Good sails last a good long time unless you race. Racing to win requires new sails often and they cost a lot more. Racing can be fun and may be a type of sailing you would like. Go out on a boat and crew for a race. Many skipper always want at least one new person now and again. It is just another dimension to sailing to help you find your own style. A 30 ft boat once paid for is about $3000 / year plus marina fees for a boat of some age but starting in good shape. As you move toward upper 30's it gets bigger quickly. Mostly due to more things on it that all need something. If you buy a used boat it takes 9 months to shake out what is wrong with it and another 9 months to actually get it right. That assumes you have the time and the money on hand to get at it.

You need an unlimited number of small parts that you are always running to the boat store for and never getting out of the store for under $20 no matter what you thought it would be. Some of the parts are wrong and you have to go back and lose another $20. One bounces off the deck and splashes in the water so back to the store again. The things that actually break are mostly unexpected but in the process of fixing it you find two more that don't look as good as you thought even just a day ago. You have to repair things you can see but can't imagine how you will get at them in such small tight places.

Here is the really bad news. You do need fuel as long trips include a lot of motoring. While you don't consume as much as a power boat you do consume a lot of expenses. In the end the fuel costs are nothing compared to all the other costs. My fuel bill so far is about $80 this year as we have not be able to do any more than 4 days per trip. We had decent wind this year so sailed more but now head into slow winds and summer heat - more motoring. If you want to do long trips you need to be able to motor well period. If you do short trips you know the wind before you leave. The difference is subtle yet quite dramatic. The Pacific NW should keep you plenty busy with things to learn. It has all the fun things required with strong currents, cold water and cloudy weather. dealing with the not as nice parts so you can get to the perfect anchorage is all part of the game and some seasoning is required.

This all can be done but you need to start planning and adding up numbers to build a better base so it really all can be fun. You need a new language and sets of new skills. You are starting out so finding ways to make and keep it fun is the critical ingredient.
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Old 27-06-2008, 08:54   #3
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What you really need to do is get some sailing experience on various sizes of boats, sail with others on their boat, go look at some of the boats available for sale in the size and price range you are considering, then come back and ask some questions specific to those boats.
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Old 27-06-2008, 09:07   #4
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Paul,

You make it sound so difficult. I think after 20 years I will just quit.......lololololol

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BLOOD, SWEAT, and TEARS is what it takes. You're gonna work hard on the boat. You will eventually scrape your knuckles, and bleed. The tears come from frustration, and complete happiness for enduring it all. The pleasure of it makes you forget all the bad things. It must be true, or all of us would have given up by now......EVEN PAUL!!!!!
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Old 27-06-2008, 13:07   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapper View Post
Good evening all,

1 - What are the maintenance costs (roughly) on these watercrafts? What should I expect to incur yearly? (IE new sails, paint, fabrication and so on...)

2 - For those Canadians in the forums, what would insurance costs be on a yearly basis?

3 - Should we decided to take an extended trip down the Pacific Coast of North America, will something in the 31 - 34 foot range do?

4 - Should we perhaps in a few years (as sailing experience builds up) decided to perhaps head out towards Hawaii during the summer, is this size too small? and how long would the trip take to make?

Thanks for your help!
1) This is hard to say and depends on whether you do the work yourself or hire it out.A good rule of thumb is 10% to 15% of the cost of the hull. You might not spend that year after year but the capital items - sails engine mast rigging wear out you can expect to pay that much. Some people get by on much less. Vancouver docking fees are very expensive.

2) I'm not Canadian but my wife is.

3) You live in one of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world. A friend of mine has put 21k nautical miles on his boat and never left the PNW. You have the oppourtunity to learn your nav skills, cruising skills, and joys a nd sorrows of cruising right in your backyard. (We kept our boat in Canada for about a year and half and easily could have spent more time there.) For a couple a 31 foot boat is a good size. It gets cramped for more than that although a few rug rats running around and it is still tolerable. If you decide to go down the West Coast of NA you are at the small end of what I would want to do it in I think 35' is a good size. It is possible but might not be so comfortable.

4) Hawaii may be a 25 day or longer passage.

Since you have said that you have never sailed before I would start with a a boat of 35 LOA or smaller. Find a berth before you buy the boat. Cruise the Sunshine coast the Gulf islands, San Juan Islands, Desolation Sound etc. After doing that you will know what type of boat you will want or you maybe happy with what you have. I would reccomend getting a name brand boat that holds value. Catalina 30, Islander 30 come to mind. They are alot of fun and you can recoup most of your money should you decide to sell. Good luck with your plans and if you need anybody to help you sail your boat to desolation Sound let me know LOL
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Old 27-06-2008, 16:58   #6
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Wow, Thank you Pblais and Charlie. I realize my questions are rather nieve and i apologize for that... You guys have given me a great base to start learning. I appreciate it!
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Old 28-06-2008, 01:39   #7
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It may have already been said, but if you are really new to the world of boating, I suggest you start small and see how you like it, and learn the ropes. Boats can be expensive and so starting small weans the cost aren't to high till your learn how to do work yourself.
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Old 29-06-2008, 10:20   #8
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Starting out sailing in Vancouver is pretty easy. Head down to Jericho Beach or look around for small boat sailing opportunities. I very strongly recommend learning to sail a dinghy. There are lots of reasons for this, but it's easiest to say that a small boat reacts quickly but is very forgiving.

Anyone can learn to sail within a half-hour or so of being stuck in a single-sail dinghy, with or without instruction. And I say that having marooned people in a boat because it was easier than coaxing them through the learning process. Getting some basic instruction and then getting into a boat is faster/better than long introductions, and most learn-to-sail programs know this.

Once you've begun dinghy sailing, then you can indulge the bigger boat fantasies. You'll be learning what you like/dislike, as well as the kind of sailing you're really attracted to. Don't assume you want a 30 footer to beat up into the jungles (the islands northwest of Desolation Sound out to Charlotte Strait) without an engine and be one with the wind - you may find you prefer laser racing Wednesday nights, or that a nice tug-style motorboat suits your work/weekend boating schedule better. Try things before you buy. Charter boats (there are a lot of opportunities in this area.) volunteer to be crew on race boats. Make friends with boat owners. Especially, make friends with boat owners in the early spring by offering to help with spring fitting.

Do stuff first, before you start buying. Like saving up to buy your boat with cash, if you possibly can. It makes for a huge reduction in stress. But especially, do experience the kind of sailing you dream of doing *before* you buy the boat you dream of doing it in.
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Old 29-06-2008, 12:17   #9
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Pretty much says it all.
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Old 29-06-2008, 12:28   #10
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Hi Sapper,

My advice would be join a sailing club you will always find helpful members and plenty of official training also plenty of skippers looking for crew so you can try before you buy boating is my life but not everybodys and can be very expensive if you get it wrong.

Have fun on the water ian
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Old 29-06-2008, 16:27   #11
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I am going to repeat some of what has been said. I think you'd do well to buy a smaller boat and sail that for a couple of years.


Quote:
1 - What are the maintenance costs (roughly) on these watercrafts? What should I expect to incur yearly? (IE new sails, paint, fabrication and so on...)
Budget on a minimum of 5K for docking, insurance, fuel and bottom paint each season. Then figure that you're going to spend another couple of thousand a year buying new things to replace broken stuff ro upgrade old stuff. Every five years or so you're going to run into a major expense - between 5 and 20 grand.

Quote:
2 - For those Canadians in the forums, what would insurance costs be on a yearly basis?
You should be able to get an "Agreed Value" policy for about 1% of the purchase price. Aviva or Royal and Sun Alliance issue them. You'll need a survey that says the boat is in good condition.

Quote:
3 - Should we decided to take an extended trip down the Pacific Coast of North America, will something in the 31 - 34 foot range do?
Yes - it's less about the size of the boat than it is about the breadth of the crew's experience. If you go - hug the shore for a few years.

Quote:
4 - Should we perhaps in a few years (as sailing experience builds up) decided to perhaps head out towards Hawaii during the summer, is this size too small? and how long would the trip take to make?
No - you can go around the world if you'd like to. By the time you are ready to make the trip to Hawaii, you will know enough to decide if the boat you own is the one you want to make the trip on.

Good Luck ! Hope everything works out well
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