Originally Posted by Ronaldsons
O. K. I know you have heard this before but I am 58 years old and diagnosed with serious health problems. Hoping to have a couple years of activity left and have a bucket list item of sailing the Bahamas and Carribean. I have owned power boats all my life and have done extensive scuba
in Carribean , Bahamas and Mexico
. I've been in love with it since first trip in 8th grade. I live by Lake Michigan and thought I would buy a sailboat in spring, learn how to sail, and cruise down river system to gulf then Bahamas then who knows. Should I just start in Florida? What can I safely cruise open ocean in and also be shoal draft
. My budget
for boat only is 25000.
I sincerely wish you the best of luck in fulfilling your dream.
Since you feel some pressure due to health issues, I have a few suggestions:
1. Learn to sail locally before buying
a boat. Crew for others in your area if you can. Any time you spend on the sailboats in your area should help you understand what to look for in your own boat. Walk the docks and look for smaller boats. Ask the owners if you can see what they are like inside, and ask them how they sail. Getting inside the smaller and older boats will help you determine what you can live with (or without).
2. Read some books
old boats (there are a few that are highly regarded and often mentioned here on this forum).
3. Buy the low cost boat in Florida. The long trip to the Bahamas from Michigan would likely cost time and money
best spent in the islands. Given that money
and time are finite, I would rather spend mine in the warm waters of the Florida coast or in the islands, rather than behind a barge on a river.
4. Assuming you are alone, buy the smallest boat you can tolerate staying aboard. The smaller boat (27ft) will be easier to handle alone (docking, raising sails
, etc.) and cheaper to maintain, and lower in cost initially. And, if you keep the boat under a certain size, it is cheaper for the entry fees
to Bahamas. Some folks (usually singles) successfully cruise and/or liveaboard
smaller boats. It is like camping in some ways, but doable. On a very limited budget, and given the desire to experience things while you can (due to health), I would go small boat and use the rest of the budget to enjoy the time and adventure as much as possible.
IF you have a larger budget (beyond the $25K) and you do feel comfortable spending the $25K on the initial purchase
of the boat (and understand you may need to spend more to get it fixed or updated or ready), then I think you should be able to find suitable boats in Florida for that $25K. I know I saw several in that area that I would enjoy sailing and would consider good for Keys, Bahamas, and Florida coastal sailing. Some were 30 feet. Some less. While I might like "shoal draft" as a desired feature for that purpose, many members of this forum have sailed those same waters with boats that are not called "shoal draft" and some report sailing the Bahamas in boats with 6 and 7 foot draft keels with no problems (they are careful where they go).
What would I buy in your situation?
First, I would take it step by step. I would first enjoy (to the maximum) a boat in waters where the boat would be a good fit, and I would have most chance of enjoying myself and within my budget and abilities. So, given the lack of sailing experience (you have currently) I would explore the Florida waters, the Florida Keys
, and the nearby Bahamas. I would not require a "blue water
boat" for that. A coastal cruiser or even a smaller cruising cat or tri would be OK with me for THOSE waters. Since you mention SCUBA as an interest, I would devote my time to enjoying the sailing, SCUBA, and exploring the reefs
and shallow waters, rather than planning a long voyage to far away with a low cost boat that may not be adequate or with skills that are lacking at this point (in your life). Maximize what you can get NOW, as nothing is certain in the future.
By the way, I saw some trimarans that might fit that budget. These are generally smaller boats (27 feet) but offer some advantages over monos for the purposes of sailing in shallow waters. One boat that comes to mind is a Corsair F-27
or F24 trimaran
. They are fast, can be trailered (when the amas are folded in) and I could cruise on one (as a single
guy). They are also FAST and fun to sail, and I have been passed by them while I was on a mono. I have spoken to owners and they love them. I seem to recall
some used ones going for about $25-30K. While I would not choose this boat for crossing the Atlantic or Pacific, I would happily use it to cruise the waters of Florida or Bahamas.
I did a quick search on the net and see one is for sale
in Michigan (perhaps you could look at it) and there is one (a F24) for about $25K in Florida (may not be still available). This link will show you what they look like.
1994 Corsair F24 sailboat for sale in Florida
5. Buy a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) before you take off. They cost about $200 and could save you in case you are in desperate situation and need to call for help. I mention this as every so often there is an account of some boaters who may have some experience on the water
but are in need of rescue
and suffer because they are not found quickly. The PLB makes finding them easy for the Coast Guard.
Big journeys and adventures start with dreams that are implemented step by step. I hope you enjoy yours.