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Old 26-01-2015, 07:56   #1
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Buying my first boat questions.

Hi everyone,

I've spent a bit of time on large tallships, mostly on the STS Leeuwin II, but have never done much on smaller yachts. I've been hanging out to get back out on the ocean and have decided to take a leap of faith and buy a boat to live aboard. And eventually travel the world...

As this is new territory for me I will be trying to learn as much as I can prior to this. So I've come up with a few questions I thought I throw out to everyone.

Firstly, what does everyone prefer for construction; steel, fibreglass or wood? What are the pros and cons for each? I'm leaning towards fibreglass because of the repairability.... (don't know if that's a word....)

What length would be good? What brands/builds of boat do you recommend? I will be sailing mostly solo.

Any advice would be great.


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Old 26-01-2015, 08:34   #2
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

Forgot to mention, I'm already thinking between 38 - 42 ft.

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Old 26-01-2015, 09:18   #3
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

Nick, batten the hatches because you are going to get inundated with slams for not having thought out what purposes you want to use the boat for. Living aboard is one, but where do you want to sail, what is your budget, how many people on board, do you want luxury or utility, what kind of rig, and on and on.

I went through the same process. What I found useful is to not throw out a question like this to this, or other forums. You will get confusing, contradictory, and sometimes negative comments. You will also get lots of helpful and positive comments. But it will not be terribly organized or useful.

So - you need to go out and do some basic research on the topic and then come back in a few weeks/months with good specific questions, which is what the forums are best for. No one will write the book to help you with what you need to know on this forum.

Go out and find some (of hundreds) books on how to select and buy the boat for you. You already know you want a sailboat. You don't want a racer since racing boats (in general if you want to actually compete) don't make the best liveaboards. Get several of the books. Go through them chapter by chapter. Make notes. Make a list of the features that seem to fit what you need/want. Add and refine the list over and over again. Start looking at boats for sale listing. Look at the features they mention. Look up any you don't understand. Think about it all. Sleep on it.

Then go look at boats. Compare the actual boats to your thoughts. You will not get much attention from brokers if you come in not knowing what you want. They'll figure out right away that you are clueless. The good ones will show you a couple of boats that might work for you. The bad ones will try to sell you any boat they can knowing you won't really know what would work or not.

This is work. It can be a blast. We started out exactly where you are at right now except you have more sailing experience than we do. I am a list guy though and I enjoy research. The whole process was fun and exciting but daunting. Make it fun. Don't expect to figure it out real quick. Have fun and good luck. BTW - no such thing as the perfect boat for you or anyone else. All boats are compromises and combinations of different features and attributes. You will have to look at what is available for you at a price you can afford that has most of what you want but not all. And quadruple the cost of everything you think it will be.

Good luck.
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Old 26-01-2015, 09:37   #4
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

Very nicely put.

The OP ? was kinda like: "What kinda car should I buy?"

Open ended questions like that are difficult to answer.

This is one of the best How To Ask... posts I've seen (skip the Create a Post stuff which is specific to that forum). Read: Asking Questions - Announcements in Forum : Mid-Size Boats

Good luck.
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Old 26-01-2015, 12:23   #5
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

All the major forms of materials have their proponents: steel, aluminium, fibreglass, cold mold, foam and vinylester, and strip plank modern timber construction.

I think ex-Maggie Drum and Stu have given you good advice. Read up, look at naval architecture books, and consider what will suit your purposes best.

Although you've spend time on tall ships, presumably not as the captain, you have yet to experience sailing on a small boat. Starting at 38-42 ft. is pretty ambitious for a singlehander, there are so many logistical things to figure out. However, there are a number of threads here with reasonable explanations of how to use lines to help you in and out of berths, etc.

If you're somewhere you can be volunteer race crew for various skippers, that is one way to get a look at different boats, experience them, and learn about little boats.

Ann & Jim, U.S. s/v Insatiable II, SE Qld, for a while
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Old 26-01-2015, 12:57   #6
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.


Yeah I thought it was a little bit vague but figured I would just see what everyone's thoughts were. Any guidance is good guidance at this stage.

My main question was about the build materials but figured I'd throw in a few extra questions. I want a boat for ocean crossings and island hopping, i live in northern Australia and have plenty of options up here. And I would be sailing mostly solo, maybe with one other on the rare occasion. As for budget I will be looking under $70,000. The boat doesn't have to be luxury, but it does have to be comfortable and able to safely handle stormy weather when it has too.

Thanks for your input anyway. I've got a heap of books already on order, and I'll check out that forum Stu, and then I'll check back here to try again

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Old 27-01-2015, 08:25   #7
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

I will jump in first seeing as I have the chance, Hi and welcome
The devil is in the detail, eg a steel boat with no insulation can be an oven full of condensation but a well insulated one be perfect. My advice would be dont just read sail. Try to get a sail on some different types of boat. You might find a heavy weight traditional boat feels lovely, safe and snug or that it is a sluggish tub with no room. All boats have pro's and con's.
You say lots of Solo sailing, for me that puts a priority on how she hove's to in a blow. Short handed you will not be able to use active steering as a bad weather strategy so must have a boat you can batten down and ride out the weather. Reading gear reports from the ARC or similar can also be a good source. Lots of stuff that works fine coastal is not up to long distance, everything has to be heavier.
One strategy can be to get a good hull that is older but cheap because it need a complete refit - then you get all new equipment chosen for the type of sailing you do. Often boats for sail have tired coastal fit-outs that you finish up changing anyway so the total is more even though the oat looked like a good buy.
Last remember all advice is based on the boat THEY would get, not the one YOU would get!!!
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Old 27-01-2015, 09:13   #8
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

Sailboat Reviews of Offshore Cruising Yachts :

This is my favourite site for dreaming about the kind of boats that I like. You'll find a lot of information about strong seaworthy boats on this site. I use it as a constant reference as I discover new boats and decide if these are on my list or not. I'm a long way off from untieing the lines, just in the beginning stages. But, this did help me buy my first boat to learn on.
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Old 27-01-2015, 17:32   #9
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

Decide what your sailing needs are first , what will the boat be used for, where will you most likely go etc

Then start to pick to fit that need, whether it's a Bavaria or a Bounty will tend to become apparent as you progress. Balancing wants against budget etc will be a big factor as well

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Old 27-01-2015, 17:53   #10
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Re: Buying my first boat questions.

the short answer is most people buy fiberglass.

"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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