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Old 14-04-2009, 14:34   #1
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Help a Noob

Hello everyone,

I'm looking for a starter boat but I have so many questions i don't know where to start. I want to eventually live aboard. I'm 24 at the moment and just getting started with life.

For starters I have never operated a sailboat in my life only power boats, kayaks, and the likes. I plan to join a sailing club on Lake Lanier to learn and gain experience. There are even a couple sailboat on Lanier for sale that I plan to look at.

My budget is $20,000

Down to the questions.

-Reputable boat companies known for reliability safety etc. Safety is KEY for me. I'm looking for the Honda Accord of sailboats or even a little more expensive the Acura TL. Cheap and reliable.

-I hear that multihulls are safer and roomier, but how much of a price difference am I looking at?

-What length boat should I start off in? I would want to eventually go down to the Caribbean. I will have my gf with me but I would rather it not be too hard operating myself.

-What makes a boat a 'blue water' boat, able to cross oceans and go around the world? (Other than length)

-Finance or out right buy? Would be nice to just consider it a 2nd car note. At 24 $20k is a nice chunk of change. Definitely doable with the right motivation, though.

-After I buy, where do I keep it and what is the cost(Average)? I think I may keep it at Lake Lanier until I become used to it but the transportation fee worries me. The Golden Isles are 4 hours from me so I may just leave it there.
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Old 14-04-2009, 15:27   #2
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I moved aboard when I was 24. I had previous experience sailing little "board" boats,- 12' daysailers and the like. Whatever you learn on the small boat will transfer to a bigger boat. Larger boats don't respond to your actions as quickly so in many ways they are more forgiving to sail.
For $20,000 my thoughts are the best boat would be some 1980's + or - boat that you pick up for 12 to 15K and outfit & update it with the balance. You might want to search on Yachtworld.com to see what fits your budget. I think you'll see a lot of 28'-32' boats that met your needs, but be careful not to "fall in love" to quickly. There are many good buys out there and there are many owners you have kept their boats in good shape. I am often told when I replace my rigging or sails or engine .....any big expense in keeping my boat fit, "you'll never get that money back when you sell it."
If you buy a multi-hull your buying an additional hull and $ is a factor. Also, multihulls are far more weight sensitive for their performance. They can be great boats, but they are not, in my belief, safer,- but they're safe enough.
"Blue water" boats are usually thought of as those with a strong hull that have a fairly deep draft that allows for comfort and performance in rough seas. In my opinion the main factor that makes a boat a "Blue Water" boat is the captain. With today's ability to interpret and forecast weather any captain can choose mild conditions for a garuanteed three days. You can choose to enjoy good weather in the Caribbean and all the coastal US if you don't commit to risk. True, if your making an ocean crossing, then you are subject to unpredictable weather. With this in mind, the "blue water boat for a caribbean cruiser can be a different boat. Having a shallow draft allows you more protected anchorages; more choices of short passages. So, the car analogies, honda and such, are hard to implement,- the "driver" rules. So take a look at something like the Alberg 30 for the classic definition of a blue water boat, but leave the door open to most of the production models if you are going to be free to choose your weather.
You will find slip rentals for a 30' boat ranging from $225 to $1,000 a month and the difference will not be proportional to the amenities. A lot of it is big money is "satus, resort, tiki bar" location and much of the lesser is "across the tracks". There are to many personal unknowns for me to make any suggestion about financing or where you keep the boat,- Lake Lanier or Golden Isles. Lake sailing doesn't have all the dynamics of the coast.
I've been living aboard and cruising for 38 years so please be warned,- this can be a terminal choice! 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 14-04-2009, 16:13   #3
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On thing I think you need to be careful of is coming to conclusion about the differences between monohulls and multi-hulls. There are examples of both that have routinely circumnavigated and there are examples of both that should most probably never be taken off shore. The 26-foot trimaran I owned had much less interior space than the previouis 26-foot monohull I owned.

I think you will find there are not many multi-hulls in the price range you mentioned. Most for under 20K will be home built. I cant' speak as to how to evaluate such boats. The only production multi-hulls I routinely see for sale in that price range are the Telstar Trimaran and Iroquois Catamaran. In my opinion neither are a good choice for your stated goals.

Yachtworld above is a good place to start. You might just start by seeing what is on the market in your price range and then researching those boats to see if you feel they meet your need. Personally, if I was looking for boats that I could cruise to the caribbean and have outfitted for under 20K, I'd consider: A couple of the Pearson models, Alburg 35, Morgan OI 30, Westerly Berwick, There may be some Pacific Seacrafts, If I was willing to limit myself to the U.S. and Bahamas, I'd add some of the Endevours, Catalinas and Hunters, which is actually what I just did. (Hunter)

Realize, when buying any boat, getting it cruise ready may mean a lot of additions. many of the older boats may have old inboard engines which is a big expense if it needs replacing - likely over half your budget right there.

In terms of advice, I'd say - don't spend more money buying a boat suited for what you dream of doing - buy it for what you will likely actually do in the near future. It doesn't have to be the only boat you own the rest of your life. Also, while you don't want to put off buying your own boat forever, it can pay to take the time to really learn what you need before you make the purchase. If you can spend some time on some cruising boats before buying your own.
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Old 14-04-2009, 16:24   #4
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Hi Sailnoob,

Capt Force hit it right on but I do have a couple of comments to add.

First, in choosing a boat the most important thing is to establish how you will use the boat and buy the appropriate boat; one more example of the right tool for the job. CF gave a good basic summary of some things to consider. If Lake Lanier is close then it would be a great place to keep the boat and learn sailing. The winds can be very fluky but that is a good way to hone your sailing skills. Lanier is also big enough to have lots of places to go and keep you interested. I lived on the lake for 12 years and only saw a fraction of it.

You might also want to consider a starter boat on the lake and once you have more experience and have formed your likes and dislikes you would be better equiped to buy a keeper. However, I have seen some really good deals on Lanier and they have the added advantage of fresh water use. If you have the right deal it is not that expensive to haul the boat down to the ocean.

While size is to some degree important (all you perverts out there stop your snickering) the quality of the boat and skipper count for more.

If you are new to sailing I highly recommend reading up on the subject. Read every book and magazine you can get your hands on and when you do get on a boat you will pick up the skills that much faster.

Good luck. This is a great forum for learning and asking questions.
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Old 14-04-2009, 22:56   #5
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Sailnoob,
I just started sailing on Lanier. I found Barefoot Sailing Club and they seem like to good bunch to hook up with. They have races where you can spend time sailing on someone else's baot as crew and get a feel for what kind of boat you'd like to get your self.
I got lucky, sort of. I found a boat for free that needs a lot of work. Right now I'm busy with work and I can't get to it but once I do you'll find me back on the lake any time I have free.
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Old 15-04-2009, 11:02   #6
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Sailnoob,

Many others would disagree but if you know you're not gonna take off cruising for a few years, I'd finance and get you a nicer boat. Even if you only finance another 10k or so, getting up to that 30k range increases the choice considerably. But of course, you can say the same for the 40's, the 50's, and beyond.

For Honda Accord equivalents in sailing, check out some Catalinas. You can fetch a Catalina 30 (one of the most popular boats ever made) for 20-30k and a REALLY well cared for one in the low 30's. I saw several people sailing and living on them in the Virgin Islands and beyond. They certainly fit your "cheap and reliable" model.

For your price range I'd stick to monohulls. You won't get much of a cat for that price. And if you do, it'll be one of those older, ugly cats. The aesthetics of the new ones have improved considerably but they are rather expensive...especially as an entry boat. My next boat will prob be a cat.


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Old 15-04-2009, 12:59   #7
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Aloha Noob,

There are a couple of articles and books you might want to purchase just to provide some answers to your questions. Atom Voyages | Voyages Aboard the Sailboat Atom -* Good Old Boats List - choosing a* small voyaging sailboat is a good place to start and I recommend the book Twenty Small Sailboats to Take you Anywhere by John Vigor.

Kind regards,

JohnL
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Old 19-04-2009, 21:47   #8
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Quote:
-Reputable boat companies known for reliability safety etc. Safety is KEY for me. I'm looking for the Honda Accord of sailboats or even a little more expensive the Acura TL. Cheap and reliable.
Boats are a little different than cars. Maintenance is as much of, if not more, a determinant of seaworthiness as original build quality. That said - look for Pearson, Bristol, C&C, CS, Cape Dory, Sabre, Ericson, Pacific Seacraft. There are lots of others that are good as well.

Quote:
-I hear that multihulls are safer and roomier, but how much of a price difference am I looking at?
They are definitely roomier, but I personally consider them to be less safe than monohulls. I also think you would do far better to learn to sail on a monohull.

Quote:
-What length boat should I start off in? I would want to eventually go down to the Caribbean. I will have my gf with me but I would rather it not be too hard operating myself.
I would suggest that you buy a starter boat around 18 feet and learn how to sail properly. You can feel what the wind does to a boat when it is not too heavy, and you can see an immediate reaction to the changes in trim and balance that you make. Once you understand this, you can sell the small boat and move up.
Quote:
-What makes a boat a 'blue water' boat, able to cross oceans and go around the world? (Other than length)
Strength of the hull and some design characteristics. There is a lot of debate on this topic, and if you search here and on other sailing sites you'll find months and months worth of reading about it.
Quote:
-Finance or out right buy? Would be nice to just consider it a 2nd car note. At 24 $20k is a nice chunk of change. Definitely doable with the right motivation, though.
Don't ever borrow money to buy a boat unless you have enough sitting in the bank to pay the loan off at any time...in which case - why are you paying the interest ?

Quote:
-After I buy, where do I keep it and what is the cost(Average)? I think I may keep it at Lake Lanier until I become used to it but the transportation fee worries me. The Golden Isles are 4 hours from me so I may just leave it there.
Depends on the length and it goes up exponentially. I have never spent less than $5,000.00 annually, but I am not the thriftiest individual. Some people report that they can get by on much less, but things are always breaking and needing repair. I don't sail on unsafe vessels and don't recommend anyone else do so. If it needs replacing - it gets replaced. You will have the following expenses: mooring or docking, insurance (not an option - you won't be allowed into marinas without it), general maintenance - bottom paint, fuel, batteries, etc. and major repairs - one every couple of years.

These costs increase dramatically as boat size increases.

Good Luck !
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Old 20-04-2009, 06:21   #9
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If you're just starting out, I might hold off on a boat purchase right away.
Get some experience under your belt. Join the club and learn on their boats.
Take your girlfriend and go on a couple of sailing vacations. Get as much experience as you can, before you lay your money down on your own boat. I'd Sail on as many
" other peoples" boats as you can. this will give you a better idea of the positives and negatives.

Once you buy a boat, you will have fewer options than you do..right now. For one, your money will now be tied up in the boat and its upkeep. Right now, you can sail with the club on lake lanier, and take a sailing vacation in the carribean.

I haven't been to the carribean since I purchased my boat 5 years ago!
before that, I chartered there every year....lol... $$
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Old 20-04-2009, 09:21   #10
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Become more familiar with sailboats before purchasing one. Your choice of a boat will be a much more educated decision.
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Old 10-05-2009, 15:40   #11
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Hello all, thanks for everyone responses. I have a couple friends letting me help maintain and repair there sailboats so I can learn the basics. In the mean time I look on yatchworld and craigslist to see what is available. I have decided on a monohull cruiser 20-25 in length and a new price of $5000. Since this is my starter learner boat I figured I spend way less than previously planned and just work on it myself. For now I will just sleep on it on weekends and have BBQ's with friends.

I still have yet to learn to identify a cruiser boat rather than a race boat. Now the question becomes, what makes a cruiser boat. Does a longer keel mean a race boat?

Here are some boats I found around where I live.
1984 Catalina 25 sailboat
Balboa 26 Sailboat
1979 San Juan 23 Sailboat Excellent Cond. Dry, Dry, Dry

Since I'm spening $5000 for a old starter boat I would assume the inboard engine will be bad? Should I be looking for a boat with a outboard motor? What are the pros and cons of inboard vs outboard?
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Old 10-05-2009, 17:54   #12
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Hey noob,

A lot of great advice from the guys above. Since you're landlocked for the time being, I think it's a great idea to get a small starter boat on the lake, have barbeques and sail around, and test the waters, so to speak. If you don't need a big boat now, why not wait for a bit. If you're thinking of moving aboard, I'd advise something larger. But if not, get a small, cheap boat and have fun, or better still, go down to the docks this summer with a 12-pack and meet some folks to sail with. You'll get a better idea of what you want, and if you even like sailing enough to take the plunge. And as captforce warned, be careful, it can be a terminal choice, indeed.

That being said, when you want to upgrade, I bought my first boat, an ericson 29' for $7000 when I was 23, probably put two more into her and could've sailed to mexico (west coast) or the carribean if I were over there and had a blast. I was a newb, and payed too much, market was probably five grand at the time. I have since upgraded to a bigger boat which took a big retrofit, but could have been cruising all these years had I stuck with the first one. "A simple boat out cruising is better than a fancy boat, tied to the bank," so they say.

A few more quick comments:

I don't know about the boat market on the east coast, but by west coast standards, the boats you listed above are overvalued. Sure they're clean and perhaps well maintained, but those prices sound a bit steep. If I just wanted to have bbq's and cruise the lake on sunny days, I'd just get a cheap, functional but not spotless boat. But that's just me. Also, you can almost always talk someone down, especially in this market. Don't be shy about it.

I'm a firm believer in a first boat being a fixer-upper. It'll take up a lot of time and money dealing with the problems, but it'll be a valuable boot camp, because that's the reality of boat ownership. And you need to have those hands-on skills offshore when things go wrong and all you've got is your know-how, a couple of tools and some duct tape.

And finally, go to Borders or Barnes and Nobles, buy a coffee ('for here' for the refills), and read through every book on cruising and boat maintanence on the shelf. Or just buy them, but I'm cheap. If they continue to fascinate you, you're probably in trouble, in a good way. If not, well...
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Old 10-05-2009, 18:41   #13
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The Catalina 25 catalina a nice 1st boat. I'm not very familiar with the others.

besides all the other checks....I'd be curious to see what the sails look like! if original, they are all probably due for replacement. The worst thing on a sailboat is raggity sails.
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Old 11-05-2009, 01:31   #14
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Hi Sailnoob - For me the considerations are

- Access - A boat nearby will get used a lot more. It's nice to be able to pop out in an evening and do some cleaning or maintenance or just sit on the boat and have a beer.

- Big Boat Systems - If you are sure that you want a future cruising lifestyle get a boat with big boat systems - Water tank, lights, inboard power, bilge pumps, head, autopilot. You will learn about these things as you own and maintain the boat. Outboard power is interesting but not for me.

- Setup - We have lazy jacks and a furling genny. We are off the mooring and sailing in 5 minutes. We are back on the mooring in maybe 10 minutes. An easy boat to launch gets sailed a lot.

- Setup - most of our lines run to the cockpit. I can easily single hand the boat. The autopilot doesn't get used a whole lot but when we use it, it's great to have on board.

Having said that an alternative for you is to go even smaller (Catalina 22) and forgo some of the "big boat" systems. Going even smaller you can get a laser or other dinghy or even a beach cat and still learn excellent skills on the water.

Our boat is as described above. This weekend I sailed twice with just one crew. We had a blast both days. Our all up costs run about $400 per month. Insurance, maintenance, anti-fouling and upgrades that we have done to the boat.

I have a partnership. The good thing about it is that the boat is used constantly even if one partner is tied up with work and stuff. Another good thing is that our fixed costs are split down the middle.

Partnerships aren't for everyone but on a small starter boat I think they make even better sense.
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