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Old 12-07-2015, 01:46   #1
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Newbie Recommendations

Greetings! I am new to sailing, but plan to retire next year and am looking to jump in. My wife and I would eventually like to sail blue water and are looking for some advice. Would we be better off buying something smaller to learn on and then trade up later or are there boats out there that we could both learn on and take out on the ocean later? Thanks in advance for your help and advice.

Cheers,
Don Morris
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Old 12-07-2015, 12:45   #2
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

I went through the same thinking process about 3 years ago. Thought I'd go small (28-30-ft range) and trade up later. I ended up buying a 38' boat that has been easy to learn on, great to sail/race, a beauty to sail in big wind, sturdy enough to take offshore, and sufficiently large to spend the weekend on with friends. Because it has the sugar scoop transom, it also met my needs as a good dive platform. I don't plan to ever sell this one when I am ready to cast off the dock lines in a couple of years. I had looked at several Freedom 36 and 38s in the Seattle/Vancouver area, which seems to have a niche market for them. The F32 is another option, and certainly many have lived and sailed the oceans on boats smaller than that. That said, a 38-footer is not a good learner boat. Mistakes can be unforgiving, though it has worked out well, so far, in my case.
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Old 12-07-2015, 13:17   #3
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

Read several boat handling books. Re read after you've had your boat awhile. See how others use their fenders and lines. Don't be afraid to ask others about how they handle their boat. Initially avoid docking in times of high wind and currents, but watch other boaters. Go slow. When I dock, I rarely am above engine idle.
When you go to sea, have backups. Don't believe the weather forecast.
If your careful, size doesn't matter. I learned on large boats and ships. Speed in docking is usually your enemy. Think about your maneuvers before hand. In time, they will become 2nd nature. Remember, ships are confined to a channel. In a harbor or river, they can't move for you. Even a slow ship takes several hundred yards to stop. Their turning circle is a half mile or more.
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Old 12-07-2015, 13:38   #4
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

Great advice from gamayun and lepke. The biggest potential pitfall I see to starting with the "one" is that it may be hard for you and your wife to know what you are really looking for without prior experience. There's a wide range of variability and just as many opinions out there about what works best. IOW, there is definitely no one criteria for what makes a "bluewater boat" and/or a "good liveaboard boat", and it can be a difficult thing to pin down out of the gates.

That said, there's also no need to overthink it A boat is a boat and the most important thing is that you come to know and trust it.

All the best.
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Old 12-07-2015, 15:38   #5
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

My oft repeated observation: the odds of selecting the right "forever" boat the first time, when you have no personal experience base to guide you are not good.

Further, while you will likely loose some sum of money in the trading up process, it is likely a much smaller loss than that accrued in buying the wrong "forever" boat. You might consider it the cost of gaining useful knowldege and experience, for in sailing, there ain't no free lunch... fancy that!

And my opinion is that while it is possible to learn to sail on a larger boat, most people learn faster and better on a smaller one, and for sure mistakes are less expensive in a smaller boat.

This question comes up frequently here on CF, and the same arguments are voiced on both sides. If you want to see them reiterated endlessly, the search function will bring them up for your enjoyment.

Jim
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Old 14-07-2015, 13:09   #6
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

I agree Jim. I always wonder if the asker just wants people to confirm a pre-decided plan of action.

My opinion, start small. You can cruise small on a 28 footer very comfortably, while learning and making (small) mistakes. Being on a boat will help you know what you really need, or if you even like it. Others will tell you to dive right in though!

Good luck!


An Ocean Lover in Maine.
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Old 14-07-2015, 13:28   #7
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

I actually did not have any preconceived plans when I first posted. After reading the advice here and doing a little more research we are now actively shopping for a 28' cruiser, so thanks for added confirmation!

Don
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Old 14-07-2015, 14:23   #8
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

Sorry for any implied snub; none intended. It's just interesting how often this question comes up. Seems like weekly.

Good luck with shopping! Where are you? In the states, you might consider a Sabre 28, Pearson 28, or Catalina 27.

We had a boat named Meantime, since it was just a temporary boat for us. We never told the boat its name though; it had "Treasure" on its stern. But we figured it was bad juju to tell the boat our eventual plans for it.


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Old 14-07-2015, 14:48   #9
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

No worries or snubs - I was just providing a data point.

We're in Seattle. There are a several Clark San Juans for sale, probably because they were manufactured nearby. I've read all I can find and it sounds like a pretty good boat for our purposes, although I haven't gone to look at one yet. I see a couple Catalinas listed, but no Pearsons.

Thanks for the recommendations. I very much appreciate the vast knowledge and experience in this forum. I must confess to hours spent poring over the reviews of different boats I see for sale.

I'm sure I'll be asking more questions as we proceed.

Thanks again.
Cheers,
Don
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Old 14-07-2015, 15:22   #10
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by donmseattle View Post
...I must confess to hours spent poring over the reviews of different boats I see for sale...
HA! Welcome to the crazy boat people club
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Old 14-07-2015, 15:54   #11
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

Find a local yacht club and start crewing on someone's boat in races. You'll learn a lot in a short time. Far more and faster than just going sailing on your own. In the meantime, you can still buy your own boat and sail it. I started racing from day one and always appreciate what I learned from the experience.
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Old 14-07-2015, 16:10   #12
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

Welcome to CF. This is a great place with a ton of folks with a ton of experience. I am not one of those folks. But I am in your shoes. And it does seem that we all come in here and ask that same question.

What I am going to tell you is that I have only been here in the forum about 5 months. I have already read a bunch of these threads and as someone already said, the same people give the same advice pretty much every time. Some think it is OK to get a large(r) boat and some vocally oppose it.

As for me, I studied and studied. I listened and considered every view (really!). In the end I decided that:

1) I had a limited budget, so the probability of taking a loss on the smaller "learning" boat was a consideration.
2) If I bought too "small" then I had a 100% chance that I would have to sell it later and a high probability of taking a loss. And that sale and new buy is a PITA.
3) If I at least tried to find a good "forever boat", and I use that term very loosely as I don't really think that is probable, then I had some percentage probability that I would buy something that I could enjoy for a long time.

I am looking for a liveaboard. I am single. Racing doesn't interest me. Lounging, swimming, fishing off the stern and hanging out on the water, and not feeling cramped does. I searched for a long time for something clean but in my price range. I finally found a Morgan Out Island 33 that met my personal criteria. I am in no way recommending that to anyone else.

I would have preferred a 40' but I understand that I cannot afford something that big.

So that is my first boat. LOTS of folks here would recommend against. One gentleman here, having a bad experience with them 40 years ago, vociferously rails against them to this day, 40 years later.

I say understand the reasons behind all the opinions you get, carefully do your own research, then make up your own mind and go for it.

It has been my experience that folks who expect bad things get bad things, or at least think what they get is bad. And Vice Versa. My expectations shape my life, so I have learned to expect good things.

I expect to have a blast on my MI 33. I'm betting I will.
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Old 14-07-2015, 16:11   #13
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Re: Newbie Recommendations

Personally I would recommend something in the low to mid thirty ft range. The smaller boats are, IMHO, best for day sailing or racing. My own first boat was a Morgan 32. I loved that boat, still do. Built tough, simple rigging, easy to single hand and most importantly it was easier to learn maintenance than a larger boat. I got to do plumbing, electrical, woodworking, rigging, sewing and fiberglass repair. Sure I could have learned all that on a bigger boat, but almost everything costs more. The moderate size taught the same lessons at a discount.

The mid-thirty boats like the Morgan or Pearson are a bit heavier allowing a bit more comfort when the weather is less than benign. Example, the M32 displaced 11,000 lbs and in 20 kt of wind I would put in one reef. The Catalina 27 would probably have two reefs. In the 38 footer displacing 23,000 lb I would be putting more sail up.

This is all fine on paper but I also spent a year crewing on a yacht club racer. A Beneteau 30. Besides learning sail trim, I also pestered the owner for info on all the other boats in the race. Cost was nothing but some time. These guys are always looking for crew for the Saturday race.

If you can afford it, try chartering. You can try different boats, get instruction and learn what you like and don't like. You might find ( dare I say it) that you prefer cats to monohulls.

My first sailing instructor had some good advice. Don't worry about the things you can change, be concerned with what you can't change. I can upgrade winches to self tailing but I'm not going to change a fin keel to a full keel.

I've gone on too long, as usual but enjoy. There is a lot to learn but I find most of the fun is in learning.

Regards
Rich

Ps 15 yr ago I sold that Morgan to a friend. He still has it and loves it.


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