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Old 30-01-2006, 12:42   #1
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Small learning boat recommendations

Hi all,
I'm new to the bb but have been reading posts for months. I'll start by saying my wife and I have very limited sailing experience. We have decided to cruise for an extended period of time but not for 5-6 years fro now. As I see it, I have just enough time to get familiar with boats and boat systems. We plan on taking lessons but would really like our own boat once we're comfortable enough to sail by ourselves. We have 2 small children and one on the way so I'm thinking of a weekender type of boat with accommodations for 5 (I know, awfully cramped). The boat would be sailed in coastal New England waters.
There's one more thing though. I has to be pretty. I know this is subjective. I love salty looking boats like Cape Dory, Bristol, PSC Danas. The Dana is way too much money since were officially saving to break away from thr rat race but older Cape Dorys can be had between 4-10K. This would not break the bank.
Any suggestions? I'm thick skinned so blast away. We are determined to go and this seems like the most education for the $.

Thanks, Brian

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Old 30-01-2006, 13:53   #2
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sounds like you're looking for something in the 25-28-foot range: smaller than that, and no room to sleep 4, much less 5; larger than that (i.e. the ones that really sleep 5 rather than 4), and there's probably something wrong with it if priced at $10K or less.

I'm more familiar with the boats of the 60s/70s, which may be in your price range anyway. For your first boat, keep it simple, you might even be better off with an outboard auxiliary, alcohol stove, hand-pumped water, simple elec. system--KISS is what you want in an old, inexpensive boat, you want to sail it, not fix it.

The Cape Dory 27 could work for you, take a look at the Pearson Airel or Triton, the Seafarer Rhodes Ranger, a Ranger 25, Cal 25, Maybe the Cheoy Lee Newell Cadet or Frisco Flyer (but lots of old teak deck and trim which may be worn out), the Grampian 26, Morgan 24. Probably some others I can't think of now.

The above are all good, basic, seaworthy boats which for $10K should be in at least okay condition, and there should be more than a few around New England, as for that price you can't afford to ship it over land; most are outboard-powered, much easier to repair or renew than an old inboard. Most will only sleep 4, so someone 's going to sleep on deck or on the cabin sole. Make sure to get a good marine survey first.

Get a reasonably good one, sail the pants off it, take reasonable care of it, and you will learn a whole lot, have more fun than headaches, and can probably turn around in a couple of years for about what you paid for it.

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Old 30-01-2006, 16:25   #3
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I would agree with nolatom. You want a boat that is very affordable and that can get you out there and sail as much as possible.

In new England mooring or slip space is going to be a big cost consideration. Close to home and the fees associated with keeping a boat in New England are not insignificant. A Cape Dory might just be it but others might also. That 27 to 30 ft range would seem most affordable and yet still provide a boat you can learn on and carry the family in some comfort. You really want a boat that fits the budget but works. You will change your whole opinion on what boats look good after sailing even a full season.

Learning to sail is mostly about showing up. You take many day sails and try various conditions to build experience and confidence. As you learn you establish better habits bit also start learning what it takes for you and your crew to do the basics, get alonmg, and be happy. One person in a family can not solo a boat over an extended period. You need them all doing something productive for yourself and for them. One unhappy crew member and it wears on them all and on you. Not everyone learns or takes to thing at the same rate. In short doses it's not so hard to make them all have fun.

One thing my wife and I did when we started was to take classes but eventually we took a week long live aboard class. We lived in San Diego harbor for a week on a boat and each day the instructor came in the am and we went out sailing for most of the day. We had outr own boat for the week and personal instruction so it was a good valuable lesson as well as living on a boat for the first time.

I think formal instruction is a good thing when you add to it the daily practice of day sailing. It's not easy getting the whole family all excited and able to sail and have them still like it. The short day sails pay huge dividends. Find jobs for the whole crew and practice nautical skills in a fun way as much as you can even on shore.

One alternative you might investigate is any local "Sail Clubs". We joined a sail club the first year we learned. We paid a flat fee for one season and sailed all the club boats we wanted. At the time it seemed not cheap but now that I own a boat it was a really cheap.

One funny story is my first sailing instructor was born in France and her parents made her go sailing every weekend almost her whole childhood. She threw up on every trip for many years and hated it as a child. She teaches and races quite a bit today. She is a great sailor today.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 30-01-2006, 17:58   #4
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Pblais -

That's how I started my sailing career - my parents made me go to the local sailing summer camp. I puked my guts out and begged not to go back, but they would have nothing of me sitting around disturbing their peace. So back I went.

I also agree that most of it is just showing up. I recommend classes; it's much easier to learn it right the first way, and it will make things more enjoyable. And talk to each other frequently - as an instructor, I see too many couples fall into the stereotypical roles of man driving and the wife taking enough classes to know which end is the bow. There is inevitably alot of shouting involved. The best couples I know of have the woman driving (they're much less likely to respond by shoving the throttle) and the man handling the ropes.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answer...
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Old 30-01-2006, 18:35   #5
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FOr what you are doing I would definitely recommend a trailer sailor. It will eliminate slip fees, and make your sailing range much more varied. You can spend a weekend at a lake, then go out to the coast the next weekend. Trailer sailors are available in many different configurations. Some with very classic lines. The boat will be light enough to tow comfortably, and also small enough to encourage you to spend time off the boat while cruising around. This will give you a good feel for what cruising is all about.
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Old 30-01-2006, 21:16   #6
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You may know this already but yacht world is a great site to look at boats of all sizes.
I learned on a 1976 compac 16 Neet little boat, sails about like a big heavy boat classic lines and you can get them cheep.
And in different sizes up to 30 or 35 feet the smaller ones are trailerable, there are huge advantages to that. you can take your boat with you to differnt locations that you couldnt get to with a bigger boat or the trip to the destination would consume all of your time off(wich isnt really a bad thing) but you know what I mean. If I could do it again I would like to have started on a newer boat or at least one that was rigged simular to my ultimate cruising boat.
Take your time looking. It's one of the funnest parts of the whole process You will know the boat thats right for you when you see it.
and for gods sake what ever you do make sure that Momma likes it cause if momma aint happy........
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Old 31-01-2006, 07:56   #7
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Learning boat

Laser, Thistle, Flying Dutchman Hobie 14 or 16 and many others.
For a keel boat a Tanzer 22, bigger a Tanzer 28.
I would start with one person one sail one boat. If there are two of you then get two boats. Do not get a Fireball, they are for the gifted.
My new one day a week race boat is a Tanzer 22, cost $2750- US.
I will spend about the same amount on sails and hardware and painting the bottom. But is was ready to sail the way it came.
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Old 31-01-2006, 10:34   #8
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Thanks for your replies. Although there heve been many different answers, I think you are all correct. In my short sailing evolution, I have thought all those different things at different times. I don't want to do maintenance instead of sailing but I need to know how to do the maintenance too! I'm pretty sure I don't want a wet bottom all summer but there are worse things. I'll know the boat when I see it. Today I'm zeroing in on the 1970s era Cape Dory but tomorrow it will be a Whitby 42 (KIDDING!.....sort of). Brian
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Old 02-02-2006, 19:26   #9
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Whitby 42

Your last comment about the Whitby 42, made me think that perhaps if you and your family are sure you want to do this long term, is to buy your cruising boat now, move aboard and save money by not having to pay for a house AND a boat. About 80% of cruising is living aboard in port and doing the maintenance ayway, so you could start with that and then hire a skipper to take you sailing and teach you how to sail your particular boat. All the best and keep us posted as to your decision.

By the way, Whitby 42 was designed by a Canadian, Ted Brewer ( who also designed my boat, the East Orient 32. Excellent choice.

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