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Old 31-05-2015, 15:01   #1
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What kind of boat to learn on?

My question is a little bit different than the usual, which boat should I buy. I have sailing experience on sunfish type boats on small lakes. I find them easy and understand the basic principles of sailing.

My goal is in 5-10 years buy a catamaran and begin cruising. What I would like to do is buy as small a boat as possible where the systems and operations are similar to a larger boat (say 40ft for example). I would sail this boat on lakes here in Minnesota until I can get back to the east coast and start looking for my 'forever' boat. Want something that I can learn on, but will have the same characteristics of something larger.

This may be a stupid question, but the only time I have been on larger sailboats, it was as a guest and I didn't pay attention to anything other than the rum supply! I know I like being on the water and don't get seasick. I would describe my sailing style as slow and comfortable, not looking to race, happy to cruise at a walking pace if needed. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 31-05-2015, 15:28   #2
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

Name the budget.

Trailer sailor?
Fixed keel?
Willing to pay for a slip?
What size?
Single handing or do you have crew or family?
Want to spend the night on it, or just day sailing?
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Old 31-05-2015, 16:39   #3
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

Budget is flexible, obviously want to spend as little as possible, but could spend $30k if I had to. Size is the question, how small can I go and still get realistic 'big' boat experience. Would love to be able to trailer, but that is not a requirement. Likewise,would be nice to have something I could spend a weekend on, but not a requirement. Ideally, something that when set up properly allows a solo on watch to run all lines. Would like to get it set up like a cruising boat with lines leading to the helm.
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Old 31-05-2015, 17:08   #4
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What kind of boat to learn on?

Big cruising boat experience is less about the size of the boat than it is about learning to use and maintain the complex systems. More sails and more sheets and winches aren't that difficult to learn. So first list which systems you think you want to learn. For example: inboard diesel, roller furling sails, pressure water, electric production and management via solar or generator, refrigeration, bilge pumps, radar, gps, chart plotter, black water tank or composting head. Look for a boat that has some or most of these. If you are in Minnesota you may want a heater to extend your season at least a little. Gators don't do much ice fishing.

You could experience most of these systems in a boat of roughly 24-30 ft.
The more systems the more expensive the boat will likely be. Keep in mind you don't have to learn everything at once. Pick you shots. Take it a step at a time. Enjoy the journey and keep learning a little more all the time.


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Old 31-05-2015, 17:09   #5
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

Big Boat is a relative term.

You can buy a day sailor to learn sailing.
You can buy a small pocket cruiser to "camp or cruise" on.

With a budget of up to 30k you could get a larger used possibly old cruiser boat, about 27-30 feet. But I don't suggest that.

I think others are more likely to be more fun, rather than buying a big old tired cruiser. The more fun you have the better. One can always learn to change oil, clean a head and other tasks like that later on your future cat.

I would look for a used F27 trimaran. You can sleep in the small cabin, they can be trailered, they are a multihull, they are fast, very fast, and fast is fun!

But, I think the best thing to do, rather than purchasing some ONE boat, to learn sailing, is to first go sailing with others on a variety of boats. Look for different types and volunteer to crew for their owners.
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Old 31-05-2015, 18:21   #6
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

If for sailing prowess, I'd say a Capri 14. There's so much written about how to tweak this or that and get the most out of it, that it would be an interesting study in sailing technique.
If a mini cruising boat with winches and other "big boat" parts in miniature is what you're looking for, I'd lean towards a Catalina 22.
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Old 31-05-2015, 19:15   #7
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

Well, since you are headed the multi-hull direction, why not go there and really have some fun? Get a NACRA cat and step out of your comfort zone a little. You'll have a blast and you'll easily develop skills that will translate to a larger cat. Whichever one you pick, be sure it is one that is so FUN you don't want to go home.
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Old 31-05-2015, 19:20   #8
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

An F27 (as previously mentioned) would be a blast. May not have all the systems you're looking for.

I always think a Catalina 22 is an excellent choice. and they're cheap as dirt.

Once you get up to 27-30 you'll have boats with all kinds of systems. Inboard motors, pressure water, heads and holding tanks, propane, lots of electrical do-dads, etc...

My current boat is my "learn not to hit the dock" boat. It was cheap, is of a size that the slip fee is only somewhere between outrageous and holycrap, is perfectly capable of getting anywhere I want to go around here, sails well, I could easily spend months on it, and I've sure learned a lot about fixing boats. The C-30 is a very good boat for lots of reasons. Sure, I'd like a bigger/nicer boat but this one is perfect for me right now.

Think of where you'll store it. That's as big of a question as what kind of boat. Slips are impossible to get at my marina. and they're $$$. So a 30-footer was a much better choice than a bigger boat. 40 ft slips have a massive waiting list, and end-ties are likely 10 years or so. and the price is heart-stoppingingly unbelievable.

So if you want to learn about big-boat stuff, I'd look around 27-30ft. If you just want to get out there, there's better options.
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Old 31-05-2015, 19:40   #9
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

We bought a Catalina 27 to help decide if we liked cruising since it was as small of a boat as we could get that still had a decent head. Loved cruising and the C27 was dirt cheap and caused no stress when we bounced it off pilings and ran aground attempting to sail in a narrow channel in high winds. We now have a C30 (also comparatively cheap) as it is much more roomy but always reserve the option to move up to a 36+ once I retire in 8 or so years.
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Old 01-06-2015, 11:39   #10
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

Ill posed Q


Learn the SEA, not the boat
Learn the Music, not the instrument
Learn how to love a woman, not how to make sex.

Said that, the harder the better! You leatn more on a demanding boat!

One forgiving everything... is of little use
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Old 01-06-2015, 12:11   #11
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

Regarding the F-27, while being an awesome (and awesomely expensive) trailerable boat, it does not have standing headroom and is a handful for most people. 12 knots is easy to achieve, but so is flipping it over singlehanded.

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Old 01-06-2015, 15:37   #12
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

Just have a look at what is available within your price range and find one that suits. You obviously know how to sail and all you have to do is learn where things are on the new boat.
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Old 01-06-2015, 16:03   #13
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

TANENUI WHARRAM 2008, 30', YAMAHA, SLEEPS 4, PRICE TO SELL
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Old 15-06-2015, 18:14   #14
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

I bought a Catalina 27 with 4 sails in good condition over the winter for $100. The 5HP 4 stroke I have on the back will push it over 5 knots, although I do wish it has electric start and remote controls. I added a cheap chart plotter and it already had a VHF and depth sounder. Even came with a good battery. The teak is weathered and the deck is chalky, but it sails surprisingly well. I sailed it 40 miles to its new home.

You don't have to learn on a $30K boat. I learned to sail on a Snark (remember those?). As a matter of fact, that little boat cost me more than the Cat 27. But I learned more about wind and sails than I would have on a bigger boat.

The Cat 27 is a comfortable sailer and has an enclosed head for any "guests" you might have. It has standing head room and will sleep two couples for weekend trips. Buy cheap. Learn to sail. Then think about a dream boat. Unless you are crossing the ocean, you may find you already own your dream boat.
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Old 16-06-2015, 06:27   #15
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Re: What kind of boat to learn on?

hsi88 brings up a good point. You'll learn more about sailing in a small boat that is less forgiving than a big boat. They respond immediately & when you screw up you end up in the water! Get an 8 - 10' sailing dinghy to learn on & when you get a bigger boat you can use it as your dinghy.
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