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Old 05-01-2018, 07:31   #1
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What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Hello,

We moved down to Fort Lauderdale and plan to stay 3-4 years (we're a military family). We're looking to get our first sailboat this summer. We should be able to take advantage of a military marina for a cheap slip.

At this point, I'm in the research phase to find out what size boat, old is okay, "mandatory" options to have, and wind up with a rough shopping list of potential boats. (Catalina or Hunter 30 comes to mind)

Background:
We have 2 boys, aged 5 and 7. I just retired so I'll have free time to sail and work on the boat. I'm very handy and can fix about anything, but I'm new to sailing. My wife and I took a multi-day sailing class in a Catalina 16.5 and I've sailed a few times solo so I'm comfortable with that boat, running the sheet and jib, etc.

Sailing: I envision day trips or overnight trips on weekends around Miami and the Keys. During the summer when the kids are out of school, we could stay out longer but my wife works, so I might be "solo" with the kids sometimes. We can also do a couple of 1 week long trips a year- thinking about the bahamas or other explorations.

Requirements: Shallow draft. Air conditioning. Sleeping for 4 without having to break down the dinette for the kids every night. I want a real helm, not a tiller. I'm assuming I need a jib furler and auto pilot if I'm going sail "solo" with the kids.

When I buy a boat (I've owned 3 powerboats) I have a tendency to fix and replace everything until it's as good as, or better-than new. So maybe I should get a later model.

Budget- I have no idea, but hoping to stay under $30k all-in for initial purchase and set up. We have the budget for slow and steady upgrades, but not dumping thousands in right away.
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Old 05-01-2018, 08:50   #2
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Zimm--

Take a look at 1991 Beneteau Mooring 38ft . This would be perfect for you/your family and you wouldn't need to do much of anything save go sailing. A bit over your stated budget but with $30K down and good credit, I suspect you could easily swing a $20K loan at a decent rate without difficulty.

FWIW...
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Old 05-01-2018, 10:01   #3
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Beautiful boat, but I doubt it will be for sale in June/July. Do you think a 38 footer can be handled with just me and 2 kids? I'm thinking docking could be a challenge.
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Old 05-01-2018, 10:36   #4
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

I think if new to sailing you may want to start in one size boat versus where you may end up. For example, we started with a 30-foot monohull that was inexpensive and gave us a great platform to learn but wasn't big enough for the size of family and our lifestyle desire.

We moved to a Gulfstar 43 as the next boat, and that would be workable for sure given the size and age. If you are going to live aboard, having a "space" each person can call their own makes life much more comfortable than having kids sleeping on the settee without a place to call their own. I know this from experience, and we ended up settling on a bigger boat that allows a small bunk for each kiddo, however, others have employed solutions like curtains over a bunk or an area in the V-berth that each kid can keep their stuff or retreat to is also helpful.
Windtraveler.net is an excellent blog about younger kids, but I found it helpful for us a few years ago.
We also record videos and blog posts on how we do it with an 11 and 4-year-old, and there are several other great sailing blogs out there on sailing with kids. Also, the facebook group called kids4sail is another great "community" of like-minded sailing/living aboard families.

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Old 05-01-2018, 11:12   #5
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

It isn't so much size of boat, but how easy is it to manage... It sounds like you expect to be sailing effectively solo some/much of the time so the ability to sail, dock and otherwise skipper the vessel by yourself is a factor -- maybe not the deciding factor, but one to keep in your mind... I don't know the Florida market, but there is a lot of classic-plastic out there (often mistakenly shunned by some). These boats were made for a different generation and may not appeal to everyone, but most of the moderate ones were wonderfully easy to sail, tended to stay away from the extremes of rig, draft and equipment -- the caveat is that "condition" is everything -- the usual names of the era Cal, C&C, ODay, Irwin, Pearson, Bristol, Morgan, etc., etc., whatever. There is a ton of advice on that score in this forum -- but sift through and see how much makes sense to you...

If you are handy, the presence of A/C at purchase isn't a big deal -- marine A/C for boats under a dozen tons is essentially a unit that pumps water in and out and has some air ducts, that are about like the clothes dryer ducts in your house -- not DIY for everyone, but certainly not terribly challenging if you are comfortable with the concept...

I'd sailed some on other folk's boats (not a lot, but enough I could fake it in good weather...) and my first sailboat was 42' (about 50' davits to sprit) and about 14-15 ton, but I got lucky because it was about the easiest handling boat on the planet -- very forgiving under sail and at the dock... But it was a lot of maintenance (used to joke that I had no idea who the skipper was, but I knew who the maintenance officer was). Did have A/C as I was a full-time live aboard with a day job (last years before retiring from uniform and also in grad-school), but about the only techno-gizmo was the VHF radio -- no roller anything, no depth-finder, no lines to the cockpit and I got along just fine, so it all boils down to your temperament and what you think you can maintain... I certainly would not buy a "project" boat if you expect your family to enjoy it -- but everything doesn't need to be aboard either so long as they are within your capabilities. The main lesson I learned from that episode of my life (perhaps only applicable to me) is that simple is good and very simple is very good -- and, size ain't everything...
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Old 05-01-2018, 12:16   #6
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Something like a Catalina 30 or even 27 would be good to look at. They sail well, easily handled, very maneuverable, roomy and have good resale value. Just remember, with a boat with an inboard engine, you are buying the engine. If it is not in good shape you should budget $10K to replace it. A good diesel, well maintained lasts a long time though and is much more economical than gas, and a bit safer too...
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Old 05-01-2018, 15:17   #7
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Quote:
Originally Posted by zimm View Post
Beautiful boat, but I doubt it will be for sale in June/July. Do you think a 38 footer can be handled with just me and 2 kids? I'm thinking docking could be a challenge.
What, you're going sailing with two little's without your wife? I doubt that she'd be too thrilled with that. And if my 4'10" 105# wife can "drive" a 42' boat, there's no reason yours can't a little 38. Moreover, if a 70+ year old "old fart" (as my daughter would say) can single hand our boat into a slip or a mooring, alone, there's no reason you can't with at 38. It really "ain't" rocket science. I suggest you speak with/correspond with the seller. He's right here on the forum and you might find common ground to both your advantage.

FWIW...
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Old 05-01-2018, 16:08   #8
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Quote:
Originally Posted by zimm View Post
Hello,

We moved down to Fort Lauderdale and plan to stay 3-4 years (we're a military family). We're looking to get our first sailboat this summer. We should be able to take advantage of a military marina for a cheap slip.
.
.
.
Budget- I have no idea, but hoping to stay under $30k all-in for initial purchase and set up. We have the budget for slow and steady upgrades, but not dumping thousands in right away.
Like everyone else, I'm obviously biased, but our first boat was a Catalina 30 and we loved it! Should be able to find one in very good condition for your price range. She was in perfect sailing condition, but we invested another 15k or so over a 3 yr period for new running rigging, new dodger, bimini, new upholstery, electronics, etc., etc., etc. during that time, we sailed her on day trips, weekend trips, several multi-week trips and finally a multi-month trip from Cape Cod down to Annapolis where we purchase our new boat.

The best part is that these older boats have leveled out and hold their value... when you're ready to move up, you should be able to sell for darn close to the original purchase price and consider your improvements the cost of entertainment for those years ;-)

Just one man's opinion, but if you have further questions, please do not hesitate to PM me.

regards,
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Old 05-01-2018, 16:10   #9
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Getting back to the reality of your desired budget... the ubiquitous Catalina 30 seems to fill the bill quite well, just as you thought. They are everywhere, sail adequately well, are adequately strong for your proposed usage without significant upgrading, and I think tick all your boxes. And when you are moved on by the military, they have a pretty consistent market, so resale is feasible.

Air conditioning might well already be present on a boat for sale in Florida. If not, folks in the cruising world often buy cheap window units and place t hem over a hatch. A bit clunky, but practical and inexpensive... and when you go sailing, you can leave it in the dock box... you won't be using it at anchor anyhow, for having a genset on a 30 foot boat is kinda excessive.

Sure, the 38 would be nice, and I'm pretty sure that it can be single handed without any issues that wouldn't be present on a smaller boat, but taking on debt and significantly higher running costs is a bad idea IMO.

Good luck, and happy sailing.

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Old 05-01-2018, 16:33   #10
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Thanks for the inputs. The only reason I'm talking about sailing without my wife is during the summers. She works full time, but with the boys out of school, that's a lot of day sailing we can be doing!

Another thought I had was maybe picking up a day sailor on a trailer to start out on. I actually have the cash for something like that right now. I could find lot storage on trailer for cheap- hopefully at a marina with ramp that I could keep the mast up. Then I could trailer it to the keys or my parent's house in Port Charollete by dropping the mast. Sure I couldn't sleep on it, but maybe get a year's experience out of it? Something like a Catalina 16.5 or 22? Or be patient and wait for the summer (after we get out of our rental and buy a house) and get a loan for a nice 30 footer.
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Old 05-01-2018, 16:41   #11
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Getting back to the reality of your desired budget... the ubiquitous Catalina 30 seems to fill the bill quite well, just as you thought. They are everywhere, sail adequately well, are adequately strong for your proposed usage without significant upgrading, and I think tick all your boxes. And when you are moved on by the military, they have a pretty consistent market, so resale is feasible.

Air conditioning might well already be present on a boat for sale in Florida. If not, folks in the cruising world often buy cheap window units and place t hem over a hatch. A bit clunky, but practical and inexpensive... and when you go sailing, you can leave it in the dock box... you won't be using it at anchor anyhow, for having a genset on a 30 foot boat is kinda excessive.

Sure, the 38 would be nice, and I'm pretty sure that it can be single handed without any issues that wouldn't be present on a smaller boat, but taking on debt and significantly higher running costs is a bad idea IMO.

Good luck, and happy sailing.

Jim
I second that: both the airco solution and not taking on debt. However, with a little negotiation you just might be able to find a Catalina 320 at your price point and these are really nifty little boats in my opinion. Fast and easy to control, and a real little home inside.
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Old 05-01-2018, 16:53   #12
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

I have lived and sailed out of both Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Not very convenient to sail out of Lauderdale. Much easier to drive to Miami and sail out of:

Where Sailors Belong!

If you take their cruising class you can join the $50/month program to sail their 28 ft and 30 ft Beneteaus until you find your ideal boat

Lots of kid's programs too.
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Old 05-01-2018, 17:16   #13
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

Nix that Catalina 320. I have a better understanding of your budget after your last post. Try for something like this:

1986 Hunter 28.5 Sail New and Used Boats for Sale - www.yachtworld.co.uk
It has a newer engine.

Asking price is 12k but looking at the pictures you should be able to knock it down below 8k. I once bought a Catalina 27 for 2k and sailed it from WA to AK. Itís just a matter of waiting until the right boat comes along. Check craigslist regularly. Thatís probably the most fertile ground for you. At any rate you can buy a real little cruiser for the same price as a trailerable boat so I wouldnít bother with the latter.
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Old 05-01-2018, 19:33   #14
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

While we were cruising, we saw a lot of families around your size in 30-35 foot boats. You could probably make due with less, but for week long jaunts the room is nice to have. Look for a two cabin, you'll appreciate the privacy. Smaller is easier to maneuver, but you get used to the size. The bigger aspect is the cost, not just of the boat, but the slip and maintenance. While you're travelling, transient rates will eat you alive in larger boats.
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Old 06-01-2018, 03:59   #15
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Re: What size/type first our first sailboat- 2 adults/2 kids sailing in Miami/Keys

To OP:

Since you mention keeping the boat only 3-4 years - you'd be better off getting something in the vicinity of 30-33ft with the prospect of an easy and quick sale when you no longer need her. Look for better known names as they would be easier to sell down the road - Cal, O'Day, Catalina, Pearson, Morgan, etc. On the other hand if you bump into a lesser known brand but which was meticulously maintained by the seller - don't be scared of its name nonrecognition. It will sell easily again provided you keep it up in good shape. With budget under $30K look for older but well maintained boat rather then more recent but more neglected one. You want to look for a boat you can sail from where she sits not some "deal" which will get you stuck with repairs and TLC work.
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