New boats ARE expensive. Mostly, as others have pointed out, due to the marine
grade materials and the low volume manufacture. But here's the real dealbreaker for me: new boats depreciate. Their value drops like a rock. Want to sell it a year from now? Yow, that's gonna hurt.
A used boat
is a better value IF you find the right boat. You might kiss a lot of frogs before you find your princess. But they hold their value well, beyond a certain age. I bought my current
boat for $2000, I have lived aboard for the last couple years, and I have actually been offered more than I paid and what I have put into the boat, and I am not even trying to sell.
I would look for something say 32' or smaller for a first boat, but something at least big enough to overnight on. Tbodine's suggestion of a West Wight Potter 19 is a good one. An old 70's era Catalina
would do. You should be able to find something for under $10k for sure, that would meet your immediate need of a boat to learn on. Why buy a learner boat? Why not just go ahead and buy a real ocean crossing
bluewater boat? Simple. Buy small and cheap
now. Live aboard, and give up the house or apartment. The money
you will save can be saved for your serious cruising boat 10 or 20 years down the line. And you can start sailing and learning
NOW, instead of later. And you won't lose much when you sell your oldie but goodie.
You might check your local marinas
and yacht clubs. Often there are classes
, and generally there are races, where unskilled crew is used to hold the windward rail down. It is easy to get a spot on larger racing
boats as "rail meat", and you will learn a lot just observing, and scrambling across to the other side when tacking. If you have a good attitude folks will be happy to teach you stuff. Once you know a little bit about sail handling, standing a watch, etc, you might find unpaid crew spots on cruising boats actually going somewhere. Often though you are expected to contribute something for groceries and fuel
, but it is worth it for the learning
experience. You will learn not just how to navigate and handle a boat, but also a lot about boats, what to look for, how to pick one out and buy it. Ooooh, that one looks pretty... I'll buy it! Nope. FAIL. OOOOh, that one is really cheap! What a deal! Nope... unless you know what you are getting into. Sometimes the cheapest is the cheapest. Sometimes it is far from it. Maybe there is an ugly reason why it is so cheap
Basically, get your hand in now, one way or the other. It will help motivate you to save, and you will already know what you're about when you sign the check and take posession of your dream.