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Old 09-06-2015, 06:16   #1
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Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

I am in the process of buying my first sailboat and would welcome the input from current or prior owners of these boats. I have narrowed it down to these four manufacturers, and a size of 40 to 45 feet. There are things I really like about each of these boats. Have a budget of $150K maximum and would prefer to stay closer to 100K so I could do some upgrades if needed. So I know that will probably limit me to a 2000 to 2005 model. I understand that price can vary a lot based on condition and how the boat is equipped.

What I like about these varies. Beneteau has the 3 cabin 3 head version that the others don't. Many of the Bavaria and Hunter models I have seen for sale have the furling mainsail. Not a required item, but nice to have for small crew sailing. Cabin layout seems to be more convenient on the Catalina. What is more important is a boat in excellent condition. I will get a survey before purchase. My preference is to buy on the East coast of US or Caribbean as the boat will be docked in Florida. Sailing on or near shore is the primary objective, some minor offshore (3 to 5 days) to travel to many Caribbean islands. Some live aboard but that is secondary to sailing. Mostly to prepare to travel vs social. No ocean passage is planned or would be done in the future. Although this size boat is capable, I would want something over 50 before I would attempt it.

I am not in any rush to purchase but am ready for the right boat. So please provide your knowledge, experience, suggestions, and any other input that will help me narrow the search. Thank you in advance.
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:59   #2
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

To clarify, a few points ...
(1) What is your sailing experience (forty feet plus for a first-time owner seems large to make your initial mistakes on)?
(2) What is your normal crew size and experience? Again, forty feet plus implies a few people.
(3) Related - what is your reason for wanting 3-cabins? Do you have a large family that you intend to sail with, or expect many overnight guests? Do you have that many house guests now?
(4) What do you expect as a typical day or week on-board? Each boat has a design goal - entertaining at the dock, family day sailing around a protected harbor, racing around the buoys and back at the dock before sundown, anchoring over the weekend, but nothing longer than a week, etc. You mentioned no blue water or extended cruising. Give us some idea of what you intend to do.
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Old 09-06-2015, 08:05   #3
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

Paging Dr. Steady Hand. Dr. Steady Hand. Your template/sticky is requested.


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Old 09-06-2015, 08:37   #4
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

I've sailed (but not owned) all of these manufacturers in the 40-46 foot range. My sense is Bavaria is the "better" boat but you will get more bang for your buck with the Catalina or Hunter.

Hunters are big and comfortable for cruising but I personally don't like trimming the mainsail over my head.

Nothing bad to say about Beneteaus but there are some questions about the build quality of the interior - short screws and cheaper fittings come to mind but I'm not sure Hunter or Catalina are necessarily any better.

You probably need to go see lots of boats. If you do that, one or two will speak to you more than the rest.

As an aside, I would spend a fair amount of time inspecting the engine compartments. Access to the oil dipstick, coolant overflow bottle, raw water filter, fuel filter, impeller, raw water intake, etc would be important to me. Some boats practically require you to be a contortionist to make minor repairs.

Good Luck!
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Old 09-06-2015, 08:53   #5
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

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Originally Posted by goat View Post
Paging Dr. Steady Hand. Dr. Steady Hand. Your template/sticky is requested.


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You rang?

Actually, I think the OP has answered most of the key questions (budget, location, likes, etc.) in his intro remarks (and a few are found in his forum profile About Me page, but some of that would be helpful in the intro to this thread too, especially where he mentioned his experience in Caribbean) and John Trusty added some very good questions too, that if answered by the OP will help others complete the diagnosis.

The patient is doing well.

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Old 09-06-2015, 08:59   #6
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

To me, they're all about the same. Just choose the layout that best suits you, we prefer center cockpit with the massive master cabin. Don't be afraid to go BIG, and look at the Hunter 450, it was an easy boat for me to single hand, which is what you'll be doing a lot of. You really can't count on guests to be crew. Consider them passengers, your significant other is the only crew member or co captain. The 450 can be had for under 150k well-equipped, and will suite your needs perfectly.

Here's a picture of our former boat which sold for 132k in immaculate condition with a ProFurl boom three years ago. No generator, a/c or watermaker.
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:09   #7
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

I have a 2005 Catalina 350, wing-keel, mast and head-sail furling.
It is the best boat I've ever sailed or owned. You might go visit the Catalina factory outside Tampa; it was an education when I went. It's smaller than what you're talking about but has been plenty big for me and wife and another couple at times.
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:26   #8
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

We have a 1998 Beneteau 461. We purchased it in 2006 and have since put over 14,000 miles on it sailing it from Connecticut to the Bahamas and back and to the Virgin Islands and back. We beated back on one trip in 14 foot seas and 30 kts of wind for two days including much water over the bow and into the dodger. We chartered it in the VI for 3 years (we captained the boat and took one couple for one week.) The owner before us sailed it from Annapolis to the VIs and Maine numerous times.

I maintain it myself and have never had any problems with anything Beneteau. The problem has been with the genset. The interior is beautiful, the wood finish fantastic and nothing has loosened up or moved.

I was apprehensive about buying a Beneteau until I had a factory tour in S. Carolina. As an engineer, I was duly impressed!
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:27   #9
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

Check out this boat, a much better buy than any of the four you have listed. I just saw it on the forum.

For Sale: 1995 Island Packet 40 - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:27   #10
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

I have chartered several Hunters, Catalinas, and Beneteaus from Siling Florida in St. Petersburg, FL from 29' to 39'. I know the range that you were looking at was larger but, most of these builders just make their layouts larger to accommodate the space. I can give you rig suggestions and if you are in the area I would suggest you give Sailing Florida a call and they may allow you to tour their boats at the dock. Please let me know.
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:29   #11
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

If you've got that kind of money to spend then I strongly suggest that you charter each of the proposed boats for at least a week or so -that way you will find out what it is that YOU want or need and can avoid making an expensive mistake (its easy to buy a boat but not so easy to sell one)---wife and I were really keen on getting a Bavaria until we chartered one for a week but then kept looking for the right boat.

Also, not to be too negative, you should also appreciate that whatever you choose, new or old, it will require $$$ or time for continuing maintenance and you should be prepared for that.

Lastly suggest that you consider whether your boat choice has a reputation for maintaining value for resale --some don't (Hunters?), just in case you find out that after plunging into the sailing life that it isn't what you thought it would be......you wouldn't be the first
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:38   #12
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

If you don't need the 3rd stateroom, I would recommend a two stateroom layout with the galley separated from the saloon. Eating below deck looking at the galley counter covered with pots and pans is not inviting. Also the cook has her back to the rest of the folks rather than being part of the group. Just my wifes comments, and of course, wives rule!
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Old 09-06-2015, 09:55   #13
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

Glen's last sentence in his post is probably the most important advice you will receive!

Good luck.
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:54   #14
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

Hi, we have a 1998 Hunter 410 in Georgian Bay and it's. 3 cabin/2head layout, great for guests or extra room for storage. we have had it now for 6 seasons and have chartered in the BVI 7 times all on Beneteaus ranging from 32-39 feet. I wouldn't trade my Hunter for a Beneteau, not to upset Beneteau owners, but the Hunter has amazing head room, walk about room and great layout. My husband is 6'3 and try to find a boat or bed that was long enough, took us to the Hunter model. With just a 5 foot draft, we can get into all areas in Georgian Bay and have had some crazy winds and waves that she sailed safely through it. The quality of the fit and finish is beautiful, huge cockpit, we have had 10 people in there and yes we even had room to dance a bit. great storage in this boat. we make changes and upgrades each year as we find new equipment to make her even a better boat. we plan to sail to French Polynesia, Phillipines, carribbean and anywhere warm in about 5.5 years. Take a look at the center cockpit model as well, huge master stateroom in that boat! Have fun, I would say a female designed the Hunter boat, it has everything a wife needs to keep her happy on this boat. Remember, happy wife, happy sailing life! fair winds! S/V. Secondwind, first mate, Sandra with captain Dave.
Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada
Best fresh water sailing in the world!
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Old 09-06-2015, 14:32   #15
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Re: Buying first sailboat, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria

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Hi, we have a 1998 Hunter 410
nice boat
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