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Old 07-01-2013, 13:22   #1
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Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

My partner, Eric, and I want to move onto a boat, but we have zero sailing experience. Sailing lessons are scheduled for this summer, but that obviously won't mean that we're ready to sail on our own. We were considering buying a sailboat without a mast/with a broken mast/a sailboat in a similar situation, and using it to powerboat for a while before we put up a new mast and rigging.

This makes slightly more sense than it seems like at first, because

a)we're looking for a project boat. We really want to have a reason to rip out the interior and redo it. But, we know not a lot about boats yet, so ideally things like the engine would be in working order.

b)Eric has his heart set on junk rigging(at least at the moment), and my understanding is that most sailboat masts aren't suitable for junk sails

c)We want to be able to travel the Erie Canal, so we'd probably have to be able to take down at least part of the mast when we want to do so, which would again require a mast that the typical sailboat wouldn't have anyways.

We are just starting to learn about these things, and our ideas and plans are ever evolving as we learn more. Please be gentle with me if I've said something totally crazy!

Louisa
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Old 07-01-2013, 13:33   #2
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

All I will say is that it would be WAAAAAY easier to find a boat with a good mast and no engine (or a non-working engine) than it will be to find a boat with a good engine and no mast.
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Old 07-01-2013, 13:52   #3
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

Sorry but its a really bad idea, unless you never intend to sail ever. Replacing the mast, rigging, sails, and such would cost $10,000ish if you had nothing or junk stuff. So heres what I think you need, a 34' Marine Trader trawler. No mast, tons of room, one fuel sipping engine, low bridge clearance. Do the great loop to figure out what you need in a boat and go from there. Just a thought, but you dont seem to be set on sailing. P.S. a sailboat isnt a way to save money on travel, to do it in a safe, comfy way cost some cash.
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Old 07-01-2013, 13:55   #4
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

Cheap trawler in marathon now for $14,000. Not a marine trader, but a good starter boat. Florida keys craigslist.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:04   #5
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

We do want to sail, despite knowing nothing about it yet. Though maybe that's more being in love with the idea, being that neither of us have tried sailing.

However, even if we didn't I was under the impression that, due to the shape, there isn't anything more efficient on fuel than a monohull sailboat, due to it's shape.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:06   #6
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

How big a sailboat were you thinking about getting into?
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:08   #7
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

We were thinking in the 35 to 45 range.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:11   #8
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by WoolPig View Post
However, even if we didn't I was under the impression that, due to the shape, there isn't anything more efficient on fuel than a monohull sailboat, due to it's shape.
A true trawler design power boat will be equally if not more fuel efficient than a sailboat.

Also, a sailboat without a mast, if you take it anywhere other that dead calm water like the Erie Canal, will roll like crazy and be very uncomfortable.

And as pointed out, adding a mast and rigging to a sailboat without can be quite expensive and changing from the original rig to a different one, like a junk rig, you better be a naval architect or you will most likely end up with a boat that sails very poorly.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:13   #9
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

You would be way better off getting a boat with the rig up and in ok shape. Then drop it the cruise the canal system. I do part of the NY canal system twice a year going in and out of lake champlain. Unstepping mast is very basic and easy, not that it can be done without crane, but still very easy. Many wealthy cruisers never touch it, but thats the money is no issue crowd.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:26   #10
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

I agree on one thing: A mastless sailboat would make a darn good canal boat. Even if it had a 10 horsepower outboard. But you could also find a killer deal on a fixer upper with an included mast, sails and what not. That's the way to go. What's your rough budget for your fixer upper? How big a beast do you have your heart set on?

Your dream of turning a dismasted sailboat into a canal boat is not as far fetched as a man's dream of turning a retired airliner into a canal boat.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:43   #11
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

RabidRabbit, thank you, that is excellent to know!

We were thinking that it was a big deal to drop the mast, that we would absolutely need a new one if we intended on dropping it. Glad to know it's less of a deal.

So, mastless sailboat, probably off the list. Eric is dead set against a trawler(he thinks they are horribly ugly and wants nothing to do with them), but he likes barges(go figure). In the off chance anyone has a hookup for an old canal barge of some sort we would snap that up real quick.

At present our plan is to spend summer in Canada, in the Trent-Severn and Rideaux canals, a quick detour down the Erie canal to visit family and then down the ICW for warm winters. But, again, we're just starting this whole thing, our plans may well change as we learn more.

For the record, the boat that started the whole mastless sailboat idea was this one 1974 cal 35 cal cruiser sailboat for sale in Florida.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:48   #12
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

We are looking for something in the 35-45 foot range, spending $25,000-ish, for a boat that needed interior work. We are going to be selling our restaurant in the next year or so to finance the boat buying.

Our fantastic ideal boat would be one that someone bought to fix up, did most of the mechanical work that was needed, gutted the inside, and then was fed up and decided to sell, but the likelihood of that situation is pretty darn slim, so we're flexible. We'd be happy with one that needed some mechanical/electrical work as well, or one that was in overall good condition. It just needs to be the right boat. And it is meant to be home, so we really want it to be something that we find beautiful and love to be on.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:56   #13
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

In that size and price range, you should be able to find something that needs only cosmetic work- paint, varnish, upholstery, fiberglass repair, etc. Look for a boat whose mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and sailing systems are sound.

I've looked at a lot of project boats (bought and fixed up two). The lack of a mast is a clear disqualifier for me. It's simply too expensive to replace.

Also, the posts above understate the problem of a dismasted boat's motion in a seaway. It is often violent, I have heard from those who have experienced it.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:57   #14
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

your ideas aren't far-fetched at all, and there should be any number of boats around could use a little interior buffing up. If you look at a "gaffer" you may find a short enough mast to clear most obstacles with the sail down, but a gaff rig is generally found on older wooden boats, usually the most beautiful boats around, but not always the best for sailing ability.
Saline Canine, if you havn't posted that pic on the "nautical oddities" thread, you should.
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:58   #15
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Re: Buying/using a sailboat without a mast

Try this;
Tartan 34C Sailboat 1976
...LL
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