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Old 29-06-2007, 11:16   #1
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I am in the process of looking for a sailboat to call home and start the planning process of the big cruise. I live in Southern California and hope to do some extensive cruising in the South Pacific. I have started to do some homework in the hopes of finding the perfect boat...which I already know doesn't exist...that will make me confident enough to cast off my docklines. I think I want a full keeled boat, in the 30-36' range (leaning more towards 30). There are many more characteristics that I am looking for such as small cockpit, high companionway opening, etc...too many to list. Shoestring budget, well read and constantly gaining sailing skills and confidence over the past 5+ years...hope to leave in 5- years. Considering $20-30k budget to buy boat (finance???) and get to know/improve every aspect of it over the next 5- years.

Any advice?
I have looked at a couple of Willards but can't find any info on them online, and also some Downeast 32's. Any opinions/experience/warnings for these 2 boats or any others recommended or to steer clear of for the dream I hope to make a reality?

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Old 29-06-2007, 11:52   #2
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That's a tall order, jp . . .

I can appreciate the quandary you're in, jp, but it seems to me that your budget constraints make finding a 30'-36' vessel capable of safely taking you to the South Pacific a remote possibility, at best. Financing such a purchase is unlikely, as well, as any candidate boats will undoubtedly be more than 25 years old. Insurance will be difficult to obtain, too, at least if you want it to cover you for the entire voyage.

If you should be "fortunate" enough to find what appears to be a remarkably good deal - say a 30' Pacific Seacraft - at a price that is way below what other such boats command in the market, beware! There has to be a very good reason such a vessel is priced inordinately low, and you will probably spend far more than the difference in rectifying whatever that reason is.

A possibility worth considering is trying to locate such a vessel already in the S. Pacific. Many sailors with bigger dreams than means often wash out after they reach that area, put their boats up for sale in whatever port they abandon their dream, and fly home. These can sometimes still be worthy vessels at decent prices, just not easy to find, and then there's the issue of dealing long distance on something that's both your transportation and your shelter - literally, something you will be trusting your life to.

If you have the time and talent to invest sweat equity in a basket case, you might consider getting in touch with the Sea Scouts at MdR. People often donate boats they don't want to put any money into in the hope that they can then sell for an attractive price. They're realistic enough to recognize that the donation "value" is worth more to them than whatever they might ultimately sell the boat for.

The Scouts generally have more boats than they can use in their program, and those they don't want to keep are sold at very low prices. Most will need at least some work, but if you're up to it, and have the time and place to do it, this might just work for you.

Anyway, good luck in your search.


"Your vision becomes clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakens."
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)
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Old 29-06-2007, 12:26   #3
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You could easily spend the budget twice. The first to buy the boat and the second to refit it. When refitting $20K does not go very far at all. Some extra money would be wise. I would look at displacement more than length given you are looking at a smaller boat. I would think it unlikely you could set off with less than a ton and a half of stuff (water and fuel count).
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Old 29-06-2007, 14:27   #4
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Think you really need to keep saving or spend the money on a
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Old 29-06-2007, 16:08   #5
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I am expecting to do some refitting/upgrading over the next couple of years, but I think that will be an important part in learning process...getting to know this boat inside and out so I can be self sufficient once I cast off. The boats that catch my eye I feel I could negotiate to the 27-30k range, expect to throw another 10-15k into over the next 5 I pay it off. Do you feel this is realistic?

What are your thoughts on full keeled boats and South Pacific sailing?
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Old 29-06-2007, 17:20   #6
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I have some very good friends here that cruise South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. They work 6-8 months and cruise 4-6 months.

I think a Pacific Crossing is a huge deal not to be taken lightly. We see several boats per year for sale here where someone made the crossing, did their cruising and are selling the boat for a ticket home.

You could consider saving more and buy something here, cruise for a while and sell it.

For me the point is the islands and the diving. Not too thrilled about the big blue nothingness...
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Old 29-06-2007, 17:42   #7
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Your cruising budget sounds fine to me. For three years my wife and I cruised the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the Med. We spent 35k total, not counting the price of the boat. The boat we sailed was a Cascade 29, not big and not a full keel, but boats like that loaded with cruising gear go for $10k. Now this was 1994 to 1997, so inflation will have hit cruising costs, but boat prices usually go down, especially for the patient sailor. There are a lot of people who will tell you that you need big and new, but in my experience the further away I got, the smaller the boats got. In Chagos there were 5 boats there, all between 28 and 32 feet. We were there for weeks, one day a new 60 footer came in (spent 1 night!) and was gone again. Must have had a rich person deadline. Anyway, one boat we sailed with a lot was a cheoy lee 31 that I believe was full keel. I know it tracked wonderfully with its Aries.
I've gone to a full keel boat myself these days and the docking takes more room and more thought, but it steers with one finger in a straight line. My family and I are planning to be take off again in a couple years our selves. Good luck to you, and have fun with your boat search.
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Old 30-06-2007, 01:03   #8
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jpcraw - If I thought I could have bought a boat and made it ready for any ocean for less than $ 100,000 I would have. Please read all that you can about fixing up a boat for the big, bad blue water. Others say that they have and others have made it to Hawaii in a 19 foot West Wright Potter. I just do not think that you can spend less than $ 80,000 and do it safely. There are stories of those who tried and lived to tell about not making it and others, well .........

Another option is to cruise the Bahamas and East USA waterways. Much less stress on the boat so not as much is needed for a very watchful captian. You can also get by with a smaller boat.
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Old 01-07-2007, 15:57   #9
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Originally Posted by jpcraw
..The boats that catch my eye I feel I could negotiate to the 27-30k range, expect to throw another 10-15k into over the next 5 I pay it off. Do you feel this is realistic?

What are your thoughts on full keeled boats and South Pacific sailing?
Yo JP,

you would be wise to spend LESS on buying a boat than you think you might afford. A proper refit on a 20-30-year-old boat can cost more than the boat. And if you saddle yourself with a giant mortgage, how will you afford to refit AND cruise? Captain Fatty Goodlander found a circumnavigator for around $1000, if I remember correctly. Of course his experience and skills were prerequisite.

No particular keel design is required for So-Pac sailing.

best, andy

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"whatever spare parts you bring, you'll never need"--goboatingnow
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