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Old 08-11-2015, 18:05   #1
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Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

We've spent almost a year researching boats, looking at like 2 dozen boats, and reading all kinds of conflicting information and contradicting opinions. It's becoming very overwhelming and I'm scared to even pick a boat now in fear of actually picking a crappy boat in some way or form.

We don't have coastal sailing experience yet, but the plan was to sail around around Vancouver Island and the Inside Passages for a few months then down the west coast (Vancouver, BC to Chile). We wouldn't venture far from land, we'd probably always have land in sight, we would hug the coast at all times, and would keep a close eye on the weather and anchor when (or, before) it gets too rough out, or heave-to.

Can't we just get whichever boat we like most? (And can afford?) Does it really matter which sailboat you get? As long as the damn thing floats and takes you from point A to point B? I mean, there have been (crazy) people who have taken kayaks, rowboats, and a bathtub across oceans.

We don't care about looks, length, speed, or performance, we just want something cheap to get us from point A to point B. (I know, oxymoron, since sailboats are money sinks, but we can also live on the sailboat in Vancouver on the hook and around the world, so cheaper than renting an apartment or staying in hotels/hostels/airbnb down the coast.)

Our budget is under $10K. We found a Grampian 28 for $5K, and a one-off 35' ex-racer turned cruiser for $7K, and a Bayfield 29 for $12K but that's a bit out of our range, although I know it would be the best boat to take down the coast. We don't want a spade rudder.

I know they'd need some work, they wouldn't be as sturdy, stable, or strong as their heavier cousins (except the Bayfield 29). But, why wouldn't they (or any cheap crappy boat) both work, as long as we keep an eye on weather and went slow, port/marina/beach hopping all the way down? Getting off the boat and camping at an isolated empty beach if we had to, etc.?

I know the Pacific west coast is a lee shore, with not as many safe havens. I went on Google Maps and zoomed in close to land and went all the way down from Vancouver to Baja California, and it looked like from Vancouver to Ensenada there was a marina at least about ever 50-100km (I make a custom map for myself with markers on it). But then there are places like in Mexico from Ensenada to Rancho los Pinos and from Rancho los Pinos to Coo that have almost 250km of coast along Baja California with no safe havens.

It'd be risky, but couldn't we sail through that during a 3 or 4-day good-weather window? There are dozens of secluded beaches along the way, couldn't we take cover in one of those, too? (Probably before a storm hits, as I'm assuming trying to anchor during a storm would more likely result in you getting blown into shore.)

Or am I just crazy and this is suicidal, and perhaps we should just stick to biking down the coast instead? Lol
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Old 08-11-2015, 18:16   #2
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

I bought a Rawson 30 ketch for 9000. I've been over 10000 miles on the hull and always felt safe. I kind of followed www.atomvoyages.com
I have also bicycle the coast. I have completed two Baja ha ha's cruising rallies. The best way I think, to get started is on other people's boats. But, that said, I really like mine.

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Old 08-11-2015, 18:20   #3
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

Oh it matters. You should be starting much further south. You could get a piece of crap boat in LA and make it to Washington DC no problem but you are starting in a dangerous area. Take the skinny dog south to San Diego and then buy a boat.
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Old 08-11-2015, 18:36   #4
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

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Originally Posted by MikeAndMichelle View Post
Getting off the boat and camping at an isolated empty beach if we had to, etc.?
You should ask experienced kayakers how difficult this option might be. You also can't leave the boat unless it's really close to shore because you probably wouldn't be carrying enough chain or large anchor.

People sail off in all sorts of vessels all the time. Most make it, some get rescued, a few die every year. You should choose the boat based on your understanding of the risks involved, your experience level, and the conditions you're likely to encounter. It is a hard decision so keep looking and asking questions about the boats. Right now, you're letting money (or lack of) dictate the answers for you.
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Old 08-11-2015, 18:36   #5
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

If you want something cheap to get from point A to point B, a sailboat is not it. Although I live on the Gulf coast, I have visited the west coast above Point Conception, and it looked like the most rugged, isolated, and forbidding place to sail I have come across. Sailing close to land is the opposite of what you want in bad weather if there are no immediate harbors, and it looked to me like harbors were few and far between, and most of them dangerous to enter in bad weather. Remember, if you have a problem with the boat on the open ocean, you really have a problem. It's not like you pull onto the shoulder and call AAA.
Probably the best thing to do is get some sailing experience on other people's boats - anywhere there is sailboat racing, people are always looking for crew, even beginners if they come in with a good attitude. Also racing will teach you a lot about sailing in a comparatively short time, and you are more likely to go out in marginal conditions, so you will be able to see what bad weather on a sailboat is really like. After sailing for a year or so, you might develop a more realistic picture of what you are proposing to do.
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Old 08-11-2015, 18:42   #6
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

due respect, the rawson and the grampian are two very different boats. didnt know there was a ketck version, the R30 cutter i sailed was a stout little bull dog of a boat and well found in all aspects. the other two mentioned not so much.

one thing to make real in your head is your not buying the boat for perfect conditions, your buying it for the occasional nasties. and dragging one foot on the beach all the way down the coast of north america is a poor sail plan in a marginal boat. sea room is often your lifeline when it comes on to blow, so if youre not comfortable being out of sight of land for extended periods this isnt the passage for you. maybe a power boat? (cant believe i just said that).

then again, many have covered great distances on what i think of as strictly coastal boats, so i wont judge. but id say generally the less capable your boat, the better the skipper/crew needs to be.
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Old 08-11-2015, 18:57   #7
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

Be patient. For one thing, if you buy a $5K boat, you'll need to spend many more $K's getting her ready. You need to learn a lot. A lot about sailing, weather, boats, equipment, etc. Don't rush it or it could be suicidal.

Briefly: We bought our boat in 2012 for $12K> started with sailing lessons> have since spent more than $50K restoring the boat and have sailed a lot around the Salish Sea up to Queen Charlotte Sound, etc. We have at least two years left before we head south and still have a lot to learn.

Life's is short: Don't make it shorter! There is time to have fun in the planning process.

Cheers!
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Old 08-11-2015, 19:28   #8
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

What is your ultimate aim here? "Get from point a to point b" is less expensive and less stressful on a bus, car or train. You mention living on the hook. Is that your aim? What are you really trying to accomplish?
Sailing and boats in general don't sound like your dream. It's a curious way to go if you are not really dedicated to it.
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Old 08-11-2015, 19:30   #9
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

Hi Mike and Michelle,

I will second what was already mentioned. Especially on the west coast, close to shore is not safer. There are stretches of the coast where you could be many days away from a safe harbor. In rough weather a number of the ports are impassable due to breaking waves at the entrance and aren't safe even for large, very heavy duty boats. The secluded beaches will be wide open to the ocean and better for big wave surfing than refuge for a sailboat.

If you want to buy a small, cheap, coastal cruiser the east coast is a lot safer option. More protected waters and more options for ports that are available in any weather, unlike many on the west side.
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Old 08-11-2015, 19:38   #10
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

It doesn't matter which boat you have ... until it does .

I've only sailed a small section of the Pacific coast (north from Vancouver to Desolation Sound), but I'm currently motorcycling down. It is a stunning shore. From a sailing viewpoint, it is one long lee shore with relatively few bail out spots. I would not take this coast lightly. If you were doing the east coast, heading down the ICW, then I'd agree that just about any boat would do. Not so on the west coast.

All that said, you don't need the biggest or the most expensive boat. I used to own a Grampian 34, and know a fair bit about the 26s and 30s. The 28s where an older design that I've seen from a far, but never been on. I can say the Grampian approach was to build solid, simple boats that were sea worthy, but not fancy. I would easily trust my old 34 to do the journey you propose, but I have no idea if the 28 you're looking at is up to the task. It will depend on how well it has been maintained, or how much effort/money you can put into upgrading it.

The Bayfield 29 is also a good boat. It's solid, decent sailor, and a bit more refined than the Grampian. But again, it will depend on how well this boat has been maintained, and how much time/effort and money you can put into it.

Both boats will be small, but probably fine for a couple who still likes each other. But both boats will be old, tired, and will likely need significant maintenance & upgrades. This will cost time, effort and money.

Don't take this journey lightly. If you're only doing it to get down there, then as others have said, there are cheaper, easier and safer ways to do it. Considering your budget and apparent experience, biking would be a better option.
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Old 08-11-2015, 19:53   #11
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

Quite frankly.... If you don't give a dam....why should we?
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Old 08-11-2015, 20:00   #12
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

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Quite frankly.... If you don't give a dam....why should we?
Paraphrasing Clark Gable are we.
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Old 08-11-2015, 20:18   #13
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

There are several on Seattle cl like this Yorktown 1980 Yorktown Sailboat pretty well fits your parameters
This cheoy Lee offshore 26 does it as well http://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/boa/5255489552.html
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Old 08-11-2015, 20:30   #14
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

Most who have made that trip south your proposing are first of all experienced, and secondly, prefer to be 100 mile or more offshore. Why? Wave action.

This is not the waters you want to learn in. Take some lessons. As example, Jackdale who is on this board, is very familiar with those waters, and is a highly rated instructor. You may want to contact him.
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Old 08-11-2015, 20:54   #15
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Re: Does it really matter which damn sailboat you pick to go down the west coast?

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This is not the waters you want to learn in. Take some lessons. As example, Jackdale who is on this board, is very familiar with those waters, and is a highly rated instructor. You may want to contact him.
Thanks Andy.

Around Vancouver Island might provide some perspective.

To OP - feel free to PM me.
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