I have definitely been in your shoes. And learned a couple hard lessons.
- Join one or more of the Ottawa sailing clubs and crew, crew, crew. You will learn more about sailing from racing
more cheaply than buying
into a boat right away. Knowing how a boat handles, and what you like in that handling will mean that when you take your first prospective purchase
out for a test sail, you will be ready to judge her worth on the water.
- If you plan on hanging out in the Ottawa valley, there are a lot of good boats like the Tanzer 7.5 or Contessa 26 that are excellent for cruising the river and learning
the ropes. The resale value is also good for when you upsize. I had a Tanzer which I sold for the same $ I bought it for. If I had to do it again, I would pay a little more and get a Contessa or small Alberg
, or pearson
, so I could confidently take it further afield.
- The Sailing schools out of BYC and NSC are pretty good and they have a group ownership
plan that is a nice compromise for folks not into owning a whole boat themselves.
- A project
boat teaches you about boat building, not sailing. If you want to sail, get out there on whatever you can find. Do it now! If you love tinkering and carpentry more than sailing, and dont want to leave, go right ahead and buy that project boat. I wasted 5 years and 50K restoring a 37footer - when really what I should have done was saved a bit more, bought a smaller boat, and left earlier.
For the bottom line on the bare-minimum it takes to get out there, watch "Hold Fast" by Moxie Marlinspike. Those guys got out of the harbour for 2 seasons on a shoestring and some sweat. If you want a NASA level safety
and readiness equipped boat, you are going to pay a lot more, which is OK, if you can afford it. Even better, peruse 7knots or other crewing
sites, and get out on someone elses boat for a year or so. For the amount you spend buying
and fixing one boat for yourself, you could crew for a few years abroad.
Not to mention, some of the best deals are found abroad while cruising - not in the recreational sailing ghettos like Ottawa. And getting out on other peoples boats will let you figure out what kind of cruising style you like before you buy the boat.