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Old 23-08-2016, 13:31   #1
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Finding a first sailboat

I don't know if anybody is interested in helping or not, but feel free if you are so inclined.

I'm just looking for insight on a first sailboat as far as makes/models to look out for, and to avoid. Nothing super specific necessarily, just something to help narrow the search down a bit.

Here is the rough criteria I'm thinking of:

-Low to mid 30's OAL (crew = 3 adults, 1 Labrador).
-Inboard diesel
-Wheel steering (I prefer it, not hung up on it).
-Separate head.
-Not worried about racing.
-Something not prone to structural issues.

I don't need top of the line. Don't need fast. Don't need new. Don't need perfect.

I need something I can get in to in order to learn, in order to work on, in order to figure out if sailing is right for me.

What directions would you point me in? I am in SW Michigan and want some idea what to look for, and what to dismiss as I prowl the marinas and online for sales...

Thanks, in advance.
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Old 23-08-2016, 14:24   #2
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

First there's the question of $$$$$$$$. If you've got lots buy a late model Beneteau or Catalina, the only folks who seem to make a small (around 30 ft) sailboat these days.

But if you're not fussy there are lots of older boats in the just under 30 ft category that can hardly be given away. If you are just learning scout around the various sailing clubs in your area. In our club someone just got given a C&C 27 that had no takers (the paying kind). Another 26 footer, well equipped for cruising went for under $5000.

As this will be your first boat just look for one that's clean.
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Old 24-08-2016, 05:27   #3
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Speedphreak.
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Old 24-08-2016, 05:57   #4
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

You are describing just about every mid-30 foot boat out there. As Vasco said, you really need to decide on a budget. On the lower end you can find 70s vintage Pearsons, Cals, Tartans, etc. etc. for $20k (more or less). Something like an 80s vintage Catalina 34 can be had for $25k to $40k depending on condition and equipment. Newer boats can easily run to a $100k or more.
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Old 24-08-2016, 07:37   #5
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

What would narrow down the choice a lot would be if you could decide in more detail about the interior layout. Do you need a separate aft cabin? That would restrict your choice to newer boats.

If not, a Bristol 29.9, 31.1, or 35.5 would be perfect. Superb build quality, no structural issues or blisters, and they sail really nicely.
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Old 24-08-2016, 08:15   #6
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

Why 30 foot. If th I is your first boat perhaps something in the order of 24 foot will be easier to manage. Mine has 4 berths and a separate heads so a smaller boat can meet your requirements.

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Old 24-08-2016, 08:19   #7
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

You mention you are not interested in racing, but you might want to consider a boat in your area that is raced. There will be more available and potentially more of a re-sale market. Also if you are in the learning mode, joining in a race, preferably with someone who can guide you to keep you out of trouble, can be a great way to learn and understand what your boat can do. Best of luck whatever you decide!
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Old 24-08-2016, 08:22   #8
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedphreak View Post

I need something I can get in to in order to learn, in order to work on, in order to figure out if sailing is right for me.
If you are unsure if sailing is right for you, I wouldn't rush out and buy a boat, and especially one in the mid-30 foot range.

I'd start with sailing on friend's boats, participate at local yacht clubs, take sailing lessons, take an ASA course, make friends with the local marina management and see if you could help out with some the ongoing boat repairs to build up your knowledge base about how boats work.

At least then you may have a better idea if sailing is for you before you put thousands of dollars into something that you might later decide you don't like.

As for a first sailboat, as previously stated....yes, a clean one...among other qualities. 24-27 footers make decent first sailboats and there are many older brands and models to choose from. Some will have the features you are looking for, others will not.

In my case, I recently purchased an early '80's Hunter 27. Inboard diesel, wheel steering, sleeps 5 (cramped), came with two sets of sails (one set is shot, the other in average condition), spares for the diesel, and basic electronics. Asking price was $7500.

As I was purchasing online from overseas (Egypt), I wouldn't know if the boat in the online ad was the same boat on offer or not. The owner was very forthcoming with information about the boat, sent copies of repairs, new equipment purchases, and engine maintenance receipts. The owner eventually reduced the price to $6500 in order for me to purchase a used autopilot and a mainsail in better condition than the worn out one.

Now, for this price I would not normally survey a boat and take my chances. However, being overseas I needed "Eyes on the ground" so-to-speak, so I had a marine survey done. Total cost of the survey was $720 which included launching the boat and returning it to the hard (Survey itself was $20/foot). Survey results were good in all areas except the DC electrical system (fair condition and an easy fix). One issue was found with the rudder, while not extreme will need to be addressed....surface cracking and possible delamination (probable). Owner reduced the price yet again to $5500.

Between the survey report, photos and videos of the survey, owner's receipts and additional photos....the deal was done.

It will take another $3-5K to outfit it as I would like as a liveaboard. Some are necessities, others not so much.

Another thing to look at when planning to buy a boat, you have to park it somewhere and maintain a maintenance regime. And that costs money....the bigger the boat, especially when it comes to renting a slip, the more it costs. Maintenance costs can, and will vary with each boat based on current condition, previous maintenance and repairs (or lack thereof), and a myriad of other things.

Get some experience, if you don't have any already, get some more experience, read some books, take some lessons, talk to sailboaters, and get some more experience before you jump into the proverbial deep end of the pool.
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Old 24-08-2016, 08:40   #9
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedphreak View Post
I don't know if anybody is interested in helping or not, but feel free if you are so inclined.

I'm just looking for insight on a first sailboat as far as makes/models to look out for, and to avoid. Nothing super specific necessarily, just something to help narrow the search down a bit.

Here is the rough criteria I'm thinking of:

-Low to mid 30's OAL (crew = 3 adults, 1 Labrador).
-Inboard diesel
-Wheel steering (I prefer it, not hung up on it).
-Separate head.
-Not worried about racing.
-Something not prone to structural issues.

I don't need top of the line. Don't need fast. Don't need new. Don't need perfect.

I need something I can get in to in order to learn, in order to work on, in order to figure out if sailing is right for me.

What directions would you point me in? I am in SW Michigan and want some idea what to look for, and what to dismiss as I prowl the marinas and online for sales...

Thanks, in advance.
I and a partner purchase older sailboats, refurbish them and then resell them. We work with mostly smaller boats in the 25 to 35 ft range. Some are already in the water and ready to sell away. Others are in various stages of refurbishing (everything from just purchased and in need of major refit to already listed to resell. As I am the tech savvy partner, I do the listing (we also sell them locally) through sailboatlistings.com, eBay and sometimes even boat trader.com. They are all good places to begin your search. If what we have might interest you, contact me here and I will provide pertinent info. Our boats are located mostly at Harbor North in Huron Ohio with my partner, Jeff. Thanks and hope this helps! Bruce V
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Old 24-08-2016, 09:15   #10
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimsCAL View Post
You are describing just about every mid-30 foot boat out there. As Vasco said, you really need to decide on a budget. On the lower end you can find 70s vintage Pearsons, Cals, Tartans, etc. etc. for $20k (more or less). Something like an 80s vintage Catalina 34 can be had for $25k to $40k depending on condition and equipment. Newer boats can easily run to a $100k or more.
Definitely something on the lower end of the scale pricewise; I think I would rather buy a boat for $20k and put $20k in to it than buy a boat for $40k. I'm entirely comfortable with a less than pristine boat starting out, and then determining what I want to do based on my needs (and wants).

I'm comfortable tackling pretty much any of the boat systems stuff. I am leery about ignorantly getting into a boat that is known for structural things like delamination or weak tabbing or wet coding (knowing that stuff can also happen to almost any boat).
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Old 24-08-2016, 09:20   #11
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

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Originally Posted by bwells79 View Post
You mention you are not interested in racing, but you might want to consider a boat in your area that is raced. There will be more available and potentially more of a re-sale market. Also if you are in the learning mode, joining in a race, preferably with someone who can guide you to keep you out of trouble, can be a great way to learn and understand what your boat can do. Best of luck whatever you decide!
I absolutely agree with your points; I know how sailors are though, if I mentioned racing, the suggestions would trend towards lean, sleek, spartan race-focused boats, and that's not really what I want.

I would rather have a liveaboard style, easier handling boat. I'm all for racing as learning, but not as a competitive thing.
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Old 24-08-2016, 09:33   #12
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
But if you're not fussy there are lots of older boats in the just under 30 ft category that can hardly be given away. If you are just learning scout around the various sailing clubs in your area. In our club someone just got given a C&C 27 that had no takers (the paying kind). Another 26 footer, well equipped for cruising went for under $5000.

As this will be your first boat just look for one that's clean.
Yup! Not (too) fussy. Been thinking on it for some time now, reading, learning, talking, walking the docks...

I figure here at the end of the (Michigan) season there might be the possibility of good deals on underutilized boats that people are looking to avoid the haulout/storage costs and negotiate on.

I don't really have hard preferences on what I want, I'm flexible on that. I do want to give myself the greatest opportunity for success though.
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Old 24-08-2016, 10:04   #13
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

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Originally Posted by Speedphreak View Post
Definitely something on the lower end of the scale pricewise; I think I would rather buy a boat for $20k and put $20k in to it than buy a boat for $40k. I'm entirely comfortable with a less than pristine boat starting out, and then determining what I want to do based on my needs (and wants).

I'm comfortable tackling pretty much any of the boat systems stuff. I am leery about ignorantly getting into a boat that is known for structural things like delamination or weak tabbing or wet coding (knowing that stuff can also happen to almost any boat).
Best you research what jumps out at you first to find out all you can about the tendencies of any, particular older models. If you find something that you are drawn to, then put a bid on it. If it's over $10,000 make your bid negotiable based on a survey and opt out if it tells you that the value is questionable. Under $10k you can take your chances but a personal walk through and careful questions will tell you what you need to know. As you are a handyman, you have a better knowledge base than most to make that evaluation. A good thought too is to improve your knowledge of the history of plastics (fiberglass and resins - poly vs epoxy). You will find as oil based products the quality definitely relates to the cost increases of the oil market (especially in the 70s). Through the late 70's, boats were made as a norm both thicker and stronger than years afterwards. Of course, some were still made better than others and some still delaminated plus there is osmotic problems to be considered too (fortunately for you, being around Great Lakes boats lessen the chances of that). You seem to have a realistic valuation of purchase/refurbish/refit cost but I'd say either have someone else do the work first or pay a lot less for your boat (like $10k for a $20k boat that needs TLC and $20k for the refurbish/refit. If you are going to spend $20,000 for an older boat, I suggest you should be able to get aboard and go sailing - there's always something to do on all boats, even brand new to either maintain or "make it yours" but not so much you can't immediately enjoy what you bought it for.
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Old 24-08-2016, 14:01   #14
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

Yup. I made a spreadsheet of boats for sale in my very wide price range. The boats that had the layout and appearance that I wanted got researched for construction issues and quality... Assuming you want to overnight or longer with 3 adults and a dog I'd go 30-36ft. As a novice, 36' might be a bit much to handle, but you'll grow into it quickly. Compac, Catalina, Erickson, Hunter, Pearson, Tartan... You could join a sailing club where you get to try out a number of sail boats. Don't buy a boat with known problems, you should be out safely sailing as soon as you can after the purchase date.
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Old 24-08-2016, 19:02   #15
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Re: Finding a first sailboat

My first sailboat was a Bayfield 29. I Bought it for less than $3k, and had less than $10k in it when it was finished. At which time I was an expert on every part of the boat. I polished the deck, rebuilt the Yanmar 2gm, rewired the mast, reran the plumbing, etc., etc. It was cheaper than buying one ready to go, and I learned a LOT. It was a full time job for almost 6 months, but I loved it. While I was working on it, I had the opportunity to purchase 3 other ~30' sailboats for $1k or less. Each of them would have been a money pit. Look for a good hull, astrong deck, a solid mast. And then go to work.
That's my 2 cents, and maybe worth half that.
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