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Old 02-05-2011, 20:10   #1
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First Sailboat Recommendations - SW Florida

My wife and I are planning to semi-retire in SW Florida within 2-4 years. We already own a house there. My sailing experience is limited to a friend's 27ft. Catalina and sailing on Midwest lakes. I also took the ASA basics sailing class last year and have been trying to read as much as possible. However, the closer we get to moving, the more questions I have. Now I am trying to determine what to look for in a first boat. Maybe some of you can share your opinions and/or experiences? Any help will be appreciated.

Like many others...the retirement boat budget took a humongo hit in the 2008 market crash. (2 sons with MBA's and they couldn't help me) My wife says I must keep the total under 25K. I do have cash...so that helps a some. Still, I figure to buy an older boat and/or one that needs some light to medium TLC. (I grew up on a farm and have some skills...mechanics, carpentry and even minor paint/body work.) Honestly, I enjoy "fun" hands on projects. Keeping all of this in mind....what should I start looking for? Primary use will be coastal crusing in the Naples to Sarasota area. But, as we gain confidence, I would really like to travel down to the Keys and even beyond. I have friends of several of the Caribbean islands. From what I have read, this will require a boat designed for open (blue) water. We have looked at some boats locally and decided 32 - 40 ft. LOA will best suit our personal size requirements. So here are some questions; What are best boats, styles, brands, etc. for my budget? Which rigging is best, sloop, cutter? What is best draft for this area...shoal, deep, centerboard or fixed keel? Best/worst engines? Best optional equipment to have? Things to avoid? Also, where is the best place to buy a boat? (individual, marina, internet, etc.?) I am ready and willing to purchase anytime...especially if I can find a hot deal on a great boat. Is it possible or even a good idea to leave one on the hard for 2+ years? There are a couple of DIY boatyard in the area where I could store/work on it. We could always use our vacations to get it ready and make sure everything is working. Or should I just wait until I move and start looking at that time? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I know this is a long post, but thanks for your help.... Tom
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Old 02-05-2011, 20:43   #2
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

Welcome aboard, as to many of your questions, you will find using the search engine above you will find all so many post on those same questions. As for me I would wait till i got to FL, Find a cheap/give away boat and get some more time in. and then will down at the docks and marina you will be able to sail on others boats more and be able to make up your mind on what YOU like before spending the only bank roll you have on the wrong boat for you. And if you find a good boat you can put on the hard you will still have something cheap you can keep improving you sailing skills with as you work on it. Lots of boats down there that people are willing to let go, not worth fixing up to do long cruises with but great to sail around in while you are searching
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Old 02-05-2011, 20:47   #3
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

Welcome to CF Solo!

That said, there is no easy answer to your questions and you're going to get a lot of opinions on the best boat, the best rig, manufactures, etc.

My advice, walk the docks, with or without a broker and look at different boats, see which ones fit you and your wife, then read up on them and their rigs and weed out those that don't meet your needs.

I'm not sure $25K is going to put you into a decent 40 ft boat in any king of shape, but look at sites like yachtworld, etc and kick some tires.

Good Luck!
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Old 02-05-2011, 21:18   #4
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

I guess I am really wanting all the opinions I can get. I have read a lot of different articles, etc., but would still value some specific imput from boaters in the Gulf coast area. Who else would know the best equpment, etc. for the area? Also, in addition to the 25K purchase, (my wife doesn't know it), but I have already set aside another 10K for repairs and mods.
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Old 02-05-2011, 21:27   #5
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

In your situation I would look for a boat that is already in working condition. As much as you might enjoy getting it into working condition, you will already have enough projects to get it into the condition that you would like the boat to be in. A boat that already works is much more fun plus it keeps the Admiral happy when she can enjoy the boat as well....you are not just disappearing to go work on the boat while she waits for that day when she is finally able to go out on the boat. In extreme situations, men working fixing up their boats have actually ruined marriages.

As far as the boat itself, try to find a relatively popular boat and not an odd duck that few have ever heard of. There is usually good reason why a boat becomes popular. A more popular boat also means it is more likely to hold it resale value when you get a case of three foot-itis, meaning you REALLY want something three feet longer.
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Old 02-05-2011, 21:32   #6
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

Good point David. A happy wife is golden!!!!
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Old 02-05-2011, 21:48   #7
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

David,

I know they are a lot of Islanders in the Bay area. Whats your opinion of the I-36? On paper, they seem to be good boats for the money?
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Old 02-05-2011, 23:13   #8
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

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Originally Posted by solohr View Post
David,

I know they are a lot of Islanders in the Bay area. Whats your opinion of the I-36? On paper, they seem to be good boats for the money?
An Islander 36 tends to be a great boat for the money. But if you find one in your $25k price range, it's going to be a pretty sad I-36.
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Old 03-05-2011, 00:48   #9
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Re: First sailboat recommendations, SW Florida

Bash,

The reason I asked about the I-36 is because I saw 2 in Florida for under 30K (asking price). One is 27K...the owner has done some upgrades (new a/c and water heater), but developed some health issues and is willing to deal. It has some a fresh, rebuit engine and some interior upgrades too. It looks nice. I found another one that needs a bit of TLC, but still has some extra equipment and its priced below 20K. I guess its becoming more of a buyers market in some areas of the country? I do like the looks of the I-36 and was curious what others had to say about them?
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:15   #10
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Re: First Sailboat Recommendations, SW Florida

I just had a broker send me listings for a '78 Pearson 35 and '76 Pearson 36. They appear in similar condition, with comparable equipment, however the 35 has a shallow, shoal draft keel. Any of you familar with these models? Any specific or inherent problems associated with either? Thanks!
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Old 10-05-2011, 13:23   #11
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Re: First Sailboat Recommendations, SW Florida

Tom, I own I-36 built in 79. In my opinion it is a very good boat. However, there are some drawbacks that you may face with Islander of that vintage. It is the blister problem. If it is problem or not your surveyor should be able to define. Mine had and I spend many thousands to have this professionally fixed.
They were built in short keel and fin keel, standard rigging and tall rigging models. They had Atomic4 engines but many including mine, had the engine replaced. Hull is very sturdy and her interior is of good quality. Everything depends on maintenance. If you buy at 20k be prepared to add another 20 to fix her.

If you decide to look at I-36 you can PM me and I will convey all I know about this model.
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Old 10-05-2011, 13:39   #12
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Re: First Sailboat Recommendations, SW Florida

You will not find a 40 footer in your price range unless it is in horrible condition. Plus, ongoing maintenance costs increase exponentially with the size of the boat. Equipment wears out. Things break. You need the boat hauled (to clean the bottom), etc. etc.

You need to find a "good old boat" in the 32-34 foot range. My first choice would be an Allied 32 ketch. They have good interior volume and can go anywhere. In fact, if you were retiring tomorrow you could buy this one. They're asking 29.9K but I bet they'd take 25K. 1975 Allied Seawind Ketch Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 10-05-2011, 13:51   #13
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Re: First Sailboat Recommendations, SW Florida

take a look at this, project boat on the hard for some time

http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listi..._id=24584&url=
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Old 10-05-2011, 14:13   #14
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Re: First Sailboat Recommendations, SW Florida

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take a look at this, project boat on the hard for some time

http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listi..._id=24584&url=
Yeah, you could rename it the "Red Elephant." That boat would cost you 25K a year for sanding sponges and foam brushes alone. Plus it's probably way too big for an inexperienced cruising couple to sail. Of course, they could just live on it while it's on the hard, while they spent the rest of their lives trying to get it ready to launch.
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Old 10-05-2011, 14:13   #15
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Re: First Sailboat Recommendations, SW Florida

Solohr,

Let me add my welcome to the others. As you can see I live in SW Florida. If you don't mind my asking, just whereabouts do you plan to settle. There are two reasons I ask. First, if you are anywhere near me, Tarpon Springs, you're welcome to come down to the dock and pick what's left of my pickled brains. The other reason I ask has to do with draft. A good hunk of SW Florida has very thin water. You may get the buy of a lifetime but if it has a 7-8 ft draft, you're screwed. I have 5 ft draft, some friends have 6 ft but they really sweat around low tide. So for your target boat in this area, keep draft in mind.

Curmudgeon's suggestion of an Allied Seawind is excellent. It's a classic design that has been known for circumnavigations. There is one at my marina.

For occasional trips to the Caribbean most folks will tell you you don't need a bluewater boat. Most trips will be a day or two at sea and if you watch the weather and time your trips accordingly you should be fine.

As to rig, you're asking what is the true religion, everyone has their favorite because each has its pros and cons so you'll have to decide for yourself. Me, I prefer cutters first and ketches second because of the versatility of the sail plan and handling in stinky weather. On my cutter I sacrifice the ability to go to windward as well as say a sloop.

Personally, I would also recommend that you wait until you move before buying anything. Sure you could keep it in the DIY yard and do occasional odd jobs but in between you are paying for storage and not getting anywhere. Storage at the yard next to me is a dollar a ft/day, it adds up. Believe me, almost all boat jobs take longer than you plan. Save the money you would spend on storage for equipping and upgrading the boat. In the meantime, read, watch videos, learn some skills such as splicing 3 strand and/or double braid. Learn how to read a chart. Nigel Calder has an excellent book on that. Perhaps subscribe to Good Old Boat magazine, they are constantly reviewing classic older boats. Many have been restored to better than new and there are articles on how to do the repairs and upgrades.

This could go on forever, but I think you get my drift.

One last thing, hang around here and ask away. All the responses above are sound. Its just easier to answer a specific question rather than a generic.

Good luck and have fun,
Rich
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