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Old 21-09-2007, 15:04   #1
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Help me pick a new boat

It's boat show season here in the Northeast US and wandering the docks has gotten me thinking that I may look to get a new boat in the next year or so. My knowledge of each of the designers/builders is very week, so I am forced to read the endless stream of marketing literature. I think I just read about a new hull design process where snake oil is injected at some stage of the process .

Most of my sailing is coastal cruising with a crew of 2 (me and my wife). We will do some some short offshore passeges that might take us as much as 100 miles offshore, but we have no real blue-water plans for now. While safety is always the first priority, we are also looking for a boat that is pleasant to live on for a week. (translation - my wife would prefer that saying on the boat feel more like a small but high-end Hotel room) I recognize that we will make some compromises to get the desired level of comfort.

I have been looking at new boats. There is the appeal of getting the boat configured just as I want it. That being said, I would consider used boats in the 0-5 year range as well. Within the above parameters, I would like to get a good performing boat both on the water and in the resale market.

There are clearly many boats that fit this description, this is the cause of my confusion.

Just to start the conversation, I will toss out 3 very different boats that fit the description:
  1. Hunter 45 (center or aft cockpit) - lots of bang for the buck, questionable hull and rig??
  2. Tartan 44 - more quality, more wood, more $$
  3. Hylas 46 - beautiful, strong, lots more $$$
It is obviously hard to compare a Hylas to a Hunter, but when you factor in price and the intended use it becomes less clear.

I would value any thoughts on these or other boats that fall into my description.

Pete
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Old 21-09-2007, 15:25   #2
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Quote:
It is obviously hard to compare a Hylas to a Hunter, but when you factor in price and the intended use it becomes less clear.
Actually it becomes totally clear. You have the money or forget it. The Hylas will hold it's value far better than the Hunter, but then it also has more value to hold so even in a used market you'll still pay a lot. Right now a used 46 Hylas 15 years old is likely to sell for more than $200K. % years starts to look like $500K. Newer boats are not the same boat either.

Given your present plans it seems better to buy a much older boat and use it as a way to get more experience and determine the better boat for yourself. I could suggest my own boat since I think it is great for me and my wife but then you are not us. That becomes the problem.

I think you seem too worried about which boat and not worried enough about what you really want to do. For limited amoutn of information you provide you couldn't possibly exceed the capabilities of any of these boats though it seems that some might break the budget. The money has to work is a number one rule. Operation and maintenance costs are significant on any of these boats even if brand new. Doing the financial homework should be something you can do now.

Using a smaller less expensive boat to start with might be the cheap way toward finding out what really is your best fit. There are no perfect boats for sale. Annapolis is coming up in a few weeks so if you don't have a hotel reservation I suggest you make one. A couple of days crawling around inside boats can't be anything but a good learning experience.
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Old 21-09-2007, 15:37   #3
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Paul,

Thanks for your thoughts.

I may have been unclear. We already have a smaller and less expensive boat. So we have some idea of what our needs are. The issue for me is that it is difficult for someone who does not have a lot of knowledge of the different makes to compare all of the options. It is easy to compare boats at the extreme (hunter vs hylas). In between the extremes it gets more complex. While I have some flexibilty in my budget, it is not always as simple to differentiate value as in the hunter/hylas example. I used the three boats merley as a straw-man. Maybe I should have picked three boats that were closer in feature and price, but I was trying to set some upper and lower bounds.

Regarding Annapolis, I already have tickets and hotel.

Pete
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Old 21-09-2007, 16:16   #4
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Aloha Pete,
There are just too many options aren't there? We've covered this subject on many occasions and it would be good for you to do some searches on forum. I don't know what boat you currently have so don't know what you've experienced.
I would never, ever buy anything over 36 feet LOD again.
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Old 21-09-2007, 16:40   #5
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I guess I would say you need to start with what you do know based on what you have done. I think the vast technical details can become tedious yielding no progress toward a clear choice. That is unless the project of buying the boat has more appeal than the one of doing something with it.

We went through this last year her with someone that I later actually met at the Annapolis show. I think they researched everything to death but quite completely I might add. In the end they couldn't afford some boats and others had insufficient headroom. They selected a boat that was in their list but more because of just a few factors as well as a price that worked. The real world tends to be this way rather than the exhaustive definitive research project.

You need to get to the list of factors that are really specific to you. Getting into the technical debate between different boats won't get you very far. Nothing is at all equal so the debate about small details does not differentiate the boats enough if at all.

A good example of a deal breaker is headroom. If you are 6 feet 8 inches tall you have a serious limitation in boats based on that one criteria alone. You need to fit in the boat standing and sleeping - period. Not all criteria are clearcut. Some criteria are pointless. "Strong seaworthy boat" means nothing at all. The debate of "this better than that" are most always pointless since the term "better" is limited by all the things you don't currently understand. You set performance criteria that is arbitrary so the technical debate is not about your specific needs but instead about a theoretical maximum. Yes, sometimes certain criteria are exceeded by some boats but will it matter?

The choices about boats are more about you than the boats. You are more important than the boat. Your goals and budget are more important than the boat technical specifications. If you work the simple things you already know you may find the tedious debate about which boats goes away. Not every boat is available when you want to buy one. You need to narrow a list to boats you know are for sale at a specific price.
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Old 21-09-2007, 16:43   #6
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Mahalo John,
I will continue to search here, particularly with regard to technical items like construction techniques, etc.

Pete
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Old 21-09-2007, 16:44   #7
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Not to highjack the thread but Skiprjohn can you tell me why you would not buy over 36'. I am looking at between 36' and 40' for my 1st boat and would appreciate your reasons.

Thanks.

Ed.
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Old 21-09-2007, 18:27   #8
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I have never bought a 'new' boat. However, I have met many people who have. I get the impression that new boats are sort of a small scale version of sea trials for a refitted destroyer - factory/dealer support can be a real issue. On this issue I have no input on hunter/tartan/hylas - except that Hunter was always helpful to us or tried to be even though our boat was 16 yrs. old when we bought her.

Beyond that, I would suggest that for the kind of use described, you should place a premium on at-anchor/in-slip liveaboard comfort. Your needs/wants/expectations are personal to you - or probably more importantly, your wife.
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Old 21-09-2007, 20:26   #9
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Vonotto,
I've had experience sailing and owning and living aboard 22-55' boats. My favorite for ease of handling and getting underway plus having plenty of liveaboard space was a 35 and I probably could have gotten along in a 32 with a wider beam. They are less expensive to buy new hardware and sails for and are cheaper and easier to find a slip for. Again, because I like to sail, they are easy to get underway and singlehand if you don't have steady crew. A well put together 32 will handle as much weather as the skipper can stand.
For comparison costs just price a sheet winch for a 35 foot boat in comparison to a 42 foot boat.
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Old 21-09-2007, 23:54   #10
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Have a look at Nauticats, especially 35, 40, & 43 there is a good owners group on Yahoo, your wife will love the comfort of the pilothouse and a happy wife means more time on the water
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Old 22-09-2007, 07:01   #11
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Pete,

Only you (and your spouse) can pick the boat you want. And in the end surprisingly, it will probably be based on heart and not head. I went through this process on my first boat. Had the boats, the specs, the spread sheet etc. In the end all that had little influence on my choice. All it did was put me in the ballpark.
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Old 22-09-2007, 07:32   #12
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Thanks for the responses. There are a lot of good points here. I agree with the general premise that I need to know what things are important to my needs before picking a boat. I think that the confusion occurs because our needs fall into the sweet spot of a lot of the marketing departments, so there are many boats that we would be happy with. Maybe this means that we should look at that long list and then pick the one that we like the most. It is fairly simple for me to look at a particular book and consider its rigging, interior features, and asthetic appeal. What is harder to determine without more knowledge of each manufacturer is the relative build quality and sailing characteristics of each boat. It is more difficult than just picking a price point because I don't feel that I should just look at the most expensive end of my price range. In general, I am happy to pay more for something if there is some benefit to me. That benefit could come in the form of some tangible and meaningful superiority, or maybe just because it pleases me on an emotional level.

I guess I will follow Paul's adivce. I will spend time at the show in Annapolis trying to whittle down the list based on those things that you can discern from a visual inspection. Hopefully, I will be left with a short enough list that I can work through the specifics from there.

Pete
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Old 23-09-2007, 22:55   #13
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Pete,

It might be like buying a house. Defining the needs is a very critical step. Many "middle of the market" boats will be very similar. The good news is that it's well populated. The bad news is there is a lot of choice.

You said:

1/ Coastal cruiser
2/ Two people
3/ Ocassional off-shore
4/ Up to 1 week onboard
5/ Want to keep the admiral happy (and I am inferring here) that it needs to be comfortable, as roomy as possible
6/ Skipper wants newer boat
7/ Maintain value

I wouldn't buy new. You almost certainly will get hit with big depreciation - You have to decide if being able to specify a few things is worth the price.

You 0-5 year old boat sounds like a good plan. Still a few years before any of the "major" stuff starts going wrong.

I don't think you should rule out any of the "plastic" production boats at all. Plenty being sold and plenty being sailed off-shore. Lot's of people have them, usually have active owner groups, lot's of mechanics know how to fix them.

I tend to agree with Nauticatarcher. I have a very similar mission and will be looking hard at a pilothouse when i trade the starter boat off. I am also going to seriously consider a cat. I am never going to be a racer and I love the light and being able to sit indoors and look out at the water. This will over ride issues of performance for me. Life is not a race...

As far as LOA I agree with the 35-40 ft range. There's something about that 40' number that to me adds handling complexity. I am sure I can do 40' on my own. 45' I am not so sure and I would like to be sure...
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Old 24-09-2007, 05:47   #14
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Thanks Dan,

I agree with your assesment. From a financial perspective, I think that the best situation will be a nearly-new boat. I got my present boat when it was 6 months old. I am the second owner. If the opportunity presents itself, I would do the same again.

The production vs semi-custom boat is a purely emotional decision. There are many production boats that are more than sufficient for my needs. I can't make an analytical argument for the higher-end boats. These boats do hold their value better, but they also cost more to begin with. I will be curious to see how my wife responds to all of these boats when we are in Annapolis. Her opinion is at least as important as mine in this process.

For now, I think that the best approach for me is to treat this as a learning process and take my time. I have been sailing for a while, but it is only in the past few years that I have been following the market for boats, so I need to climb the learning curve on the various makes and the relative pros and cons.

Pete
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