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Old 13-03-2013, 09:09   #1
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Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Hey everyone, I'm looking for some advice. I plan on buying a 27-35 footer and i'm hoping to be able to do that, and have it ready to sail from the eastern coast of Florida, through the Bahamas and on down to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, this June. I'd want to spend around 15k total, including anything I'd spend on fixing small things on the boat, and equipment such as radios if they aren't included. I'd be happy to spend a week and a half solely fixing small things before I leave for the Bahamas.

I'll be bringing anywhere from 2-4 people with me for different legs of the journey, some with little to no experience, some with introductory experience, and one with 8 ish years, though mainly on inland lakes. I have around 5-6 years of sailing experience mostly in smaller boats and a significant amount on cats. Some of this was inland lakes with higher winds, 20-25kts, with some gusts upwards of 30kts but small seas, and much of the rest was in bays in California or off the pacific coast of Mexico.

I've spent the past month doing some research and attempting to find the right boat. I've narrowed it down to something close to a 30 footer, it needs to be able to sleep 5 smaller people. Most of what I've seen around that price range in and around Florida has been Pearson 30's, Hunter 30's, O'day 27's...And most of what I've read of these is that they aren't really blue water boats. I'd like to have a somewhat tougher boat that wouldn't be troubled if I happen to end up in a squall or a small storm on the longest leg of my trip, between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. I do plan on hiring a surveyor prior to making any purchase.

My questions are, how feasible is this plan? any recommendations on specific boats in my price range(>15k)? Any advice for the journey?
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Old 13-03-2013, 09:21   #2
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pirate Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

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Originally Posted by fonkoolair View Post
Hey everyone, I'm looking for some advice. I plan on buying a 27-35 footer and i'm hoping to be able to do that, and have it ready to sail from the eastern coast of Florida, through the Bahamas and on down to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, this June. I'd want to spend around 15k total, including anything I'd spend on fixing small things on the boat, and equipment such as radios if they aren't included. I'd be happy to spend a week and a half solely fixing small things before I leave for the Bahamas.

I'll be bringing anywhere from 2-4 people with me for different legs of the journey, some with little to no experience, some with introductory experience, and one with 8 ish years, though mainly on inland lakes. I have around 5-6 years of sailing experience mostly in smaller boats and a significant amount on cats. Some of this was inland lakes with higher winds, 20-25kts, with some gusts upwards of 30kts but small seas, and much of the rest was in bays in California or off the pacific coast of Mexico.

I've spent the past month doing some research and attempting to find the right boat. I've narrowed it down to something close to a 30 footer, it needs to be able to sleep 5 smaller people. Most of what I've seen around that price range in and around Florida has been Pearson 30's, Hunter 30's, O'day 27's...And most of what I've read of these is that they aren't really blue water boats. I'd like to have a somewhat tougher boat that wouldn't be troubled if I happen to end up in a squall or a small storm on the longest leg of my trip, between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. I do plan on hiring a surveyor prior to making any purchase.

My questions are, how feasible is this plan? any recommendations on specific boats in my price range(>15k)? Any advice for the journey?
Yup... it has been done and doubtless will again on lesser boats than the ones posted by you...
Hunters and Pearsons have crossed oceans.. the boats won't be troubled if your not..
Carry a few jugs of extra fuel and should the wind be light on the 'Path'... motor like hell while you can..
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Old 13-03-2013, 12:12   #3
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Finding a boat that can do the trip is the least of your worries.

What you need to be more concerned with is something called "The Thorny Path." Do a search. You will find that the journey from Florida, through the Bahamas, and down to the VI is not NEARLY as easy as it looks like it should be, when you just look at the charts. You will be going dead into the prevailing winds and currents most of the time.

You also need to consider that you are planning to start this journey right at the same time as the Atlantic hurricane season starts. Does that really sound like a good idea?

And then there's your whole timetable. You want to buy a boat for $15k and maybe spend a week and a half getting it ready for this voyage. That's just not going to happen without an almost unimaginable amount of luck in finding the right boat. A boat in that price range is more likely to need 2-3 months of preparations, if not more. You need to have bought the boat last week if you want to be ready to leave in June.

The other alternative would be to buy the boat, head out, and then spend several months cruising around the Bahamas getting yourself and the boat ready. But then, you're still going to be there during the height of the hurricane season, so you need to have plans ready for that, and everything in the Bahamas is going to be more expensive, so that doesn't really sound like it fits your approach, either.

I don't want to burst your bubble, and what you want to do is certainly possible (at least in a general sense), but you need to consider a whole of other stuff besides just what boat to get.
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Old 13-03-2013, 17:21   #4
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Thanks for the heads up on the Thorny Path denverd0n. I had been studying the currents and winds in that area for some time and I was considering bypassing it and making a more direct offshore route leaving the Bahamas, sort of halfway between the I-65 route and the Thorny path, that's why I was looking for a slightly more sturdy boat. I'll do some more research.

As to the boat purchase, I'm actually planning on purchasing it within the next 2 weeks, and possibly leaving it at a shipyard to have any major maintenance done between now and the end of May. Then I would start doing the smaller items that I'd have the shipyard leave for me. I'd hope to be able to complete these smaller things in a week or so.

I do understand this will be a difficult journey either way. I've been studying, doing research, and planning for the past 5-6 months, and I'll continue to do so until I leave. And honestly, I'd really like to make it to the Virgins, but if it looks like that isn't really feasible by the time June comes around, I'll certainly be happy cruising the Bahamas. Paradise is paradise, no matter how far I have to go to get there.
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Old 13-03-2013, 17:42   #5
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

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Originally Posted by fonkoolair View Post
Hey everyone, I'm looking for some advice. I plan on buying a 27-35 footer and i'm hoping to be able to do that, and have it ready to sail from the eastern coast of Florida, through the Bahamas and on down to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, this June.
This June? You may want to do a bit of research on hurricane season.
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Old 13-03-2013, 17:43   #6
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pirate Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Josh... if you want to avoid the 'Thorny Path' there's only one way to go... get to Ft Pierce then head NE to around 25N on the prevailing S'lies around Florida... you should then start picking up N'lies to take you E to a position when you can turn S and reach down to the BVI's.. takes around 10 days sailing...
From there you can head back W ahead of the weather n storms due later in the season.. and I still advise carrying extra fuel... at least 50litres..
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:20   #7
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Hey everybody, here's an update.

Firstly, I've realized that, with my timeline of 2 months, it would really be more trouble than its worth to take the thorny path down to the Virgins. Thus I've decided to simply cruise the Bahamas, and probably the Turks and Caicos.

I'm in the midst of the purchase of an '79 O'Day 30. Haven't gotten the full results from the survey yet, but just as an overview, the surveyor said that it needs new standing rigging, port and starboard chainplates, and possibly hull paint. It also has 20 or so fairly small blisters, and likely needs new hull paint. The engine works well, but it needs a new bracket for the shift cable.

Any idea of how much it would cost to have these things repaired or replaced? Just looking for a ballpark estimate, I understand it will vary.

Also, any other tips would be much appreciated (:
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:41   #8
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Port and starboard chainplates could be more than you are paying for the boat. This is an April fools joke, right?
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:48   #9
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pirate Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Fix the engine... replace the standing rigging.. grind out and fill the blisters... antifoul and go...
I'd guess $200 antifoul DIY
$50/100 Engine, Blisters DIY
$2000+/- standing rigging
Leave the hull paint job till you come back...

PS; if you use galvanised wire cheaper still..
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Old 01-04-2013, 18:30   #10
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

leave yourself some flexibility on your departure date to allow yourself ample time to make necessary repairs , should be the trip of a lifetime, enjoy
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Old 01-04-2013, 21:35   #11
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

Enough folks have warned you about hurricane season so I'll just put in my two cents about the boat.

The chainplate problem, among other things, would make me pass on the O'day. I own a Watkins 27 and can heartily recommend them as a stout, overbuilt boat and about as roomy as one can get in a 27 footer. Her draft is less than 4 feet, which would be very handy in the thin water of the Bahamas.

There were about 500 Watkins 27s built in St. Petersburg, FL between 1978 and 1984. It shouldn't be hard to find one in or near Florida for $10K more or less, needing very little beyond elbow grease to make her ready.
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Old 02-04-2013, 13:39   #12
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Re: Looking for advice on a first boat, for western Caribbean cruising

So I just got the full survey, here's what the survey says to correct on the chain plates: "re-bed & renew rusted chain plate fasteners where water has ingressed to interior"
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