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Old 28-11-2009, 21:33   #1
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Looking for First Sailboat

My name is Bill. I am in the Marine Corps and currently deployed to Okinawa Japan. I am looking into buying my first boat when I get back stateside. I am looking for a functional boat. It does not need to be perfect but not looking for a basket case either. I would also like it to be blue water capable and no smaller than 26 feet.

Boats I am currently looking at:

1: 1969 26' sailboat; I believe it is a Columbia.
2: 1970 26' Ranger
3: 26' Columbia MK II
4: 1971 27' Cal Jensen

I am also looking for advice and info about boating and sailing.

Thank you for your time,


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Old 28-11-2009, 22:08   #2
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Those all seem like boats with good reputations. Of course, a good survey is a must with any boat of that vintage.

You might also check Atom Voyages | Voyaging Around the World on the Sailboat Atom with James and Mei for an idea of just what would be necessary to ready a small boat to cross oceans.

Finally, I would recommend at least some formal training, even if you already have sailing experience. Taking sailing courses shows your insurance company that you're committed to spend the time & money it takes to improve your skills & experience. It also lets you cross check your sailing skills against accepted norms- may as well get rid of bad habits as soon as possible.

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Old 28-11-2009, 22:20   #3
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Thanks for the response. Forgot to mention a few things. I still have 3.5 years left of active duty so I am not looking to do any long distance sailing at this time. Buying the boat now allows me time to learn to sail as well as make necessary upgrades. I could even sell the boat and get a bigger one to get ready for long distance sailing. If I decide sailing isn't for me, I can just sell the boat. I plan to get sailing lessons in the spring. I would prefer to get lessons on the boat I will actually be using.

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Old 29-11-2009, 05:48   #4
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How long will you be on Okinawa? If you will be there for awhile, you must either buy a boat there or get it there if you want to learn on your own boat.

Will you be singlehanding or do you have a spouse/partner? If the latter, you will probably want a bigger boat.

Obviously, buying locally will limit your options.
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Old 29-11-2009, 07:46   #5
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Hi Bill,

Given your situation, I might hold off on the purchase part and spend the time and money taking lessons and cruising vacations. This will also give you a better idea if you like sailing, and if you do, what features are important to you.

Most schools offer tiered classes . I'd hitch rides on Other peoples boats whenever I could. Does the navy have recreational vessels there?

If you are intent on owning your own boat upon your return to the states, you might look for the largest trailerable boat you can find. The slip fees and hauling fees add up quickly. You can save alot of money if you can haul and store your own boat.
You can also move it a lot easier, if you get transferred. My 2 cents.

Best of Luck to you!
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Old 30-11-2009, 14:26   #6
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info on sailing in Japan

Sail Japan has pretty much all the information you might need about licensing etc.

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Old 30-11-2009, 15:24   #7
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Bill - Welcome. My father was stationed in Okinawa in the 40s and learned to sail there. I cannot recall where he sailed, which is unfortunate.

I agree with Tempest245. You can get a lot of experience on various boats over the next 3 years regardless of your station. If your plan is to live on it until your tour is over that may change things a bit. You may also find better deals in that area, but look for a good surveyor as you are talking about an old boat in less than ideal conditions.

I also suggest Larry and Lin Pardey's book, the Self Sufficient Sailor which you can pick up on, used for under $10. The have 200,000 miles behind them on a 27 footer with no engine. Their approach is one of total practicality. While some of the costs are dated, and many of us might seek more creature conforts, the information seems to be right on target. Here is a short interview done with them as well: Sailors in the Spotlight - Lin and Larry Pardey |

Best of luck.

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Old 30-11-2009, 15:36   #8

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The wife and I bought a 1972 Columbia MkII about seven months ago as our first boat. She was easy to sail and a joy, but as with any of the boats in this class, she was rather small and had little headroom. These things are to be expected, though.

I would recommend the old Columbias to anyone for a first boat. Be sure to either have her surveyed or know what you are looking for, lest you become a victim of all the scammers!

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Old 30-11-2009, 17:17   #9
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I recenty bought my first boat, Ill tell you what I learned. If you know about boats, go over every inch of it. If you think you know about boats bring someone who does know boats and have them go over it. If you dont know about boats, get a survey.
I thought I knew enough about boats.
I didnt get a survey, I bought a cheap older boat that needed work, I knew that going in. I didnt plan on repairing the hull and having it bottom painted, and replaceing the prop strut, prop shaft and and and i nthe first month. Ive put 50% of purchase price back into it just to make it so I feel ok and safe about it. Did I get hosed, no I got a good deal, Im very happy with the boat and now I know everything was done right (by me) and i have been over about every inch of it and know what I have to look forward to.
Some one with out the knowledge to do fiberglass or mechanical repairs would have been in bad shape.
Anything you want to buy for a boat is twice as expensive as you think it should be. I bought a starter switch from autozone for 15.99 it lasted 2 months. Then I bought the 39.99 one from west marine.
Boats are expensive, IF your not using it 6-7 times a month, stick with renting.
You will have less stress less headache and a nicer boat, and problay more money in your pocket
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Old 30-11-2009, 23:40   #10
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Buying a boat in Japan

No surveyors out here. Take a buddy who knows his stuff, and remember that all the new parts you'll need will cost you 3 times as much as they would at home. Worth dropping by WestMarine or whatever chandler's you have over there next time you're in the States.
Also remember that any halyards and sheets that have been left down the mast or on deck will be as much good as spaghetti after a year thanks to the UV out here.
See the boat out of the water (check for osmosis) and consider getting a cat or centerboarder instead of a keeler as all the nicest places down there have reefs which play havoc on anything that has a draught over a metre.
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Old 02-12-2009, 02:52   #11
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Thanks for all the replies. I will be back in Cali on or before Feb 1st. I am not looking for any sailing classes, lessons or boats here. However, I did go to the library to get books on Sailing. They only had 5 and 2 were checked out. The only one I read so far is:

"Cruising Crew, How To Be Welcome Aboard"

Decent book for those that never been on a sailboat.

I am also thinking about trading my rare 1973 Monte Carlo straight up for a boat or a boat/trailer combo. This way I can put my purchase money towards upgrades/repairs. The only reason I am considering this, is I just learned I am supposed to go to Afghanistan next fall so I will not be able to work on it for the next 15 months.

Thanks again for all the replies,

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Old 02-12-2009, 03:35   #12
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The Ranger 26 is a very nice sailing boat, you would enjoy sailing it and you should be able to recoup all your money when you decide to sell.

Thank you for your service and we pray for your safety in Afganistan.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:02   #13
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I wish you the very best of luck in your deployment to Afganistan.

It occurs to me that if you are committed to buying a boat in the Far East, I would check out the listings in Hong Kong as well as Japan.

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