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Old 25-02-2009, 10:04   #1
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Opinion Question - Which Would You Do?

Okay - I do have a small sailboat, a potter 19. I plan to cruise for a while in about two years, after I finish my degree. These are my options:

I have some money saved up now, and I could afford a well-built boat in need of a lot of work. I could work on it for the next two years, pouring money into it and fixing it up.

OR

I could wait the two years and continue saving, then buy a much nicer boat in better condition. (Though I know that with boats the money pouring never ends!)

Which would you do? I'm kind of leaning towards the first one, but I'm a little biased, because I really want a bigger boat and the freedom that comes with it
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Old 25-02-2009, 10:44   #2
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I would do the first one, for a variety of reasons. To begin with, there's no guarantee that you will be able to save enough to get a boat that much nicer than one you could afford now. Secondly, the two years of work you could put into the boat while you're still going to school (provided you have time to do it) would serve you well in many ways. Additionally, it will allow you to make sure this is what you want to do without spending a huge chunk right off the bat.
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Old 25-02-2009, 11:58   #3
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I would also agree with the first choice. For the same reasons as oceansoul. I would add that refitting a boat will also give you the skills and experience to address any problems you may have in the future. It will also allow you to fit the boat out to suit your needs, rather than the generic needs built in by the designer.
I would add a warning. Set your expectations on time, not on level of completion. If you wait to leave until the boat is "done", you may never leave. Address the seaworthiness and livability items first, then start the comfort projects. When the boat is seaworthy, and livable, you can leave at any point. The rest can be done along the way.
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Old 25-02-2009, 12:12   #4
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Working on your own systems

There is a lot to be said about working on your own boat systems. For the cruising you sound like you want to do, you will need to know your boat inside and out. I agree with Ocean and Kai. Get something and start working on it -- just don't get something SO jacked up that ALL you do is work intensely on it!

I would replace your stated goal ".. well-built boat in need of a lot of work" with a ".... well-built boat in need of some work." Alot of work in structural issues is a far cry from a alot of work in sanding.

Talk to people here as much as possible, go to boat yards and boat shows, my point is that "alot of work" is highly relative statment and you will need to get a feel for what you want to tackle.

I am not sure what you mean when you discuss "freedom" in relative to size. Nonetheless, there may not be as much freedom as you might think there is with a bigger boat as you opined. Core boat costs such as maintenance, insurance, and slip go up astronomically as LOA increases. There may not be much cost difference between a 30 and 32 footer, but there is a world of difference between a 25 footer and a 32 footer.

Good luck with your choice AND your degree!

Michael
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Old 25-02-2009, 12:54   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceansoul63 View Post
I would do the first one, for a variety of reasons. To begin with, there's no guarantee that you will be able to save enough to get a boat that much nicer than one you could afford now. Secondly, the two years of work you could put into the boat while you're still going to school (provided you have time to do it) would serve you well in many ways. Additionally, it will allow you to make sure this is what you want to do without spending a huge chunk right off the bat.
This is very true... with the way the economy is, now seems like the best time to buy a boat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Nui View Post
I would also agree with the first choice. For the same reasons as oceansoul. I would add that refitting a boat will also give you the skills and experience to address any problems you may have in the future. It will also allow you to fit the boat out to suit your needs, rather than the generic needs built in by the designer.
Thanks for the advice, that's definitely along the lines of what I was thinking!

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Originally Posted by Kai Nui View Post
I would add a warning. Set your expectations on time, not on level of completion. If you wait to leave until the boat is "done", you may never leave. Address the seaworthiness and livability items first, then start the comfort projects. When the boat is seaworthy, and livable, you can leave at any point. The rest can be done along the way.
If anyone has ever seen a "done" boat in my life, I'll eat my hat. Even the $200,000 brand new yachts I've seen, the captains always go, "It's great, but I'd like to...." haha

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I would replace your stated goal ".. well-built boat in need of a lot of work" with a ".... well-built boat in need of some work." Alot of work in structural issues is a far cry from a alot of work in sanding.


Right you are! When I say a lot of work, I definitely mean more so cosmetically (I'm a mean sander, haha) maybe re-wiring of things and some plumbing replacements. I'd like to stay as far away from structural problems as possible!

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I am not sure what you mean when you discuss "freedom" in relative to size. Nonetheless, there may not be as much freedom as you might think there is with a bigger boat as you opined. Core boat costs such as maintenance, insurance, and slip go up astronomically as LOA increases. There may not be much cost difference between a 30 and 32 footer, but there is a world of difference between a 25 footer and a 32 footer.

Good luck with your choice AND your degree!

Michael
To me, the freedom of a bigger boat means having a few comforts the potter doesn't. I would be happy with almost standing headroom (I'm just barely 5'7'') and a pump head instead of a little port-a-potty would be nice. Also, it refers to a little more security while in the water - The potter is amazingly stable for it's size, but I'll never forget the comfort of being on a catalina 30 in the same waves that terrified me in the potter. (Lake Erie is very choppy!) That being said, I would probably look at the "pocket cruisers" for my boat, like a nor'sea or falmouth, thought the falmouth is pretty small.
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Old 25-02-2009, 13:25   #6
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I'll play the "devil's advocate" and say stay with your potter until you are ready to buy a bigger boat in a few years. Do as much sailing as possible, some weekending, some vacation time, etc. Sail as much as you can. And take some courses to fill in your knowledge of the sea and sailing.

You will probably never be able to buy (in the next few years that is) a boat that you can just jump into and go cruising, so you will have time to learn your boat after you buy it. Don't be in to much of a rush. In the meantime you will be honing your sailing and (hopefully) your seamanship skills. You can also stay tuned to the market and look around at boats that come up for sale. If something great comes along you will be in a good position to grab it.

That's my humble opinion FWIW.
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Old 25-02-2009, 16:13   #7
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Option 1 = Sail now (+1) + Save Now (+1) + Finish School (+1) = 3

Option 2 = Don't sail now (-1) + pour money into boat (-1) + Finish school (+1) = -1

Even if you keep your Potter a bigger "project" boat will suck your time out of variable 1 - The math is clear to me...

I had a friend when I was in aircraft school. He bought a project airplane and I was president of the flying club. He carried a full course load, poured tons of time and money into his project and never flew. I left college with over 350 flying hours and money in the bank. Flight time was "virtually" free at the club.

He did finish the airplane and had fun working on it but when he finished school and the plane he sold it as career intervened.

He wasn't unhappy with his choice but you gotta decide, Do I wanna work on a boat or sail?
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Old 25-02-2009, 16:26   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Option 1 = Sail now (+1) + Save Now (+1) + Finish School (+1) = 3

Option 2 = Don't sail now (-1) + pour money into boat (-1) + Finish school (+1) = -1

Even if you keep your Potter a bigger "project" boat will suck your time out of variable 1 - The math is clear to me...
You missed a key variable she revealed in her last post. Thus, your equation is fundamentally flawed. Here is your equation using your (very clever!) structure:

Sail Now (+1) + Save Now (+1) + Finish School (+1) = 3

Makes sense but we are guys.

However, based on your approach and her latest post, it ought to read:

Sail Now (+1) + Save Now (+1) + Finish School (+1) + Female with no Decent Place to Pee (-10X10 cubed) = Negative Infinity.

Anyways, Thegirlis: Ex-Calif has a very, very good point. I withdraw my suggestion. Just sail. And I say that based on my own restoring exeprience well documented on this board. Take some of your money and time and periodically charter a larger boat to get a feel for the freedom you spoke of in your past post. Restore your Potter to her initial cosmetic glory and maybe get a good return when the economy shifts.

Michael
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Old 25-02-2009, 16:50   #9
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I do not think you have not told us enough for any of us to offer solid advice.

Comes down to what you need right now, vs. what you may want. If you are already living aboard there may be a need for more space right now.

But a good sailor can do a remarkable amount of cruising (and learning) in a small boat. We just have to be sensible with the weather. Getting my degree, I cruised a 16' open sailing dingy hundreds of miles up the east coast of England and down the south coast. Slept on floor boards. Used a bucket. Hid from (most) gales & storms.

A small boat says small pockets - and water people respect people making a go of things. So I only once ever got asked for harbour fees. Most harbour masters went out of their way to find me a quieter spot, or simply chose not to notice me!

You may gather that I tend towards the 'enjoy what you have' camp.

Older cruising boats do not seem to have slumped in price recently, so you may not see them go up that much when things (eventually) improve. There is also the question of whether you would pour your heart and time into a boat that will prove smaller (or just different) from what you end up wanting at the end of your degree.
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Old 25-02-2009, 16:58   #10
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P.S. Should have said - good on you.

You are making your call and giving it a go.

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Old 25-02-2009, 19:18   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MV View Post
Sail Now (+1) + Save Now (+1) + Finish School (+1) = 3

Makes sense but we are guys.

However, based on your approach and her latest post, it ought to read:

Sail Now (+1) + Save Now (+1) + Finish School (+1) + Female with no Decent Place to Pee (-10X10 cubed) = Negative Infinity.Michael
That literally made me laugh out loud!

Everything said here is good advice, alas, it does not help me with my decision much, damnit! (Just kidding)

What else do you want to know to give more advice, roger.waite? I'd like to get the best insight I can

I guess I am from the school of thought that you can work on a boat AND sail it! Because of the temperamental weather, I can only sail about 5 months out of the year, and a lot of that there is no wind.

We (my father, uncle and I) completely restored the potter in just a few short years- here's what we did:

2 coats of Petit Easypoxy Hi-build Primer
2 coats of Easypoxy single component polyurethane
New IDA Sailor composite rudder
New CDI Flexible Furler
New 140% Genoa (Elvstom Sobstad Sailmakers)
New Mainsail (Elvstrom Sobstad Sailmakers)
New Thin film bottom paint
Proper boom vang add
New keel raising winch/blocks/cables, conveniently located for the helmsman
Trailer primed, painted, side guides added, new wheel bearings, new wheels and tires, lights and wiring, etc.
2 coats of Petit Easypoxy Hi-build Primer

I'm also helping restore and refit my dad's rhodes 22, I made a well-shaped and shorter tiller with a hand sander and a 4x4. It's pretty sweet!
I help rewire everything in our catalina 30 and a ton of cleaning, I also learned how to properly fix a crack in the keel

I guess I should also say that I actually enjoy working on boats... It's cool when when some one goes, "oh, I see you bought a new boat" and you can say, "nope, I just fixed it up" and watch their jaws drop as I sail away...
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Old 25-02-2009, 19:21   #12
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There's a young surfer gal named Liz Clark cruising on a Cal 40 in SoPac now. She regularly has letters about her experiences in Lattitude 38 cruising section. This link will get you started Latitude 38 - The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine She's really a gifted writer and very interesting to read of her adventures. There is also Tania Aebi's book about her circumnavigation as a teenager.

I'd be of the buy it now persuasion. There are a lot of boats out there around $10,000 or less that would be suitable for a cruise to SoPac or the Carribean and even further. The trick is knowing your boat and how to fix it. If you are going solo, you have to be able handle any problem that comes along. You don't necessarily have to be able to fix something, just reduce the problem to a point you can get to the next port. It also gets way expensive to sail if you have to hire out work. Can you liveaboard while you are going to school?? That would either cut down on expenses and/or allow you to buy a nicer/larger boat. If you can handle living aboard, you'll be primed for your cruise when you graduate.

The more skilled you are, the more chances you have of picking up some money along the way. If you could develop expertise in diesel, electronics or refrigeration, you would probably never have to quit sailing. The demand for knowledgable people in those fields is never ending. On a more mundane note, some one who can paint and varnish without leaving brush strokes is also assured of a steady income. Another profession that's in demand is hair stylists. The women that are out cruising may be the hardy types but they still want to look good.
Can you sew?? Canvas work from sails to awnings is always in demand. So any practical experience you can pick up by owning a boat or otherwise will stand you in good stead when you are out cruising.

For a solo, a boat around 30' would work well. They are the most popular and affordable size so offer the most variety to pick from. They are about as small as I'd want to live in and have relatively light gear to go along. Assuming you have the typical women's upper body strength, you don't want to get a boat too large or too difficult to sail, hoist the anchor or do the other physical things on board. Remember, cruising will not always be in sunny warm weather with 10 knot winds. You've got to be able to handle the boat's systems in ALL conditions. It's not to say that you couldn't handle a larger boat. There are a number of women who've sailed 'Open 60s' or similar humongous boats solo and done quite well. Just be realistic about your own physical limitations.

FWIW, I'm Social Security age and not as strong or spry as I used to be. I've got a Pearson 35 and wouldn't want anything larger. I love my electric windlass and have added oversize winches to make the work easier. When it kicks up, this all the boat I want to deal with and have even thought about downsizing a bit. Plans are to head north to Alaska then south from there.

Good luck in your seach for a boat and your future cruising.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 25-02-2009, 20:14   #13
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Tenting vs RVing

A wise friend once said you can get a little sailboat and enjoy it, weekend on it. Or get a bigger boat and really enjoy relaxing and comfort. He compared it to using a pup tent vs using an RV or a cabin on a lake. There are so many boats for sale, you really should consider a 26' or a 30'. The amenities are worth it. Tent or Cabin???
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Old 26-02-2009, 03:16   #14
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I suggest that you spend that next couple of years looking for the right boat at the right price. If you find that perfect boat tomorrow - buy it. Otherwise, just keep on looking and saving.

As to outfitting a boat, the best advice I can offer is to, buy the equipment and do the work as close to your planned departure date as practicable.

It sounds like you have the guts, brains, and the positive attitude necessary to make your dream come true.

I wish you the very best of luck,

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Old 26-02-2009, 07:17   #15
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There are a number of women who've sailed 'Open 60s' or similar humongous boats solo and done quite well. Just be realistic about your own physical limitations.
Two women finished in the top 6 in this year's Vendee Globe (open 60s around alone unassisted). You may just have to size up winches, etc. to compensate for less physical strength. The same thing I would have to do as I age.
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