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Old 04-03-2014, 08:34   #1
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Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Hello everyone. My wife and I have been lurkers/dreamers here for a while. Our plan is coming together so I thought I would join to pick everyone brain.

We live in Montana and have grown to love our trips to the Bahamas. We long for a change and have decided to purchase an 30' - 32' plastic classic and spend 6 months sailing the Bahamas in 2015/2016. My parents live in NC so we would have a place to store the boat when we are back in MT. If we like the cruising lifestyle after 6 months we can store the boat and return when funds allow, MT is too amazing to leave forever!

The plan is to motor down part of the ICW with a few outside runs to build confidence, jump the stream and sail over to Bimini, Berry, Nassau, Exuma, etc. All depending on how far the time frame and good weather windows allow. We are starting to learn how to sail on Flathead Lake in Montana and will have 2 summers to get down the basics before departing for bigger waters. Yes, we have a lot to learn and are working hard already towards our goal. Please don't turn this into a "you won't have enough experience debate".

So here's my first question with more to come I'm sure. We have 2 options for sailboat purchase as I see it:

1. Buy a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest when we locate the right one (whole different subject). Haul it here with the trailers/trucks I have access to and have time to make repairs and learn the boat in and out prior to shipping it to the east coast for departure.

2. Leave MT a few months early for NC and search for a more expensive boat that is almost ready to sail. This leaves less time to find the boat, make repairs and to learn the boat in and out.

Would you spend the extra 5K+ to ship the boat so you would have more time to buy, repair and learn the boat or would you look at your departure area for a better "almost ready to go" cruiser?

Your opinions are greatly appreciated as I know there is a wealth of info in the people of this forum. Thank you!
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:12   #2
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Come to FL and buy one. We have plenty!

"Get yourself a thirty-footer and go!"

Get yourself a 30-footer and go!
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:34   #3
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

My thoughts are this. First, you live in Montana. Montana is a beautiful state but it's not exactly the "sailing capitol of the northwest!". This means that you'll spend several long weekends (or more) driving to Washington to find, buy, sail and work on your boat. Additionally, many boats in the NW tend to have deeper drafts than the boats you'll find on the east coast. You will want a shallower draft boat for the Bahamas.

There are plenty of 30-32' boats for sale in NC and, depending on your budget, you should be able to find one "ready-to-go" with little else needed. I would scour the ads, looking for a suitable boat in your price range. Much can be learned via e-mails back and forth with a yacht broker. Once you find a boat you like, you can hire a marine surveyor to look her over and give you a complete report. Additionally, I'm sure you can find local sailors (like myself) who would be willing to put "eyeballs on" a boat for you and send you photos.

You can learn to sail your new boat in the protected waters of the Pamlico or Albermarle sound before heading south. In my mind, the $5000 that you'll save on shipping costs can better be spent on new electronics or other gear.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:43   #4
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcolman View Post
My thoughts are this. First, you live in Montana. Montana is a beautiful state but it's not exactly the "sailing capitol of the northwest!". This means that you'll spend several long weekends (or more) driving to Washington to find, buy, sail and work on your boat. Additionally, many boats in the NW tend to have deeper drafts than the boats you'll find on the east coast. You will want a shallower draft boat for the Bahamas.

There are plenty of 30-32' boats for sale in NC and, depending on your budget, you should be able to find one "ready-to-go" with little else needed. I would scour the ads, looking for a suitable boat in your price range. Much can be learned via e-mails back and forth with a yacht broker. Once you find a boat you like, you can hire a marine surveyor to look her over and give you a complete report. Additionally, I'm sure you can find local sailors (like myself) who would be willing to put "eyeballs on" a boat for you and send you photos.

You can learn to sail your new boat in the protected waters of the Pamlico or Albermarle sound before heading south. In my mind, the $5000 that you'll save on shipping costs can better be spent on new electronics or other gear.
Very sound advice.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:44   #5
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

look for a classic plastic in coastal NC or the Chesapeake. by the way it is a long haul from NC to the bahamas and then back to NC in one season but plenty do it. shipping a boat from Montana sounds like an expensive headache
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:48   #6
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

PS: Try very hard to find a boat with a 4' (or less) max draft.

You will enjoy a lot more of the Bahamas with every foot of keel you don't bring along. This is especially important with small boats that can't haul a big RIB along. Getting closer to the beach or the dock will be important to you on a 30 footer for quicker dinghy transits. You will not want to be traveling long distances in a little dink, especially when the wind blows up some chop.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:56   #7
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis McGee View Post
Come to FL and buy one. We have plenty!

"Get yourself a thirty-footer and go!"

Get yourself a 30-footer and go!
There are lots more boats in Florida than almost any other state and it is closer to the Bahamas. It is probably easier to sail North from Florida to NC than the other way around.

That being said my advice would be to check out some crew wanted sites (including the one here) and hitch a ride on someone else's boat. There are lots of folks looking for crew who are willing to pay for food only, share some expenses, or what ever.

Just hanging around on a boat and talking to folks who are doing the same will teach you a lot.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:25   #8
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

With the limited time I would find a boat in Florida. Use the money you would have spent on the other plans and invest in the boat. Your time constraints and distance will be the big hurdles. Keep us updated
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:38   #9
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Welcome aboard! +1 on "buy a boat on the east coast." If you buy a boat that was recently used for cruising the Bahamas, it will already be outfitted for cruising and will most likely have been reasonably well maintained...or at least not sitting in a yard for several years. It won't be the cheapest price, but it will probably cost you the least in the long run, especially if you count the time you would have to put in to fixing/outfitting rather than cruising. We usually take 8-9 months from the Chesapeake Bay to Exumas/Long Island and back, but 6 months will work. Good luck, and happy cruising!
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:52   #10
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

I'm glad Mike chimed in. One of the things you will want to pick up before you make any sort of trip down the ICW is the latest copy of "Doziers Waterway Guide". It's full of valuable information.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:17   #11
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Wow, thanks for the great advice so quickly.

I started looking in Florida, but at our price point, (15k max purchase with 5k for necessary upgrades) I didn't think we would be able to find one ready to go. I was assuming that I would need a couple months extra for shopping/repairs if I bought one on the east coast, which would cost me lost wages by departing early. Do you think a boat could be found truly "ready to cruise" with necessary items only (no frills) for 20k total investment on the east coast?

If I was able to tow the boat across country by myself (seen some with trailers in our size range) would that change anyone opinion on where I should buy?

Thanks for bringing up the draft. That is actually one of our biggest concerns with the boat we choose. It is very hard to find A 4'ish draft out west. We really like to get off the beaten path when we travel so being able to gunkhole is key to us.

Definitely going to get the Waterway Guide. Mike, do you think there will be updates to the guide prior to departure in Dec 2015 or would I be safe to purchase for planning purposes now?

My 7th edition Explorer Chartbook for the Exumas is on the way now...excited to plan!

Thanks again for all the help...I should have joined sooner!!!
Jeff
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:44   #12
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

If I were the OP, I would continue to learn to sail in the lakes of Montana. With a trip or two reach year to Chesapeake, bay, Florida, Bahamas or BVi, and do some chartering. Looking for sailing other's boat in the mean time to gain more experience. In the long run, you will save more money, better experienced, and knowledgeable to buy you first boat when you are ready.

Buying a boat even though it is a small boat will suck out all your money even you are not using it. Unlike a car, you don't need it you can drive into the rented garage and put a car cover on it. You are done. For boat it is not so easy and much more complicated even your folks may be able to help in NC. It will get old really fast.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:55   #13
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

You could tow the boat yourself, if you have a big diesel truck, but you would need an oversize permit for a 30 footer and that raises the cost. You have much better odds of finding the boat you want for $20K in FL, than you do in the Northwest.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:55   #14
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Hey Jeff,

It will take a bit of looking but I believe you can find a boat in your price range. For example, I purchased my boat, a 73' C&C 30 just a couple months ago for $12.5k. It has a brand new Perkins and new wiring. I'm upgrading some of the electronics and replacing the standing and running rigging, along with some other minor repairs. All told, my cost will be less than your budget. My boat also came with a RIB dingy and new outboard.

I looked at a very nice late 80's 28' Pearson that was listed for around $18k before I found my boat. This boat looked to be in very good condition and I was seriously considering it. There was also a Morgan 32' that I could have purchased for around $14k that came with radar, auto pilot, and some other new goodies but I liked my C&C better.

The boats are out there. You just need to look for a while. As others have said, Florida may offer more choices in used boats.
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Old 04-03-2014, 13:03   #15
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Re: Purchasing a sailboat for Bahamas trip

Thanks for your thought rockDAWG. I appreciate you bringing up the cost/work involved with owning a boat.

Taking trips to the east coast and chartering a boat would be ideal for learning and a long term goal. Unfortunately, flying to the east coast has gotten expensive and if I throw in a charter boat cost of almost 2 - 3k per week for a 3 week trip it could easily cost 8-10k with nothing to show but some memories. Yes, it cost more than that for a boat/maintenance, but I think I would still be ahead in the long run with our goals of returning multiple times. Having a trailer to tow the boat 30 miles to the folks place and covered storage should help with cost/maintenance some but definitely won't eliminate it.

The logistics are definitely complicated by living in MT, but I am confident it's doable.
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