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Old 03-01-2006, 09:00   #1
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Small boats

I am in the process of preparing and researching to find a small inexpensive sailboat to liveaboard with my girlfriend for 1-2 years. I was wondering if anyone out there is currently in this situation and could share their positives and negatives. Also, if anyone has any recomendations for a 27-30 foot boat that is ideal for the situation. We plan on sailing down the mississippi and all over the caribbean!

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Old 03-01-2006, 10:11   #2
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It is relative

Small is realitve. We have friends who own a home built 26 footer, Hijeria. They sailed from Austraila to Spain, to England, and are now in Venezuela. It is spartan and has no fridge, minimal electronics. To us it is camping. But they have been crusiing for years on a budget that we couldn't even imagine.

Another friend went sailing for 6 months in his 26 foot cape Dory, he is 6' 2' and 9 years later he has n't made it home.

Though the Cal 36 is a little larger than you range Friends on Altair were completing the 5 year circumnavigation when we met them in Bonaire. After transiting the Canal they will have closed loop sailing what was desinged a a perforamce day sailer. but built to travel the world.

I always recommend bumming rides on as many boats as you can before deciding what you want to buy. After buying you have to deal with it. Larger boats have more flexiblity in storage, additional equipment, etc, etc that are not in a small boat. By slecting one suited to your needs it will be easier to fit it into your plans rather than to change your plans to fit the boat.

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Old 03-01-2006, 10:54   #3
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This is from an earlier discussion of inexpensive cruising boats.

“To begin with, you have set some difficult goals. An inexpensive boat that can be distance cruised with two people. As a starting point the traditional rule of thumb is a minimum displacement of 2½ to 5 long tons of displacement per person, in other words a distance cruiser for two would ideally have and 11,000 to 22,000 lb displacement. In order to achieve reasonable sailing ability (which you need because small boats tend to have very small motoring ranges) this translates into a waterline length that is minimally 25 feet of so in length. From a tankage stand point you need to figure on 20 to 30 gallons of water per person, plus something on the order of 40 hours of motoring time in fuel tankage.

Looking at the budget that seems implied by your choices to date, it sounds like you have a $10,000 to 15,000 budget. For $10,000 you can find some boats that are capable of making the kind of cruise that your are proposing and you might even find a quality boat within your price range but it would be quite difficult to find a quality boat that is also in good shape in your price range. That will be the proverbial needle in the haystack. It will one of those widows saying, "Ever since Harrold died I have not known what to do with his Tartan 27. He had just finished retoring it and now it blocks up the garage. It you happen to $7.5K its all yours." It happens but the norm in $10K boats is that they tend to be pretty beat up quality designs or slightly newer junkier designs in slightly less beat up condition.

I agree with the idea that you should try to find a boat that was good quality to begin with rather than but some boat that started out cheap 20 year ago and went downhill from there. A little sweat equity never hurt anyone and a fixed up quality boat is a joy to own but a fixed up junk will always be fixed up junk. Make sure you leave yourself a decent 'warchest' to repair and upgrade the 'little surprises' that occur when you buy a well used boat.

In this age and size range there is no real advantage to one keel type over another. There will not be large speed advantages nor will there be much better tracking ability. No 27 footer that I know of from this price range really tracks well. Also there really is no such thing as a boat with a really seakindly motion in the normal group of boats implied by your price range.

Most boats from this era tended to develope pretty bad weather helm and that can really wear you down or use up a lot of battery capacity pretty quickly in a breeze. I suggest that keel centerboarders like the Tartan 27 allow you to adjust the centerboard to balance your helm and will let you get into thinner water than some deeper keel boats. Fin keelers like the Cal 25 have more balanced helms and so while they also develop weather helm the force required to steer is less.

Most boats in the price range you are talking about were designed to one of two racing rules CCA or MORC. The MORC (Midget Ocean Racing Conference) boats tended to have longer waterlines and really be designed to go offshore. With their longer waterlines they have better motions in a chop and can carry more gear. They will often have more spacious interiors because MORC had minimum accomodation requirements.

Boats in that era tended to either have inboard engines or outboards mounted in a well. Inboards are the clear preference for the kind of thing that you are proposing as outboards on boats of that era are not too great in the short chop of your chosen sailing venue.

What ever you buy, you need to get it surveyed because a $10,00 boat with problems can very quickly turn into a $10,000 mistake or a $25000 boat. You can expect to find some 'issues' with any boat in the age range implied within your budget. Unless very well maintained and updated by a previous owner, you might expect to want to address some combination of the following items:
•Sails, chainplates, mast step and associated suporting structure, standing and running rigging that are beyond their useful lifespan,
•an engine that is in need of rebuild or replacement,
•worn out or out of date deck, galley, and head hardware,
•worn out upholstery,
•electronics that are non operational, or in need of updating,
•electrical and plumbing systems that need repairs, upgrades to modern standards or replacement.
•Blister, fatigue, rudder, hull deck joint or deck coring problems
•Keel bolt replacement (bolt on keel) or delamination of the hull from the ballast for a glassed in keel.
•And perhaps a whole range of aesthetic or structural issues.

On my list of recommendations would be the following: Most are from the 1960's

Bristol 27: Carl Alberg designed CCA era boats. I have a afair amount of experience with these old girls and they are good sailing boats. Most had GreyMarine or Atomic 4 gas engines.

C&C 25: These are a little faster and more agile than most of the boats on this list. They have really nice handling characteristics in a Chop. That said they are also deeper than many on this list.

Cal 25: These are strange looking little boats. I have spent a lot of time on these little raised decked wonders. They really sail extremely well. They offer a nice interior and are easily located in your price range. They were often raced one design so you find them (at least up here on the Chesapeake) with updated deck hardware, sails, and electronics well within your price range. Because they are still raced you can find very nice used sails for these boats. They have a couple short comings. Their outboards are mounted in a notch in the transom. In a following sea, you can take water over the transom. In most years the companionway slides went almost to the cockpit sole. This meant that a following sea can get down below pretty easily. I would suggest that you modify the companionway slides so that the lower boards can be locked solidly into place when you are offshore. They will take a lot of work to make one offshore capable.

Cal 27: Flush deck- A bigger version of the Cal 26. A bit rarer and does not have the one design advantages of the 25. Still these are pretty good boats. They will also take a lot of work to make one offshore capable.

Cape Dory 25 and 27(series 1)These boats were built early in Cape Dory's history and were not as well built as some of the later CD's. Still they are not bad boats. They would not be in my top 10 on this list but if one came along I would look at it. These boats are narrow and have large cockpits and so a little cramped down below. Also early ones did not have a self-bailing cockpit which is not very good for the Gulfstream.

Chris Craft Pawnee or Capri: Both were nice S&S designed small crusiers. There is a Capri up in Michigan with a dual axle trailer for $6990 but the ad says make an offer. They are not all that well suited to offshore cruising however.

C & C Corvette: These were a litlle lightly built in some aspects but were generally higher quality boats for their day. They are centerboard boats and so can get into shallower areas.

Folkboats or Folkboat derivatives: (Marieholms and Contessas) These are the quintessential go anywhere boats. I owned one and thought these were really wonderful boats. Even compared to other boats on this list they are cramped but they can be really nice sailing boats. These are too small for a couple but good singlehanders. They pretty much top this list in terms of the best boat to get caught in a storm in. That said some early ones did not have a self-bailing cockpit which is not very good for the Gulfstream.
Pearson Ariel (26): These are also Alberg designed CCA type race boats. They offered a reasonable layout and good construction.

Galaxy 32: These were really great boats for their day offering good sailing ability, nice accommodations and good build quality. Quite a few of these have been restored and are out there cruising.

H-28 derivatives: Boats like the Seawind Mk 1, Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30, and other early fiberglass versions of the H-28’s were reasonably good offshore cruisers that can often been found quite cheaply.

Rhodes Ranger (26): These were early Seafarers. They were built in Holland to a very high standard. Some had Volvo diesels or small Palmer or Grey gas inboards but most had outboard wells.

Sailmaster 26: These were wonderful little Bill Tripp designed MORC boats. Beautifully constructed in Holland. Most had outboard wells but inboards were optional.

Tartan 27. This would be my favorite of the small 1960's era boats. Unlike most boats from this era which were designed to be CCA racing rule beaters, the Tartan was designed to race under a very early form of MORC. The MORC racing rule produced wholesome little offshore boats that had good sailing characteristics. The Tartan was an S&S design and in that era that was as good as it got.

Anyway, I need to get to back to work but this should give you a quick first list to start off with. "

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Old 03-01-2006, 11:10   #4
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Small boat

Small is relative. My Tanzer 22 is small compared to my Tanzer 8.5, about 29 feet LOA. The T8.5 is small compared to a Cal 36 which is small compared to what a lot of people would like. My T8.5 is larger than most on the list that JH gave you. I consider this to be at the minimum size to get the job done. There is room but it gets quite cramped. The sails take up an entire berth. Do a search on my boat if you like and I will gladly answer questions about room and maintainence and stuff. Of course moorage and the ease of maintaining are important. After chating with Jeff over the years, I would consider a Cal 36 as a nice step up from my boat, with regards to room and the ability to store more stuff yet, still maintain a reasonable speed.
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Old 03-01-2006, 13:12   #5
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Jeff's list is pretty good but do have an addition to his anyalysis of the Contessa 26. They are small but so are all the boats that he's listed. When we were in SoPac there was a couple in a Contessa who'd lived aboard in Califronia and had been out cruising for two years when we met them. Accomodations weren't commodious but they managed to stow enough supplies for independent cruisisng for two people, no marina's for them.

I'd add the early ('60s) Columbia 24, 26, and 28's to the list. Reasonable designs that were overbuilt. Due to their age, a thorough survey is a must, however.

One boat that is definitely a NO is the Columbia 26 Mark II. These boat's have handling habits that are only matched by their poor construction.

The Tartan 27 is a well built boat that should be capable of going anywhere. Big week point is the chain plates. No matter what they look like, they should be replaced. The chainplates are buried in fiberglass which almost guarantees crevice corrosion. The chain plate bolts also may be mild steel and virtually non existant by now. Over the last couple years, there have been two of these boats sold for under a $1,000. They needed work but for a couple thousand dollars, they are back on the water. Incidentally think there is a T-27 with Hurricane damage available in MS. Hull looks okay from the photo's, may be just have been submerged, though it's definitely Buyer Beware.

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Old 03-01-2006, 18:58   #6
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Jeff H's post is very impressive, but some of the boats recommended might be rare in your area.

There's also some sense in looking at boats that are popular in your area, or if there is a club that sails boats you are interested in. Contacting the group, sailing with them, or just getting advice about "deals" in the local area can be valuable. If their are other enthusiastic owners nearby, you may also find yourself getting help, parts and advice when tackling maintenance projects.

One way of finding out is finding a sailing calendar and seeing which "sail ins" are popular. I really enjoy reading 48 North, our local sailing magazine, as well as Latitude 38 from California.

Good luck!

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Old 09-03-2007, 12:57   #7
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Not sure how many of these made it to the US market (built 200 apaprently)

Archive details of Halcyon 27 - Yachtsnet Ltd. online UK yacht brokers

Halcyon 27 for sale - Yachtsnet Ltd. online UK yacht brokers - yacht brokerage and boat sales

but a Halycon 27 would be my choice over a Contessa 26 (which IMO are "a bit pricey" cos' of their name for what they are)..........primarily because of the extra headroom, 6 foot, in places (ok, a not very "nautical" reason!).

Designed by Alan Buchanan who designed a lot of good boats. (who incidently is still going strong last I heard - he lives locally - must be about 127 by now!)

But as already indicated 10k is not going to get you set to go on a 27 foot boat...........will buy you a doer upper though, and if you forego spending on on making things nice and pare down to what you never know how small the budget could be........but the slight disadvantage you appear to have is possibly a lack of knowledege to choose wisely between need and want...........or to be able to cope with a boat equipped only with the bare bones of need.........

BTW a decent boom tent will pretty much double your accomadation size for a boat like this. Sorta like adding a conservatory / tree house
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Old 09-03-2007, 14:43   #8
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Jeff has a great list. Couldn't be better. The Halcyon looks a bit more creature sensitve than our club Folkboat but the underbody looks the same.
I might be smited for saying this but I kind of like the Cal 2-30 because it is a heavily constructed boat that sails well and you can do a lot to the interior to make it more creature happy.
Sailed one through the Alenuihaha channel both ways and it took it just fine. In my opinion that is a very good test.

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Old 09-03-2007, 14:48   #9
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Excellent points all,

You might take a look at the web site in my signature.
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Old 09-03-2007, 15:56   #10
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A few boats I would throw into the list would be an Alberg 30, Pearson Triton 27, Pearson Coaster 30 and Pearson Vanguard 32. A few years ago a friend sold his restored and refit Vanguard for around 18k with a maxprop, newish sails including a full batten main, Adler Barbour, etc. Still had the Atomic 4 but it ran well. Jeff H. mentions the Cal 25, I think that was the model that the Martins did a circumnavigation with though it was extensively modified.

One other boat in your price range that would be great for your intended plan would be the Searunner 31 trimaran. You would have to come over to the "dark side" but these are great boats with a long history of passagemaking and a few circumnavigations. For 15-20k you should be able to find a good one and IMO it would be a superior cruising boat over any so far listed. A fixer upper might go for 8-12k.

To me the biggest drawback to cruising in an under 30 ft monohull is the lack of storage and low hull speed of these older boats. They tend to look like gypsey caravans with stuff piled up on the cabin top and jerry jugs and other stuff lashed to the rail. It is unseamanlike as well as unsightly. The Searunners were designed as blue water cruisers and have plenty of storage in the deep bilges, wing lockers, and amas to keep this clutter out of the way and where it belongs. Well worth a look if you have an open mind. And it is a real blast to have a boat so responsive and able to do 7-12 knots as the norm.
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Old 09-03-2007, 16:43   #11
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Catalina 30 is cheap and really big for a 30 footer. Sails well too.
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Old 09-03-2007, 18:56   #12
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Well, Newport 30 is cheap and has more interior space than all the ones mention so far. Don't know about its seaworthiness though.

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