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Old 06-08-2008, 12:50   #1
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Trailerable? Or Not? Suggestions?

I'm a novice. I'm currently learning to sail a 14' Alpha on a nearby lake, and have the opportunity to take lessons and sail a J22 on the same lake as often as I like. The plan is to learn as much as possible over the next two years about all aspects of sailing, and then to purchase a boat for daysailing/weekending in Puget Sound. I anticipate mostly daysailing around Bellingham Bay, with very rare overnight trips with my wife and two small children. I live in Bellingham, and I can see the San Juan Islands from my house, so I expect that we'll eventually want to sail there, but this length of trip would not be the norm. Mainly, I need enough cabin space to get out of the rain or sun for a short time, and I'm leaning toward the smallest boat that we would be comfortable in. My wife agrees with the (financial) logic of smallest, but secretly wishes for a bit more room below. I believe a good compromise is 21-26'. Slip fees go way up above 26'.

I realize the ideal approach is to sail lots of different kinds of boats in order to find what feels best, but life isn't ideal, and I will probably consider myself lucky if I am able to get out on a friend's boat a couple times. We have concluded that if we buy a boat that is not really big enough for weekend or week long trips, we can always sell and buy a larger boat after a year or two of day sailing.

So...

I'm hoping to find something for about $5000. I'm a retired woodworker. I've done enough metal working to get by, and I've worked fairly extensively with epoxy. While I'm not looking for a restoration project, I could handle anything cosmetic, and I could do things like re-do hardware. If motivated, I suppose I could even grind out blisters and repaint a hull. My hope is to find something that has been well maintained, and is structurally sound, but is cosmetically lacking.

Is my price realistic? And if so, what boats should I be investigating? I live only a couple miles from the marina, where we would lease a slip, and I also have space to put a trailer in my driveway. I'm torn between the idea of being able to do maintenance myself (trailerable) and a slightly larger boat that would stay in the water. If trailerable, I would not be shuttling back and forth for each sail. Rather, I would only take the boat out annually or even bi-annually, as needed (I have to pay for the slip anyway). Since trailering would be infrequent, I would consider one that needed to be craned out and set on a trailer. (I would rent a truck to pull it the couple miles). I'm not sure if doing my own bottom paint is false economy if I still have to pay to have the boat hauled out and pressure washed, however.

Basically, all this leads to the question of how big, and what kind of keel? Should I get a boat with a swing keel that is easy to trailer? Is there an advantage to a full keel boat that I would need a crane to haul out? Should I just forget the trailering idea? What sort of boat is better for Puget Sound, in mostly protected water?

Sorry for such a long post, but I'm hoping too much info is better than not enough.

Almost forgot: While both my wife and I intend to learn how to sail, it seems best to get something that could be easily single-handed.

Also: I'm leaning toward an outboard.
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:03   #2
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well any boat under 27 to 28 will get tight with 4 people, it can be done and i am sure many have. i have a 27 hunter that i could do weekends with 4 but i would not want to do more than 3 days. what ever you look at i would suggest at least one with a seperate head, my hunter is not what i would consider a seperate head. also there are some designs that more open and maybe better for having kids but they offer way less personal space if you know what i mean.

best thing i can say is go look at every boat you can then decide on the design you like for the family

edit dont worry about trailerablity yet you are flexible on that find a desin or 4 you like and go from there
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:05   #3
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An outboard definetly provides more space on a small boat, but there are consequences:

you can only really use it for in and out of the marina, as as soon as you try to push into waves, the thing keeps popping out of the water and provides no thrust.

An outboard will not charge the electrics.
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:24   #4
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The plan is to learn as much as possible over the next two years about all aspects of sailing, and then to purchase a boat for daysailing/weekending in Puget Sound.
Sounds like a solid plan. Sailing a J22 for a few seasons is a great start and you will learn a great deal on a boat like that. You can do day sails often since you have easy access. Concentration on the sailing part seems wise for a while. In between you can start looking at boats. Doing that two full seasons won't make you board and might get the family all sailing. Getting all that momentum helps too.

Given you are playing it smart by starting with the J22 it will give you enough time to make these trade offs for yourself. It seems you have outlined all the good reasons for the various options.

If you want to go longer distances over time then inboard engine and more space is going to be preferred. If mostly just day sailing I think there are many ways to go and maybe something will strike you as opportunity.

Price is a fluid number. There is what you pay up front and the costs over time and the amount of sweat equity you can build. If you found the right boat maybe the motivation and money over time could add a lot more to the total budget. Starting to save now wouldn't hurt.
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:49   #5
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Originally Posted by colinml View Post
I believe a good compromise is 21-26'. Slip fees go way up above 26'...I'm hoping to find something for about $5000... Is my price realistic?
See this link -- just more food for thought: PocketCruiserGuide™

You're looking in a good range for you budget, although you probably will need to shop a tad because you can also drop a bundle in this size... you can use some small outboards to charge a battery, and depending how it is mounted (and whether a long-shaft) will give decent thrust in this size... The prop on ours is halfway down the rudder and has never come close to coming out of the water since we've had it, but transom mounted outboards on longish counters sterns are well known for churning the air... so, choices...

Be aware that transportable and trailerable are not always the same... both may meet the 8' highway limit (or 8.5' if your state allows...) but trailerable generally indicates that you can self-launch, while transportable may require the use of a travel lift, etc...

Good sailing...
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:03   #6
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Thanks for the replies. I tend to get ahead of myself and worry about the details before the detail stage. I'm signed up for a basic piloting class this fall sponsored by the local power and sail squadron at the local community college, completion of which allows me to join the squadron. I suspect the other members will be helpful in locating a boat that is right for me.

So, I'm hearing that flexibility is best. Wait for the right boat, as opposed to limiting my choices early. Perhaps a larger boat. I guess my only definate criteria would be a boat that could be single-handed. Is this mostly an issue of size, or can even fairly large boats be rigged so they are easy to single hand?
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:15   #7
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I guess my only definite criteria would be a boat that could be single-handed. Is this mostly an issue of size, or can even fairly large boats be rigged so they are easy to single hand?
It's mostly skill. You could single hand most any boat until you need to put in a slip in a storm. With an autopilot you can spin the boat in circles while you rig all the dock lines and fenders or hold a course to go below. I think it would be hard to exceed your budget on a boat you could not single hand. It won't take long to be able to single hand the J22. Sailing into the slip at a slow enough speed just takes a lot of practice.

Engines are a whole other issue, but with cruising boats you need to learn a whole lot of other issues. You can get a taste of it just rummaging around here. It takes time to learn a lot only to find out you can never know it all. Sailing really has no limits of things to learn more about.
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Old 08-08-2008, 16:41   #8
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Here's my 2¢ worth...

Years ago I had a small day sailer. Took it out a lot. Enjoyed the heck out of it. Decided I needed something bigger so I could do weekends. Bought a West Wight potter 19. Great fun. Like camping on the water. Didn't sail it quite as much as the day sailer, because it was more work to tow, setup for sailing, launch, and then retrieve at the end of the day. Still, enjoyed the heck out of it. Decided I needed something bigger yet. Bought a San Juan 23. Didn't sail it quite as much as the West Wight, because it was even MORE work to tow, setup for sailing, launch, and then retrieve at the end of the day!

Can you see where this is going? Yeah, I stepped up yet again, to an even larger trailerable, that I sailed even LESS!

Finally I saw the light. I realized that if I wanted a big, comfortable boat for spending long weekends, and even a week at a time on, then I needed to accept that a trailerable wasn't really ideal for that. Now I'm back to a small Catalina 18. Back to camping on the water. Back to getting out and using it more--a LOT more!--even if it isn't quite as comfortable for those longer weekends.

The plan is to retire soon and move to Florida. When we do that we'll get a larger boat that will be more comfortable for weeks at a time in the Keys, up and down the ICW, or whatever. But it won't be trailerable.

So, again, this is just my 2¢ worth, but my advice is--if you MUST have a trailerable--keep it as small as you can tolerate. That makes it less expensive, easier to tow, easier to setup, easier to launch, easier to retrieve, and in the end that means you will USE IT MORE! And isn't that what owning a boat is all about?
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Old 08-08-2008, 17:35   #9
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Your 2 cents is worth a lot. My intent was never to make the shlep with the trailer each time, but just to take it out every couple years to do my own maintenance. It would sit in the slip to be readily available. Also, I thought buying a trailerable initially would give me the chance to fix up whatever I purchased.

In the last few days, my wife has convinced me to reconsider my strategy.

I have realized that, if we just put a little bit more money in the pot to begin with, we can end up with a boat that doesn't need any fixing. And I also realized that I'm almost 50, and my days of sanding have come to an end. I'll just pay someone else to paint the bottom and be glad that it isn't me.

All that said, I definately see what you are saying. Even with a boat that will be in ready to go state all the time, I still think I want something small enough to jump in and go. By adjusting my budget upward a little, I have seen lots more boats that would work.
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