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Old 17-10-2011, 15:35   #1
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Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

Hi Everyone,

I have been lurking in on these forums for several months now but felt I should finally post now that I have accumulated a bunch of information but still have questions.

I bought my first boat about 6 years ago, it is a 1993 330 Searay sundancer. We have had some fun times on it, mostly doing day trips for crabbing etc. However we now are very keen to make the switch to a sail boat. I am just barely starting to learn how to sail and have taken a couple small lessons. I do have one friend that is a certified captain that has been without boating for a couple years so is extremely anxious to help me learn in trade for getting out there.

Anyhow of course I have had many of the same questions everyone seems to have, what size and type of boat to get. Blue water, cruiser etc. Well here is a little information.

1) I live in Vancouver so PNW is where we will be cruising.
2) bluewater passages? I sure dream of it, likelyhood of happening? not for at least 5-7 years I estimate.
3) 4 children ages 10-2

I have gone from looking to get a solid blue water boat "just so we have it" like a Valiant 40 to realizing my cruising for the next 5 years is likely to just be local so I should get a brand new production boat like a Beneteau or Jenneau 45-50 then thinking of a used production Catalina 36 for a "2 year boat" before moving up...to just recently falling in love with a 1984 Bayfield 40 and trying to convince myself that I can cruise locally in it just as well as a Catalina !

So what are my questions?

Well let's rule out the brand new boat for now, lots of money lost in that frist couple years and lets be honest I am just getting started so I think it is best to learn, make sure we are truly committed and perhaps after a couple years when the family has grown we make a bigger investment.

So for now here is the short list

Catalina 36 - several I am looking at all MKII models several very nicely equipped ranging from 1996 to 2001 from 80-140K
1984 Bayfield 40 - beautiful boat refurbished with all modern equipment 100K
1988 Morgan 41 - not as attractive to my eyes as the Bayfield but similarly sized and capable it seems.
C&C - seems to be lots of these boats locally ranging in years and sizes, nice boats but maybe a little more racing and less cruising then I am needing. Not interested in racing.

Well that is currently the short list, but man does it change weekly it seems.
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Old 17-10-2011, 15:48   #2
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Re: Yes another first time sailboat buyer

good luck, when you see the right boat you will know it, but expect yourself to lust for something else later regardless

you can cruise locally and further with all your choices (will be slower on the Morgan but that's the trade for the space)
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Old 17-10-2011, 15:51   #3
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Re: Yes another first time sailboat buyer

good luck... You'll have to make your OWN decisions!
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Old 17-10-2011, 16:40   #4
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, kabball.
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Old 19-10-2011, 09:40   #5
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

I'm a newby to the forum also but also just went through the process of boat buying. Best advice, be sure your wife likes it. Remember, "yes dear!". We chose Hunter CC 42 Passage because my wife was more interested in that than the other offerings. It was between that or Island Packet but she wanted the space and the performance of Hunter over IP. Good luck!
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Old 19-10-2011, 10:41   #6
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

I appreciate the responses.

Old Sailor boy the wives really do love those boats don't they. That's one thing you really have to hand Hunter they have good marketing people that understand how you get the wives to say Yes perhaps more than any other company.

As an update I got out and looked at a couple of smaller Bayfield 32 boats, which I could maybe justify for a couple years but will quickly become to small as the kids get a bit bigger.

I plan to go see a couple Catalina 36 boats today and see if they would be big enough for a little longer.
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Old 19-10-2011, 13:21   #7
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

Very sensible on realising that no point in the buying the "Go anywhere" boat now

In your shoes / budget I would be thinking of a late model Beneteau (or similar - whatever has a name / a re-sale market in your area).......but something in the 32 to 35 foot range as sounds mostly day / overnight / weekend sailing - with the occassional longer vacation.

More than big enough so that size is not a great limiting factor, and not living aboard for extended periods makes life together whilst onboard more bearable. More room can be nice, but if you pick a model / layout that suits your needs may be surprised at how well space can be used . or you might not be

Anyway, welcome to CF
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Old 20-10-2011, 08:24   #8
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

On Yachtworld I saw many boats in the 35-45 foot range for 150K and under in the Pacific Northwest. I would look some more before coming down to a short list. BTW, with 4 kids I do not think you will be happy for very long in a 35 ft boat, although you might be able to make do in something like a Sabre 36, which will sleep 7 (at the cost of galley and storage space).
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Old 20-10-2011, 11:44   #9
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

I have been having some of these feelings about size for sure. I am looking at a valiant 40 again as a possibility. Yes it's 40 foot but the concensus is that it's probably not much more roomy than a Catalina 36.
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Old 20-10-2011, 14:44   #10
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

Yes, the Valiants are relatively small inside--but that's a good thing when you are in a seaway. I can't believe some of these modern designs with cavernous main cabins and no handholds. Broken ribs are painful.

On Yachtworld I saw a LaFitte 44 (also a Perry design) one of Bill Luders' Annapolis 44s that has been converted into a private yacht (nicely, if the pictures are to be believed), a Tartan 42, an Oyster ketch and a few other boats that might be suitable for you and provide a little extra space.
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Old 20-10-2011, 15:04   #11
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

I believe I saw that Oyster Ketch which seemed to be a local boat to boot.
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Old 21-10-2011, 14:35   #12
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

So the way I read your situation is 4 kids, 2 adults (6 total), $80k-150k to buy, outfit and cruising kitty extra and a boat good enough for the Straits of Georgia and Jaun de Fuca and maybe around Vancouver Island which would be a good way to see if your family is really up to serious cruising. You have expressed no reservations about boat age though the boats you cite are mid-80's or newer, I'll ignore that here.

Let's start with the very basic issue of crew size and berths. With kids on board you can have them share berths for a short to moderate period of time, the older they get the shorter that period of time becomes. The length of cruise, age of both kids in the berth and size of the kid come into play. Having the 2 youngest share a bunk for a 1-2wk cruise might work for another 3yr, 4yr at the outside if they are sharing a double. You want everyone to be having an OK time most cruises. If you have someone getting upset every cruise because of personal space issues you will have a serious problem. It will take you several cruises to realize this is an on-going problem, and then some time to sell the old boat and get a new one. You could have a year of cruises with someone that hated every trip, this could put them off cruising for good, and then you will have a sullen and crabby crewmember on board for every cruise, no matter how short, until they go to college.

Given that time horizon, I would not want to acquire a boat I was going to roll over in 2 or 3 yrs. I would think it worth the effort to start with a boat the kids are going to be happy with for all the cruising you might do around Vancouver in the next 5-7yr.

I don’t see every kid or pair of kids needing their own cabin, but they do need their own space, a berth for each kid where they can leave their stuff that nobody should touch and maybe a curtain would be enough.

At a minimum you would have 5 good or excellent seaberths, 1 for each off-watch person, plus a place for the on-watch person to sit without bumping a sleeper. Excellent would be a pilot berth (best motion) or a quarter berth (best privacy), good would be a settee (fore and aft oriented benches) that has to be converted every night. Berths in an aft cabin would also be good, the motion at the end of the boat could keep it from being very good. A dinette (transverse benches) would be very marginal, you wind up with a double that has to be lee-clothed down to 2 singles even if only one person is going to use it plus all the work removing the table. The V-berth will be unusable underway or in a very bouncy anchorage, but would certainly go the parents under most anchoring conditions and in very quiet weather underway.

U- and L-shaped dinettes are a special case of dinette: if you can create a sliding system for the table top (shown in recent addition of Good Old Boat) to easily give you an additional 3”-6” of space and any radius-ed corners in the seat back are removable then you can have a decent easily setup sea-berth from that. Leaving the radius seat backs will cause neck problems for any sleeper that isn’t really short, and really this berth is probably best used by an adult for reasons discussed above. The unused leg(s) of the U or L are available for the watch person to sit on and the table is still available for charts etc. The Table top moving will probably intrude slightly into a passage forward, but since that will see limited use thru the night it shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

The bare minimum I would go for is 3 aft/quarter/pilot berths and 2 convertible berths. For the first 1-3yr the youngest 2 kids bunk together, when that stops working the oldest kid would have to start sleeping on a settee that has to be converted every night and that isn’t as easy to maintain privacy. This contradicts my earlier discussion about giving each kid a space, but if you are hard pressed this is one way to do it. Given the tightness of the situation you would be hard pressed to take the whole gang for a trip around Vancouver Island, a 4-8wk excursion.

Boats that qualify would be:
Pearson 10M might work if you converted storage on one side to match the pilot berth on the other.
Westsail 42
Ohlson 38
Cal 39.1

Better would be a boat that had permanent singles for each kid plus a settee for a parent. In a bouncy anchorage a parent can sleep on the floor or the 2 smallest kids double up.
Columbia 43
Columbia 50

Optimally the boat would have a good sea-berths for everyone, so that’s 4 aft/pilot/quarter berths for the kids and 2 convertible berths for the parents (settees or U- or L-shaped dinettes or some combination)
Pearson 43
Morgan 41 O/I
Morgan 41 O/I Ketch
Cal 40
Cal 43
Cal 48
Morgan 54 (Marauder)


All of these boats have acceptable sail area in the lightship condition. As soon as you start adding water, food, and personal gear for 6 that is going to deteriorate. Bigger boats will tolerate that better because what you are adding is a smaller percentage of total boat weight. But if you are starting from a point close to being under-canvassed you are more likely to overload even on a larger boat. Also a longer or heavier boat requires more and heavier sails, lots more fuel (weight and $) and in a bad blow at sea or at anchor a bigger boat is more likely to overwhelm the 2 adults.

Given the number of people on board (6) and the number of people that can actively sail the boat in poor conditions (2, assuming the oldest can look after the younger ones somewhat, otherwise 1.5) I would pick a boat around 40’ as the best compromise towards giving everyone a minimum amount of personal space without getting a boat that would overwhelm you in bad weather.

Personally I would strike off the Bare Minimum boats, they would preclude doing the Vancouver Isl. circumnavigation.

Among the Better and Best boats I would strike off anything over 45’ due to short-handed difficulties in heavy weather.

That leaves the Morgan 41OI, Columbia 43, and Cal 40 & 43. All these boats have plenty of on deck space for dinghies, and wide side decks for moving forward in bad weather.

The sloop Morgan has mediocre sail area in the lightship condition, the ketch is better, and adding a forestay for a staysail would improve both. Sail area aside the hull was designed for the charter trade maximizing interior volume at the expense of speed and pointing ability. The boats have wonderful volume below and being shoal draft can go a lot of interesting places like the Bahamas or the canals of Europe with a bit less concern than deeper boats. The Morgans have been around the world so they are certainly built well enough. There were several different interiors for these boats so that would be something you want to ask about prior to traveling to see a boat.

The Columbia has wonderful headroom under the bubble (7’+) and around 6’ elsewhere. The raised deck makes for a lot of area to store a dinghy without obstructing the lookout’s view forward. The boat has pretty good sail area for its weight. On the other had the boat is heavier than the other boats (except the Morgans) meaning heavier anchor, and larger sails, all entailing more work to handle and more money to buy and repair. I believe at least one has circumnavigated, though I am sure that other Columbia’s of that vintage have been around.

Cal 40 lightest of the remaining boats, great sail area, plenty of used ones on the market normally in the $40k-70k range, several have circumnavigated and only draws 5.6’, probably a bit under 6’ fully loaded. The only downside to the boat is that the galley is split with half on each side of the boat, the icebox is under the chart table and the sink is not anywhere near the centerline of the boat (drains poorly on one tack). The only one of these that would really bother me is the sink.

Cal 43, second lightest boat, best layout, great sail area, sink on centerline, second head, the 2 quarter berths are more or less in a separate cabin.

All of these boats would benefit from adding a forestay and other rigging for a staysail. A staysail would make me more comfortable having a roller-furler on the headstay. The extra rigging would provide redundancy in upper mast support, and the staysail would significantly help with the number of sails you had to carry. Instead of changing the head sail as the wind increases the staysail is struck, when it increases further the staysail is reset and the headsail is struck. Finally the staysail is replaced with a storm staysail. At the light wind end you would need a large drifter. With roller furling the only sails stored below are the storm staysail and the drifter which being very light nylon wouldn’t be much bigger than the storm sail. Any trysail should be stored bagged on deck on its own track on the mast ready for immediate use.

My recommendation would be to get the Cal 40. Each kid gets their own berth, both adults get a settee, decent living volume even with 6, probably the best price of any reasonable boat you will look at, good performer, the easiest boat to handle of the boats that are big enough, good enough all around to circumnavigate Vancouver Isl..

My second pick would be the Cal 43, the shortcomings of the 40 rectified at the cost of more weight and size making the boat a bit more to handle. In the event you go cruising offshore, this boat would be a consideration for that too, not just short to medium term ownership.
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Old 21-10-2011, 16:00   #13
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

This post is magic.

There is a Morgan 41 nearby I will take a look at and start scanning for the others.

Thanks!
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Old 21-10-2011, 21:54   #14
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

Going to see 4 boats tomorrow

Panda 38
Panda 40 pilothouse
Aloha 34
Bayfield 40
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Old 22-10-2011, 14:26   #15
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Re: Yet Another First-Time Sailboat Buyer

The Aloha 34 (Ted Brewer design I believe) will be too small. The others are possibilities.
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