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Old 28-08-2014, 07:34   #1
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Low cost Cats: Where is the Sweet Spot for a Small Singlehander?

I'm new to sailing and currently taking lessons, but knowing that I want to have space, speed, and that I get seasick I'm looking at cats for a first boat. I'm thinking something around 32' would be the best fit for a single man with no intention of hitting real blue water any time soon. But I'm completely flummoxed by the variety of pricing and appearance between cats. Things I've thrown out (maybe for not so good reasons):

1. Wooden cats (various Wharrams)
2. Cats pre-1985
3. Racing cats
4. Cats smaller than 30'

Things I'm looking for:

1. Good "bones" (I can repair/replace interior bits, but want to avoid the big stuff like delamination and blistering)
2. Fairly recent rigging/sails
3. Tolerable, if outdated, amenities (working head, no stripped interiors, wood that can be refinished)

So, other than getting a survey, what can be expected of something like this:

1993 Performance Cruising Gemin 3400 sailboat for sale in Florida

20 years old, seems to have been refit in most areas recently, etc.

(Sorry for making a question my first post.)
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Old 28-08-2014, 13:07   #2
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the sweet spot for a small singlehander?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Houngan View Post
I'm new to sailing and currently taking lessons, but knowing that I want to have space, speed, and that I get seasick I'm looking at cats for a first boat. I'm thinking something around 32' would be the best fit for a single man with no intention of hitting real blue water any time soon. But I'm completely flummoxed by the variety of pricing and appearance between cats. Things I've thrown out (maybe for not so good reasons):

1. Wooden cats (various Wharrams)
2. Cats pre-1985
3. Racing cats
4. Cats smaller than 30'

Things I'm looking for:

1. Good "bones" (I can repair/replace interior bits, but want to avoid the big stuff like delamination and blistering)
2. Fairly recent rigging/sails
3. Tolerable, if outdated, amenities (working head, no stripped interiors, wood that can be refinished)

So, other than getting a survey, what can be expected of something like this:

1993 Performance Cruising Gemin 3400 sailboat for sale in Florida

20 years old, seems to have been refit in most areas recently, etc.

(Sorry for making a question my first post.)
Hard to assess a boat that old over the internet. I would point out it is an older design with the beam less than half the length. Not sure where you live or more importantly where you plan to keep the boat and sail. But I would suggest you look into joining a yacht club. It often costs much less than you think and you will get to meet folks who can look at boats with you and provide face to face advice.
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Old 28-08-2014, 20:01   #3
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the sweet spot for a small singlehander?

+1 on the Geminis. They are perfect for what you want.
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Old 28-08-2014, 20:26   #4
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the sweet spot for a small singlehander?

Seems like a reasonable starting point.

But you should really sail on a few before you chose, particularly if you are new. The idea of buying a boat without a few years of varied experience is risky. I thought I knew one that I would like... until I took a test drive at a boat show. Ick. Much is personal taste.
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Old 28-08-2014, 21:02   #5
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the sweet spot for a small singlehander?

I agree the Geminis would be a good place to start. As long as you don't over pay, you will get lots of experience and you won't lose that much money when you move up to your next level.
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Old 28-08-2014, 23:00   #6
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the Sweet Spot for a Small Singlehander?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Houngan View Post

1. Wooden cats (various Wharrams)

Don't get wood

2. Cats pre-1985

Age doesn't "really" matter. Condition is paramount

3. Racing cats

Are you cruising or racing? Buy the cat that does what you want "90%" of the time.

4. Cats smaller than 30'

Personal space decision but I wouldn't go less than the 34 for cruising
That Gemini you linked appears to be at the lower end of the price scale but it is also at the older end of the age scale.

If my budget were in the 80k range I definitely would be taking a look at that boat. I do think that for it's 20 year old age it may be a bit high.

The same site had this listing (albeit it is an old one) and for 10 years newer and 2X the money it is a much more "modern" looking boat.

2003 Gemini 105 MC sailboat for sale in
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Old 29-08-2014, 03:00   #7
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the Sweet Spot for a Small Singlehander?

I singlehand my Gemini and love it! That being said, I've been sailing my whole life... If you really want to learn to sail, dinghys are the way to go. (Any local sailing club should be able to help)
When you understand all the concepts, then take that to a bigger boat. But when you are ready to buy a boat, DEFINITELY spend some time sailing it before you think of buying one. So many trade offs and personal choice involved! Never trust that just because something works for someone else or they have a certain opinion, that it might not be different for YOU.

Good luck!


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Old 29-08-2014, 06:13   #8
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the Sweet Spot for a Small Singlehander?

I have seen things like Comanche (?) or Appache (?) and people would sail from Europe to the West Indies in them. I am puzzled. They are slower, seem more vulnerable and tight inside too.

Truly, cannot see worthy small cheap cats around. I think a decent cat will start somewhere well beyond 30+' and something like 50+ k perhaps.

Not to say there are no smaller and cheaper ones around. They just seem to make little sense.

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Old 29-08-2014, 07:40   #9
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Re: Low cost Cats: Where is the Sweet Spot for a Small Singlehander?

We have a 3400 (1995) and it's a great inexpensive liveaboard though it does have it's drawbacks also.
Negatives:
- It's not a gold plater and is prone to spiderweb cracking in the gel coat (cosmetic not structural)
- It does have some bridge deck slaming if you refuse to bear off the waves a bit (usually only in steep 2-4' and if you bear off it largely goes away).

Pro's:
- Very shallow draft
- Boards for performance
- Simple systems if you like to work on it yourself.
- Engine is outside of cabin so no heat and smells in the cabin.
- Full size rectangular bed.
- Fits in a normal slip (we've found the relatively narrow beam to be a positive).

I believe I have some familiarity with the boat in question though I haven't been on it. Google shearwater gemini and you will find the owners website with more details on upgrades and modifications. Also join the yahoo gemini group. If you search for shearwater you will find the trail of posts about this boat. He's done a lot of work on it and seems to like quality work but he's had some odd issues that aren't present on our version.

Others to consider:
- Catalac
- Endeavor
- PDQ

I'm not crazy about single handing in general but a 30'+ with minimal experience really doesn't sound good. Plan on taking friends out at least until you really get the hang of it.
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