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Old 13-01-2012, 15:47   #1
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Start Small or Start Big ?

As I am trying to set up the budget for the cruise, I see currently 2 options :

1) start with a small boat (100K) and as I "gain" experience go for the appropriate sized big (?) boat (300-500K) :
+ a smaller boat is easier to handle
+ I can get rid of it easier in case I want to stop cruising
- I have to sell the small boat in order to buy the larger boat

2) since I already know what size I need, go for the big boat :
+ cruising life starts comfortably ... :-)
- may be I chose the wrong boat, switch to another boat could be very costly

Are there any folks which have done either of these options and what do you recommend ?
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Old 13-01-2012, 16:07   #2
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Re: Start small or start big ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zonker View Post
As I am trying to set up the budget for the cruise, I see currently 2 options :

1) start with a small boat (100K) and as I "gain" experience go for the appropriate sized big (?) boat (300-500K) :
+ a smaller boat is easier to handle
+ I can get rid of it easier in case I want to stop cruising
- I have to sell the small boat in order to buy the larger boat

2) since I already know what size I need, go for the big boat :
+ cruising life starts comfortably ... :-)
- may be I chose the wrong boat, switch to another boat could be very costly

Are there any folks which have done either of these options and what do you recommend ?
Here in Australia we measure a boat in feet not Dollars......and how do you know what size boat you "need" if this is your start into sailing?
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Old 13-01-2012, 16:29   #3
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Re: Start small or start big ?

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Originally Posted by reiner View Post
..........................and how do you know what size boat you "need" if this is your start into sailing?
It's very common for those first moving aboard to overestimate necessary boat size.
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Old 13-01-2012, 16:43   #4
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Re: Start small or start big ?

Why not take some of the budget and do some bare boat charters to get a feel for different boats over a few weeks?

No boat to sell, vacation time, and you gain experience.
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Old 13-01-2012, 17:21   #5
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Re: Start small or start big ?

Our first boat was an Islander Freeport 36, on which we cruised for a couple of seasons. However, for a family of 5, it was too small. We then bought our Contest 48 and now, even though it's mostly just my wife and me on board, we love having the space and comfort that comes with a larger boat. What we don't like is the increase in maintenance, physical effort to sail her, the higher slip fees, taxes and insurance. We're now facing Goods and Services Tax (GST) in New Zealand which is 21% of the boat's value.

Anyway, back to bigger vs smaller: On our recent cruise across the Pacific we got to know people in a wide range of boat sizes - from 27' sloops to 80' motorsailers. Almost everyone had a great time regardless of their boat's size.

One rule-of-thumb a broker once told me was not to spend more on a boat than your annual income for one year.

Good luck, fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 13-01-2012, 17:24   #6
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Re: Start small or start big ?

1st boat - Catalina 30 owned it for 9 month. Nice, but needed more amenities.

2nd boat- Catalina 380 owned for 5 years. Lots of fun, perfect boat, but girlfriend hated healing on long cruises. Kids never liked it.

3rd boat- FP Mahe 36 owned for 3 years. Perfect boat, lots of fun fast, girlfriend loves it. Kids want to go sailing with us all the time and bring friends.

Hope we are done buying boats
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Old 13-01-2012, 19:57   #7
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Re: Start small or start big ?

If you really feel you know what you want - go big!

Don't think the smaler boat will be "easy" to get rid of. And you will lose money on it when you do that could have gone into the bigger boat to start with.

I started big, but not big enough!
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Old 13-01-2012, 20:26   #8
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Re: Start small or start big ?

It all depends. If you're not a super experienced sailor or boat owner, I think that you should start very small and very cheap. Get the experience so you make a good choice when you move up. You don't need a big fancy boat to have tons of fun and learn lots while going out for day sails and weekends.

If you're planning to leave to sail around the world in a few months, then I guess you need to just guess and hope.

We bought a 1/3 share in a 40 year old, 26' monohull for $1500. Our share of moorage and maintenance was $100 a month. After a couple years, we were much better sailors and knew what we wanted. We upgraded with confidence and sold our share for $1500. It was cheap, so much easier to sell and no panic if we couldn't sell right away.

Worked for us, may not for you.
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Old 13-01-2012, 21:08   #9
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Re: Start small or start big ?

Hi Zonker. Without knowing a whole lot more about who you are, what you want to do, where you sail, and how much $100k means to you (to me, it's a fortune!), it's really impossible to give any direct advice.

I can tell you that your first boat will teach you a lot. No matter how well researched you are, or how many other boats you sail, the first boat you actually own will be a rigorous instructor. You will learn a lot about what you want/need, what you like/dislike, and about who you really are as a sailor and cruiser.

My first boat was a 34-footer. It was (and still is) a great boat, but if I could do it all over again I would buy something in the 26-30-foot range to start. I would not blow a pile of dough on it either. I would get one that is well-found, decent sails, functional systems, and with the sailing characteristics that turn my crank. Then I would get out and sail that baby.

After spending a few seasons or a year or so (depending on where you sail, and how much time you have), you will begin to learn what the questions are.
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Old 13-01-2012, 22:09   #10
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Re: Start small or start big ?

Until you get experience, you won't know what you want. I would do some charters on the size boats that you are considering for purchase. You will quickly discover what feels right and comfortable. You will discover how much maintainance you are willing to do, and see how you tolerate the space constraints and motion peculiar to the designs that you are considering.
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Old 13-01-2012, 23:48   #11
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Re: Start small or start big ?

My $0,02:

Sorry, but: What is SMALL and What is BIG?
If your concern is due to the possible difficulties in turning over the 'old' boat (marketwise), go with something small and increase as necessary.
If your concern is SPACE, go with something you can handle and (again) increase as necessary.


It's really complicated to tell what YOU should do without knowing you and your needs, but seems like you want to start cruising right away (and far away). Something I would not advice as safe.

Anyway:
NEW v. OLD projects/designs (due to internal volume usage), boat types (Sloop, Cat, Ketch, Yawl, Schooner), their variations and multihulls are some of the important points you will need to consider (besides size).
The places you are going to travel to (water temperature and depth, weather conditions, etc) are also what you need to think of.
The type of sailboat you chose will also give a good idea of how fast you could hand the vessel over to some new owner (well maintained vessels of good known projects usually sell faster than problematic tubs).

My dream path (for cruising around the world) would be start relatively small. I'd say - maybe - a 26' wooden monohull and absolutely NO electronics (other than comm/weather radios). Anyone thinking SEABIRDs?

After a couple of years, a good idea would be to move into a 32'-38' fiberglass monohull with more electronics power or maybe a 36' catamaran and after some 4-5 years something bigger (like a 50'+ monohull).



Remember: To waste the maximum allotted fund should not be your goal (NEVER). Use it wisely. You don't have to go big to spend a 500k budget (add electronics, accessories, amenities and a small catamaran will easily surpass that 1/2M mark).
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Old 16-01-2012, 09:53   #12
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Re: Start Small or Start Big ?

Guys ... thanks for your feedback. I hoped to hear more of the "I-wish-I-did-it-different" stories.
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Old 16-01-2012, 10:04   #13
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Re: Start small or start big ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
If you really feel you know what you want - go big!

Don't think the smaler boat will be "easy" to get rid of. And you will lose money on it when you do that could have gone into the bigger boat to start with.

I started big, but not big enough!

Yep!
......
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Old 16-01-2012, 10:15   #14
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Re: Start Small or Start Big ?

And if you list that smaller boat with a broker you lose 10% or $10K plus expenses like taxes, fees etc. Also you got $100K tied up until it sells. Just get the bigger boat and get someone with experience to show you the ropes.
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Old 16-01-2012, 10:33   #15
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Re: Start Small or Start Big ?

The OP did not mention expereince. Personally, I'm glad I started small. I've met many bigger boat sailors that never really learned basic things, only big boat systems.

Sail Delmarva: The Merits of Learning to Sail on a Small Boat

Lose money when selling? Not if you buy used. I've had 3 cats and sold the first 2 after 10 years each, for a small gain. Buy good used boats.

Personal preference? If I were a couple cruising far I would go a bit bigger than my PDQ 32, but not much. Solo, it's perfect. The bigger it is, the heavier and more complex thing get. I've learned that the bigger the boat is both more comfortable and more work, even day sailing.
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