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Old 04-07-2013, 17:50   #1
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MY 1st post and some Questions!

Hello all,
This is my 1st post here. I am in the planning/saving money stage but hopefully within the year my wife and I will set off. Here is my 1st question or 3!

Background: We are hoping to buy a boat for fairly cheap <$6k, spend 1-6mo living aboard while getting everything ship-shape (4k) then sail off for 1 year to see how we like it and see if we want to re-up for longer. I have limited sailing experience as a child, however have lived out of a truck/trailer for extended periods of time on rock climbing trips so I have some experience living off the grid.

Where (city/state/area) do you consider the best place to purchase a boat? Why? I currently live in a landlocked state so I will have to travel to wherever I am buying the boat.

Would it make it more affordable to buy in US then sail to Mexico to do the repairs?

What do you think is the best time of year to buy the boat? Specific time when more are for sale=lower prices, avoid hurricane season, ect...

Where do YOU think is the best place to begin cruising and why? Atlantic/gulf/Caribbean? Pacific Coast of Mexico/gulf of california?

Why: Lack of red tape? Ease of navigation? Community to learn from? Good/non-dangerous weather? low cost of food/supplies?

Any good resources for getting started?

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Old 04-07-2013, 18:10   #2
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Few answers and comments, in no particular order.

East coast, not west coast. Why?

- easier sailing
- cheaper dock space
- more marinas
- more harbors
- more places to anchor
- more places to sail

$6K is a pretty small budget. Of course anyone can get lucky but probably have to target a boat under 30'

Repairs. Stay in the US and DIY. Generally easier access to parts, support, etc. You can find cheap places to dock or anchor for free in the US. If you plan on paying someone else to fix up your boat you need to multiply your budget by 5-10 at least.

Best place to purchase. In the 30' and under size lots and lots of options. You might find one abandoned and pick it up for storage costs. Try New England, mid-Atlantic states, most anywhere in FL.

BUT, beware of the free boat. Sometimes a free boat can be the most expensive.

First major question to ask yourself. How are your skills in carpentry, wiring, plumbing, and more?

The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.

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Old 04-07-2013, 18:58   #3
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Howdy Captain_Nick

I'm going to do my best to answer a few questions...I was in you position a few years ago.

I'd have to agree that the East Coast--probably Florida--is one of the better places. Lots of boats down in the Southeast. We bought our boat in California, and thankfully were, at that time, close the Channel Islands so that we had opportunities to get our sea legs and anchoring skills. That being said you can find some GREAT deals on boats in Marina Del Ray, CA, and at some of the lien sales. There's a $6,000 Islander 32 for sale right now in MDR. Also a great 31 Irwin for $7K in Virginia on sailboat

Hands down it's going to be way easier to get things done in the US. We cruised down there for a year and when stuff breaks -- stuff always breaks-- trying to find even simple things like electrical connectors is a challenge. Also, getting things done in Mexico isn't as cheap as it once was. You might be able to find a good deal on a boat in San Carlos, though. All depends.

A lot of people in the Great Lakes put their boats up for sale during the summer so they don't have to spend the money to put them up for winter. Good deals happen all the time. you just have to constantly troll the websites.

Where do YOU think is the best place to begin cruising and why? I thought Mexico/Pacific was pretty easy, but I don't have experience in the Gulf. Red tape wasn't a factor. I wouldn't say there's a strong community to learn from , though. As for your "non-dangerous" weather happens. You do your best to plan a weather window. There is no such thing as a place devoid of non-dangerous weather...except for maybe a landlocked state. ;-)

You can go on anything. Go Simple Go Small Go NOW! Have fun!!!

There's more on my blog if you want to check out the Mexico side.
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Old 04-07-2013, 19:26   #4
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Everything skipmac said.

I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions to this, but I've found the cheapest place to have and work on a boat on the east coast is the southern mid-atlantic. Start heading up towards NY or down towards FL and things start getting incrementally more expensive. I'm currently in Oriental, NC, a great little sailing "village" with a lot of good knowledge and resources around. For my 27' boat, I can haul out or stay at a slip for just over $200 / mo. (i'm sure north of Boston things start getting cheaper too). Though I have less exposure, I've also found places in Oregon and the PNW to be comparable.

Do you think your wife could be content living on a boat under 30'? A small boat can be a comfortable home, especially for a young couple, and there are lots of small good old boats out there for less than $10. Just keep it simple and keep it clean. Also consider standing headroom. If you're 6' or above it can be difficult. I was really into a HR Monsun 31 for example, but in the end, the 5'10" headroom was a deal-breaker.
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Old 04-07-2013, 21:02   #5
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Thanks for the quick reply!

So I am already thinking 26-33' due to budget factors, but prob under 30' because cruising permits ect seem to be split at +-30' frequently.

Budget is $10k, broken down in my head as $6k for the purchase and $4k for refitting, initial supplies, ect...

I am 6'1" so height will be an issue.

I consider myself fairly handy. I can handle any carpentry, plumbing, painting, a lot of electrical, however i have NO real engine experience.

Wife is 100% aboard (hahaha).

Because of the living in a landlocked state we would need to pretty much pack everything up and drive out to the coast, buy boat, and move aboard in a fairly short amount of time (as we would be staying with friends, camping, or maybe in a budget motel) so I am really trying to form a plan around an area where I will have lots of options, however, So Cal is only 7 hours away so I could potentially make weekend trips out there to look at specific boats/deals.

Do you have any recommendations a good resource for info on the buying process, legal requirements, ect... How long after you purchase do you have to register? Can you sail it out of the sellers slip same day? ect...
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:22   #6
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Nick.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:01   #7
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

This just goes to show how expensive boating is in Australia. (The exchange rate close enough to one to one with the US at the moment). I could not imagine getting anything that floats for AU$6k unless you are looking at UNDER 20 feet... maybe I am looking in the wrong places. And even if you could buy something, I am quite sure it would cost more than $4K to get it liveable, let alone sailable. From the other responses here it seems it may be possible in the US, so I am VERY jealous!

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Old 05-07-2013, 04:47   #8
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

A live-aboard size sailboat for $10K INCLUDING re-fit and repairs is not realistic. You may find a cheap boat, but for that price it may have been under with a seized engine and a shot electrical system, rotten sails, etc..

I recommend working a bit longer, save up more cash and buy a better boat, it makes for happier cruising and happier wife.

Start with $30K and look for a seaworthy vessel instead of a piece of junk.

A am all for going small and going early, did the same 29 years ago, but don't go too
cheap: Safety first, then comfort, THEN economy..
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:09   #9
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

It happens. People fall into incredible deals. Spent the weekend tied up next to about a 36' cruising powerboat the guy had picked up for $1500 and put another couple of thousand into fixing up. Another guy I know just bought a 40' Viking (powerboat) for a song, but it had some fiberglass damage. It happened on the stands ashore, so no water intrusion issues. I even bought my first car for $100 cash when the PO got fed up with one more repair bill (cost me $30 for a pair of bearings and I drove that car for years!)

You could get lucky like that. But it will take a LOT of persistence. Biggest thing is to get to know people. Somewhere there is a widow, or old couple who can't sail anymore, looking for a good home for their beloved boat. To some people, that's more important than money. Unfortunately, in most cases, by the time they admit they have to sell, they've let the boat rot away.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:42   #10
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Welcome to the forum Captain_Nick. I am like some of the others, I believe that your budget is too small for anything meaningful. Having said that, there are always deals that happen, you have to develop a set of criteria that you will find acceptable. Start 2 lists, 1 of what you have to have on the boat. #2 What you absolutely can't stand on a boat. And work from there. You can start your lists right now and revise them as time progresses and knowledge increases. There is no right or wrong of it, only what you like and don't like. A lot of that will be impossible to tell until you get more experience. I would advise spending some hard earned money gaining experience. Even in a land locked state, I am sure there are places to sail, try getting involved with a local sailing club or yacht club, usually there is always room for willing volunteers. Any sailing you do will be good, even bad experiences teach you what you don't want.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:56   #11
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Excellent advise from Tom. I have seen some incredible deals over the years so I does happen. Persistence, patience and a little luck could pay off but it would be like winning the lottery. Maybe not quite as rare but I wouldn't count on it.

The problem with boating on the west coast is the lack of places to put boats. Think about CA. Huge state, huge population but just a few main harbors: SF Bay, LA, San Diego and a few smaller ones. With the large population with a lot of money to spend on boats there is a high demand for all the available dock space. CA, especially SF and south, is one of the most expensive places to keep a boat in the US although New England and south FL are right up there in price.

So CA might be interesting for you to look at a few boats, with your budget you will really need to focus on the east coast.

It would be cheaper in the Seattle area but the season is a lot more limited.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.

Sometimes it's necessary to state the obvious for the benefit of the oblivious.

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Old 05-07-2013, 07:01   #12

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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

$6000+$4000 total budget = a pipe dream or nightmare, take your pick.

Example: Back in 1980 (34 years ago) my wife and I bought a 15 year old fixer-upper O'Day 20 for $2500, then spent $4,000 fixing it up. Those were 1980 dollars, when the US dollar was still worth something... when we were earning $6 per hour! A 20 foot boat!

How do you realistically expect to do the same today with a dollar that's now inflated by 400%-500%, on a boat that needs to be quite a bit larger and much, much older??

You're dreaming and/or headed for a wreck.

Another point: How handy are you with repairs? On your budget, you're going to be spending a lot more time making repairs than sailing, site-seeing or just kickin' back. Every day is going to be a new "what's leaking," "why isn't this working" "didn't I just fix that" "what's that smell" etc. etc.

Honestly, when I first read your thread, I thought you'd accidentally left of the last zero on each of your numbers.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:38   #13
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I would respectfully say you are way off.

A decent older 30' - 34 sailboat will run you $15-20. Then expect to drop a few thousand into needed work for maintenance the PO should have done and to make it seaworthy. Add a few bucks for electronics and you are in the mid to upper $20's.

FWIW Spend some time reading eBay and sailboat classified ads. The look at a few of the boats to draw your own conclusions.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:40   #14
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

Hi, everyone,

I think asking the guys here who know more than I do about specific types small sailboats might prove fruitful for you in your search. There used to be "pocket cruisers", 20-22 ft., the Flicka comes to mind. Sturdy, circumnavigation capable. Possibly too cramped for you guys. Used to be quite expensive.

We had a friend who lived aboard his Top Hat (an Australian 25 ft. cruiser) for a few years with wife and child. That boat sailed from Newcastle, Australia to Canada and Mexico and back to Australia, some years back, and I just saw a fixer-upper listed at the asking price of $5,995, have no idea how trashed it is.

What the fellows above have been writing contain a lot of hints about safety. Just any small boat may fit your budget but be unsuitable due to not being sturdily enough constructed. This really isn't like buying a camper, the little boat has to be strong enough to keep the water on the outside, and take care of you and your good lady in bad weather, so the quality of its construction [or lack thereof] is very important.

If you move anywhere there is an active boating scene, and volunteer to crew for club race boats, both of you can start learning some of the ropes, and make contacts who may be able to help you find a suitable boat.

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Old 05-07-2013, 09:43   #15
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Re: MY 1st post and some Questions!

You sound very short on 2 of the most important things when buying a boat - knowledge and time. The 3rd most important thing is money (all those related and in no particular order).

I have no idea about the US for picking up cheap boats, so I would follow what the locals have said - Florida.

Your budget is doable (just about and with some luck!), I just have grave doubts that you have the time and knowledge to find a boat that won't turn out to be a money pit that will eat all your cash and dreams .

That said!, I would go for 27 to 30 foot, something with a broken inboard (with an older boat that knocks the value right out!) and which will take an outboard on the back. The downside is that won't be making long passages under motor and will need to learn to sail ASAP, as well as navigate cautiously (won't be powering way off too many lee shores!). Apart from the lower purchase cost (which should mean the rest of the boat will be better for the overall buck) it means you know the inboard engine is kaput, and don't discover that for self later (often enough after spending good money in running fixes over time)......or worse is unreliable - especially when needed, at least with an outboard you will know in advance that the inboard won't be working and can plan and act accordingly.

Also buy a book or 2 about surveying own boat, even if you find the budget to survey the boat you buy - you won't have the budget ($500 a pop?) to have many surveyed, so will need to pick carefully. Of course even a Survey does not reveal everything - that usually takes 6 months of ownership!

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