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Old 09-05-2015, 22:53   #1
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pirate What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

Hello all,
I have taken three separate beginning sailing classes, so I have a grasp of the basics of sailing. I've been dreaming of getting a sailboat for a long time now, and now that I'm close to having enough resources for it, I'm ready to start looking. My price range is anywhere between $0~$2500. I don't want a sailboat that I have to fix because I don't know how to fix a sailboat. A small sailboat would be fine, but TBH I'd prefer a boat that I can spend the night in, or take in the ocean (I live by a lake, so it would be a lake boat, at first.) I'm just wondering if anyone has advice on what kind of sailboat I should look for? What's the best quality sailboat that a beginning sailor can sail by herself? Where should I start looking? I've heard that some people have sailboats wasting away in garages or docks that they'd practically give away. How do I find these people? When I do find a sailboat that I like, what are the things I should be looking for to tell whether it's a high quality boat? Any other tips are welcome.
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Old 09-05-2015, 23:05   #2
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

You won't find an ocean-going vessel at that price (beyond a day-sail in mild conditions.)


I do see in the May Latitude 38 classifieds for a 1983 16-foot Balboa daysailer/overnighter for $1,800 ((408-718-8447). But then it's located in Alameda so you'd need to spend for a trailer.
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:04   #3
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

I would recommend a Catalina 22. Swing keel with a trailer if you want to store it when it snows in Tahoe or a fixed keel, which sails a little better. You could even trailer it to the SF bay or Monterey Bay.
If you fall in love with sailing, then sell it and move up but I recommend lerning and practicing boat maintenance.
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Old 10-05-2015, 03:44   #4
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

This is the thread you want

Does a canoe make a sailor?

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Old 10-05-2015, 06:41   #5
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

+1 on the Catalina 22, although I prefer the fixed fin keel model. We had one and it was a nice stable little boat. You wouldn't want to have to launch and retrieve it regularly. But you could slip it during the season and haul and trailer it home off season, or trailer it to other locations. The berth was comfortable enough for the two of us in our younger, more flexible years. It has good comfortable sitting head room and if you happen to find a pop-top model (ours wasn't) you could have standing head room in that area. They are simple, so no complicated systems to maintain, and handle very well especially in close quarters. Plus, there are a kajillion of them around, parts are still easy to get through Catalina Direct, and there are support forums where you can find out everything you need to know to operate and maintain one.

Good luck.
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Old 10-05-2015, 06:51   #6
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

I agree withg the Catalina 22 for a first boat in the area you live. And there is a fleet of them on the lake up there. Check the Catalina 22 web site , and you'll probably find someone selling theirs.
You can hardly beat it for a first boat under 2500.00. They sail well, they are put together pretty good for a lake boat and with little mods, its a good bay boat.
I owned one for years, actually I owned 6 of them over the years and the last was a 1999, MKll fixed fin. I did a fair amount of offshore racing with it with the SSS out of San Francisco. But that was with a good number of Modifications.
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:05   #7
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

Here ya go...

Catalina 22 Sailboat with Trailer and Motor
Catalina 22 Swing Keel. Great condition.
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:21   #8
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

I agree with all of the above. Catalina 22 is a great boat for what you're looking for.

You will undoubtedly learn how to fix it. Because boats that don't need to be fixed don't exist. Maintenance is just part of boating. But a dead-simple boat like a Catalina 22 at least limits how much can possibly need to be fixed along the way. Obviously you're looking for something with no big problems, and that can be found in your price range.

I was talking to a dockmate the other day. Mentioned "Wonder what it's like to have a boat where everything works?" He replied "Dunno..." -
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:35   #9
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

You got some goodsuggestions from those who have owned and know the boats and SF Bay.

My view?
Of the two Catalina 22s linked by Celestial above, the second one in Sausalito looks like it has been cared for (see condition photos). And, it has a stronger 7.5 HP long shaft motor, which I think would be better for SF Bay motoring and would make this boat my choice of the two to see first. The ad says you will need to scrape that bottom, but once it is on the trailer and home that should be a good "first maintenance lesson."

Also, be aware that cushions and cushion covers can be costly to have made or buy, so if one boat has them (Sausalito boat shows them in photos) and if the other boat does not have them, that would be possibly a few hundred dollars to replace.

Good luck on your choice and sailing!
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:24   #10
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

The best boat for a beginner is something cheap until you learn something about yourself and what you might want to do with a boat, if you screw up you don't screw up much. We all make mistakes while we are learning. In facts that's how we learn. I learned that a gas engine inboard has no business being anywhere near water.

I am helping a friend sell a 23 foot Grampian, see it on my website, it's $900 without the motor, get a small outboard for a couple hundred and you are ready to go. It's complete, great condition, everything there to be a live aboard. It's ready to go sailing today with a new battery, but a battery is only needed when it gets dark. Act fast, my friend is checking on donating it to a church or something as I write this. My website
For Sale 3

Unfortunately for you the boat is in south Florida, I do have a trailer and Florida is a nice place to sail.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:11   #11
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

I would buy a decent dinghy and kill it in the first year. Anything that is easy to get, inherently unstable and fun to sail. Maybe a Laser dinghy. They are cheap to buy, easy to sell, then you move on. Man can learn so much from something like 1k hours sailed on a dinghy that can turn turtle anytime...

As my second boat I would either buy a dayboat (open or semi-cabin) keel boat. Optionally, if further trips planned, I would get a plain keel boat of the design your heart desires, A Cape Dory, a Pogo, whatever makes you feel like sailing every moment you look at her.

Build the skills, feed the dream.

Have fun,
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:19   #12
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

How about all the smaller
You should be able to find some in your price range
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:20   #13
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

Somehow O'Day's got deleted from previous post
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:35   #14
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

I would go for a CAL 20.

Large cockpit can entertain 4, 6 at a stretch.
Sleeps 2 easily, 4 if the pair sharing the v-berth aren't too big and 6 if 2 don't mind sleeping the in the cockpit where an awning can be rigged.
Raised deck makes for a comparatively spacious interior and a nice flat deck to work on.
Available used with trailer for $1-3k depending on condition and location.
Good support for this model thru Seal's Spars.
Comparatively beefy, 2 have sailed to Hawai'i and another sailed to Europe.
Stiff and well canvassed so comparatively fast, almost as fast as a Catalina 22.
Ouboard is in a well so it motors fine in swells.
Being significantly lighter than the Catalina 22 also makes it easier to trailer.
The fixed keel makes it a little harder to launch than centerboarders, but at 3'4"draft it's not that much harder.

Given your location this and the Catalina 22 are probably the two best boats to look at. There were lots of each built. Catalina is still in business so parts and maybe service are still available but Seals Spars is in San Francisco so closer to deal with. The bay area has a fleet of Cal 20s so there should be a fair number available to purchase and a readily available source of advice.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:39   #15
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Re: What's the best kind of sailboat to buy for a beginner?

You may want to consider a Santana 22. They sail much better than a Catalina 22 and can be trailered. There are at least 3 for sale in the SF Bay area for under $2000. The fixed keel makes them more suited for SF Bay and the ocean. In fact an old acquaintance of mine, Homer Lighthall of Santa Cruz sailed one to Hawaii in the 70's. They can be launched from a hoist and some boat ramps. If you are patient, you'll be able to find one in good shape in your price range. I'd prioritize an outboard and trailer. Good luck.
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