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Old 01-05-2011, 19:52   #1
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Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

Hello and thank you very much for this great community! I've been lurking here and on another forum (where I am also asking this question) for the last few months and have read everything in the liveaboard area that appeared applicable to me. I've also read a few cruising books like "Sensible Cruising" that echo the opinions of many here.

I have a learned a lot (often gaining five new questions for each answer found) but I'm still having trouble putting together a final plan. But, having done my research, I feel more comfortable about asking for a little of your time in helping me decide.

Some info about me (I know this can be helpful in narrowing down options):
I'm 21, graduating from a New England University at the end of the month, and have been giving a great deal of thought as to what will be my next steps. I have a small but stable Internet-based company, and I want to take full advantage of the relocation flexibility this allows. I'm 6' 2", which seems to be no problem on most boats I've seen. I have been sailing many times but never for more than a few hours, nor have I spent the night on a sailboat. I have always lived in rooms under 10x10 so small spaces with limited storage/belongings in no shock for me. My goals for sailing are to eventually do a lot of coastal sailing to chase the ideal climate, visit family and simply making life more of an adventure.

My current plans are to take a sailing course (30 water hours) at URI as well as charter an overnight cruise so I can confirm this is something I am comfortable with. In parallel I'm trying to determine what would be the best plan assuming no unforeseen issues. I understand I'm leaping rather blindly but I'm fine with that. I know I would regret it if I didn't try (and frankly, nothing else seems as interesting - even if I eventually learn it isn't the life for me).

I know the below are loaded questions, so thanks for baring with me...

1. I'm currently looking at the 27-30 foot range, specifically the Catalina but have also heard votes for Hunter, Pearson, Alberg and Grampian. I've read of people living on 27s and loving them, and others swearing the 30 is worth every penny. I'm not convinced the extra ~1' beam justifies a 2x price (average of 10 cheapest Catalina 27s vs average of cheapest Catalina 30s on Yachtworld). My budget is flexible but I'm trying to get the right balance between spending less to own it sooner and not stacking the deck against myself. I would like to spend around $10k but can spend more if the trade-offs are worthwhile (the v-berth in the 30 is certainly far more attractive than the 27, but a line has to be drawn somewhere). If looking at the 30s, that budget will certainly have to be increased... I'd prefer to spend more on a smaller boat that is in better condition (again, I don't want to jeopardize my first experience by having to do massive rework on the boat from the start) then stretching my dollars for footage, if at all possible.

2. For a location I am thinking I would like to move south (perhaps the Chesapeake or Annapolis area) in order to make winters more tolerable and give myself more time to adjust and get a handle for everything. It would be easier for me to buy in the North as I can live with family until I find the right deal, but I could move south in a sublet or a good long-term rate at a hotel while I look around? While I really dislike humidity, I figure that until my sailing skills allow me to have better control of my environment, I'll be better off sweating to death than freezing to death. I'm really open to living wherever makes the most sense (given climates, boat availability, sailing attractiveness, liveaboard friendliness, etc.).

3. The one comfort I would like to have is a working shower. If I'm in the north this would really need to be indoors, but further south I imagine I can use one of the 1-2 gallon bug sprayers in the cockpit during most months. It doesn't have to be piping hot, or necessarily long, it would just, to me, make it seem more like a home and less like camping. I would really prefer to ween myself out of the marina (hook or mooring) as soon as possible (to reduce costs and encourage mobility), so relying on one for showers is a step in the wrong direction. I've heard of someone making a shower in a Catalina 27, and the cost savings of going with a 27 as opposed to a 30 could free up some funds to have some custom work done to make a shower possible? I'm still not sure if this is something I should just forget and use a marina shower or stick to my guns and make something work on-board.

I know my questions are very subjective, but I appreciate any help you can offer! Learning from others can save a lot of headaches and expense.
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Old 06-05-2011, 20:19   #2
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and read everything here first

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Originally Posted by maine89 View Post
Hello
Hi, I'd welcome you, but I am not a regular here myself so it's probably not right for me to do so... so...just "hi" from me

Regarding your (eventual) coastal sailing plans, I'd keep those pretty loose in the beginning of this adventure. When we bought the bought prior to the one we own now (waaay back in 2008), our plans were to eventually do a little coastal sailing, and never head offshore. Fast forward a couple of years later and we have bought an Alberg 30, sold the house, and are currently knees deep in a total top to bottom refit in preparation for sailing to far flung locations that require the crossing of oceans. Keep it loose, and see what shakes out is all I'm saying regarding future sailing plans. Some folks get bitten real hard by what cruising potentially has to offer.


Quote:
1. I'm currently looking at the 27-30 foot range, specifically the Catalina but have also heard votes for Hunter, Pearson, Alberg and Grampian. I've read of people living on 27s and loving them, and others swearing the 30 is worth every penny.
A Catalina 27 has as much (or more) living area as an Alberg 30, so keep boat design in the front of your mind when considering a small boat as a potential home. Keep quality of construction in mind as well. Catalinas are built very differently than older classic plastics, and that makes a big difference in so many ways. Think straw house vs brick house...


Quote:
I'm not convinced the extra ~1' beam justifies a 2x price (average of 10 cheapest Catalina 27s vs average of cheapest Catalina 30s on Yachtworld). My budget is flexible but I'm trying to get the right balance between spending less to own it sooner and not stacking the deck against myself. I would like to spend around $10k but can spend more if the trade-offs are worthwhile (the v-berth in the 30 is certainly far more attractive than the 27, but a line has to be drawn somewhere). If looking at the 30s, that budget will certainly have to be increased... I'd prefer to spend more on a smaller boat that is in better condition (again, I don't want to jeopardize my first experience by having to do massive rework on the boat from the start) then stretching my dollars for footage, if at all possible.
I'm biased, however with what you are saying so far I would really recommend you consider a classic plastic and do a minor or major refit, rather than buy a newer, beamier "finished" boat of lesser pedigree.

If only for the resale value, buy a solid foundation and build if you have to, rather than go with a lightweight "done" boat. Nothing wrong btw, with those types of boats when used for what they are meant for, but it can be a drag to find you are stuck with a less capable boat when you realize you want a more capable boat (ask me how I know...).

Plus, consider that doing a total refit gets you an intimate knowledge of every inch of your boat, which is very valuable to someone living and cruising on a boat full time. I have learned more in the last five months about what makes boats tic than the last five years by going this route. Plus, it's fun to build your own boat. Maddening at times, but fun always.

Quote:
2. For a location I am thinking I would like to move south (perhaps the Chesapeake or Annapolis area) in order to make winters more tolerable and give myself more time to adjust and get a handle for everything. It would be easier for me to buy in the North as I can live with family until I find the right deal, but I could move south in a sublet or a good long-term rate at a hotel while I look around? While I really dislike humidity, I figure that until my sailing skills allow me to have better control of my environment, I'll be better off sweating to death than freezing to death. I'm really open to living wherever makes the most sense (given climates, boat availability, sailing attractiveness, liveaboard friendliness, etc.).
I live here, it gets cold but it's not bad. It gets hot here, and the humidity is worse than "down south". Again, not bad though - this is the land of pleasant living after all... Maryland (imo) is a great place to live on a boat. Compared to some other US locations, it's very free here. Almost every marina I have been too has been full of great people, and as the sailing capital of the universe, it's sailing friendly and full of great resources for any and all directions your sailing experience may take you someday.

Quote:
3. The one comfort I would like to have is a working shower. If I'm in the north this would really need to be indoors, but further south I imagine I can use one of the 1-2 gallon bug sprayers in the cockpit during most months. It doesn't have to be piping hot, or necessarily long, it would just, to me, make it seem more like a home and less like camping. I would really prefer to ween myself out of the marina (hook or mooring) as soon as possible (to reduce costs and encourage mobility), so relying on one for showers is a step in the wrong direction. I've heard of someone making a shower in a Catalina 27, and the cost savings of going with a 27 as opposed to a 30 could free up some funds to have some custom work done to make a shower possible? I'm still not sure if this is something I should just forget and use a marina shower or stick to my guns and make something work on-board.
A shower of a couple of gallons is doable on many small boats, you might need to do some building but it's no more than a floor pan to catch (or direct) the water into the bilge (not great) or a dedicated sump area (better) that can be pumped out somehow. The hot water can be added by boiling a kettle and adding it to your supply right before showering. A shower on a small boat will never be like a home shower though.

Have you thought about what kind of cooking fuel, what type of head set up, and what sort of motor (if any... gas, diesel, outboard?), etc? If you plan on being on the hook, these things are big deals to give careful thought to..

Either way, best of luck - you're on the right track either way

EDIT: I sent you pm
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Old 06-05-2011, 20:57   #3
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and read everything here first

Thank you ChrisnCate!

I've since been leaning more towards the Catalina 30. I looked at a C27, Watkins 27, Hunter 30 and Catalina 30 and found the later to feel the most like a home. Unfortunately not the cheapest of options.

I appreciate your warning about anticapting bluewater but I'm more cautious that I might dream too big than not big enough. I can always focus everything to getting a bluewater boat if that's where my path goes but enjoying coastal sailing on such a boat is probably more difficult otherwise.

Interesting to hear about the humidity being comparable or worse than "down south". Humidity will be a formidable opponent I'm sure.

Checked out the site in the PM, thanks. Thoreau's basket quote is in my list of favorites too!

Quote:
Have you thought about what kind of cooking fuel, what type of head set up, and what sort of motor (if any... gas, diesel, outboard?), etc? If you plan on being on the hook, these things are big deals to give careful thought to..
Fuel - probably try to get a propane stove going. Although most I've seen come with alcohol.

Head - head/shower combo - electric, not portable

Diesel inbound - I love the idea of cheaper repairs with an outboard but most of them are inboard and inboard has the charging ability (though I hear some of the outboard now have an alternator? If *knock on wood* I run into substantial problems with an inboard I might replace it with an outboard for the cost savings.

I would love to live on the hook to both save on the slip fees and encourage mobility. I will start off in the marina though to get my footing and maybe suckle on some air conditioning to get me past my first southern summer. Not really sure! (which is half the fun - to a degree)
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Old 06-05-2011, 21:30   #4
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and read everything here first

Quote:
Thank you ChrisnCate!

I've since been leaning more towards the Catalina 30. I looked at a C27, Watkins 27, Hunter 30 and Catalina 30 and found the later to feel the most like a home. Unfortunately not the cheapest of options.
You're welcome

Yup, Catalina 30's are cavernous inside, especially compared to a narrow beam old boat like ours. the difference is amazing. My slip neighbor has one, it's always an eye opener when I go from my boat over to his. How can two 30 footers be so different...

Quote:
I appreciate your warning about anticapting bluewater but I'm more cautious that I might dream too big than not big enough. I can always focus everything to getting a bluewater boat if that's where my path goes but enjoying coastal sailing on such a boat is probably more difficult otherwise.
Na, not at all. An old narrow beam Alberg 30 like mine (or similar designs) can sail circles around many of those high freeboard bleach bottles... (ok, not as fast as they are, but for sailing feel and ride/sea-kindliness? My boat tracks like it's on rails, and does light air well and heavy air extremely well - it just won't back up, that's all). Blue water capable does not always mean a Westsail 32 or a Tayana 37... I'd say try not to rule anything out at this stage if at all possible. My draft is only 4 and a half feet, and she handles well and turns on a dime.

If you can, hang around some marinas and get invited on some of the types of boats you are interested in. It can be a real help to talk to owners and see what all of these boats actually sail like.

Quote:
Interesting to hear about the humidity being comparable or worse than "down south". Humidity will be a formidable opponent I'm sure.
It's bad here sometimes, but not so bad it's any sort of big deal. Plus when you're on the water it's a whole different thing than being in downtown Baltimore or DC.


Quote:
Fuel - probably try to get a propane stove going. Although most I've seen come with alcohol.
I like alcohol, but I'm in the minority. Propane rules the day for the most part. I don't like involved systems where I can get away otherwise, but again I am in the minority by far in this view. Propane work really well.

Quote:
Diesel inbound - I love the idea of cheaper repairs with an outboard but most of them are inboard and inboard has the charging ability (though I hear some of the outboard now have an alternator? If *knock on wood* I run into substantial problems with an inboard I might replace it with an outboard for the cost savings.
If you are to have a motor, I think diesel is the best choice. You could always go pure sailing vessel and go motorless though..

Quote:
I would love to live on the hook to both save on the slip fees and encourage mobility. I will start off in the marina though to get my footing and maybe suckle on some air conditioning to get me past my first southern summer. Not really sure! (which is half the fun - to a degree)
No shame in that at all! Marinas (and the people you meet there) are awesome imo. We plan on doing both when our refit is finished - start off in our marina, and slowly shake out the boat and work up to "on the hook" and/or beginning our cruising lifestyle.

I look forward to watching this thread to see how it goes for you, again - best of luck!
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Old 06-05-2011, 21:43   #5
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

Thanks ChrisnCate!

Your advice is most appreciated!
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Old 06-05-2011, 22:03   #6
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

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Thanks ChrisnCate!

Your advice is most appreciated!
Happy to try to help out.

Best thing to do is just sail as much as you can, and be around as many boats as you can right now. Around here, you can find crewing spots on race nights fairly easily if you look around. A great way to spend a saturday is wandering around yards where boats are on the hard, and striking up conversations with anyone you see working on a boat you think you might like. Every owner cannot wait to tell you about their boat, especially if you're interested.
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Old 13-05-2011, 00:50   #7
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Maine89 I recognize I'm a bit late but I thought I'd offer my encouragement anyways.

About a year ago I was seventeen and got my first job at a local municipal airport, stayed in high school and worked my way up the pay grade, I turned 18 in October and I graduate high school tomorrow. A few months back I decided it was time to flee the nest, probably out of the ever common teen angst. Looked into my options, apartments and buying a house, I decided I didn't want to commit to the united states well enough to purchase a 50,000 dollar permanent residence, didn't want to share walls with Joe crackhead, and most of all didn't want to have to fill my residence with crap, furniture, dishes, TVs, linen, wallpaper, etc etc, all meaningless and expensive tokens of my existence.

Last month I bought my cal 31, sailed it down to my marina and moved in. Roughly 600 bucks a month total living expenses and the greatest life style I could've chosen, my work, marina and college are all within a half mile radius, which worked out nicely. Oh, and you'll also find that if you're an upstanding young adult the marina staff and inhabitants will take to you very well once they get to know you, strangely people find it easier to like well behaved young people than well behaved older people, likely because of the rarity of well behaved young people.


My life story aside what I'm getting at is that the live aboard life style is very cohesive for younger people like ourselves, you may run across people who tell you that it's a luxury and you need to get a small efficiency apartment and work your way up like everyone else did (I got plenty of this coming from a conservative military school), write them off as fools and make note to never take council from them again. I did it and I'm fairly average, anyone can do it.

As far as your questions, I think you're in the proper market, at first I foolishly thought I was going to get a 40 foot boat, which is simply not reasonable on my pay. It seems after 35 feet everything becomes a lot more expensive, primarily slip fees. When you're looking around on craigslist and so on make sure you reference with sailboatdata.com, it will have lay out diagrams which are imperative in choosing a live aboard boat.

My cal31 came with a hot shower, it's consists of the water tank, 6 gallon water heater run by the engine, and a tank under the shower floor with a pump in it that pumps overboard. I didn't have to but it seems it would be easy to retrofit to a boat that doesn't have it already. The engine heated water isn't ideal though, it takes a good 5-10 minutes to heat up and is hard to keep the water at a consistent temp. Fortunately for me I'm partial to cold showers, so I hardly use it.


If you're free to take your degree wherever you'd like why not somewhere warm? I'm in Florida and I'd only move further south. I've never experienced northern boating communities though, so I cant comment on which is better beyond the obvious climate differences.

Please excuse poor syntax and grammar,writing this at 3am 4 hours before I have to get up and prepare for my graduation probably wasn't wise,heh.
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Old 13-05-2011, 01:11   #8
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

No problem Kolya, I'm up pretty late too.

Thanks for your advice. I'm confident this is the right move for me. If I didn't try I would regret it. It is just a matter of making the best choices moving forward (location, boat, etc.), of which I'm getting an ever-better grasp.

As it stands I'm going to take some basic sailing lessons up north as the final "are you sure?" step and then jump in head first in FL. I can't wait.

Life is an adventure.


One remaining question is about A/C. I'd really love to live away from the slip if at all possible (to save $$$ and to encourage mobility). However others insist A/C is a requirement in southern FL. Is it really that necessary or would a couple extra dips in the drink and some fans/wind scoop keep me comfortable enough? I wouldn't have A/C while cruising/island-hoping so I don't see how having in on shore is anything but discouraging.

When I studied in Wuhan China I felt I would have died if I didn't have A/C to retreat to, but I wasn't anywhere near the ocean (and most everyone else didn't have A/C regardless).
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Old 13-05-2011, 01:40   #9
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

In regards to AC use, when at anchor a simple wind-scoop will feel like a cranked up air conditioner, even in light winds. Being tied to a dock is another story, you would likely be more comfortable with an AC unit or a fan. With an average yearly humidity level of 75 percent in the area, I have no complaints about being uncomfortable, my only possible inconvenience would be the diligence of maintaining constant circulation in the cabin to prevent condensation.

I would consider a composting head as an option, I am in the process of ordering mine as a replacement for a Jabsco pump system. I believe the water driven systems are becoming an outdated technology. Having started with a single burner propane stove, I much prefer the benefits of a non-pressurized alcohol stove having experienced both. I share the general age bracket and wish you the best.
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Old 13-05-2011, 01:51   #10
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

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In regards to AC use, when at anchor a simple wind-scoop will feel like a cranked up air conditioner, even in light winds. Being tied to a dock is another story, you would likely be more comfortable with an AC unit or a fan. With an average yearly humidity level of 75 percent in the area, I have no complaints about being uncomfortable, my only possible inconvenience would be the diligence of maintaining constant circulation in the cabin to prevent condensation.

I would consider a composting head as an option, I am in the process of ordering mine as a replacement for a Jabsco pump system. I believe the water driven systems are becoming an outdated technology. Having started with a single burner propane stove, I much prefer the benefits of a non-pressurized alcohol stove having experienced both. I share the general age bracket and wish you the best.
That sounds like great news to me. Except for air conditioning, I see no reason for me to be on a slip, and now it seems I don't need that either.

A composting toilet over an electrical toilet, really? I would love to hear/be pointed to references for why that is a better idea. I'm all for less moving parts, but that seems like one worth keeping?

Alcohol stove over propane? That's another new one for me. I've heard mostly people cursing the alcohol stoves.

Thanks for your help!

EDIT: I also just noticed your location, Tampa. That's exactly where I'm setting my sights (mostly attracted to the lack of hurricane history there). Please feel free to PM me if you have any marina tips for me!
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Old 13-05-2011, 02:30   #11
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

Composting Toilets
I am not sure how to make that shorter, but this thread turned me on to the idea. My experiences wrestling with less-than-sanitary pvc tubing and the sloshing of liquid waste waiting for a (free) pump-out helped push me in this direction.

The main issue I have with propane is storage. Even though inside the cabin is cool, storing pressurized gas in a small, enclosed area that is the cabin didn't sit well with me. It is possible (albeit unlikely) that a fissure would develop and gas would escape, going undetected without a proper gas sensor. With stoppered flasks of denatured alcohol, it would not diffuse into the air, only spill. This does create a serious safety hazard of it's own if it is spilled anywhere near open flame. The only time I experience low heat with the stove is with an insufficiently filled reservoir. The flame is perfectly visible unless there is a large degree of sunlight, and generally the pot or pan over the flame will darken the area enough to clearly see it.

I'll see if I can shoot you a PM
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Old 13-05-2011, 02:42   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maine89

That sounds like great news to me. Except for air conditioning, I see no reason for me to be on a slip, and now it seems I don't need that either.

A composting toilet over an electrical toilet, really? I would love to hear/be pointed to references for why that is a better idea. I'm all for less moving parts, but that seems like one worth keeping?

Alcohol stove over propane? That's another new one for me. I've heard mostly people cursing the alcohol stoves.

Thanks for your help!

EDIT: I also just noticed your location, Tampa. That's exactly where I'm setting my sights (mostly attracted to the lack of hurricane history there). Please feel free to PM me if you have any marina tips for me!
First thing I am doing is ripping out the electric head and holding tank in my cal and putting in a nature's head composting toilet. In a house your sanitation is built into the foundation so you never see it, in an enclosed boat it's always close to you, having a 30 year old container full of waste within yards of me is gross, it also smells horribly if used. With human waste I prefer the keep it stupid simple approach, god forbid the complex system that makes up an electric head fails and you have a breach that dumps fermenting waste all over the inside of your cabin.


I have an alcohol stove and it has a learning curve. Everything takes longer, it takes longer to boil water, the timing for hard boiled eggs is not the same as traditional stove, scrambled eggs can be tricky,and so on. However I am uncomfortable an explosive like propane tanks on the boat, so I feel the trade off is worth it.

I live in saint petersburg right across from Tampa, it's a smaller city and (typically) a bit nicer, the best in saint Pete demon's landing, it's down town, affordable, clean, nice parks, etc. There is so much to do within walking distance it's overwhelming, it's also municipal so there is full staff security. It's also very live aboard friendly.
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Old 13-05-2011, 07:56   #13
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

Maine89:

Another boat to look at is the Yankee 30 Yankee 30 Owners Association They are not as common as the Catalinas but the advantage of these boats is that they are capable of sailing all the way around the world should you decide you wanted to do something like that. They are quite comfortable below and would be perfect for one or two people. There don't seem to be many on the market as of right now but keep your eye out for them b/c they are excellent boats. Yankee boats for sale - www.yachtworld.com Good luck with your plan it sounds great. Also be aware that you will have to make plans to have redundancy on your computer b/c of the salt environment. I sailed on other peoples boats when I graduated college and made it all the way from California to Australia.
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Old 13-05-2011, 09:34   #14
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

Suniday -

Thank you very much. My last final was yesterday so I have plenty of time to read that thread and look around more.

I worried about the propane storage as well. I have a dual burner propane stove I use for camping and keeping the canisters in my car worried me. You can easily get over the recommended storing temperatures in a closed environment like a car or a storage are in direct sunlight. I'll have to look into if it would be better to install a gas sensor and have propane or stick with alcohol. An advantage of the dual propane camping stove is I could remove the alcohol stove and oven and put in a fridge, then place the camping stove on a board over the fridge and take it out when I wanted to cook outside.

Kolya -

I can live with a holding tank being "close" but if it truly smells then that isn't an option.

PM sent about Saint Petersburg


Charlie -

Thank you very much. I like the idea of having something more bluewater friendly but at this point I'm leaning towards a cheaper coastal cruiser. The only reason (and I'm still trying to talk myself out of it) I'm most interested in the C30 over the C27 is the "home" feel of it. In a C30 I feel like there is a lot of space and basically like an apartment - but also a boat. The C27 is really not an apartment - but it is certainly a boat, and a much cheaper one at that.
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Old 13-05-2011, 10:33   #15
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Re: Graduating Shortly - Lurked and Read Everything Here First

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Maine89:

Also be aware that you will have to make plans to have redundancy on your computer b/c of the salt environment.
Yes I completely agree. I use dropbox to sync files online (in case of fire, water or other damage) and to a backup computer. Hopefully their life-span is not reduced too significantly...
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read wingkeel Fishing, Recreation & Fun 0 23-06-2003 14:41



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