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Old 20-04-2013, 10:43   #1
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Keep Current Boat or Buy Another in Caribbean?

I'm brand new to Cruisers Forum, although I've been a liveaboard on the Central Oregon coast for almost three years. My question is whether I should keep my 30' Catalina and sail to retirement in the Caribbean, or sell my boat and find another to buy in the islands.

I know most of you are thinking, "SAIL! That's the point!" My dilemma is that I am a solo female sailor with limited experience, and I don't want to sail that far alone. I have some concerns about taking on a crew to make the journey with me. #1 - I don't want to end up being tossed overboard in a mutiny once we're 100 miles off shore. #2 - I don't want to keep changing out crew at every port because they might not want to make the entire trip.

So what would you recommend? Sell now, buy later when I get there; or start searching for a crew to make the voyage?
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Old 20-04-2013, 10:46   #2
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

I would sell the Cat and buy a boat in Florida. Many boats there and some great bargains. The Bahamas and Caribe are a stones throw from Florida and most of the trip all the way to Trinidad is daysailing or overnighters. Going down the West coast as a newbie and through the canal and "the hard way" to the windward/leewards is a tough go even for the experienced.
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Old 20-04-2013, 10:50   #3
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

I swing both ways on this question. First, I think a 30 footer is just about ideal to singlehand and a Catalina suitably prepared is capable of a lot more cruising than many of the armchair pundits think. On the other hand, it is a long, tough trip down the West Coast to Mexico and then through the Canal to the Caribbean. Now, some may find that part of the journey particularly worth it, enjoying the challenge, while others just want to get to the easier island hopping of the Caribbean. Right now is a great time to buy a boat in Florida, get it fixed up, and then start island hopping down through the Caribbean, assuming you avoid hurricane season. I suspect your Catalina would be relatively easy to sell, being a known commodity, and you could have the fun of finding a new boat.
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Old 20-04-2013, 10:59   #4
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

If you like your existing boat, you might check into having your boat trailered to the gulf of mexico and sail it the rest of the way. They are not too big to trailer.
If you want another one, this would be a good time to sell it.
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Old 20-04-2013, 11:02   #5
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I would either ship her via truck to Florida, dock wise from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale (they do 1 or 2 trips to Seattle/Vancouver), or sell and find something else on this side... Like said others have said, a well prepared Catalina 30 is a great single handed boat.
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Old 20-04-2013, 11:16   #6
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

Hi! Do not sail the challenging west coast through the Panama Canal; you are relatively new to sailing. Reasonably priced boats are aplenty in Florida; buy one there. As for having a crew, you'll need plenty of background references to check. Furthermore, provide no free riding...if I am going to be "part of your crew", I'd expect to pay for my meals and on-shore personal expenses. What do you do in case of a mutiny...being a pilot, am electronically connected to "friends", to the FAA and the USCG...all the time, when flying the float plane. You need to be part of a "network/sailing blog", so that "your friends" could keep tab on you, while underway. You conquer fear through knowledge; knowledge and learning are your power. Sail away! Mauritz
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Old 20-04-2013, 11:44   #7
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

Lots of good points, on both sides of the question.

- Trip from OR to the Caribbean is a serious sail so first question, do you feel like you are up for it? Questioning crew situation is a valid concern.

- How attached are you to your Cat 30? Have you spent years, hours and thousands getting the boat just right or could you easily swap for another without giving up all you've invested in this one?

- If you do have a lot invested in this one it wouldn't be too difficult/expensive to truck east compared to the cost, wear and tear to sail it.

- There are a lot of boats in FL but it might (or might not) take a while to find the right boat and right deal. Depends on whether you get lucky or not.

In the end, weigh the pros and cons of each option and then go with your gut or maybe flip a coin. Either way, you can't lose, you'll be sailing.
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Old 20-04-2013, 12:14   #8
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

I'd look at trucking it to Florida and go from there.
Probably end up being the path of least resistance
and involve the least amount of risk.
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Old 20-04-2013, 12:16   #9
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

I would only make that trip if you really wanted to make that trip.

Otherwise IMO would just be too much of a PITA voyage, including from the crew angle. Sure you could singlehand some or all, but 2 or more crew would make life a lot easier and even more fun.....that the same whether a squillion sea miles under own keel or very little.

Sad to sell a boat you like - but in this case I think pragmatism wins. Just don't rush into buying as soon as you arrive somewhere (marry in haste etc!).
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Old 20-04-2013, 12:58   #10
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

I'm not big on taking a crew. People get on my nerves and I'm happier not having to put up with them. Only exception is my wife but she'd rather play golf than sail these days. A truly compatible crew person can enhance your cruising experience but finding such a simpatico individual seems to be the eternal pursuit of those wanting crew. Many women have done it solo so wouldn't rule it out.

First thing is how will your boat self steer in nearly all conditions. I don't trust electrickery and have done thousands of unevetful miles with a self steering vane. A vane is mandatory for me on any ocean passage. Can your boat be set up to sail with a vane?? If you go with an autopilot, how are you going to feed it, how many spares are you willing to invest in to insure its presence and will it steer the boat in adverse conditions. Wheel and tiller pilots, for the most part, are only suitable for powering in good conditions. If you are going auto pilot, below decks units are the only way to go for solo sailing. Remember, if anything goes wrong with your self steering, you are almost guaranteed to be a slave to the wheel/tiller. That loses it's charm real quick.


The sail down the coast to Mexico is not that big a thing if you keep an eye out for the weather. Have twice sailed from SF to Newport Beach without self steering and averaged hull speed. Really exhilerating sailing and very quick passages though a long time to go without sleep. From Oregon is a bit further but there are several places to duck into and SF Bay and the Delta are some pretty neat cruising grounds in themselves. If you are serious about making time, you could be in San Diego in two weeks. Sailing down the coast also lets you shake out the boat while you are still in easy contact with marine suppliers. No matter how well you think your boat is set up, you'll still find some things that don't work in real life or you just want to do differently.

Whether to take crew is an issue. Made both passages without sleeping because I had to drive the whole way. Got pretty strange after three days without sleep. A well set up boat would have self steering so you would't be a slave to the tiller. If you went 50 plus miles offshore, should be able to sail solo and get enough sleep to continue indefinitely. If you want to stay closer to shore, at least one crew would be mandatory. It's embarassing to run into a rock as large as North America. Getting well offshore, you shouldn't have that problem.

If you want to get to the Carribean quickly, nothing beats Boeing to get there quickly. Buying a boat in Florida or south will extend your time in the traditional cruising grounds. Problem with buying a boat away from home is the difficult issues modifying it to fit your needs. Way easier to work on a boat with your car and tools right at hand. Of course, buying a boat already set up with cruising with the necessary bells and whistles could make that a non issue. So far, haven't found that that has worked out. Bought my last boat because it had most things that I felt were necessary to cruise. Ended up selling most of the equipment off and replacing it with stuff that worked. Turned out to be a real issue 2200 miles away from home. Personally, think it would be better to go with the boat you know especially if you won't be leaving for a while.

Catalinas are adequate boats for what you have in mind. Don't know about their handling characteristics but you want to be sure that it can handle the self steering issues. Things you'll need to add for living in the tropics are a full boat awning. Needs to be built hell for stout to take the windy anchorages in the Carribean, if that's where you'll be spending your time. An SSB radio for long distance communication. A 2nd dinghy if you are going to go with crew. Not a bad idea to have two in any case as they tend to go 'walk about'. The usual saftety gear, epirb, life raft, etc. Have found refrigeration and water maker to be expensive, power hungry devices that I can easily live without.

Good luck with your adventure.
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Old 20-04-2013, 13:05   #11
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Re: Keep Current Boat or Buy Another in Caribbean?

One factor you might not be aware of is how Florida is about the least expensive and easiest place in the USA I know of to buy a boat, fix it up, and prep it for a Caribbean trip. Every conceivable type of marine supply and supplier is handy, cars are cheap to rent, boatyards are cheap, there are tons of places to keep your boat on the hard or in the water while working on it, etc.
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Old 20-04-2013, 13:10   #12
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Re: Keep Current Boat or Buy Another in Caribbean?

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Originally Posted by IrishWake30 View Post
So what would you recommend? Sell now, buy later when I get there; or start searching for a crew to make the voyage?
Since you appear to be more interested in the end location than the journey, sell the boat and get a replacement in Florida etc.
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Old 20-04-2013, 13:53   #13
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Re: Keep current boat or buy another in Caribbean?

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Originally Posted by rubberfish View Post
I'd look at trucking it to Florida and go from there.
Probably end up being the path of least resistance
and involve the least amount of risk.
I agree with t he post regarding how much she's done to the boat. If it's your baby, you've got everything perfect, then maybe ship it, although it will cost about the value of the boat to do so.
If not, buy one in FL!
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Old 20-04-2013, 14:09   #14
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Since you appear to be more interested in the end location than the journey, sell the boat and get a replacement in Florida etc.
Speaking of "end location", the Carib is a very big place - where did you have in mind?

The answer to this can significantly effect logistics and costs for repositioning your C30.

Also something to research are importation and registration in your preferred destination. The costs and hassles of this can vary significanty between Carib countries. And this is relavant regardless of whether you to chose to transport or sell and replace.

Ive taught aboard C30s before and think they would be a fine boat for sailing most Caribe venues.

Im leaning towards the "ship it" option, but the choice of final venue could change that.
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Old 20-04-2013, 14:54   #15
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Re: Keep Current Boat or Buy Another in Caribbean?

Thank you, everyone! Your input is extremely valuable and important to me. I'm not married to this boat, so it's certainly not a problem to sell it and look for another. If I did keep it and truck it to Florida or somewhere along the Gulf, I would be putting more money into it to continue making it a great cruiser.

When I bought the boat, I always intended on this being my 'first' boat, and eventually buying something a little larger. I haven't considered myself to be at that point yet, but if the cost of trucking my sloop to Florida is going to run me several thousand, then now might be the time to sell here and buy bigger once I get there.

I haven't thought of a final venue yet. My plan is to sail around checking out possibilities, and heading further south to avoid hurricane season.

I'm enjoying reading your replies, opinions, and your experiences. Please continue, as I still have a lot of things to consider and want to learn as much as I can from each of you. Thanks again, so much!
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