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Old 02-03-2019, 10:06   #1
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Aspiring coastal cruiser

Hello sailors! Thought I'd introduce myself and maybe get some insights from the community as I begin my sailing journey.

I can't say I'd ever thought much about sailing for most of my life, but living in New England these past 16 years, spending a lot of time on the shore of LI Sound and in places like Essex, CT, has awakened a new interest. For the past two years, I've slowly been absorbing more info, reading the books, watching instructional videos, going to boat shows, even talking with a broker and getting a better idea of what I'm looking for in a boat. I took the basic safety class and got my my boating license this year with the goal of at least taking some ASA classes and crewing a bit when the season gets going.

My desire is to do some true coastal cruising, starting small in the Sound, eventually working my way up to some of the Atlantic coast of the northeast. I'm really not looking to make long passages, head to the Caribbean or any of that. At least 90% of the time the crew would consist of me and my wife, with me operating the boat more or less single-handed. Eventually, I'd like something with accommodations for two couples, a single head, shower, galley. To start out, something a little smaller for 1 or 2-day sails would probably be just fine.

My ideal boat is the Beneteau Oceanis 38.1. It checks all the boxes for me, offering everything I want and nothing I don't. I'm reluctant to jump straight into a big, brand-new boat with little to no experience, so I've been considering other options first. I've got two scenarios worked up, and I'm trying to decide between them.

1) Buy a late-model, used but well-maintained cruiser that is nearly everything the Beneteau is but at half the price. The wife would get the comfortable accommodations she appreciates and I wouldn't stress as much every time I made a mistake or touched bottom. A boat like this could meet my needs for many years of cruising.

2) Buy an older, classic boat for $15K or less with a solid hull and some key modern upgrades (roller furling, electric windlass, preferably repowered with a modern diesel.) A boat like this would make a great daysailer for a low initial investment, and I could learn a lot about both the sailing part and the maintenance part of boat ownership. As far as my abilities are concerned, I do all my own automotive maintenance, from bodywork and electrical to engine overhauls, welding and fabrication. I've built my own racecar. I'm not intimidated by anything I've seen on a boat, but there would of course be a learning curve for some of the stuff. A boat like this I might keep for 1-3 years before stepping up to something with a more modern layout.

I plan keep the boat in a slip for the summer, Essex maybe ($$$) or somewhere near the mouth of the CT river, then on the hard each winter. I live in Portland, CT, which is right on the CT river. This provides the unique opportunity for winter storage that is both inexpensive and conveniently located close to home so I can do all the off-season work boats require. I'd just have to make the ~35 mile trip upriver at the end of the season.

Any thoughts on the relative merits of my two paths are welcome. Or even something I didn't think of since I'm very new to all of this. One thing I can say with assurance is that I know I want to take this journey and won't be turning back at the first disappointment or hardship. Thanks for any and all advice!
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:37   #2
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Welcome aboard! Based on the info provided:
1. Skip upgrading the older, cheap classic. It will take you at least a year to shape it up and you will spend more than you think. Your wife might enjoy the work but I doubt if your wife will.
2. Look at a Jeanneau 36i for $70K-$100K and go sailing immediately. Your wife will have better accommodations (nice, airy berths and a separate shower stall) and will thank you for it.
3. Don't think single handing with your wife aboard. She should be able to do anything you can do aboard the boat. Far safer, much more fun, and you can learn together. "It's Your Boat Too" by Suzanne Giesemann is a great place for her to start.
4. Learn to navigate using paper charts and tide/current references. It will serve you well to use modern chart plotters and GPS but you should understand the underlying fundamentals and have a backup to GPS.
5. Learn to anchor properly which means practicing a lot under a lot of conditions. Guidelines are 5:1 scope if you're up and about, 7:1 if you plan to sleep a bit. When in doubt, veer chain.
6. Always have fun. Plan fun destinations, do everything together, and celebrate milestones.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:45   #3
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, soliton.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:59   #4
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Personally I'd look for a classic plastic in the 30-34 foot range. It's not as huge a financial commitment. If the boat is in decent shape & if you decide it's not for you, should be able to recoop most of your investment. If you guys get really into it, can always move up.

Instead of a dock consider a mooring if they avaliable on the river, it's far more peaceful Nothing will ruin your day worst than worrying about trying to put a 38' back in a slip after a plesant day being out on the water.
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Old 03-03-2019, 02:06   #5
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Welcome aboard. We were kinda where you are 16 years ago and in the same location. I lived in Rocky Hill.
We went to a lot of boat shows, did internet research and visited boat yards. At one boat yard we met a guy by the name of Ted Novakowski of SoundYachts - now in Brewer Marina I think, and we sat and talked to us and then took us on a brand new boat and asked what we thought. It took us a grand total of 5secs to show our ignorance -- so he taught us how to look at a boat. What makes the difference between a Bene and Bavaria and Jeanneau and Hunter and ect - as we took apart all those boats that day.
Then he talked to us about what we wanted to do with the boat. Our goal was just like yours but maybe a bit more. We eventually got a boat at a great deal and well we went a bit beyond the coastal cruising thing and we constantly thank our lucky stars for Ted and his sharing his knowledge with us and teaching us. He put us in a boat that if we did not like it we could sell it fairly quickly and if we liked the life we could take it a lot of places which we have now.


Good luck
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:16   #6
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Aspiring coastal cruiser

Jmorrison is absolutely right about your wife needing to be as involved as you are. It will make the whole experience much better for both of you. Sailing as a team is infinitely better than a harassed single-hander with a reluctant passenger.
We decided that 35-feet was our maximum practical length. My wife can handle the boat on her own if I am incapacitated, very few places in our area (south coast UK/ northern/western France) that are inaccessible and the upkeep is within our budget.
We bought a very good condition 30-year-old boat, eminently usable, which I have upgraded over the last five years. We started with a five-year plan which has just ended and have enjoyed our experiences so much we are embarking on another five years. We spend 3-4 months aboard every summer plus 'bits and pieces' and love it.
We are conservative sailors. An upwind sail will be no more than a force 4, downwind up to force 6. My wife doesn't like to be out for more than 12 hours. If the forecast is not right we stay in port. The longest hold-up we've had in five seasons was eight days; usually weather systems change quicker than that.
I recommend you get some dinghy sailing experience in. It's the best way to learn wind awareness and how a boat reacts to sails.
Good sailing.
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:05   #7
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

I only got the bug 9 years ago and since then have gradually upgraded experience and boats in equal amounts. I first bought a Jaguar 27 then a Bavaria 38 then a Dufour 425 and now have a Beneteau Sense 46. So start with something small and work up. I remember going to the Boat show and viewing a Hanse 470e when first starting out and thought it would be impossible to manage without 5 uniformed crew at hand. I now single hand my Sense.

Top tips/comments
1 Every time you slip you are back at school
2 Sail as much as your job/life allows
3 Always have your wife on-board (physically and emotionally)
4 Get trained and don't be embarrassed asking what appear to be stupid questions
5 Think of close quarter manoeuvre as fun (what can really happen doing 2 knots)
6 Always stay calm and never shout
7 Absorb as much information as your brain will allow (the internet is a great resource)
8 Things will go wrong (hope for the best plan for the worst)
9 The bad times will always be a small fraction of the good times
10 The passage is as much fun as the destination
11 Always record your adventures which will remind you and show you how you have progressed.
12 Start small and progress up in length (cut your teeth in an inexpensive boat like a Jaguar or a Westerly).
13 Sailing is not cheap never under estimate the need of funds
14 Get to know your boat inside out before you slip.

My 2 pence worth, but most of all always enjoy. I have never looked back and am now planning a circumnavigation.

Good luck on your searching.
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Old 03-03-2019, 05:08   #8
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

I would get a 5-10 year boat. I definitely wouldn’t go the #2 route and get a old boat that will just suck money out of you.
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Old 03-03-2019, 06:54   #9
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Aspiring coastal cruiser

Age is irrelevant in my opinion. Itís trumped by condition and build quality.
We bought an old boat, so far the only repair we have had to do in five years of ownership to the boat attributed to age was standing rigging and chain plates.
However even a 5 to 10 yr old boat likely needs standing rigging replaced.
The money saved by buying older has been enormous, however finding Insurence for an older boat is I believe harder, and therefore has to be more expensive, but your insured value is less, so while your paying more per $$ value of the boat, the total you pay is less cause the value is less.

It to me is like buying a house or car, older but well built and well cared for trumps newer.

Only way I could see a new boat would be if it were spec built and I was absolutely certain that this was the lifestyle I wanted to live until I was unable to continue.
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Old 03-03-2019, 16:31   #10
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
However even a 5 to 10 yr old boat likely needs standing rigging replaced.
I feel this is a total myth with its only basis being being given by those who gain to profit by saying it. Itís like those stickers you get when changing the oil in your car saying to change it every 3000 miles, but the manufacturer only says that for the most severe conditions in the manual.
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Old 04-03-2019, 10:55   #11
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Welcome aboard Soliton.

I think you've gotten some good advice above, especially the part about keeping your wife involved. I recommend that you encourage her to join you in any training and teach her to become part of the crew, including all aspects of boat operations. It will go a long way toward reducing any fears and anxiety that may arise in her when things turn for the worse; whether due to equipment failure, weather, or injury to you (not to mention she could save your life if you go overboard).

A couple of other thoughts --I'd never keep a sailboat in Essex -- it is 6 miles upriver from any good sailing, which means an hour of motoring each way to get to open water. Consider Branford, Saybrook, or points east from Saybrook. Your car is much quicker than your boat when you want to raise sails. Also, even though LIS has some nice harbors to visit for overnight trips, when you are ready to stretch your legs there are better cruising grounds to the east.
Good luck. This can be a very enjoyable and rewarding journey.
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Old 04-03-2019, 11:04   #12
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Two additional points:

Soliton - your following statement concerns me a bit: "and I wouldn't stress as much every time I made a mistake or touched bottom." There's a lot of granite in LIS and the New England coast. Take every touch seriously (and beware of zoomed-out vector charts in electronic charting). Zoomed-out charts don't show all the needed detail.


Also, to answer your question: Considering your mechanical aptitude, I'd recommend the option 1- newer used boat, and avoid option 2. Option 2 is ONLY for veteran boaters who have more time than money or sense.
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Old 10-03-2019, 19:58   #13
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Appreciate all the advice. Over the last week I've gotten my wife a little more excited about the boat and learning to sail. I believe I will target a boat less than 10 years old - I really would prefer to spend a little more time sailing, and less rebuilding parts of the boat. The two of us will be looking at some possibilities next weekend.

SailFastTri - I have no intention of touching bottom or being the least bit careless in navigation. I have been subjected to many sailors advising me that I WILL touch at some point, so I'm just trying to be realistic. Here's hoping I am so ridiculously cautious that I never have to experience kedging off a sandbar!
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Old 11-03-2019, 02:06   #14
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

An old saying "if you ain't been aground you ain't been around" - happens -


But again take ASA lessons and learn as a TEAM - for once out here you are a team and if you do not work as a team it will be a short cruise.
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Old 11-03-2019, 08:35   #15
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Re: Aspiring coastal cruiser

Hello! Glad to have you here with us.
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