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Old 01-03-2009, 08:14   #1
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Beginner Looking for Advice

Hi everyone,

I am a 52 year old male and have put my affairs in order so that I can spend the next few years living on a boat. I have located a 1978 37' Irwin Center Cockpit that appears in pictures to be in very good condition. I plan to visit the boat this week and possibly purchase it. I have lived my life landlocked and know practically nothing about this new life except what I read. I hope to take lessons and become proficient enough to sail from Florida to Jamica. If this process takes a couple of years or more, fine by me. I would very much appreicate any advice. I will be living alone unless some pretty lady decides to join me.

Thanks,
David Gilmer
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:44   #2
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The most important point is not to buy until a surveyor has had a really good look!

I am assuming you have already been through the tyre kicking phase, so know what sort of boat you are looking for.

You need to decide what type of sailing you intend. If it is just an occasional afternoon, but you will be living onboard permanently, the equipment rand space requirements are likely to be significantly different to water sailing">blue water sailing.

You then need to cost out the equipment that you need for your type of requirement, and then analyse the boats you are looking at in terms of cost to buy, plus cost to repair existing defects, plus cost to add your required equipment. and finally before buying you need to have arranged the berth, insurance and have researched any additional fees due to where you buy (e.g. vat or state fees etc.)
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:07   #3
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Thanks, Talbot

Talbot,

Thanks for the great advice. Becuase I intend to live on the boat permanently, and I will most likely be alone, I would appreciate any advice on what type of boat to buy. I want to spend a few years cruising the Carribean and after gaining enough experience, traverse the Panama Canal and cruise up to Seward, Alaska.

David Gilmer
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:39   #4
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What type to buy really demands a lot of data, 90% of which would be a repeat of other threads that are easy to find on here.

Cost is an important part of this, plus experience and inclination.

Personally I would be looking at a catamaran, but that would not be everyone's choice

As a liveaboard in a warm climate, with an intention of going somewhere cold in the future, you are looking for a well insulated boat, that can be warmed, and also ventilated propely.

You are looking for shower, hot water, and at least a fridge.

The deck layout needs to be set up so that you can helm and adjust the sails simultaneously.

The boat needs to be capable of reefing singlehanded, and preferably from the safety of the cockpit.

You need decent electric power generation from wind/solar/generator.

you need a totally reliable autopilot/wind vane.

Yu need to kick tyres at boat shows and in marinas looking at what works.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:50   #5
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David, one suggestion to consider is that if you want to take lessons (which is a great idea), why not consider taking lessons before purchasing a boat. It may help you better define what is important to you in a boat. I recommend taking a live aboard course. You'll learn so much more that is applicable to cruising than you ever will in a day sailing class.

Like Talbot, I prefer Catamarans, but will likely be a monohull owner for quite some time for costs reasons. Given the boat you are looking at I'm guessing value is important to you too. While some of these 70s and 80s boats can represent great values, beware many may need a great deal of work as well. If you have the time and willingness to learn, the experience gained by fixing up an older boat yourself can make your intimately aware of all the systems and what it takes to maintain them.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:24   #6
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You say you have been land locked, but do not mention what kind or how much experience you have on the water.

If you have not done any sailing, you could be making a huge, financial mistake by buying a boat before you know anything about sailing. If you have lots of experience and have seriously weighed the capabilities and properties of various boats and which models will meet your needs -- fine. if you have limited or no experience on sailboats and have decided on a model of boat based on something other than the above, you could be in for a serious and expensive disappointment.

If this is you, I would strongly advise you get a few miles under you in various types of boats; study the archives here and talk to people who have done and are doing what you want to do. Get their advice before shelling out tens of thousands of dollars on what may be a great boat for you, or what could be a financial disaster. You might want to take a short sailing course, buy a small boat and spend a season coastal trailer/sailing. That would not only give you lots of real experience on the water, but would put in touch with hundreds of other sailors and their boats.

Of course, some people who have never so much as seen the ocean have bought the first boat they have fallen in love with and sailed away -- learning as they go -- having great fun and adventures. Some of them even live to tell about it.

DGC
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:35   #7
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I could agree with nautical62. If you can delay the boat purchase yet still sail you just get smarter. In the perfect world you would gain enough experience to better understand what boat is suited best to you. Boats are even more diverse than buy a nice quality suit. The good decisions are custom fit and look attractive both. A well fitting boat is more about you than someone else.

You can find a lot of way to sail that work. In your case while I'm not biased in favor of a cat I do have a bias against smaller center cockpit boats. I feel they break up the space below too much until you get at or above 45 feet. As you see people tend to make their own bias. It would be best if you could develop yours so you had a little more reason to like something over something else. It isn't easy listening to alot of folks telling what to do. There are a lot of things to consider so wading through some of the posts here can help you a lot. Looking and being on more boats helps even more.

If you can outfit the boat with a nice set of canvas you can maximize the experience of the center cockpit. If you really make the cockpit suit your style you will be happier. You tend to spend a lot of time there so it should be as comfy as you can. I would also save some money to really make a set of nice cushions. It's the first thing we did with our past and current. It was well worth it. If I had it to do over I would have skipped a first boat and went to the second. You lose money when you change boats. Many people change it's not always avoidable.
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Old 01-03-2009, 12:57   #8
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Aloha David,
Welcome aboard! You are getting some good advice. If you are going to be single or maybe a couple I recommend 32 - 36 feet. I prefer aft cockpits, not center cockpits. Fiberglass hulls are my preference and diesel engines for auxiliary power. I like cutter rigs and am leaning toward full or 3/4 keel designs.
If it were me I'd be finding marinas and getting myself invited aboard to take a look at as many boats as possible to see what might work for you. In a 32 foot boat there aren't too many interior options. The determining factor is beam and headroom as well as hull design.
Good luck.
Kind regards,
JohnL
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Old 01-03-2009, 13:03   #9
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Dave,
Welcome! Listen carefully to these guys! When I was much younger, I bought a mid-70s Cal 3-30, a 30 foot boat built very strong. To my, then expressed, desire to sail to foreign lands, everyone's(friends) response was, "Just do it". I'd sailed as a teenager, owned two other boats, been in the navy & with the coast guard. One day, I talked two friends into joining me and we sailed from Vancouver, along the coast to Ensenada, over to Hawaii, back to Vancouver. By the time we'd returned, the boat felt about 5 feet long, none of us had faith in the others' sailing abilities, and most systems on the boat were inoperable! That we survived this great adventure, was a pure fluke. None of us knew anything about celestial navigation, none of us could use a sextant, there was no life-raft and no EPIRB. No SSB, no radar, no solar/wind/water generation, no emergency tiller, no autopilot, most importantly, no common sense. The stove was CNG, very difficult to find a refill depot. Looking back, it's both funny & embarassing. Over the years, I've picked up more skills & more experience, often, on someone else's boat. If you put up a few ads, explaining your position, I'm sure you'll find people willing to take you out & teach you. Sailing courses would be a great idea and reading a lot of info. on boat construction/repair/maintenance will allow you the ability to assess a boat's condition on your own. With all due respect to surveyors, commonly, there is a lot that they do not look at, when surveying a boat. You'll meet a lot of "experts" along the way, but no one has the market cornered on nautical knowledge/experience. What to one is a well-found boat, to another is lacking. When I bought my boat I paid Can$30,000. I sold it for Can$10,000. So, that's my Can$20,000 worth of advice for you. Spend it wisely.
Mike
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