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Old 04-12-2007, 19:03   #1
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HELP for a soon to be brand new cruiser

Well, with much trepidation, I'm jumping in with both feet! My husband, Paul and I are approaching retirement this next year (at 60 yoa) and we are looking to realize a lifelong dream of liveaboard sailing. To say we are novices is an understatement. But, we're too old to care whether others consider us crazy. We're just gonna do it.
We lived in a travel trailer for 2 years so we understand small spaces (and loved it!)
At one time, we had a 22 foot sailboat that we did mostly fresh water sailing in, but my husband did sail it in Galveston Bay.
So, where to start..... We have been reading as much as we can get our hands on about bluewater cruising and living aboard. And, we have visited the Kemah marinas looking at brokerage boats.
Our maximum budget for the purchase of this boat is $200,000. We know we want the following: teak interior, queen size berth, generator, electronics to include radar, GPS, auto pilot, weather fax, chart plotter, depth sounder, etc., shower, fuel and water tanks for long cruises, washing machine, furling for main and jib. So, I believe we're needing a 40 to 50 foot sailboat.
I've found a nice Catalina Morgan 50, which fits most of our requirements and is within our budget; but having read some of your posts regarding this make of boat, I'm concerned about it. Would we be better off with a smaller boat and if so, what boat would you buy? (I promise not to be so long winded in my replies!)
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Old 04-12-2007, 19:47   #2
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Boats are up there with religions in regards to people's opinions. There are *very* few boats I would pick over this one, and for me a 40-50 boat is insanely large. I'm at 43 loa right now and would drop it to 35 if I had a chance.

Ditto for the rig. The furling main would be enough for me to demand that it be removed before I would sail on it, but I don't like furling jibs either, and most everyone thinks I'm crazy for that.

So knowing that boats are so personal, and that my opinions (unless you find they resonate with you) are mine alone, the only truth that really exists across all boats is that you're going to be a lot smarter about what you need (and what you don't) after you have some time under your belt.

As an example, with all the gear you're talking about installing (hot water systems, generator, big electronics) and that size boat you're going to have a 100-200 gallon fuel tank. Filling that up will cost nearly $500 - $1000 (at current prices, that are sky rocketing).

My only advice would be to hold off buying doo-dads that you don't need. Boats loaded down with systems often spend a lot of money (and time in yards waiting for parts / labor / expertise) to fix those systems.

The boats I know that sail the most are the most simple. My advice, and it works for me. Fair winds and a (slightly) following sea.
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Old 04-12-2007, 20:01   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annegibsonwaco View Post
we're too old to care whether others consider us crazy. We're just gonna do it.
Does this forum have a Quote of the Week? Cos this is a cracker Great attitude!
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Old 04-12-2007, 23:11   #4
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I am now in my 60's and I spent 14 years cruising (now retired).

I think that you are looking in the right direction as far as size boat. 45'-55' range, with your budget. Talk to people with washing machines on board. I don't think you will find many positive comments. Besides.........who wears clothes??

If I were you, I would look into a ketch rig. It is much easier to handle. Many more options and for that size boat, each sail is smaller and easier to handle than a similar size sloop.

IMO, a parachute sea anchor is an absolute must. You will tire easier than the younger people and it is nice to have a way to "Park" the boat in comfort in the middle of a big ocean in bad weather. Also, please add a "Wind-vane" to your list. It will be your best crew member. It will never fail you or fall asleep. You don't have to feed it and it will steer your boat 24/7 without complaint. The harder the wind blows, the better she will work. Have that professionally installed but watch the guy carefully and understand exactly why he rigs it the way that he does.

I have recommended this to others and I will do the same to you. Buy a worn out boat, take it apart and put it back together with all new fittings, fasteners and electronics. Do all the work yourself or hire a good qualified helper (preferably an experienced cruiser). Learn everything about your engine (even if it is a sailboat). You will end up with twice the boat for half the money. You will have to work your ass off to do it but when you get done, you will know your vessel and you won't be leaving port with a bunch of questionable, used gear and not knowing what to do when something breaks. There are no mechanics at sea and they don't make house calls out there. If you don't think that you are capable or mechanically inclined enough to handle a project like this, I would say that your risks are greatly heightened.

I have known many cruising couples in their 60's. It is a very doable adventure. However, the risks are heightened, there is no doubt about that. You can lesson the risks by getting intimate with your vessel.
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Old 05-12-2007, 00:20   #5
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You have a good attitude with jumping in with both feet. My input would be to buy smaller. As you age, a larger boat can be a handfull. I have a ketch to break up the sail area into bite size pieces. However, I pay for it in rigging and sail costs. I personally feel spending lets say $100,000 instead of $200,000 would give you more cruising time and easier perhaps to sale at a later date. Maybe 37' to 42' Ketch or 35' to 38' cutter. If its just 2 of you, that should be plenty.
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Old 05-12-2007, 01:17   #6
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Maths again...

Can't resist a few more calculations.

Your $200,000 boat will need at least $50,000 in upgrades to make it cruiseworthy. $200k + $50k = $250k.

Figure on 25% of boat value per annum. $62k

Many quote a figure of $35k pa for expenses.

$62k + $35k = $100k (I know, I rounded up for the sake of the argument).

So if you can afford to plonk $250k down and have an income of $100k pa go for the $200k boat.

Scale down or up as circumstances require.
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Old 05-12-2007, 03:44   #7
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Originally Posted by annegibsonwaco View Post
At one time, we had a 22 foot sailboat that we did mostly fresh water sailing in, but my husband did sail it in Galveston Bay.

<SNIP>

Our maximum budget for the purchase of this boat is $200,000. We know we want the following: teak interior, queen size berth, generator, electronics to include radar, GPS, auto pilot, weather fax, chart plotter, depth sounder, etc., shower, fuel and water tanks for long cruises, washing machine, furling for main and jib. So, I believe we're needing a 40 to 50 foot sailboat.

Go to some boat shows and look at some boats. Crawl the docks and talk to owners. Don't zero in on a boat without looking at some different ones.

Also consider something like this...

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ale-10701.html

Probably almost turnkey and go. If I was nearby I'd be looking seriously.
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Old 05-12-2007, 04:42   #8
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I think 62k per year for upkeep on the boat is way high. Also, using a percentage of purchase price makes no sense, as an old boat at 50k will require much more than a 2 year old at 400k.
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Old 05-12-2007, 05:33   #9
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Wow! Thanks for all these well thought out replies. You guys took all the fear out of this forum.
I'm curious about the ketch rigging. Any particular boat favored over others? The Tayanas appeal to us, but their beams are often narrow (seaman's term??), and most have v-berths, which I worry about getting into since I had both knees replaced last year. Any thoughts?
The cat is beautiful. I LOVE the interior spaces, but I wonder if I will enjoy the ride as much, in other words I have heard people are more prone to seasickness on a cat.
Thanks again everybody!
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Old 05-12-2007, 07:28   #10
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Some comments about a furling main:

Avoid in Mast furling - the sail shape stinks and if it gets stuck you've got all that sail stuck out there! Also these systems add a lot of weight aloft where you don't want it.

In Boom furling is great! Schaefer and Leisurefurl are the best currently on the market. let's you have a full battened main and good sail shape and if things break you can still drop the sail and lash it to the boom. We have the Leisurefurl on our Valiant.

I suggest that you do get an electric winch for the main halyard as the loads on the main halyard are greater and they're really helpful at our age.
-----
In your original email you didn't mention a few things:
A Monitor Windvane and/or (in addition to or instead of the autopilot)
A Marine SSB (with radio modem for winlink/sailmail)
A Marine VHF

I wrote an article on getting ready to go cruising a while ago for Latitude 38 magazine. You can see an updated version of it at:
Blog of the Sailing Vessel Raptor Dance: Tips for Getting Ready to Ha-Ha, 2007 - Cruising to Mexico and Beyond

I suggest forgetting about the washing machine - the ones available are more trouble than they're worth. Don't dry worth beans and rust out quickly.

I suggest you consider also a Valiant 40 - great boats and in your price range.

Regards,
Bill
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Old 05-12-2007, 09:47   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annegibsonwaco View Post
Wow! Thanks for all these well thought out replies. You guys took all the fear out of this forum.
I'm curious about the ketch rigging. Any particular boat favored over others? The Tayanas appeal to us, but their beams are often narrow (seaman's term??), and most have v-berths, which I worry about getting into since I had both knees replaced last year. Any thoughts?
The cat is beautiful. I LOVE the interior spaces, but I wonder if I will enjoy the ride as much, in other words I have heard people are more prone to seasickness on a cat.
Thanks again everybody!
The reason that I recommend a ketch is becuase you can sail many open ocean passages without even considering the mainsail. I would recommend keeping your vessel as simple as possible. The key is, "If you can't fix it, you don't want it at sea". Roller furling jibs are much more reliable and simple. If worse comes to worse, you can wrap the halyard around the thing until you can deal with it.

As far as recommending one design over another, that's going to be personal taste as much as seaworthiness. Again, I can't stress enough how important it is to get into "Do-it-yourself" mode for your own safety and confidence. I have seen too many people that have had to abandon their home at sea because the mechanical issues became overwhelming. It doesn't have to be that way. If it's not important enough to you to actually take a "Hands on position", I would think that the "Figure on 25% of boat value per annum. $62k" comment may be pretty accurate because you will have to take the vessel into the boat yard at least once a year and maybe even after each ocean passage.

Cats are hard on your knees. At least it was with me on a long ocean passage. However, if you had knee replacements, I would think that you should be good to go. That's pretty much up to how you feel but I'd certainly charter one before you concider buying.

What kind of "Cruising" are you concidering? Any particular part of the world that you want to concentrate on or you considering a circumnavigation? How flexible are you?
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:07   #12
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Welcome

Some observations/recommendations:

1. There are, of course, no scientific data, but I think you will find that many and probably most liveaboard cruisers in the Caribbean are in their 50s and 60s. I assume this is your intended cruising ground - you'll fit right in.

2. You are correct to be concerned about liveaboard comfort, especially the bed. If you do not enjoy living on the boat, no amount of great sailing days or beautiful island beaches will keep you cruising. Probably, more cruising dreams have been killed by crawl-in bunks and sit down showers than by storms or reefs. A centerline queen or other bedroom style berth generally requires about a 40' boat in a monohull.

3. Don't have any experience with onboard washing machines. If you take fresh water showers every day and wash clothes, you may want to add a watermaker to your equipment list. OTOH, if you are going to cruise the Caribbean - well, clothes aren't exactly optional, but T shirts, shorts, bathing suits are pretty much all that most people wear regularly.

4. You don't really know what kind of boat you want yet. So, I highly recommend a one week crewed charter in the BVIs. This is not cheap, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what living on a sailboat is like; you will learn some big boat sailing/cruising skills; and you will have a blast. If you can afford it, do one week on a 40 something monohull and then a week on a catamaran.

5. Keep reading - you got that right. For some logs by recent Caribbean cruisers, go here:

BoatUS.com Cruising Log

The Voyage of Wind-Borne III

BoatUS.com Cruising Log
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:21   #13
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good for you..

As for size, IMHO, get the smallest you can use...and keep it simple.

Sailing is the easy part... It's anchoring that takes practice and experience. Especially considering that it's the ability or in-ability that may decide whether or not your boat lives through a storm.

Narrow boats, all things being equal, provide a better motion in a seaway. And they tend to self right much better....The increase in beam of modern boats has nothing to with seaworthyness, and more to do with marina living.

I highly recommend that you purchase and read till it's second nature this John Vigor book..Amazon.com: Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat: A Guide to Essential Features, Handling, and Gear: Books: John Vigor
In it he explains what makes a boat/skipper 'seaworthy'. He also mentions that the biggest factor in determining seaworthyness is the SKIPPER....

I also highly recommend that you start off with baby steps. Take a series of ever expanding coastal cruises before you head across an ocean...

I wish you all the luck in the world...

I'm also 60 and will 'take off' after retirement in two years, BUT I've been sailing ever larger boats for 30 years, and I'm still concerned about making sure I know what I'm doing out there.. The ocean can be a very cruel mistress... Don't take it too lightly.
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:52   #14
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I would spend LOTS of time with some brokers in FL or Annapolis etc and look at as many boats as you can as far as the accommodation plan is concerned.

It will be your home so you want the level of creature comforts which you feel you need. Pay careful attention to a good working galley with adequate storage for food and refrigeration.

Ventilation is essential and this cannot be understated.

You also want a DRY vessel that doesn't ship water and sheds is right away.

A comfy large safe cockpit with excellent visibility is essential. That's where you spend LOTS of time underway and at anchor.

You will probably want to upgrade your nav/electronics package as there is some very good gear now. Figure about $25 for the whole kit installed and a lot less if you do it yourself. Plan for redundancy and backups. This may mean a rebuild of the nav station and repeaters in the cockpit.

You'll want a good mooring system. This means windlass, several anchors and a locker for all the tackle. Anchoring is very important. You want to practice it and make it easy to do as parking a car.

You'll want a good set of sails the ability to deal with heavy weather. An inner stay with storm canvas should be part of your re fit. Practice with the storm canvas in moderate to heavy weather.

You'll need a reliable self steering system. No one want to succumb to the tyranny of the helm. This should cost about 5K installed

You'll want a bullet proof electrical system, batts, smart regulator, sys monitor, alt charging sources (solar or wind or both), SOUND CLEAN wiring and breaker panel. Allow 8-10K for the gold standard electics.

SPARES, you can never have enough spares for EVERYTHING. Include tools and SPARE tools.

You'll want a sea kindly hull and one that probably is better off the wind than on a beat. Liveaboards usually have the luxury of waiting for fair winds for passage.

You'll want good comm equipment and that means an SSB with a modem for email and the ability to receive wFAX etc.

You'll want some comfy sea berths for passage as that big bed in your stateroom may not cut it when heeled or yawing.

Heat is a great feature unless you will ALWAYS be in the tropics. It's terribly civilized for colder climes. Figure 5K for heat.

Don't forget to budget 10k for safety gear including a raft, flares, ditch bag and supplies, drogue, jack lines harness strobes and so forth.

And of course you can't live aboard without a good dink and OB. rigid inflatables are great. Go for LARGE tubes and a motor that can push it.. no less than 6 HP. If you need to get the motor up, fir a lifting crane. Don't tow a dink with a motor and don't tow a dink offshore ever. Plan for stowong it. Davits are not the best idea, especially in following seas.

And speaking of power, you want a reliable diesel in good order. Look for the maintenance log. Be prepared to dump 3-5K in a rebuild of an older engine or 10-20K for repower. You want an engine which starts EVERY TIME.

You will want lots of tankage for water and fuel. The more the merrier. Consider a water maker for offshore.

They are 2-5k and you'll love it.

Size? not less than 35 foot and not more than 50. Bigger boat bigger forces on everything (lines.. anchor etc.) You need to be able to handle those loads... especially when the wind and seas build. Good winches a MUST.

Good hand holds all over

Strong Life lines - a MUST

Paper charts of your sailing area and the knowledge of how to navigate "old style" when the electronics fail.

Get whatever boat you are serious about surveyed and when you have any interest request OLD surveys.

Don't be intimidated. You can do ALL of this but it will take several FUN, INFORMATIVE and EXCITING YEARS. When you have tuned the boat, fitted it out, you will know her like the back of your hand and you will be ready to sail off.

Go for it. We're here to help. ASK ASK ASK

jef
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Old 05-12-2007, 21:50   #15
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Thank you all! I am really excited about all of this information. Boy, do I have a lot to learn! But, to me, the challenges are what makes this lifestyle so appealing.
defjef - I've added those things to my list. I really appreciate your encouragement. I hope you don't ever regret telling me to "ASK, ASK, ASK"!
Kanani - I appreciate your explanation about ketch rigging (size, etc.). We had a broker tell us to stay with a sloop rigging. He probably had ulterior motives, as he had a particular boat he was really pushing with us. As far as what type of cruising - we live closest to the Gulf and will start out there until we have a lot more experience. Our real dream is to do a transAtlantic to France. We are not even ready for "baby steps", we're still crawling. But, my husband masters things easily and quickly, so I'm sure we will be "toddling" along soon. Twenty years ago, these two city slickers bought a farm and ran it without any prior training or knowledge, while living on a shoe string budget. My husband bought some old farm equipment and taught himself how to keep all of it running. When he got off work at 5 PM, he would head straight to the fields and work well past midnight. I can still remember him out in the field with a flash light held in his mouth as he repaired that old baler we had. Anyway, all that to say, where there's a will there's a way. And, thanks to the investment of the farm, we now have the money to buy this boat and retire.
rtbates - What a confirmation! I had just bought Vigor's book and have been reading it daily. Thanks for the good word and wish of luck. I really appreciate that.
slomotion - I, too, had read about all of us baby boomers in the Caribbean. It'll be great to fit in so well. Thanks for the logs, and for understanding about those queen size berths.
Can't wait to read this forum each day. Thanks again.
Anne
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