Not having a lot of material things will help you here, because normally a sailboat (a boat good for sailing) and a houseboat (a boat meant for living on) are very different things, and when people try to make one into the other...well....<G>....
If you want the boat to be a comfortable place to live, in harbor, you'll want more room and more creature comfort, as priorities. If you really want to sail, choosing a boat becomes much harder simply because you need to spend time on different boats in order to appreciate how they sail, and what handling characteristics you want. And, how easy/hard they will be to handle. If you decide to "really sail" you probably will want a main sail, storm sail, and even with roller furling
and one jib
and one storm jib
and possibly a spinnaker
or asymetrical headsail as well. Those bags of sails
take up LOTS of space. And as you'll find out once you get sailing, the typical cheap used boat
may have 15-year old sails
that still work--but they're like a car with half an engine
, they don't work like new ones do.
All that takes some time to appreciate, and the sails that do or don't come with a used boat
can be a major difference in the value overall. Don't underestimate that. (Very rough number, one main and one genoa
for a 30' boat could run you $5000 for the pair. Add the job and storm sails, you can hit $8-10,000 right away. And choosing sails, ah, that's somewhere between faith and magic.<G>)
Of course if you just want to live on the boat and get into sailing, "anything" will work if it is in decent condition. IIRC in Annapolis
you have Bacon, an outfit that carries a large inventory of used sails. That may or may not be a bargain just note it as a local resource.
The "stuff" on a boat can also add up. Self-tailing winches /vs/ plain ones, big dollar difference. Rigging
all running aft for single handing, roller furling
, a proper marine alternator
instead of the "automobile" type integral one...adequate batteries and power system to run without recharging every day...
Probably one of the best ways to come to grips with the hardware
side of things would be Don Street's books
"The Proper Cruising Yacht" 1&2. Things like batteries matter more if you're out sailing, but if you don't have a place to locate them...you have to plan ahead, or change boats. And that's also something to consider, look for a boat that has a good reputation and a history
of buying/selling fairly quickly and holding its price
. That way if your first boat isn't the right one two years later, you get most of your money back.
You can find a lot of comparative information about boats in the "Practical Boat Buying" books from Practical Sailor, a subscription newsletter. They do detailed reviews
of old boats in each issue, and these books are compilations of hundreds of them.
Most valuable of all, wherever you take sailings lessons, stop to chat and ask. Most sailors are glad to help bring a newbie into the fold and have you out sailing with them to give you an idea of what it is about. Most places will also have some type of regular racing
(weekdays and weekends) and just being on the docks and asking "Does anyone need crew?" can get you a ride. Be honest, let them know you're new, because even new crew can be better than no crew.
Invest in a set of deck
shoes or sailing shoes (anything with good traction that doesn't leave marks, white-soled sneakers work fine) and a set of sailing gloves, because rope
burns can be nasty. Invest in your own PFD
if you want, too. And after that, look for good foul-weather gear
if you don't have something similar already. Those basic pieces will last you for years, and make it easy for you to grab a ride on any boat.