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aimee0404 03-09-2008 13:55

Which boat?
I am just beginning to learn about sailing and am trying to plan a trip from Florida to Costa Rica in about 3 years. There is sooooo much information that I need to learn and have been reading tons. I have been looking into boats as well but was wondering what would be the best for that journey. There will be four adults and two children total. Also, when buying a used boat what is the most important things to look for. If anyone could help me, I would really appreciate it. I was also thinking about GPS systems, do they have any that work for land and water? Thanks

Pblais 03-09-2008 14:24

Welcome to the forum. We have people of all backgrounds and sailing levels. They all meet here and we all help each other.

Guess what the most often asked question is here from new sailors? That would be yours. I'm sorry to say there is no easy answer to your question. The correct boat is like buying a new suit. It has to fit the person (and crew) as well as the occasion. It would be nice if they made only one type and then you would just buy one. It would be nice if we could make a list of all the bad boats so you don't buy one but we can't. It's also about the money. Can you afford 1 million dollars? If not then your choices are limited but not to the point of nothing. You do need to come to terms with finances for the boat, gear, supplies and expenses. So until you get into all of that you still don't know how much you can afford. Picking the boat is best done with more learning behind you and even a little bit of sailing experience.

If you are finding there is sooo much information then you are probably on the right track. There is even more than you might imagine. I should expect you will still be finding more questions in 6 months to a year. You take things at your own pace and just relax and keep going. Answers raise more questions and more questions require more questions to get back to the original question. You start to learn all the things you don't know faster than you can learn the first things. It just takes a while to catch up.

Major suggestion! Start working the whole family as in everyone that might be on this boat you don't have yet. You can do all this alone and tend to them too.
You'll need a crew for this adventure and they all need to learn a lot too. They all need to learn to work together and live in a small space together. If you have ever done a trip in an RV it's like that but with less space. You need to do it in a way that makes it all fun because no matter what it is all supposed to be fun even if you have to work hard from time to time. If you though learning to drive a car was hard this is 100 times harder.

You probably can't go wrong getting a bit more experience. If the trip is in three years you would do best to take a year and study and maybe take some lessons and work up to being able to do a charter. A one week charter shakes out a lot of issues and it only takes a week and the money spent might be the cheapest trip you'll ever do. It gives the whole group a chance to see what it's like and build the excitement a little bit so they will be more willing to learn and study more. I would put off buying a boat for at least another year, but you need to own the boat probably a full season to get to know it and become proficient at operating it. Short trips with the group gets everyone in shape.

GPS systems work the same no matter where you are. Street driving instructions don't apply to boating yet chart plotter systems build in charts with GPS.. Navigation is just a whole concept you also need to learn a whole lot about in addition to every piece of equipment on the boat and even more topics.

There is probably a topic in every single section of this forum that applies to something you need to know. Begin your planning and perhaps even start with some written materials. You need to develop a second set of organization that can deal with all this new information you are going to encounter.

aimee0404 03-09-2008 14:36

Thank you.

imagine2frolic 03-09-2008 14:48


In 3 years your needs will change. Start with learning how to sail. 4 adults, and 2 children will needs some space, or there may be mutiny. What will you with the boat once you arrive in C.R.? If you are keeping the boat then the larger the better for so many people. What is your budget for a boat that will be ready to sail. Wether, or not you do installlation, or they are already on the boat?

2 years of learning to sail, and look for a boat is good. Then you have a year left to fit theboat, and learn her ways. BE AWARE sailing is not all slick magazine covers. There are troubled times too

sgtPluck 03-09-2008 15:05

I recently bought my first boat, after years of researching and soaking up all the information.
I agree with everything Paul said. There is a lot of information to soak up.
If you're like me, and are planning on buying a used boat, then one thing that I found very educational was inspecting used boats myself. I found the following books very helpful in teaching me what to look for:

Inspecting the Aging Sailboat, Don Casey
Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats: A Step-by-Step Guide for Buyers and Owners, Henry C. Mustin

Reading these books and then crawling through boats and carefully examining them taught me a lot. You learn to spot the differences between a well and a not so well constructed boat. You learn about different layout and rig options, and you quickly learn to tell when an owner has really been using their boat and taking care of it, and when it has been neglected.
In doing so you might waste some brokers/owners time by being a 'tire kicker', but I wouldn't worry about that. You need to learn enough before you'll be sufficiently confident to pull the trigger on a purchase when you do find a boat that will do the job for you. I probably looked at 12-13 boats before I bought mine.

Best of luck.

aimee0404 03-09-2008 15:52

I appreciate all of the help. I will take all the information to heart, and research, research, research.

fastfilm 03-09-2008 17:27

Sgt Pluck is dead on. I learned more about boats and their structure in my three months of serious boat looking before buying than I had in 8 years of chartering and sailing other people's boats. Crawling around, looking at boats that are used in the way you intend to use a boat will show you what works for others and what features are good for you. Seeing two examples of the same boat will show the wide variation in maintenance and outfitting that is out there. Read all you can but start touching and then using and the reading will be more meaningful. True about boats, too.

Ex-Calif 03-09-2008 22:12

This should be a sticky post

Originally Posted by Pblais (Post 201478)
Guess what the most often asked question is here from new sailors? That would be yours. I'm sorry to say there is no easy answer to your question.

Paul - That was an excellent post. I reckon it oughta be a sticky in meets and greets.

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