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Old 15-10-2012, 00:38   #1
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What should the budget be for a 'first' boat?

1969 Coronado Coronado 30 Sail Boat For Sale -

I would like something that 'could' be trailered I guess. If I can make it to the Saginaw Bay (MI), I could pull it out of the water for winter or job/$ reasons. $3,000 or less sounds about right.

I'm sure there are plenty of boats that are inexpensive, but I would like one that you could take out within the week of purchasing it. It would have to be setup to live aboard, but only for 6-8 months. It would be a test run to see how it is. I would spend the first year in Michigan/Ontario. If things go well, the next year might be going down the East coast. So, it has to be a decent boat, that is somewhat comfortable. I would feel ok with anchoring out and leaving a little boat for a while more so than an expensive one. It just needs to have a working head, good sails, and is structurally sound.

But, I wouldn't want to gamble with $40,000+ catamaran at first probably... right?

Then again, I would probably put $5000 worth of electronics into this boat, along with a few solar panels (possibly the small system I have already). Solar hot water, and a few other items.

But the 'exit' strategy would be easy, and per-determined so you would have as much fun as you can for a few months.

Now if only the job, house, and insurance issues would go away. Back when I had the time I had no money. Now that I have a little money, I have no time. Plus doing something about the amount of stuff I have that wouldn't fit... I would insist on bringing my kayak though.
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Old 15-10-2012, 03:09   #2
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Re: What should the budget be for a 'first' boat?

Your limited ambition on your first boat, travels and timescale is well within the ballpark .

Whether that boat would meet your requirements is the million dollar (or $3k ) question!. But seems in the USA at least there are plenty of bargains around if you don't want or need something modern / with all the bells and whistles........but will always be a lot of ***** floating around (spend $3k and get $10k of bills for free ) that price bracket you will have to settle on less than perfection, the important thing will have to be to identify what you can live with and what needs to be sorted.....and the costs involved (in time & money).

Given you have one eye on the next boat, then the trick will be not to overcaptilise on the first boat by pumping too much money into her which won't be coming back in resale price (even if makes a bit easier to sell)......on that end of things I would avoid the temptation of trying to make her factory fresh, accept her overall condition as being less than perfect - whilst still ensuring the basics are sound. Also $5k of electronics sounds a bit high given your ambitions. Of course some things you can take with you to the next boat (so is not money thrown away)......but others you either can't or won't need to. But a decent amount of solar panels (and the gubbins to go with) are likely to be transferable.

The goods news is that even if you do drop a complete b#llock on the first boat purchase that (as long as you don't go mental in throwing dollars at the boat) that you will learn plenty that should save you more than $3k of bills (being purchased) on the next boat!
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Old 15-10-2012, 05:57   #3
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Re: What should the budget be for a 'first' boat?

First off, any boat that is reasonable to trailer (unless you own a Peterbilt!) is going to be awfully cramped to live aboard for 6 months. Of course, that's a very subjective thing, so maybe you don't mind very, very small spaces.

What I know is that I lived aboard my trailerable San Juan 23 for about 6 weeks back when I was young and single, and even then it was about as much as I could take. After 6 weeks I was VERY happy to move into an apartment!

I also wouldn't put $5k into electronics in a boat like this. I had a fixed mount VHF in my San Juan, but frankly, if I were doing it over again, I would have only had a handheld (though I might have still mounted an antenna at the masthead that I could connect it to). Add to that a good handheld GPS, or even a smart-phone with a navigation app, and that's all you really need (and, to be honest, you don't even really NEED that). For good measure I would probably add a laptop with a USB GPS and a good, external wifi antenna.

The only navigation items that I would consider absolutely necessary are a current set of charts, a good compass, a way to tell how fast you are going (I like a knotmeter and a GPS, so that I get both speed through the water and speed over ground), and a depth sounder.

Beyond that, I think you are going about this in exactly the right way. Too many people rush into buying the very biggest boat that they possibly can, right off the bat. Take a look around any marina, at the many boats sitting and rotting away, to see where that leads. Starting small and working your way up is, in my opinion, a much better and (in the long run) much less expensive way to go about it.

Good luck!
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Old 15-10-2012, 12:29   #4
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Re: What should the budget be for a 'first' boat?

One that comes to mind that is trailerable would be an older Catalina 25. A cramped liveaboard but doable for 2. It would be best to have a V8 engine to pull it though and perhaps a 4x4 if you wanted to pull it back out. Hope this helps.
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Old 15-10-2012, 12:38   #5
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Re: What should the budget be for a 'first' boat?

Second the comment from DenverdOn. Why put $5 thou worth of electronics on an older boat.

Get a second hand VHF, a cheap portable GPS and you're good to go. I guess if you plan on going out in the fog buying a used radar might be in order (do they have fog in the Great Lakes?).
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Old 15-10-2012, 18:04   #6
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Re: What should the budget be for a 'first' boat?

I bet they have fog certain times of the year in the early morning. August/September when the water temp is warmer than the cold air temp type of thing.

I could get to $5,000 in electronics very quickly. I would like some toys as I am a computer engineer... And I'm already not a big fan of paper charts. But a $2000 chartplotter system, $600 Lithium batteries, $400 solar panels/charge controller, $100 music speaker system, Wind sensor/air sensor, $800 EPIRB (parents would insist on it), LED lights, HDTV antenna, wifi router antenna, waterproofing/cases (I'm good there already), and what ever else comes up... it adds up fairly quickly.

I really have no feeling for what would be a 'towable' sailboat. It would only have to go 15-20 miles each way. On the other hand, I would like to have some space to stretch out on the boat, and I'm not sure how much a pull out at the home port marina and a few months of freezing temperature storage on the hard would cost. It might be cheaper than the trailer to haul the boat.
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