Originally Posted by fireant
Hello and welcome to the wonderful world of boat hunting! There is a lot to consider as others have already pointed out. There are plenty of other sites that list things to look for when buying
a used boat
, and there are a lot of things you have not mentioned that will help you get a better answer. Don Casey has a good book about what to look for in a used boat
, and there are plenty of others who have good advice. This link provides a great reference on what to look for:
Marine Survey 101, pre-survey inspection
First, the Catalina 30 is a great boat, and this one MAY be a good deal. If it is not too far away or too much of a hassle, go look at it. You may be pleasantly surprised.
It sounds like this will be your first boat. IF true, you will learn an awful lot by fixing things yourself. As you point out, all boats need some work. The less expensive the boat, the more likely it is that it will need more work than a more expensive boat. What is your budget
Since it is a starter boat, you will have to compromise more than you will on your cruising boat.
Do NOT be afraid of the Atomic 4 engine or of gas engines. Yes, diesels are generally better for cruising, but you state you will be learning
. In some ways a gas engine is better for day sailing
. A general rule
of thumb is that diesels do better when run for longer times whereas a gas engine is better for running for short times. If you are day sailing
you will fire it up, cruise
out of the marina, and then shut it off after an hour or two. The Atomic is rugged, inexpensive, easy to work on, and has a good parts
availability. Again, I prefer diesels but the Atomic gas engine has been around for a long time and has proven itself to be a good engine.
The risk of a gas vapor explosion is real, but not something that needs to prevent you from using it. There are a huge number of people who use gas engines with no issues. Common sense and good maintenance
will prevent problems. I personally have sailed on other boats with gas engines quite a bit and have never had an issue.
While I am sure that there are other, better boats out there, don't dismiss this one out of hand. It may be a bad deal, but it may not. Keep in mind that it is as important to know what you don't want as it is to know what you want. Looking at a lot of boats will help you figure that out as well as figure out what is available, what you will need to fix, and what you can live with.
It is important to remember that there is maintenance
, and there is restoration
. Every starter boat will need to balance these two out. Can you live with faded cushions
? Can you live with dull gelcoat
? The engine, the wiring
, the rigging
, the sails, etc. are the more important things and require maintenance. The head
will also be very important given that your wife wants this more than you do!
Most people don't understand that the first two to four years will feel like the financial hemorrhaging will never end. It will eventually and you will then enjoy it even more. The first year or two in particular requires patience. Often a trip will be cut short or cancelled since something broke. You will eventually get it all sorted out. Don't let it get to you.
Good luck with your hunt and feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss things over the phone