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Old 18-01-2010, 19:38   #1
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Help! We Are Buying Our First Boat, and Don't Want to Make a Mistake...

We are buying our first boat on a small budget. no room for mistakes...

What we want to do with the boat is sail from Seattle to Mexico, and the Cook Islands. And from there who knows... we plan to keep sailing.

Our search began with boats between 36' and 40'. However we could not find anything in our price range that didn't need repairs.

So we have decided to look at smaller boats. 30' to 35'.

We have been leaning towards these boats - Aberg 30, Cape Dory 30, Rawson 30, Spencer 35, Hans Christian 33. However one can not always find what they want to buy at the price they can afford...

We have come across two boats for sale at our price in our area. A Grampian 30' and the Rawson 30'. The Grampian was not on our list as it is not really a 'bluewater' sailboat. However, It seems to have some of the characteristics of a 'bluewater' sailboat. The Rawson 30' is on our list, but it is lacking some of the things that we like about the Grampian.

Having never sailed either of these boats, yet... I am hoping I could get some advice about which boat would be the better buy.

Both boats were well taken care of by their owners. Both boats are ready to sail. Both boats are in our price range.

However, the owner of the Grampian has added so many extras to the boat that it has made it a much more attractive buy. The additions include, a solid pilot house, solar panels, new roller furling, new winches, etc. The bad thing about this boat is - it is not a full keel and we unsure about durability of the rudder. As well, the deisel engine is the original, still works, but for how long?

The Rawson, has had no updates, but the engine is in top shape, and it is a full keel boat... which we think would be safer.

So do we give up the safety of the Rawson for the Grampian when we are not sure how she will fair offshore? Or is the Grampian fine in bluewater?

Thank you in Advance!

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Old 18-01-2010, 19:58   #2
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Hi... which boat has the most water and fuel tankage, the best/most storage area.... ventilation is also important, don't rely on A/C's to keep you cool...fin keels are ok if the bolts are good and you avoid hitting bottom.... The boats you mention are unknown to me as I'm a Brit and those are US boats but having lived aboard boats of various types i found that the above points are important long term....
If its possible get the owners to take you on a 'Test Sail' before going any further.... you can learn a lot.... a long keel does not always make for a better boat... some handle like pigs.... are they sloops or cutters....
The list goes on... if there's any Westerly's of 32' plus in your price take a look.. theyre great boats

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Old 18-01-2010, 21:07   #3
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Here I go again... being grumpy when I do not want to be. But gosh people- do you really think you can just buy a blue water boat and be ready for the Pacific? The best boat for you is a practice boat! Get some blue water time in!
If you know how to sail, read weather, navigate and handle offshore emergencies then maybe you should ignore this...but reading your earlier post makes me feel like you need to prepare the sailor before you do the boat. And yeah, its going to take some money or time or both. But I think your life is more important than a schedule. The Pacific in our neck of the woods (Seattle) takes no prisoners.
Remember a voyage is one part ship, one part sailor and one part luck. And when luck isn't going your way- the sailor has to make up for it.
BTW- good luck
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Old 18-01-2010, 21:16   #4
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Seattle to Mexico?

If I have read the reviews right the Seattle to Mexico trip can be a real heart breaker.

If I was thinking of a perfect world I'd go for a Great Lakes (fresh water) boat that had spent most of it's life on the hard.

Second priority would be a near new diesel/transmission.

#3 Hard Dodger/pilothouse

#4 Documented rebuild of rudder/chainplates

I could go on...
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Old 18-01-2010, 21:36   #5
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We are buying our first boat on a small budget. no room for mistakes
Boats need to find the people and people need to understand the boats. Having a budget does not assume you can get what you want or that you can adjust to what you really need. Other people are not you. From my perspective get the boat you can afford and do what you can learn how to do and be happy. There is no assurance what you could ever learn how to do anything you want. If you get that far you will have surpassed most people. To set goals you have no ability to meet is unrealistic. You need to grow abilities to set confidence to meet goals and expectations in a way that works - for you. Along the way if you had fun just wouldn't that be nice too. Backup and get to the fun part ASAP.

Find the way that lets you start. Learn more and then be in a position to do more and have fun doing it. You can accept the limits that come to you when you understand what they are. Money is a limit - deal with it. The mistake is thinking that the right boat is the key. The boat you get is the one you'll have but you can always become more than you are today. The boat just needs more work every day. It's more about you than the boat. If you have the perfect boat and you are broke and miserable it really does not matter. It's a compromise you make yourself or you'll need to know why. When you really know why, you'll have the boat that will make you happy. That is the boat we all want. No formula to get there.
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Old 19-01-2010, 06:35   #6
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If you have not already done so, get two books and read them: John Vigor's "Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere" and Greg Nestor's "Twenty Affordable Sailboats to Take You Anywhere." You might not buy one of the boats featured in these books, but you will have a better sense of what is important.

After you get the boat, do alot of sailing before you head down the coast. Spend a year or two getting to know your boat.
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Old 19-01-2010, 09:44   #7
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Thank you for your advice.

It may take us a few weeks to decide which boat is better for us. The Rawson holds more water and fuel... and although it doesn't have everything we want, we may be able to add the things we want as we go. We will be sailing these two boats over the next couple of weeks to find out which one handles better and which one we prefer.

And as for the comment made by NEWT - you really are a funny man... you shouldn't assume we are buying the boat and sailing off into the blue without any practice or sailing education... We just don't want to buy one boat to practice on and then later buy the boat we really need... It would be more practicle to buy the boat we need and practice on it... We have taken a bluewater sailing course, and we will be taking a year to educate ourselves and practice before we leave. Many people scoff and think it is a crazy dream... of course, it is dangerous, but it is an adventure that makes life worth living... and I don't think it is luck we need, just a pair of balls.

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Old 19-01-2010, 14:35   #8
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No, balls won't get you by either. What you need is preparation (yourselves and the boat), planning and lots of common sense.
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Old 19-01-2010, 14:46   #9
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Cyberkitty et al- I will trade you day for day- One day sanding the topsides on my boat for one day daysailing (in the Valiant 40) Make it two days and we'll go mix it up in the Straight of Juan de Fuca. I will bring all the meals and gear- you just bring your energy. My boat is in Bellingham.
There- how's that for cheap bluewater experience?
BTW- I don't worry about your experience anymore- I will just try to talk you into a proper bluewater boat for the Pacific...(Hmmm, I wonder which one that would be?)
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Old 19-01-2010, 15:48   #10
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Walk before you run...go blue water cruising as crew on well prepared, well sailed boats, and see first hand what it is all about.

Then, with some sea miles under your belts, you will be much more knowledgable buyers.

My 2 cents...
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Old 19-01-2010, 16:09   #11
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Those are all decent boats IMO- I am a little partial to the Alberg designed boats, but the Spencers have an excellent reputation as well.

You could do worse than the Grampian too- these are solid boats & I know for a fact people have crossed the North Atlantic with a G28. The prices on clean Grampians are so good you'd be stupid not to at least look at them. I was looking at a G34 ketch when I was still shopping, but I was a bit put off by the SA/D & they are said to be poor light air performers. If you don't mind motoring when the wind dies down though, it could be a good choice for you.

The usual link:
Mahina Expedition - Offshore Cruising Instruction

Sailnet also has boat reviews by owners.

Also, you can always add tank capacity if you're willing to sacrifice something else- some good small boat refit ideas here:
Atom Voyages | Voyaging Around the World on the Sailboat Atom with James and Mei
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Old 19-01-2010, 16:11   #12
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I'd be leery of a used boat with recently added "extras" as they're usually eye candy meant to distract a buyer from the real issues that need attention....and all used boats need attention somewhere. The trick is finding a boat that falls within your budget and whose 'attention' is not going to break the bank to fix. There is no such thing as a used "ready to sail" boat. Every single one needs a thorough going over before its actually 'ready'.
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Old 19-01-2010, 20:30   #13
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I've sailed Rawsons. They are bullet proof but as Martin knows may have soft decks so check that very well. They are not "to-weather" performance boats but handle heavy seas well and I think that will be important to you. The Rawson will get you to where you want to go. I believe Grampians to be middle of the road coastal cruisers but I've not sailed them.
A dodger (soft or hard) and windvane steering to my point of view are a must so budget for them.
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Old 21-01-2010, 22:02   #14
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I sailed down our coast [the PNW Flattery south] several times. Once in a fin keel boat was way more than enough. I wouldn't sail one across Bellingham Bay. Going down in my long keel gaff schooner was simply easy. A pilot house is windage and weight too high, mostly, especially with a fin keel. BTW, independent hung rudders are some flatlander's idea of boat gear. What do you do when an abandoned fishing net wraps around it? We had a fishing line wrap around the fin keel boat's rudder post. That was no big deal, it was fishing line. Had it been a net it would have been a very different story. And our ocean is full of trash. A long straight keel will ride over a net. I have done so in my schooner. [WHY did I sell that boat??] My two cents.
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Old 22-01-2010, 09:59   #15
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I don't think the OP is listening anymore. Must have scared him/her off. Oh well- Mike, do you want to work on a boat for sail time?
I thought it was a good offer....
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