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Old 14-10-2020, 19:14   #1
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Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Hello Cruisers,

I've been on the search for my first sailboat for a few months, and while I've learned a great deal, I still feel way out of my league when it comes to buying something like this. I've looked at this custom sailboat in Bellingham, WA, and am really charmed with it, but have some concerns. Here is the listing for it on craigslist, hopefully this link stays up for a while:

https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/b...206620124.html

Firstly, I know it's impossible to assess value without having someone qualified look at it in person, but the owner is pretty firm on the price of $7900 here- this is a tad bit more than I can really afford without a loan, and I'm just wondering if that price reasonable for a '21 custom boat such as this one. I know the Nonsuch boats around this size fetch a pretty high price, and are somewhat similar to this, though that would usually include an inboard diesel as far as I know. I would plan on having a professional surveyor look at it as well, so that would add to the upfront cost. The owner did describe a couple of small leaks to me that seemed like they weren't a big deal and could be fixed, but to my untrained eye the boat looked very clean in person for something from 1983. One downside is that it's not very trailerable due to the width and mast length, but I don't mind staying in the Puget Sound area for the foreseeable future.

The second this I'm concerned about is space. I plan on eventually using whatever boat I end up getting as a liveaboard with two cats. Is that even a realistic thing to consider on a boat of this size, the larger than average cabin for the size notwithstanding? I've lived out of a Prius for weeks at a time and didn't mind that, but throwing two cats into the mix could be a very different story. I know I could find a larger boat that might be more suitable for the same price being asked for this one, but this one has a real charm to me and seems mostly perfect for my purposes as a new sailor in the Puget Sound- I'm less concerned about performance than I am about having a nice, calm cruise, alone or with a friend or two.

Sorry if the is some megathread I should have posted this in- I looked and didn't find anything. I'd appreciate any advice here!
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Old 14-10-2020, 20:34   #2
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

This boat may be charming, but it is funky in a lot of different ways. Woodstove. Porta-potti. Twin keel. Wishbone rig. Minimal/no headroom. A J/24 would be bigger and likely cheaper, and there are probably other boats around - more affordable than this one- that might work better. While the wood stove might help warm and dry things out, what do you do with the ashes? Neighbors are not going to like washing your sparks and cinders off their decks or sails. You probably don't want anything burning holes in your sails either. Is using a porta-potti something to look forward to in a liveaboard situation? Can you get the cats to use it? Where do you empty it? How often? And it doesn't smell? Really?? Twin keels are very convenient for "grounding out" at low tide. If that is something you need to do, perhaps because you have been kicked out of the marina because of the wood stove cinders? Are there a lot of mudflats in the Puget Sound area where you could go? It gives the impression of having steep-to shores. The downside of the twin keels is that their added wetted surface makes boats slow. They also reduce overall performance, if you want to go sailing. Stalling in mid-tack is not fun, and this boat - about half as wide as it is long - is not going to be quick. The wishbone rig does work, but it can be a hard sell if you ever want to change boats later; it's not the "standard" mainsail and boom. While you may not hit your head on the wishbone boom, hitting your head belowdecks on this boat will probably make up for it. There's barely standing headroom in the hatchway, and you can't see out from there. This might be an upgrade from living out of a Prius, but the car's heat and A/C system didn't have to be lit for twenty minutes before you felt the results. And the seats are comfortable. The Prius probably didn't leak much, either. I would keep looking. There are other charming boats out there - even some that you can stand up and move around in.
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Old 14-10-2020, 21:01   #3
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Thanks for your observations, you've given me a lot to think about. I agree that a porta potty isn't ideal, and had not thought about the disadvantages of a wood stove that you mentioned. So sparks and cinders will get blown onto nearby boats even if the stove is cleaned out often?

One thing I left out of my original post is that the owner said if it isn't sold by November then he'd consider lowering the price. I'm definitely going to keep looking for something cheaper and larger, but assuming no major repairs are needed I might still try to come back with a lower offer on this one also.
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Old 15-10-2020, 02:18   #4
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

IMO, for a first time buyer, one with little experience, staying mainstream is a better way to go. There are reasons that boats have evolved as they have, and outliers are suspect. When you have some sea miles and years aboard, that's when risking an odd design becomes more attractive.

In your place, I'd be looking to spend that amount of money on something like a Catalina 27 or a Bristol or a Cape Dory or any of a large range of common production boats available. A known factor, somewhat larger, easier to sell on when you are done with her, and much more capacious for living aboard with felines.

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Old 15-10-2020, 05:31   #5
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

While I would not buy such a boat at the moment I could see my future 80 year-old-self, I am 72 and my wife and I have just given up crossing oceans, pottering around on Puget Sound in such a boat.

Not a boat to get out of the Sound or sail in a winter storm but very sailable providing you like to go slow and you want to gunkhole. I once spent two weeks sailing the San Juans on a boat that size with a porta potty and our adult son... it was delightful.
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Old 15-10-2020, 06:07   #6
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

I'd like to respond to the typical negative wood stove comments here. I have had wood stoves on three boats over a 25 year span. What is so hard about the ash, the amount is tiny from a boat sized stove, they go in the garbage?
Also, I have never seen cinders coming from the stack, my sail bundle is three feet from the stack and doesn't even get smoke stains. I have always made a point of having very clean burning stoves though, maybe that's why.
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Old 15-10-2020, 06:29   #7
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Some nice features in that little boat, but as others have mentioned stay w/a more main stream boat/a proven track record.

The unstayed rig is good, but think larger like a cat ketch and nothing wrong w/the wood stove for nice dry heat. Many boats in that area use wood stoves for heating in the winter.

Looked quickly in the CL Seattle boats for sailboats and there were many 27' ish for ~2K. This might be better for your budget and much larger to live aboard.
So keep looking, you can find something better.
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Old 15-10-2020, 06:41   #8
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Okay, so I just looked at the pictures for that boat. That's a beautiful little boat and perfect for Puget sound, and for a starting sailor. Not to mention that is an excellent wood stove, they're very expensive and very well made, there in Washington I believe. If I still lived in the PNW, I have wintered over there heating with wood, I would be sorely tempted by that boat.
That boat won't win races, but there is nothing inherently slow about twin keel boats, Bruce King proved that years ago. Also very common in Europe.
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Old 15-10-2020, 06:56   #9
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Another boat in the area in the same price range, but much larger. https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/b...212029953.html
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Old 15-10-2020, 07:36   #10
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Bill, this is a sincere question, why do you think that 32-ft boat is a better boat for a starting sailor? I think everything about it is much more challenging. It will need a bunch more money to actually go in the water, then a lot more money to maintain it and moor it on an ongoing basis. Far more systems to sort out and maintain. More difficult to sail.
I agree, it's a lot more boat for the money than the boat he is looking at, but that's the problem, it's a lot more boat and might overwhelm him. Not to mention, the Seattle area is an expensive place to keep a boat, if he is in Seattle.

And for the OP's question about cats, I forgot to mention, my wife and I spent a year on a 25-ft boat with two cats, then we exchanged the two cats for a kid. The hard part is keeping the cats from wandering when docked.
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Old 15-10-2020, 08:12   #11
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

I think that is a charming boat and a good value for the price. I see lots of details that suggest it is well built. I suspect that if you showed up with cash a few dollars less than asking price the boat could be yours. Under no circumstances would I borrow money for this purchase.

I like the cat boat rig and twin keels. I would change out the porta potty for a composting head. The wood stove and wide berth are strong positives. This is a wide boat so it will feel much bigger than other boats of the same length. I would think this boat a fine home for the sailor who can keep possessions limited.

These home built boats are a thing unto themselves. Basic skills will be needed to maintain the boat, but the boat will hold its value when decently maintained. When it is time to sell there are buyers who value unique boats that are maintained.

This boat is fine for sheltered water, but to short for extended ocean voyaging. For living aboard you will find this shallow draft boat goes places other boats cannot get into.
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Old 15-10-2020, 08:16   #12
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlyons View Post
Bill, this is a sincere question, why do you think that 32-ft boat is a better boat for a starting sailor? I think everything about it is much more challenging. It will need a bunch more money to actually go in the water, then a lot more money to maintain it and moor it on an ongoing basis. Far more systems to sort out and maintain. More difficult to sail.
I agree, it's a lot more boat for the money than the boat he is looking at, but that's the problem, it's a lot more boat and might overwhelm him. Not to mention, the Seattle area is an expensive place to keep a boat, if he is in Seattle.

And for the OP's question about cats, I forgot to mention, my wife and I spent a year on a 25-ft boat with two cats, then we exchanged the two cats for a kid. The hard part is keeping the cats from wandering when docked.

It was mostly bang for the buck, the added room as a live aboard and extra equipment (inboard motor, wind vane, etc.).

Besides a live aboard and didn't mind a slow boat, didn't get a real sense of what he/she wanted to do w/the boat in the long run. IMO there was room to "grow" as a sailor in the 32.

Agree it will be more expensive to keep a 32 than a 21' in that area, but livability would be much better.

Not sure how much more money the 32' would need vs. the 21' to get it in the water. The 32' needed primer and bottom paint to put it in the water and some inside work. All doable for resourceful and diligent worker. Didn't see what work the 21 needed which could include getting hauled out to do a new bottom.

It was just an example of what was also in the area. As previously stated, there were others for cheaper listed on CL if that suited the OP.
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Old 15-10-2020, 08:42   #13
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Porta-potti. Twin keels. Wishbone rig. Minimal/no headroom. That lot would put me off buying it as a live aboard. Look for something without the points that I and others have mentioned.
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Old 15-10-2020, 08:56   #14
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

Interesting DAYSAILOR only. You would be miserable and the cats would leave. Here is another thought - check the local marina's for abandon or just never used boat. Many are in great shape and either have been left to someone, the owners have moved or just no longer use then. Here in our marina alone there are at least 3 sailboats over 25 foot, full headroom, good shape just dirty that can be had for under $1000. Check the Marina's especially the out of the way ones.
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Old 15-10-2020, 09:13   #15
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Re: Seeking advice about buying this custom twin keel sailboat as a new sailor

A lot of good responses in this thread. You should keep two considerations in mind; the first is always the resale - how easy will it be to unload it in the future when you're ready to upgrade? The second is the smelly "home built" aspect. Yes, home built boats can be solid and seaworthy but many are scary examples of cheap materials, corner cutting and substandard work.

Your one sentence where you state you can't afford $7900, I'd be concerned that when something semi-serious on the boat needs repair, you start to go negative.
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