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Old 31-08-2020, 11:09   #1
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Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Iíve owned, or been owned, by 5 different sail boats, from a dory with a sailor to an Alden 32í sloop, a 42í wood sloop, a Lord Nelson 41 cutter, and a Bowman 57 ketch, which I owned and sailed for 14 years.
I read a lot of dreamers on this site asking for advice on what they should buy for their first boat.
1. Donít buy any boat, until youíve sailed on lots of other boats, FIRST. No amount of reading, chatting with other sailors, listening to a brokerís pitch will replace actual hands-on experience.
2. Donít buy a boat until you are proficient in sailing, know the Rules of The Road, understand weather and winds, and can navigate and steer with a compass. How do you learn this stuff. OBP =. On Other Peopleís Boats.
3. Donít ask what kind of boat would Ben best as a live aboard, go live on OPBs for a while. Get to know how much space you physically need to be comfortable.
4. Charter a boat for a week, anywhere.
5. Crew on OPB. Post a notice of your availabilly to crew at boat yards, marinas, marine stores, yachts clubs.
6. Take a class, take a few classes. Get to know other sailors, preferably those who own a boat and will invite you to crew.
WARNING
If on the other hand you are just a dreamer, wanting to chat endlessly about boats and have no intention on getting wet, than I suppose you can keep dreaming and asking questions.
Experience is the best advice I can give.
Log on to www.SailOPO.com to learn about crewing opportunities on large boats going offshore to the Caribbean.
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Old 31-08-2020, 11:28   #2
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

OR, take the more traditional path:

1) Buy a small day sailor, learn to sail. Decide if you like it.

2) Buy a larger boat, travel a little further for a little longer. Stay out. Decide if you like it

3) Buy a larger boat and start trying to spend vacations out and about. This will really start telling you what you like, want, need.

4) By a larger boat.

5) Rinse, repeat, or find something you do like spending your time and money on.

The initial post is a great idea for those who want to start out with a 35 foot boat and cast lines as their first boat. While there is no wrong way. Starting out with your "ideal boat" as the goal and skipping all the steps in between can also be your fastest path to frustration and failure.
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Old 31-08-2020, 12:16   #3
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Or my way... which I do not regret and despite some hiccups here and there, it's been a great experience or maybe I just got lucky.

1) Take the basic ASA courses: 101, 103, 104, 105, and possibly 106 (I did my learning on 22 to 28 foot sailboats with a little outboard)
2) Go as crew on a few week-long charters somewhere (I did BVI, St. Marteen, and Croatia as crew)
3) Go as skipper on a few week-long charters somewhere (I did BVI, St. Marteen, St. Lucia, Belize, and Thailand as skipper)
4) Go and buy a boat if you have the $$$ (I purchased a 40-foot monohull)
5) ENJOY!!

[edit]
I did all of the above on a budget while being poor in my 20's... courses were relatively cheap... crew trips were as cheap as possible ($1000-$1500 per week)... skipper trips were about the same in terms of pricing.
[/edit]
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Old 31-08-2020, 12:20   #4
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

OTOH

I had never sailed. Took lessons on a 36' C&C. Joined a sail club for 3 months and sailed on Cal-33s. Then got my first boat, a Cal-39, that I sailed for 2 seasons. Then got my current boat that I have had for 10 years.

In that time I have only sailed 1 other boat, an old Bristol 34 for 1 day.

I am very happy with my current boat and glad I didn't spend years and lots of wasted money sampling 3-5 more choices among the 1000s in order to understand what I wanted.
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Old 31-08-2020, 12:27   #5
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Yes. Agreed. You can short cut the process AND save a lot of money buy learning on other peopleís boats.
I grew up in boats. Sailing dinghys, ski boats, mate on a sports fisherman, U S Navy, drove boats for people for 25 years I was 30 before I bought my first boat, an Alden 32 foot Barnical. Owned it for ten years. Bought a 41 footer. Had that for ten years. Sailed to the Caribbean and back, then to the Bahamas, from Maine. Then a Lord Nelson FG 41 footer. Sailed her between Maine and the Caribbean for ten years, rode out 3 hurricanes. You can read that 3 part story in the May, June and July editions of CaribbenCompass.com
Lost the LN in hurricane Marilyn in Great Cruise Bay, St. John. USVI in 1995.
Then SEARCHER. A Bowman 57 ketch. Thereís a story in the August edition of CC on the familyís sail from the BVI down to Bequia ten years ago on that boat.
More stories in CC and Cruising World coming.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:30   #6
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

DiD none of your suggestions so here the alternative. Research boats . A d read read read .
When you find to boat for your purpose
Get a good survey . And buy no need to splash it . If you want it get it
Never sailed on anyone else boat. Never took a charter . Never took lessons.
Read read read. Get a skipper to come out for a few trips to give some good pointers . And go sailing, you will either learn quickly or not.
Mind over matter .
Some people need to follow what others say. Others can jump far ahead of the steps and get on with sailing tbeir boat.
There is never ever a right or wrong it is the person learning and how they learn . Find your own course
I also bought my first boat on one look with a helpful broker that helped me knock off 15000 uk pounds of the price
Not everyone is out to scam you .
That's me experience and should only be used as a guideline as it is your way no one else.
Take advice there is some great advice out there but there is also the doommongers that always have the glass half empty
My glass is always full
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:49   #7
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

All good ideas and perspectives. Here's another thought. Look at all the things on the boat that can break or need service. Talk to others about this to make sure you've not missed anything. Then when you're looking at that new prospective boat ask yourself these questions about all those things you've identified. Can you SEE it? Can you REACH it? Finally, can you see it and reach it at the same time? Of course check service records carefully. As you may have guessed I didn't to those three things for my current boat.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:58   #8
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Everyone finds their own path. I learned how to sail on a sunfish while working a summer job on a lake during high school. In my 30’s I had a 18’ Hobbie cat I sailed in the sea of Cortez in Mexico. Then I moved to DC, got divorced, and bought a tired old Islander 29, as much for therapy as anything, and brought that back to life. Read Chapman, sailed with friends and dock mates who knew more than I did (low bar). That’s when I really learned to sail. Remarried, and now I’m teaching my kids to sail.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:21   #9
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

This probably is not popular with all of you 'Old Salts', but I 'fell in love' with my first boat. It wasn't a calculated or checklist 'rational' decision. It was a in matter of "knowing" it when I found her--that is what happened. She was listed for twice what my budget could stretch to, 8 feet longer than what I thought I should get, and a manufacture that I had no knowledge about. BUT, "I just knew"-- a little voice in my head screamed at me.
That was the beginning of nearly 23 years of awesome sailing including fitting to do two races to Hawaii and back, racing her Single-handed, cruising including the PNW, Mexico, etc.
She has a new home where again, she is treasured and I still frequently sail with the new owner.
I looked for the 'right' boat for over a year, Seattle to San Diego and nothing 'spoke' to me until I stepped aboard her in the dark and heard that voice in my head as I entered the companionway. I had looked at over 100 boats.
So I say, "You will know when you have found your boat."
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:01   #10
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Buy your boat and get on with it.Life is too short
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:08   #11
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
OR, take the more traditional path:
1) Buy a small day sailor, learn to sail. Decide if you like it.
2) Buy a larger boat, travel a little further for a little longer. Stay out. Decide if you like it
3) Buy a larger boat and start trying to spend vacations out and about. This will really start telling you what you like, want, need.
4) By a larger boat.
5) Rinse, repeat, or find something you do like spending your time and money on.
The initial post is a great idea for those who want to start out with a 35 foot boat and cast lines as their first boat. While there is no wrong way. Starting out with your "ideal boat" as the goal and skipping all the steps in between can also be your fastest path to frustration and failure.
I agree. And let's not forget-

- If you have a sail boat and get tired of going slow, get a power boat. If you have a power boat and get tired of the noise and expense, do yourself and mother nature a favor and get a sail boat.

- When you get tired of the expense and hassle of a larger boat, or your wife gives you an ultimatum (or leaves you), downsize to the smallest boat practical.

- When you're pushing 80 and thinking you might be getting too old to handle your boat by yourself, trade for something newer and smaller and outfit it with gadgets that do the work for you (autopilot, windlass, electric winches, thrusters, etc). After all, you can't take it with you!
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Old 01-09-2020, 20:38   #12
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Been around boats my whole life not as much as some here. Learned to sail in a Gruman 17 foot canoe when I was in single digit age. Took it out alone as a pre teen. Built a 38 foot steel Spray replica when I was 25, ( my fathers boat ). Until covid was planning to runaway on a Downeaster. Just do it you might get run over by a bus tomorrow.
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Old 02-09-2020, 00:11   #13
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
OR, take the more traditional path:

1) Buy a small day sailor, learn to sail. Decide if you like it.
What if I liked the sailing but hated the little boat (felt too unstable, capsizing them was not at all unheard of) and disliked extreme heeling?

(When the current pandemic is over I want to try sailing on a reasonable size catamaran sometime.)
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:09   #14
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Everybody has a way that works for themselves. I grew up sailing on daysailors and Sunfish, and then my dad bought a 27 footer with no engine, and I sailed on that. The thing that is hard to understand until you own a "big boat" is all the systems that come with a big boat that do not come with a smallish boat. But if you go sailing, and find you love sailing, or you just love the idea of being on your own boat, self-sufficient and traveling to new places, then find a boat and make that dream come true.

My dad's 27 footer had a battery that lit the running lights, and that was about it. Auxiliary power was an outboard. No electronics, of course (this was the '70's), and tiller steering. On my Pearson 36 cutter, there are all the normal systems of a boat that can cross oceans: inboard diesel, electronics, windlass, large house bank of batteries, freshwater system, refrigerator, autopilot, solar, wheel steering and associated linkage, radar, etc. There is a lot of reading and hands-on learning to be done to be able to use and maintain those systems. Which is not a bad thing, but it's a steep learning curve if your prior experience is day sailing, and it helps to be handy and to enjoy, at least a bit, mechanical tinkering.

So to my mind, unless you want to be a racer, the sailing part is easy to learn, and is best learned first on a dinghy / sunfish / laser. Bigger sails have more power and more complex rigging, but all the concepts transfer from Sunfish or day sailor to big boat, generally. And anyway, you can hone your skills on sail trim, etc, as you go along; that's a big part of the fun!
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Old 01-10-2020, 13:39   #15
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Re: Buying your first boat, advise from an owner.

Here is another perspective my dear unknown friends. I personally don't know how to sail but I've been on boats. Half of my family are sailors but I am NOT. My wife always dreamt of sailing together with our daughter. We did have plans to learn sailing and buy a boat. While making plans, someone causes an accident and my wife and daughter died while I was in cast for 24 months with broken neck. I am now ok, moving my neck about 70% less but in great physical condition otherwise. It’s been 4 months since I’ve been reading everything about sailing. Since nothing is keeping me ashore I will be taking all possible classes now, then buying a boat, name it after my girls, get a skipper for the first 15-30 days in open sea and learn the damn thing. Then sail away as I have to fulfil that dream! Would I fail? Nope. Determination, desire and keep pushing for that dream! Life is not short. Ii is very, very short! The only thing we cannot take back or make more of is time. Happy to be part of this community now! It is always a matter of point of view. The glass should be always full! Cheers!
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