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Old 01-10-2017, 22:03   #1
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New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

Greetings,
My name is Drew and I am from South Florida. As the title suggests, my fiance and I are looking for our first sailboat to live-aboard and cruise when we have free time. We have been inspired by a number of sailing blogs like Delos and La Vagabonde and have decided to take the plunge.

We are powerboaters and have owned a number of boats, including a 21' Chaparral bowrider, a 24' Chaparral cuddy cabin, and now a 30' Sea Ray Sundancer with twins that we are in the process of rebuilding due to partially rotted stringers.

As a young couple with no real financial responsibilities, zero debt, etc. we are pondering the possibility of buying a sailboat as our floating home with a mortgage that we would easily be able to pay off within 5-10 years by working full time (for now).

That said, we still want to sail and will take frequent weekend and short trips to the Keys and Tortugas out of Miami. We would also like to use our vacation time to cruise the Bahamas, especially Andros, the Exumas, and the Abacos as we are divers/free divers and love to observe the immense beauty of coral reefs. Thus, we want a seaworthy boat, not simply a floating home. Eventually we will want to cruise the Caribbean and maybe even head to the South Pacific via the tradewind route once we have years of experience.

So far we have looked at some new a Hunter 410 DS, a Hunter 420 CC, a Beneteau 411, and a Beneteau 423. We also looked at some new Jeanneaus and were unimpressed by the paneling and flimsy build. The older boats seem to be much higher quality. Of these boats, the 423 seems perfect. I understand this is one of Beneteau's best designs ever? My research says she sails quickly and is relatively seaworthy for a production boat. We loved the layout and spaciousness, combined with the streamlined design as opposed to the Hunters which felt very cheap and more like floating palaces. Any comments on these boat choices? We also love the Beneteau 44 CC with its tub, huge aft cabin, bulkhead wheel, hard dodger, and secure center cockpit. We have about 150k to spend over 10 years. We have paid cash for all of our other boats, but this is a substantial purchase and we are looking at it like a condo purchase, rather than a boat.

Personally, I don't mind a higher quality used boat, but financing seems to be an issue for boats older than 1997. I also prefer the newer boats due to no wood used for the stringers. I know the grids are possibly not as strong, but as someone who is currently rebuilding a boat, I don't want another huge project. I am very handy and can fix almost anything, but I want something new and without the possibility of rotted decks, stringers, etc. So years I am looking at are roughly '97-'07.

Any advice would be helpful and much appreciated! I am new to sailing, but not new at all to boating. We have boated from north of Miami to Key West and back in a 24'er and have gone diving at most of the main reefs in the keys, especially in the Key Largo area, so draft is probably a concern too as I know how shallow the Keys can be.

Lastly, who do the experts here recommend for financing and insurance, especially in the wake of Irma...? We will need to shop around I imagine, but any names to recommend so I can get that process started?

I look forward to hearing back from you all!

Cheers,
Drew
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Old 01-10-2017, 22:07   #2
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

I should also add that we are considering the Beneteau 461 and 473 as well, though we prefer a single wheel set up with a secure cockpit. We are pretty set on a Beneteau as we feel they are superior to Catalinas, Dufour, Bavaria (looked at a 46 that I forgot to mention), and Hunter. We like their layouts and feel they don't sacrifice hull design at the expense of a huge interior like the Hunter.

An Amel would be great, but they are generally either too old to finance or are too large for our needs.
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Old 02-10-2017, 01:19   #3
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

We know a Beneteau that is on it's second circumnavigation!
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Old 02-10-2017, 04:49   #4
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Drew.
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Old 02-10-2017, 06:46   #5
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

If you are not stuck on new boats. I know of a Spencer 35 ( the same model that Hal Roth did his circumnavigations on ). For cheap in San Diego California. The good she is in great shape with no core. ( solid glass hull and decks.). The bad the original engine needs replaced.
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Old 02-10-2017, 06:51   #6
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

Welcome, Drew. My first reaction, before I got into desired cruising range and live aboard was "Go learn sailing and then cruising first, and then buy what you want at that point." You're talking about a large and complex boat and task (cruising ain't just sailing) with no experience. So, how do you live that dream? Probably you go crew on some boats until you feel you'd be comfortable locally and daytime sailing a boat big enough to live on. Then gradually expand your envelope, learning anchoring, heavier weather, night sailing, multiple means of navigation (Plan B), electronics, and all the other stuff that goes into cruising. Classes help, and expose you to different boats, and so does volunteering as an extra hand, which is how I learned. Funny aside; I realized after we started cruising in retirement that I actually had very little experience with anchors - it had all been temporary stuff on small power boats. Good luck with it; but please don't just buy a boat and head for the Bahamas.
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Old 02-10-2017, 06:57   #7
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

If I was you, I'd buy an older blue water boat in cash, get cheap liability only insurance and use those mortgage payments as your cruising budget, you'll need it. May I suggest you look at Alberg 30's? Now there's a boat that doesn't sacrifice hull design at the expense of a huge interior :-)

http://bluewaterboats.org/alberg-30/
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Old 02-10-2017, 07:14   #8
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alberg30Shill View Post
If I was you, I'd buy an older blue water boat in cash, get cheap liability only insurance and use those mortgage payments as your cruising budget, you'll need it. May I suggest you look at Alberg 30's? Now there's a boat that doesn't sacrifice hull design at the expense of a huge interior :-)

The Alberg 30 Sailboat : Bluewaterboats.org
I was watching a young couple in Aus doing just this on a 30ft yacht. They were surprisingly frugal but seemed to be having a great time. I will see if I can find the you tube video later.

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Old 02-10-2017, 07:38   #9
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

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Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer View Post
We know a Beneteau that is on it's second circumnavigation!
Sweet, which model? I know there's currently a member on this forum who took a 423 to Fiji.
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Old 02-10-2017, 07:38   #10
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Drew.
Thank you!
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Old 02-10-2017, 07:42   #11
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

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Originally Posted by newhaul View Post
If you are not stuck on new boats. I know of a Spencer 35 ( the same model that Hal Roth did his circumnavigations on ). For cheap in San Diego California. The good she is in great shape with no core. ( solid glass hull and decks.). The bad the original engine needs replaced.
Link? It is going to be hard to get the admiral onboard with a smallish boat. In order to get her onboard, there will need to be creature comforts. We could easily rough it if the boat was just used for cruising, but for living aboard, it will need to have a nice shower, two heads, hot water, a/c, etc. Cost really isn't too big of a concern to be honest as it is just us and she has a good job and I am going to grad school to become a college professor.
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Old 02-10-2017, 07:51   #12
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

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Originally Posted by drewm3i View Post
Link? It is going to be hard to get the admiral onboard with a smallish boat. In order to get her onboard, there will need to be creature comforts. We could easily rough it if the boat was just used for cruising, but for living aboard, it will need to have a nice shower, two heads, hot water, a/c, etc. Cost really isn't too big of a concern to be honest as it is just us and she has a good job and I am going to grad school to become a college professor.
Here is the link https://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/...329016201.html
I have many more pictures she sent me as well as lots more info if you are serious about the boat.
SPENCER 35 MK I sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:10   #13
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Welcome, Drew. My first reaction, before I got into desired cruising range and live aboard was "Go learn sailing and then cruising first, and then buy what you want at that point." You're talking about a large and complex boat and task (cruising ain't just sailing) with no experience. So, how do you live that dream? Probably you go crew on some boats until you feel you'd be comfortable locally and daytime sailing a boat big enough to live on. Then gradually expand your envelope, learning anchoring, heavier weather, night sailing, multiple means of navigation (Plan B), electronics, and all the other stuff that goes into cruising. Classes help, and expose you to different boats, and so does volunteering as an extra hand, which is how I learned. Funny aside; I realized after we started cruising in retirement that I actually had very little experience with anchors - it had all been temporary stuff on small power boats. Good luck with it; but please don't just buy a boat and head for the Bahamas.
Thank you for your response and insight. I hope I didn't give the impression that I'm totally green when it comes to boating in general. I have been on the water since the day I was born pretty much. Granted power boating is different than sailing, I still am familiar with reading charts, installing/fixing electronics (ais/nmea2000, etc.), fixing engines and replacing filters, water pumps, etc. I also currently have a 30' boat that is a bear to dock due to no rudder so I understand how overwhelming a boat can be around the docks, even though every boat shrinks on the ocean. Anchoring is indeed an art and generally in the keys we use mooring balls. Still having the right anchor for each bottom and plenty of chain cannot be understated.

In the past, I've made the mistake of getting too small of a boat and having to upgrade within a year. After a week living and cruising on our 24' cuddy, we realized we needed a bigger boat. I don't want that to happen again. With these Beneteau, there is little difference between a 40' and 50'. They all have one engine and shaft, one rudder, the same suite of electronics, one windlass, etc. Besides, I am going to want a watermaker, wind generator, solar panels, and more when we start actually cruising longer distances.

Your idea of crewing a boat is a very good suggestion. Sailing is an art unlike power boating even though it shares much as I've highlighted above in common with power boating.
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:12   #14
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

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Originally Posted by newhaul View Post
Here is the link https://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/...329016201.html
I have many more pictures she sent me as well as lots more info if you are serious about the boat.
SPENCER 35 MK I sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
Sail boat data is a great site! I've been analyzing each model I've looked at on there, trying to find a medium displacement boat with a beefier structure to ballast ratio. I also want a fairly fast boat if possible, so greater length and hull speed is a consideration.
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Old 02-10-2017, 13:39   #15
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Re: New to sailing, looking for first sailboat!

With your background your learning curve will be quicker than most. You might consider getting that boat and hiring a coach for the sailing part. You're taking an unusual route - most move from sail to stinkpot rather than the other way around, and I see a lot of sailboats motoring on days that look perfect for sailing to me. Amen on the docking part - marinas now days crowd in the slips and seem to assume that you have bow thrusters and multiple props. Go for it, man.
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