1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: Buying a Sailboat, Part II

Friday, October 5, 2012

Buying a Sailboat, Part II

Lots of emails about the last post, thanks for showing your interest. I promised part two of how to buy a sailboat. First of all however, I have to remind you, this information is worth exactly what you're paying for it, and also, just about every other sailor will have a different opinion. So....with that caveat in mind, here we go.

Have you thought about WHY you want a sailboat, and how you would like to use it? If you're buying a car and you spend a lot of time in the bush, you're going to want a four by four, not a Miata, right? Same thing applies to sailboats. What sort of boating do you plan to do? Are you just going to daysail for a few hours on a sunny weekend? Or is your long range plan to cruise the islands of the Caribbean, or perhaps head off to Tahiti (see my post about Tahiti)? Or perhaps just something in between? Or, like so many, are you not quite sure just where sailing might lead you to? That's what happened to me - the plan was to buy a small boat just to sail about in Georgian Bay - and look what happened to me! Oh my, that wasn't the plan at all...
Most people like the thought of a boat big enough to overnight in, have a meal, change into a swimsuit...but not so big that it represents an overly large challenge. Depending on your need for comfort, there are boats from 20 feet on up that will answer those needs, including several I mentioned in the last post.
If your eventual plans are to roam farther afield, and your pocketbook can handle it, you still might be wise to get a smaller boat now, get comfortable with it, enjoy it for a year or two until it feels a bit tight around the shoulders - and then sell it for a bigger boat. 
The advantage to this is that you've not put too much money into owning a boat at a time when you're really not sure you're going to enjoy the sport. As well, the time spent with the smaller boat will educate you as to what you eventually want and need in a boat.
So do you want a monohull (single hulled boat) or a catamaran with two hulls? Lots of people like the room on a cat, but the room doesn't really appear until you're at 40 feet or so - before that, they tend to be a bit cramped, but in different ways than a monohull. Also, they don't sail as well, although for those who don't like heeling, they do sail flat. Lastly, they cost a bunch more.
Next, do you want a lightweight, fast boat, or a heavier, cruiser type boat? Full keel or fin? Outboard or inboard diesel? Single mast or ketch rig?
The questions go on and on....and in sailing, there will never be a definitive answer. For every person, it's different. That's why I suggest to new or wannabe sailors that they go to their local yacht club and offer to crew on race nights. You get a great education in that way - you learn to sail, you learn about boats and you learn about boating, and all at no cost, since you're crewing. By the time you've done a season or two racing, you'll have a pretty good handle on what you want and need in a boat - and it wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that it's not what you thought you wanted.
Ok, this post is getting a bit long - and there's so much more to cover. Comment, or email me if you have questions and I'll try to answer them.
And, Happy Thanksgiving to all (it's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend).