Getting started

Thread starter #1
I'm thinking of getting a used sail boat for me and my daughter and I would like some advice on what I might be getting into and how much work are they to maintain and how hard is sailing to learn. I have a small budget so I'm thinking I'd like to start off with something used around $8000. I would like something that we could stay modestly comfortable in for the weekend. If I find it suits us maybe then decide to try and go for a 20 or 30k boat to spend a lot more time on. Also note that I'll be starting out on fresh water if that makes a different. Thanks.
Hi lewashby,

It seems no one is responding to your posting so I guess I will provide a few things for you to think about.

Sailing is GREAT but it is not for everyone. You are wise to check it out before you get too much invested. Depending on how picky you are I would say that $8000 is more than enough to invest in a used boat just to see if you like sailing. I would consider used rather than new because of your stated goal of - to see if you like sailing. I am not sure but I believe you can get a Catalina 22 for less than you have budgeted. A lot depends on how nice of a boat you are looking for. This boat has a cabin and sleeps two plus it can easily be single handed. I am not recommending that you go out and buy a 22; there are plenty of other boats that will provide the same basic accommodations for the money you have to spend.

Sailing is not hard to learn if you have the desire and are willing to learn. Maintenance is whatever you make of it. You can spend hours cleaning and oiling teak or you can leave it natural with no maintenance – your choice. You can wax and polish weekly/annually or you can live with chalky looking fiberglass (oxidation). You can live with a motor that is hard to start or you can keep it tuned to perfection. The sheets and halyards can be ragged or replaced regularly (every few years). Maintenance depends on the condition of your boat when you purchase it and what you want it to look like as an owner – all your choice. Needless to say you will have to replace things that brake…

Perhaps the starting place would be to decide what you want to do other than just getting a boat and sailing. There are a number of questions to consider. Here are just a few:

· Where will you keep the boat when you are not sailing? On a trailer at your house or in a boat yard? On a mooring? In a slip? If at home, do you have the space in a garage or outside in the yard?

· How large/heavy of a boat will your vehicle pull?

· Will you be sailing in light winds, heavy winds? How often?

· Do you want a fixed or swing keel? It is far more difficult to trailer a fixed keel. A swing keel would be preferable if you expect to sail where the water gets shallow in areas.

· Are you willing to do some or a lot of work to pretty – up any boat you purchase? i.e. can you do repair work and upgrade work yourself or do you plan to have it done? This will affect work time or repair costs.

· Have you located and spoken with a mentor that is willing to help you learn to sail? Be sure you select someone that actually knows how to sail properly…

· Do you want an inboard or outboard motor?

· How long do you expect to keep the boat? Will it retain its value?

I would suggest you consider a cheap but sound boat with a cabin and probably a swing keel. You will most likely go with an outboard motor so be sure that it is in good condition. Look at the boat in the water and insist on having the seller give you a sail ride of at least an hour. At the end of the ride check the bilge for water and signs of water marks. I suggest you have a bilge pump just in case. After seeing that the boat will sail with the sails and all associated hardware pull the boat out of the water and check the bottom for damage. Obviously you will want to check the entire boat for damage and dry rot. The deck should be sound and not delaminated. If the deck feels soft and spongy use it as a diving board to jump off of the boat and run! Check the tack and clue of the sails and make sure all sails appear to be in reasonably good shape (no patches unless they are obviously repaired professionally). You will likely not be racing so having perfect, well shaped sails is not a high priority. Just keep in mind that this will be a training boat not a show boat or race boat – just safe fun.

There are a number of additional items that come to mind but if you concentrate on the above stuff you will probably do just fine. I suggest you get a good “how to” book on sailing. Start learning the lingo today. Before you go out to shop for boats it is good to know all of the terms – this will make the seller think you are an ole salt and will know if he is trying to mislead you. Knowing the nomenclature will make communications with your daughter much easier, more precise and more fun – make sure she is part of your study program from day one. Spend some time trying to get the sailing basics down before you hit the water. If you receive advice or instruction from anyone it will be beneficial to know what he means when he says “coming about” or “heading up” or “starboard bow” or “ease the jib sheet” or “broad reach” or “tighten the for halyard” or countless other nautical terms used by sailors. It may seem confusing at first but it will become second nature is a short time if you sail frequently and call “stuff” by its proper name. Learn to tie a few of the basic knots used when sailing; Bowen, figure eight, half hitch, square knot etc. Practice them until you can tie them without thinking.

I don’t know if this helps or not. Hopefully, someone will see my feeble attempt to address your question and mercifully step in and provide the advice you should receive.

I hope you and your daughter find sailing to be a fun, exciting and bonding experience. You will find that once you master the type of boat (sloop) mentioned above you will have enough knowledge and skill to step up to a bigger and perhaps more complex boat if that is your desire. The technics and skills you pick-up in your first “learning boat” are directly transferrable to any sloop. Post any questions you may have – we all started with little to no knowledge of sailing so there is no dumb questions.

Good luck!
Thread starter #3
Thanks boat. I have a Ford Escape, it's an 06 or 08 I can't remember, two wheel drive. Do you think it would pool a Catalina 22? I found another forum and a lot of people replied, I noticed that several of them mentioned the Catalina. I would prefer not to have to trailer my boat but I don't know if I'll be able to afford keeping it on the water, I've read that runs $100-$300 per month. Thanks again for the reply bout .
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Upside down?
Staff member
The first order of business is to learn sailing fundamentals. Community boat programs are the way to go, but may not be available where you live :(
One of the biggest things to consider with owning a sailboat is storage and maintenance. That's where some of the real costs can come in, especially if you have to pay for storage. Remember that if it's on a boat, it can break! At some point you may end up replacing nearly everything on the boat, just because it's a boat and stuff breaks. Boats are wonderful distractions and tons of fun but can be unexpectedly expensive. Just be prepared for it and plan ahead.