Thursday, October 19, 2006

How to Buy a Boat - Day 566

We just spent the last five years looking for the Sailboat that is the best compromise for the criteria that we are looking for to embark on a major open ended sailing trip. Five years. So I have a few guidelines for anyone else looking for just such a vessel.

1. Read. You are not going to be able to sail every type of boat you are thinking about using. All the guides say to sail as many types of vessel as you can so you can decide what you want and I agree. The problem with this thinking is that you are not going to be able to decide what you want just by Sailing in a boat once. We don't really get to know a Sailboat until we have owned it for about three years. I can tell you more about your vessel having owned it for three years than you will ever know by chartering it for a week. You are going to have to find other owners and read their very biased opinions on what they have. I tend to listen less to what they say and watch more closely what they are doing. Someone who thinks Catalina's are great vessels to take across oceans but has never left the Great Lakes probably doesn't have much to add. Yes, there are people who have sailed a Catalina 27 around the world, but if you look at the typical Catalina 27 owner they like to stay within 25 miles from shore. I also look at how long they have been doing it. I will put more credence in someone who has been sailing 25 years over the couple that just bought their boat (that would be me)

2. Travel. You cannot find out what works by just looking at vessels on You have to find out for yourself what is working out in the real world. We visited Vancouver BC, Houston TX, Florida, Southern California, Boston and the entire West Coast of Michigan. In doing this we were able to get to know what many vessels were really like, and more importantly what their owners are like and how the boats were really being used. You find out very quickly what does and does not work in a hurry.
3. Sail. Pick a small inexpensive vessel and sail it as often as possible. I think this is the most skipped step of them all. Everyone is all abuzz about having the right boat and navigation system and electrical system and engine and keel and bla bla bla. You cannot use any of these if you don't know how to sail a vessel. Don't fall into the trap of sailing for ten years but sailing the same year over ten times. Go out in ridiculous conditions, learn what your boat does in heavy weather. Learn to sail in light winds. Learn. You cannot pick a boat if you don't know what floats yours. We got very used to having only 27 feet of boat. We don't want the expense of maintaining a 45 foot vessel. 27 is enough. When we started searching we knew that anything over 35 feet would bury us financially for maintenance and for the fun of taking it out. Next time you get to a harbor look at what size is out on the water SAILING. It is all the smaller boats. We also knew a 27 foot boat is enough to handle anything out there because we have been in it. We know what an 80kt microburst feels like. We have been in those conditions you read about in books where you cant hear anything over the wind in the rigging, or see anything unless you are on the peak of the wave. If you don't sail you will not know what you need and you will make buying decisions based off of the magazines or worse a broker at a boat show. DO NOT BUY A VESSEL BASED OFF OF WHAT YOU READ IN A MAGAZINE OR GET TOLD BY A BROKER. They have no basis in reality. Sail, Sail, Sail.
3. Trust someone. You are going to have to find a sailor you resonate with and trust them. If you follow Steve and Linda Dashew you are going to end up with a very large systems based vessel built with the idea of outrunning and avoiding weather. If you follow Eric and Susan Hiscock you are going to end up with a smaller and simpler vessel built to take care of itself. What kind of sailor are you? Do you want to have a washer and drier? The Dashew's are your people. Do you have less than 300k in your bank account? The Hiscock's are your people. We stumbled upon a couple we decided to trust by mistake. We chartered a Balboa 26 in the Florida keys for two weeks one winter that was designed by Lyle Hess. I loved how it sailed. When it came time to find a vessel to cross oceans with I started looking into what else he designed. It was either Lyle Hess or Bob Perry in my mind. I found out Lyle Hess also designed the Ensenada 22, our first and very well liked vessel. I also found that you can't do a search on Lyle Hess, who had passed away ten years ago, without hearing about the Pardey's. All of a sudden Larry and Lynn Pardey were everywhere I looked. I bought one of their books, "Self Sufficient Sailor" and loved it. They seemed like no nonsense people. I decided to go to one of their seminars more to see if they were full of crap than to listen to the seminar. We met two very easy to meet people who love sailing, and people. We decided that we would listen. Our new boat was built at the same time and along the same lines as their current vessel Taleisin. We have found little to disagree with in the Pardey philosophy, the main differences in that they have no children and they are very small people. That is another day's topic

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