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Beginner Questions

Jul 29, 2021
4
n/a n/a n/a
Hello folks,

I'm basically a beginner to sailing "real" boats. I've got no formal sailing experience in terms of being "school-trained", if there is such a thing. I have a canoe with a sailing rig that I've played with for years, and I can handle that just fine. And I took a course recently to learn some of the terms and whatnot so I don't sound totally clueless talking to people with real boats; but I fully admit that I'm no expert.

Anyhow, as time has gone by, I've also gotten a pretty large family and I'm looking to get something a little bigger to take at least some of them sailing. I've got some criteria I think are reasonable, but I just don't know the market, what's good, what's not so good, and so on, so I'm not sure what to aim for. I know names like "Catalina", "Hunter", "O'Day", and others like "MacGregor" and "Chrysler" that seem to be in a similar category. Opinions seem to differ a lot about any and all of those makers; I guess that stands to reason. (Really, the name doesn't matter to me. It's more about the boat and its capabilities.)

Another thing by way of background: I'm making this decision to get more into sailing later than probably many other people do. Let's just say I've spent five decades on this rock and call it good for now. I'm in good health, I think I have my wits about me, and I see people way older than me sailing around on all sorts of things, great and small, fancy and more modest. So, I'm guessing I won't be alone in this category.

So, I'm looking for some recommendations or at least some thoughts about what kind of boat to get. Here are a few criteria that I think are important to me:

* I'd like the boat to be "trailerable". I'm about an hour away from the open water and I just don't like the idea of leaving my boat alone, in the water, when I'm not there. I'd also like to avoid marina fees *for now*. And as another practical matter, I'd like the boat to be with me, at my home, so I can tinker with it when it's not in the water.

* I'd like to get something that can sleep 4-5 people fairly comfortably. Not five-star hotel quality, just something that I and a few others could overnight in without feeling like we're stacked up like cord wood. Or if the weather gets really bad, somewhere where you could sit where it's dry.

* Maybe as an addendum to that, I'd like to get something that I could do some coastal cruising in. I'm currently in the Great Lakes region and one of the things on my bucket list is to someday sail down the St. Lawrence and along the East Coast of the US. (I don't see myself sailing the ocean blue anytime soon; maybe one day, and if that day comes, I'll probably get a bigger boat.) So, I guess something big enough to have a small galley & head would be a good idea.

* So, I guess the biggest trade-off here is size: Big enough to sleep 4-5 people, but small enough to trailer.

* Another thing for me would be simplicity and ruggedness. Don't need any fancy bells or whistles that are subject to easy breakage: I don't even like automatic window switches on my cars, to give you an idea of what I mean by simple.

* Not sure what material would be best. Something that is long-lasting, that I could repair myself sounds good at least in theory.

* Totally unnecessary, but a "fun to have" would be something that looks like an old-time boat. I know that's highly subjective and I'm not sure how to explain it. Wood decking or wood highlights? I guess you could add those after the fact, though...

Well, that's all I can think of for now. If any of you would like to take a stab at some recommendations, I'm all ears. I think this is the right place for this question, but if it isn't then the mods are welcome to move it to where it belongs.

Thanks,

WP6
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,403
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Welcome to the forum!!

Good starting selection criteria!! Suggest considering what tow vehicle you will use, maximum beam width of 8 feet 6 inches wide or less for trailering in most states, inboard or outboard engine, water ballast or swing keel, budget, etc. There are plenty of trailerable sailboats out there.............too many to list and you will get many recommendations from this site. It will be interesting to see if the forum can propose one that will sleep 4-5 people at least in the cabin. Do an search on this forum on "trailable sailboats" and you will see plenty of threads on this subject (1) Search results | Sailboat Owners Forums . Please let the forum know what you decided and post photos of your new sailboat.
 
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Dec 28, 2015
1,326
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
I think you are over reaching with staying trailerable and sleeping 4-5. It’s not just sleeping, it’s living to include going to the bathroom. . My 30ft gets small with three after 3-4 days.
I am about 45 minutes from my slipped boat. I would be using my boat about 2/3rds less if I trailered and had to rig it every time. I would assume it would be at least another 1.5 hours to launch, rig then load and derig every time. I would recommend considering slipping during what you would consider your sailing season.
Find someone who knows how to sail to take with you for a number of times, concentrate on learning to sail single handed. Do not take your family with you until you are comfortable yourself. Nothing stops people (family) wanting to go if they are uncomfortable and then do not have confindence in you ( the Captain ).
 
Aug 2, 2009
455
Catalina 28MKII Muskegon
Trailering sucks. There was a time, like in the 70's, when you'd see sailboats being trailered to their destinations, but reality set in and people figured out that reality didn't meet the dream. For a variety of reasons. Not the least being, setup. And taking the rig apart at the end of the day.

Trailering, on a per use basis as you suggest, is only viable with a boat under 18 feet or so. 14 to 16 feet being ideal. There are a few longer boats that trailer well, like a Sea Pearl 21.

To sleep 4 to 5 people in any kind of comfort, figure 25+ feet.

I've trailered on a regular per use basis, a 16 monohull, 15 foot catamaran, 14 foot monohull, and for a short period of time, a Holder 20. All but the Holder 20 were fun. Currently have a 31 footer in a slip.
 
Jan 19, 2010
9,905
Hunter 26 Charleston
You are off to a great start. The big newbie error I see often is not having a clear understanding of HOW you want to use the boat. You seem to have that down.

One of your criteria that needs to be expanded is "So, I guess the biggest trade-off here is size: Big enough to sleep 4-5 people, but small enough to trailer. "
This depends on your tow vehicle. If you have a big truck then a Grampion 26 or Balboa 26 might be your boat.

If you want something a little easier to tow but still in the "sleeps 4-5 range" I would recommend something in the water ballast catagory or some of the 25' swing keel boats... however, some of the water ballest sailboats on the market are hybrid sailboat/power boats and those are for another thread entirely. Some people love them but if you are looking for something that sails well, ... anyway, I digress.

Try to poke your head into
MacGregor 25' -Iron swing keel - relatively stiff
O'Day 25' - Iron swing keel - relatively stiff
Catalina 250 - water ballast
Hunter 26 - water ballast
Hunter 260 - water ballast
MacGregor 26s or 26d (collectivley called the 26c; c=classic).
 
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Jan 19, 2010
9,905
Hunter 26 Charleston
One more... The Rhodes 22 is a VERY LARGE boat for only 22' but is easy to trailer, launch and raise the mast.
 
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Mar 6, 2008
672
Catalina 1999 C36 MKII #1787 Coyote Point Marina, CA.
Trailer able = 26 feet or less
Requires vehicle with 10,000 lb hitch
Mast raising requires 2 or more people
Setting up running rigging takes about 1 hour
Requires hitch extension tong
Place in water during high tide only
No ocean sailing as it's hull is only 1/4"thick
It is a lake boat
3 sailors only
Not a racer
Good, you can take to different lakes
Low maintenance at your house
Your home owner's insurance will cover it at no additional cost
It is a good starting boat. I went from H25.5 to C36
Do not rush. Go out with others and see what you like.
Take ASA or US Sailing 102 and 103 classes. This will provide opportunity to experience 25' sail boats and rules of the road and seamanship.
Have fun
Haro
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,403
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
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Jan 19, 2010
9,905
Hunter 26 Charleston
Trailer able = 26 feet or less
Requires vehicle with 10,000 lb hitch
Mast raising requires 2 or more people
Setting up running rigging takes about 1 hour
Requires hitch extension tong
Place in water during high tide only
No ocean sailing as it's hull is only 1/4"thick
It is a lake boat
3 sailors only
Not a racer
Good, you can take to different lakes
Low maintenance at your house
Your home owner's insurance will cover it at no additional cost
It is a good starting boat. I went from H25.5 to C36
Do not rush. Go out with others and see what you like.
Take ASA or US Sailing 102 and 103 classes. This will provide opportunity to experience 25' sail boats and rules of the road and seamanship.
Have fun
Haro
So obviously you are going to get a lot of opinions and opinions are personal so like @JoeWhite said "Go out (snip) and see what you like".

Regarding Joe's list... (and another's opinion)
Trailer able = 26 feet or lessTrue
Requires vehicle with 10,000 lb hitchNot always true... The H26 weighs in at 2600# empty
Mast raising requires 2 or more peopleNot always true... I do mine solo all the time
Setting up running rigging takes about 1 hourUsually true
Requires hitch extension tongI have this on my trailer... have never used it
Place in water during high tide onlyDepends on the ramp
No ocean sailing as it's hull is only 1/4"thickI coastal cruise all the time and have sailed the Chesapeake, the Albemarle, Pamlico and Florida coast. But Joe is correct about passage making. Keep your eye on the weather and be vigalent.
It is a lake boatNah!
3 sailors onlyDepends on the boat and how it is set up
Not a racerAgree
Good, you can take to different lakesTrue... and different coastal waters
Low maintenance at your houseAgree
Your home owner's insurance will cover it at no additional costYou should add liability.
 
May 24, 2004
6,746
CC 30 South Florida
First tell us where do you intend to sail, what's your budget and what's your intended tow vehicle. Let me start by saying that the design purpose of a trailer boat is to be able to move the boat in a short amount of time to enjoy varied distant sailing destinations. It is not practical to choose a trailer sailboat for the purpose of being able to store it at home. I can tell you that keeping a sailboat in a trailer, especially if you are an hour away from the water, is the quickest way of loosing interest in sailing. The Towing, the setting up, the raising and lowering the mast, the launching and retrieving gets old real quick and you will soon will be making excuses why today is not a good day to go out. A 20% chance of rain in the weather forecast will seem like a very good excuse. Seen many sailboats growing weeds in home backyards. At the very least you should consider using a marina where you can store the boat, mast up on it's trailer. That way you just show up and launch and retrieve the boat and save some money on the cost of a wet slip. Let us know your particulars about location, budget, how do you mostly intend to use the boat (daysailing, weekending, coastal cruising). Hope I have not dampen your interest but just trying to help you avoid a costly mistake.
 
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Jun 8, 2004
8,845
-na -NA Anywhere USA
As a former dealer, I concur with
@sail sfbay that you need to tell us more what you want to do with a sailboat first. @rgranger pointed out many things to consider. If you want to talk with a retired dealer, send me a private message with name, location and number which I never disclose to anyone not even my wife. Others will vouch for me. I am not going to write a long dissertation but will rely on you what you decide to do reporting back to the forum

Dave Condon
 
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Jan 1, 2006
5,950
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Welcome to SBO! Will your wife share in the sailing trips? If so she’ll appreciate a real head and shower. You’ll prolly want a dink, which can be as simple as a kayak. But if you’re going to have the family in close quarters you’ll want them to have a way to explore off the boat. I’m tempted to suggest a Hobie 33, which is a racing boat but is trailer able. It was designed to travel to weekend regattas, with the crew sleeping aboard. Only sitting head room. That’s an out of the box idea.
more later.
 
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Dec 28, 2020
42
O'Day 19 Marina Del Rey
I'll offer some perspective, since I recently jumped into this hobby. First off, there's really no beating a small boat for learning or for fun. I started with a Lido 14, which will seat six (but won't sleep any of them), and we frequently went out with 3 or 4 on board and had a great time. You could set the thing up and be out on the water in less than 15 minutes. This is important if you have kids. The other thing is that everyone on board a small boat is involved, 100% of the time. Someone's skippering, everyone else is crewing, and everyone is moving around because human ballast is what keeps you out of the water. The good thing about this is that the kids feel an involvement and an investment that isn't always the case on bigger boats. It's not a lot of fun to be a piece of cargo on a vehicle that goes slower than you could jog -- at least that's what I've picked up from my kids.

Now, we moved up to a bigger boat, finally. There's a gravity to this hobby that makes you want to be able to go farther from your home port. With just an increase to 19', the setup time has more than doubled. Again, this is not a big deal for me (although it's not a whole lot of fun), but it's a big blow to the kids, who do NOT enjoy rigging the bigger boat as much as the smaller one. I think this is primarily because of the extra time involved.

Sleeps-Six.jpg



My Mariner 19 has a toilet and sleeps six, but that really only means something if you're someone whose idea of a fun time with the family is sleeping under the dining room table. It maybe looks inviting in this picture, but trust me: it is not something I'd want to camp in with more than one (maybe two) kids -- and even so, it's going to be claustrophobic.

As I've figured it out, the fun of this hobby is in the doing. And if only Dad is doing the sailing, then everybody else is going to be bored at best and seasick-and-bored at worst. My takeaway is that even when they bring their friends, everyone on board has to learn how the boat works and has to play a role in keeping it going over the water.

We also have a camper. I personally don't think that any trailerable boat is going to compare to that experience, for kids. But then, maybe that's because I haven't moved up to an (even) bigger boat yet. :cool:
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,950
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
You're on a good track. You get the issues.
There's a whole genre of sailing/campers. Tents on shore etc. Folks have made good trips in small boats. The web site offcenterharbor.com has many videos of such voyages. You'd be amazed by some of them. Not saying that's the way for you, but it wouldn't hurt to see how they do it.
And there are pop tops. That is sailboats which have an extendable cabin top to make more interior space. I think the Cal 20 is one and it sails very well.
And there are the Cat boats. Not Catalinas. Shallow draft wide boats with one sail and a barnyard rudder and a centerboard. Easy to launch and rig. Good to excellent space below. Stabile and mostly good sailers. Many families that own one keep it for generations. Don't narrow your focus too quickly.
 
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Jul 29, 2021
4
n/a n/a n/a
Good evening folks,

So, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who've responded so far. You've given me a lot of good feedback to consider. There's a lot there, so I'm going to try to answer the points/questions that stick out to me the most...

I think you are over reaching with staying trailerable and sleeping 4-5. It’s not just sleeping, it’s living to include going to the bathroom. . My 30ft gets small with three after 3-4 days.
I am about 45 minutes from my slipped boat. I would be using my boat about 2/3rds less if I trailered and had to rig it every time. I would assume it would be at least another 1.5 hours to launch, rig then load and derig every time. I would recommend considering slipping during what you would consider your sailing season.
You might be right. The more I look at photos of different boats, the more I start to see the reality of spatial limitations taking into consideration those criteria.

In terms of set-up & tear-down, that would definitely be a consideration. Like I mentioned, I'm about an hour from being able to put in a boat on one of the Great Lakes, so I have to figure that into the equation. And then I'm assuming you have that same amount of time at the end of the day/trip. So, that's like four hours with your boat when you're not actually sailing.

It's a give-and-take, I know: you can't have everything.

I could get a slip at a marina. The summer-weather sailing season here is pretty short, maybe three months or so, so it wouldn't be that big of an expense. But like I said, if my boat is at the marina, then it's going to be an hour away; and if I want to do maintenance or improvements on it when it's not in the water, the distance would be a big drag.

Find someone who knows how to sail to take with you for a number of times, concentrate on learning to sail single handed. Do not take your family with you until you are comfortable yourself. Nothing stops people (family) wanting to go if they are uncomfortable and then do not have confindence in you ( the Captain ).
Well, I didn't mention that my father-in-law had a 40 foot something-or-other several years ago (unfortunately, he sold it before I was in a position to buy it, but then I don't know if I would've wanted that big of a boat right off the bat), and I went out on that a few times, too. Not enough to get real, consistent experience, of course: that's one of the reasons I took a sailing class (ASA 101). In any case, of course I wouldn't risk taking my family out, especially my younger children, while I'm not sure of my own capabilities and experience. Point well taken.

Trailering, on a per use basis as you suggest, is only viable with a boat under 18 feet or so. 14 to 16 feet being ideal. There are a few longer boats that trailer well, like a Sea Pearl 21.

To sleep 4 to 5 people in any kind of comfort, figure 25+ feet.

I've trailered on a regular per use basis, a 16 monohull, 15 foot catamaran, 14 foot monohull, and for a short period of time, a Holder 20. All but the Holder 20 were fun. Currently have a 31 footer in a slip.
Out of curiosity, why was the Holder 20 not fun?

First tell us where do you intend to sail, what's your budget and what's your intended tow vehicle.
Right now, I plan on sailing around in the Great Lakes, along the coast till I get more experience, then further off shore and so on. Eventually, I'd like to take a trip down the St. Lawrence, and then down the East Coast. I live in Michigan now, but I'm from Maryland originally. I think it would be a fun adventure to sail from Michigan to Maryland someday. But I'm still several years away from being able to take off that amount of time. I'm looking at day & weekend trips for the next several years.

Budget-wise... I don't know... I'd like to keep it no more than about $5,000 for a beginner boat. I don't know how realistic that is, but I see plenty of used boats online in that price range that seem viable.

Let me start by saying that the design purpose of a trailer boat is to be able to move the boat in a short amount of time to enjoy varied distant sailing destinations. It is not practical to choose a trailer sailboat for the purpose of being able to store it at home. I can tell you that keeping a sailboat in a trailer, especially if you are an hour away from the water, is the quickest way of loosing interest in sailing. The Towing, the setting up, the raising and lowering the mast, the launching and retrieving gets old real quick and you will soon will be making excuses why today is not a good day to go out. A 20% chance of rain in the weather forecast will seem like a very good excuse. Seen many sailboats growing weeds in home backyards. At the very least you should consider using a marina where you can store the boat, mast up on it's trailer. That way you just show up and launch and retrieve the boat and save some money on the cost of a wet slip. Let us know your particulars about location, budget, how do you mostly intend to use the boat (daysailing, weekending, coastal cruising). Hope I have not dampen your interest but just trying to help you avoid a costly mistake.
I appreciate your candor, and it doesn't dampen my interest. As I mentioned above, I've been thinking about the same things in terms of set-up and tear-down. I haven't sailed my little canoe in a few years, mostly because I got tired of dragging it out, putting it on the top of my Suburban (that would be my tow vehicle), driving to the lake, putting the sail rig on the canoe, then going sailing, then taking it all apart and putting it back on my vehicle, then taking it back off again when I got home. The time on the water was a lot of fun, but the before and after phases were just not fun.

Maybe keeping the boat set up at a marina, but not in the water is a happy medium, but again I think you lose the ability to tweak your boat if it's an hour away...

...Maybe I just need to move to the water, have my own dock, get a boat, and keep it in the water...


Welcome to SBO! Will your wife share in the sailing trips? If so she’ll appreciate a real head and shower.
Absolutely. That's a good point, but I guess that would really only matter down the line, once we spend more than a night or two on the boat. I don't know if I'd need a shower on a small, first boat. At most, it would be a "nice-to-have".

You’ll prolly want a dink, which can be as simple as a kayak. But if you’re going to have the family in close quarters you’ll want them to have a way to explore off the boat. I’m tempted to suggest a Hobie 33, which is a racing boat but is trailer able. It was designed to travel to weekend regattas, with the crew sleeping aboard. Only sitting head room. That’s an out of the box idea.
more later.
I don't mind out of the box ideas, so thanks. I just looked at that kind of boat on sailboatdata.com. That looks like it has a really deep keel described as a "lifting keel". Does it push up into the boat when the boat is not in the water? If not, it's hard to imagine it being trailerable.


I'll offer some perspective, since I recently jumped into this hobby. First off, there's really no beating a small boat for learning or for fun. I started with a Lido 14, which will seat six (but won't sleep any of them), and we frequently went out with 3 or 4 on board and had a great time. You could set the thing up and be out on the water in less than 15 minutes. This is important if you have kids. The other thing is that everyone on board a small boat is involved, 100% of the time. Someone's skippering, everyone else is crewing, and everyone is moving around because human ballast is what keeps you out of the water. The good thing about this is that the kids feel an involvement and an investment that isn't always the case on bigger boats. It's not a lot of fun to be a piece of cargo on a vehicle that goes slower than you could jog -- at least that's what I've picked up from my kids.

<snip>

As I've figured it out, the fun of this hobby is in the doing. And if only Dad is doing the sailing, then everybody else is going to be bored at best and seasick-and-bored at worst. My takeaway is that even when they bring their friends, everyone on board has to learn how the boat works and has to play a role in keeping it going over the water.
That's a really great point. Yes, I like the idea of everyone being involved in the sailing, not just sitting around while the boat is scooting along at 5 knots. Someone on the tiller, a couple of people on the lines, someone playing "look-out", someone playing "captain". To me, that sounds like a great team-building exercise and would be a whole lot more memorable than just being a passive passenger.
 
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Jan 19, 2010
9,905
Hunter 26 Charleston
I'll offer some perspective, since I recently jumped into this hobby. First off, there's really no beating a small boat for learning or for fun. I started with a Lido 14, which will seat six (but won't sleep any of them), and we frequently went out with 3 or 4 on board and had a great time. You could set the thing up and be out on the water in less than 15 minutes. This is important if you have kids. The other thing is that everyone on board a small boat is involved, 100% of the time. Someone's skippering, everyone else is crewing, and everyone is moving around because human ballast is what keeps you out of the water. The good thing about this is that the kids feel an involvement and an investment that isn't always the case on bigger boats. It's not a lot of fun to be a piece of cargo on a vehicle that goes slower than you could jog -- at least that's what I've picked up from my kids.

Now, we moved up to a bigger boat, finally. There's a gravity to this hobby that makes you want to be able to go farther from your home port. With just an increase to 19', the setup time has more than doubled. Again, this is not a big deal for me (although it's not a whole lot of fun), but it's a big blow to the kids, who do NOT enjoy rigging the bigger boat as much as the smaller one. I think this is primarily because of the extra time involved.

View attachment 196637


My Mariner 19 has a toilet and sleeps six, but that really only means something if you're someone whose idea of a fun time with the family is sleeping under the dining room table. It maybe looks inviting in this picture, but trust me: it is not something I'd want to camp in with more than one (maybe two) kids -- and even so, it's going to be claustrophobic.

As I've figured it out, the fun of this hobby is in the doing. And if only Dad is doing the sailing, then everybody else is going to be bored at best and seasick-and-bored at worst. My takeaway is that even when they bring their friends, everyone on board has to learn how the boat works and has to play a role in keeping it going over the water.

We also have a camper. I personally don't think that any trailerable boat is going to compare to that experience, for kids. But then, maybe that's because I haven't moved up to an (even) bigger boat yet. :cool:
I agree with everything in this thesis.... 100%
 
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Jan 19, 2010
929
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
The six Ps of life do apply here.. You appear to be be using the first 2 Ps that negate the last 4 Ps...

PROPER PLANNING PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE ...


accordingly, you might want to limit your search to boats who's manufacturer is still in business.

Once you become well versed in older boats care you can look at boats that are no longer supported by the manufacturers but are still great boats to own..
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,403
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Another option to consider is keep the boat at a marina with the mast up on a trailer assuming there one. Then you only have hitch it up and launch it. No rigging and de-rigging. Lower cost than berthing it in the water. That is what the majority of trailerable sailboat owners do at my marina.
 
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Dec 28, 2020
42
O'Day 19 Marina Del Rey
Another option to consider is keep the boat at a marina with the mast up on a trailer assuming there one. Then you only have hitch it up and launch it. No rigging and de-rigging. Lower cost than berthing it in the water. That is what the majority of trailerable sailboat owners do at my marina.
That's exactly where I'm landing with my 19' Mariner. The rigging time drops to almost nothing with mast-up storage.
 
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