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It's Time to Learn to Sail

Jul 1, 2014
Catalina 22 Chesapeake Bay
As a long time power boater, I’ve seriously been feeling the pain at the pump every time I fill up these last few years. I’m just not having as much fun as I once did, knowing it’s costing me over a dollar per minute when at cruise power. And I don’t think fuel prices are ever going back down.

My lifelong bucket list has always included someday boating from Florida to the Caribbean. But now with my retirement assets in plain view, I will not be able to accomplish this in a power boat due to the great fuel expense, not to mention the acquisition cost and upkeep of a blue water capable, engine powered vessel.

Ah, but alas…there’s the sailboat…

There appears to be a lot of 40 ft. and larger sailing vessels out there within my grasps…well less than $75,000.00. But I have to ask myself, what kind of shape are these boats in?

But as for today, I have decided it’s time to learn to sail.

The Catalina 22 seems to be the perfect boat for me right now. It meets my specifications, which are: Low acquisition cost, can be trailered so I don’t have to pay monthly slip rental fees, gets great reviews as a first sailboat and it has sleeping quarters, although humble. And it gets really great gas milage!

I’m in Delaware and not too far from the Chesapeake Bay. Hopefully, I can find a marina nearby that will have a storage lot so I can leave the boat parked there, leaving the mast up. I would prefer keeping it in a slip through the summer months, but I’m sure there’s a big difference in costs between dry land storage or a slip. I’m saving for my retirement, so I can cruise the Carribean…so I have to be careful with expenses right now.

I hope to make some new friends here and I appreciate all of the great posts I’ve read. Very informative and It’s so nice to be here. I'm sure some of you are already living my dream...

So let the search for my Catalina 22 begin...
Sep 13, 2012
1979 Hunter Cherubini 30 Clemmons
You sound like me. I am 56 and have owned at least one power boat since I was 19 years old. Sold my last ski boat last fall (Malibu Euro f3). I grew tired of paying $80 to fill the tank up just to make circles on the lake towing 3 or 4 teenagers on skis, wakeboard and tubes all day. I bought a C22 and love it. My 6 gallon tank lasted me all summer. I enjoy the slower pace and quietness of sailing in my old age I guess. I built a wooden version of a Sunfish from a Popular Mechanics magazine back in high school and learned to sail on that. I still have a Force 5 that I mess with once in a while. You shouldn't have trouble finding a C22 since they are very popular but if you do, let me know. My C22 will be up for sale soon once I get my H30 project boat in the water. I live near Winston-Salem NC though.
Jul 1, 2014
Catalina 22 Chesapeake Bay
Thanks for the replies!

Yeah Kito, I'm not a speed demon...heck, when I'm with only adults on the power boat, we usually just relax in a cove swimming and listening to music...the gas engine is what gets us there and it's usually not too far from the launch site.
When I'm by myself, I find I enjoy being in my flat bottom aluminum boat with a 7.5 HP motor...

Kings G., yeah, I would much prefer a larger boat...but then I would have to buy something larger to safely tow it with or pay expensive slip fees...these are deal killers for me.
To make this transition to sailboats, I need to make this be as painless as possible. The C22 may not be the best boat in it's class, but there's a wealth of info about these boats because there were so many built. Also, plenty of parts are available, even for the oldest C22's. That's a big plus to me. And, if I don't like sailing, I should be able to unload it reasonably quick.
But I hope I'm not missing something here. I'm going to follow your suggestion to look at other models in this size class. I do tend to get tunnel vision once I make up my mind.
May 19, 2014
Catalina 22 #13555 Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh, WI
Hey Sandcassle, welcome aboard!

1. Active owners' community
2. Trailer sailer
3. Initial cost + maintenance (w/easy access to parts)
4. Stability (dry?) > performance oriented (wet?)
5. Porta-potty

Trailer sailer. I like to travel about to other friends' lakes. Swing keels make a lot of great inland lakes possible. Also, she's small enough to sleep in my driveway. I can see her everyday and maybe tinker a bit. In a slip she'd be lonely.

$$. Like being married, it's not so much the initial cost as it is the upkeep that should be considered. Our '86 C22 SK was a $2500 investment with a growing project budget, but that's how I wanted it. Rather than break the bank, we saved a little $$ for other things to do this summer, because, well, we're not sailing everyday. More importantly, I wanted to learn how a C22 works so that I wouldn't be helpless if something breaks while in the middle of a lake.

Stability. J-boats and their "performance 1st" brethren were non-starters. At least with a weighted keel and good initial stability, my wife and young kids would be more apt to sail than not. Besides, it's hard to hold a drink if I'm worried about the next tack all the time. :)

Porta-potty. Little kids. 'Nuff said.

Active community. Without these fine folk, I wouldn't know very much about any boat. Brochures are useless. I watched 5 different forums for 2 years before settling on a C22. Yes, there are other good boats to see, many better for you than me. However, like you said, C22's are numerous with many resources and knowledgable owners. I've been on the water for nearly 30 years on many boats, sail and other, performance and not. C22's are, imo, the best starter boats for new sailors wanting to stay dry. Hobies are everything a C22 is not, other than trailerable, but I already have one of those. ;)

Good luck finding the boat for you. More importantly, welcome to the sweet world of sailing!
Jul 1, 2014
Catalina 22 Chesapeake Bay
Kings G., you've almost swayed me from a C22...definitely got me to thinking... So, what were some of the things about your C22 that you didn't really care for. This info would be very helpful to me.
Sep 13, 2012
1979 Hunter Cherubini 30 Clemmons
Not sure why you would sway away from one of the most popular boats ever made. You're new to sailing......who cares about getting a half knot more speed with a performance boat. The C22 is a great boat to learn on and very forgiving.
Jul 1, 2014
Catalina 22 Chesapeake Bay
Let me make this analogy with my past experiences.

I’m an airplane pilot. I’ve been flying for many years. If you ask any seasoned pilot which aircraft is the best to learn in, most would tell you a Cessna 150 or a Cessna 172. Why?...because , while they might not be the sexiest airplane out there and they are very slow…they are very stable and safe. You really have to do something dumb, like run out of fuel, to mess up in one of those aircraft. Then someday, when a person is ready to transition to a higher performance machine, everything you learned in the Cessnas will transfer over to the faster aircraft. It doesn’t take long to do this transition.

If this analogy would also hold true in comparison for learning to sail in a C22, then this is the boat for me. BUT…if there is going to be a steep learning curve for me to transition to a higher performance sailboat in the future, then I would prefer to look at a different boat to learn in. But I’m thinking it will be exactly the same.

Safety and stability are far more important than speed to me. Especially if we are only talking ½ of a knot.

I do greatly appreciate the different opinions offered here. Thank you!
Jul 7, 2010
Beneteau 37 Cranes Creek, VA
Sandcassle, I too am a private pilot, learned on a Cessna 172 and subsequently bought a 152 for my commute from ILG to W75 (Hummel Field on the Rappahannock). I like your analogy though never transitioned to a faster or retractable aircraft. Anyway to answer you question about transitioning I went from a 19 to 24 to 31 to the current (and last) 37 and other than learning the more sophisticated systems, the learning curve on sailing and handling the bigger boat is small. A C22 is a great first keel boat to learn on and mastering it I doubt if you'd have much trouble with a bigger one. Good luck.
Jul 1, 2014
Catalina 22 Chesapeake Bay
So, now back to my search for a C22…

I want a boat that’s ready to sail, no project. But aren’t they all projects? I really don’t want to mess with wood rot issues nor gelcoat issues.

But I do want one that I can start sailing today with at least the minimum required Coast Guard equipment. But beyond this, I hope to find one that has a VHF, GPS, Depth Finder and a Compass.

I don’t mind putting SOME money into it. But it is a boat and we all know what BOAT stands for.

What other must have items would be of importance to you to begin sailing? Better sails? Better rigging?

As you can see, I know little about sailboats and sailing. This is going to change soon, of course.
Nov 7, 2011
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
Sounds like a good plan. I don't have a clue what the price range is for C22s but I do know you need to do a bit of research on price vs condition. Project boats are of course cheapest. Boats in great condition, read no rot, no soft decks, no rotten bulkheads, cushions in tact, will cost more but may be original and need the options you listed, newer sails, upgraded blocks, etc. Then there are the the boats in great condition that have been upgraded, well maintained and well outfitted, which will bring top dollar.
Not all boats are projects but all do require some maintenance and the top boats will be the ones well outfitted. That sounds like what you are looking for.
Handheld VHF, GPS and compass are items you can easily take with you as spares on your bigger boat and do not need to be built in. Depth Sounders can be had for less than $100 and easily installed but may not be required for that size of boat.
Jul 1, 2014
Catalina 22 Chesapeake Bay
Thanks, Ward H. Great perspective.

So, as I know little about sailboats or sails…can someone please point me in the right direction in regards to upgraded sails on the C22? I’ve seen talk about a Genoa is better than a Jib?

One thing I’ve seen that I would like is a boat that’s been modified so all the rope handling for the sails can be done from the cockpit position.

Am I making any sense?
May 19, 2014
Catalina 22 #13555 Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh, WI
$7k should be a decent starting point. Well maintained and modified will be nearer $15k. At least that's what I remember seeing when I was shopping for my boat. Anyone is welcome to correct me if I'm off a bit here. Remember, these small boats have been around a while, so they won't break the bank.

Things you might want to look for to be comfortable might include a roller furler (no need to mess with different sized headsails, jibs, genoas, etc.), jiffy reefing (or another easy reefing system), newer outboard (6hp or so is enough), stern rail, and a very well maintained trailer, maybe with an extension bar (to keep your truck/SUV dry at the launch ramp). Biminis are nice, but you probably should see what your sails are doing while learning about the wind.

Most sailing forums have a classified section. Sailing Texas and Craig's List are decent places to check for boats, too. Local marinas/sailing clubs may have some leads to members wanting to sell.
Jul 19, 2009
Vandestadt & McGruer Sirius 21 #190 Dayton Ohio
One thing I’ve seen that I would like is a boat that’s been modified so all the rope handling for the sails can be done from the cockpit position.
Just so you know "ropes" on a sailboat are called "lines" and each has a specific name. The sheets are always led to the cockpit from the factory and control the angle of the sails relative to the boat while sailing. You are probably referring to the halyards being led back to the cockpit. They raise and lower the sails at the start and end of sailing. This is a very handy feature to have but can be added later for minimal work and cost. It can be a safety feature in any sizable seas because you don't have to stand on the cabin top to work the halyards.

Try hanging out at the dock and talking with other sailors about their boats. You can learn a lot very quickly and probably get some sailing experience.
Nov 19, 2008
Catalina C-22 MK-II Parrish, FL
Some of the issues depends on where and how you intend to use the boat. Now I must also qualify my response advising that I'm basicly a cruiser. Done the racing thing, but I'm at a point in my life where I enjoy relaxing when I'm on the boat and enjoying the view. Now some folks, racing gives them that relaxing feeling. Our primary boat C-22 is set-up for comfortable cruising for my wife and I. It's a wing keeled MK-II version. We do a lot of ocean sailing and the boat sit's in a slip, so the lead wing keel eliminates just about all keel maintenance issues. I too rather play than work on the boat, so when we bought our boat one requirement was no major maintenance issues. A weekend of cleaning and waxing was the limit, and I was willing to pay more for that. Also, the MK-II doesn't have any exterior wood, so at the end of the day, a simply rinsing is all we do, and probably twice a year, we go over the stainless steel with some Never-Dull. I also don't have a Genoa. We have about a 125% jib with a lanyard at the tack to bring it up off the deck. Don't need that extra fraction of a knot, and would rather give up that for the huge increase in visibility, (I do have a 170% drifter that we use occasionally). We don't have roller furling either. We trailer several times a year and my experience has been it's just a pain in the butt then rigging, plus if you store the boat un-rigged, it further complicates the storage issue of properly supporting the furled sail. I use a simple down-haul line. Back-wind the jib, loosen the jib halyard, and pull the down-haul. The sail falls to the deck and it's down quicker that I could ever furl one. I keep the jib in a sail bag, so when I re-rig the boat, I un-zip the front of the sail bag, snap on the hanks to the forestay, clip on the halyard, and the sheets, and I'm good to go. Two of the biggest improvements we've made to our boat is installing an autohelm, and a Rudder-Craft rudder. Like I mentioned, we do a lot of ocean sailing, and the auto-pilot sure makes things relaxing. I don't need to catch that every puff.... And the Rudder-Craft rudder greatly improves the ballance on the tiller, and just about eliminates rounding up issues. It's nice to be able to steer the boat with two fingers, (I like the Rudder-Craft rudder so much we've got one on both of our C-22's). We'll be leaving in several weeks for one of our two cruises to Catalina Island. It's sure nice to arrive relaxed and rested having let the autopilot take the dreaded chore of steering the boat for 6 or 7 hours while the wife and kick back and talk, brew a pot of coffee, make lunch, and look out on the ocean.

Can't beat the C-22 for an all around GREAT boat, sailed by some of the nicest folks on the water. Nice clean boats are out there, it might be worth your time to expand your search area.

Good luck!

Jul 21, 2013
Searching for 1st sailing boat 27-28, 34-36 Channel Islands, Marina Del Rey
Narrow down on the year, keel type for the boat you want to own and begin your search. Any sort of project on a boat gives you the opportunity to get intimate with the systems, this has helped me learn my craft and engine and comfortable out in the open. Sailing is just like flying :)
Jan 2, 2013
Catalina 22
I would suggest finding an adult learn to sail class close to you. I did this about 7 years ago when I took up sailing, and it was totally worthwhile. In my location, Michigan, most of the local yacht clubs offer classes for a reasonable cost. The skills you will learn would apply to any size boat.
May 19, 2014
Catalina 22 #13555 Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh, WI
Great idea, ancbob. My wife and I bought each other lessons at the local (Milwaukee) community sailing center. Lessons really do make a difference as a seasoned sailor can give you immediate feedback on any specific questions you have on sailing while in the boat. Can't get that from a book or youtube vid.
Jul 1, 2014
Catalina 22 Chesapeake Bay
Yeah, I'm going to take a weekend sailing class to get me started. I'm guessing this will be enough to get me in the boat to begin getting experience. Hopefully this will be enough to keep me out of trouble.
Feb 28, 2005
Catalina 22 1909 North East, Md.
One of the nice things about the C22 is that you can safely sail her with just the basic running rigging ( control lines ) or you can add all of the performance running rigging mods. I have slowly added to my running rigging since I bought my boat 22 years ago, that has allowed me to learn how properly use each new control line before adding the next one. When you move up to that ocean cruiser later you will have mastered all of the controls already and the transition will be smooth and easy and you will only need to adjust to the new boats handling characteristics. Most C22 sailors carry 3 sails, a main with at least one set of reef points, a 110% jib, and a 135% or 150% genoa. The reef points and jib for sailing in heavy wind and the genoa for lighter wind. I myself prefer the 150 genoa. Many C22 sailors also like to carry a smaller storm jib for heavy wind and or spinnaker for speed when sailing down wind.