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New forum member with an introduction and some questions

NINEv2

.
Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
Hello everyone, pseudo-short term lurker posting for the first time. I’ve been poking around the forums here and have very much enjoyed the stories I’ve read and I can also see what a valuable resource of experience is available here. I’m hoping to get some input to help guide some of my decision making in the near term. Apologies in advance if there’s a similar thread somewhere, but my forum search came up a short.
My wife and I came to the realization that while we can’t afford real estate in our desired vacation area, we can afford a used cabin sailboat and a slip! We started poking around and researching several weeks ago and found a friendly marina with affordable fees in our area. My sailing experience is limited to a butterfly at summer camp for three summers, so I’m pretty green. The next question is the boat… we settled on wanting the following features: 29 feet or less (any longer and slip fees jump 50%), comfortable for 3-5 days, outboard motor only if possible, wheel steering, gentle and forgiving for the novice sailor and a useable onboard head. Preferably under 15K too, but that can be stretched. The boat will strictly be kept on a freshwater lake, so no blue water adventures for us. Yet. My folks toyed with the notion of a small pocket cruiser several years ago and that was the basis for the beginning of my search, which focused on Hunters, Catalinas, and Macgregors. It seems the Catalinas are suffering a bit for head room, the Macgregors stir up some seriously strong opinions (though I haven’t ruled them out), and the Hunters are a bit pricey.
My research brought me to these two boats: the Hunter 260 and 290. I’ve read some owner reviews for the 290 but I haven’t been able to find as much on the 260, so I wondered if some of you might be able to give me some of your opinions on the matter. And maybe a Macgregor 26m too. The thought of firing up a bigger outboard attached to a foam filled hull to get out of a bind caused by a rookie sailor’s mistakes is a little appealing too. Nothing is imminent at the moment, especially with the plague going round, so we’re possibly purchasing next season at the earliest. Any input would be greatly appreciated! Stories, experiences, advice, limericks, I’ll take em all.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Welcome aboard. And to help you out, I am going to move this to the general forum 'Ask All Sailors'. Here you will get a better sampling of many boat owners with different types of boats.
 

NINEv2

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Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
Thanks all! I didn't see the 260 owners reviews before. Still looking forward to any and all stories and advice. And my sailing for dummies book showed up today too :)
 
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Dec 25, 2000
5,048
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
We sailed our first boat, an H28, for three years and really enjoyed the experience. Private head and aft stateroom, roomy and fun to sail. Great beginner boat for several days of excursions, or even a week. Our galley had a two burner alcohol stove top, a large cooler and sink. Hot and cold running water, shower, etc.
 
Jun 8, 2008
9
. . Bainbridge Island
If you have no objection I may change your post title so we can attract some 260 and 290 owners here. I think Hunters and Catalinas are both good first-boats for overnighting.
 
Oct 24, 2010
2,399
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
If it were me my choices would be the availability of used boat. I would look and look carefully at what's available locally. I'd look at all makes. I would be looking for details such as how does the wiring look,is it a mess,is it clean and neat, is the boat clean. You know it's going to need work, but what work does it need? It also needs to fit your budget. It's real easy to decide a specific make and model is what you want, It's another thing to actually locate one in the condition that you need for the price you can afford.

Ken
 

NINEv2

.
Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
We sailed our first boat, an H28, for three years and really enjoyed the experience. Private head and aft stateroom, roomy and fun to sail. Great beginner boat for several days of excursions, or even a week. Our galley had a two burner alcohol stove top, a large cooler and sink. Hot and cold running water, shower, etc.
I've been looking at those as well. They seem to fit our price (mostly), but the inboard motor makes me nervous as far as ease of maintenance goes. Or is that something that is completely irrelavent and a rookie mistake?

If you have no objection I may change your post title so we can attract some 260 and 290 owners here. I think Hunters and Catalinas are both good first-boats for overnighting.
Awesome thanks!

If it were me my choices would be the availability of used boat. I would look and look carefully at what's available locally. I'd look at all makes. I would be looking for details such as how does the wiring look,is it a mess,is it clean and neat, is the boat clean. You know it's going to need work, but what work does it need? It also needs to fit your budget. It's real easy to decide a specific make and model is what you want, It's another thing to actually locate one in the condition that you need for the price you can afford.

Ken
Good point. I've also pretty much made peace with the fact that I'm going to have to do some travelling from home to view some of the listings I'm interested in. Oh well, I'm not opposed to a little driving, and I've got family in MN and near lake Michigan. Not like cali or FL, but there's a few boats around I can view during visits.
 
May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
No experience with the Hunter models but I’ll add a recommendation to look at the O’Day 28. They check off all the boxes on your list except for the outboard motor, but the Universal M12 diesel most of them came with is quite reliable, and provides other advantages like battery charging and additional power. It’s a very roomy boat for its size, and should be in your price range. Only hard part will be finding one in good shape and without water intrusion in the deck core.
 

NINEv2

.
Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
No experience with the Hunter models but I’ll add a recommendation to look at the O’Day 28. They check off all the boxes on your list except for the outboard motor, but the Universal M12 diesel most of them came with is quite reliable, and provides other advantages like battery charging and additional power. It’s a very roomy boat for its size, and should be in your price range. Only hard part will be finding one in good shape and without water intrusion in the deck core.
Is that a common problem? I don't know enough about how construction has progressed to know if most boats are fiberglass with a wood sandwich or straight fiberglass nowadays. I'll check that out though thanks.
 
Aug 1, 2011
3,959
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
If you have no objection I may change your post title so we can attract some 260 and 290 owners here. I think Hunters and Catalinas are both good first-boats for overnighting.
“Herringaid”? Huh? What?
 
May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Is that a common problem?
It depends on a combination of how the boat was constructed and maintained. Ideally you want a boat constructed with solid fiberglass at the location of all the deck penetrations. Any wood core at a deck penetration will rot if the bedding leaks. Which brings us to the maintenance portion - if bedding is properly maintained then water shouldn’t get in, so even if there is wood it won’t be exposed to water, so no rot.

I don't know enough about how construction has progressed to know if most boats are fiberglass with a wood sandwich or straight fiberglass nowadays. I'll check that out though thanks.
The decks of most boats are cored with wood or foam, both of which are susceptible to water intrusion. Many modern boats, and probably some old ones, have solid fiberglass inserts wherever equipment is mounted to the deck, which keeps water away from the core. O’Day used balsa core throughout the deck, so any leaks go into the core. I don’t know which older manufacturers used solid glass pads. But even with solid glass pads from the factory, previous owners add equipment over time and they often do that in places where the core isn’t solid. If they were diligent they would over drill the holes, fill with epoxy, then redrill, to keep the core isolated. So the integrity will still depend on how the boat was maintained.
 

NINEv2

.
Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
I'll keep an eye out for that, thanks. As far as fiberglass, how long can it be expected to last? I see fiberglass boats used from back in the late 70s, but I can't imagine they've held up well enough.
 

FDL S2

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Jun 29, 2014
421
S2 7.3 Fond du Lac
I'll keep an eye out for that, thanks. As far as fiberglass, how long can it be expected to last? I see fiberglass boats used from back in the late 70s, but I can't imagine they've held up well enough.
Fiberglass boats last a long time! Older boats tend to have thicker fiberglass and are heavier and sturdier. My boat is a 1979 and it is very solid with no core in the hull. As @Davidasailor26 said look for brown water spots in the cabin under the chain plates and other through deck fittings-that may indicate a leak that can mean rotten wood core.
 

NINEv2

.
Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
Interesting, I assumed fiberglass would eventually break down. UV, flexing etc...

As far as length, is there a sweet spot? The 290 I'm thinking about has crazy room, full head, and separate cabins but I worry it's too big for a first boat.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,396
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
I wouldn’t worry too much about a foot more or less in length. And older boats can solve any price issue. In your location, I would really be thinking about a trailerable boat. A 260 would have good head room, and easily meet your initial needs. And then you could trailer it to the Great Lakes, or even the San Juans to expand your horizons and see some truly great cruising grounds.

Whatever you buy, you are going to make a survey a condition of the sale. It will probably be a requirement for insurance. More importantly, it will identify any key structural issues for negotiation (or cancellation) and give you a maintenance plan for your first few years of ownership.

If you really want a 28 or 29 footer, you will be confined to your lake, but, as we still do, you could then charter to broaden your horizons. The Apostle Islands in Superior, the North Chanel of Huron, Green Bay on Michigan, and then San Juans are some of our worldwide favorite charter areas.

The big changes from a Butterfly are not the sails, but the need to use winches to trim them. But the biggest difference is the need for checklists to mind the different systems on the boat before getting under way, anchoring, or returning to port.

Best of luck on your adventure - you are going to love it!
 
May 17, 2004
3,471
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Interesting, I assumed fiberglass would eventually break down. UV, flexing etc...
Structurally the fiberglass hull should be fine for a very long time. The gelcoat covering the hull eventually degrades from UV, but that’s more of an aesthetic thing than structural. If the gelcoat has been well maintained with waxing it will last longer than if not. If it is somewhat degraded it can be restored by buffing, compounding, or wet sanding. If it’s very far gone it might only be possible to restore by painting, but still everything is structurally sound. The bigger issue is that although the hull itself will last a very long time, all of the hardware and other systems don’t age as well. The standing rigging, for example, eventually weakens and corrodes. Sails stretch and weaken over time too.


As far as length, is there a sweet spot? The 290 I'm thinking about has crazy room, full head, and separate cabins but I worry it's too big for a first boat.
That’s more of a matter of personal preference. I think the high 20’s are a good length because it’s where you first start to get big boat comforts like hot and cold pressure water, inboard engine, etc. but some would say that a boat less than 30’ is too small so jamming all those systems in just makes it harder to maintain in less space. Not a problem I ever felt, but, like I said, personal preference.
 
Jan 19, 2010
10,002
Hunter 26 Charleston
If it were me my choices would be the availability of used boat. I would look and look carefully at what's available locally. I'd look at all makes. I would be looking for details such as how does the wiring look,is it a mess,is it clean and neat, is the boat clean. You know it's going to need work, but what work does it need? It also needs to fit your budget. It's real easy to decide a specific make and model is what you want, It's another thing to actually locate one in the condition that you need for the price you can afford.

Ken
:plus: I think what @Ken Cross said is the most realistic advice. I personally love my H26 but the H26 is tiller and not wheel. So if you go with the Hunter version of your dream boat, I think you will have to look at the H260 or H270. You didn't mention if putting it on a trailer is a premium feature in your world so it would help to narrow or broaden the field if we knew that answer also.

I have sailed (and liked) the Catalina 250, Macgregor 25 and the Macgregor 26s & 26d (collectively called the 26c). You could add wheel steering to those if that is a deal breaker. I had a slip mate with a Mac 26M. I never sailed on it but it was a real turn off for me. To my eye they are butt ugly and watching it on the water ... they don't point well at all.

You didn't mention if a walk-off transom is a plus for you. If not the Balboa 26 might be worth a look.

Last, I'd add the Rhodes 22 to any list of pocket cruisers. My personal favorite for ease of sailing and use of interior space.
 

NINEv2

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Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
:plus: I think what @Ken Cross said is the most realistic advice. I personally love my H26 but the H26 is tiller and not wheel. So if you go with the Hunter version of your dream boat, I think you will have to look at the H260 or H270. You didn't mention if putting it on a trailer is a premium feature in your world so it would help to narrow or broaden the field if we knew that answer also.

I have sailed (and liked) the Catalina 250, Macgregor 25 and the Macgregor 26s & 26d (collectively called the 26c). You could add wheel steering to those if that is a deal breaker. I had a slip mate with a Mac 26M. I never sailed on it but it was a real turn off for me. To my eye they are butt ugly and watching it on the water ... they don't point well at all.

You didn't mention if a walk-off transom is a plus for you. If not the Balboa 26 might be worth a look.

Last, I'd add the Rhodes 22 to any list of pocket cruisers. My personal favorite for ease of sailing and use of interior space.
More good points. A walk off transom is a must due to a medical issue. I'll add that to the list. And trailerable isn't a deal breaker either. I don't have a vehicle capable of towing anyways! :-D

I'll check that Rhodes too, thanks! Those aft seats on the Hunter just hanging off in the air look like such fun though...