If Ken and I had won the lottery or lived in a perfect world, we'd say the "right" cruising boat for us would be large and luxurious with every modern gadget and convenience on board. However, our efforts at winning the lottery haven't worked out and we most definitely don't live in a perfect world!
When we first caught the bug to go cruising, Ken and I knew it would be on a sailboat. After all, sailboats are so much cheaper to travel on and it really was the only option for us. We had imagined ourselves cruising around in a nice catamaran. However, it didn't take long to realize that those catamarans cost as much as our house! That's when we really started thinking about what the "right" cruising boat would be for us.
When searching for the "right" cruising sailboat, it had to be:
- Cheap - We already had enough monthly bills and couldn't afford to finance a sailboat, so we quickly decided to sell a piece of land that we owned. I don't think we spent five minutes making this decision. We knew we wanted to cruise, and we wanted a sailboat to start the journey as soon as possible. The land sold really fast and it provided us with $15,000 to spend on our sailboat.
- In Good Shape - Although we needed a cheap boat, that didn't mean a crappy boat! We didn't want a major project boat that would consume all of our time .. and money. We already have way too much to maintain and to sell, so we wanted a sailboat that was in good shape. We were willing to provide a new paint job and some minor repairs, but we required a boat with good rigging, good sails, a good diesel engine, and a lot of loving from their current owners!
- Less Than 38 Feet - Since Ken and I had never sailed, we agreed that 38 feet was plenty for us NKOTB! Any sailboat larger than 38 feet would not only be overwhelming to learn to sail and manuever, but would also be more expensive to own. The larger the boat, the more maintenance costs and the higher the marina fees!
- Roomy and Comfortable - We'll be living on our sailboat full-time, so we wanted a boat that we could envision ourselves hanging out in during the evenings and rainy days. An open layout with a roomy cockpit and living quarters were a necessity. An aft cabin was also a requirement for storage and more importantly, for our daughter to come visit!
We began looking for the "right" cruising sailboat in June, 2009. We looked at a ton of sailboats online, viewed quite a few in person, and even drove several hours away to Kemah, Texas to look at an Irwin 37. Five months later we found the "right" cruising sailboat, right here in New Orleans. In November, and on my birthday, we purchased a 1987 Catalina 30!
What made the Catalina 30 the "right" cruising sailboat for us? Well ... it was cheap, in good shape, less than 38 feet and very roomy and comfortable! As soon as we walked inside the sailboat we knew we were done looking. Every boat that we had looked at left us feeling empty ... until now. We had seen many larger boats (including the Irwin 37), and they weren't near as roomy as the Catalina 30. Also, most of the sailboats that we looked at in our price range needed a lot of work ... not this one! This boat needed some cosmetic repairs on the hull and deck, but that was about it.
We purchased the boat for $500 less than our budget, then saved every spare cent over the winter months. In April, we put our sailboat in the boatyard (for 2.5 months) and gave her a new paint job on the hull and bottom, which also included repairing a bunch of blisters. While the boat was "on the hard", we also took the opportunity to replace the thru-hulls, tighten the strut, replace the cutlass bearing, and replace the 2-blade prop with a 3-blade prop. (Even though the 2-blade prop drags less, we didn't care for the lack of control the 2-blade prop gave us). We did all of the work ourselves (with the help of friends), which saved us a lot of money. We didn't have a survey (another few hundred saved), so it was good to know the bottom was freshly painted and everything was in order. The new paint on the hull really brightened her up too!
|Nirvana at home after her new paint job!|
So, the point of this article is to be realistic and patient when finding your "right" cruising sailboat! Don't settle for a sailboat just because it's in your budget. Also, don't set such high standards that you're never able to buy a boat or leave the dock! Know what you can afford, how many hours of labor you're willing to put into it, and what your immediate needs are for cruising. Don't worry about having everything on your boat before cruising ... we won't! A lot of things will be added after we start cruising and figure out what we really need.
Get what you can afford now! We believe it's better to have an adequate boat for cruising in the near future instead of an ideal boat that we won't be able to afford for another 10 years! Do you agree? What are your requirements for the "right" cruising boat? Any Catalina owners or reviews? We'd love to hear from you!
Note: Here are the previous posts from this series. Check them out and feel free to give us your advice!