Saturday, August 8, 2015
The sailboat sweet spot
My lovely wife and I are keeping our eyes open for sailboat deals. It appears we just missed out on one, but there will be others. Even if we don't find a better one, our current boat will do the job just fine.
Our ultimate goal is a trailer sailer in the 25 - 27 foot range. There are few rare boats that are a bit shorter that would also work.
Why a trailer sailer when there are so many larger boats going for small money? It's not just the purchase price, but the cost of everything else. A larger boat needs long term mooring or a slip at a marina. It also needs regular haul outs at a boat yard. Another consideration is that the larger the boat, the more expensive replacement parts are.
One big advantage is being able to deal with the mast without the services of a boat yard. For example, boats using the Erie Canal need the services of marinas on both end to lower and raise the mast. If I have to use professionals every time I want to do something, I'd have to get a job. If I got a job I wouldn't have time to go sailing.
Shallow draft is also a must have. It's obvious that a boat that draws little water can get into places deep draft boats can't get into. What's a bit less obvious is how that saves money. Often I've been able to anchor in cozy little protected places. Bigger boats that can't use those anchorages have to pay to stay in a marina instead.
Thanks to my shallow draft I can anchor close to shore. Sometimes close enough that I don't bother with a dinghy but just wade in. When I do use a dinghy, I'm still close enough that a paddle craft or a rowboat is fine. Further out and you need a powered dinghy, at least something in the 5 hp range. Really deep draft boats end up with good sized dinghys equipped with powerful engines, 15 - 40 hp. Those dingys cost more than my sailboat does -and are more expensive to run.
Another huge advantage of a trailer sailer is that it can do 60 knots against the wind. (while on the trailer being pulled by a tow vehicle) Sure beats trying to sail a big boat to a safe harbor when a hurricane is coming. Of course, it doesn't take an emergency. I can trailer to an prime sailing area without having to slog 1000 miles against the wind to get there.
Of course a trailer sailer is smaller, so being able to live in less space with less stuff is a must. That's where a background in backpacking is useful. You learn that it's possible to carry all your basic needs in a pack on your back. It makes even a small boat seem luxurious. People without that experience find a 40 foot sailboat is really cramped.
The sweet spot for me is a boat that can go anywhere I want to go, but is economical enough to own that I don't have to get a job to support it. What I've heard about jobs isn't good.