My lovely wife and I were reminiscing about the times we went shopping for sailboats. A few of our excursions stand out.
She brought up the time we looked at a bilge keel Westerly sailboat. They are very popular in England. When the tide goes out they can sit level on their two keels without tipping over. That’s super handy in places with high tides.
On paper the boat looked like a good fit for us. It was a smaller Westerly that sat on a trailer. When we got there the boat didn’t exactly match the photo. It had been sitting in the guy’s yard a long time. There was two feet of water in the boat. We felt bad for the old guy and helped him pump the boat out. No way were we going to buy a boat that neglected.
Then there was the issue of the trailer. It looked pretty sketchy. The guy eventually admitted he had a crane at the marina take the boat on and off the trailer for him. No way could it be launched at a ramp.
That reminded us of another trailer sailer we looked at. It was an Oday 22 in excellent condition. Everything ran perfectly. The sails were almost new. Once again, the problem was the trailer. It was a weird beast of a trailer constructed mostly of heavy wooden beams. On the phone the owner said he used the trailer every year. Only when we got there did the guy admit that he only lived a half mile from the marina and never went over 15 mph. Here too, a crane was used to load and unload the boat.
Living in the mountains of New Hampshire we don’t have a lot of sailboats in our area so we like to check out any that come for sale close to home. One the guy was willing to practically give a boat to us. The catch? It was in a field surrounded by huge poisonous hogweed plants. We weren’t going to go anywhere near it. Another boat had a seriously bent mast. The same boat had been rewired with all the junctions meeting deep in the bilge -where all the water settles. Hard pass.
A Catalina on Craigslist looked extremely well equipped for the price. Once we got there we could see that all the equipment was actually there. The problem was that everything was worn out and on its last legs.
We also would occasionally check out boats too big to be hauled to boat ramps. At one time we entertained keeping a boat in Florida. That way we wouldn’t have to tow anything all the way from New Hampshire. One Peterson we looked at appeared to be a jewel. It was clean and looked in excellent shape. A known tiller issue had already been fixed. The deal breaker? When we lifted the floor boards we saw the keel bolts were piles of rust. They didn’t even look like bolts. No sense buying a boat that has a keel about to fall off.
We still get tempted to buy bigger boats, but right now we are sticking with our little Oday 19.