Last week, I blogged that I would share my experience buying a used sailboat. One of the things that always surprises me is how many experienced sailors bought their first boat on a whim, without thinking through how they were going to use her. For many this worked out well and many years later they are still sailing the same boat and speak of her lovingly. Just as many have lived to regret their impulse and found themselves selling their boat at a big loss within a few years or hung on for longer and sailed less every year.
The key point is that you cannot spend too much time considering how you will use your sailboat. If you live and sail in an area known for light and moderate winds, there's no point in buying a boat built to cross oceans because you might, maybe, possibly at some point fulfill the dream you haven't shared with your spouse, that someday, maybe, possibly, you might do a circumnavigation.
Equally, buying a racing boat is not for the faint of heart. Racing is an incredible experience but takes real commitment. You need to be really sure that's the type of sailing you want to do.
For simplicity's sake, we asked ourselves the following questions (BIG CAVEAT - This isn't a relevant set of questions if you are in the market for a dinghy):
- Where are you going to doing most of your sailing? In our case we will be doing 90% of our sailing on Raritan Bay where the conditions are moderate for 3-4 months and light for 2 so anything but a blue-water boat would work. If you sail in an area with high winds like San Francisco you need a boat that will be comfortable in heavy air. If you will be sailing on a small lake, a light day-sailer might be the solution. If you plan to live-aboard and cruise the Caribbean, you probably want a blue-water boat. The important thing is to buy a boat for where you will be doing most of your sailing. This seems self-evident but I have seen so many people screw this up and end up with a boat they thought was the boat of their dreams but unsuitable for where they sail 90% of the time.
I have probably missed a bunch of questions and would welcome any other suggestions.
Next week, how to develop a long list - It's time to dream!