Buying a sailboat – how do you ensure that you get it right? What priorities do you need to consider when making the final decision? More on this to come, but first, let’s take a step back in time… (Note: the video on buying a sailboat – prioritizing what matters most is at the bottom of this post).
The first home I lived in during my adult life was small. I moved from America to England to marry my British prince.
My prince, unfortunately, wasn’t the kind that had lots of money.
It was an interesting moment when I discovered that one door leading from the living room went into the kitchen no larger than four square tiles. (It was so small you had to shut the door to open the fridge. And it was a miniature fridge with miniature ice cubes in the freezer. How quaint!)
And the other door, much to my dismay, did not lead to a second larger living room, a den or a patio room. The other door led to a closet.
Eventually, my husband, Prince Simon, and I made more money and upgraded to a larger house. Unfortunately, our new house was located next to the railroad tracks. We were told that a service train went through once a day, but otherwise, the track wasn’t used.
What the estate agent didn’t tell us was that the track was a staging area for all the commuter trains going to and from London every day.
Between 4 am to 5 am every morning we’d hear loud revving engine noises and have our bedroom fill with diesel exhaust fumes.
We’d often say, ‘when we get our next house it will be better because we’ll choose one that is larger, that isn’t next to a train track and, and, and…’
When it came to sailboats we went through a similar process.
We started off renting sailboats for week-long vacations. We’d spend a week in Turkey, Greece or the British Virgin Islands getting to grips with sailing, living the sailing life and discovering what we liked and didn’t like about the sailboat we rented.
We’d enjoy our gin and tonics in the cockpit debating whether maple or beech was the best wood interior. Did we like slap reefing or in-mast furling? Would we want to manage without autopilot? The list went on and on.
We then bit the bullet buying our first sailboat, a Moody 35’, named Selene.
Selene was a great boat. We purchased her off of eBay for a very modest price and thought of her as our training boat. The ultimate goal was to eventually upgrade and expand our sails to foreign waters.
But in the meantime, we loved how solid Selene was and enjoyed the safety of a center cockpit. Neither Simon nor I, however, enjoyed the lack of standing room. We both had to tilt our heads in all areas of the boat and getting from the galley to the master cabin required us to crouch down to make the 4’ hallway clearance.
After ten years of chartering over ten different boats and two years of bobbing around the south coast of England on our Moody, we had a nice set of likes and dislikes. When the time came to buy a vessel to house our family for an adventure of a lifetime we knew what we wanted.
Across our travels, however, we’ve bumped into several sailboat owners that unfortunately haven’t had too much experience with boats prior to their purchase.
The results of buying a sailboat that isn’t right, however, can be severally annoying on one end and a full-blown nightmare on the other.
More often than not we’ve met boat owners that had a dream, purchased the wrong boat and ended with a nightmare. Some couples we’ve met spent ages buying and fixing a boat up only to discover they didn’t actually like to sail.
Other sailboat owners we’ve come across purchased a sailboat that was too difficult to maneuver scaring them off sailing forever. Heck, go to any marina in the world during high season and just sit and watch how many boats actually get taken out of the marina.
What you’ll find is that most boat owners spend years dreaming and some eventually get the boat. Unfortunately, however, that is when the dream often ends. The boat, for one reason or another, just sits in the marina.
How can you avoid this from happening to you? How can you avoid getting the wrong boat?
Well…aside from testing out as many boats as you can and possibly purchasing smaller boats working your way up (building confidence and getting experience), you can learn from others that have traveled the path you’re following.
Ask as many boat owners as you can about what they like and don’t like about their boat. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll discover. Oftentimes you’ll find a small golden nugget of information that will help you make a better, more informed decision when you buy your boat.
But before you start asking too much about boats, please do one thing. Make sure you go sailing. And I’m not talking about taking a class or going out for one of those Catamaran sunset cruises. I can’t tell you how many people we’ve met that actually don’t like sailing and only found out after they purchased the boat!
Sailing is very slow, very unpredictable and is actually everything that the modern world is not. It’s not fast paced. There’s no instant gratification. You often don’t get to where you want to go…but there lies the beauty.
Sailing is most often peaceful, calming, natural and full of all-encompassing bliss.
But it’s not for everyone.
That aside, Simon and I made the video below where we discuss seven things that were important to us when considering buying a sailboat. There are hundreds of options and different things are important to some and not others. Like anything in life, we all have our own special set of experiences and preferences.
For us, some key considerations included headroom (being able to stand!).
We also wanted a center cockpit as it’s the safest option for children. Our daughter was 18 months when we started sailing and 3 ½ years old when we left land permanent. Having the enclosed cockpit more central to the mast and away from the water provided a wider barrier between us and the sea.
Simon and I wanted a heavy ocean-going boat. We wanted a boat that was solid and would slice through the waves rather than be bounced around like a beach ball. The heavier the boat, the more sturdy and smooth she’ll be. And being prone to seasickness, I wanted the smoothest safest ride possible.
And the number of bedrooms were a factor. We love having friends and family join us on our adventures, so we wanted at least one extra room for a couple and/or family. Our minimum room requirement was three rooms with perhaps space for others on sofas or the extra bunk bed.
When it came to the question of Monohull versus Catamaran, there was no question.
We have always been monohull people and I suspect we always will be. When planning a trip around the world, we wanted a boat that could weather all situations and for us, a monohull felt right. There’s no right or wrong in this area – it’s what works best for you, what you feel safest with and essentially, what you want to do with your boat.
When it came to look and feel, both Simon and I have more modern tastes so we wanted the boat to be light and airy rather than dark and stuffy. We knew that boats with deck saloons have big windows allowing light and the lovely breezes in.
And finally, the size of the boat had to be big enough to make a home yet small enough for the two of us to handle with ease.
So…four years into our purchase decision and after living aboard non-stop how do we feel? What do we like and what don’t we like?
To my surprise, there’s very little we’d change. I’m super thankful we didn’t go any larger. I don’t think we’d be able to effectively sail a larger boat not to mention the larger costs involved.
The one thing that I’d do different, however, is I’d find a boat that was less power hungry. We have to run our generator to use our oven, run the watermaker, use air conditioning, wash our clothes and top up our batteries. Over the years I’ve gotten better at timing many things at once and now it’s a routine. I suppose, however, that I’d prefer to be less dependent on a Diesel generator and make more from natural resources like the sun, wind, and water. With ongoing advancements, I’m sure that it won’t be long before boats are running completely from green energy.
Otherwise, we love Britican. We love what she’s enabled us to do and see. We’re so grateful for the time we’ve had with her and the times yet to come.
Will there be a next boat for us?
Interestingly, for the first time in my life, I’m not thinking about bigger and better. There are things I’d like to do to help Britican like update her antiquated electronics and find ways of increasing our solar/wind power options but aside from that, Simon and I love our castle (and we don’t have ice cubes at all)!
What other priorities should you consider?
In my guide, ‘Choosing the RIGHT boat – prioritizing what matters most,’ I offer over 40 other items that you might want to consider when it comes to choosing the best boat for you. Best used as a discussion document, this guide will enable the reader to consider options – perhaps some of them hidden.
For example, did you know that in the past 30 years, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and similar other sailing networks have determined that the largest reason for sailboat abandonment is rudder failure. Is rudder construction and configuration high on your list of priorities?
What about the galley layout? Did you know that many liveaboard cruisers regret getting a boat with an open planned galley layout (versus a galley that is U-shaped or along a corridor). The reason being that there is nothing to hold onto or lean against when sailing.
In my guide, you’ll get a four-page table listing a variety of options to consider, how they may affect you and a system for you to prioritize what matters most to you/your partner/your family. Always remember, the more you define what it is that you want, the more chance you’ll actually get what you want!
Get the guide now – Click here!. There’s a full money-back guarantee so if you feel the guide doesn’t give you many gold nuggets of valuable information, you have nothing to lose.
Buying A Sailboat – Prioritizing What Matters Most Video
Any questions or comments about buying a sailboat? Please leave them below.
Other Resources about Buying a Sailboat
Should be getting your book Changing Lifestyles pretty soon.Looking forward to a good read. Thanks
Kim, thank you for all of the great info! While we are still about 7 years away, it’s this type of info we are looking for to help us make our journey. Happy Sailing!
Allison & Scott
Ken mccallum says
We installed 450w of Solbian solar onto the bimini last spring, and now have reduced our generator run time down to 45 minutes once every two days, mostly for hot water.