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Boat Hunting

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It's now been eight whole days since my last confession migraine1 so today seemed like a good time to start boat hunting again and Hugo and I went over to Ipswich to look at a couple. Well that was the plan ... we actually looked at three as another one caught my eye at the boat yard.

For those I've not bored enough already with this my original wishlist on this quest to buy myself a boat was:

  • enough headroom in the saloon and heads and legroom in at least one of the berths for me (I'm nominally 6'4", although probably more like 6'3½" now I'm getting old).
  • reasonable waterline length, at least 27' - to make it pleasant in biggish seas - but not too big so as to make it expensive in the marina. 10m seems to be the magic figure where prices rise, or 32.8' in real money, so 27' to 32'.
  • all running rigging lead back to the cockpit (as I'm expecting to do some solo sailing and minimising the need to leave the cockpit when under way is a Good Thing).
  • dual helm position (i.e. a motor sailor) so that if it's wet and crappy I can retire "indoors" and continue to make way while in the dry.

The last one I've more or less given up on: the only boats which I've found which have that in the size and price I'm talking about are a Hunter Pilot 27 (nice boat, I've sailed on one up the east coast, but a bit on the small side for me) or a Westerly Konsort Duo. The latter is an excellent boat, probably perfect for me, but they're generally right on the edge of my budget or, in the case of the one I saw before Christmas, which was only £25,000, will need a new engine soon (for which I was quoted £10,000).

Anyway in order of appearance today we have:

  1. Carina"Carina", a Stag 28 built in 1977, £16,250 these are fairly rare beasts, they only made about fifty at the end of the seventies but what caught my eye when I was reading about it was that the saloon headroom is 6'5" and indeed with my shoes on I could stand up in the saloon and not touch the ceiling. Good overall layout, lots of woodwork down below, lots of locker space, roomy heads, long bunks, big cockpit. The down side is that it looks a bit unloved, I suspect it wasn't sailed at all last season and all the running rigging is badly in need of being washed. The cockpit floor boards need replacing, the loo and front cabin doors need a plane taking to them, the spray hood needs a scrub and little bit of sewing and one of the hatches is leaking water into the head lining. It's also a fin keel, fairly swallow draft, about 4'5", but still fin and for east coast sailing bilge is better as there's a lot of shallow water out there.
  2. Katy Ann"Katy Ann", a Westerly Konsort built in 1980, £26,250 - lovely boat, tiny bit longer than the Stag 28 at 28'10" but 11" beamier and it shows both below and on deck. I liked this boat a lot: it was in good condition, looked well looked after, and was generally very well equipped. I particularly liked the deep cockpit and the broad side decks with the shrouds inboard. There's also a second forestay which starts half way between mast and the bow which makes a handy thing to hold on to on the foredeck: a place where I always feel very vulnerable. Bilge keel so it will take the ground and it only draws 3'3"! Headroom wasn't enough that I could stand up straight but I didn't need to bend over, just bend a bit at the neck. The only thing that worried me were some new patches to the gel coat (they'd just stripped it back prior to re-antifouling it) and the only significant change I'd make would be raise the chart table as even Hugo found it hard getting in and I found it a real struggle to get in and out. I'd rip it out and then (probably, need to look at this more carefully) refit it raised about 3-4".
  3. Bubsy II"Bubsy II", a Hunter Ranger 265 built in 1998, £22,500 - this was the one I didn't go there intending to look at but just spotted it as we passed and thought it looked promising. Much more modern and marginally below my minimum length but a lovely boat: similar headroom to the Konsort if not slightly better in that I could just stand up straight although my head was against the headlining. Very similar to the aforementioned Hunter Pilot 27: big rear cabin under the starboard side of the cockpit, self tacking jib, shallow cockpit, all lines coming back to the cockpit, and bilge keel. The biggest difference from the Pilot is there's no forward cabin: just a triangular sleeping area at the front on the saloon (over the fresh water tank).

They're all three nice boats in their way.

My current thinking is that "Bubsy II" is cute but it's just too optimally designed: there's not that much space to put stuff. So it would make a fine day boat but I think it would suck for longer voyages.

"Karina" needs quite a lot of work doing to it but they're mainly jobs I can do myself so it's time rather than money. The only big ticket item is a new main as the old one is knackered. I'm also vaguely worried about the rudder when I look again at the photos I took. I'm thinking if I go for "Karina" I might replace the boom too and go for a roller reefing main which makes it easier for single handed sailing. But given that it's £10K cheaper than "Katy Ann" I've got money to play with. The only other significant downside is the fin keel. This was Hugo's first choice.

But if I'm honest of the three "Katy Ann" is the one I just liked the look of most. She looked fettled and ready to sail and she's got a bilge keel and despite being the biggest of the three she draws the least. Although she's the most expensive she comes with a lot of kit (e.g. flares, charts, almanacs, life raft, autopilot) as the owner is giving up sailing so I'd not need to buy a lot to start sailing. The only big ticket item I think I'd need up front is a dinghy and outboard.

Anyway if the sailors among you have any thoughts on the above do let me know. I'm going to sleep on it.

  1. I think, whisper it, that the dreaded cluster might be over as this is by far the longest gap I've had. I woke up this morning with a slight headache and thought "bugger, it's back again" and then thought about it and realised it didn't feel like a migraine so I just dropped a couple of paracetamol and codeine and it was gone in twenty minutes. Guess who had a third half of bitter last night?

Tags: sailing Written 15/01/11

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