Knowing what I know now….I would have purchased my first sailboat at least 31 years ago. I never imagined how many inexpensive options there are obtaining a sailboat capable of circumnavigating the world.
Choosing a sailboat can be an overwhelming decision. But I’m convinced that it does not need to be. Looking back on this experience, a recommendation is to break the decision into a few components; namely,
- Understand your dream and the sailboat’s mission
- Limit your search to vessels that meet the mission and your budget
- Consider your skills and avoid selecting a “project” boat with excessive repair requirements
- Seek alternative purchase options to maximize value
In this post, I am going to limit the topic to understanding your dream and the sailboat’s mission.
Do you dream to circumnavigate or hug a coastline?
Might you prefer to be a part time or full time live-aboard?
Will you be single handed sailing, have a companion, or utilize a crew for longer passages?
What are your budget limitations?
You see, how you answer these questions and the myriad of others that will spring into your mind, you will quickly begin to see that there are alternatives in the type of sailboat you may select. To get my mind wrapped around these options, I chose to read books, watch movies and videos, attend a few sailboat shows, do some sailing with others, and consider the contribution of other fellow adventurer blogs. My conclusion is that there is more than one way to reach this conclusion. It is more important to take your time and not rush into purchasing the first sailboat that fits your budget.
In my case, the more I contemplated which sailboat – the lower my budget became. I quickly realized that the cost to get started didn’t need to get larger. Boat envy, or the insatiable desire for something bigger and more luxurious than I actually needed seemed to diminish. Ultimately, I set the objective that the price of the boat did not need to coast more than a typical used, middle class car in the USA.
A few resources to get you started include:
- Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum (1844-1909) who sailed around the globe on a 37 ft sloop named Spray. He is probably the most celebrated sailor of all time.
- The Dove, a 1974 movie about a 16 year old, Robin Lee Graham, who sailed around the
globe in a 23 ft sloop.
- Singlehanded Sailing – The Experiences and Techniques of the Lone Voyagers (1989), by Richard Henderson.
- The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat (2013) by Mark Nicholas.
- Chasing Bubbles (2016) a documentary about Alex Rust who at 25 leaves Chicago to “become a derelect sailboat captain”.
- Hold Fast (2007) a documentary of “anarchist sailors” and their voyages on svPestilence a rescued Pearson 30.
There are many more resources available through an internet search on sailing. The objective is to nourish your dream and to figure out exactly what the mission of your boat that is required.
In my case, I also took a trip to Vancouver to sail on a Dufour 31 for the weekend. It was actually my first real sail learning how to operate a sailboat. This was much different from a 2 hour recreational sail on the schooner America 2.0 from New York City that I did the previous year in Key West, Florida.
So what is my dream and mission for the sailboat?
My dream is that on the first day of my retirement that I will depart my home port on a non-stop circumnavigation – solo. If a 16 year old like Robin Graham or even Zac Sunderland can do it, surely
an old salty dog like me can do it too!
My boat must be able to be sailed single-handed. This requires that it have simple systems. It must be easily repaired while en route. It must not require complex or difficult to obtain spare parts – preferable those that I can carry along on board. It must be comfortable both in the cockpit and bellow deck including ample room to exercise while at sail. The sailboat must have a reasonable galley for food preparation and sufficient storage capacity to It hold significant stores of foodstuffs. The mission will require that this sailboat generate sufficient power to be “off grid” and make freshwater.
That’s a tall order. But one that quite reasonably fits into my limited budget. Next week, I’ll address the search for vessels that meet this criteria of the mission.