Sailing, Sailing away, to where were goin
October 18, 2010 9:23 PM   Subscribe

I was a guest at a sailing club and the Commodore said I could get a flying scot or comparable boat for around $1000. Sailing was fun, fun, fun. What's the best used boat that could hold 6 people in the price range of $1-2k [The lake is White Rock Lake in Dallas, TX -- pretty small lake]
posted by DB Cooper to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Not an exact answer to your question, but keep in mind that boats are holes in the ocean into which you dump money, consistently. Repairs, accessories, storage, insurance, docking fees etc., especially if it's a boat large enough to hold six people, has a big, heavy keel and/or has an engine. If you can find a way to crew on a boat without owning it, esp. if you're not yet a very experienced sailor, it would probably be far less of a hassle.

Also, and correct me if I'm wrong, from the phrasing of your question I'm inferring that you're not a very experienced sailor? If not, are you comfortable taking out six people in a boat on your own? Sailing is a very, very inherently dangerous sport (a wayward boom/accidental jibe can kill someone, easily), More dangerous if you have a boat large enough for six people and none of those people are experienced and high winds/unexpected weather occurs. Are you comfortable conducting a man-overboard drill in all wind conditions? Do you know the rules re: right of way?

Maybe you could find someone who has a boat to mentor you for a while if your recent experience as a guest at a sailing club was your introduction to sailing. Why not join that sailing club and volunteer as crew?

If you're dead set on buying a used boat (and "used" means "more repairs") one thing to consider is whether the boat has spent it's life in fresh or salt water. Saltwater rusts and corrodes boat parts a heck of a lot quicker than fresh water, so you're best off buying a boat that hasn't lived in the ocean.

Another thing to consider if you're dead set on owning a boat: given the large expense and time commitment of keeping a boat it is not totally unheard of for people to simply give away their older boats. Keep your eyes open in the local paper, craigslist, the internet and at the local marinas etc. for freebies.

Apologies again that this isn't exactly an answer to your question, but I hope some of these insights are helpful.
posted by slateyness at 10:13 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Craigslist is your friend. But do a lot of research, read up on how to survey a boat. You probably don't need a professional survey for a daysailer, but do take note of the potential problem issues. Remember, it's gotta float. This is a good book. Don't be overwhelmed, just beef up so you don't get a lemon.

Do you have a vehicle with a hitch? Or are going to moor or dock the boat full time? Often the cost of dock space is much more than a used boat.

But any boat under 30 ft (a whole different category) six folks will be cozy.

Walk around marinas and look a A LOT of boats before you jump in, there a a lot of minor/major details that may or may not fit your needs. Also note, the minute you have a boat you have several 'projects' a nick, a new halyard, an adjustment to the tiller, a thru hull that needs to be freed up. Just afternoons or a small cabin to overnight?

There are a lot of used boat in the 19-20something range, Catalina's are good but there are lots of other great boats.
posted by sammyo at 10:14 PM on October 18, 2010

I'm seeing new Flying Scots at $16,500. I can't imagine viable used ones being available for less than two grand. A new Laser, with a one-person crew, will run $5,000 or so.
posted by mnemonic at 10:33 PM on October 18, 2010

Best answer: In a lot of places there are clubs you can join, where the club owns a certain number of boats and club members can make reservations to sail them. That might be a cheaper answer. It also might be a good way to learn how to sail, because you can join someone else from the club who needs a hand.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:58 PM on October 18, 2010

A new Laser, with a one-person crew, will run $5,000 or so.

I can pick up a second-hand laser in my country for about $715 - but boats that are easy to transport can sell better/for more, as there's a larger market for them.

So if you want a big boat and don't want to spend much, I'd look at the local market - is anyone at the club you attended looking to sell their boat?

Of course, if you're single-handing, I'd consider an even smaller boat that you can get in and out of the water by hand on your own, and that you can right on your own if it capsizes. Lasers are almost that light, but some people just aren't heavy enough to be able to turn them back over.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:59 AM on October 19, 2010

words of wisdom ... cheap boats aren't.

if it flies or floats, rent it.

While all you can think about is how much fun you and your friends would have on your as-yet un-purchased yacht ... when you buy it your friends will be busy, the weather will be poor, it will be too much hassle, you will have work to finish, and it will require repairs. Seriously. For ever and ever and ever, amen.

(And I say this as someone who is looking to buy a boat, someone who has sailed for years, and someone whose father owns a boat).

That said ... the magic length for 4-6 people is 24-26 feet ... but 6 is cosy ... however boats of that size can generally be sailed single handed by a capable skipper. 28-30 feet is better. is a good US website.
posted by jannw at 1:10 AM on October 19, 2010

Congratulations/condolences for getting into the exciting sport of sailing!

Knowing White Rock Lake and having owned sailboats, I would rent if you can. The old saw is that there are two great days to owning a boat: the day you buy it and the day you sell it. It wasn't too long ago that White Rock Lake was too shallow to sail in with a keel (it was dredged in the 90s and could theoretically silt up again.) So by renting first you will be able to figure out the best size boat for you, but also the longevity of your interest.

Oh, and watch out for the Lady of White Rock Lake! She's scary.
posted by acheekymonkey at 5:20 AM on October 19, 2010

Best answer: So I just started sailing this year. I purchased a used 1970 Macgregor Venture 22 for $1350 off of Craigslist (with trailer and outboard.) so $1000 for a Flying Scot (or comparable 19'-ish foot boat) is not unreasonable if you keep your eyes open.
Of course, I proceeded to sink another $1500 into paint, replacement hardware, running rigging, life vests, trailer tires, etc...and I'm still not done fixing it up.

Of course, fiberglass boats, if well cared for, last a LONG time (my 40 year old boat is as, if not more, structurally sound as the day she was made.) So don't hesitate to consider an older boat, so long as it has no major structural issues and the sails are in good shape. New paint is cheap, new sails are not. A new battery or new lights are cheap, replacing a rotted-out deck core is not.

For what it's worth, I do not recommend a Venture for your needs. The cockpits are too small. In my boat, more than 4 people is too crowded. (which is ok, as the interior of my boat can easily sleep 4.)

I benefited greatly from a few books:

Your First Sailboat by Daniel Spurr. A good intro to sailing, as well as the different kinds of sailboats and their respective pros and cons. Spends some time on helping you choose the right boat for your needs.

Sailing Fundamentals by Gary Jobson. The official learn-to-sail manual of the American Sailing Association and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary.

This Old Boat by Don Casey. Everything you'll need to know about fixing up your used boat.

I have to refute slateyness's assertions of danger and expense. Inland sailing (as on a small lake in Texas) is by no means inherently dangerous, especially if all reasonable precautions are taken. And, like any hobby, its only as expensive as you want it to be.

I've definitely caught the sailing bug. I'm now dreaming of a circumnavigation, even though the biggest body of water I've yet been sailing on was the Youghiogheny River Lake. So go sailing, but be careful - it's an insidious hobby.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:33 AM on October 19, 2010

doh, Youghiogheny River Lake
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:34 AM on October 19, 2010

This isn't quite what you're looking for but, for learning how to sail, I would highly recommend looking at something like a Hobie 14 or Hobie 16. They are basically identical boats. The 14 is an earlier model that was replaced but the 16 (the model number refers to the hull length). There is tons of support on the companies forums and in plenty of other places and lots of sources for parts. The boats themselves are pretty simple and simple to operate.

My father-in-law bought one ready to sail with a trailer for $1,100 this summer for his lake house on a small lake. I had never sailed or even been on a sailboat before in my life (but have always wanted to) before this summer. I read the manual that came with it and is available on the company's website and started sailing. I'm still by no means an expert but I've been out on the boat a few times now and I'm really starting to get the hang of it. My goal for next summer (I'm in Minnesota and the water is too cold now) is to get out on the trapeze and fly a hull; it looks like tons of fun.

It can be crewed solo without a problem and can accommodate two. It wouldn't really fit 6 people on it but it might be a good, cheap way for you to learn to sail.
posted by VTX at 7:36 AM on October 19, 2010

There are certainly the occasional Flying Scots that can be picked up for $2-3k, but they usually will need some work. Buying used though the boat company or another dealer will be more expensive most of the time. The better answer is to look on craigslist, and on the "for sale" boards at yacht clubs and marinas. The best deals on boats, however, can often be found in front yards. If you see a boat with a season's worth of leaves sitting on it, drop an offer in the mailbox.

That being said, a Scot is a pretty small boat for six adults. You can do it, but it's really pretty crowded. There aren't really a lot of dinghies (boats without keels) that will hold six adults comfortably. So unless you're also looking to pay for somewhere to keep it, your six adults will be a upper limit on passengers.

The final question for rent v. buy is whether you're looking for a fun winter project. If you want to read about fiberglass and gelcoat, and spend some time sanding, then buying a fixer-upper makes sense. If not, then rent!
posted by mercredi at 7:42 AM on October 19, 2010

As a Texan, you will probably find the classifieds at SailingTexas to be useful. There are a couple other pages - the interface is wonky but they have a lot of ads.

I think this "hole in the water into which one dumps money" thing is true, provided we're talking about complicated boats. I wouldn't buy a cruising boat for $2000, but sailing dinghies can be simple enough that cheap ones are actually good values. I spent $400 on an El Toro to teach my kids to sail in, a few years back, and I've spent relatively little on maintenance since then, but it still floats and sails just fine. The more moving parts, or the more complicated systems, or the harder it is to put in and take out of the water.... the more maintenance matters.

As for carrying a lot of people, you may want to look into a beach catamaran. It's quite common to see Hobies on Craigslist here in Colorado for under $1000, ready to sail. They're fast, draw very little water in your shallow lake, and will hold a fair number of people. Six? I don't know, that's a lot. But a Hobie 16 would probably get you closer to holding six than anything else you can find for around $1000.
posted by richyoung at 7:46 AM on October 19, 2010

Response by poster: Excellent advice everyone! Thank you all (y'all) for the advice and different resources to check out. I'm also going to refresh my memory about AskMeFi protocol for situations where every answer is a "best answer" in its own unique way. After reading your answers, I realize now that "up to 6 people" is too big a boat for me. I also hadn't even considered the rental option.
posted by DB Cooper at 10:40 AM on October 19, 2010

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