What we want in a sailboat

By aaron.axvig, 14 October, 2018

We looked at our first sailboat today and thought we should tell you about what we’ve been looking for in a boat. In general, we think that a 35 foot monohull made in the 90s would be a good fit for us.

A broad category of sailboats is whether they are a "bluewater boat" or not. Bluewater boats typically feature heavier construction, a large keel (no fin keels), and thicker rigging. Basically they are designed to be safer and more comfortable in heavy weather conditions that you may not be able to avoid when crossing an ocean, but often sacrifice performance and cost. We currently have no plans to do any longer passages and will not specifically be looking for a boat designed like this, but would be OK with one.

Specific things we will be considering:

  • Diesel engine: this is pretty standard, typically about 40 horsepower
  • Aft cabin: when the main cabin is in the back of the boat you get a more square-shaped bed instead of the more common triangular ones in the pointy bow (v-berth).  Also a little better walking room. However, they lack the excellent airflow of a v-berth and take away large amounts of cockpit storage.
  • Sugar scoops and walkthrough transom: sugar scoops are when the back of the boat has a flat "scoop" surface down by the water line, and the walk through transom is when you can step into the cockpit from the transom. This would be great for boarding the dingy, swimming, and getting Louise on and off.
  • Dual helms: having two steering wheels makes the cockpit feel more open since you can walk down the middle to the back of the boat, but was not very common on models under 50 feet until the 2000s.
  • Pilothouse models: these have an enclosed cockpit and seem nice but are pretty rare.
  • Navigation electronics: we have a relative at Garmin who has offered to hook us up with discounted instruments so a boat with aging electronics wouldn't be a downside.

We plan to keep the price under $50,000. This should be enough to get us in a boat that doesn't have any major issues, but will need some moderate repairs and updates. It seems usual to spend about 20% of the purchase price to do that, which for us might be things like adding solar panels, replacing batteries, painting the bottom, replacing ropes, etc.

We will need a dingy too, probably a 10 or 12 foot inflatable with a 10 horsepower motor.