A Full Keel
    You want to look for a boat with a full keel (pictured above) or a 3/4 keel with heavy ballast. These vessels work best - the boat
tracks very well, has strong self-righting ability, and is very stable. They also provide a much smoother ride in rough seas.
A Sloop (or single mast) Rig
    A single mast rig is the easiest for single handed sailors. Two masts mean twice the work, and twice the money when it comes
to repairs and replacement of sails and rigging. If you want sailing "speed" think about a Catamaran vs a mono-hull. Catamarans
are also great for couples cruising with kids, and or other couples.
You want heavy and solid construction
    "Lite" may be great in a beer - but it just doesn't cut it cruising the ocean. A heavy vessel not only offers strength and safety -
it offers tremendously more comfort. A solid heavy vessel vs a light faster one is the difference in being seasick 40% of the time
vs only 1% of the time.
    For a leisurely - comfortable cruise - planned so that you are at the right place at the right time, 95% of your voyage can be in
near perfect weather. A heavy vessel will treat you with kindness - and handle well in all kinds of breaking seas and weather. You
not only want to be secure, you want to "feel" secure.
Exterior Wood
    Yes, it looks great... but it is a real pain to keep it looking that way.
    Great for the movie Titanic... but totally unnecessary. It adds length to the boat which translates into more money for the
Marina, and doesn't add a single bit of usable living space.
Small "self bailing" Cockpit
    We all love a big cockpit. It makes room for both entertaining and dinning, and even sleeping under the stars both at sea and
in a quiet anchorage, but when seas break over it, the water retained by a cockpit can not only be a pain, it can even be
dangerous. For this, a smaller "self bailing" (or self draining) cockpit is best. Regardless of size, you must have a design and
drain system that allows your cockpit to drain in seconds - not minutes. Two or more big waves breaking over your stern before
your cockpit has time to drain most likely will lead to disaster.
Users Manuals
    That's right... before you take off for Paradise, Download all the user manuals for all essential and necessary equipment you
have on-board. Most Companies have Technical and Troubleshooting Manuals in Adobe PDF format for FREE download on their
    This is a great service for sure, you will need to be maintaining your boat far from any service center. Now, you can keep a
complete library for the equipment and software you have aboard, without bookcases of printed manuals. Of course, you will still
want to carry any Users Manuals that came with our equipment, but you can supplement this with full technical service manuals
stored on your computer. We have ours on our hard drives as well as backed up on a USB memory devices.
       With any luck at all, buying a used boat will not only save you a bundle over the cost of a new one, but it will also save you a
bundle in gear and equipment. Most of your better used offshore sailboats will come with a host of equipment included in the
      Such things as:
      Radar, VHF, SSB/Ham radio, GPS, Autopilot, Chartplotter, Electric windlass, Generator, Water Maker, Air conditioning, Solar
Panels, EPIRB, Boarding ladder, Comfortable cockpit cushions, PFDs, Lifeslings, Jack lines and harness, Spare parts, Extra sails,
All these items and more are often included on used vessels for sale. Yes, often many of the items are out dated, but most are
still good and still operate - and if you are a "frugal voyager" who cares if the Radar, Fresh Water Maker, or EPIRB is a few years
old if it still works? You've just saved yourself another $15,000 (or more) in equipment.  
There are major differences between inland lake, coastal, and offshore boats.  The major difference is that
inland lake and coastal cruisers are
NOT designed and constructed with the idea that they will ever be on the open sea. They are
also designed with the belief they will never be "lived on" for more then a long weekend at a time. Thus the final result is a lighter
weight, fair weather vessel, with minimum comfort, minimum storage, smaller fuel tanks, and smaller freshwater and wastewater
holding tanks. But the main concern here is safety!

    Offshore vessels are designed and built for the open sea. The Offshore vessel will have stronger spars, stronger rigging,
stronger cleats, and much stronger and tighter latches, hatches, and windows. In addition, these offshore vessels will have far
more stowage and be a much heavier and much more sea kindly than their Inland Lake counterparts or Coastal cousins. For a
safer, more comfortable voyage, an ocean going offshore sailboat should be your only choice. Some (not all) Coastal vessels are
very suitable for the Caribbean and off shore cruising. These vessels (obviously) are the better built and more expensive vessels.
The Difference To Look For...
Between an Offshore Voyager and it's
Inland Lake or Coastal Cruiser Cousins
Selecting a cruising boat.
      A "Certified Marine Survey" is an absolute must. Don't even think of buying an offshore boat on which you intend to live on
with a loved one, and take out on the ocean - without having a Certified Marine Survey.
      These guys know their stuff, and they have the ability to perform the equivalent of an MRI on your boat's hull and deck. This
allows them to see holes, weak spots, wood rot, stress cracks, that you can neither see or feel. In fact, if you have owned your
own boat for several years, it is a darn good idea to get a Marine survey on it - before taking it out.
When complete, a Certified Marine Survey will tell you everything that is good and bad about the vessel. It tells you what works
and what doesn't, it tells you what has been repaired or replaced, and what needs repairing or replacing. It also sets a priority on
much of the needed repairs or worn parts including sails and rigging.
      Your Marine Survey will be a complete "health report" on your potential "new to you" boat. It will tell you if the rigging is in
good shape, and/or if it should be replaced  immediately, or within the next year or two. It will do this on everything involved with
the boat, including hatches, latches, windows, marine head, sinks, hoses, electrical wires, fresh water and waste water systems,
as well as all electrical, mechanical, engine, batteries, switches, gaskets, everything!
I can't even come close to recalling the number of times a new boat owner has come to us for help for a problem that could have
been totally prevented, had he only required a Certified Marine Survey on the boat before it's purchase.
    The process of finding, selecting and purchasing a safe, seaworthy off shore boat normally takes me 6 months to a year. I've
done it 9 times since 1971. Today, between all the sources on the Internet and all the locations I know about, a good boat search
is an awful lot less time consuming then it used to be. I have some great "used boat" links on the Links page that might be of
interest to you.

    If you make a poor choice, you will be plagued with problems, leaks, uncomfortable passages, and endless repairs...  A good
choice however, will present you with many of the most wonderful times of your life.
If you take your time and know what your looking for, you will be rewarded with finding the right boat at the right price. Don't rush,
don't get talked into buying anything, and don't take anyone's word for the condition of any vessel your interested in. As example,
I personally was involved in a used boat referral to a friend, when the seller was also a friend and whose boat was next to mine in
the Marina. My friend 'the buyer' requested a Certified Marine Survey and it provided proof positive of a hidden 'hole' below the
waterline about the size of a basketball. By some miracle, the only thing holding it all together was bottom paint. Needless to say,
nether the seller, me, or the employees at the Marina could believe it. The seller meantime had no idea as he was taking his boat
out on the water almost every day. Not knowing and not suspecting, he (and I) represented the boat in what we thought, was ship
shape condition. Proof - we can't and certainly shouldn't take a seller's word for the condition of the boat, as the owner (seller)
may not even know the actual condition themselves.

    With a Certified Marine Survey, buying used makes good 'smart dollar' sense. Don't overlook all the 'goodies' that come with
used boats. I've inspected used boats for sale where the gear, equipment and amenities alone were worth far more than the
asking price of the boat itself. In fact my son recently purchased a 32' sailboat for $3,900, took off a 1 year old radar, autopilot,
GPS Chartplotter, Bimini top and electric windlass to put them on his boat. Then he set back and waited until someone bought the
boat for $3,000. Bottom line, he took about $15,000 (new value) of equipment off that boat.

    Most used vessels will already be equipped with all the essential equipment you need and even some good usable gear. So
now, not only have you saved a ton of money on the purchase of a used boat vs new, you have saved another ton of money on
essential equipment that came with the boat.
    Furthermore, for the equipment and gear you still needs, (which might include spare parts by the way) you can find some top
quality "stuff" on the used market. There are several great Marine resale shops which are always fun to visit, as well as Nautical
Flea Markets, Marina Bulletin Boards, Marine auctions, and Internet sites such as Good Old Boat and places like Ebay.
    Money saved now means more money in your cruising kitty. if you're working within a frugal budget, set aside your cruising
kitty first. ie: your estimated monthly expenses, then set aside another $400 to provision the boat (all galley and head products
such as: toilet products, chemicals and Marine toilet paper, pots, pans, food, beverages, spices, soap, cleaning supplies,
bug/mesquito repellent, ant/roach and spider killer, all the stuff for your medicine cabinet, including a well stocked first aid
    After all that is done, and you are ready to set sail... Then and only then, (if there is enough money left over) Go out the night
before and have yourself a big juicy steak and leave room for a double dip of your favorite ice cream. If you are headed off to the
Caribbean, it will be awhile before you see either of these, and you will miss them.

    The size of boat you select will affect your cruising costs, not only in initial purchase and outfitting, but also in cruising
expenses once you're under way. From our experience, the majority of boats cruising for a year or longer are sailed by couples,
mostly husbands & wifes, male & female. A boat in the 30' to 36' size works really well. The cost, work, and difficulty to sail and
maintain anything over 42' is significantly higher. Most experienced voyagers are cruising in vessels under 42'. I personally know
two experience cruising couples that upgraded from 32' and 36' vessels to a 46' and 48' respectively, and within months, traded
back down.
Buying a used boat.
Don't overlook all the extras. . .
Many people don't agree with me on the "used boat" issue. Most of them admit their aversion to purchasing a used boat is
carried over from past experiences of buying a used car. Understandably, they don't want to buy someone else's problems - and
neither do we.  However, if you show us a problem someone has had with a used boat, we can show you someone that has had
that same problem with a "new" boat. Fact is, once you get "out there" you will discover for yourself that the "shiny new boat" is
in the rest - because it screams "I AM A ROOKIE."
On the more practical and frugal side however, today in the current market - there is an abundance of great boats with
extraordinarily great deals. Save your money for cruising.  Buy used - but not before you get a Certified Marine Survey.
Some won't agree with me. . .
The Certified Marine Survey
    The Certified Marine Survey will tell you everything that is good, bad, and ugly about your boat. It is an invaluable tool when
used properly in the decision making process of buying a used boat. It is NOT a test to determine if the vessel deserves a
"passing or failing" grade.
    Instead, you can expect a very detailed "inspection". The result of which, will be in a document consisting of several pages.
This document will list everything that is good, bad, and ugly as well as what needs fixing immediately, and what to keep an eye
on for upcoming repairs or replacements.
    To get a complete survey, your vessel will need to be out of the water, (for hull x-rays), and put in the water for an on the
water test run so the Surveyor can check out your engine as well as all the working (running) components.
    Based on the Surveyor's inspection and vessel's reported condition, you can determine what the whether or not the vessel
is worth the purchase price with any cost for immediate and upcoming repairs or replacement parts. As a result, you will be able
to make a good sound decision on whether or not this vessel is safe, seaworthy and of good value for you.
The Off Shore Pleasure Boat
offshore sailboat with a full keel
- The Frugal Voyager -
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