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Buying A Sailboat

Buying A Sailboat

Sailing is a pastime and a sport you can participate in from five years old to 85 years old. Not many other sports allow this lifetime endeavour. The wind is free so sailing is free once you own a sail boat. John Rousmaniere once said “The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.” The feeling you experience while sailing is not possible while driving a power boat.

Type, size and price. When considering the type and size of sail boats, the best advice for Broadwater/Moreton Bay sailing is an inshore sailing dinghy, which starts from $1,000, or a keel yacht at about $15,000. For those wanting to go offshore sailing, most experts suggest purchasing yachts over 30 or 35 feet for these voyages, although many people have crossed oceans in very small yachts. What is more important is to choose a yacht design with a reasonably high ballast/displacement ratio, which is the measure of the stability of a boat’s hull and determines the stiffness and resistance to capsize.

Technology. On the Gold Coast, we are fortunate that we can sail for the weekend or set off on longer distances. Most owners aspire to sail to the Whitsundays at some point, so it is probably best to purchase a yacht over 30 feet to start with. New sail boats have come a long way over the last five years, now with furling main and head sails. Also, the new models have onboard electronics that are controlled by smart phones or iPads. The latest sailing boats offer shallow draft keels, popular among cruising sailors in Queensland. A second-hand sail boat that is 10 years old will probably still make the trip you have planned. However, remember to allow some funds to upgrade the electronics, radios, chart plotters, autopilots and possibly sails and canvas covers.

Partner decision. If you involve your partner from the start of the decision-making, it will be a great pastime you can enjoy together for many years to come. If your partner is not confident with your buying decision, they may avoid the ocean voyage and end up flying to a tropical location to join the yacht in sheltered waters. Once you have purchased your dream yacht, it is easy to hire a skipper to sail with you the first few times while most new sail boat brokers include this in their sales contract.

Calmness. The mental attitude required to overcome the fear of learning to sail is a calm state. Be relaxed and forget about what you are doing at work next week. Once you have been sailing in your own newly acquired yacht a few times, you soon get into the groove and enjoy commanding and managing your own vessel. Appreciate the insight of Bob Bitchin who expressed, “Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure.”

Dealing with dealers. On the Gold Coast, there are several dealers specializing in the larger monohull sailing vessels. New yachts will have a two-year warranty on the engine, five years on the hull, and 12 months on most other items. Second-hand yachts have no warranties, so it is important to conduct a full out-of-the-water survey by a qualified marine surveyor. When conducting an on-water test and walk-through in a sailing boat, take the specification sheet published by the dealer and ensure every single major item works. Check the operation of the engine, the electronics, the refrigeration, and most of the large ticket items. Always insist that any deposit is fully refundable and the sales contract is subject to a satisfactory test-sail and out-of-the-water survey.


By Norman Ambrose