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Old 07-09-2004, 10:03 AM   #1
Rattlesnake Gal
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Question Starter Sail Boat

Can anyone recommend a good starter sail boat? It would need to hold two people, be able to be brought on land when not in use and storage for the winter. We have searched the classifieds but are really just looking for suggestion of what brand or style would be appropriate. Also, any suggestions on where we might look to find a used one other than the classifieds on this site. We would like to spend as little as possible on this potential hobby until we know our sons are into it. Thanks.
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Old 07-09-2004, 03:16 PM   #2
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I would suggest a Sunfish.

They are very simple to operate, can easily be turned upright after capsizing, even by a child(ask me how I know!), and they are unsinkable.

The boat has a huge enclosed air pocket that provides buoyancy even if the cockpit is completely full of water.

In addition, the cockpit is self bailing, meaning that you unscrew (by hand, no tools needed) a small fitting on the cockpit floor, and the water completely drains out once the boat is underway and on plane.

I think it's a fantastic boat to learn the basics on- I learned when I was 9. It definately teaches you how to sail, how to tack and jibe, etc. The rigging is quite simple, which does mean that you would have more to learn if you upgrade to a bigger, more complicated boat, but that also makes it easier to focus on the weather, wind and waves for now.

After the Sunfish, I moved on to more complicated sailboats, hobie cats, and windsurfers, and I can honestly say that some of my best memories are from those first few years with the Sunfish. Every time I see one on the lake, it brings a smile to my face.

Since the Sunfish design has been around for 40 years or so, finding a used one, not to mention getting spare parts or repairs, should be easy. Again, its a very simple boat, so there isn't much to maintain. I don't remember breaking anything in the dozen or so years that we had ours, besides replacing lines and occasionally scraping the centerboard or the rudder on the sand as we came in.

The boat will hold two adults, but I think that two kids is probably the perfect cargo for a Sunfish, as it's not that big of a boat (easy to haul out though). After my dad taught us the basics, my brother and I went out together for a season, and the next year we took turns going solo, mostly because it was more fun since the boat went faster.

We left ours on a mooring all season. You don't even have to cover it.

It can be a wet ride, as you are very low to the water, but as I said, the cockpit is self bailing. I found that the Sunfish handled very well, even on the roughest days. We sailed mostly on the Broads. On the calm days, I would wait for the Mt Washington to come around just so I could get hit by the wake!

Other people on this forum may be able to suggest another type of sailboat, but if I was looking for a good boat to learn on, especially for kids, I would definately get a Sunfish.


Rob

Last edited by Rob; 07-09-2004 at 03:23 PM. Reason: added a comma
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Old 07-09-2004, 07:52 PM   #3
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yup Rob's right... a Sunfish is the way to go... dont give up on the classifieds... we just got a Sunfish that we found through them for $400... its a little faded but perfect.... good luck with your search
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Old 07-09-2004, 08:43 PM   #4
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Arrow Laser?

I should buy a Sunfish: just throw it in, sail around, pull it on shore. No rigging delays -- just go. (Sailfish -- very similar boat -- older, cheaper, smaller rig. They're around!)

The Laser sailboat is also simply rigged -- faster than a Sunfish, popular, and relatively cheap. It will not bore a teen, and...faster is safer.

I found my Laser too "tender", as they say. (Really for kids -- lots of moving around for stability/speed).

Browse the sailing magazines. There's one (Modern Sailboating? -- not Sail) that puts many silouettes of the various boats that will fit your requirements. Look near the back. From that page, you can access the various websites for those boats.

Keep in mind that there are several colleges that offer scholarships for sailors -- and that sailing is a credited activity of the U. S. Naval Academy.

I'd search the Internet (using a New England limit in the search).

Most boats larger than a Sunfish (still an excellent choice) come with trailers (that you could sell), and some kid/owners would be happy to drive from Maine or Massachusetts to "unload" their boat to a Winnipesaukee buyer. (How I bought my sailboat -- sight unseen).

Good luck.

Learning to sail -- and sailing -- teaches balance, weather, physics, aeronautics, important knots, mechanical advantage, and "anticipatory boating".

(I just made up that term. Important, on Winnipesaukee -- "to anticipate")

Competitive sailing, available on Winnipesaukee, intensifies learning.
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Old 07-10-2004, 09:48 PM   #5
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Thanks for the good advice. I appreciate it!
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Old 07-11-2004, 07:47 AM   #6
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Default Take some lessons.....

if you have never sailed before, or at least buy a good sailing book if you have never sailed on your own before. Once you learn you never forget. Its pretty easy to sail downwind, getting back upwind can be tough if you don't know what you are doing. I've seen people out there have to get towed back home in a perfectly good sailboat on a windy day. How humiliating.
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Old 07-11-2004, 08:31 AM   #7
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When looking at used Sunfish, one thing to consider with the older boats is the weight. The Sunfish weighs 130# by design. Many of the older one over thier life have taken water into the hull, and absorbed the same in foam billets that are in the hull. This leaves many 200-300 lb hulls out there. If the boat weighs to much, it sails like a dog, and is not nearly as much fun. Pick it up and feel the weight if looking at used. To heavy, consider a pass. Keep looking. They are out there.
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Old 07-11-2004, 10:06 AM   #8
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Sunfish are great, especially if you're learning, but I found that I quickly tired of the Sunfish because you couldn't *do* anything on the boat, except sail. I love to sail - been doing it since I was 8 years old and now I'm 49 - but I like to do more with the boat, too. It's nice to be able to go somewhere with a nice picnic lunch, for example, or to eat out on the lake... or to occcasionally take a few friends with you or to carry supplies. Lack of room is was a killer for me, plus you're pretty much always going to be wet for the entire sail on a Sunfish... kind of kills sailing on chilly days unless you suit up, and even when it's warm I just got tired of having a wet b*tt! )

I've owned a Boston Whaler Harpoon 4.6 for 20 years now, and although it's an older boat, if you can find one in good shape - and most have been kept pretty well - then this is truly the Mercedes of daysailors. See HERE for more information.

These were *very* expensive boats when new - over $7,800 in 1978 dollars - but they're as sturdy as you'll ever get and they sail better than any other small boat I've ever sailed - and I've sailed a *lot* of them! They were designed by the guy that designed the C&C race/cruisers (*nice boats*) and then built by BW, so the quality was definitely top shelf. Plus, they are *very* safe boats - they almost never turn turtle an have a light weather helm (they point into the wind if you let everything go) so if you fall out the boat will wait for you and not run off.

Fair winds to all,
Kevin

Last edited by Puff4; 04-23-2005 at 05:05 AM.
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Old 07-11-2004, 11:41 AM   #9
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Some of the smaller sailboats (Sun Fish, Laser) are designed to tip over when pushed too far. I have a Laser and think this is fun in the middle of the summer. But it is not a boat to go out in a fleece and jeans in the spring and fall. This aspect should be strongly considered.

I have bought boats through the Want Advertiser. Here is the online link:
www.thewantad.com

A terrific 'dry' boat is the O'Day day sailer.

Good luck.
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Old 07-11-2004, 08:34 PM   #10
John A. Birdsall
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Talking sail boat

having used a sunfish/sailfish they were fun and as others say quite wet. I bought a puffer I think they call it a 13'9" boat that should hold three people but can be handled by one. It has a jib and a main sail. It also tips over, I think they call it being a turtle. I learned on a sunfish or sailfish how to right the fool thing, but let me tell you if you sit in and not on its not an easy thing to right the boat.

But the quietness of the event and if you mindful of just what is happening can be a lot of fun.
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:37 PM   #11
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Rattlesnake Gal

Have you checked into whether there are any sailing clubs in your area that offer junior memberships or "learn to sail" programs? Kids like being with other kids, and this is a great way for them to learn how to sail well (and to find out whether they have a taste for it - not everybody does ).

IMHO, sailing is much more fun is you know how to make the boat perform well, and racing is a great way to hook the kids on sailing.

P.S. Once the kids have learned, Lasers are a really good kid's boat and meet your requirements of easy removal from the water.

Silver Duck
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Old 07-13-2004, 10:02 AM   #12
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Smile Thanks!

Thanks to a kind, generous forum member, our sons now have a small Sunfish type boat. It needs a bit of work, but that is coming along nicely. They are turning into boat refinish pros. I think this is the start of a great hobby for all of us.
Thank you everyone for all the great advice and feedback and special thanks to our new friend in Meredith. Iíll be sure to send a picture.
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