Saturday, June 29, 2013

Affordable blue water sailboats in Mexico

Cheoy Lee Offshore Ketch     $39.9K
When I looked at my reader statistics I see that this blog entry has more hits than any of my others by far.  That brings me to think that there are a lot of folks out there thinking about getting into an affordable blue water capable sailing vessel.  Read on.  I've added an addendum at the bottom of this article.... sv 

Last month I was perusing the for sale board outside of Mazatlan Yacht Sales and was surprised at the number of affordable boats advertised there.  This broker has offices in Mazatlan, San Carlos, Puerto Vallarta, and La Paz so they have quite a bunch of boats available for sale.  Of the over 150 boats, I'd say more than half of these are blue water capable ranging from 37 ft to 52 ft.  This last cruising season we saw a lot of boats and a lot of boaters who were cruising the Mexico coast and most of those boats were in that 37 to 52 feet category with the average being about 40 foot long.

Rafiki 37    $40K
Of course there are boats less than 37 feet in length that are capable of cruising blue water and many over 52 feet are out there cruising but for our purposes, and this discussion (which I'm controlling so STFU) we're looking at the 37 to 52 foot range for the typical sailor.  I had focused on boats in the 40 to 45 foot range when we were looking because these fit our budget and I wanted a heavy displacement vessel with enough room for a crew of four to sleep, eat, and play comfortably.  Looking  back on the decision, I'm reconsidering.  Don't get me wrong, I love Traveler and am quite happy with her.  But now with some experience under my belt I realize that I could have outfitted a slightly smaller boat and have saved tens of thousands of dollars.

Today as I write this post I see (on the Mazatlan Yacht Sales web site) about 18 blue water sailboats advertised for under $40k, all between 37 feet and 40 feet with the majority in the 37 to 38 foot variety.  If you bring the price up to $50k then there are 24 boats in this category.  Some that stand out are the Rafiki 37 and the Tayana 37, both cutter rigs and both very solid blue water cruising vessels.  The Rifiki is designed by Stan Huntingford and the Tayana by Bob Perry, two very accomplished and serious blue water designers.  Yacht World has seven Rifikis advertised, with five under $50k.  The Tayana is a bit more expensive, usually, but a wonderful boat.

Downeast Cutter   $30K
The Downeast 38 is another nice vessel that can be found for under $50k.  Keep in mind that the selling price will often be much less than the asking price.  If you find a boat advertised for $52k then you just might get into the boat for $42K. These three are just a few examples of affordable blue water cruising sailboats.  There are many more.  I've read that you should expect to put about half the purchase price of a used boat back into the boat as you refit her for service.  Thus if you buy a boat for $40k, expect to spend another $20k on her to get her totally ready for sea.  I'm finding this to be true on my boat as we bought her for $93K and have put close to $50K into her since then.

Tayana 37     $47.5K
So what I'm seeing, with the older 37 footers, is that you could have a good solid blue water sailing vessel for about $60K to $70K (after the refit) if you choose wisely and inspect all the systems carefully.  I could be cruising for about half what I've paid thus far!  Holy Cow.

But then, I love our boat.  It is roomy and cuts through the seas like a freight train.  And she is sexy, very sexy with that rounded stern and polished teak.  Oh I just love to pat her rounded stern.

The upshot is... don't let me catch you whining that you can't afford a blue water sailing vessel.  There are dozens and dozens of them out there, many of them in foreign ports, just waiting for you to come take a look. Don't think that you have to buy your boat in the good old USA.  You don't.  Many of the really good deals are down south, and many boats are in Mexico where folks have cruised them for years and then put them up for sale because they don't want to sail them upstream and upwind to the good old USA.

The lowdown is this.  Get yourself a plane ticket to La Paz Mexico.  See what they have there then take the ferry across to the mainland.  Visit San Carlos and look those over, then take a bus south to Mazatlan and walk some more decks.  Then head south, again by bus, to Puerto Vallarta and look at some more.  Take about 8 days for the trip, two days per city, then cogitate on it for a while.  When you have narrowed it down to a few, get yourself a broker and a surveyor and make a low ball offer. You might be surprised at what you can afford.

Addendum -  Written February 2015 has an article written by By Zuzana Prochazka in October 2012 entitled "Classic Plastic: 10 Affordable Used Sailboats for Cruising"

This article was prompted by an earlier article about 5 affordable blue water sailboats.  Those five were totally out of my price range.  But this later article talks about some boats that I looked at while looking for my boat, most of which I had to pass up because I couldn't afford them.   I wanted to include these here for those who had a few more bucks to spend.  I've been on many of these boats and have some recommendations.  

Kelly Peterson 44  -  I made an offer on one of these and personally know three people who have them.  These are great boats with a center cockpit and aft cabin.  You can find them at a good price on occasion.

Liberty 458
Celestial 48
Hans Christian 38  -  A sweet looking traditional boat
Tayana 37 -  What I would look for if we lost Traveler to the sea.  Smaller but more affordable.
Passport 40 -  Good performer, faster than the Passport 42 but not as much storage and stability.
Gulfstar 44 - Very solid
Norseman 447 -  I saw one of these at a Seattle Boat Show and lusted after it.  Great layout, very stable.  A big hunk of a boat.
Hylas 44 -  Quality boat, probably drawing a high price still.
Cabo Rico 38 -  Have friends who took one to New Zealand and back.  A very nice design.

So there you have it.  These boats are not a super affordable solution like in the original article but they are really nice blue water cruising boats.  Oh, and let me add just one more suggestion:   The venerable Passport 42!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

5500 miles later

Through the southern desert states, east to Nashville, north to Illinois, then across the continent to Seattle, we've logged 5500 miles in the last 30 days.  And in all that time we've camped out 6 times, paid for 2 hotel rooms, and the rest of the time stayed with friends and relatives. I almost said "friends OR relatives" but some, if not most, of our relatives are also friends.  And that's a nice thing.

We've learned that every family has its dysfunctional elements, each household is a little bit odd, and that's the American way.  We came away from this part of the trip with renewed connections with friends, better understandings with our relatives, and an appreciation for the country of our origin. Yes, we were freaked out a little in Texas with all the religious advertising but as a friend pointed out, "They’re probably as frightened of your America as you are of theirs."  

This country is big, big enough to become four or five separate countries.  Maybe it should be.  Folks might feel more at home with their country and their government.  Let's see, perhaps Dixie States of North America. Eastern Seaboard Colonies, Middle America, and Cascadia would be appropriate.

It's been a long time since we've shopped for a cheap hotel room, and our conclusion is that there ain't any.  Coming across Wyoming we got wind stormed out of a bandit camping site.  Even the cheesiest little lincoln log motel nearby was $80 with most rooms over $100.  On that particular night we drove on into the night and found a little city park with free camping. Score!  We are glad we have all our camping gear with us and we revel when we find a place to pitch the tent without opening the wallet.  One trick is to find national forest land and then a gravel road.  Just go a half mile off the pavement, look for a flat spot, and you are all set.  We've found several such places on this trip and they turned out to be wonderful camping spots.  
Bandit camping in the national forest

After making it to Seattle, and getting back into communication via email and phone, it turns out that the boat will not be ready this week but will take another two weeks.  So I rescheduled my flight and Connie and I are spending a week in Seattle and a week in Olympia before I hop on a plane and go south to splash the boat.  

If all goes well, I'll be back later in July for a little sailboat trip we've planned to the San Juans.  Then in August we'll be looking for something to do.  So if you've got a little cabin in the woods, or a ranch out on the flats, or a penthouse in Vancouver that needs house sitting, give us a jingle.
Solstice parade in Fremont

Monday, June 10, 2013

Jumping Ship

The boatyard at Mazatlan
We've jumped ship. Couldn't take it any longer.  Life on the hard finally got to us as temperatures soared and we tired of carrying buckets up and down the ladder. See the photo above and imagine how it is when the temperatures are in the 90s and the air is filled with fiberglass dust and paint fumes.  We talked to Bob and learned that it would be another four weeks before Traveler would be ready to go back into the water.  He advised us to take a vacation from our vacation.  So we hit the road.  We headed north to the country of our origin.
Brevin starting a heat.

Ava rocks.

Barb Dodge in Albuquerque
The first few days we fried, as the little Honda car took us through the Sonoran desert without air conditioning. We stayed at the Departmentos Adelie in San Carlos the first night, then arrived in Phoenix to visit Connie's sister, Diane and her husband, Tom the second night, staying there for about a week. We enjoyed the swimming and attending a swim meet... and we got the air conditioning in the car fixed.  The best part was hanging out with Ava and Brevin. From Phoenix we went to Albuquerque and stayed with Connie's friend Barb who made us feel right at home. Our Traveling methodology is focused on routing ourselves so we always
find a free place to stay and find old friends to catch up with.  As we travel around the USA this summer you can bet we'll find you and crash in your spare room if you are anywhere near our planned route.  After all, we are on a budget!
Richard and Sheila after shooting the rapids

As we headed east we ran out of daylight and crashed at a free campsite near Elk City Oklahoma.  Then the next day rolled across Oklahoma to join our friends Richard and Sheila at a wonderful little cabin next to a river.  That was a very relaxing three days and we caught up on 23 years of news. It sure is nice to catch up with old friends who you have not seen in decades.

Now we are in Hendersonville, Tennessee visiting with brother Bernie and his wife Amy, and mother Voltz of course.  Next we head to Galena Illinois to see Connie's family there.
Amy, Connie, Kathleen, Scott, Bernie

I'll be flying back to Mazatlan in two weeks where I'll find Traveler ready (or not) to go back into the water.  Connie will park herself in Seattle and Olympia awaiting my return then we'll spend the rest of the summer in the Northwest visiting friends, crashing on couches, and making ourselves a nuisance.  We figure to worm our way into a home, drink up all the beer and wine, raid the refrigerator, and once our welcome is worn out, move on to the next friend's house.  We'll also do some sailboat cruising this summer in Puget Sound as I've reserved a boat at the WYC.
Not happy with all this time in the car

See you soon.  Get that beer stocked up please.

And now an aside about how somebody stole my America:

As we made our way east from Albuquerque the flat scenery didn't change much but what did change was the roadside scenery.  Our eyes were bombarded with religious references on the side of the road.  We observed this all the way through Texsas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  Some were huge billboards telling of Christ's coming, "Warning, Jesus is coming.  R U Ready?"  Warning? Sounds like something I want to run away from really fast, and we did at 75 miles per hour.

In Groom Texas we saw a huge 19 story high cross on I-40.  People flocked to the scene admiring the statues at its base, some with anti-abortion themes.  And the churches, they were everywhere and they were big.  We'd see a hill off to the side of the highway and there would be three crosses on top. Then down the road a sign on the side of a trailer on someone's roadside property referenced a bible passage.  Off the main road we'd see little signs in people's yards with bits of scripture on it and everywhere, there were billboards advertising the various churches in town.  We got the feeling that in this part of the country you had to be a member and you had to let everyone know you were a member.

We turned on the radio, looking for NPR.  No such luck.  But we did find talk radio and Mike Huckabee, and right wing religious propaganda spouted from the car speakers.  I tried to follow the logic but it just did not make sense to me.  Government should stay out of our business. But on the other hand, government should pass lows telling women what they can or cannot do with their bodies and telling same sex couples that they are second class citizens.  We tried to listen to the radio, just to try to understand where these folks were coming from, but the vitriolic words were mean spirited and conflicted so much from what I thought religious doctrine espoused that we had to turn it off and sit in moody silence as Connie accelerated the car.

We could  not wait to get out of Texas, and then across Oklahoma.  The last time I traveled this county by car I remember the wonderful scenery and the little mom and pop diners in the small towns.  But that was 22 years ago and things are different now.  Now the mom and pop diners are few and far between, replaced by chain restaurants.  And now the roadsides are full of religious propaganda and statements of fear.  

We thought it was funny to see competing billboards coming into Oklahoma City.  On the north side of the highway was a billboard talking about how we need to stop sex trafficking.  On the south side was a billboard with scantily clad women inviting us into an establishment where we'd satisfy our sexual needs.  And there would be a sign touting Jesus's love next to an advertisement for an indoor shooting range. Wanna take a class on concealed handgun ownership?  There is a a special price for women.  

Guns, God, abortion laws, proud displays of the American flag, big pickup trucks, and ball caps.  Now the last three I can handle, but the first three have no place in our public spaces.  Who stole my America?