Which first sailing boat to choose for learning to sail? New, Build or Secondhand?

Many people want to learn how to sail or have done a course in sailing and want to get their own boat.

The two best options are below – this page concentrates on the second one!

1/ You can build one of my boats (I know … you were expecting me to say that!).  Building a boat is a cost-effective solution if the boat is designed with care to save you money along the way.  You get a much cheaper boat than a professionally built boat and will cover your building costs (or be close to it) when you go to sell the boat.

Another alternative is to look at the Oz Goose we have developed to have excellent performance for little cost.  An ideal first boat that will carry a couple of Adults. Oz Goose Family and Club Racing Sailboat.

Oz Geese in the Philippines where we can build 10 for the price of importing one Laser Dinghy.

Oz Goose simple quick to build and quick to sail family sailboat. storerboatplans.com

Oz Goose sail boat race fleet on Taal Lake.. There is a second fleet in Cebu. - storer boat plans

2/ Another cost effective solution is to buy a second hand racing boat.  There are a number of articles about restoring and repairing wooden boats in the Q & A section. Don’t overdo it and don’t sink too much money into an old boat though. It should be good enough to be test sailed and come back to the beach without significant water in the buoyancy tanks.

Photo below. Our second Oz Goose Fleet in the Philippines. 10 ooats in Cebu. 18 in Luzon and another ten in Davao this year 2017.

Oz Goose fleet building. First time builders make 10 boats in three days

Welcome to the sailing world!!! (soon I hope!)

A good way to get started is to pick up a second hand racing dinghy.

The really good reason for this is that if you choose carefully you can have a year of sailing and then sell the boat for just about as much as you bought it for.

The main trick is about the price range. Not too expensive and not too cheap.

  • A boat that is expensive for its type will be devalue.
  • A boat that is too cheap will have breakages and cost money.
  • What you want is a boat that is “Just Right”

Maybe something from as small and simple as a Mirror Dinghy to something in the 14ft range for about AUS$1000 to $1500 (Sterling 400- 600 US$ 750 to 1300 – just translating from the situation in Australia – some locals may have a better idea). The beauty is that when you go to sell it you will get almost the same money back.





Finding Your Boat

Talk with local sailors to find out what ones are stable enough for beginners. Local sailing clubs with small boat divisions are often very helpful and may have lists of boats for sale too.

Often the more common boats have a Class Association which may have a list of secondhand boats.

Choose something popular in your area or nearby –  it ensures a wide choice of boats and that you will be able to sell the boat later.  

Some pointers on buying a secondhand boat

Find one that has been raced recently-it will still work well

Make sure the sails are OK – these are expensive to replace so you want to find a boat with OK sails so you can sell it with the same set after a year or two.  The sails should be clean, the fabric should feel quite stiff.  The sails should be well folded or rolled.  If they are just stuffed in a bag – walk away.  The only exception is with spinnakers – these are of a different type of cloth and they don’t mind being stuffed in a bag.  Spinnaker cloth should make a loud rustling sound when you move the sail about in the bag or handle it.  

Talk with local sailors (sailing clubs with a small boat division/s) to find out what ones are stable enough for beginners. Local sailing clubs with small boat divisions are often very helpful and may have lists of boats for sale too.  

In Australia some good choices are common boats, some types that may be common in your area are
One person boats – Sabre, Laser*
Two person boats – 420, Heron, Mirror (unless you and your crew are heavy adults),  Flying 11 for teens (NSW).  Taser which is raced by two adults (a bit more expensive about $2500 is the sweet point).

( * The laser is very robust and very simple, but it can be hard for one person to sail in strong winds until you get used to it.  With all boats it is important to choose weather conditions that you know you can handle OK.  One advantage of the Laser is that there are a lot of cheap ones around and there is not a lot that can go wrong with them apart from worn out sails or lost gear.  Gear for Lasers is very expensive because you can only buy it from one company – so make sure the boat is in good condition and all there.)

Test Sail and learning

Ask the prospective vendor to take you out for a sail before the sale. Everything should go together easily on the shore and work OK afloat. The vendor should appear like they know what they are doing (indicates the boat will be in good operating condition).  You will find out if the boat leaks (check inside the watertight tanks after the sail – there is a drainage bung and/or an inspection port to drain or bail water).

If you really want to get a grasp of the sailing thing consider getting some lessons and/or racing the boat for a year or two with a local club.  You will learn really quickly because they tell you where to go rather than you choosing what is easiest and there is a lot of advice available.

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