Taking Advantage of Perpetual Motion

One of the advantages of boating under sail is that its the closest thing to perpetual motion humanity is ever devised. A well-handled 28-foot or longer Catalina or Irwin sailboat can go all the way around the world without using a drop of fuel, something no other vehicle can boast. It can be easy to find your pre-owned sailboat on eBay.

Choosing a Sailing Hull

The biggest part of any boat, sail or not, is the hull. Its what keeps you afloat and provides the necessary water resistance so that you can steer the vessel. There are two main aspects to consider when choosing a sailboat hull; material and design:

  • Material: Most modern hulls are made of composites or fiberglass. Other options include metals such as aluminum or steel, or even wood. Composites are light and strong, but do not resist impact the same way as wood or metal.
  • Design: Monohull designs offer the classic look people expect and provide lots of feedback to wind and water, making them excellent first boats. Catamarans and trimarans are faster and make good racers, but you dont get the same feedback in bad weather.
Features to Look For

Whether your marine ambitions involve taking a Hunter yacht around the world or just learning aboard a Cape Dory on the river, there are a few things you should know to look for before heading to the marina. Dont worry so much about the maker at first, you can get plenty of quality boats from manufacturers like Beneteau, Lagoon, Jeanneau, Morgan, Pearson, Bristol, Tartan, Sabre Yachts and C and C. Instead, look for features that will affect the experience on the open ocean:

  • Rig: Beginners should look for a single mast with an easy to handle rig. The more sails you have, the more work it takes to run the boat.
  • Power: Most boats include auxiliary power, often a Diesel engine.
  • Space: Decide how many berths you need before looking at boats. You want something that is roomy enough that you wont get claustrophobia on a trip to Canada but not too big to handle.
What About Cruising?

Unless youre on the Great Lakes, most cruiser boats are going to be more at home in salt water than fresh water. Since a long cruise can mean living aboard for months or years at a time, you need to be sure the boat is right for you before you leave the boatyard. Check over the hull and rigging as well as all your auxiliary equipment. While cats are fun in good weather, you may want a monohull if youre likely to encounter storms in the open sea as theyre much more forgiving. Always put safety first.

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