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Ballard Sailor

Now for some Boat Shopping

Rating: 48 votes, 5.00 average.
Sunday over, people back to work and school, it was time to get going on the other reason we’ve come to the East Coast - find a sailboat and go cruising for 5 or 6 months. Our plan is to find a smaller sailboat that is listed at under $10,000. Knowing that in this price range we’ll be finding boats that need a few repairs and many that will be simply trashed and overpriced I had spent months organizing a list of boats I found online, hopefully weeding out the bad ones, and it was time to organize these boats by area. Now Herndon, Virginia is almost due West of our capital, Washington, D.C. so it is a great half way point for searching for boats on the Chesapeake Bay. We decided to hit the North boats first, do a loop up towards the top of the bay, cut across to the Eastern Shore and then head South to the bay bridge that hops back West to Annapolis and then back to Herndon. A full day with 7 boats on the list and a few others we didn’t know about....

Our first stop on the day was at a boat I had been looking at online for quite some time. A Cal 9.2 that seemed the almost perfect boat for our trip. She pictured well online for both her interior and exterior shots and she seemed almost perfect due only to her deeper draft - over 5’ which limits your cruising on this shallow East Coast adventure. Out of bed and on the road early before the infamous beltway traffic got started we arrived at Young’s Boat Yard for a look at the Cal. As the only boat in the water she was easy to find and quick phone call to yard office got us in touch with the Owner, Mr. Young (also the owner of the yard).

Once aboard it became obvious that the pictures were better than real life. The starboard deck was cupped up over 1/2” with some obviously delaminating plywood core and the interior was pretty trashed. Headliner torn out, shoddy bulkhead tabbing and rotten cushions...she wasn’t the one. Guess we got more work to do....But since we were there we asked Mr. Young if there where any other boats in his yard for sale and he took us around and showed us a couple more.

First was a Seidlemann 299 that looked like a great old IOR boat. She was a bit out of our price range at $13,000 but she looked good and we filed her away for future reference if we couldn’t find anything good under $10,000.

Next came a beautiful Alberg 30 with a smooth blue paint job and a nice, if cramped interior with new cushions and clean white surfaces on the cabinets. We popped the motor cover off and took a look at a ????? what is this? A Gray’s Marine gas inboard. I’ve never seen one of these. Young told us they where an old motor similar to an Atomic 4 and use some of the same parts. Hmmm, at $6000 she was in our price range but she had a tough companion way for Mac to get down, a small galley and a bit more cramped of an interior with her traditional lines and narrow beam, nice boat though.

Next up was a drive to Anchorage Marina in Baltimore and a look at a Seidlemann listed with a broker for $5000. After the seeing the one at Young’s we felt this one may be promising as a good design but once we got out the long dock to the boat we learned why it was $5000. She was purchased by the broker for a winter project that never happened. With 6” of growth swishing around on the bottom we stepped aboard to find what could have been a good interior with a months work, but she was a mess right now. Old, dark, dirty, needing everything replaced and only an old main and jib in sight. We thanked the very nice broker and moved on....

Up around the top of the bay we found a Hunter 27, Cherubini design. These little boats seem to be everywhere around the area and are listed anywhere between $4,000 and $12,000. Yes it’s a Hunter, I know, but many of you may not know the Cherubini designs built in the 70’s and early 80’s. Looking a lot like a C&C these boats were built at time in Hunter history when they actually built decent cruising boats from 25 to 37 feet, even a skinny but long 54’er. The Catalina Yachts of the East Coast, these things make good little cruising boats for the money. This particular one had a diesel and 4’ keel with a cleanable and repairable interior. It also had 2 feet of keel that looked like it sat in mud every year - cleaned clear down to the lead on a line 2 feet up. For an offer of $5,000 she’s fixable, but we’ll see if we can find something better.

Now out onto the amazingly beautiful Eastern Shore. The entire East side of the Chesapeake Bay is a peninsula stretching it’s entire length between the bay and the ocean. Covered by small towns and picturesque farms the area was perfect to drive through on a sunny spring day while enjoying the views of immaculate farms and shore side towns. Some areas seemed as if they hadn’t changed in 50 years, standing still in time out on the secluded stretch of land. Working South now we arrived at another Hunter 27, but this one had a shoal keel, 3.6’. Great for getting almost anywhere you want to go, but I wasn’t so sure about it’s stability for when we got out on the Atlantic up North. She had a clean organized interior and a modern outboard on the transom. An offer of $5,000 would probably get her but I just wasn’t sure about the shoal keel.

Then we stumbled upon a Pearson 30 in the yard next door to the Hunter. She was in good shape, if somewhat stock and in need of upgrading. She had a decent looking Atomic 4 inboard with no oil or gas in the bilge. She had a nice interior with cushions that still had some life in ‘em, and a companion way Mac could get down. But at $10,000 she would max out our budget and the broker mentioned he didn’t think the owner would move much yet as he had just listed her. Nice boat, we filed her away, just in case.

On South to our last two boats of the day in Rock Hall, Maryland. First on the list was an Islander 30 that I had been emailing back and forth with the broker about. This one had an almost new Yanmar and a really good looking exterior. But once inside, the area the broker told me needed work, we realized it’s problem. It had been flooded at some point and all the plywood from the floorboards up about 6 inches were rotted out. Combined with the other repairs she needed I looked at the broker and said, pull the motor and take the keel off, trash the rest and sell the motor on craigslist and take the keel to a metal recycler, that’s all she seemed good for unless they give it to a carpenter.

And the final boat he had to show us was a Hunter 30, another Cherubini design. He had told me the I-beam support at the mast base needed to be replaced but otherwise she was in good shape. And I gotta say she did look good and the mast base looked easy to fix but once we walked around on the deck and found the amazing amount of very large soft spots in need of re-coring we thanked the broker for his time and began the rest of the drive home across the bridge to Annapolis and around the beltway back to Jennifer’s brother’s for the night. A long but beautiful drive around the bay with the 2 Hunter 27’s looking to be the most promising...
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