My wife and I are looking to purchase a boat in a few years. What is the best way to get to sail various boats so that we can see what they look like on the inside and how they sail for short excursions. We don't really want to deal with brokers at this time but we are wanting to meet new people in the cruising community. Anyone have any ideas or what you did to see different styles of boats. We live close to the Texas Gulf Coast, Corpus Christi area but are familiar with the whole coast line. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


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Ron I think what they want is to figure out the easiest way to get out on the water on different boats. Since most people wont say sure ill take you out for a sail without some reimbursement whether it be money or beer. It might be a good idea to sail on a few deliveries while visiting as many boats as you can. Sailing some distance will give you a very good idea about life on a boat then talking with owners and being aboard may be able to fill in the gaps. this may be the next best thing to getting out on a bunch of different boats.
CaptRon makes a good point. Determine your sailing area and type of sailing you intend to do, then start looking for a boat. That way, you don't spend time looking at unsuitable boats.

Crewing is a good way to get time on different boats, as are, as mentioned, deliveries. A bit more expensive of course, is chartering.

Clear Lake has a ton of boats. You might want to go up there, and post some notices at the various marinas that you are looking to crew. I'd also suggest contacting Ed Snyder at Houston Yacht Sales and speak with him about what you are trying to do. He is a real buyer friendly guy, whose primary interest is in matching the buyer to a suitable boat, rather than just selling a boat. There's a good chance he can point you in the right direction for hooking up with some crewing opportunities. Tell him John on Aria recommended him.

Aboard S/V Aria
We are looking to live abroad and cruise Bahamas, Caribbean, down to Trinidad and in a few years go through Panama, Hawaii, Figi and Tahiti; no circumnavagation just in those areas I mentioned prior. I like the Bristol 41.1 and 43.3 with a center cockpit; I am also partial too Tartans (grew up sailing on 37) but my wife prefers having a aft cabin, so we are leaning towards center cockpit boats. Thank you for everyones replies so far, it is always good to have other ideas and get out of the box so to speak. Would love to hear from Bristol owners in the Texas area; just to get your thoughts, likes and dislikes.
I agree with Capt. Ron as well. It's important to get the right boat for the cruising you will eventually do: a steel hull, for instance, for cruising in the northern latitudes.

But the easiest way to "try out" boats is to charter them. Did you know that there are Charter companies that specialize in certain makes. Take Island Yacht Charters in St. Thomas. They offer only Island Packet yachts. There are more companies then i can name here, but check the cruising magazines (like Blue Water Sailing!) for ads and articles and my Cruising Compass for what's out there. You can charter in all the destinations that you mention, including Fiji.

Fairwinds and we'll see you out there!
You might look into the Whitby 42 and Brewer 12.8 also. The Irwin 43 CC is a fine looking boat as well, and the Pearson 424.
Hi David,
The Bristols are good bluewater boats and the second-generation Bristols (those with a fractional size: 35.5, 41.1, etc) have generous accomodations below. If you are going to do much offshore sailing, as you say you will, consider that most center cockpit boats are wetter than aft cockpit boats and less comfortable to drive through really bad weather. Even crossing Corpus Christi Bay with the somewhat rare norther driving the chop against the prevailing SE winds and tides, you will take a shower.
We keep Paloma, our Bristol 29.9, at Bahia Marina in Ingleside on the Bay - if you want to give me a way to contact you off line, I'll call you the next time we are going to be at the boat - probably over Labor Day weekend. There are a lot of liveaboards there and are usually hanging out under the pavilion and very willing to talk to you about (and probably show you) a variety of sailboats. Paloma is moored between a Morgan Out Island 41 and a sturdy old Choy Lee - lots of interesting bluewater boats there.

Thank you for the response and the invite. My email is I would love to discuss more cruising tidbits with you. Contact me via email and I will give you more contact information. Thank you again.
Chartering is one way, but many of the best types of boats are available for charter. Walking the docks and talking with boat owners will be helpful, but probably the most useful way is to join a Yacht Club and spend time talking with cruisers.

Many club cruisers will accept crew for weekend cruises. Will give you a chance to try lots of boats over time.
I've found a great way to get rides on boats, and learn a lot in the process, is to offer youself up as crew for weekly races at local marinas. Many skippers are looking for "rail meat" where the only ability required is that you can listen and learn. It's a terrific way to meet people, share their passion, help them race, and see a lot of boats.


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