The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought

In Part 1, we talked about how to go hunting for your first cruising yacht, using a real world example—my wife and me—to think through the trade-offs and to zero in on a class of boats that we think are ideal starter cruisers.

Is it possible, we asked, to have a safe and seaworthy entry-level cruising boat for no more than the average middle-class family would spend on an average middle-class car?

This is not just an academic exercise, though. In true AAC spirit, we tested the theory with real money: 100% ours. (AAC has no stake in the project.)

The Hunt

We spent the better part of eight months poking through YachtWorld,, brokerage listings, Kijiji classifieds, and so forth. This stage was mainly to get a feel for the market, to see what’s out there at what price points, to see how long a boat tends to stay listed before selling, and how many price reductions tend to be posted before it goes.

This is tremendously useful information to have. From all that browsing, we determined that boats of the type we’re interested in, in the areas near us, tend to either sell fairly quickly in the spring or to languish on the brokerage boards from mid-late summer through to the next spring.

These boats tend to be initially listed at a 10% premium over fair market value, with price cuts being posted late in the season (“I want to sell it before I have to pay to haul and store it”) and again in mid-winter (“I want to sell it before I have to pay for a summer slip”).

This told us that if we were comfortable shopping around in mid-winter with the boats on the hard and looking awful under their worn-out tarps, we should be able to score a good deal on a good boat without too much time pressure.

We also learned that pretty, shiny boats sell much faster and at higher prices than those with cosmetic issues, even if the functional parts are in similar condition, which told us that we should be able to get more boat for our dollar, and more flexibility in negotiations and scheduling, if we learn to separate cosmetic flaws from those that run deeper.

At our price point—set in Part 1 at $US15,000—we had to be careful about identifying what we really need. Many of the systems that make long-term cruising life nicer—DC refrigeration, hot water, vacuum flush toilets, air conditioning, NMEA 2000 networked instruments, a power windlass capable of hoisting a four-ton granite mooring boulder—simply aren’t going to happen at this price.

Indeed, we shared the locks on our delivery passage with a brokerage Azimut 50 whose side thruster system cost more than we paid for our boat, and whose asking price was equal to about a quarter of the total fleet value of our boat’s 350 sisterships.

The Winner

Allow me to introduce Maverick V.

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More Articles From C&C 35—$30,000 Cruiser:

  1. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 1, How We Shopped For Our First Cruising Sailboat
  2. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought
  3. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—How It’s Working Out
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Dick Stevenson

Hi Matt, Great start to your family’s cruising adventures. Fun to travel along with you. Dick

Marc Jackson

Great idea for a series! Can’t wait for more. Marc

Eric Van Moorlehem

Matt- really enjoying reading about this new journey. Would you share what other boats you considered in your purchase decision?

Alan Sexton

Matt – just idle curiosity, the federal and provincial taxes you mention, are these due to the yacht being imported from USA or do these apply every time a boat is sold in Canada?

Evan Cobb

… and how, to whom (is there a specific tax office for marine vessels?) and when said taxes are paid (I assume taxes would be due once the purchase is complete but when are taxes triggered officially?)
I read through Canada’s buying and registering a sailboat some time ago and don’t recall getting an understanding of how this took place.
Looking forward to reading the next instalment. Cheers!

Robert McDowell

Great choice for a starter boat. I sailed, long ago, in the early 90’s, a late 70’s CC35 MKII for 2 seasons in Lake Ontario and the Georgian Bay/North Channel with 6 teenagers and another adult for a camp program. We sailed the piss out of that boat doing 4-500nm per week in all weather and conditions. As you know the summer and fall conditions crossing Lake Ontario and in the Georgian Bay can be atrocious but the boat did great. When the boat was sold I repowered it and delivered to Charleston, NC , with 2 young crew, for the new owner. The boat was a delight to sail the 3200nm out the St Lawrence and through the Canso with a stop in Lunenburg (hello John) and then on to Bermuda before finishing in Charleston. The trip took 6 weeks.
I am pretty sure you will be delighted with the sailing characteristics of your boat and by all means go to Bermuda, with some effort this boat can easily be made offshore capable.
I am jealous as the boat was truly one of the better boats I have sailed, I would consider it as a boat with good “sea-kindliness”! not something I would say about most later boats.
If you need a hand moving the boat somewhere give me a shout as it would be a delight to sail on one again.
I do have one caveat for the boat; keep her as light as possible, especially in the ends.

Robert McDowell

Ahh Matt, you drill right down to the crux of the issue! I was young and much skinnier and most of the teenagers were but mere waifs and could sleep anywhere! Sails/sail bags make for good sleeping beds. And I to this day love wrapping a sail around me to go to sleep, this comes from being 7 and sailing overnight wrapped in a spinnaker. Funny, my kids love to do that to, must be a genetic fault-line on my side of the family. I built a second folding double bunk over the salon table so we had 2 up in the v-berth, 2 over the table, one on the settee port side and one on the settee stbd and finally 2 in the quarter berth. Very cozy. I as the skipper got my choice, stbd settee for me! This program was on the lines of an OB program just with lots of creature comforts.
I will take you up on the sail and a beer, although I may send my daughter in my stead as she is adamant about going back to Quebec to stay with friends if her Uni in Kingston (UK) goes to online classes. She is studying Aeronautical Engineering (1st year completed) and she loves drinking beer and sailing! She has been sailing on one of the Toronto Brigs through your area.

Stein Varjord

Hi Matt,
Nice to follow your well planned, executed and written boat buying project! About the navigation iPad, consider second hand units to reduce price a lot. Many want the newest model, so 2-3 year old models sell cheap. You can also get refurbished versions, but then the price goes up. Navigation apps are no challenge for an iPad. If it’s a really old model, remove all other apps, and it’ll do it. The only issue is to pick one that has a bit of memory capacity for maps, but virtually all of them have enough. Battery capacity might be reduced, but you need a housing which accommodates a charging cable anyway, so no big issue. Remember to plan a good way to keep it steady in a useful location where it can be shaded from direct sunlight. Otherwise you don’t see much, and heat will fry it. I really like navigating with an iPad.

John Harries

Hi Matt,

Sounds like a good solution.

Save you the trouble on the shoot out. TimeZero is way better and easier to use probably because it’s a much more mature product being based on MacSea and then MaxSea. If memory serves that’s about 20 years of development, and it shows.

Howard Regan

I thought I would add a quick note about Garmin/Navionics. I am learning to sail in Georgian Bay and I spend a lot of time in the Archipelago. Using an android tablet and a phone for backup (plus my old 60Cx as a backup-backup and anchor alarm, OpenCPN on the laptop and paper charts for planning), I was trying both C-Map and Navionics trial versions (no TimeZero on android that I could find). I preferred C-Map, but decided to pay for both for year. I had assumed full functionality on both with the trials (why wouldn’t they?), but once I paid for Navionics I got user uploaded sonar data. As a novice keel boater threading my way through the granite rockpile of the Archipelago I found the sonar data provides a much higher level of detail and comfort for me. I’m still cautious of course, more so by hearing the screeching of lead keel meeting granite rock two weeks ago by an unfortunate sailor entering our anchorage a little too fast and a little too far to starboard.

Mark Wilson

Seconded on the frying Ipad issue. I have just returned from 6 weeks in the Tuscan Islands and Liguria amid broiling hot high summer temperatures in my sub $100,000 39 footer. The IPads got startlingly hot in a matter of minutes in the open and warmed up pretty fast under the sprayhood. And the light was so bright that the screen was difficult to read even under said sprayhood from my position at the helm. I was mostly singlehanded and couldn’t be dodging down to the chart table every few minutes. I found myself fishing my Iphone out of my pocket from time to time to quickly refresh my fading memory. Not ideal but IPhone screens are almost the size of those on an IPad mini these days. I am certainly not advocating Iphone use as a primary or even secondary means of navigation.

Number one winter project is getting some shade in the cockpit. Bimini and batteries are the major issues revealed from my shakedown cruise. Maybe the Ipad will become more useable then. But I cannot help wondering if a small cheapo standalone chart plotter mounted at the helm might not be a more rugged and sensible solution in crowded and complex situations.


John Harries
John Harries

Hi Matt,

I agree, and that’s pretty much the thrust of the article I linked to: iThings aren’t great, but inexpensive plotters suck.

Mark Wilson

Obviously I have not made myself clear here. I have never owned a chart plotter and most of my navigation has been done with sextant and quartz watch. But I am in awe of the technology which is now available to us. The precision and accuracy available from the cheapest tablet trumps the most perfect imaginable celestial navigation possible in the old days.

What I was trying to get at was that situation where as you are approachIng your destination, you have plotted your course at the chart table using very available asset including up to date charts and sailing directions, a recent fair weather forecast and and all the latest technology. All’s well with the world. Five minutes later force 3 has turned into force 8 gusting 10, visibility has gone, you are struggling to reduce sail and somehow steer the boat at the same time on your own and the chart that you have dragged up from the chart table is coming apart in the rain hosing down from the heavens and the seas sweeping the cockpit. That’s when it would be nice to have a not particularly perfect electronic device to reassure you that you are still where you were sure you were going to be ten minutes before, more or less. Speaking from recent personal experience apart from the bit about having all the latest technology.

John Harries

Hi Mark,

I don’t disagree with any of that. If you read my linked article you would will see that all I was saying is that I agreed with you that iThings are less than ideal and need to be used with caution, ditto small cheap plotters. I was not, and never have, suggested that modern electronic navigation was not a huge leap forward. You will find more here:

John Cobb

I’m curious as to how you arrived at “fair market value” and consequently the 10% premium over that folks were asking for their boats?

John Cobb

Gotcha. I know that the actual selling prices are “out there” but apparently you have to be the Grand Poohbah Wizard and/or know the secret handshake (or a licensed broker ?) to access them.

I guess a buyers broker could access them for you but not sure he would be worth it in this price range.

Congratulations on your boat.

John Harries

Hi John,

You are right, the brokers have access to all the actual sale prices. Our broker for Morgan’s Cloud used that extensively while pricing her, and even came up with a spreadsheet to justify his recommendation.

Dave Redfern

The C&C 35 MkII design has always been my favourite C&C and probably the best looking of all C&C’s…..

Good choice……

Charles Wurts

I second Dave’s comment. I have a soft spot for the the C&C 35s and in particular the Mark two and the mark three. They are sturdy companions that perform quite well in my experience. And the bonus is that they are also quite handsome to my eye. I think you have made a great choice! I am looking forward to follow along.

Emilio Torres-Requena

Congratulations, I sailed a C&C 35 Mk II for many years it’s a fantastic boat and will handle any weather you throw at her.
Looking forward to more updates.

Lee Youngblood

The C&C 35-II and the C&C 39 have the prettiest shear lines ever, and I like the interior layout of the 35-II better than the powerful 39. One point you didn’t mention is that the C&C community has the best, deep user group of loving owners out there. Any questions have likely been answered multiple times. See: and sign up for the email list. “Lock the traveler down”. . . Enjoy, Lee

Ralph Rogers

Great stuff!

Brian Guck


Good choice. A friend of mine in RI has one in which he has raced Newport to Bermuda in all three races (Marion, CCA and B 1-2) so many times that I loose count. I helped him bring it back from the last CCA race and have competed against him in five B 1-2’s. If you want to talk to someone who has this boat rigged for single handed offshore sailing and has put a lot of offshore miles on it I can put you in touch with him.

Brian Guck


Just let me know if you want me to connect you.

My friend Ray is VERY experienced with this boat and is a very hands on guy who knows how to fix anything from top to bottom and in-between.


Colin Speedie

Hi Matt
she looks like a good platform to build upon. Good choice of boat, too – I used to race against one back in the very early days called ‘Cheyenne’ and she was a really solid boat and excelled in stronger conditions. Good luck with her and I’ll look forward to hearing hope it all goes.
Best wishes

Marc Dacey

Well, sailing out of Toronto for 20 years in a Viking 33, I am very familiar with the C&C 35 and they are an excellent choice for coastal and even “near offshore” (think Gaspe to North Sydney, which we will likely do next week with the right weather window). But you will face a challenge to “offshore-ize” an old C&C. It’s not impossible and may even not be ruinously expensive, but things like motoring range and water tankage are harder to do on that waterline. But that could be years away, and the fact that you can take your boat into 40 knots with confidence should give you all the sailing chops you need for the bigger stage. Well done. Keep us posted.

Marc Dacey

Your new to you boat is, however, seaworthy enough to take out in all weathers Lake Ontario can throw at her and that will be a great opportunity to refine your skills and work with economical improvements like jiffy reefing, bringing the wiring and lighting into this century, and safety habit cultivation, as well as teaching your kids how to move around the boat in safety. I happen to think 35 feet is a sweet spot for a boat, being small enough to afford and enjoy, but big enough to comfortably stay out when the weather turns snotty. Lastly, she’s a borderline hot rod, like most of the C&C line, and you’ll get a lot of pleasure just sailing assertively. Fair winds.

Scott St Clair

Matt, great choice for a family boat! One of my first loves was a C&C Landfall 38. C&C built great, capable boats. And the photo of your daughter hugging the mast was beyond precious. All the best.

Paul Browning

That is one pretty boat, well done on the buy. In the 1980’s my dad and his mate had a Cole 32 (designed by Aussie Peter Cole) one of which very nearly won the World Half Ton Cup in Sydney in the mid 1970’s, and she looked very much like this. It was very quick upwind & reaching and whilst not incredibly quick downwind, she handled beautifully in a blow both upwind and down wind. Wonderfully seaworthy boat and I hope yours is too. Enjoy!

Lisa Bayne

Hi Matt,

Where’s your home port? Mine is Kingston, ON. I bought my first boat, a Niagara 35, last winter. She’s handles well close hauled in force 5. She feels stable and solid. It’s my hope to take her offshore in a few years. I look forward to future articles on setting up your C&C for offshore, or whether you end up “trading up”. Something I think about too, before I become too invested financially.

Marc Dacey

While compact by modern standards, niagara 35s are boats with few vices I can see as sailboats, and sailed with an eye on the weather, should do well offshore when properly retrofitted (such as replacing the hatches and companionway hatch with ocean-rated replacements and the stock fixed ports of 1/4″ plexi with 1/2″ Lexan or, even better, proper opening ports such as the kind sold by Newfound Metals, which we’ve enjoyed on our boat. Our home port was Toronto and we are currently headed for the Halifax area and some shipyard time prior to a trans-Atlantic try next May.

Frank Cobb

Very cool boat, sweet lines, glad to see it went to a great home. Bathing suits, and towels on the lifelines, toys on the deck, clogged head and burning hotdogs, nothing compares to raising kids on boats!

Brook Blahnik

Matt — I’ve enjoyed these two posts immensely and I’m really looking forward to future installments! I have several google docs worth of research which collectively pretty nearly equate to the figuring you’ve done in your posts (and you’ve made it much more interesting to read). I was agog reading this as it so closely aligns to my own calculus. In fact, I think after the work day is done here I’m going to make my wife read them as well.

Anyway, it’s clear our family, life, and financial situations are pretty similar. We have a home port of Bayfield, WI in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. We’ve had about a decade of cruising there already (somehow?!), first on a 22′ Catalina Capri race boat (too small/too light especially as our first child grew) and then on a 27′ powerboat once we had 2 kids. We’ve enjoyed both the speed and amenities of the powerboat but I for one really miss the act and art of sailing and the community that comes along with it.

In any case I’ve done roughly the same calculations on finances, the boat, and boat type. In my case I’ve got the equity in my powerboat to work with which helps. Our dream would be for us to leave our home port, cross Superior, cruise the North Channel, Georgian Bay, then continue on out to the coast, down the ICW to the Bahamas and possibly further in the Caribbean chain. That may be a few years’ off yet, but I want a boat that is, or could be made to be, up to that level of challenge. In the near term we need more sailing experience as a family on a “big” boat and the Apostle Islands is a great place for us to get that. Great work Matt and keep those posts coming!

Eric Klem

Hi Matt,

Sorry for the late comment, just catching up after a few weeks of little to no internet.

Congrats on the purchase.  It sounds like you are in a similar place to us in terms of house, kids, careers, etc.  Our one advantage is that we purchased our current boat 5 years before kids so we could do the major work while we still had a bit more time.  At this stage in our lives, we typically manage to sail 60-70 days a year, before kid it was 70+.  It consists of almost all weekends from the beginning of May to mid October as well as a 10 day trip and a 16 day trip.  I find that I don’t really get into the groove if the trip isn’t at least 8 or 9 days and more like 15 if doing the Maritimes or a place like that.  That may be partly because we spend a decent amount of time transiting to and from the places we like to spend more time.  We take the cover off at the beginning of April and it is back on by mid November with about 100 man hours spent in the yard and another 100 at home planning and working in our shop. The thing that we like least about this schedule has to be missing out on lots of spring and fall activities but that is life.

I find it funny that the previous owner set up a trysail track but the mainsail reefing system is problematic and the reefs don’t look deep.  I would assume that for your use, the best thing to do would be to improve the mainsail reefing system and put the trysail in the garage.  We have 6 sails on board at all times due to hank-on headsails and a spinnaker and they certainly are a space drain.  In the pre-kid days, we could hide everything so that there was nothing stored on berths but then came the crib, a baby/toddler seat I setup for the cockpit, more clothes, etc and 1 berth turned into full time storage.

Your cruising grounds may or may not be similar but the size boat you have selected has proven to be a very good size around here for coastal work.  We selected a CS36T and we find it big enough to spend a few weeks aboard but also small enough to fit most places and not cost too much.  Every year there are a few days when I wish we had a bigger boat or a faster boat but then there are at least as many where I am happier with what we have.  By the way, one of the most freeing things for me was making the decision that this boat would not go offshore, or at least anytime soon.  We may someday get back to that but once we figured out our speed for coastal sailing, we have been really enjoying it (I do sometimes wonder if I am getting too soft though).

By the way, looking at your budget, the thing that I don’t think we would be able to meet is the CAD$2100 you have budgeted each year for the boat itself.  If you plan to keep it long term, the depreciation on the engine can eat close to half that and then when you add in sails, standing rigging, running rigging, hoses, etc, you can quickly go over it.  I find that the direct running costs like fuel are just not a big deal, we burn more fuel in the car related to sailing than in the boat.  With our first boat, we did manage to meet the numbers you mention but decisions were made with a bigger emphasis on cost and less on time so we did things like rebuilding the engine ourselves.  We are higher and lower on some of the other numbers but they net out to about the same.


Stein Varjord

Hi Matt,
I guess the first reef you have is a «flattening reef» which was normal when the mainsail foot was in a track on the boom, even on racers. The purpose was just to make it possible to stretch out the lower part of the sail properly. Modern loose foot full batten sails are way better that way too.

When considering lazy jacks, perhaps even look at a lazy bag? As a speedaholic it’s a bit painful to admit, 🙂 but they can actually be very nice and save much time compared to normal sail covers, which is quite a chore with lazy jacks. If the bag is designed well, it also gives a kinder treatment of the sail, and is fairly low profile. The youtube channel “Sailing Uma” has a nice one on a similar size boat. The best results with either solution comes with a fully battened sail, which is also frequently a faster sail, but it works fine without that too.

John Harries

Mi Matt,

We find that the simple lazyjack system we use, and have detailed, works fine and our mainsail is over double the size and probably four times the weight of yours. Lot less money too. That said, you do need to have the sail cover made with slots closed by zippers (don’t use velcro) to accommodate the lazyjacks.

Check out colin’s article on why he scrapped his lazybag:

You will note that he says that they may be a good idea for coastal cruising, so its not an open and shut case.

John Harries

Hi Matt and Stein,

Neither Colin or I are fans of lazybags and he tried one and then removed it. Each to their own, but I would not go that way, but stick to simple lazyjacks.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Matt,
I have a lazy jack system on my 40-foot boat that, if memory serves, is not to different from Johns. In any case, for a full battened main, 2 falls have sufficed for decades. I suspect a sail without full battens might need an extra fall for it to be neatly held after dousing.
Design, for me, is important as I did not want lazy jacks which needed adjusting or bringing forward: set them and forget them and let them do their job. It was also important to design them so that raising the head of the main through the LJs without hanging up was likely to happen easily.
I also have misgivings about the stack packs/lazy bags for storing mainsails.
For one, they are often designed in a “catch rain” manner which allows water and dirt to migrate through the zipper onto the sail. Once wet inside the bag, it stays wet and dirty, unable to easily dry and “percolates” in the sun.
More importantly, since a mainsails greatest enemy is UV and mainsails spend the vast majority of their life under cover, it seems foolish to not have that cover be 100% up to the task: UV and rain. Lazy bags are usually made of Sunbrella or its like. These products become more UV porous over time even as they maintain their looks and structural integrity so sailors tend to use them beyond the time they adequately protect the sail.
For decades we used a vinyl-ized Sunbrella which was completely opaque and completely waterproof (Sunbrella alone allows moisture rain through also over time). This worked great and lasted a very long time, but suffered from bulkiness. My new sailcover is now made with the relatively new Sunbrella Plus which promises some, perhaps all (time will tell), of the attributes I look for in a cover for less bulk.
Note also, most mainsail covers are put away when not used. A lazy bag is always out and exposed to UV so its deterioration will occur more rapidly.
I am also unsure what a lazy bag does to sail performance in its bottom few feet, especially in light air, nor how it might get blown around in a storm.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Eric Klem

Hi Matt,

I will admit to using our storm jib about 1 day a year and really appreciating it then although we never seem to see other people out when we are using it so that may tell you something.  Beating and reaching, it works very well with 2 or 3 reefs in the main and it works reasonably well with a single reef so it is not too cumbersome as the wind goes up and down.  It is worth noting that ours is the max size by offshore racing rules and it really is not a storm jib but a gale jib, by the time the wind gets to high 20’s sustained we can use it and by the time it hits 40, it is too big.  For our area and comfort level, I do really appreciate having it aboard even if it usually sits in its bag.  With roller furling on a sloop, I can’t imagine how bad the sail shape would be in those types of conditions and since we are talking coastal here, going to a full time cutter is not nearly as compelling.  I certainly would not feel compelled to carry a true storm jib sized for say 45-60 knots around here, that is outside the scope of what I consider coastal cruising and is even quite rare offshore.

Until you mentioned that you had 3 reefs, I hadn’t even seen the first one.  I agree with the comments that it looks like a flattening reef.  My own feeling is that people usually choose too small of reefs, I just don’t see fine tuning to that level while cruising, I have just never found that magical place where the wind is so constant that it makes sense.  We also have 3 reefs and they take out approximately 24%, 44% and 62% of the sail area.  I would guess that we use the first reef 6-10 times a year, the second reef 2-5 times and the third reef gets used maybe once every 3 or 4 years and we could arguably be fine without.  With these relatively deep reefs for coastal cruising, I still find that I never wish the reef points were closer spaced, I have actually often thought that if the second reef were just a bit less deep, I would be stuck tying in the third a lot more often.

Like others commenting here, I am a fan of lazyjacks.  Despite having lines led to the cockpit, we never pull the lazyjacks forward largely thanks to having the right geometry as John describes in one of his articles.


Ernest E Vogelsinger

A friend of mine has a Maxus 26 on one of Austrias bigger lakes, this boat is equipped with a lazyjack/lazybag combo (the jacks hang free from the mast and are clipped into the bags that are mounted at the boom sides).
When sailing this system is a nightmare, IMHO – either the sheer weight of the LB pulls the LJ into the sail on the lee side (a trimming horror in light winds), or when slacked off the LB occupy the headroom in the cockpit.
The only good I can say about them: they are looking neat and are closed around the sail quickly.
However – after two years the main was full with mildew, mainly because the LB have a not-watertight zipper on top and no provision for water leaving the bag…