What sailboat for novice?

I just bought a lake front cottage, and would like to get a sailboat. I have sailed a few times before in 14' and 16' hobies and a sunfish.

I want something that is easy to handle, unlikely to capsize, and durable cheap. (my priorities are in that order). I don't care how fast it is, or how pretty. Used would be best. I have $1000 in mind, but would go up to $2000 if necessary.

What suggestions do you have; both specific models and general characteristics

I'd consider a small "one person" boat like the Sunfish or Laser. The Sunfish in more stable/practical, the Laser is faster & more fun, (in my opinion).

The big advantage to a Sunfish is that it will cost you about half what a Laser will. Used Sunfish often go from 500 to 800 dollars around here. Sail a Sunfish for a year or two and you'll get a better idea about what you like and don't like, (and learn a LOT about sailing). There are lots of folk who think that learning on a little boat teaches you sailing better, or at least faster than a bigger boat. If you sell it a couple years later you'll probably get back what you bought it for (used).

The basic issue, since you mentioned stability as a high priority is that you either should get a boat little enough to easily right if she does capsize, or get a boat with ballast if you're really unwilling to go swimming. If you want ballast, look at the boats that Larry Brown describes in "Sailing on a Micro-budget" and other books. The Compact, Precision, Capri, Catalina or even an old Venture may work for you in a 16 to 22 foot length. This sort of boat will give you ballast, (suitable for inland lakes, etc.) and room below, so you can drop an anchor and go below in a storm, but will be much more work to sail with just one person. (Maybe not an issue?)

If you do go with a "micro-cruiser" think about putting down a mooring. You can use an old canoe or jon boat as a dinghy.

If you're interested in sailing with more than one person, the micro-cruiser looks better, but also consider just getting a couple or 3 Sunfish. (I currently have two Lasers).

I've had great luck putting a Wanted To Buy ad in my local newspaper's sailboat section, every weekend for a month. This will often let you see a boat or two a week, and not costing you while you're looking and negeotiating, (midweek).

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