Buying our cruising sailboat

We thought that we would share some thoughts about buying our cruising sailboat. In December 2 years ago we went to look at our first cruising sailboat. We want to share our thoughts we had before buying the boat, what features we looked at and things we would prioritize differently if we would buy a boat today, 1 year after a lot of renovation.

When we first looked at boats we had no experience of Bluewater Crusing, but a lot of knowledge about renovating boats. This blogpost is written after spending 1,5 years of renovating the boat and this is something that might look a bit different after actually done a sailing trip. So, when reading this, don’t expect this to be a complete list of what things a cruising sailboat should have, it is not. It is just our thoughts before buying a sailboat and our thought after some time spent renovating that boat. Maybe in the future we do a new list of things we think a cruising sailboat should have after we have done the sailing trip.

buying cruising sailboat
Before buying our cruising sailboat, an OC35 built 1967, we looked at 4 other cruising sailboats. Picture from when we just bought Anne-Mon.

Boat  1. OC35

When we looked at the first boat we didn’t have enough money saved yet to buy it but we wanted to take a look at it and get a feeling for what kind of boat we wanted. The boat we looked at was actually another OC35 and we really liked the model.

buying cruising sailboat
The first OC35 we looked at on the hard.
buying cruising sailboat
Sofa and table on the OC35.
buying cruising sailboat
The galley on the first OC35 we looked at. Similar to Anne-Mon but on the opposite side.
The main cabin in the first OC35 we looked at.
Pros and cons about the first Oc35
  • Pros
    • It was a very well taken care of boat in good condition
    • Good engine installation
    • Spacious inside, lot of possible storages
    • Pretty good electrical installation
    • It had a folding propeller
  •  Cons
    • Interior-wise it was well taken care of, but a lot of plastic. We prefer wooden interior
    • No water heater
    • Pretty bad-looking deck (yellow plastic, unfortunately no picture of that)
    • Small, but otherwise nice head and toilet.
    • Pretty small cockpit

Boat 2. Allegro 33

The same day we also looked at another boat, a Allegro 33, and we realized when looking at that boat that we really liked the planning of the OC35 a lot. The Allegro everything felt smaller. It was a bit smaller boat 33 ft compared to 35ft, but everything felt a lot more narrow. Unfortunately we don’t have any picture of that boat, but we will give our pros and cons of that boat as well.

Pros and cons about Allegro 33
  • Pros
    • A lot of wooden interior
    • It had an electrical windlass
    • The deck was in good condition
  •  Cons
    • Wooden interior, but in a bad shape. A lot of mold in many places.
    • Not so good engine installation or electrical installation
    • The inside felt narrow and small. Not a lot of possible storage areas.
    • Tiller steering, we prefer a steering wheel

Boat 3. Fortissimo 33

The following day we went and looked at a Fortissimo 33. It was also a narrow boat.

buying cruising sailboat
The galley in the Fortissimo 33.
buying cruising sailboat
Everything was more narrow in the Fortissimo 33.

buying cruising sailboat

Pros and cons about Fortissimo 33
  • Pros
    • A lot of wooden interior
    • It had an electrical windlass
    • The deck was in good condition
  •  Cons
    • Small galley
    • No bowsprit
    • Guardrail that didn’t feel very safe
    • Not so good engine installation or electrical installation
    • The inside felt narrow and small. Not a lot of possible storage areas.
    • Tiller steering, we prefer a steering wheel
    • Small water tank
    • No windlass

Boat 4. Långedragsklipper

After a weekend filled with looking at 3 boats, it took a while before we looked at the fourth boat. A Långedragsklipper made out of steel. It was a cheap, but messy boat. Everything inside the boat was dirty, except a new engine, generator etc. All the equipment in the boat was probably worth a lot more than the asked price for the boat. We decided not to buy the boat because of all the work that we would have ha to do in order to get the boat in shape. But we were seriously considering it for a while, because of all the brand new fancy equipment.

buying cruising sailboat
The Långdragsklipper was a very messy, dirty boat but with a lot of new fancy equipment.

buying cruising sailboat

Very dirty inside…
Pros and cons about LÅNGEDRAGSKLIPPER
  • Pros
    • A lot of new fancy equipment, new engine, generator, water maker etc
    • Good possible storage areas
    • Good engine installation
    • Hydraulic steering
    • Electrical windlass
  •  Cons
    • Wooden interior, but in an extremely bad shape. A lot of mold in many places.
    • Very dirty and bad smell inside the boat
    • Small galley, and very dirty as well
    • Very disgusting head

Boat 5. OC35 again

A couple of months later we looked at Anne-Mon for the first time, another OC35. Once again we realized that we really liked the model OC35 and how it is planned. Anne-Mon is also an extremely robust sailboat. The drawback with Annie (as her nickname is) was the engine. We didn’t know if it would start or anything. At the end we bought it anyway and got a bit lower price than asked because of the engine. Another big job was plastic repairs in the cockpit.

Pictures from when we just bought Anne-Mon can be found in this blog post, click HERE.

Pros and cons about Anne-mon
  • Pros
    • A lot of wooden interior, in quite good shape
    • A lot of storages
    • Pretty good condition of the deck
    • Extremely large bowsprit and good guardrail
    • A lot of water and fuel tanks
    • Steering wheel
    • Big galley
    • Very spacious inside and a sofa located high with big windows
    • Windvane
    • Spacious and good planned head
  •  Cons
    • The engine
    • A lot of plastic cracks in the cockpit
    • Small cockpit
    • Don’t know the condition of the keel and hull under the waterline

After our first “looking at sailboat weekend” we created a pretty serious document listing all the things we valued most for our future sailboat, and compared the boats against each other. We listed some features we wanted to have on our sailboat and also listed the importance of each feature. Below in the post we have listed features that, if we were gonna buy a boat today, would add to that list. Of course, this list is done before our sailing trip, but after a lot of hours spent renovating. After we been on our sailing trip this list might look different.

We listed the following features as important when first looking at sailboats. (Again we made this list before buying the boat, see further below for things we would have added after 1,5 years of renovations):

  1. Engine installation
    • A good engine installation was something we (read Thomas 😉 ) valued a lot. Our criteria for a good engine installation consists of:
      • Easy access to the engine, for maintenance etc
      • Organized cables, and not a spiderweb of cables.
  2. Overall feeling
    • This may not be a feature for the boat, but nonetheless important. It is a general feeling of how much we like the boat, if we do like a boat the other work necessary might be worth it. And if we don’t like the boat and get a good feeling about it it doesn’t matter how fancy the equipment is (the Långedragsklipper is a perfect example of that)
  3. Overall condition
    • The overall condition in the boat, is it well taken care of? Is there a lot of mold? Bad smell? Basically all small thing summed up to one to get a general condition. This category also take into account if the boat is sea worthy, robust and in general if the boat will be able to cross an ocean without falling apart completely.
  4. Interior
    • What type of interior is in the boat, wooden? Plastic? What condition is the interior in? This is also about how the boat is planned, if it is spacious, light and if it feels like a boat you could live in for a couple of months.
  5. Galley
    • A good galley is important, since a lot of time will be spent cooking when we are on our way. Features that we felt were important is if there is enough space, marine stove, good sink.
  6. Sails
    • The condition of the sails and if there are any sails included. We didn’t take a look at any sails before buying. For the first boats we never got to the stage of looking at them since we decided right away that we wouldn’t buy them. For Anne-Mon we knew that we got a bunch of sails, but we didn’t know the condition of them.
  7. Electrical installation
    • No spider web of messy cables, good and organized electrical panel is some things that makes up for a good electrical installation.
  8. Storages
    • Of course an important feature if you gonna live on the boat. For example, good wardrobe, toilet storage, food storage, storage for tools, spare parts, extra sails etc. There are a lot of things to bring along when cruising compared to “vacation sailing” in the summer.
  9. Bowsprit
    • Not the most important feature generally, but something we prefer to have. It gives extra length to the boat. When sailing in the archipelago having a large bowsprit makes it possible to anchor in places you otherwise wouldn’t be able to anchor.
  10. Pulpit/guardrail
    • We wanted to have a steady pulpit and a good guardrail, when doing deck jobs on an ocean it feels good to have some kind of guardrail that will take some weight and isn’t to low.
  11. Windlass
    • Not so important for sailing in the archipelago, but later on we don’t want to take the anchor up by hand. An electrical windlass would be the best but a manual will do as well.
  12. Steering
    • We prefer a steering wheel over a tiller.
  13. Head/Toilet
    • A good spacious head with a good toilet and shower is preferred. Also good if there are storage possibilities in the head. One good big head is better than several small ones in our opinion. Most of the time it will only be the two of us onboard.
  14. Number of beds
    • If the boat has one or two extra cabins for guests that is good enough for us.
  15. Cockpit
    • The condition of the cockpit and in general how it is planned. Of course, it is nice with a big cockpit but not the most important thing for us.
  16. Tanks
    • Big tanks in good condition is a good thing.
  17. Deck condition
  18. Windvane
  19. Autopilot
  20. Mast ladder
  21. Propeller
  22. Deck  connection holding tank
  23. Deck material
  24. Water heater
Thing we missed on our first list

This was the list we made before buying our cruising sailboat, 1,5 years later after a lot of renovation we would also like to add the following to the list:

  1. The hull and keel
  2. Mast and rig
  3. Sails
    • We had sails on our previous list, but what we should have done is to check the sails out, which we didn’t do. New sails are expensive.
  4. Possible leakages
    • Finding possible leakages and through-hull screws, chain-plates etc that could cause a lot of damage and repair work.
  5. Bathing platform
  6. Anchor
  7. Propane installation
  8. Dinghy storage
  9. Pumps (fresh water, sea water, holding tank etc)

All in all, even if we have done a lot of renovation and still have a lot left to do, we are very happy with what kind of cruising sailboat we bought. Anne-Mon is a robust, steady boat. The interior is spacious, with a lot of light from window and deck hatches. We really like our boat and the effort we put in to renovating her is worth it. It also feels really good to give the boat the chance to cross the oceans. The name of the boat OC35 means Ocean Cruiser 35, and what we learned when buying Anne-Mon is that even though she was built for ocean crossing she has never done it. At 50+ years she will finally get the opportunity! 🙂 She was also abandoned for a couple of years before we bought her and now we are working on giving life back to her and send her out for an adventure, which also feels really good 🙂

If we should give a general tip for someone that is looking for buying a cruising sailboat, it would be to spend some time to think about what features is important for you, write them down so that you won’t be blinded by a good price for a boat that is not what you are looking for.

UPDATE AFTER SAILING: Just want to add some small comments about buying a cruising sailboat after we have been away on our sailing trip. The things we added on the missing list pretty much sums up what we missed. If we would be buying a new cruising sailboat we would add the missing things list and also prioritized a bigger and more comfortable cockpit. If you sail to the tropics you spend a lot of time in the cockpit and it is nice if it is big and comfortable. And then also we would highly prioritize a boat that has a lot of well taken care of equipment, sailing equipment is expensive and a boat that has a lot of equipment already is very nice. And then look more into the things we had on the missing list above, like hull, keel, rig, mast and so on. But that list is far from complete either and maybe in the future we add a more detailed version of this thoughts we quickly wrote here. (We are actually having thoughts of buying a new cruising sailboat, so not impossible that we’ll add another updated post about that soon…). But as a conclusion, the information we wrote here is a start but not complete and there are more things that should be considered.


  • Johanna Graf

    You never mention the rig? New standing (as wellas running) rigging is needed every ten years snd that’s a BIG add-on to thebuying price. Some insurance companies won’t even insure your boat if the rigging is old.
    Oh, and add chain plates to that list! Gotta check them really carefully. I would recommend a professional rigger for that job.

    • Sailing Anne-Mon

      No, that is true and a good point, and something we should have added to the list. And that was a lesson learned, and the reason we added it to the list of things we should have added to the list if we were to buy a boat today (mast and rig). The chain plates is included in that, and also in the possible leakages. Maybe that was a bit unclear in the post 🙂

  • Alexs

    Hi guys! Do you know that i bought the sailboat Fortissimo you were looking at. super sailboat. i am very glad the boat. I have rapaired it and sailing around Poland and Sweden. If do you have some interest i could send to your some pictures my boat now. After some repairs.

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