Cheap Bluewater Boats!!!


I’m copying this post I put up on my BFSails Facebook page because I’m hoping that the next batch of sailboat-buying newbies will find this via Google and avoid getting suckered into 40-year-old “bluewater boats” that will cost you WAY MORE than you think and provide you WAY LESS than you need for long-term cruising….

With sailing making a huge resurgence in today’s culture…


I’ve just stumbled across a sailing channel that gives me serious heartburn. It’s called Spoondrifters. And I want to be REALLY careful and clear with what I’m about to type…

First, I think these folks are awesome. They are just down the road from me and were able to buy a hurricane-salvage-but-floating 40-year-old Morgan 46 – for $13,500. Which is about right I guess.

And judging by their background they have all the drive and skills to probably bring her back to LIVABLE condition (carpenter, contractor, etc.). I admire what they’ve been doing and admire their abilities and attitude…though they clearly know nothing about sailboats or sailing – especially sailing offshore. So the boat may be livable at some point – but that’s not the goal. Hence this post.

So, I’m not directing this post at these particular people – are we clear on that?


I’ve copied one of their videos below where she is discussing this notion of “cheap bluewater boats” – and their intent to focus their search on this boat type so that they could “cross oceans” – with their 4 kids. In other words – they drank the “blue kool-aid” that’s so prevalent in elderly sailing circles that newbs turn to for information.

What really concerns me here is that she also talks about hiring the famous Giffords (from Sailing Totem) as consultants in this “blue water” search. And then they ended up with a salvage Morgan 46 – for crossing oceans? What happened there?

So here’s where I want to be careful…

I’ll say it again – I have absolutely NOTHING against these folks and what they want to do. I am all for it. And I even believe that this old tank, with A LOT of work, will probably hold up to a large degree for some cruising and fun out there.

But I’ve just seen WAY too many instances of people buying these really old, tired, boats because they see them on some “bluewater boat” list somewhere or are encouraged to do so on forums, FB groups, etc. because that’s just the way it’s always been. And the fact that they are “cheap” just makes the temptation that much greater.

Now, whether the Morgan 46 (built by Catalina I believe) was EVER a true “bluewater boat” – to the standard these anachronistic old sailors like to insist on – is highly debatable.

Let me give you a clear example from another “vaunted” reference I usually roll my eyes at – my old Catalina 27 is on the holy website list, the Morgan 46 is not. And, sure, the Catalina 27 did do a circumnavigation with Childress – but “bluewater boat”? Please.

Sure, you can find articles of people taking these old Morgans all over the place – after completely restoring them. Hell, my forum friend Skip Gundlach has one of these boats, (S/V Flying Pig) and he’s WAY beyond my sailing CV and is a seriously cool dude. He’ll probably rip me a new one for this post. And that’s okay.

But the whole old-world sailing community (forums, sites, social media, etc.) pushing people who don’t know what they are doing into 40-year-old salvage boats like this because some disembodied voice from yesteryear deemed them “bluewater” (whatever that means) is bordering on criminal.

Again, I’m trying to be careful here, so I will readily admit that if these folks pour a CRAP-TON of money into this boat and make sure it’s freakin’ rock-solid it will probably do fine offshore…just like any other modern production boat would do WITHOUT all that work. But decisions they are already making make me nervous (electric motor for a boat this size and weight – really?).

BUT – here is the kicker and why I’m taking the time to shout this from the rooftop of global sailing…

…if these folks think this Morgan 46 buys them some kind of “extra protection” offshore because people say it’s a “bluewater boat” – that’s just plain dangerous. REMEMBER THEY ARE NEWBIES.

S/V Rebelheart anyone?

So – seriously, stop with the ridiculous terminology that drives newbs toward these old boats. It makes ZERO sense and gives them a dangerous sense of security that is just not there. There is no freakin’ way an old Morgan 46 (especially one this rough) is anywhere NEAR as capable as modern production boats that meet the Cat A standards.

Hopefully they’ll have the money to truly bring this beaten old girl up to snuff. They’d certainly BETTER do that before they think about taking their kids across an ocean – or even the Gulf.

But they’ll likely spend more in doing so than what they would have spent on a newer nicer boat anyway – and they would have already been out sailing instead of sweating, grinding, and crying in a hot torn-up boat in a dusty Texas boatyard heading into summer.

But here’s what’s really scary – look at this video below and how many views it has. These newbs are now giving “advice” to other newbs on how to follow this same very questionable, expensive path they are currently on – and 65K people have listened!

One of their more experienced friends really needs to step in and give them some good advice. They need it about now.


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