Q: Does the boat come with? Any accessories like trailers, covers, or a dolly?
A: With only very rare exceptions, all of the boats we sell are complete with everything needed to sail the boat. That includes spars, blades, lines, sails and all other rigging components. This generally will not include accessories like covers, dollies, trailers, or other upgrades.
Q: How many people can fit on a boat? Are there weight limits?
A: This is a two part question, each one important. Firstly all boats receive a weight capacity rating. This is more a regulatory/insurance component than anything. But we almost never recommend anyone get close to the max weights. The second part of the question is more important to us - user experience. Any sailboat will not perform as well or be as easy to operate when it is fully loaded. Understanding how much capacity you need comes down largely to the design and layout of the boat and who all you plan to go sailing with. We want customers to think of the normal usage of the boat - what they will do most often. Are you sailing solo? Taking grandkids out during the summer? Are you a camp program that wants to maximize kids in a boat? It’s much more important to consider the volume of the interior space of the boat and the size of the sailors than it is the actual maximum listed weight capacity.
Q: Where are the boats made?
A: In general, boats and their parts are globally sourced. To keep it simple, we refer to the 'Country of Origin' on our boats when we say where they are built. This is where the majority of work/value is added to the boat (and the legal definition of where a boat is made). It doesn't mean everything is made there, rather where the majority of the components become your boat. With that, the sailboats we have are made in a variety of facilities around the world. ~90% of all of our boats are made in three geographic areas: United Kingdom (RS, Ovington, LaserPerformance), California (Hobie), and Rhode Island (Zim). That's the true bulk of our manufacturers. The remaining 10% of our boats are made in the following countries: France (Bic Sport), China (Sunfish) and Indonesia (Weta).
Q: What are the differences between fiberglass and plastic?
A: In general, fiberglass boats tend to be a bit lighter and stiffer than boats made from Polyethylene or other plastics. Fiberglass boats are also more expensive to produce so the material is often reserved for higher performance models intended for racing. Fiberglass needs to be covered by a gelcoat layer which can be highly susceptible to damage. Polyethylene is not as rigid as fiberglass and has become the material of choice for casual sailors and recreational boats. It's also incredibly durable and simple to maintain.
Q: Do I need a bunch of spare parts?
A: Mostly no. There are a few general items that are nice to have a few of. (Think of pins, ring dings and some extra bits of line). These are things people lose, rather than actually break down that much. We stock spare parts for all our boats - so if you need more major items, we've got you covered. Aside from electrical tape, a multi tool and some extra pins and ring dings - it’s hard to recommend buying anything in the way of spare parts to keep in stock with a new boat.
Q: What about storing a boat? What do I do during the off season?
A: In the summer, you should go sailing! Some customers keep their boats at their house, on a beach at a lake, at a yacht club, at a park or anywhere in between. While storing a boat indoors is great it's not practical for most owners. For outdoor storage there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure years of enjoyment with your new boat. It's important to keep standing water out of the boat as cold temperatures can cause freezing which could damage the boat. This can generally be achieved by tipping the bow upward to allow for effective drainage or by using a deck cover. Soft components on the boat (lines, hiking straps, etc) are highly susceptible to UV degradation. Either remove them from the boat during long term storage or make sure they're under a cover to keep them performing their best for years to come.
Q: How much will maintenance cost me annually?
A: If you take even decent care of your boat, maintenance costs over the years will be extremely low. After a few years, some of the lines will be a bit worn out. After 5-7 years of casual sailing, a lot of customers consider a new sail, but some go 10+ years with an original sail. Plastic boats in particular really don't need anything done to them. Fiberglass boats can get chips and cracks in them (which can be repaired by professionals or even DIY). But, really, there isn't any ‘winterization’ ‘annual maintenance’ ‘annual checkups’ or anything. These are generally quite simple designs that work really well for years and years. If you budget ~1% of the purchase price as annual maintenance and upkeep, that should be plenty for the consumables over the life of the boat.
Q: Can I keep this boat in the water?
A: This is an important question, as the answer for *most* of our boats is no - they are not designed to stay in the water year round. In general, the boats that *can* live in the water will have a keel or at least a weighted centerboard. The RS21, RS Venture in particular will live happily in the water (we do recommend some bottom paint depending on length of time). But, for most of our catalog, the boats are not designed to live in the water, on a mooring ball or etc.
Q: How long does it take to rig and get out on the water?
A: Rigging time varies significantly by boat model, installed accessories (such as spinnaker kits) and your level of experience. We find that your first few times rigging a new boat will take 2-3 times longer than subsequent outings. Once you get the hang of the boat we usually see rigging taking as little as about 15 minutes with the simplest boats like the Sunfish, RS Zest, or Hobie Bravo. For larger boats like the RS Quest or C420, rigging times tend to be closer to 20-30 minutes. For more complex and bigger boats like the Weta, RS Venture, or Hobie Getaway you can expect rigging times to be between 30 and 45 minutes depending on complexity of the boat.
Q: Can it capsize?
A: Yes! All of our boats except for the RS21 and Venture Connect are unballasted, which means your body weight and skill is keeping the boat upright. Now, modern boats are much more stable than older designs. They have wider hulls, flatter surfaces and very good ‘form stability’ (the stability of a boat when it's not moving through the water). But, part of the fun of sailing for folks is pushing their boats, learning the limits and getting in touch with the boat. So, yes, all of our boats except for two certainly can capsize. We advise most customers to actually practice this the first couple times sailing. Do it in a nice calm place, and get used to what happens. You can take your time, understand it, and then flip the boat back up and go. With a bit of experience, it is neither risky nor intimidating. You just don't want it to happen for the first time on a windy and wavy day. You want to be well versed in how your boat handles at all times and you'll be comfortable sailing your boat in more and more broad conditions over time
Q: Can I cartop a sailboat?
A: This is one of the coolest parts about a small sailboat under ~14 feet. About half of our boats can easily be transported on your car's roof. With aftermarket racks from Yakima or Thule, you can put a boat like an RS Neo, Aero, Feva, Tera, Laser, Sunfish, upside down on your car - eliminating the need for a highway trailer. This saves time an energy and cost, and we're big fans. As a good guide. Boats up to about 140lbs make ok boats to cartop. Beyond that, it gets a bit awkward with loading and unloading as you need more than two people. Some people do car top heavier boats, but physically, we don't recommend it. For car topping any boat it's critical to have appropriate equipment on your car. It's generally not advisable to use factory roof racks as the crossbars need to be wider than the boat in order to safely secure everything. In addition to long crossbars we also recommend using a set of high quality "cam straps" to secure your boat, these are easier to use and much safer for your hull than "ratchet straps"
Q: What about a warranty?
A: All of our new boats include a level of factory warranty. it does differ from manufacturer to manufacture. Most offer a 1 year warranty free from defects. There is a push in the industry to go to 2 years as quality and technology have greatly enhanced the finish quality of boats in the last 10 years. That said, it’s generally a one year manufacturer warranty unless specified otherwise.
Q: Can I take the mast apart? Is it two pieces?
A: A bit more than half or our bots have a two piece mast, for easy transportation and storage. Some exceptions are the RS21, RS Venture, 200/400/500/700/800, Hobie Wave, Getaway and 16 and the 420 and FJ. The rest of our boats have masts that generally fit inside the length of the deck (ie, the pieces of the mast are not longer than the length of the boat). This is a major perk again of a small sailboat.
Q: How 'physical' is it to sail boats like these?
A: For each model, it really depends. As is noted in the ‘can this boat capsize’ question - most of our boats do count on the sailor physically maintaining stability of the boat. So, more agility is better than less. The key for the majority of our boats is, how big the sailors are in relation to the weight/sail area of the boat. The lighter, go fast boats are more physically demanding due to lots of sail area and a less forgiving hull design. The larger, more docile boats are much less demanding since the boat has more mass mass and the hull is designed to be more stable. We generally say, if you're in reasonable shape, you'll be fine in all but the most advanced boats we sell.
Q: Do I need a trailer to transport my boat?
A: Trailers can be a necessary evil depending on your situation. If the boat will live in the same place as it sails such as a beach or yacht club facility then you'll likely be able to get away without owning a trailer. If the boat will be stored at your home and towed to your favorite sailing venues then you'll definitely need a well fitted trailer.
Q: How fast will I go?
A: This is one of the few questions we get that simply does not have a straight answer. If you want to know the ‘relative’ speed of a boat, Google ‘PY Yardstick’ and you'll see the speeds of boats compared to the speeds of other boats. Most of our boats, being small, and low to the water, will provide enough speed and thrills for anyone on them. You'll feel the wind, water, you'll feel the heel of the boat, the pressure on the lines. The sense of speed is amazing, no matter what the knotmeter says. If you absolutely must know your exact speed there are a variety of GPS based speedometer which we'd be happy to discuss with you.