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Old 09-07-2011, 16:37   #1
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Bluewater Yachts

Does anyone have any experience with these boats? In particular the Bluewater 52?

Bluewater Yachts | Home

I live off the Gulf Northwest of Tampa where we have lots of shallow flats. I currently run a 20 inch draft 40 foot catamaran houseboat here and it works great. I sailed this boat here from Atlantic City, NJ, 1700 miles and have logged hundreds and hundreds of miles along the coast and up rivers North of here.

I want to cruise the Bahamas, the Keys, and Dry Tortugas. My current boat cannot do this safely.

Hence I am looking at the Bluewaters as a solution. They draft 23 inches, are beachable, and claim to be good in bad weather if ya get stuck in something by mistake. They also seem to have a strong hull and have been manufactured for several decades so you can get a used boat at a good price. Seems like the perfect boat to park on my dock for local thin waters and still be able to take some longer trips on occasion.

Some questions:

1. I know they are beachable, but can you park one in the shallows and leave it high and dry at low tide without damaging the running gear?

2. Can you run one at slow cruise, 7-8 knots, in bad weather and do they handle it well? Track well?

3. Any other issues or problems with these boats????
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Old 09-07-2011, 17:42   #2
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Re: Bluewater yachts

Bluewater Yachts are not "bluewater yachts". They are built for calm river or lake use. The freeboard is minimal; they roll in seas of any size. A freind of mine had one on the St. John's river that he took to south Florida in the winter through the ICW not outside.
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Old 09-07-2011, 18:29   #3
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Re: Bluewater yachts

Thanks.

I don't plan on doing Bluewater in the Bluewater. I plan on doing the Keys, and the Bahamas crossing the gulfstream during a weather window.

The manufacturer claims that these boats have survived hurricanes with neophytes at the helm - who got into the bad weather by mistake. However manufacturer claims are not always correct, to say the least.

The manufacturer claims that the low center of gravity and ability to plane at low speeds give the boat a good ride in the chop. I actually believe this. The boat has very little sail area in the superstructure, it is less than 12 feet high, to get blown around. The center of gravity of the boat is very low in the hull. There is little reason for the boat to bob around.

I don't buy that freeboard makes a boat a bluewater boat. The windows of the boat are stressed for the occasional big wave. I do not expect to try the Bering Sea in this boat. I am talking about the Bahamas with due consideration for the weather.

Magazine articles I have read give the boat decent marks plowing through rough water, but most magazine articles are designed to elicit advertising revenue and have little credibility.

Doing the Florida ICW is a test of nothing. I'd do it in a rowboat. Like I said, I did the ICW from NJ to Tampa in a houseboat that looks like a trailer on floats and with some sound judgment did not have any real problems with it.

Anyone actually operate one of these, or know someone who has operated one in the areas I am talking about, that is Florida Keys, Florida Bay, Dry Tortugas, Bahamas, etc?
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Old 09-07-2011, 18:34   #4
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Re: Bluewater yachts

I'm sure they are great to play with, but personally I wouldn't take one anywhere but the duck-pond. I think the cat you have would be safer than the bluewater in bad weather, but if you want to go seriously offshore you will have to choose a serious offshore boat.
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Old 09-07-2011, 18:49   #5
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Re: Bluewater yachts

Several years ago, I was commissioned to move a Bluewater 52 from Marina Del Ray in LA to San Diego stopping first in Catalina with the owner, his wife and 2 children aboard. I had some misgivings but we left early one morning before the wind piped up and seas began to build. By the time we got to Catalina, both parents were seasick, the mother was verging on hysteria and the kids were terrified.
I sent them all back to the mainland on the ferry and had a crew member join me in Catalina, left about 2:00am and made Marina Del Ray breakwater around 9:30am, docked at 10:00am.
Seas were running about 4-6 feet with the odd larger Pacific set, wind from the northwest at 10-15 knots, gusting to 20+ knots, a normal summer day on that trip across from the mainland.
Bluewaters are not suited for coastal passagemaking IMO.
If you are in the ICW or can harbor hop and are prepared to wait for perfect conditions, you might be OK.
The boats are very roomy, reasonably well powered with twin gas engines but not a decent sea boat by any stretch of the imagination... kind of like a floating condo.
As long as you don't venture out when a sea is running, you might be OK but they are basically a river/lake boat IMHO. Capt Phil
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Old 09-07-2011, 19:08   #6
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Re: Bluewater yachts

I grew up around there and used to cross over to Catalina from San Pedro in my parents venture 21 and later venture 25 sailboats when I was in High School. The Pacific is the real deal. Even in that short passage.

I remember the weather kicking up big rollers nearly every afternoon.

The Gulf where I live is lake-like. The keys likewise on the protected side. Much of the Bahamas is also protected.

The key attribute of the boat in my book is the 23 inch draft which opens up anchorages and routes out here in the shallows. That is why I am even considering the boat.

99% of the time ya operate a boat in good weather and buying a boat for that 1% which thereby spoils your ability to enjoy the 99% because of a deep draft just doesn't make sense to me. The west coast is deep and I would never consider a Bluewater 52 for that.

Thanks for the story though. What I got from it was that it made it just fine. Was there any damage other than to the owners psych? Did the boat take on water? Was it uncontrollable? Did it track OK?

So far I have one guy who made a judgement to stay in the ICW which tells me nothing about the boat and another where some people got upset based on their limits not the boat's.
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Old 09-07-2011, 19:39   #7
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Re: Bluewater yachts

Does anyone have any boat suggestions which would give me a shallow draft for use in these areas?

- I am not set on a Bluewater, they just seem pretty unique.

Another big consideration is that I have a 50 foot floating dock in the backyard but the route out gets shallow, especially in winter and I really want a shallow draft. The 20 inches I have now is never and issue and I'd like to keep it somewhere close to that.
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Old 09-07-2011, 19:48   #8
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Re: Bluewater yachts

The Gulf Stream can get pretty ugly but if you're prepared to wait for the twice a year mirror flat day I'm sure you'll be fine. Once in the Bahamas the seas can still kick up pretty good most afternoons.
Not saying it can't be done just think there might be more suitable craft.
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Old 09-07-2011, 20:10   #9
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Re: Bluewater yachts

The wind and sea conditions were taken from my delivery log. I didn't record any of the more interesting recollections like having several seas break over the bow which is very low to the water and some leakage around the forward ports (actually windows). I was a little concerned when we shipped white water over the bow but the windows held so no major damage.
The roll was significant because the seas were from the bow quarter which gave us a frightful roll and pitch for last 1-2 hours until we were in the lee of the island (you probably recall this as the prevailing direction when you sailed across yourself). Reducing speed to around 6 knots helped but the pitch was more pronounced. I never felt we were not under control at any time.
There was a fair amount of slewing around at the slower speed when the sea was running but a larger prop set may have reduced this.
Beyond that, I did notice that there was not as much windage in the Avalon mooring as other boats of similar length but I'm going from memory on that issue.
I spent most of the trip up top where I was better able to judge the sea action than from the steering station below and a couple of times we took spray over the entire vesse but only white water over the bow.
Hope this additional info helps in your decision making... Capt Phil
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Old 10-07-2011, 19:36   #10
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Re: Bluewater Yachts

Thanks Captain Phil, good info. Anyone else with experience or suggestions?
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Old 19-07-2012, 21:05   #11
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So what did you get?
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Old 19-07-2012, 22:09   #12
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Re: Bluewater Yachts

Since the thread has already been resurrected...

We have a Bluewater 5800 so slightly larger than the 52 the OP was asking about. I have done numerous trips from Pensacola to New Orleans on it, and crossed to Sarasota from North Florida. As well as lots of running locally.

Personally I think the Bluewater is fine for near coastal cruising, but I would be hesitate about ever being more than about 40 miles, or two hours, from protected water somewhere. This combined with its relatively small fuel tank would be pretty restricting doing the Bahamas of south Florida.

Ours at least only has a single 480 gallon diesel tank, which doesn't take long to run through with twin 450C Cummins. I figure an honest range of 12 hours plus reserves at cruise is all the run time you get. Which for me would be pretty marginal for island hopping, probably ok for the Keys though.

The running gear is semi-protected by the tunnels, but you can't let it dry out. However the bow ladder, does make it easy to beach.

All in all I think it's a great party barge, near coastal cruiser, and light weather boat. But I wouldn't want to have to be out in really rough stuff in it.
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Old 20-07-2012, 12:28   #13
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Wow 40gph at what speed?
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Old 20-07-2012, 13:55   #14
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Re: Bluewater Yachts

More like 34 gallons/hr at 18kn. Or 26gallons/hr at 14.

But I like a large fuel reserve.
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Old 21-07-2012, 16:44   #15
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Re: Bluewater Yachts

Thanks for the info.

My plans have changed. One 18 month old and one on the way. LOL.

Probably not buying a new boat for another 5-10 years.

The Bluewater seemed close to perfect but I think the best fit for what I want is going to be a used catamaran sailboat.

Unfortunately it will have to be a daggerboard boat, which brings the price up quite a bit, for the shallow draft. Saving my pennies now.

There also are not many factory built choices for daggerboard/centerboard catamarans. I have looked at custom built choices out of Thailand and other places.

It may well end up me keeping my current boat for a decade so of course I'm still hunting up what the best boat will be, which is a cheaper activity than actually buying and maintaining one.
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