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Old 24-10-2012, 14:25   #1
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"Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

I am interested in a cruising boat used mainly for anchoring in Caribbean or Bahama bays, with shallow draft for close-in anchor and flexibility, maybe 2 weeks at a time.

An important need is a large, comfortable shady cockpit for dining and hanging out. This rules out monohull sailboats. Of course a cat sail or power would be ideal, but these are way more expensive to dock and purchase than the "plastic express cruisers" around 32 feet, sold everywhere. They have great designs especially the roomy cockpits for outdoor living. Almost like small floating campers.

I have no interest or need to go fast and their 600 horsepower gas engines seem like a big waste. I wish they sipped gas like diesel displacement trawlers. Mono hull trawlers don't have the shallow draft and efficient design of the express cruisers. And I have yet to see a mono hull trawler with the big roomy cockpit eating tables of these little cruisers.

So, is there a way to throttle these big engines down and cruise at low speed to get somewhat reasonable gas mileage?
Or, just live with the enormous horsepower, since the object is mooring, not travelling......
thanks!
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Old 24-10-2012, 14:34   #2
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

could try one of these........does 4 knots and draws 2 foot and uses less than 2gallons an hour
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Old 26-10-2012, 06:01   #3
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orionnebula View Post
I am interested in a cruising boat used mainly for anchoring in Caribbean or Bahama bays, with shallow draft for close-in anchor and flexibility, maybe 2 weeks at a time.

An important need is a large, comfortable shady cockpit for dining and hanging out. This rules out monohull sailboats. Of course a cat sail or power would be ideal, but these are way more expensive to dock and purchase than the "plastic express cruisers" around 32 feet, sold everywhere. They have great designs especially the roomy cockpits for outdoor living. Almost like small floating campers.

I have no interest or need to go fast and their 600 horsepower gas engines seem like a big waste. I wish they sipped gas like diesel displacement trawlers. Mono hull trawlers don't have the shallow draft and efficient design of the express cruisers. And I have yet to see a mono hull trawler with the big roomy cockpit eating tables of these little cruisers.

So, is there a way to throttle these big engines down and cruise at low speed to get somewhat reasonable gas mileage?
Or, just live with the enormous horsepower, since the object is mooring, not travelling......
thanks!

Usually it's the hull form that governs whether one of those will be comfortable at slow speeds or not. You can run the engines slower (probably as long as you reacon optimum operating temps), but planing hulls do better at planing speeds.

You might look at the 30' and 34' Mainship Pilot models -- and similar by other makers -- since their semi-displacement hulls might be more comfortable at slower speeds, and single diesel installations are available.

-Chris
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Old 26-10-2012, 07:12   #4
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orionnebula View Post
I am interested in a cruising boat used mainly for anchoring in Caribbean or Bahama bays, with shallow draft for close-in anchor and flexibility, maybe 2 weeks at a time.

An important need is a large, comfortable shady cockpit for dining and hanging out. This rules out monohull sailboats. Of course a cat sail or power would be ideal, but these are way more expensive to dock and purchase than the "plastic express cruisers" around 32 feet, sold everywhere. They have great designs especially the roomy cockpits for outdoor living. Almost like small floating campers.

I have no interest or need to go fast and their 600 horsepower gas engines seem like a big waste. I wish they sipped gas like diesel displacement trawlers. Mono hull trawlers don't have the shallow draft and efficient design of the express cruisers. And I have yet to see a mono hull trawler with the big roomy cockpit eating tables of these little cruisers.

So, is there a way to throttle these big engines down and cruise at low speed to get somewhat reasonable gas mileage?
Or, just live with the enormous horsepower, since the object is mooring, not travelling......
thanks!
Have you seen a modern monohull? Many seem to be all cockpit!
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Old 26-10-2012, 07:44   #5
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

"Express cruiser", around here, usually means something like this:
2012 Sea Ray 330 Sundancer | Sea Ray Boats and Yachts

This kind of boat is designed for short, fast hops in relatively sheltered conditions. They are built for maximum living volume per length (within the constraints of the aesthetic style and 30+ knot speed requirement), with a low capital cost in mind and with minimal regard to operating costs. This is a very logical decision for a boat that typically spends 99.5% of its life docked in marinas.

You sacrifice a lot of usable deck space to the "melted jelly bean" foredecks that are common in this class (can't walk there, can't tie stuff there), space to install self-sufficient systems is at a premium, and the hull shapes needed to plane these relatively heavy vessels at 30 knots lead to terrible performance in the 7-20 knot range and a relatively uncomfortable ride in rough weather. While most newer gas engines will throttle down OK without trouble and without too much loss of efficiency, diesels do not like running at low load for extended periods.

If you can get over those downsides, there is an absolute glut of 30-something-foot "express cruisers" available on the used market for remarkably low prices. People frequently sell them after a few years when they realize how much they cost to run, and that most folks who can afford that kind of fuel bill are too busy working to take the boat out more than a few weekends a year.
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Old 26-10-2012, 07:47   #6
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

You are right in its ability to be a comfy boat.. SeaRey has built there boat for exactlly what you are looking for.. the down side, to get what you want in a boat, you give up in millage..
I've done hundreds of canvas inclosures on the Express Cruisers of different fashions and styles.. nice boats from the 260 all the way up and including the new 420s..
I have a few friends with the SeaRey Express Cruisers and yes, gas is an issue, but they mostly pick short jaunts weekly around the area, and One or Two long distance (say 100 to 200 miles) runs each year..
as for the gas, spoke to one of the guys awhile back and he had a way of fooling himself for gas purchase and never incountered the issue of pulling up to the pump and spending 3 of 4 hundred for a fill up..
He always carried one or two 5 gallon jugs in his car trunk .. whenever he stopped to put fuel in his car, he would also put a couple gallons in the jugs.. and on weekends when he visited his boat, the fuel went into the tank..
Over the winter when they would use the boat less, the tanks would fill up..
He was bragging about it one spring morning as he was happy as hell, he was starting out the boating season with full tanks.. It worked for him..
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Old 26-10-2012, 07:59   #7
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

We keep our boat in St Martin. It takes us two or three hours to get to St Barts. We see a lot of big Sea Rays (and similar boats) running back and forth in minutes instead of hours. We are die hard sailors but I have thought that for just getting between islands, especially in the Bahamas, Windwards and Leewards a big, express cruiser might be very functional (maybe ugly but functional). You just have to be able to afford the fuel.
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Old 26-10-2012, 08:57   #8
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

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Originally Posted by Orionnebula View Post
...An important need is a large, comfortable shady cockpit for dining and hanging out. This rules out monohull sailboats...
Most modern production monohulls are designed for the Caribbean/Mediterranean market and feature large, comfortable and shady cockpits. The latter feature is almost always achieved by using something called a bimini.

The cockpit shown below on a modern production monohull has seated 16 people comfortably, all in the shade apart from 2 sunbathers on the aft portion behind the wheels.

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Old 27-10-2012, 01:43   #9
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

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You might look at the 30' and 34' Mainship Pilot models -- and similar by other makers -- since their semi-displacement hulls might be more comfortable at slower speeds, and single diesel installations are available.

-Chris
I find myself in a similar position to the OP and was curious what other makes you may suggest? The Mainships have been on my radar, but am open to other suggestions as well.

The cost of the 'express cruiser' coupled with its well-planned interior/cockpit is enticing for somebody such as myself who only needs a single cabin/v-birth, but wants comfortable accommodations otherwise and would like to be on-the-hook for a week here and a week there, but not months at a time.

To further the OP's question, can some express cruisers achieve ~1.5 mpg at cruise?

While I would much (extremely!) prefer diesel, the dirt-cheap price of the ubiquitous gasoline powered cruisers buys tons of fuel - literally!
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Old 27-10-2012, 12:30   #10
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A dock neighbor has a 410 Sea Ray express cruiser. Last year with 11 people onboard we were doing 29 mph by gps going against the current, this was at cruise not wot. A couple of weeks ago they made a 47 mile trip with 4 people onboard & thru 2 locks & then returned the following day. He filled up when they returned & took on a little over $400.00 worth of gas. Price was $3.99 per gallon, nice boats if you like living in a cave & can afford the fuel burn.
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Old 29-10-2012, 11:03   #11
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

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I find myself in a similar position to the OP and was curious what other makes you may suggest? The Mainships have been on my radar, but am open to other suggestions as well.

The cost of the 'express cruiser' coupled with its well-planned interior/cockpit is enticing for somebody such as myself who only needs a single cabin/v-birth, but wants comfortable accommodations otherwise and would like to be on-the-hook for a week here and a week there, but not months at a time.

To further the OP's question, can some express cruisers achieve ~1.5 mpg at cruise?

While I would much (extremely!) prefer diesel, the dirt-cheap price of the ubiquitous gasoline powered cruisers buys tons of fuel - literally!

Sorry, can't think of other makers' names offhand, and my net connection is off and on just now (partly due to Sandy), so haven't been able to research a memory refresher...

Ref the query about 1.5 nm at cruise speeds... maybe... but might depend on what "cruise" means. Our Mainship 34 cruised at about 9 kts, sipped fuel. Current-day "express cruisers" tend to be V-hulls and "cruise" speed means 20" kts, probably more like .75 mpg at that speed. But then again, running at hul speed makes the better economy possibe... if you can stand the sometimes rocky/rolly ride.

-Chris
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Old 29-10-2012, 15:23   #12
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

Express cruisers have a lot going for them, but fuel efficiency isn't one of them. The Sea Ray 350 gets about .95 miles to the gallon. Note this test is done in standard miles nautical miles so figure about 10% worse. This was at most efficent cruise.

Top speed it's more like .5 miles to the gallon.


And no it isn't reasonable to run these at displacement speeds to save fuel. You can do it, but the ride will be terrible. Better to buy a true displacement cruiser the same size but with 1/10 the horsepower.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:05   #13
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

High-quality express style powerboats are made by Hunt Yachts, Sabre, Eastbay (Grand Banks) and a few smaller companies like Palm Beach Yachts. Hinckley makes very expensive jet-drive express style yachts.

European builders make many styles of express-style yachts -- Sunseeker, Fairline, Jeanneau and many others. Some sport fishing companies make express-style boats -- Viking and Cabo come to mind.

If you want a boat to go between Caribbean Islands, you may want to go larger rather than smaller. The seas can be quite rough between the islands, and some Caribbean islands are spread reasonably far apart. If you stick to places like the Abacos in the Bahamas you can wander between islands in a small boat if you pick your weather.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:55   #14
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

Quite an interesting thread, so I'll throw in my two pennies......

When I started researching cruising about 15 years ago, I was set on a economical way to do it. I simply narrowed the choices down to a trawler. This is due to fuel costs and consumption. Then the economy started to dwindle, and the fuel prices sky rocketed.

We must remember something when talking about boating, fuel prices will always go up. Never in the history of diesel and gasoline, have the fuel prices dropped over the long term.

Now that I'm researching again (last two years), I have decided that sailing would be the best way to facilitate my means.

Sailboat do not quite achieve the speeds of a trawler, but can make the journey much cheaper. Planning vessels are just way out of the ball park with consideration to expenses.

Every boat will need about the same amount of repair costs, sailing may introduce a few more, but will still be cheaper in the end, if you can wait for wind when needed.

You may buy a power vessel, but if you cruise a lot, you may decide to go a cheaper route after some time, and be a sailing convert. I am, and didn't buy a power cruiser.

It is a known fact that sailing cruisers do spend more time on the "cruise". This may be due to the fact of their speed, but it may also be due to the fact of the time vs. costs. I can't say.......for many it is hard for them to decide as well.

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Old 05-11-2012, 08:37   #15
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Re: "Express Cruiser" as Caribbean cruiser?

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High-quality express style powerboats are made by Hunt Yachts, Sabre, Eastbay (Grand Banks) and a few smaller companies like Palm Beach Yachts. Hinckley makes very expensive jet-drive express style yachts.

European builders make many styles of express-style yachts -- Sunseeker, Fairline, Jeanneau and many others. Some sport fishing companies make express-style boats -- Viking and Cabo come to mind.

If you want a boat to go between Caribbean Islands, you may want to go larger rather than smaller. The seas can be quite rough between the islands, and some Caribbean islands are spread reasonably far apart. If you stick to places like the Abacos in the Bahamas you can wander between islands in a small boat if you pick your weather.

When I mentioned the smaller Mainship models above, I was thinking specifically about a hull form (which has a keel in those boats) that would lend itself toward slow-speed cruising.

Down-east lobstah boat lineage, and so forth...

-Chris
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