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Old 28-09-2011, 04:21   #1
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West Coast All-Around Powerboat Questions

Greetings! Im fairly new here as I only became a registered member a couple weeks ago. I grew up sailing Banshee sailoats in the SF Bay with my father but always had a desire to go zipping through the water on a powered vessel. I live pretty much on the Sac Delta a stones throw from many a marina. I love the sound of all these people from the East Coast running down to the Caribbean and spending months on their boats to maximize their time on this planet. My fiancee and I are all about living like there wont be tomorrow.

Im seriously looking into purchasing a trawler type boat in the 40' range that will be versitile enough to navigate the sometimes narrow Sac Delta waters and also capable of running out under the Golden Gate to southern coastal desinations. Of course I understand that longish range cruisers and the word "zipping" dont usually go hand in hand, Im a bit older now and my desire to "zip" has diminished some. Besides, I have a 21' skiboat for that.

So, ideally i'd like twin diesels. I am a gearhead by nature and an electrician by trade so doing work or maintenance is not an issue with me. I understand that a minimal draft is desireable for the Caribbean, as it is for many parts of the Delta, but when does not enough draft start to really effect seaworthyness? Id also like there to be enough room to pack on 3-4 other people for weekend Delta trips where we dont need to pack the kitchen sink, only beer and BBQ-ables.

I'll leave it at that for now. Im currently making sure the power stays on at a small base in Eastern Afghanistan and this site has helped me pass the time and develop bigger pipe dreams than I previously had. THANKS!
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Old 28-09-2011, 06:51   #2
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Re: West Coast all around powerboat ?s

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Delta_Rat.
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Old 28-09-2011, 11:03   #3
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Re: West Coast All-Around Powerboat Questions

Seems like a reasonable goal. The trade-offs (single .vs. twin, etc. etc.) are of course the fun part for you, so don't let the forum's opinions take that fun away from you.

That out of the way, here's some opinions.

A planing (or semi planing) powerboat is only reasonable when fuel is cheap. That may not happen again for a long time (when the world's population drops again to, say, 500M people).

A non-planing powerboat needs stabilization. The only stabilization that is safe, cheap, reliable, and actually helps rather than hinders is a steadying sail.

Twin .vs. single is almost a religious issue. Strong pros and cons for each. Personally, I prefer single, having owned both. You can't run ANY boat without some practice. With some practice, a single screw is amazingly maneuverable. Note the very many commercial vessels that are single screw, its certainly the vast majority worldwide. I think spring lines are way easier and less annoyingly (painfully) noisy than a bow thruster.

Boating is far more similar to camping than to living in a house. So get a boat for boating. If its got TV, heating, air conditioning, built-in vacuum, escalators, helicopter hangers, etc., you don't want to be the person running it unless the owner (not you) pays you well and keeps the expense account well filled with lots and lots of BOAT units (BOAT=break out another thousand). Dinghies are much more useful than Sat-comm or washer/dryers. Have fun, you already have plenty of work if you've got the $$ to own a boat.

Any wood structure (cabin sides, decks, transom, stringers, engine beds, bulkheads, etc.) WILL rot. Avoid. Its your choice, choose another.

Exterior varnish is beautiful. For a very short time (weeks). And then its not. And then its a lot of work. Avoid.

Visibility from the wheel is absolutely vital, and rarely well addressed. When its not very sunny and clear outside (and sometimes even then) interior reflections will interfere with visibility from an enclosed wheelhouse. As will steam from cooking nearly anything in the galley. At night, most wheelhouses are quite difficult to see outside (ships!! unlighted row boats, bouys, shoals, wind on the water, landmarks, ...). Eisenglass is annoying (maybe "awful" or "painful" or "downright dangerous") to look through underway.

Unpowered all weather ventilation. You will know immediately when you board a boat without it: it stinks, smells musty, moldy, or much worse.

Heads should be vacuflush or similar: electric so guests are less likely to break or clog it; very low water usage so the holding tank does not fill up in a day; and only use fresh water to flush to greatly reduce odors.

Showers are overrated. On some boats, I've had separate stand up stall showers that were large enough for two. On some, a "wet head." On some, buckets on deck. Each approach has clear advantages over the others: a stall shower means the water stays in the shower, but if not ventilated WELL these things get disgusting; a wet head allows you to do double duty, washing yourself and washing the head compartment at the same time while also enabling the head space to be larger and therefore far easier to air out and avoid mold (the entire head then MUST have smooth hard surfaces only with large corner radiuses); a bucket on deck is all you will want south of, say, Ensenada, and is pretty darn nice in decent weather far to the north. And don't you usually go boating in nice weather?
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Old 28-09-2011, 11:31   #4
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Re: West Coast All-Around Powerboat Questions

I would suggest you look at 39 ft Sea Rays there low to the water out of the breeze unlike taller trawlers and with a 14 ft beam there stable in rough seas. I'm a catamaran sailor but several folks on our dock like them for going up the WA coast in rough seas to the San Juan Islands and Alaskia.
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Old 28-09-2011, 12:20   #5
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Re: West Coast All-Around Powerboat Questions

Wide beam increases roll, contrary to popular opinion.

The confusion comes from the obvious observation that, when at a dock and you step on a big wide boat, nothing happens. When you step on a little narrow boat, it tips under your weight.

But this observation, like a bowling ball falling faster than a feather, obscures the underlying truth (physics).

When underway on a decent sized boat of any reasonable design, the weight of a person has very little affect on the attitude of a boat.

What causes the boat to rock and roll is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT force: buoyancy acting on a lever arm.

A wide boat allows that lever arm to be large. A wave is like an impulse of force, applied in a way that changes rapidly with time as the wave passes under the boat. If the force of the wave acts through a large lever arm, a lot of torque is applied to the boat, and that will cause the boat to start to move. A wider boat will roll more with a decent sized wave than a narrower boat.

Watch the boats in an anchor field. You will notice a large difference in the amount of roll, and the rate of roll, of the various vessels. For a cruising boat, you want low roll rate, and low roll angle for a given excitation (waves). What I notice is (a) sailboats have much lower roll rates than powerboats, and (b) wide, hard chined boats roll faster and more than narrow boats.

Better, watch a large group of fishing boats clumped together chasing a bite. The modern wide planing hulls are much worse in motion than classic round bottom boats.

Of course, nothing in physics is that easy. Whats really happening is the wave does work to the boat (force times distance) which means energy is transfered from the wave to the boat. That energy will dissipate somehow. Energy tends to get consumed the easiest way. Therefore, a long narrow hull may exhibit surprising roll responses when going directly upwind: the boat wants to pitch, but its far easier to make it roll than pitch, so the energy gets used up by rolling the boat. That's called roll coupling. Its one of the things that made the F-104 such an effective pilot killer: the pilot would pull back on the stick, and instead of pitching the long thin airframe upward, the airplane would rapidly roll, even going inverted. One condition where pilots often suddenly pull back on the stick is on a difficult landing attempt...
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Old 29-09-2011, 21:29   #6
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Re: West Coast All-Around Powerboat Questions

Thanks for the replies. Sea Rays are nice boats, but I dont think its quite what im looking for. I dont like the idea of having to feed a couple of 3208's. Im not sure just how realistic it is for me to want to have a boat capable of venturing to the Caribbean since I live on the west coast. I have read about people not being huge fans of navigating through the Panama Canal. Im not sure if its the legal issues, currents, traffic, but ive read more than once people advising caution. Not to mention the time it would take just to reach the Caribbean from the west.
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Old 04-10-2011, 11:19   #7
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Re: West Coast All-Around Powerboat Questions

Its a long way to the Caribbean from the West Coats but its a very nice trip, especially if you can take a lot longer than the minimum time to do the trip. Its all really nice cruising ground, inexpensive everything, very friendly, nice people.

But be careful south of Mexico, where piracy is real. The piracy threat is the reason I'd ship a boat. People differ on opinions regarding guns on board, but I would not be writing this if we did not have lots of weapons on board for passages along both coasts of Central America and the northern coast of South America. Maybe weapons can be procured after leaving Mexico to avoid the real risk of prison and loss of boat if the weapons are discovered while you are in Mexico.

Typical safe transit schedule: leave California in late October or early November (e.g., go along with the Baja Ha Ha or FUBAR rallys), transit the Panama Canal in December, and get back north by June
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