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Old 20-03-2008, 15:03   #1
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What size boat for the Caribbean?

Hi,
What size boat would be best for island hopping around the caribbean? I had a 20' ski boat when I was younger but never took it out into the ocean. I am looking to get another boat to cruise around the Caribean and do some scuba diving...any recommendations?
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Old 20-03-2008, 15:26   #2
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The correct size is big enough to haul all your stuff and crew. Even a light weight trip is probably 1.5 tons per person (including water and fuel). Your old ski boat would sink before it left the dock. That really is the lower limit.

Comfort counts too since it all is supposed to be fun. Adding scuba gear sounds like a good idea so you need a place to fit it (after all the rest of the stuff). On the small side a 15,000 lbs displacement boat would probably work for a sail boat. 18,000 to 20,000 is getting closer to comfortable. Your budget maybe a factor too.
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Old 20-03-2008, 15:35   #3
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Thanks for your reply.

Do you think something around the 40' mark would work?
Also, Do you know if the Caribbean is as volatile as the Pacific or Atlantic oceans?
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Old 20-03-2008, 15:56   #4
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Quote:
Do you think something around the 40' mark would work?
Traditionally that has been claimed to be a good size to haul two people and all the stuff they need. I like to say it should be the smallest big boat that works. Much of boating costs are "by the foot". You want all you need but you can save some with less. Bigger is more work and harder work.

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Also, Do you know if the Caribbean is as volatile as the Pacific or Atlantic oceans?
Volatile? In a hurricane I should think it could scare you to death. Big water you can't see across in any direction can always be dangerous. Learning to sail is the first thing and learning when not to sail lets you come back another day and sail better.

Volatile and being unprepared can happen any place. The boat usually survives even when the crew does not. That should tell you the important part.
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Old 21-04-2008, 01:31   #5
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Often the surprise to people in the caribbean is that between the islands the swell can often be 6- 10' in setlled weather with trade winds blowing around 30mph. Between the islands the swell is beam on so not that comfortable or dry.

You need a proper sea boat for the open water stretches, and if things go pear shaped your next stop is Panama, so you need to be well prepared.
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Old 21-04-2008, 03:50   #6
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… Much of boating costs are "by the foot". You want all you need but you can save some with less. Bigger is more work and harder work …
Boating costs vary as the cube of the length (by the foot "cubed").
Ie: A 40 footer costs about 2-1/3 times as much to maintain & operate as does a 30 footer.
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Old 21-04-2008, 04:43   #7
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How about a 60-70 footer? That will give you lots of room for gear and beer, as well as a crew of swedish flight attendants, just in case you run into them and they need a lift.
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Old 21-04-2008, 05:05   #8
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Originally Posted by bwoeller View Post
Hi,
What size boat would be best for island hopping around the caribbean? I had a 20' ski boat when I was younger but never took it out into the ocean. I am looking to get another boat to cruise around the Caribean and do some scuba diving...any recommendations?
You didn't say whether you're talking about a power boat or a sailboat. We've all assumed sailboat--is that correct?

We've been to all but three of the Lesser Antilles' major islands, and at 38', my observation is that we're usually amongst the smaller class of boat. That's not to say you couldn't do quite nicely with a sailboat in the 30-35' range, especially if it's just one or two onboard. We've seen a number of boats of that size range, typically with Scandanavian nation flags, that have successfully made the Atlantic crossing to the Caribbean.

Yes, it can get very rough between the islands, compounded by the effect of reflected and refracted waves crossing the wind-driven swells at odd angles (sometimes it's like being in a washing machine). But you can stay put in a calm anchorage for as long as you like, and not venture out until you feel comfortable doing so.
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Old 21-04-2008, 05:39   #9
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I lived aboard cruising from St Maarten to Trinidad in my Contest 36s. I mostly single hand and the boat has lots of stowage, a large protected cockpit and motors well. I was on the smaller end of the boats down there. But I found that my boat was more than adaquate to live aboard and cruise for a couple. I had all the beels and whistles, refer, hot pressure water, SSB, auto pilot and the stuff that makes cruising easier, safer and more comfortable. You need a good dink with a reliable motor.

When you get more adults on board space and privacy become issues and things like access to the head and so forth. Since you are island hoping down there you don't need oodles of stores, but getting to the Caribe from wherever means you need a good offshore boat with all that entails.

All the forces multiply geometrically as you move up in size, which means more expense for gear and more strength for sailing and so forth, and more to clean and maintain!

Go with the smallest boat which is big enough to meet you needs.
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Old 21-04-2008, 05:50   #10
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It pretty much boils down to how much money you have to spend, and then you buy the most boat you can for that amount.

If I could afford a bigger boat, I would have a bigger boat.
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Old 21-04-2008, 06:03   #11
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We have been living in the northern Caribbean now for almost three years full time. We live on a little hill and overlook one the countrys major marinas, and it's only boatyard. We watch a lot of cruisng sailboats come and go. I can tell you that here, at least, the average is definitely in the 40-42 foot range. We do see some smaller ones, and rarely some larger ones, but out of the next ten that pull in here I am willing to bet at least 8 of them are within 5 ft. of 40.

After a lot of thought and research, we want to buy a 34 ft. catamaran for our own cruising the Caribbean and Central America plans. That's for two of us and a dog. You should look at draft, and put some thought into this. What kind of creature comforts do you need. Do you have to have air conditioning? A lot of fresh water? Big screen television? bicycles, kayaks, a dinghy with an outboard? You need to define yer "stuff" cause "stuff" has weight and takes up room and a lot of it needs power. There are a lot of little relationships going on here. If the two of you need to take a small house with you, it's going to be a different requirement than if you are happy backpacking and sleeping in a two man tent with a little alcohol stove for weeks at a time.

As for your SCUBA diving, have you considered a DC or gas powered hookah setup instead of filling and hauling around tanks? compressors can be handy things to have on board. Most of the fun diving is really shallower than 30-50 ft. and a Brownie's Third Lung will run two divers to 60 ft. no problem. You can dive for four hours for the cost of a half gallon of gasoline. You are going to have gasoline on board anyhow if you have an outboard on yer dink.
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Old 23-04-2008, 16:07   #12
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Quote:
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As for your SCUBA diving, have you considered a DC or gas powered hookah setup instead of filling and hauling around tanks? compressors can be handy things to have on board. Most of the fun diving is really shallower than 30-50 ft. and a Brownie's Third Lung will run two divers to 60 ft. no problem. You can dive for four hours for the cost of a half gallon of gasoline. You are going to have gasoline on board anyhow if you have an outboard on yer dink.
Four hours at fifty feet? That might exceed the recommended dive tables a bit ...
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Old 24-04-2008, 05:17   #13
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I assumed power boat as it was in the powered boat section?
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Old 24-04-2008, 05:26   #14
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Four hours at fifty feet? That might exceed the recommended dive tables a bit ...
According to the Short-Form No-Decompression Table:
The first dive no-decompression limit for 50 feet is 70 minutes.
Notwithstanding, a 3 minute safety stop at 15 Ft. is recommended for all dives exceeding 40 Ft.
The repetitive dive no-decompression limit for a 50 foot dive, after a surface interval of two hours is 38 minutes.
The minimum surface interval required is 30 minutes.

NAUI DIVE TABLES:
Naui dive tables
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