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Old 18-10-2009, 07:11   #1
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Size Guidelines

I am sure that this kind of question has been posted before, so my apologies. If someone can point me in the right direction that would be great.

I am getting back into sailing, and my wife and I are looking for our first boat. My experience has been in the Tampa Bay area, about half and half inter coastal, and Gulf. I have rarely sailed beyond sight of land. And its always been as crew on other peoples boats. So here is my question...

What would be the appropriate size boat for two adults, and a 10y/o to:

1) be out for the weekend
2) sail from Tampa to the Keys
3) sail to the Bahamas
4) sail across the Gulf to Mexico

I am not looking to buy a boat tomorrow and do these things next week, of course it would be based on experience, and what size boat we had.

I was thinking of starting out with something manageable like a 25 footer, and work my way up.
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Old 18-10-2009, 08:34   #2
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Most boats tend to shrink the further offshore you go. 3 feet for every hundred miles seems to be the standard. But don't fear they can never get any smaller than the average dingy and your boat well resume normal size at first sight of land.
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Old 18-10-2009, 08:43   #3
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Everyone has their own comfort level with boat size, you'll have to decide what yours is. But for what you are suggesting you want to do, and from a sailing perspective alone, my comfort level would be nothing smaller than a 28, and a stout one at that.

Then there's the issue of creature comforts, smaller boats have fewer, bigger ones usually have more. But that's a whole other discussion.
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Old 20-10-2009, 06:02   #4
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This is too personal a matter for anyone else's advice to be useful. People have sailed across the Atlantic in boats barely over a dozen feet long. Others have felt much too cramped during a day sail in boats several dozen meters long. The best thing you can do is go out and look at a lot of boats, take your family, go below, see how it feels to you.

Personally, I wouldn't sail across the Gulf, or through the Bahamas, in a boat of less than about 25 feet, but there are lots of boats out there from 20 feet on up that are perfectly capable for that sort of sailing.
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Old 20-10-2009, 06:21   #5
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Assuming the boat is a good choice in general for your needs/wants; it of course is a personnal choice as to comfort. I think the biggest decision is whether you plan to overnight sail for a couple of days, or do you plan day sailing and stopping at night overall. To me it would be a minimum of something in the 32-36' range. This gives you move for stuff and to move around/live. I don't see a 25' footer being all that much more manageable that a 35 foot. My wife and I never sailed till last year, learned on a 36', sailed 33&34 club boats the remainder of the first year, and bought a 39' boot this year as our first boat and they all seemed to be the same size once on them. And except for the real bottom of the barrel boats you probably can pickup a 32-35' for not much more than and smaller boat.
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Old 20-10-2009, 06:55   #6
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A 25 foot trailerable boat is a great way to start. You can sail around the Tampa area and do overnighters when you are comfortable with the boat. It's a good size to learn on without getting into the expense of slip fees, etc. You can more than likely add it to your homeowners insurance, so there is another cost saver with a smaller boat.
Once you are sure you and your family want to continue to sail, you can move up to a bigger boat.
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Old 20-10-2009, 07:35   #7
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With the offshore element and numbers I would be recommending at least 30 ft, and preferably at least 32 ft - naturally dependent on the actual boat. A Sadler 32 would be a good starting point.
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Old 20-10-2009, 08:42   #8
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given your cruising aspirations, you might want to consider other factors than size. Were it me, I'd start with wanting a boat with a reliable diesel engine as factor number one. To that I'd add that the rig should be designed for short-handed sailing and the tankage should be adequate for a ten-day trip. Put those three factors together and size will take care of itself.
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Old 20-10-2009, 11:29   #9
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I think Bash has got it right.

Figure out what you'll need on a boat to make cruising comfortable and safe for your family, then look at the boats that have those features. "Comfortable" is a relative term--everyone has their own definition, so you and your wife really need to talk about what your wants and needs are before going too far down the purchase path.
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Old 20-10-2009, 11:41   #10
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Just to through in my 2 cents... as others have said analize your needs and not so much your destinations.

How do you want to sleep?
How do you want to cook? Stove built in/ Coleman?
Do you want a seperate head/ do you want to lif a V berth cushion your sleeping on in the middle of the night when your 10 year old needs to go.
Are you ok without a shower for a few days.
Do you want to stand up inside?
Are you going to be at anchor?
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Old 20-10-2009, 12:03   #11
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excellent advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
Figure out what you'll need on a boat to make cruising comfortable and safe for your family, then look at the boats that have those features. "Comfortable" is a relative term--everyone has their own definition, so you and your wife really need to talk about what your wants and needs are before going too far down the purchase path.
Amen! Amazing how much more avid a sailor my wife became once we graduated beyond the porti-potty boats.
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Old 20-10-2009, 13:26   #12
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Amen! Amazing how much more avid a sailor my wife became once we graduated beyond the porti-potty boats.
There are the intangible factors and other times it's what the Admiral will tell you is totally obvious. If you add a ten year old child, size seems less important since the boat can't possibly be big enough. At that point the smallest boat you can stand seems as good a rule as any. A 30 ft boat is not too big to start with. You need to fit all the crap you carry and it adds up pretty fast.
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Old 20-10-2009, 13:45   #13
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What size boat?

My first boat was an Islander 30. I lived aboard for 3 years, went out sailing 1x week in summer with friends, and did some short cruises in the Puget Sound. She had a comfortable V berth & quarterberth. I sold her to a family for their first boat after I married my husband, who had a larger boat on which we raced. She was a great boat to grow my sailing skills on.

Size does matter, but layout & other comfort features are important too. I’d suggest you approach this as your first boat, and buy something that is large enough to be comfortable on a trip from Tampa to the Keys and points between, but small enough to not be too expensive. For me, this would be something in the 28 to 35 foot range, with good resale potential (eg a “name brand” boat with a good maintenance history, vs a homebuilt project). Your wife should be able to handle most if not all tasks on a boat this size, which will build her confidence. A proper head with holding tank and propane stove with oven would be minimum requirements for me.

I did a bunch of racing, and later some coastal deliveries to gain more experience on different boats and longer distances, which helped us decide on our cruising boat and gave me confidence to do the trip. I specifically decided on some trips without my husband, who had a lot more experience than I did, to build my own confidence in my sailing skills. You and your wife might want to consider similar opportunities, perhaps some racing as a couple and maybe a delivery or a class separately.

Everybody’s preferences and tolerances are different. We have kept our boat as simple as possible because additional gear not only costs money when you buy it, but more money and inconvenience when it fails in remote places, as it will. I encourage you and your family to go out and gain as much experience as you can, taking good notes about what you like and don’t want. Most of us end up making some tradeoffs on the boat we end up with, but approaching it thoughtfully will hopefully allow you to make the best choice you can.

Cheers!
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Old 20-10-2009, 15:58   #14
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Buy one you can pay for today. You can always move up if you feel the need. Nothing takes the fun out of sailing quicker than a monthly bank note. Remember the larger the boat the more it costs for everything. The costs are MUCH more than just the price. Slip, insurance, repairs, fuel, parts, upkeep.

If I can figure out how to launch and retrieve my boat from the trailer I will be saving over $3000 a year.

I of course think most people own boats that are to darn big. They become to much work and get neglected and then sold. For a loss.

My little boat has been much, much further than most of the "for sale" dock queens you'll get to look at and the owners didn't seem too worse for wear.

Comfort is important and is a personal choice. I think I like my boat because its not going to work for a crowd. More than 2 couples isn't going to work on my little boat and even that is just a day sail. I don't want to share and I prefer sailing solo.

For me I have no problem with a small boat I can handle in any weather by myself and has proven to be a tough old thing.

Most well built boats no matter how small will go most places you are sailor enough to get to........m
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