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Old 23-02-2013, 16:58   #1
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Choosing a Boat for a 6 Month - 1 yr Caribbean Cruising

hi all.. I am thinking of sailing the caribbean for 6 months or 1 year ( can split it into 4 x 3 monts or 2 x 6 months ) I pretty much wanna cruise around, set the route to where the wind allows me... see as much as possible..

I may be leaving from Florida or start somewhere in the caribbean if I end up buying a boat already there...or have it delivered somewhere...

I really would like to buy a brand new boat.. 38-40'.. beneteau or jeanneau...( catalina or hunter maybe ) or maybe a very clean used boat..only couple of years old...

here are a few of my newbie questions...

1- what kind of upgrades I should do other than solar panel and wind generators, radar, long lines, extra anchors ? is there a list of must-have stuff on a sailboat for caribbean waters?

I'd like to have AC, run the fridge 24 hours and have an ice maker, TV, dvd player etc.. onboard... I am okay to run the engine or generator for couple of hours every other day..or get into a marina every 10 days...

do I really need a blue water boat ? thicker hull ? most charter boats are jeanneaus, beneteaus..so I guess I should be alright ? what are the chances of crashing into a container in the caribbean ? or something else that could sink my boat ?


2- how tough is the weather out there in the caribbean and how hard is to sail caribbean waters ? how long is the longest passage ? lets say I take the thorny path...( don't know much about it yet ) I been sailing since I was 13, just not have so much experience on the open water or in the ocean.. I am always okay to hire an experienced captain for tough passages etc.. I may be sailing solo sometimes..

which books I should read in order to plan this trip ? currently I am following couple of sailing blogs and googling around...

3- if I choose to buy a brand new boat? when is the best time to get one ? last years models at boat shows ? or just order thru an authorized dealer and negotiate a price ?

4- do you know any sailing schools in the caribbean to get hands on experience ? not the basic stuff but more like an advanced sailing classes.. ? 1 or 2 weeks long... including long passages.. sailing at night..?

thanks. / mark
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:52   #2
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Re: choosing a boat for a 6month - 1 yr caribbean cruising

I sold my first boat, a Jeanneau 43DS, to a Canadian family of 4 who wanted a 1-year time-out in the Caribbean and they'd never even been on a sailboat before.

1. Getting renewable energy in the form of solar or wind is a great bonus. Having a generator is important if you don't have either of the 2 renewable sources aboard. I don't go to marinas when I live aboard, so a watermaker is at the top of my list of extras. Running the engine to make power isn't efficient, so a genset would be needed to re-charge the batteries. When anchoring the tradewinds supply fresh breezes (or ventilations fans will do the same), so AC isn't necessary or useful except when in a marina (where power is plentiful and usually little breeze is present).

2. If you buy in the Caribbean, then the only passage where you won't see any land anywhere on the horizon is the one between the BVI and St. Martin; apart from that just about every inter-island passage is a day's trip with islands in sight. The sailing and conditions are about as easy as they ever get on the seas and modern weather reporting systems are so good that, with proper planning, the worst that one will encounter on the passages are squalls.

3. Brand new boats... I'm on my first one and like the fact that all of the problems or breakages or dings are my own fault and not due to a previous owner. I know my engine and genset and hull haven't been mistreated. The loss in value for the first year is horrendous, so I wouldn't recommend going that route for a boat which might be flipped after a year. I have had good experiences with ex-charter boats; they might be cosmetically challenged and have a lot of wear-and-tear, but this is reflected in the price and also means that selling the boat for a similar price as you bought her for won't be too difficult.

4. I like the Rob Swain School out of Nanny Cay in Tortola, BVI. I took some courses there and the Canadians who bought my bought had personalized instruction for a week that gave them all the necessary essentials to start and I cruised alongside them for a month after that and soon they were "old salts".
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Old 24-03-2013, 18:38   #3
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Re: choosing a boat for a 6month - 1 yr caribbean cruising

thanks for the reply. here are my comments

1- I will most likely have a generator, too. maybe double solar panels and double wind generators ? I haven't done any math but I am sure I will have more power than I need.. I'll definitely get a watermaker, too. forgot to mention in my original post.

how about an inverter ? a must have ? nice to have?

2- I am measuring virgin gorda to st. martin like 78-80 nm. it looks I can do it myself with an autopilot... what is the longest passage if I leave from FL ? after bahamas and turks & caicos.. I measured grand turk to dominican republic as 100 nm.. or should I hop over great inagua then haiti ?

how to get over a squall when it hits the boat ? steer into the wind ? loose the sails ? if on autopilot ?

3- I really wanna get a brand new one..or looks as new.. however when I check prices for 1-5 years old boats.. many are as expensive as brand new ones.. they may have some upgrades but still... if a boat loses a big value after a year.. then why are they as high as
brand new ones ?

if I am paying 300k+ a boat.. I'd pay 40-50k more to get a brand new one. or get lil smaller but new..

I am looking into beneteau first or oceanis 44-45 feet, or jeanneau 439-469

how easy to single hand those boats under sail & power ? ( with bowthruster )

I am thinking of keeping the boat for 5 - 10 years..

I may consider an ex-charter that is in caribbean.. it may be better to get used to with the islands and sailing.. that'll be great if I can sell it around the same price I buy...

4- I checked out the sailing school.. I may just charter a skippered boat and learn hands on.. like I said I know how to sail just don't have much experience.

thanks again.
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Old 24-03-2013, 19:21   #4
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Re: choosing a boat for a 6month - 1 yr caribbean cruising

OK, so I just went through this whole process
The Best Boat for Cruising with Children | Sailing With Kids

Not sure what your budget is, but the Morgan 382 I narrowed down on is perfect for your situation...
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Old 25-03-2013, 06:51   #5
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Re: choosing a boat for a 6month - 1 yr caribbean cruising

We have owned three Catalinas, a 27 and 36 that were twenty years old and our present boat a C-470, which we we commissioned new in 2006.

Although you sound like you are leaning to the B' & J's, you should check out the Catalina 42, C-440, C-445 and the C-470 before you decide. Catalina builds a great production boat.

Setup right, any 40-50 boat can be singlehanded.

Roller furling boom is a must. In my opinion, too much can go wrong with in mast furlers. Bowthrusters are good to have on 40 plus boats, especially single-handed. In the Caribbean solar works well and having a supplemental wind generator helps with those cloudy days.

Even with a generator you want an inverter or two. We have a large 3000watt inverter with a built in battery charger (120amps) for the microwave and coffee pot. We also have a small 400 watt inverter for things like the TV and electric chargers.

If you are single handing, have the windless set up with a control at the helm to make things easier.
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Old 26-03-2013, 01:56   #6
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Re: choosing a boat for a 6month - 1 yr caribbean cruising

Jeremiason,

thanks for the reply. I really have a crush on B' & J's since I was a kid. I think most production boats are all built good, its just I find french boats more sleek..

also now I am leaning more to buy an ex-charter 1st boat to get used to it and many ex-charters I am looking at are Beneteaus and Jeanneaus

I checked the TUI brokerage website. is there any other websites that have ex-charter boat listings ?

I am thinking of having a bowthruster or the new docking system if I can get a newer boat.

some of the ex-charter boats have over 3000 hours on the engine. is that something I should worry about ?

do I really need an AC in the caribbean ? do ACs work on batteries? yes but drains the batteries or it just doesnt work, the genset should be on all the time ?

where else I can get shore power other than the marinas ?

thanks.
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Old 26-03-2013, 01:57   #7
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Re: choosing a boat for a 6month - 1 yr caribbean cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by vtsailguy View Post
OK, so I just went through this whole process
The Best Boat for Cruising with Children | Sailing With Kids

Not sure what your budget is, but the Morgan 382 I narrowed down on is perfect for your situation...
I know there is not 1 right boat for everyone. so it looks I'll get one that feels & sails good and see what happens. thanks for the link.
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Old 26-03-2013, 04:32   #8
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Re: Choosing a Boat for a 6 Month - 1 yr Caribbean Cruising

You'll get a lot of opinions and advice here. But there are so many variables you will have to take each with a grain of salt.

If you are new at this I would not recommend sailing FROM FL upwind to the Easter Caribe thru the Bahamas. This can be rough sailing... upwind. Sailing the reverse direction is a down wind easy dry flat sail.

Sailing north and south through the eastern Caribe is pretty much a reach and you can fetch your destination without tacking for the most part. But for example sailing into Point a Pitre Guadeloupe will be upwind.

There are not very many marinas in the Caribe compared to the States and so anchoring is something you'll need to master and rely on. You'll also need a decent dink and out board which becomes your life line to shore side activities.

There are any number of cruising guides which you should have on board which will give you all sorts of useful information about each island, anchorages and sailing directions.

Having lived in and sailed the Caribe for several years without a bow thruster or spending a single night at a marina or dock I can say a bow thruster is not required.. but chain, a good windlass and anchor is mission critical along with anchoring technique.

Refer is a nice luxury and most are 12v and so you'll need large batts and charging source for them. AC is not necessary as the trades provide plenty of cooling breezes. You'll want a bimini of some sort of sun protection to rig at anchor as well... Mission critical.

Unless you are requiring enormous amounts of electricity, you can make do with 12v, an inverter probably 2,000 watts, solar, wind generator, high output alternator(s) and smart regulator and not have to run a generator. They're noisy too.

I managed fine with an engine driven refer, large 8D batts and 110 watts of solar. I did run the engine between 1 and 2 hrs a day which charged the batts, got me in and out of anchorages, cooled the fridge and produced hot water.

Sailing between Islands is a day sail (12 hrs) or less. But you want a reliable autopilot.

You'll have to maintain all the systems... be prepared... carry spares.

Look for a boat with a large and comfortable cockpit.

Be careful... You'll have a great time.
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Old 26-03-2013, 10:41   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marktla View Post
Jeremiason,

thanks for the reply. I really have a crush on B' & J's since I was a kid. I think most production boats are all built good, its just I find french boats more sleek..

also now I am leaning more to buy an ex-charter 1st boat to get used to it and many ex-charters I am looking at are Beneteaus and Jeanneaus

I checked the TUI brokerage website. is there any other websites that have ex-charter boat listings ?

I am thinking of having a bowthruster or the new docking system if I can get a newer boat.

some of the ex-charter boats have over 3000 hours on the engine. is that something I should worry about ?

do I really need an AC in the caribbean ? do ACs work on batteries? yes but drains the batteries or it just doesnt work, the genset should be on all the time ?

where else I can get shore power other than the marinas ?

thanks.
You might check here too.
http://www.yachtworld.com/bviyachtsa...htsales_0.html
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Old 26-03-2013, 10:50   #10
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Re: Choosing a Boat for a 6 Month - 1 yr Caribbean Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by marktla View Post
hi all.. I am thinking of sailing the caribbean for 6 months or 1 year ( can split it into 4 x 3 monts or 2 x 6 months ) I pretty much wanna cruise around, set the route to where the wind allows me... see as much as possible..

I may be leaving from Florida or start somewhere in the caribbean if I end up buying a boat already there...or have it delivered somewhere...

I really would like to buy a brand new boat.. 38-40'.. beneteau or jeanneau...( catalina or hunter maybe ) or maybe a very clean used boat..only couple of years old...

here are a few of my newbie questions...

1- what kind of upgrades I should do other than solar panel and wind generators, radar, long lines, extra anchors ? is there a list of must-have stuff on a sailboat for caribbean waters?
Forego the radar. I love it but for a one time 6 month cruise it's not necessary.

I'd like to have AC, run the fridge 24 hours and have an ice maker, TV, dvd player etc.. onboard... I am okay to run the engine or generator for couple of hours every other day..or get into a marina every 10 days...
You will need to run the Gen set whenever the AC is on. If you are going to avoid the summer hurricane season, you probably dont need AC.

do I really need a blue water boat ? thicker hull ? most charter boats are jeanneaus, beneteaus..so I guess I should be alright ? what are the chances of crashing into a container in the caribbean ? or something else that could sink my boat ?
No you dont need a "blue water boat". You would rarely be sailing at night and most passages will be daysails.

2- how tough is the weather out there in the caribbean and how hard is to sail caribbean waters ? how long is the longest passage ? lets say I take the thorny path...( don't know much about it yet ) I been sailing since I was 13, just not have so much experience on the open water or in the ocean.. I am always okay to hire an experienced captain for tough passages etc.. I may be sailing solo sometimes..
Genreally, the longest passages are Florida to Bahamas (~8 hours), Turks to Dominican Republic (1 day), DR to PR (overnight), Grenada to Trinidad, (Overnight)
which books I should read in order to plan this trip ? currently I am following couple of sailing blogs and googling around...
The Thorny Path

3- if I choose to buy a brand new boat? when is the best time to get one ? last years models at boat shows ? or just order thru an authorized dealer and negotiate a price ?
I would seriously consider buying in the islands, unless you are intent on seeing the DR and Bahamas first.
4- do you know any sailing schools in the caribbean to get hands on experience ? not the basic stuff but more like an advanced sailing classes.. ? 1 or 2 weeks long... including long passages.. sailing at night..?

thanks. / mark
Hope this helps.
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Old 26-03-2013, 11:17   #11
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Re: Choosing a Boat for a 6 Month - 1 yr Caribbean Cruising

You might be interested in this:

ICW and the Bahamas

Click on the Journal, left pane. Good reading, with a valuable appendix.
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Old 14-04-2013, 16:08   #12
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Re: Choosing a Boat for a 6 Month - 1 yr Caribbean Cruising

From the nature of your questions, it's clear you haven't done much cruising. While this forum is a great resource for specific questions, you are going to have a ton of them and you'll be 'drinking from a firehose' trying to digest all the opinions here.

Instead, get a good book on cruising and read it. There are lots out there, but I think Calder's Cruising Handbook is particularly good. He talks a lot about boat selection and equipment selection. Buy the book before you buy the boat.

Then buy the boat and go sailing....

Cheers,
Colin
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