I like the discussion here. Generally speaking, sailing closer to land is more dangerous than sailing in the open ocean for the reasons outlined above.
However, the difference between "Coastal" and "Bluewater" has more to do with the fact that when you're coastal hopping from port to port, your fuel/water storage
is far less critical than on, say, a 3,000 mile leg. Also things like spare parts
, redundant systems, simplicity of operation and (generally speaking) motion stability are also factored into this equation.
Nobody wants to cruise
in 50knots of wind
, but there's not much choice if you get caught in something between the west coast
, or between Guam
and the PI. If you're going up and down the coast and bad weather
looks incoming, it's not generally a big deal to find an anchorage with at least reasonable shelter and ride it out before continuing onwards.
Also, there are a few different 'classes' of sailors, at least as I see them.
1. Racers: How they behave and what they value has very little actual value to cruisers, but they're a vocal, important part of the community. Still, form follows function, and racing
technology has long been the driving force in cruising sailboat design.
2. Day Sailors: This is the hobbyist who loves the wind
, water and boats, but for whatever reason sticks to day trips, or weekenders at pretty much the most. Many powerboat owners in this group.
3. Coastal Cruisers: These people love their boats, and the sense of freedom/adventure that comes with living aboard
for extended periods of weeks, or sometimes months at a time. Usually, it seems like these people enjoy traveling in their home, similar to an avid RV owner. A significant portion of this group still has a house, which they spend more than half the time at. Again, many power boat
owners in this group.
4. Long Distance Cruisers: These are the people who essentially live on their boats. They're the crusty old buggers, the pleasant retired couple, and the wild-eyed, scraggly types who look like they haven't slept in three weeks when they pull into the marina. Their trips aren't measured in days, but rather months, with the various legs between stops being measured at the very least in weeks. This is almost entirely populated by sailboat owners.
(the above are all generalizations, and they may not be totally accurate, but the sense of division is well-conveyed, I think)
So I think what people are conveying when they talk about Coastal or Bluewater is not so much about sturdiness, or requisite seamanship skills, but they're talking about what they want in amenities and design. Obviously you can sail around the world in a 26' MacGregor
if you wanted to, but I don't think even the most contentious among us would consider it a desirable "Bluewater" boat. However, for hopping up and down the coast it would be a marvelous little craft.
I don't think I could buy a boat that carried less than a hundred gallons each of water and fuel
, but that's just a personal bit of dogma. I understand that people have gone farther than I have (and probably enjoyed themselves more than I have!) with less than that in both departments, as well as many other things I consider 'essential' which are really anything but, in the strictest sense of the word.