I think ssullivan's statement zeros in on how Catalina
et al. sell so many boats to folks who are motivated to go cruising:
"I would love to be able to just buy a boat for less money
and go now rather than wait for many more years."
Of course you would; we all would. This is why all these BB's constantly feature threads on the suitability for open-ended cruising of either an earlier era production boat or one of the affordable, high volume mass manufactured boats that come off an assembly line today.
One of the main reasons production boats (and their reputations) survive when purchased for 'cruising' is that most actual cruising is very benign and the boats face modest challenges. This is because a) most buyers don't end up cruising them at all beyond family
vacations; b) those that are cruised are taken down to Mexico
from SoCal or out to the Caribbean
from the East Coast
, or down to Spain
from somewhere near or above the Channel (in balance, short and not terribly challenging routes for most boats when sailed in season); c) the cruising period, when trips home are factored out, only lasts months or perhaps a year or two, and d) because the tough piece of the route
is sometimes done by a trucker or Dockwise, not that this is a bad thing in itself. (WRT this last point, getting a Catalina 30
down to Oz really is pretty much a milk run. Getting it from there back to the U.S. is where it gets challenging, and where the suitability of the boat for blue water cruising is better tested).
"We looked at another boat today, a 44 foot Gulfstar
... I kept wondering why I couldn't accomplish the same thing with a Morgan Out Island
or some other "lesser" boat."
Whoa...let's back up a minute. First off, Gulfstar and Morgan
boats were built in the same city, by the same workers (who would oscillate back and forth as production volumes changed and as someone was fired at one place and sought out work at the other), relying on the same suppliers (e.g. JTR still makes stainless hardware
for boats in a huge facility but with only one worker as it's now supporting those of us who remodel/refurb/mod our older boats), built to the same basic standards using the same first generation GRP technologies and with the same audiences in mind (principally sailors in shallow coastal waters and the charter
trade). When you are looking at a OI, you are looking at a Gulfstar in a different suit of clothes. Second, if you would like to go sooner rather than later, why are you looking at a 44' boat? No matter what price
you pay for the boat, this size preference drives up the cost which the cruising kitty will ultimately see tremendously. I think it's elsewhere on this BB where a Canadian chap is looking at a 36' sloop
for a Pacific run that is very ruggedly built, has a functional layout, good offshore gear
, and a decent rep out in the Pacific; the asking price
is half of the Gulfstar you looked at. Why would a 36' sloop
"In a lot of ways, it would seem theoretically possible that any boat could really go anywhere if well equipped."
This is logic supported by the advertising in magazines because much of the commercial
activity in recreational boating
these days is in selling systems (and then newer systems, and then more systems), all of them supposedly necessary for 'safe', 'comfortable' cruising. And pushing equipment
is also an understandable way in which boat builders can convey their product to be fully found and also attractive (even if the hull
laminate is marginal or the mast
not properly supported). Boats that are 'well equipped' may or may not make it anywhere because there are more fundamental issues involved: structural integrity, the seaworthiness of the design, the skill of the crew and the routing & timing chosen.
30's have been circumnavigated but, like other selective anecdotal data, that hardly suggests they are suitable for that purpose. Unsuitable boats and/or crews of abysmal competence manage to get themselves to many parts
of the globe, and this usually has to do more with stamina, money, luck and the odds than with seamanship or sound build practices. One Catalina 36
, made somewhat famous on the Web now, left SoCal for Hawaii
but had to be abandoned after a flooding incident due to an underspec'd hatch
was pulled off by a jib
sheet and the loss of steering
because the quandrant attachment was poorly engineeered. Both of these failures illustrate that the details matter, both were addressed by Catalina in subsequent models, and then another Catalina 36
won its class in the Pacific Cup a few years back, about the same time that a Catalina 36 owner found he couldn't turn his wheel
when sailing in Charleston Harbor on a blustery day. (His hull
laminate was inadequate and the hull flexed so much it blocked the quadrant swing).
To my knowledge, there is no way to fair a curve between these data points and one can only, as Kingfish appears to be doing, use your boat thoughtfully and thoroughly, get to know it well, manage it at sea as best you know how, and not try to do more than she seems capable of.
Some day I'm going to finish a draft
I've started on the fool's errand of trying to discuss, in some generic but accurate way, whether production boats are suitable for blue water cruising. It's a question easily stated but all but impossible to answer.
WHOOSH, currently lying Plymouth, England
after visiting the Channel Is. on their Liberation Day...and yes, WHOOSH is a 'production boat'