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Old 18-01-2015, 07:08   #1
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Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

My wife and I are in the process of Sailboat buying. I see large amounts of conversations about "coastal cruising" and "Blue water sailing" and what amounts to suitable boats and designs for each.

My confusion is what constitutes each type.

For example. Our cruising would entail, day trips. Weekend trip around the fl keys, Year long cruises every few years around the Caribbean, perhaps a few east coast great loops. Most of the gulf of mexico. I would never anticipate a transoceanic passage of any kind.

Does such cruising constitute coastal cruising or would a so-called blue water boat be needed? Sailboat would be roughly 80's on age, sloop or ketch fiberglass hull. 34-45 foot.

thoughts?
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Old 18-01-2015, 07:18   #2
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

One reason you see so many debates of this topic is that there is no fixed definition of these terms.

I for one think "Blue Water" or "offshore" are way overused terms. The USCG's definition of "near coastal" is 250nm from land or less. That's hard to accomplish in the Caribbean basin, so anywhere in the Carib you are likely to be "coastal cruising".

IMHO what most cruisers actually do, and what you are describing as your plans, is "coastal cruising".
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Old 18-01-2015, 08:11   #3
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

Hi,

only half way in jest: The only difference is that offshore the question of whether you really want to be out there does not come up. Once you're more than 100 miles offshore you simply got to take what gets thrown at you.

Now to the detail: If your boat cannot handle nasty weather, don't stray more than a few hours from your safe haven. If it can, the difference is in the equipment you have. For example you won't ever need a drogue near the coast because you'll be back safely long before things get bad enough.

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Old 18-01-2015, 14:02   #4
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

One of the defining characteristics of the areas you mention sailing in/to is "shallow." As you look for boats, you may want to focus on shoal keel designs. Lots of fun gunk holes not accessible if you draw much more than 5'.
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Old 18-01-2015, 14:35   #5
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

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Originally Posted by essej4269 View Post
My wife and I are in the process of Sailboat buying. I see large amounts of conversations about "coastal cruising" and "Blue water sailing" and what amounts to suitable boats and designs for each.

My confusion is what constitutes each type.

For example. Our cruising would entail, day trips. Weekend trip around the fl keys, Year long cruises every few years around the Caribbean, perhaps a few east coast great loops. Most of the gulf of mexico. I would never anticipate a transoceanic passage of any kind.

Does such cruising constitute coastal cruising or would a so-called blue water boat be needed? Sailboat would be roughly 80's on age, sloop or ketch fiberglass hull. 34-45 foot.

thoughts?
There are so many passions attached to those terms that I think that they probably create more confusion than enlightenment.

Boats are all different, and built with all kinds of different priorities in mind. You cannot possibly sum all that up in a couple of terms. Some are floating condos, others are floating tanks, some built for speed, some for comfort, others for looks. Do you want a cat? A mono? Speed important to you? Strength? Comfort? Space? How much can you spend? 100k? A million? More? Less? How long is a piece of string?

You just have to look at a bunch of them and decide for yourself what you like. The good news is that your proposed use is a very standard, mainstream mission for a sailboat. A large percentage of boats you can buy will do that just fine.

Not all boats are equal in terms of strength and seaworthiness. You'll figure that out yourself if you look at enough boats. "Coastal" sailing is not necessarily less demanding on those qualities -- nearly all sailors, whereever they sail, would be glad to have an extra margin of strength, seaworthiness, and safety, but those are qualities that generally cost money. So if you have more money to spend than the cheapest boat available, you might consider something stronger, more seaworthy, and better made than your average white boat. If you don't, though, then just buy what you like and don't worry about it. It's pretty hard to go really wrong.

P.S. As someone above mentioned -- you are talking about shallow places. For that, you might think about a catamaran, which don't have keels and thus much less draft.
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Old 18-01-2015, 15:14   #6
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

The areas you plan on 'boating' in, particularly the Gulf of Mexico and the 'offshore' route to the Caribbean - if you were to ever do that - suggests you need a boat capable of surviving 'offshore conditions'. It only takes one experience being exposed to a storm in the Gulf to understand why. Been there, done that and there's nothing I've experienced in the South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Atlantic any worse. So, a boat with an appropriate sail plan, incorporating a yankee or storm jib; and mainsail with 3 reefs is recommended. Design characteristics including weight to length ratio and righting moment are important considerations. The boat must be able to heave-to reliably too.
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Old 18-01-2015, 16:44   #7
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

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The areas you plan on 'boating' in, particularly the Gulf of Mexico and the 'offshore' route to the Caribbean - if you were to ever do that - suggests you need a boat capable of surviving 'offshore conditions'. It only takes one experience being exposed to a storm in the Gulf to understand why. Been there, done that and there's nothing I've experienced in the South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Atlantic any worse. So, a boat with an appropriate sail plan, incorporating a yankee or storm jib; and mainsail with 3 reefs is recommended. Design characteristics including weight to length ratio and righting moment are important considerations. The boat must be able to heave-to reliably too.
Good point. Conditions in "near coastal" waters can easily be as nasty as offshore and the Gulf of Mexico in particular can be a nasty body of water. So its a mistake to assume that a boat for coastal cruising use doesn't need to be as strong.

A boat for extended offshore use might be over engineered though to take more prolonged abuse.
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Old 18-01-2015, 18:06   #8
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

I define myself as a coastal cruiser because I can receive accurate forecasts for the length of my passages. It's quite possible to determine the likelihood of encountering a significant low pressure system or accompanying disturbance along a front within a three day period. Coastal cruising can be more taxing while breaking inlets and avoiding shallows, but the only storms you need encounter are the short squalls that are associated with thunder storms. Certainly, these can be violent, but they are short lived.

I interpret blue water cruisers as those whose passages outreach accurate weather forecasts.
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Old 18-01-2015, 18:15   #9
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Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

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I define myself as a coastal cruiser because I can receive accurate forecasts for the length of my passages. It's quite possible to determine the likelihood of encountering a significant low pressure system or accompanying disturbance along a front within a three day period. Coastal cruising can be more taxing while breaking inlets and avoiding shallows, but the only storms you need encounter are the short squalls that are associated with thunder storms. Certainly, these can be violent, but they are short lived.

I interpret blue water cruisers as those whose passages outreach accurate weather forecasts.

Given , if you have a few dollars to spend you can get worldwide weather routing , all sailing is coastal .

I would define it as bluewater sailing where the option is not available to seek shelter in time to avoid bad weather.. That could be 5 miles off or 500 miles off


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Old 19-01-2015, 09:17   #10
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

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Given , if you have a few dollars to spend you can get worldwide weather routing , all sailing is coastal .

I would define it as bluewater sailing where the option is not available to seek shelter in time to avoid bad weather.. That could be 5 miles off or 500 miles off


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In my experience coastal weather forecasts were always more accurate than offshore forecasts.
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Old 19-01-2015, 09:17   #11
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

My definition of bluewater cruising is being at sea continuously for more than a week. Almost anyone can manage a few days of being tired, wet and unwashed, no matter how rough the passage. But people change in a week. Some are good shipmates no matter what. Others transmogrify into monsters. Buy a good strong monohull with a 120 Deg. righting moment and deep reefable sail plan, and you won't have serious boat problems. The problems will be the people. You will be responsible for keeping them rested, fed and watered, healthy and contented. The last one is the hardest.
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Old 19-01-2015, 09:49   #12
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

I'd rather sail offshore, out of sight of land than sail near any coast anytime. Intuitively, I'd guess more sailors come to grief 'coastal sailing' than sailing well offshore. It doesn't take much time to end up on the rocks, particularly if the sailor(s) are ill prepared on a boat unsuitable for the conditions at hand. I'm always amazed by the ariel photos taken n the Gulf of Mexico from Coast Guard rescue helicopters of a boat sans sails, rolling violently, all because of a lack of preparation and experience. While there are instances of sailors setting off on ocean passages ill prepared, it is most likely to occur more frequently among the holiday, weekend crowd.
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Old 19-01-2015, 10:07   #13
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

The most simple measure of a boat's cruising capability is its tankage. My boat carries 200 gallons of water and 100 gallons of fuel. That not only gives me offshore range, but also the ability to spend time at anchor.

A cruising boat isn't just a means of getting somewhere, it's also very much about being somewhere. Do you see yourselves ever spending a week or two at anchor? What will you do during that time?

When purchasing my last two boats, my starting point was the access the boats give me to swimming and diving, especially scuba diving. I wanted a large cockpit with a walk-through, sugar-scoop transom. I wanted a boat that would carry a RIB with a 15hp engine on davits, and two sea kayaks on the foredeck. And, being 6'3" tall, I insisted upon adequate headroom. I was confident that once I found a boat with those capabilities plus adequate tankage, I wasn't going to have to worry about whether the marketing department labeled it "bluewater."
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Old 19-01-2015, 11:40   #14
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

34' to 45' is a pretty big range. If you really want this thread to take off ask about particular brands or models of boats.
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Old 19-01-2015, 11:58   #15
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Re: Difference Between Coastal And Blue Water Cruising

Doesn't the difference between coastal and blue water cruising really just come down to which internet forum you read?
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