This is not meant to be an all encompassing list of how to evaluate boats for cruising offshore
. Just some off the head
ramblings. Many of the posts above are great and have opinions about the same things and have pointed out many others than listed here.
We just got another boat, specifically for going offshore
. It is night and day compared to our previous offshore boat (which was a Whitby 42 - Ted Brewer design). It was very heavy, center cockpit
(I love center cockpits for offshore), and was a ketch
. The ketch
rig meant the main mast
was shorter which meant the mainsail
was much easier to handle. The ketch rig gave it more options for sail configurations for different conditions, and, it had an inner forestay although it was not a "cutter-rigged ketch" really. It sailed Ok in reaching conditions, could hardly sail to weather
in good conditions, but was solid, comfortable, and dry in lousy conditions. It had good seabunks with lee cloths on both sides of the salon
- very desirable in my book. A narrow u-shaped galley
. A solid powerful engine
. Good tankage (may be too much). A cutaway full keel
and a keel
. It's main was also an in the mast roller furler
. It made handling/reefing the main so much easier in heavy conditions. It dramatically reduced the time needed on deck
to reef. But it also was not an efficient sail.
All of the above I looked for in a new boat, except for a full keel. A full keel is more comfortable and handles "easier" in big seas. I did want a boat that points to windward better, and a faster boat. I wanted big tankage, but settled for less. The galley
is not as compact or as deep as I would prefer. My wife has been thrown out of the galley and across the boat more than once when she did not have a belt on. A belt would be useful on the new but not as secure, but she the opposite side of the galley is a close-in wall so the damage would not be as great.
It is not a center-cockpit, something I looked for but could not find in my price
range for a boat in good condition. The new cockpit
is as close to a center cockpit
as you would think for its design since 4 feet were added aft of the cockpit
by the previous owner. I did want a heavy boat and got that. It is older and stoutly built. I required that. It does not have two seaberths in the salon
, and the one is definitely not as secure as I would like. I worry about that - truly a compromise I may regret.
rig is tall and powerful so I can point well and fast(er). I don't believe for one second all the claims for fast rigs being able to outsail storms - especially to miss them, or even to get out of them faster. To do that you have to be in the right kind of storm going in the right direction. As far as just staying in port until the weather forecast
is 100% favorable - that is fine unless there are always squalls and/or gales for the entire season in the course you have to take. We have waited 10-14 days several times and still got the crap kicked out of us several times.
100% on the mark is a dry boat. Keep the water
on the outside. Leaking cockpits/portlights are depressing and expensive and more than an inconvenience. Friends have had their nav stations drenched ruining copious amounts of PCs, radios, gear
, and books/charts. I have had to sleep in a berth with a continuous drip and there are very few things more miserable (never on one of my boats).
Of course, you want the thru hulls and hoses to be 100%. Stout, well-maintained, and properly installed. Otherwise you will have to replace them. That would affect which boat I would go for. The engine
should be a well-known brand with parts
available for wherever you intend to cruise
, with lots of spares. I like seeing boats where the previous owner had stocked the important spares in advance as it gave me more comfort in how they thought and in how they maintained the important bits on the boat.
Handholds, handholds, handholds. Enough said. Protection on deck
for moving around in big seas. Lines, blocks, and winches set up for ease of use in all conditions, with thought given to those heavy conditions. E.g. can you reef the main while short-handed.
- critical as others have noted. Solid, backups, spares. Know how to use your backups and how to rig them. Not all boats are setup well for this. With a a windvane
pilot or the ability to add one.
Protections from the elements in the cockpit is a major factor on my buying
requirements. The ads with open cockpits and small dodgers where you can see the sails
at the helm
at all times look great in the ads. Not so much when it is pouring rain and green water
from the bow. The sun is the flip-side and just as big a problem. I would not have an offshore boat without a good dodger
that extends past the companionway
and a bimini
that gives some protection at the helm
. Not so good racing
or in good weather but worth its weight in gold in bad weather or intense sun. Nice to have some shade in your living room in the tropics too, or at anchor
in the rain.
The list goes on and on as far as what I used to disqualify potential candidates. But there are always compromises on some things. Some things are musts though.
I know this is a years-old thread but many will look at it anew since this is an ongoing issue for the wannabe cruisers who are coming in to keep this lifestyle alive. Tons of books
available too. One I just picked up is "The Voyagers Handbook" by Beth Leonard. Not the easiest to read if you are a newbie but it covers almost all the bases for three different budget
levels with rationales given for all. But one thing is for sure - for every opinion there will be a diametrically opposite one. Good luck.