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Old 05-07-2016, 17:52   #1
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Help finding the right cruising boat

Hello,

I am a relatively new sailor. With actually only about 3 years of pulling sheets and studying the art. I currently am on a large land locked reservoir in Texas and sail about 3 times a week. Boat inventory as follows: 2 sunfish, amf zuma, compac 16, and mac 25. All of these boats have been rescued from neglect and returned to serviceable condition with my own hands. The two sunfish were pulled from the bottom of the lake. One was intact with rudder and hardware. The other was just a hull. So having nothing to work with, I made the sail, patched holes, added hardware... removed 200 lbs of mud from inside the hull.

I have 4 kids ranging from 4 to 12 (3 boys, 1 girl... which I assume matters.) My plan.... work in progress. We live on Lake Livingston in Texas. Ideally, I would motor the boat down the trinity river (mast down) (I would like to keep the boat close to home to be able to work on it, and fit it out easily) out through trinity bay, (rig up) and then easterly towards New Orleans, Gulf Shores, Fl panhandle thru to the keys. Then maybe venture out to the Bahamas, and on down to central america. To take a term from the Pardey's, "Sail as long as it is fun" We are not independently wealthy, but do have a kitty of about 1500- 2000 usd a month to work with. I don't like to motor, much at all, and would only use the motor in and out of port. Nor do we like the marina life for extended stays. Our plan would be on the hook most of the time, and plenty of adventurous excursions to land. Exploring, mangroves, old forts, national parks, local life... etc. I guess we are by definition anti-tourists. My budget for a boat is about 40,000 usd (explained as follows 25,000 usd or less to purchase, and 15,000 usd to fit.) Keep in mind I am very mechanically inclined(hvac business owner, electrician, and home builder (Specialized in custom cabinets) Spent time in the US Navy in my 20's, and now in my late 30's. I have read many books associated with cruising. Including the entire Pardey series. (no I am not looking to go in a small wooden boat with no motor :-) We home school our kiddos already, so no issue there. Ok, I think that should suffice to paint a picture.

I have researched almost everyday for 2 yrs looking for THE boat. Visited marinas, even been out on a few of other peoples boats in the Galveston area. I have an idea of what I think would be best, but have fell short of anything to fit those parameters.

My idea is a shoal draft of 4' or less. Center cockpit sloop or cutter rigged ( not ruling out a ketch though, like the balance, but don't want to overwhelm my crew.) I would like a tiller instead of wheel ( less to go wrong, less weight, simple to wind vane, typically easier to fix, more feel of the boat... etc. Interested in small cockpit well with ample drainage. Aft cabin with boat comfortable at sleeping 6 to 8 people. There are many out there that fit these parameters, but from all that I have read, and witnessed this is where it gets difficult. I would like the ability to point well, and sail well in light air. Tacking ability would be nice also. Wide side decks (for going forward, and places for the children to lounge.) Well thought out galley (could alter to fit if needed) Center board to extend draft for pointing ability. Speed is not a huge factor, don't want a snail either. The big kicker was trying to get all this in something 36' or less. Have looked at just about everything I can come by, (HC to WS) and everything seems to have one major draw back or another. I guess the closest I come is a Morgan OI 41. My draw back is pointing performance, (construction? conflicting views on that) and maintenance expenditures of a 40+ ft boat. Thought maybe a Gemini 30 was the answer for a little bit, but the thought of the waves pounding like mad, being terribly over weight with all the kids and (kids stuff), and hobby horsing motion ruled that out. I have plenty of time to wait for the right deal to come along on the right boat. Just looking for a direction to point my compass so to speak.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 05-07-2016, 18:29   #2
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

You said "we" homeschool the kids. Do you have a partner? What is his or her opinions, wants, and needs? Are you planning on taking all the kids?

I think you are going to have prioritize putting a lot of people on the boat. 6-8 on an under 36' boat is just going to require a very specific layout. Have you considered an ex racer with pipe berths? How your kids (especially the near teens) with very little privacy?
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Old 05-07-2016, 18:36   #3
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Please don't discount the necessity of a decent keel. I am not anti shoal draft, but the keel does serve a purpose and you can only reduce it so much before it becomes useless. Without a decent keel the boat will perform poorly, period. It doesn't matter what wing shape you make it, you need a certain amount of surface area and a certain amount of mass far enough below the boat or performance will be crappy. With a stubby keel you will need to reef very early, reducing your ability to punch through the waves that come along with wind. Without much of a keel you are buying a powerboat, that can't sail well in anything more in a gentle breeze. Just as a sail needs to perform well, so does a keel; they work in tandem. The keel is not just an annoying appendage, but performance device.

In my opinion, a 40 foot boat needs more than a 4 foot keel. I may well get blasted for this viewpoint by the short keel owners, but I have enough experience to stand my ground comfortably on this one.
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Old 05-07-2016, 18:48   #4
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

G'day Huson, and welcome to CF.

We get a lot of posts like yours, but you do a better job of outlining your choice parameters than most, so well done for a first posting.

My first take is that your desired features are hard to meet in 36 feet, and perhaps in the price range that you specify. In particular, IMO center cockpits don't do very well in such small hulls, and shoehorning even 6 let alone 8 decent berths into such a boat isn't a plausible tradeoff. Then, there some specific contradictions in your ideas. For instance, center cockpits do not often mate with tiller steering, and very shallow draft with decent sailing performance to windward and in light airs is hard to find in the real world, especially in a boat heavily loaded with cruising and "kid gear".

I suspect that you will need to alter your parameters a bit... either more dollars for a larger vessel or rethinking your gotta have list. There is always the hope of finding a remarkable bargain and having it all and in your price range, but if you want to actualize your plan while the children are young, waiting for the bargain of the century may not work out well.

Do keep on visiting OPBs, and sailing on them when possible. In particular, it is useful to sail on them in less than good conditions... and this is not easy to accomplish, for few folks like to sail in poor wx, and even more so with guests on board! But, it is a more realistic test of suitability, for nearly all boats work well in goldilocks conditions. Unfortunately, with cruising plans such as you outline, adverse conditions occur with great regularity, and you will have to deal with them.

Please don't take these thoughts as "nay saying", for I think your plans are in general laudable, and I strongly support taking children cruising. It is just that a reality check is often needed in the early planning stages of such ventures, and reality is at odds with much of the literature available.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 05-07-2016, 19:02   #5
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Starting from the middle and working out: Six(?) people. Water for six people. Food and galley for six people. Minimal privacy for six people. Study space for four children. Infrequent time in marinas, so more of the above. Cockpit for six people. You're gonna need a bigger boat. You might take a look at catamarans - they have a lot more space for the rig size, big cockpits and decks, and are shallow draft.
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Old 05-07-2016, 19:13   #6
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huson View Post
-----Center cockpit sloop ----- I would like a tiller instead of wheel ----- simple to wind vane -----
I think you would find it difficult to put a wind vane on a center cockpit vessel equipped with a tiller.

Just to turn your thinking a bit sideways, have you considered a catamaran? With your skills, and the family requirements, and proposed cruising grounds, something like a 36-40' Wharram might fit well. Only complaint you might have would be lack of pointing ability, but it should be adequate for cruising.
There are lots of designs by James Wharram/Hanneke Boon out there doing it. You won't read much about them on forums like this, but some Google research should turn up some good info.
Good hunting.
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Old 05-07-2016, 20:55   #7
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

You need a lot a bang for your buck, the OI41 might be the best bang for your buck. If you are trying to stay 35ft and under, look for a Fantasia 35. About the most room you can get in a 35ft'er monohull. I sail on one back in the 70's with our family of 4, had some great times. There are few layouts, just make sure it's a MKII.

FANTASIA 35 (BINGHAM) sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com

http://www.cruisingworld.com/sailboa...er-fantasia-35

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Old 05-07-2016, 21:47   #8
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Yes, I do have a partner... she (my wife) is learning how to sail. She is going to take some asa classes this year, (and messes about in the com pac from time to time.... she likes it b/c I have an auto pilot on it...which makes it easy to single hand). I am continuing to get better with the navigation side this year. Mainly for a loss of gps situation. She likes safe, and doesn't care much for lots of heel. Thus, why we explored the cat option. After taking a trip on a Gemini 30, prout 37 and a Leopard we decided that the overall motion of the cats was not for us. Not to mention the noise inside the cabin of the Gemini in short chop.
As for a racer, I had reservations as to maintenence. I haven't been on, or in one (yet), but it is my understanding that they are typically built up light, and relitively more fragile than a solid cruising boat. I did like that the interiors was/are nearly a blank canvas to fit out, and also the amount of canvas that typically come with them. Relitively light displacement per length? Deep draft fin keels?... deep skeg hung rudders? did you have a brand in mind as far as a racer is concerned? I wonder if the beam might be of some concern? I had been looking in the 11-12 ft beam range.

As for the kids, they should be good. Obviously, teenage years are questionable, but they have traveled well by land, and tent camping 15 of the national parks in the last two years. We are open-minded about the whole thing also. Whether it all works out for us or not,(tight quaters and teenages) it's the experience we are after, giving ourselves, and our children different perspectives of life. I guess best said.... we don't mind roughing it, but like making it as comfortable and safe as possible.
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Old 05-07-2016, 21:51   #9
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Thank you, that is one I haven't looked at. I will check them out.
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Old 05-07-2016, 22:11   #10
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Ok couple ?'s on the fantasia. With roughly 56 sq ft of sail per ton, that puts her near the west sail style of craft.(sailing performance wise?) I read they had a stay option.... which means to me that you could cutter rig and add sail area? I.... and my wife like the layout. With only 71 made, and more like 30 something mk II might be hard to find one. I like neddles in a haystack though :-) could always buy an affordable mk1, and add the skeg hung closer to the stern.... its only time right :-)
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Old 05-07-2016, 22:27   #11
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

They are built like a brick. We did place 2nd in a race with that boat, going up the bay in a bad NE'er. Of course 80% of the boats dropped out. Adding a single luff to your sail quiver helps. But the MKI will kill you sailing downwind in a breeze. There are two on Yatchworld.com now, both seem high, one sold a few months ago for around $27K
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Old 05-07-2016, 23:21   #12
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Thanks Jim,

I am with you on the tiller, and center cockpit... just more of a wish really. Really looking to sleep 6 comfortably, and have the room to take the grand parents for a day or to here and there. In reality, the goal is for about a 1 yr to 1.5 yr of cruising as a family. By then the oldest two will be off on their own adventures. Best guess is about 2 yrs b4 we have purchased, and are fit out ready for the sea. The budget might get an expansion by then also who knows. Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 05-07-2016, 23:37   #13
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Keep in mind the Copeland's a family of 5 sailed around the world in a Benni 38 so you need to find one more bunk.
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Old 05-07-2016, 23:46   #14
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

Steve,
Thank you for the insight. I tend to agree about the keel. If the mac 25 has taught me anything it is that keel up it performs like crap to windward.... although keel down it only performs less like crap :-) seriously though, my thought was shoal draft,so that on off watch I wasn't in my bunk wondering if we were gonna run aground in the shallow gulf coast and keys. Also, being able to tuck into some out of the way ancorages along the way, or making a run up a smallish river. While even at 4ft it is very possible to run aground in these areas.
I understand the principles of lift, and the hydrodynamics of the keel.(and the importance of both) I guess my question was btr stated as does a boat exist within or close to these parameters. On the keel specifically now, would you opt for shoal draft ,and piece of mind, or deep draft and pointing/ performance? The age old question as it seems. ...
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Old 06-07-2016, 00:01   #15
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Re: Help finding the right cruising boat

OK with 4 kids they each need a permanent berth in the main cabin. They really each need their own space if you are going to cruise very long. Try camping it where some bodies berth at night is a table bench during the day and you will have one or more unhappy camper before long.

You also need a 5th good seaberth in the main cabin for the off watch parent. A dinette (transverse benches) doesn't work but a settee (fore and aft benches) would.

All the rest of your desires are going to have to give some if you want to stay in budget.

The 3 boats that come to mind:

Cal40
+: 4 very good or excellent berths, fast, 2 settees in the main cabin, reasonably wide side decks, reasonable draft (5.5').
-: Poorly arranged galley, though by companionway.

Columbia43 $20k
+: tons of space and headroom. Kids berths are all amidships, wonderful deck space, galley by companionway.
-: 7' draft, kids berth stack like bunk beds. Off watch parent has to bunk on a U-shaped settee, not great but not terrible either. Wheel.

Pearson40 $30k
+: 4'3" draft centerboard, galley right by companionway, flat deck
-: wheel, short one berth for kids. Probably would have the oldest bunk on a settee, but might still be a problem.

With 3 kids it would be the Pearson by a mile. With the 4th kid I'd go with the Cal.

Lowest price Cal40 on YachtWorld currently is $50k. I have seen them as low as $30k. Wait for it and one will come around again.


A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground you would never try to refloat it.
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