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Old 30-04-2006, 18:38   #31
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How big is to big?

Are you cruising now?

Can you go full time cruising in the next 3 to 5 years?
if not, your boat is to big.
People go cruising on 16 foot boats for months at a time. It all depends on how badly you want to go.
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Old 30-04-2006, 19:05   #32
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You mentioned that if all the problems mentioned in posts were true then the market would fall out for large boats. Well the reality is that there is only a small market for large boats. The problem with American and Canadian yachting magazines is that they are poorly done. By this I mean, they don't reflect the reality of boats that are used. Even "Pacific Yachting" a magazine mainly geared for BC and the state of Washington mostly reviews large boats. What I am saying about Pacific Yachting is even more true with Sail, Cruising, etc magazines.

Now if you can get to a store that exclusively sells magazine and purchase about three copies of Practical Boat Owner out of England. This magazine really reflects the reality of boating, both over there and here. And what size boat gets the most reviews (and usually they are used boats - a big market over there for used boats) are boats in and around the 24 foot mark - sometimes a little bigger; sometimes smaller. And if you go to marina's in North America, you'll find plenty of 24 to 30 foot boats because that is all you need - and for many all they can afford. I read a statistic in one of the boating books I have (unfortunately I can't recall which one now) but for the year 2001, something like only 850 boats over the size of 37 feet were built that year (sailboats I'm talking about). You'll probably be shocked to read this as the mags give the impression everyone is driving something over 35 feet and its only us poor schmucks that have something smaller.

Most of the books of couples, families, etc circumnavigating the world, or sailing long distances are doing it in boats 37 feet and smaller. I had a good friend single hand a sailboat from the French Polynesian Islands to Vancouver, BC. This experience was so off putting, he almost quit sailing altogether; fortunately he rebounded back.

The larger the boat, the more you need a reasonable crew; its as simple as that. It doesn't matter if your boat is rigged with all the "latest" to run it; when the chips are down and the "hydraulic" whatchamacallit goes south, you need extra bodies. I would say it is more dangerous for a couple to circumnavigate or sail long distances on a 60 footer boat than a 37 foot boat.

Start reading the English magazine - Practical Boat Owner - and you'll discover how the Brits make do with substantially less; and are happy as clams.

The largest boat I lived on and helped out on was the "Oriole" out of Esquimalt, belonging to the Canadian Navy used to train young officers in sailing techniques. I couldn't imagine short handing that puppy.
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Old 30-04-2006, 20:48   #33
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For me, one of the major factors that set the limit on the size of my present boat ... was the weight of the largest sail (sodden of course) that I could manhandle on a pitching deck while getting blasted by spindrift, etc. This implies that 'something' has gone wrong at the worst time possible and that sail has to come OFF and get down below NOW. The answer for me was about a 450 sq. ft. sail at approx. 9 oz. (wet) .... and that is the size of a mainsail on an approx. 40 ft. boat rigged for 'offshore'. Anything larger or heavier than that I simply cant or dont want to handle by myself when my butt is at risk.
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Old 30-04-2006, 21:35   #34
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Hey SG:

Here's a couple quotes for you.

It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word. ~Andrew Jackson


I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way. ~Mark Twain



Not throwing rocks just making jest.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 30-04-2006, 21:52   #35
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Charlie:

If you looked at my occasional tortured spelling -- you'd have quoted that old line:

"People in glass houses, shouldn't throw rocks." ;^) That would have been on-target as well as the Mark Twain quotes.

SG

P.S. -- That reference to the myth of Sisyphus was something that I haven't seen in decades. The last time I heard it used in any context was when it was generally referred to in one of the "West Wing" shows about three years ago. The show was about a group of Chinese refugees from their government's religious oppressions. (I saw about a third of the West Wing shows over the years, it was one of the really thoughtful ones.)
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Old 30-04-2006, 22:25   #36
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SG:

Isn't amazing how much of Greek Mythology hits right on the head to our lives. I loved studying it in college. I kept on reading it for years afterwards but then work got out of hand. I've decided to start reading it to the kids as bedtime stories when I finish Narnia.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 30-04-2006, 23:42   #37
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Cap'n Lindy:

Two of the reasons (there are others...) I recommend you spend a few nights on a small boat offshore is that I think you will experience both how dependent a crew is on the boat's systems and how failure prone the systems can be. The struggle you are having is appreciating how much greater the failure rates are - and how much more of a problem this is for the liveaboard crew - when you are banging the boat around the ocean vs. using it as a marina condo.

A thumbrule that I've seen multiple times and believe is generally valid is that the annual cost of maintaining a long-term, actively sailed cruising sailboat is between 5-10% of its current market value. So if you buy the fairly typical 40' $200K used cutter, you will spend $10-20K/year to support it. Note that this does not cover the cost of operating the boat, so insurance premiums, berthing costs, storage ashore when going home to see the kids, etc. are not included. Also realize that the $200K boat will have cost you perhaps $250 but more likely $275 by the time you feel it has all the features you want and is ready to leave the dock. If you opt for new vs. used, the purchase price ('basically equipped') will be much higher and the prep/mods/added systems costs might be lower.

Many folks will express disagreement with this 5-10% guideline but I don't find many folks who've been out non-stop cruising for 3+ years who do. The reason this changes is that, as someone first buys a boat and preps it for liveaboard cruising, the boat's systems are freshened, all maintenance and a fresh bottom job done, sails mended or replaced, etc. - and then they shove off and discover that they are spending very little on the boat, since they're 'consuming' all the prep and costs of getting the boat ready. It's usually about Year 3 when you start seeing major repairs/replacements.

Jack
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Old 01-05-2006, 01:40   #38
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Thanks again for all the great input everyone,

This is changing directions as we cruise through this but, first I have to agree with KAI slips in California over 60’ are much easier to come by AND you pay more per foot for them.

The grim realities are seeping in about dispatch reliability and equipment failures. Generally are these cyclic as mentioned in time/ use or are these things engineered poorly or too lightly to withstand the use. I do understand weight is the bane of every boat but on a cruiser speced for water sailing">blue water sailing would using heavier equipment make a boat much less prone to these short life cycles?

I am wondering if the big boats are engineered to greater MTBF on systems by the certification process or customer demand. I have read many an ad for the big boats and other then rigging or an engine not one noted major rebuilds. I am saying this rhetorically because I doubt anyone has any input on this subject. Is there a higher grade of hardware used on custom boats compared to well built production boats and at what point or where in the market are these changes made. Looking at boat I haven’t looked at much smaller then 50’ but at that size the price disparity is amazing; a nice Dutch boat for 2 million and a charter special for 75 grand.

I will add this to the fray, as I said earlier I buy superior quality and it has not failed to return in cost of use. My car had the distinction of being the most expensive car sold by Mercedes in the years they were made and if you ask most people even in the industry they would say the upkeep and service would be quite high. In my 12 years of ownership this has been the best car I ever owned and very reasonable to maintain. I have got to believe that there is a boat out there like a Mercedes, built to last and with high quality components. Are the European boats built to high standards, it seems like few if any American built boats bring the prices the boats built elsewhere do?

Steve

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Old 01-05-2006, 05:07   #39
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Steve:

You're asking some very pertinent Q's and analogies to learn from. A couple of observations:

YOUR car has proven reliable and you paid a relatively large amount for it...but is this the basis for a valid cause-effect conclusion? However you answer the Q re: your car, you'll find this kind of issue all the time in boat and systems choices. There is no correlation of which I'm aware that a given size of boats (think displacement, BTW - not length) - let's say 40,000-50,000# displacement - and how they are engineered or built. This is because yard skills vary, owners system choices vary, NA's don't all design to the same detail and thoughtfulness, and other reasons. A good way to see this proven is to watch larger yachts that call into major entry ports after crossing an ocean. Examples might be St. George's, Bermuda; Horta, Faial, Azores; Lisboa, Portugal and many others. The larger boats typically have more systems and bigger crews, and they typically are supported by bigger budgets. IME they more often produce a higher ratio of problems even tho' they're 'ride' might be smoother and they are better able to accommodate the seas and weather. Complexity is the driver here, and bad boat gear ('junque') just makes it worse. Good gear improves the odds...but I've seen Hinkleys that suffer from egregious problems because the 'quality builder' wasn't and the 'systems engineer' for the project wasn't.

Bottom line: you want correlations, which is a fair thing to expect, but they are relatively hard to come by. From what I hear, Nordhavn is one good example of a builder that does have their share of problems but are above the curve, yet they are very sophisticated boats. Again, I'd encourage you to take a look at one with its owner and see what you think - just as a benchmark against which to assess sailboats of the size and comfort you are interested in.

Jack
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Old 01-05-2006, 05:26   #40
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”...Is there a higher grade of hardware used on custom boats compared to well built production boats...”
On a custom build, the owner is generally able to specify the exact equipment desired, hence determines (to a large extent) the quality of hardware & systems installed.
On production boats, you get what they offer.

"... I am wondering if the big boats are engineered to greater MTBF on systems ..."
Generally, larger boats have larger loads, hence use larger (more robust) equipment to achieve similar MTBF rates as smaller boats.
Except, as Jack indicates: ”... NA's don't all design to the same detail and thoughtfulness ...”, and ”... larger boats typically have more systems ... and ”... more often produce a higher ratio of problems ...”
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Old 01-05-2006, 09:53   #41
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Another thing to consider is what is the boat riged for. Or better put, is the boat over rigged?

Has the boat been designed to go around the Capes or the Artic or handle several Force 10 storms without damage?

The over design may be more important than the higher quality equipment.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:01   #42
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Jack,

Thanks for staying the course. My point was not so much that buying a single car of one make or price range was the data point. I owned an independent Mercedes repair shop and know that given good service and maintenance cars from this make can and do last a long time and are actually very cost effective. Here is another analogy; Snap-on tool cost far more then many other good quality brands and many people buy substitutions, when the task at hand is tight often Snap-on is the only to that will fit. The case is made for superior quality because it offers usability and longevity far above the norm. A Craftsmen wrench will do the same thing on 99% of the fasteners in 99% of the cases but it is that one percent that makes the difference. Yes you pay more for the quality up front however in the lifetime of the product you are rewarded with high serviceability and maximum utility. I have been bitten with very poor quality on some occasions with pricy purchases and going back to cars for a monument, another German make has been haunted with the sub-par performance in reliability of their flagship models. I do understand each builder is at their own level of technology but again in the sea of boats who is the Mercedes of builders, Huisman, A&R?

I do a number of things that rely on complex equipment and have life threatening consequences if things go badly. From that perspective I look at the things that can kill me in the selection of these products. I would not buy a bargain rope to rappel off cliffs or a helmet that merely meets a minimum standard to protect and safeguard my life. These can also be very controversial points in some circles; going back to airplane for this point. In small general aviation airplanes the Beechcraft Bonanza has been vilified by many yet, in the hands of a well qualified pilot I feel it is the best light single engine airplane ever built. The overall quality is unmatched in its class and it handles like a dream. These same qualities are what bring it ire from many of its detractors, too expensive and too twitchy to fly.

I am not going to decide on what if any boat to cast off and sail into the sunset on; in a day or a week or even months. Time and experience will be my guide as I gain more meaningful encounters with sailing and the tools used. The points I make come from a lifetime of observing devices from a very technical viewpoint and real world understanding of environmental factors. That failure occurs with such great frequency at every level point to MAJOR design flaws regardless of what you have been conditioned to accept. I am no systems engineer but periods of use in age and hours should be far greater than the fleet average you are telling me you experience. Materials and methods of construction have come a long way in the last 30 years, are the systems used current technology or legacy design? I can think of few segments of industry that could survive such dismal performance records.

Steve
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:15   #43
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As far as a better MTBF goes. There is the amount of use, length of time since installation, actual design, quality of installation, abuse during normal use, maintenance and just plain luck that might be used to figure how long something will last. S0mething that breaks often indirectly breaks other stuff too. Sometimes there is a conspiracy!

I got a healthy does of it this morning. Fridge compressor froze. It's only 17 years old, the cold plate is probably perfectly fine, but can I be sure it would last more than a few years, then go bad, leak the refrigerant, then cause the compressor to sieze the compressor again. The quandary is do you fix half the fridge with a new compressor risking the loss of the cold plate and then the very compressor you just put in or replace both now knowing the duty cycle on the one isn't much better than the other?

You want to save money but you want to spend wisely as well and get the job done right. This is a small example with a $1000 price tag. It's as much as I can deal with for today.

Some times it is true if it ain't broke don't fix it, but other times if it ain't broke you ain't looking close enough. In my case an older boat that has equipment that works perfectly fine suddenly does not have a fridge. I could not have known it was going bad until it did and I could not have prevented the failure unless I had already replaced it.
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Old 01-05-2006, 13:35   #44
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Paul,

You now have the opportunity to update your system to current technology; refrigeration has become far more efficient in the last 15 years or so. Is the ultimate longevity going to better or worse only time well can answer that? You will have a cooler that uses less energy and holds temperature better with perhaps a little more capacity. AC compressors don’t fair all that well moving around under load, you could take a chance on getting a high efficiency compressor to replace your failed one, finding one for an R12 system could be rather hard.

I am not trying to condemn all boats and all equipment but the stories I hear lead me think that failures are occurring at intervals that are out of sync with standards of reliability in most segments of industry. I can understand that a failed block may cause another more serious event or a short can cripple several systems but there are ways to protect and isolate damage that may be overlooked or undeveloped. Redundant load paths and systems are not unique to aviation, are SOLAS standards applied to small craft? While not having a refrigerator could be uncomfortable it is not a true life support system in most opinions! Are newer boats more reliable due to modern technology? Are older boats built better because we didn’t have finite analysis that could trim every detail down to the last millimeter? Would combining the two create a best in class derivative? Has anyone built a 30 ton boat as you would a 100 ton boat by that I mean in methods and processes used not necessarily using half inch plate to build the hull.

Steve
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Old 01-05-2006, 14:28   #45
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Quote:
Are newer boats more reliable due to modern technology?
In a general sense it would have to be yes. Matreials alone account for most of the technology changes. You could trace most of the development of boats in history by materials technology.

Quote:
Has anyone built a 30 ton boat as you would a 100 ton boat by that I mean in methods and processes used not necessarily using half inch plate to build the hull.
I would say all the major compaines do. Manufacturing as a science is not limited to any one industry. To claim that some how a 100 tons boat uses a "better" process I think would be misleading. I don't think a 100 ton boat is built all that well compared to a 10 ton boat. With a large crew dedicated to fixing and maitaining every thing it does however perform well. So in that sense I would not buy a 10 ton boat built like a 100 ton boat. It would not be possible to operate.

The truth is there is no 100 ton boat that is built in a manner like we would all choose to operate a 10 ton cruising boat.
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