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Old 08-01-2015, 16:27   #16
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

I doubt you will find any "production" boat having an un-seaworthy design.
But you have to define seaworthy, airworthy is a pretty well defined term in aviation, I know of no such determination in the marine industry?



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Old 08-01-2015, 16:48   #17
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

In his book Seaworthiness The Forgotten Factor, the author C. A. Marchaj uses the Contessa 32 many times as the model for a seaworthy boat.

Among it many attributes, it has an Angle Of Vanishing Stability (AVS) of 155 degrees, and bal/disp ratio of 47%.

CONTESSA 32 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
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Old 08-01-2015, 16:50   #18
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by Julie Mor View Post
For the sake of this thread, let's say you are looking for a new boat. And let's say you don't want to rely just on your personal experience but want to do some good research before you buy. You have already established your needs and price point - one that doesn't make eyes pop out. Now you're focusing on build quality, earned reputation, how much the boat can take based on what you expect you'll put her through.
There is such a wealth of information out there today, it's never been easier to educate yourself...

I always cite DESIRABLE AND UNDESIRABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OFFSHORE YACHT first... Certainly, it's somewhat dated, but it's an excellent starting point. Then, there's Bob Perry's book, then Beth Leonard's VOYAGER'S HANDBOOK, Nigel Calder's CRUISING HANDBOOK... Another somewhat dated example, but I think Ferenc Mate's 2 volumes of WORLD'S BEST SAILBOATS still offer a wealth of good information and perspective... Steve Dashew's books and websites are another amazing resource, as is John Harries at Morgan's Cloud... John Kretschmer is another...

The list goes on and on, it's just a matter of knuckling down and doing your research...

:-)
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Old 08-01-2015, 16:56   #19
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

Really can't use a racing or high performance boat sailing ability when racing with the same boat loaded for cruising. There are differences between the two.

A cruising boat will have:

A much bigger anchor and all chain on the bow and may have a second anchor at the stern rail.

About 3+ tons of stuff aboard from clothing, food to extra tankage, water maker, genset, etc.

Solar panels and a large house bank plus a dodger. probably more then 3 tons...

Dinghy with outboard, maybe a kayak or two and perhaps a liferaft. plus tools, repair bits, paddles, fender boards, etc.

Adding weight at the bow and stern as well as sinking the water line 3-6 inches, depending on load, will effect how the boat sails and handles at different points of sail..

Thing is any boat can sail across an ocean with good weather. It's more can the crew cross oceans in bad weather.

The joys of boat buying is the asking price has very little to do with the condition of the boat. Most people when they sell a boat will have a crew polish and buff the hull and may put a coat or two of varnish on the brightwork. The term lipstick on a pig comes to mind. Do not get exciting because the hull has a bit of wax on it.

Thing is you can't tell if the boat was cared for or if it sat in the slip for 10 year. Most boats, BTW sit a long long time....

But if the bilge is spotless, there is fresh bottom paint and the engine looks like you could eat off it, and there is no extra wires running helter skelter about, its a good start. In other wolds if it looks like it's had a whole lotta loving, then it might be a keeper. Most boats do not have clean engines and have rats nests of wire that may not even be used anymore.

Each and every boat will be different as its had different owner(s) and different levels or workmanship with the care and feeding of the boat. Most boats do not get a lot of maintenance, based on what I've seen at the marinas over the years.
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Old 08-01-2015, 17:26   #20
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I doubt you will find any "production" boat having an un-seaworthy design.
But you have to define seaworthy, airworthy is a pretty well defined term in aviation, I know of no such determination in the marine industry?
I've been trying to avoid those words that seem to bring about heated debates - "production boat", "bluewater boat", "benehuntelinas" - but it was reading those posts that got me to thinking how does one really determine "bluewater capable"?

In those threads, there's no shortage of opinions, examples of "production boats" that crossed oceans, etc. But really, none of that would hold up to close scrutiny. While I know full well there is a difference between a cruiser and a racer, the boats I pointed out aren't racers. They may be raced, but they aren't Carrol Marine, Farr, Reichel Pugh type boats. They are more family boats.

And again, what the list of participants told me was certain manufacturers are always present in open ocean races and certain ones never are. And most likely it's because the owners of those boats either had confidence or they didn't about taking their boats out there. That says something about the builder.
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Old 08-01-2015, 17:27   #21
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by Julie Mor View Post
For the sake of this thread, let's say you are looking for a new boat. And let's say you don't want to rely just on your personal experience but want to do some good research before you buy. You have already established your needs and price point - one that doesn't make eyes pop out. Now you're focusing on build quality, earned reputation, how much the boat can take based on what you expect you'll put her through.

You really can't take the opinions of others with anything more than a grain of salt, unless you know them well and know they will be completely objective and honest.

You can't use the single boat accomplishments as a good example for the entire fleet. In other words, if a Yugo 33 did a solo circumnavigation, that doesn't make all Yugo 33s ocean-going beasts.

There's no database I know of that's accessible to the average sailor that details breakdowns, failures, etc of all the boats in the new or used market today. Nice facts if you can get them, but you can't.

So I thought, what about looking into participants in the tougher sailboat races, the ones where there is some open bluewater you have to traverse, but also ones where "the common man" boats participated? Sidney-Hobart, Fastnet and Newport-Bermuda came to mind. Why races? Because you have to go when the gun goes off. No waiting for a nice weather window.

Looking at boats you would normally see in the local harbor, in the 2014 S-H there were 117 boats in the fleet. Included in that were 11 Beneteau, 2 Hanse, 1 Jeanneau. There were also 2 Moody & 1 C&C in the fleet. In the infamous 1998 race, a Bene 53 came in 11th in line honors. No small feat that year.

The 2013 Fastnet had 33 Benes, 15 Jennes, 7 Grand Soleil, 6 Bavaria and 3 Dufour. And if I counted right, the 2014 Newport to Bermuda race had 8 Benes, 1 Jenne and 2 Grand Soleil. There was also 7 C&Cs.

None of this is to suggest these results are proof positive these boats are seaworthy in the toughest waters and others aren't. But it does tell me the owners of these boats felt confident they could put their boat through whatever conditions may be out there waiting for them. That speaks volumes about the owner's confidence in his or her boat. IMHO...

Within the parameters of this thread, what criteria would you use?
I think the first part of your post is great... well thought out and you put into words what many others are probably thinking.
Not sure about the logic of racing boats as an example though. Let's face it.. the more a boat becomes an all out racer... the less it's design margin is... that keeps the boat light and fast. We all know about the RTW racers that break off their keels and turn turtle etc... as well as the America's Cup boat that broke in half in light air!
I would assume that many of the stronger boats would never be entered in races...How many Hallberg Rassy, Oysters, Morris or Hinkleys are entered ?
I guess you just have to use all tools... Opinions of others get more weight if they are repeated by many. One man's opinion of a Buccaneer 285 doesn't hold much merit, unless reinforced by others.
It's definitely a turkey shoot... even with a survey...
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Old 08-01-2015, 17:34   #22
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by Julie Mor View Post
So I thought, what about looking into participants in the tougher sailboat races, the ones where there is some open bluewater you have to traverse, but also ones where "the common man" boats participated? Sidney-Hobart, Fastnet and Newport-Bermuda came to mind. Why races? Because you have to go when the gun goes off. No waiting for a nice weather window.
This is not a good measure of the information you seek. Here's why.

The people that race in these races are racers, and they go with the boat they have, or they are casual cruisers looking to get their feet wet in the ocean. I know, because I've participated in a few, served as a safety inspector in a few, and know quite a few people in all sorts of boats who have participated.

Most participants who take the boats you have mentioned or similar fall into two camps, almost exclusively.

First are the weekday/weekend racers who dream of racing offshore as something to knock off their bucket list. They are very good racers, probably very good sailors, and they want to go. These offshore races, despite the fact that you have no control over your departure window, are relatively safe. First of all, you have the OSR that you need to comply with and it often takes people over a year to get their boat ready if it is not already equipped for offshore. It's a set of requirements born out of the infamous 1979 Fastnet race and updated each year. Most races also require various crew certifications including first aid/CPR, Safety at Sea, etc., and participants are actively tracked by the committee and the Coast Guard.

Second is the group of coastal cruisers who want the offshore experience and see the races as a basically controlled, mentored, and monitored avenue for having it, and they are not wrong. You want to cruise to Bermuda? What better way to get there than with 150 other boats, tons of oversight, and a big honking' party when you get there?

I'm probably doing the Annapolis to Newport race this spring on a Beneteau First boat. It's a fun race boat, and I have no qualms heading to Newport in it, but that is in part because I know that if things go pear-shaped that help is breathing over our shoulder. It's a light boat, tender as hell, rigged for buoy racing. Would I sail it deep offshore, out of reach of the Coast Guard and away from the company of dozens of other boats? Not the way it's outfitted, and maybe not regardless of how it was outfitted. Would I cruise on it for an extended period? No.

In short, taking those races as an example of a boat's sustained ocean/cruising going fitness is I think a mistake. Most of these boats won't ever do it again, and so the issue of stress cycles at sea is moot. I'm not saying they're not fit, only that their participation in the race proves nothing regarding their fitness other than the fact that they float.

If you want to pursue the issue, look at the post-race reports of which boats dropped out of a given race due to breakdowns and/or difficult conditions. You can find a few by Googling, although maybe all it will tell you is who has cajones and who does not. After all offshore racing is like sitting in a cold shower with your clothes on tearing up $100 bills, as the saying goes.

Lastly, just because someone is confident that their boat can do it, does not mean it can, or that it should. A number of entries get scratched from these races before the start because the owners had inflated confidence in vessels that the inspection did not support. There are those that passed inspection which you wished had not because you did not have a good feeling about the skipper's competency.

More broadly to your search, I think you're in a difficult position. You want to make the right choice without the benefit of the direct experience that would give you confidence in your evaluations as you look at various boats. There are venerable boats that, because of how were (not) updated and maintained would be enormous headaches to own and live on. There are less venerable boats that due to care and updates would be splendid. And that won't necessarily come out in a survey, either way.

And then there is the fact that after living on a given boat for a year you may well find yourself, by dint of your recently acquired experience, finding yourself wishing you had bought something else.

I honestly think your best course of action is to go into any purchase with the thought in mind that you may well end up in a different boat in a couple of years, and to choose accordingly with respect to purchasing a boat that will hold it's value through that period.
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Old 08-01-2015, 17:47   #23
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

In reading the responses here, it occurs to me that many boats are "seaworthy", in that they are at least as capable as their crew of journey making.

Perhaps the more interesting question is "What boat is most suited to the actual use her crew will put her to?" Where will she go, and where will most of her time be spent? Plan for the most likely usage.
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Old 08-01-2015, 17:54   #24
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

These discussions always tend to be more about brand names than about actual boats, which should tell you something.

I've worked my way through a progression of keelboats, all sloops, starting at 22', then 30', then 37', then 41' then finally the current 46-footer. Without hesitation I would insist that next bigger boat was always more seaworthy than the previous boat, regardless of brand. The first boat was a racer-cruiser, the second was a ULDB racer, the third was a light-displacement racer, and the final two were designed as cruisers. The cruisers were not only more seaworthy than the racers, but they were much more cruiseworthy in terms of such things as having large chain lockers, bow rollers, et cetera.

Forget about brands for a moment, and consider boat-for-the-buck. Let's say you have $250,000 to spend, and with that you can either purchase a well-equipped, high-status 35-footer--one of those boats that only come in blue hulls--or a well-equipped, low-status 45 footer, one of those BeneHunteLinas.

Guess which boat is going to be more seaworthy.
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Old 08-01-2015, 18:05   #25
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How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

Yes,
Please lets leave any brand names out of it, but I believe you can get a working knowledge of composite lay-up without having to become an expert, then look at wiring, how it's done as in how well laid up, most everything on it's own circuit, materials used in cabinetry, no engineered wood, even type of latches, hinges, ports, glass and metal or plastic? look at how bulkheads are constructed and tabbed to the hull. Talk to people in the yards, some boats they have to be very careful where and how they position the stands, some boats it doesn't matter. Hatch boards or pretty plastic? Cockpit drains, multiple and large? Systems well laid out and accessible, can you get to everything on the engine? Large, expansive anchor locker? Can you walk to one end to the other holding onto hand holds they entire way? No sharp corners anywere, Multiple access to the bilge? Hull fittings? Cleats large and well mounted, all winches etc. have backing plates and access to all deck mounted hardware backsides? Solid no flex decks? good gelcoat, no print through? All interior storage well laid out, no wasted space?
What is the reputation of this boat? Is it know for being able to be loaded down heavy and handle well?

Sorry maybe all of this is too obvious

On edit, you get into a well made automobile or house you know almost right off, everything look right, fits well and works, no sticky doors, or squeaks and rattles on a rough road. Same I think for a boat, everything fits and works well, plus fiddles on all flat surfaces and positive locking devices of some kind to hold doors and drawers shut? Hanging locker real close to companionway stairs for foul weather gear? head real close also? Galley, can you easily brace yourself to be hands free at the sink and the stove? Top opening fridge?


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Old 08-01-2015, 18:18   #26
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Mark, with all respect to you, and to the surveyors of this world, a good survey will tell you about the condition of a given boat, but nothing about its inherent seaworthyness
I think they go hand in hand - and condition for use is the only thing that matters.

My point was that it is very difficult to NOT get an inherently "seaworthy" boat nowadays (provided some very basic criteria are met regarding size and construction) for most cruising areas - including ocean crossings.

The major determinant will be the condition of that boat. This is what a surveyor will help to determine.

I am leaving out individual opinions on what "inherently seaworthy" means, because that mostly leads to personal discomfort levels or preferences in various points of sail and types of conditions.

Just picking up a random, but highly regarded, 40yr old "inherently seaworthy bluewater cruising boat" and heading to sea would be stupid. The only way to determine if this is reasonable is by assessing its condition. Regardless of the "seaworthiness" of the brand or design.

Web Chiles' new 24' ULDB is hardly "seaworthy", but I'll bet you a dollar it is in very good condition.

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Old 08-01-2015, 18:24   #27
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by Jon Eisberg View Post
There is such a wealth of information out there today, it's never been easier to educate yourself...

I always cite DESIRABLE AND UNDESIRABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OFFSHORE YACHT first... Certainly, it's somewhat dated, but it's an excellent starting point. Then, there's Bob Perry's book, then Beth Leonard's VOYAGER'S HANDBOOK, Nigel Calder's CRUISING HANDBOOK... Another somewhat dated example, but I think Ferenc Mate's 2 volumes of WORLD'S BEST SAILBOATS still offer a wealth of good information and perspective... Steve Dashew's books and websites are another amazing resource, as is John Harries at Morgan's Cloud... John Kretschmer is another...

The list goes on and on, it's just a matter of knuckling down and doing your research...

:-)
By the criteria of those books and authors, multihulls have no business away from the dock.

That was a not so subtle way of pointing out that one could work themselves into a narrow corner with that advice.

However, they do make good basic reading - as long as one realized how dated the content was and how opinionated the authors are.

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Old 08-01-2015, 18:25   #28
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Yes,
Please lets leave any brand names out of it, but I believe you can get a working knowledge of composite lay-up without having to become an expert, then look at wiring, how it's done as in how well laid up, most everything on it's own circuit, materials used in cabinetry, no engineered wood, even type of latches, hinges, ports, glass and metal or plastic? look at how bulkheads are constructed and tabbed to the hull. Talk to people in the yards, some boats they have to be very careful where and how they position the stands, some boats it doesn't matter. Hatch boards or pretty plastic? Cockpit drains, multiple and large? Systems well laid out and accessible, can you get to everything on the engine? Large, expansive anchor locker? Can you walk to one end to the other holding onto hand holds they entire way? No sharp corners anywere, Multiple access to the bilge? Hull fittings? Cleats large and well mounted, all winches etc. have backing plates and access to all deck mounted hardware backsides? Solid no flex decks? good gelcoat, no print through? All interior storage well laid out, no wasted space?
What is the reputation of this boat? Is it know for being able to be loaded down heavy and handle well?

Sorry maybe all of this is too obvious

On edit, you get into a well made automobile or house you know almost right off, everything look right, fits well and works, no sticky doors, or squeaks and rattles on a rough road. Same I think for a boat, everything fits and works well, plus fiddles on all flat surfaces and positive locking devices of some kind to hold doors and drawers shut? Hanging locker real close to companionway stairs for foul weather gear? head real close also? Galley, can you easily brace yourself to be hands free at the sink and the stove? Top opening fridge?


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A64pilot you sound wise beyond your sailing years. That is a straight forward clear description of what to look for in a cruising boat. Beyond that and a good hull survey, rigging and engine survey it is a matter of likes and intended uses.
You haven't been on the forum long but you always respond with good judgement and good insight.


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Old 08-01-2015, 18:37   #29
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Its only seaworthy is its very small, has multiple masts, bilge keels and pointy stern.

.... And designed by an old fart.

Oh, and hasn't been built in the last quarter century.
I agree but you forget to say that they have to be narrow and heavy
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Old 08-01-2015, 18:54   #30
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Also, AFAIK, most common racing boats (i.e. specifically fitted for racing production boats) are poor indicators of the quality of their cruising brethren as each model specifically fitted out for a race is often rigged to very narrow tolerances since weight and speed are most important factors. So a carbon rig on such a boat is even thinner than it would be on its cruising version and often is made in a hurry with deadlines looming etc. So the % of rig failure among racing versions is much higher, especially considering on a per mile sailed basis, than would be in regular cruising versions.
Yes, everybody knows that performance cruisers used for offshore races are not pushed as hard as cruising boats and therefore are more fragile. They are also not sailed with really bad weather.

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