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Old 11-04-2007, 12:23   #1
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In Praise of Smaller Yachts

Something happened to cruising yachts and cruising sailors in the past thirty years.

I spent five years in the U.S. Navy in Puerto Rico in the late seventies, and I spent my time cruising in Puerto Rico, the Spanish Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I had a Westsail 32, which was a dream come true. I reckon that I had the best cruising yacht that was ever made, never mind the fact that it didn’t sail well to windward. When I raised my sails, I felt like I was a real ocean cruiser, even if I was only sailing ten miles to Vieques. More than anything else, I wanted to sail downwind in the trade winds around the world, and I knew my sailboat was more than up to the job.

One of my friends in the Navy completed his tour of duty, and then he and his wife did a four year circumnavigation around the world on their Tartan Thirty sailboat. They left with $28,000 in the bank, and when they returned to the USA, they still had $28,000 in the bank because they worked as they sailed around the world.

In the late seventies and early eighties, there were a lot of young people in their twenties, thirties, and forties cruising the Caribbean in small yachts that were 28 to 37 feet in length. Yachts larger than 40 feet were almost considered megayachts.

These sailors weren’t particularly worried about anything more than having the basic amenities on board, and they were young. The currency of their life was their youth. They got by on very little, but they had a great time.

These sailors had affordable yachts that were relatively easy and inexpensive to maintain, and they didn’t need to be a millionaire to make it happen.

As we completed our circumnavigation in 2006, we found that boats under forty feet were quite rare, the age of the cruisers was mostly between fifty and seventy years old, and they were in expensive yachts that had nearly every amenity known to man. The currency of their youth had been spent in saving money so that when they retired they could go sailing. It was an interesting phenomenon. Sailing had become more of a retirement activity – a lifestyle choice that you selected in your later years.

I am not complaining, criticizing, or condemning this shift in cruising lifestyles. A sailboat can be a great place to retire. What I am extolling is going sailing in smaller yachts when your purse is overflowing with the currency of youth. You can always earn more money when your cruise is over, but when your youth is gone, there’s no place to go to earn more youth.

So to all you young people out there with small boats, I say go cruising now and live a Spartan lifestyle on a smaller yacht. You may not have Air conditioning, a 5kw genset, a watermaker, and a thousand other amenities, but you will have an adventure. And to me, that is what it is all about.

Cheers,
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Old 11-04-2007, 13:11   #2
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There are no scientific statistics on live-aboard cruisers. But there are some observations that are a little better than anecdotal; and they support Maxingout:

http://www.boatus.com/cruising/littlegidding/200410_14.asp

And:

http://www.boatus.com/cruising/littlegidding/200608_10.asp

As Maxingout suggests, the big reason for the change is baby boomers - we’re old, we’re set in our ways, we dominate the cruising scene, and while 30 years ago we might have been thrilled to ‘camp-out’ on a 28 footer ...... well we’ve done all the camping we care to do. Our comfort level demands a bluewater houseboat - whatever that is.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. For some of the most entertaining logs ever written, go here:

http://www3.sympatico.ca/destinycalls

Two people and a dog on a CS27 - they had a small boat; and yes, they had amenities; but most important, they had a blast.
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Old 11-04-2007, 15:11   #3
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Quote:
You may not have Air conditioning, a 5kw genset, a watermaker, and a thousand other amenities,
Amen Bro: I got none of them things and would be happy to cruise anywhere anytime.

What I do have however is a spouse that wont do any cruising expect short Bahamas trips.

What is a guy to do..?
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Old 11-04-2007, 15:34   #4
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CSY Man got it right: "I'm sick of leaning and living in a basement. Buy me a catamaran or get used to gardening."

Whether we can aford it or not, we'll probably be cruising a cat soon.
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Old 11-04-2007, 16:03   #5
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Not all boomers. I'm about to retire and I'll be doing my cruising around in a boat much smaller and less expensive than most. Yes, I could buy a much larger, more expensive boat, but why? I'd rather own the boat, not the other way around. I don't need insurance to cover my ass. My checkbook will cover it all, including replacing the entire boat if push comes to shove. I can get it all done just fine in my little Cape Dory 25D. I like small, simple, KISS is my way.
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Old 11-04-2007, 16:05   #6
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"You can always earn more money when your cruise is over, but when your youth is gone, there’s no place to go to earn more youth."


What a great, wise and true observation!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-04-2007, 16:57   #7
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rtbates - good for you- go for it!

Uh, we don't have to share this discussion with anyone do we?

I mean, well....... uh, Honey, the tulips are ready.
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Old 12-04-2007, 03:17   #8
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We lived aboard and cruised for ten years without insurance. The one caution I’d offer is that insurance is most important to cover any damage you may cause the other guy.
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Old 12-04-2007, 05:46   #9
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My heart likes boats on the smaller end of the spectrum, but I also don't want to go too austere for a liveaboard. I think my compromise point is about 36-37' - any less, and it wouldn't be enough room, any more and it would be more boat than I want to sail.

There also seems to be a new psychology in our tech-crazy society: If you don't have every whiz-bang gizmo, you're a foolhardy and irresponsible sailor. Can you imagine the armchair recrimination toward a modern-day Moitessier who gets in trouble after it's discovered he/she had no GPS, no Weatherfax, No EPIRB. For shame!
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Old 12-04-2007, 06:04   #10
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I must admit that a GPS will save you money in the long run. The EPIRB is for safety and has saved thousands of lives. Weatherfax - it depends on where you are going, again safety. Compaired to the cost of the boat, it is not much. GPS $ 700 USD, EPIRB $ 500 USD, Weatherfax is almost free if you have an SSB, the SSB can be had for less that $ 5000 complete package installed. Sometimes much less.

However, I do agree that some of the stuff out there is a bit too much and can break a cruiser.
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Old 12-04-2007, 06:08   #11
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... and I'm not about to throw away my GPS!
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Old 12-04-2007, 06:50   #12
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...The EPIRB is for safety and has saved thousands of lives ...
I would very much doubt that EPIRB’s (as valuable a safety device as I agree they are) have saved more than a very few lives.
Notwithstanding, even a single saved life is of incalculable value.
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Old 12-04-2007, 06:51   #13
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Yes, I think a lot of the people who were cruising aboard Westsails in their thirties are now onboard Oyster 53s or Island Packet 485s now that their $28,000 nest egg has grown to $9m thirty years later. If you're a sailor at heart at age 30, why would you stop cruising if you didn't have to?
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:00   #14
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Holy crap Dave... I had to get another cup of coffee! That post had me a bit choked up. It is so true! I want a do-over!

Well done Dave!

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Old 12-04-2007, 07:10   #15
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Originally Posted by GordMay
We lived aboard and cruised for ten years without insurance. The one caution I’d offer is that insurance is most important to cover any damage you may cause the other guy.
Liability is a given. My homeowners policy covers my liability. It's insurance, that pays when I screw up or nature kicks me in the head, that I'm reffering. I do the same with all my cars/trucks.
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