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Old 30-03-2014, 12:06   #1
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Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

This is more or less just a curiosity question. We are always hearing from the behemoth sailors so I would like to know who is out there full time cruising (or at least for a substantial portion of the year) in small boats, let's say under 30 feet. Would love to know what size boat, how long you've been doing it, and what you would consider to be the most serious downside (if any).
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Old 30-03-2014, 14:24   #2
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

oldragbaggers,
My boat is 29.5' (hull) and I have been at sea for 65 days in 2013, including 6 weeks in summer. I don't know if I comply with your criteria. I have been doing it for 9 years.

I generally cruise with 2 or 3 crew, so the main downside is the lack of room for personal gear.

My cruising area is presently W France (N Biscay and English Channel), SW Britain and SW Ireland.

Alain
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Old 30-03-2014, 14:40   #3
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

Thanks Alain. I don't have a "criteria." I would like to hear from all out there cruising in small boats for an extended time.
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Old 30-03-2014, 14:51   #4
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

This may not qualify but I have built a 26 ft catamaran that will be launched in the southern winter.I hope to cruise when i have saved enough folding
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Old 30-03-2014, 15:29   #5
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

Just last Monday a 27 footer hove to here in Pago Pago and dropped anchor.

Sailed alone from British Columbia. Stopped off at a couple of isles.

Young Canadian guy - maybe late 20s / early 30s.

Methinks he's having a blast checking out the island, the people, the culture, the pubs with cold beer, the food cooked by somebody else... etc.

Rows ashore early - comes home late. {Damn - I remember those days of yore!}

I'd bet he hasn't spent a minute on this or any other forum!

Just thought I'd give him "voice" here on CF.
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Old 30-03-2014, 16:19   #6
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

svmarine: What kinda boat does he have
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Old 30-03-2014, 17:07   #7
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

Good for him!! I also would like to know what kind of boat.
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Old 30-03-2014, 17:45   #8
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

Wife and I cruised full time for 4 years on a 40' yacht. Now we have a slightly modified production H28 which is 29'6" OA. We cruise this boat full time for 3 months of the year. We both prefer the smaller boat. Preference is a personal thing but for us...

Being both geriatrics, hoisting the main, weighing anchor, sheeting in the headsail etc is a lot easier on the H28. This must surely equate to improved safety?
The smaller boat is a lot handier in the confined spaces of a marina, and if you cock up the berthing its a lot easier to fend off a 3 ton H28 than a 12 ton 40 footer.
When the weather turns foul and you really do wish that you were looking at it from the comfort of your sitting room, I feel a lot more in control of the situation in the smaller boat.
Maintenance time and money is hugely reduced.
Being a smaller boat we tend to sail on and off the anchor a lot more. Good for our skills and as a result we use only 20 litres of diesel a month. Good when you're on a pension.
There is not much room or in our case battery capacity in an H28 for all the whizz bang gadgets that are supposed to make life more comfortable. I think that we have (finally) come to appreciate that all that stuff ends up becoming a trap to you. We have learned the benefits of the simple life on board.

We both love the size of the H28. Having said that, I would not like to share her limited accommodation with some big smelly crew member. We are both touring cyclists and are used to spending extended periods living out of a tiny bicycle-sized tent, so the H28 suits us just fine.
30 foot is a great size for a couple or a single hander. But..., its a personal thing..
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Old 30-03-2014, 18:41   #9
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

Thank you Chrisc for that thoughtful reply.

It seems we are kindred spirits. My husband and I have always preferred the handling of small boats as well. And we are also cyclists. We built a small teardrop camper to serve as a support vehicle for our cycling excursions. We use it for long distance road travel as well. Some people call them coffins. I happen to love the coziness of it. I think Lance and I are more den animals than most people.

I sometimes feel from reading this forum that when we get out there in our small boat (we are planning something in the 30' range) we will be like a Smart Car in a parking lot full of 18-wheelers. Hearing from other small boat sailors is very nice.
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Old 30-03-2014, 19:31   #10
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

Back in the 70s when cruising Mexico, and French Polynesia in a 26 foot boat we ran into a number of small boats out cruising. Most were young people with limited funds, and most seemed to be having a good time. One couple in Mexico were in an Islander Bahama (I think 24 foot). The girl had rather severe handicaps, but was having a wonderful time. Much later I heard that they actually got a tow from Cabo back to San Diego. Also met some young folks in a 26 foot converted wooden lifeboat with a ferro cement keel. It had leaked so bad every time they sailed, that he put a long metal strap from one toe rail, clear under the keel to the other toe rail and bolted the keel to it, to keep the boat from opening up. We ran into them again in the Marquesas, and again in Tahiti, and again in Hawaii. I think he scrapped the boat in Hawaii, but they had the adventure of a lifetime. Met a young couple in the Marquesas sailing a San Juan 24. Met 2 almost identical Vancouver 27s in Tahiti each being single handed . They kept within sight of each other all the way across the Pacific, and stood alternate watches with the radio on, so they could wake the other one up if traffic was a problem. Then there was a very young looking French couple on a 25ish converted steel lifeboat, with a few month old baby. I didnt meet them, but they seemed to be doing fine on almost no money. We met other small boat cruisers in Hawaii. It can be done, and it has been done many times, with less money tied up in the boat than most people spend on their electronic,"must have list" in this day and age. I must admit that after 2 years on an engineless 26 footer, with full crouching headroom, I had a bad case of 2footitis. I wanted more room. I went on to several much bigger and more comfortable boats, but the little one is the one that I look back on with great fondness. I am old and grey now, and planning a bucket list cruise back to the South Pacific to see Islands that I missed the last time, but it will be on something around 30 foot, so that the cost and work will not be overwhelming. I will have a little more electronics than I had the first time (only had a depth sounder), but it will still be a simple boat. Dont put off cruising, because life has a habit of getting in the way. Go small, go young, go cheep if you have to, but GO. Just my 2 cents worth. ______Grant.
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Old 30-03-2014, 20:25   #11
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

Awesome post, Grant, and very inspirational. Thank you for taking the time to post it. And I hope your next trip through the Pacific is the best ever.
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Old 31-03-2014, 08:00   #12
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

We started coastal cruising 20 some years ago, in a small but well-designed power boat - a C-Dory 22 Cruiser. Worked up to a summer in SE Alaska in the CD22, and then began to wish for a bit more creature comfort. Moved up to our current 26-foot diesel cruiser in 1998, and have spent most summers aboard since then. It would be nice to have more lounging space, and to be tossed around a bit less when the winds kick up, but we wanted to stay trailerable.

Our small boat has a fridge, two-burner propane stove, cabin heat, a watermaker, a head, a shower. Small cruisers have taken us more than 40K nm on the PNW coast, with crew usually 2 or 3 and a dog. At 6 knots typical cruising speed, fuel costs about $1/nm. We eat onboard 98% of the time, with delightfully fresh seafood we catch ourselves most of the time. Though we can't cross oceans, this works for us.



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Old 31-03-2014, 08:33   #13
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

We are a little over your size range at 31 but I like the theme of this post. We have lived aboard full time for the past two sailing seasons in the Boston area. We did have a house and would go there one day a week to mow the lawn and do laundry. Starting in 26 days we will be full time live aboards with no home.

The reduction in maintenance was a big part in deciding to go small. We didn't want to finally get to head our cruising only to spend all of our time working on a 45-50 foot boat. So we considered what boat was for us. We also didn't want a lot of exterior wood. Yes, we both love the look of some well maintained bright work but don't want to spend hours/days every year sanding and sealing the wood.

We looked at a lot of sub 35-foot boats. They all have their pros and cons and it really comes down to your personal use. We like to spend time in the cockpit with friends or alone and only really go below when forced by weather or when its time to go to sleep. So having a big salon was much lower on the list then having a comfortable berth. That was our biggest challenge in finding the right small boat. Well, for us anyways.

A decent galley was important and we wanted refrigeration (not required for all be something we wanted). At least a two burner stove with an oven. Decent storage for food, dishes, spices, etc. We didn't plan on sailing around the world so we only really need to hold a couple weeks worth of food or so. We also grilled year-round at our house so we knew most of our meals on the boat would include the grill too.

When it came to sailing we wanted something I could single hand and she could learn to single hand as well. Since it would just be the two of us we didn't want something that was too difficult to solo. So finding a boat with the right winch placement plus having all the lines either run to the cockpit or able to be run to the cockpit was high on our list.

We ended up with the Catalina 310. It seemed like the right balance to us.



This will be our 4th season and we are still very happy with the boat. We plan to leave for the Bahamas and Caribbean in October of 2015.

Good luck and fair winds,

Jesse
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Old 31-03-2014, 09:07   #14
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

I'm a single 30yo w/ dog on a 27 footer. Currently spending time in Colorado and aboard cruising the US east coast. I had previously lived and cruised on a 37' for a couple years with some buddies.

I like the simplicity and the small footprint. A solid boat that was built to move and is easy to keep that way. Standing headroom and an enclosed v-berth were the two "luxuries" I felt I needed.

For me, she has everything one or two would need long-term. She is small enough to be fun to poke around in and stout enough to cross oceans.

Ryan
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Old 31-03-2014, 11:21   #15
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Re: Let's hear from the small boat cruisers

New to forum. We love our small Colvic Watson. Sailed her down the west coast of Britain, then lowered her mast and motored through France to the black forest in Germany. Then down to Southern France, Corsica, Western Italy and at present we are loving Western Greece.
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