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Old 02-06-2016, 10:12   #166
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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This whole needs vs wants question can only be answered by the individual. This is why I suggest that one should look for the smallest boat that you can live with. And by this I mean having a boat that will do what you want it to do, and that you can afford (both in financial and physical terms).

For some, this might be a 55-footer. For others, a 26 does fine. There's no right or wrong answer here. It's up to the individual (or the couple/family/crew).

Now, it is true that average cruising boat sizes have continually crept up over the decades. In the 70s/80s most people cruised in low to mid 30s. Today the average cruiser seems to be in the mid/upper-40s. Human needs haven't changed, but our wants sure have. This shift to more and bigger is driven by our economics and our culture, not by any absolute need. But this is true of just about everything in our rich Western life.

Of course, the only ones who can legitimately claim to need a sailboat are those that call it home. For the rest, it's all about wants anyway. So choose the boat that works for you. I don't really care. As long as you're a decent person, we'll get along fine. In all likelyhood your boat will be bigger than mine, so we can have afternoon drinkies in your cockpit
Great answer.... but of course makes getting at what the "needs" really are difficult. Peoples wants seem to have become needs. And there's nothing wrong with that either.

I like to think of this at times... what would things be like if your system craps out... how manageable is the boat? Craps out includes sailing in lousy conditions too.

For example... I consider chain and an electric windlass as necessary for cruising. Can you man handle ground tackle? Sure... the older you get the harder it gets too. I would not want to be facing this. So along with ground tackle you need a decent anchor locker... and of course isolated from the interior. Dinghy stowage is another issue... towing offshore is not an option. A smallish boat would have deck space "compromised" by a dink perhaps. A decent dink is mission critical to cruising. Two APs or a complete spare? Energy is an issue... making / converting and storing. This is much more difficult with the real estate of a small boat.... probably becomes a non issue in the low 40s.
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:17   #167
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Wants vs. needs is an area that is growing just like the average size of the cruising sailboat I believe. There is no stopping it.
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Old 02-06-2016, 12:41   #168
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

No one "needs" a cruising boat!!!!!!!!!!

A cruising boat is about getting to places safely and being comfortable once you get there. The being comfortable when you get there is really the primary boat function as that is what a cruiser does mostly with their boat. Based on god knows how many boats lay outs I've looked at I'm still sticking to the best couple sailing (that's short handed) boat size is 46-48'. I wish I could have afforded one in that size range instead of my 43' OA boat as then we could have a better old fat couple berth arrangement, a little more storage space, and twice the fuel tankage.

As you can tell the from the thread responses the only people who think a 46-48' boat is too big are those with boats in the mid 30' range and they come up with insulting comments to justify it. People with with a 40'+ boat are more likely to wish for a bigger boat because they understand the trade offs and feel it is a plus to have the bigger boat and they aren't scared of it.

And then there's the complex/simple boat debate. But when I did a thread a couple of years ago about what a "simple" boat was for the most people considered that if it had refrigeration it was "complex" and if not it was "simple". You know what those of us do when our "complex" equipment on our "big boats" do when it breaks (rarely)? Well we just sail it without that equipment just like the "simple" boats do till we can fix it.

Face it the only advantage a smaller boat has is in cost. And the added costs for a larger size are nowhere near the extra amounts thrown around as the small boat people make them out to be.
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Old 02-06-2016, 13:01   #169
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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No one "needs" a cruising boat!!!!!!!!!!

A cruising boat is about getting to places safely and being comfortable once you get there. The being comfortable when you get there is really the primary boat function as that is what a cruiser does mostly with their boat. Based on god knows how many boats lay outs I've looked at I'm still sticking to the best couple sailing (that's short handed) boat size is 46-48'. I wish I could have afforded one in that size range instead of my 43' OA boat as then we could have a better old fat couple berth arrangement, a little more storage space, and twice the fuel tankage.

As you can tell the from the thread responses the only people who think a 46-48' boat is too big are those with boats in the mid 30' range and they come up with insulting comments to justify it. People with with a 40'+ boat are more likely to wish for a bigger boat because they understand the trade offs and feel it is a plus to have the bigger boat and they aren't scared of it.

And then there's the complex/simple boat debate. But when I did a thread a couple of years ago about what a "simple" boat was for the most people considered that if it had refrigeration it was "complex" and if not it was "simple". You know what those of us do when our "complex" equipment on our "big boats" do when it breaks (rarely)? Well we just sail it without that equipment just like the "simple" boats do till we can fix it.

Face it the only advantage a smaller boat has is in cost. And the added costs for a larger size are nowhere near the extra amounts thrown around as the small boat people make them out to be.

This post sums it up nicely. 👍👍


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Old 02-06-2016, 13:24   #170
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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No one "needs" a cruising boat!!!!!!!!!!

A cruising boat is about getting to places safely and being comfortable once you get there. The being comfortable when you get there is really the primary boat function as that is what a cruiser does mostly with their boat. Based on god knows how many boats lay outs I've looked at I'm still sticking to the best couple sailing (that's short handed) boat size is 46-48'. I wish I could have afforded one in that size range instead of my 43' OA boat as then we could have a better old fat couple berth arrangement, a little more storage space, and twice the fuel tankage.

As you can tell the from the thread responses the only people who think a 46-48' boat is too big are those with boats in the mid 30' range and they come up with insulting comments to justify it. People with with a 40'+ boat are more likely to wish for a bigger boat because they understand the trade offs and feel it is a plus to have the bigger boat and they aren't scared of it.

And then there's the complex/simple boat debate. But when I did a thread a couple of years ago about what a "simple" boat was for the most people considered that if it had refrigeration it was "complex" and if not it was "simple". You know what those of us do when our "complex" equipment on our "big boats" do when it breaks (rarely)? Well we just sail it without that equipment just like the "simple" boats do till we can fix it.

Face it the only advantage a smaller boat has is in cost. And the added costs for a larger size are nowhere near the extra amounts thrown around as the small boat people make them out to be.
Well said. I suspect that the cost differential is more significant than you think it is... because if that were the only factor most people would opt for more space/comfort.

I don't think it's "system" complexity as much as the physical "challenges" related to size... the old square cube relationship. For most they choose to deal with the increase in forces with electric winches etc. And these are good reliable solutions. I know I added a Milwaukee with a winch bit to raise my 440SF full batten main. It's no effort now... Same with an electric winch.... I don't think twice about re setting or moving the hook. But not all size related "things" can be "reduced" with a device.... such as dealing with a chute in a blow... or anchoring in thin water when your raft is 7'.

And as implied in the reply getting there safely also means getting there in less time.... longer water line is a faster passage maker.
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Old 02-06-2016, 13:43   #171
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Cruising boat sizes have grown over the years as roller furling has become more robust and reliable, along with electric winches. If you have a larger boat and your furling has never jammed, that's great! But if it does, like most things, it will happen at 3 am in a bad weather. Roller furling and electric winches usually work fine, but they are another level of complication, something that can go wrong. So, I have skippered up to 45 and crewed up to 65, and now I have a 29. In my 29 I can sail in, no engine, drop anchor and reverse the procedure pretty easily, with no roller furling and no windlass. With the 45, yes, as long as I had enough room, but it was riskier for sure, less room for error. Sure in general, a larger boat will feel better, and do better, and most likely be safer, in bad weather, of course! (Although there are some famous little boats too.) A smaller boat has more limitations, absolutely. But I am not afraid or overly uncomfortable in my 29 in rough weather. Sure I'd rather be warm and toasty and not pitching all over, but I accept I am on a boat in the ocean, and I like that. And I trust my boat. A 45 or 65 footer can be tossed around like a dinghy too given the right, though rare, conditions. I have to be more careful in picking my weather. I cannot go to windward very well if it is over 30 knots or so. A longer waterline has many more options and thus has a safety advantage in that sense. I guess I am rambling on to say if you have a larger boat, all the arguments in favor are correct. And the forces at work, and the costs, go up dramatically as you plow a deeper furrow through the water. BTW I may have missed it but no mention of Nonsuch or junk rigs? I did see the mention of Freedoms.
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Old 02-06-2016, 14:28   #172
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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Well said. I suspect that the cost differential is more significant than you think it is... because if that were the only factor most people would opt for more space/comfort.
Most of the extra cost is in the initial purchase of the boat.This is probably the main reason more people don't have bigger boats.

I had a 1988 Cal-39 for a couple of years (was my first boat). I now have a 2001 Hunter 410 (43.5' overall). The amount of extra space is HUGE! The yearly length related expenses for the boat has been about $75/year, but it is offset in that the insurance for the newer more expensive boat has been $200/yr LESS!
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Old 02-06-2016, 14:44   #173
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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Most of the extra cost is in the initial purchase of the boat.This is probably the main reason more people don't have bigger boats.

I had a 1988 Cal-39 for a couple of years (was my first boat). I now have a 2001 Hunter 410 (43.5' overall). The amount of extra space is HUGE! The yearly length related expenses for the boat has been about $75/year, but it is offset in that the insurance for the newer more expensive boat has been $200/yr LESS!

Of course this too is a bit tricky. I bought a new hull which was essentially cruise ready... kinda... I added AP, windlass and chain, RF, heating, refer... and a position fixer (loran back then)... solar... a cruising chute. Battery and monitor added too.

When I shoved off.... I added storm sails, a life raft, oodles of spares.

Since purchase I had 3 suits of sails... one serious engine expense... oodles of electronics upgrades, rigging upgrades and replacements, hatch and port replacements, cushions and re upholstery 2x.

Over the years I had multiple electronics upgrades and changes... 2 radars, 4 radios including a HF and had a wfax at one point and a water maker... and of course replaced running rigging and had maybe 5 or 6 dinks and OBs.

I shutter to think what all this cost... I did all the work myself except for the one volvo penta valve sping and head "job". I am sure I spent over the years more than the original purchase price on the above.
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Old 02-06-2016, 17:05   #174
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

I took a Loran unit off of my 42' oldie but goodie - 1978 boat in 2002. It had been cruised by a fine Canadian sailor and spouse all over the Pacific and it was a bit worn in some areas but well-maintained for the most part. We loved that boat and put in a ton of money to upgrade it and do what we wanted. It was our choice. Not an accident, not a screw up. We weren't so anal that we had a down to 3 decimal places budget. We had to work and save etc. as we were not and are not 1%ers. I can appreciate having a budget when money means something. We started out with one but found we didn't really understand what we really wanted/needed at the time. So the "budget" expanded. I have absolutely no regrets for spending that money and doing that work (I also did 98% of all work on my boat). I'm doing the same again and will have an equally good time fixing the next boat up and sailing her offshore when she is ready.

You do spend more money for each foot of boat. Our first boat was the 42' one and it was just right for us - in all ways. It also was a handful a few times but two novices managed to take her a pretty fair ways over 4 years full time offshore.
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Old 02-06-2016, 19:48   #175
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

My boat was brand spanking new when I purchased it. I visited the factory after I did, met with and communicated with Dick Zaal the naval architect and have sailed single handed back and forth from NYC to the Caribbean several time and with a mate to Brazil.

I was one of the early GPS adapters... using a Trimble NavTrac... a brand you probably never heard about. I did the 91 Marion Bermuda race as well... without GPS nor autopilot.
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Old 02-06-2016, 20:08   #176
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

For lots of reasons, expressed by Foolish and others, over the years a 32 ft monohull has always been my personal 'sweet spot'. With the more recent EU 9.9mtr crossover point as well, usability and economics are further enhanced for me.

Frankly too, some bigger boats I have been looking at recently, have far less appealing interiors than my Endeavour 32 (even including an attractive Valiant 40). Appealing to me, of course.

I suppose it is a reflection of my approach to business, where the importance of keeping your overheads down and well under control, played a fundamental role in business success.

Now that I am retired, easy boat management will be increasingly important, and the ability to be able to pour satisfactory sums into the boat to maintain and improve it, can only be bettered with an even smaller boat. I could indeed be comfortable with a 28. Heck maybe even a 26 (I have had a lot of fun on a 26).

So for me anyway, right now, a 32 ticks all the right boxes.

Other people's mileage definitely varies.
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Old 02-06-2016, 20:55   #177
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

So ... back to something worth talking about... the question of complexity is one that many have raised here. I tend to agree; it's not so much the size of boat, but the systems that fill it. My approach is to keep systems simple, and/or highly reliable.

Simple are things I can understand, maintain, and repair by myself or using my modest finances. This includes mechanical devices like windlass, winches, windvane, as well as head, charging system and stove.

Highly reliable are things like GPS/chartplotters, VHF radio, AIS receiver, computers, fridge and radar.

This approach means we are rarely halted by a failed system. This approach is what I call simple. But it's important to stress that my simple is not yours. A more skilled person (or someone with more money) could easily install and maintain more mechanically and electrically complicated systems. The key (for me) is to match my capabilities with my choices.

The stories often repeated of cruisers stuck in a port due to a failed whatever seems to me to be a story of mismatched capacities to systems.
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Old 02-06-2016, 23:51   #178
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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Come on fella... be realistic... anyone who finds a 60 meter boat "cramped" is a jerk... a very rich one I might add.

So let's get real... what does it cost (approximately) to design, built, rig, fit out... and "fill" with "possessions) a 55'-60' cruising boat?

And what % of people who want to go off cruising have that sort of coin and the ability to "go for it"?

"So let's get real... what does it cost (approximately) to design, built, rig, fit out... and "fill" with "possessions) a 55'-60' cruising boat?"


It costs as much as someone decides to spend, and it really isn't anyone else's business to decide what is the correct amount, or how large a boat should be. IMHO. Like Sailorboy reminds us quite often, this boat envy stuff only appears on the internet forums.... never in real life. While out cruising, people couldn't care less what the other guy or gal has.
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Old 03-06-2016, 00:37   #179
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Folks, a number of rude comments and responses to them had to be deleted. Please keep it clean. No need to disrespect each other, even in a hot debate about something.
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Old 03-06-2016, 00:38   #180
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

BTW: "cruisng" means different things to different people: this ranges from daysailing around the Med in summer through bluewatersailing on the tradewindroute to "really serious stuff" like Antarctic peninsula, Patagonia, Greenland, etc. These different ways of "cruisng put very different strain on boat & equipment. Summer-daysailing in say the Ionian lets one get away with boats & equipment that probably wouldn't last 3 days in the Drake Passage...
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