Well, first of all, I think there is a huge difference between each end of that spectrum! For about 8 years, I had 26-foot pocket cruiser
, now I have 33 foot boat.
Here's what I felt about the 26-footer:
Mine had standing headroom
, but many in that size range don't.
Sailed almost like a dinghy
, but heavy displacement
Minimal auxillary equipment
required. Could pull the anchor
up by hand.
It's easier to keep everything simple on a small boat.
are cheaper on a small boat.
Slips and storage
are cheaper but, many storage options start at a minimum of 30 feet.
may be cheaper - but getting anything beyond coastal, may be a challenge, especially if the boat has a trailer or outboard
Can use an outboard
reasonably instead of an inboard if desired (cheaper)
It will be slower than larger boats of the same build, but when you look at hull speed
formula, I think this is not all that significant.
I think the biggest disadvantage is reduced interior
space - Less breathing room, less ability to carry people and less ability to carry stores. Related to this, boat builders tend to put just as many berths in a 27-footer as they would a 38-footer. My 26-footer supposedly slept 6. Having this many berths came a the price
of making them all small and giving up storage space. There's no way I was ever going to sleep that many on board, so I would have rather had few, larger berths and storage space designed as storage space.
Given two boats of similar build, I think the larger one will likely be more seakindly. At some point, the larger boat having more forces on it and require more mechanical aids and/or more crew to accomplish things.
While these are some generalities I've experienced, I think it's important to always keep design and outfitting in mind. My 26-foot heavier displacement
boat handled seas better in my opinion than many lighter 30-footers. Convenient reefing systems may make a much larger boat easier to manage than a smaller boat.
I thought my 26-footer was great for solo sailing. I could sail it solo in most any conditions. It was a bit tight for two people for cruises of a month or more.