I wish you well on your quest for a new boat and your upcoming sail. There are many boats that will suit you provided you do your homework. There are many areas to consider including the one you mentioned below; the two to three person crew. I have sailed on a number of different boats and each has strengths and weaknesses. One of my favourites is the '91 Sabre
34. It has a think hull
which is good when you are trying to get some sleep. It also has a very comfortable cockpit
, it sails
very well even into the wind
, and it is solid.
John makes a very good point about a full keel
(I have also heard good things about the Island Packets but have never sailed one). The Sabre
had a center board but the hull
shape was closer to a full keel as opposed to a fin keel. In a storm this makes a big difference especially when hove to. When looking at a boat, see how easily it is to move about on deck
and think about what it will be like in a storm. Will you be able to set an anchor
or deploy a parachute sea anchor
in heavy weather
? Sure, many boats are rigged so you supposedly can do everything from the cockpit
but you know what they say about the best laid plans! you should be comfortable (or at least confident) getting in and out of the cockpit and going anywhere on deck
in any weather
I have used a number of boats that have been loaded up with electronics
of all types including radar
. These are nice but DO NOT use these as a substitute for plotting on a chart. These should confirm what you have already plotted. Make sure that these are not positioned so that they distract you from sailing. Can you still see forward with any electronics
mounted in the cockpit? Does the nav station allow you to plot and work in a practical manner? Do the electronics impede movement around the wheel
? Some of the mounts I have see are huge and quite frankly in the way. At night, even with the back lights dimmed some still hurt night vision.
I also recommend you read Bill Schanen's column in June's issue of Sailing magazine. He talks about sailing in some of these new designs with flat bottoms, broad sterns, and light weight. They fly under the right conditions but can be very rough when the wind is from the beam or stern.
John's book suggestion is also money
well spent. I would add to this Heavy Weather Sailing by Lin and Larry Pardey
and Alder Coles's Heavy Weather Sailing. I prefer the 4th edition although I have both the 4th edition and the 6th edition. There are significant differences but both are good.
John's comment about equipping a boat is very important. Often how you equip a boat is as important as the boat itself. Does the boat have room for all you need including a parachute sea anchor
, extra line, warps, spare sails
, storm sails, clothes, books
, tools, etc? Will you want a bicycle or bicycles to explore the ports
you visit? If so, where will you put those? How much electricity will you need? Can you fit a solar
panel or panels
and/or a wind generator
? If not, will you use a genset or use the engine
? If so, where will you put the fuel
I wish you great success in your search and your cruising.