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Old 12-01-2006, 16:47   #1
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Why do occasional sailors buy large?

A simple question: how is a Hunter 42 considered an entry level sailboat?

I went to the Seattle Boat Show this week, and I was surprised to find the average length of boats on display to be over 40 feet. Seeing a 24 foot Dana was shocking (the next up was two 34 footers). It seems like around 40 feet is the "starting point."

Then this afternoon I heard about a new sailor and his "starter" Hunter 42 (he wanted something large and safe) that has to be moored a 90 minute drive away and takes a half-day of deck scrubbing whenever he finds the time to drive and take it out. And then it's just river sailing... For the most part, it just sits there.

For beginners and occasional sailors, it seems like the brochures are winning...


Jim H in London, UK, sailing Southern Rival, a '73 Rival 34. In Oregon, sails Aurora, a '67 Cal 20.
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Old 12-01-2006, 17:07   #2
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I think many look at interior space and place a priority on living onboard for the weekend, sometimes with another couple. Most people do not cruise, so many are buying a big daysailor with some weekend trips planned. I would love to tell you they still have to get her to the dock, but at my marina, dock hands assist or just do it during the week for the owner. The way some drive, that's a good thing.

Different strokes....



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Old 12-01-2006, 18:46   #3
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Smaller boats get sailed harder by the average folks than big boats. Big boats seldom have up as much sail as possible. They are generally purchased for cruising, not that there is anything wrong with that. If you have a bunch of young capable studs you can sail a big boat hard, but when your crew is ordinary average types, it is hard to sail the big boats hard. Basic reason why I just got a 22 foot boat for the races. You get the feel of sailing more in a little boat, the girls can crank the winches. I would rather look at the cute shape of the lady bank teller, than a gorilars butt.
An observation around our docks is the the bigger boats do not get sailed, and or generally used as much as the little boats. A lot of the bigger boats are purchased by folks with $$$ not sailing skills, not that there is anything wrong with that. There is also a tendency to downsize as some get older. Eases the muscle effort and the finances. The most popular average size boat in BC waters is about 30 feet. That's what a sailmaker told me.
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Old 12-01-2006, 20:10   #4
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In our area I know of no smaller boat that goes out more than ours. It is true that we do not have as much sail as possible up everytime. We also super sized our boat going from a Cal 21 to what we how have. And I am very happy about it.
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Old 12-01-2006, 21:29   #5
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That H42 has more space inside than my first apartment! And therein lies the attraction. As a former harbormaster, I can attest to the fact that 80% of boats never leave their slips. Most of the boats were weekend waterfront houses, a place to get away and watch the game.

And it's not just sailors - powerboaters are worse. Most figure the boat is just a car on the water -gas it up and go. It's too bad that there's not the emphasis on starting with dinghy and progressing up as your skills allow, not your wallet. My first boat was an Opti at 8 - I was lucky.

At least more sailors get lessons - you can't buy a sailboat, start pulling strings, and say, "ok, I get it. Away we go." Powerboaters think they can; that's why so many of them don't know squat about what they're doing...
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answer...
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Old 12-01-2006, 21:44   #6
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The boat shows are selling status, not cruising boats, otherwise there would be a lot less Hunters, and a lot more Pacific Seacraft. I have no problem with this tactic, as most of these boats are purchased by people who can afford to maintain them, and used for what they are best designed for. After all, what sailor in his right mind would want a 30' boat that sleeps 8?
Also, it is a great ploy for the dreamer with more money than brains. I think most of us in the early stages got our inspirations from the tall ships sailing across oceans, leading to a desire to have a "ship" of pur own. Only with experience do we realize the benefits of a small boat. That is not to say that for some a large boat is not the solution, but for most cruisng couples, a 55' gaffer will be a bit much to deal with.
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Old 12-01-2006, 22:55   #7
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If I am a salesman selling a 65-foot catamaran with a jacuzzi in the aft cabin and a prospective first-time boat owner walks past I tell him its an entry-level boat because he's entry level. I tell the owner of a 27-foot boat that this is what he should step up to. I tell the owner of the 100-foot schooner that my boat has everything his has, is cheaper and easier to sail and more fun. Selling is a noble art, but what salesmen say has nothing to do with reality.

Manufacturers book space in boat shows to sell what they think or hope their salesmen can sell to boat show attendees. They are often disappointed.
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Old 12-01-2006, 23:04   #8
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Just look at the used car lot with the Corvette up front, and the Ford Escort in the back of the lot. And until they run your credit, evryone can qualify for the vette. You are correct. Sales is an Art. Noble? I'm not so sure.
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Old 12-01-2006, 23:14   #9
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I thoroughly support the concept of fat, bald, rich businessmen buying good quality, expensive sailboats and not using them. Ten years down the track they realise what a waste of time & money, berthage fees etc. and say Sell Sell. Some real sailor comes along and buys the thing cheap, paints the bottom, replaces the rigging and goes sailing. Yahoo

Positively, socially deviant.
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Old 12-01-2006, 23:17   #10
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I agree, but then, we need to encourage the manufacturers to push boats we actually will want to own in 5 years
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Old 13-01-2006, 02:41   #11
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Perhaps the growth in the over-forty foot new boat market could be tied to the demographic trend of increasingly over-forty (year old) sailors. Recently, “baby-boomers” have been reaching the the age where they have the time, health and money for boating - and they are choosing to buy larger sailboats that allow them to pursue their sailing dreams in greater comfort and luxury.

Another factor driving the statistical growth in the larger boat market (new) might be manufacturing economics. It’s more profitable to build and sell more expensive (larger) boats, than smaller ones. Manufacturers build boats that they (think they) can profitably sell now - not for any future used-boat market (posterity).
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Old 13-01-2006, 04:34   #12
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Getting Bigger all the Time

I think the increased sales of 40+ foot leisure yachts is only to be expected with the changes over the past decades.

I'm old enough to recall dreaming over a 'huge' SS30 a quarter of a century back. It was not only big compared against the other club yachts but it was equally expensive relative to what 'Mr Average' then earned.

Today with relatively higher incomes, relatively lower costs, and I guess most importantly relatively more people dreaming of going sailing with partners who also now take a greater part in that decision process - will lead to most choosing 'bigger' boats.

The average length of ARC participating vessels has gone in steps from 30 foot to now 49 foot - but where will it stop?

There was a time not so long ago when I thought the largest yacht two people could handle safely was around 45 foot - but today with more devices coming along all making it easier still to handle large vessels amost single handed - maybe we've yet to reach a size limit?

Time will tell.

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Old 13-01-2006, 09:32   #13
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Good thread.

I talk to lot's of 'dock walkers' who are getting started. So many read 'sail' and other marketing rags. It is a shame, I look around the marina I am in, and see lots of money sitting at the dock's rotting away......

... would type more, but I think I will go sailing..
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Old 13-01-2006, 10:01   #14
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Hard work; no time

Many who can afford the larger boats can afford it for one reason; they are type A driven folk who work hard and long for a buck. I recall reading the large yacht Donald Trump owned; I wasn't surprised that he sold it; when did he have the time to really enjoy it?

Many who earn the big bucks do work long and hard, taking very little time off. Can you imagine Bill Gates taking a couple of months off to go cruising? When these driven type A's purchase the boat, they do have the money to maintain it, but they don't have the time to run them. And because they are driven, they don't want to take the time off. Its a wise man who can create the fortune, then live a fortunate life style.
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Old 13-01-2006, 17:13   #15
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This is America baby ! Supersize me ! Houses, Cars, Why not boats ?
"Back in the day", and not long ago, a yacht was to be large enough to get you there. There were wealty who had larger boats, but most were modest. I am rereading some Hal Roth and I really enjoy when he describes who else is in a harbor or lagoon as he sails thru the South Pacific and heads north towards Japan. Most boats are 27 to 36 feet. I have to believe that many of our coastal cruisers must be stronger and unquestionably better equipped than these simple boats that travelled so far. Roth's 35 foot boat leaked badly at the bow. Roth didn't have an auxiliary. No GPS, life raft, water maker, SSB, EPIRB, survival suit. No refrigeration or electricity. No automatic bilge pumps. And don't tell me live aboards need more space for storage. These folks cruised for YEARS.
"Two On A Big Ocean" was first published in 1972 !
I think he actually started that voyage around 1962. Thats just yesterday.


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