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Old 06-07-2009, 17:37   #1
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Question 27-28' for Gulf / Caribbean Cruising?

i've been looking at a lot of boats over the last month and have been tempted to purchase a bigger boat 33/36 ft.

HOWEVER, the price difference between 27/28 and 33/36 is significant. this would be my first boat, which i plan on using single handed or maybe with one other person.

is 27/28 a good investment to get my feet wet? and would that size be suitable for cruising around the gulf of mexico and may down to the carribean?

thanks.
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Old 06-07-2009, 18:26   #2
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is 27/28 a good investment to get my feet wet? and would that size be suitable for cruising around the gulf of mexico and may down to the carribean?
Florida Newbie,
Depends on the boat really. The gulf can be worse than the Atlantic at times, so a good seaworthy boat is a must. Size doesn't necessarily make the boat seaworthy, design and quality definitely does. There are many opinions about size, I think it boils down to what you are comfortable with. I like the 30 foot range when I singlehand. I know many people who singlehand much bigger. My friend sailed around the world in a 37 footer. Maybe try to sail different sizes and see what your comfort level is.
Hope this helps.
Erika
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Old 06-07-2009, 18:30   #3
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Forgot to mention Motion comfort, smaller vessels tend to get beat up sooner that the big boys. Here is a website that focuses on stats like motion comfort and capsize ratio, It might be helpful Boat stats
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Old 06-07-2009, 18:44   #4
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The 2 footitis problem.
No matter what boat you get you will always want it 2 feet longer. Years ago when we started out good friends of ours told us to get a 36 foot boat. It would be all we would need. They had a 30 foot boat.
We bought a 40 ft boat. A few years later we wished we had a 44 ft boat. Al the stuff you collect fills it up quickly. Sometimes I dream of a 50 ft boat with a garage and workshop. My wife wants a studio.
It all depends how much time you want to spend on it.
I would think 28 ft is the minimum for full time cruising for one person, 36 feet the bare minimum for 2. There will not be much room for any toys or conveniences. It all has to do with weight carrying capacity.
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Old 06-07-2009, 21:08   #5
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I know a guy who travels around the gulf in a dana 24...i take my irwin around everywhere, not exactly the easiest to singlehand but she's tough
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Old 07-07-2009, 07:47   #6
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right now i just want "bare bones" minimum. since i'm not planning on full time cruising just yet i want something to learn on, yet big enough to coastal cruise the gulf (maybe cross the gulf).

my thought is if i can do it "bare bones" and on a smaller boat then when i do upgrade the added space will seem huge and the ammenities better.

i'm just getting started so again, from looking around the price climbs pretty fast once you pass 28ft.

i just want the boat to be big enough to at least do the above.
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Old 07-07-2009, 07:49   #7
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does anyone know of a small sailboat forum? i thought i had come across one awhile ago, but can't seem to find it now.
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Old 07-07-2009, 09:38   #8
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How much STUFF you want / need is the driver on size you need/ want. For Weekending I loved my Commodore 26. Even with a guest or two it was OK. For more than a Weekend it was far too small.

I have my 36' in the Caribbean now and it is easy to handle single handed in most circumstances and two can even more. It is fine for 2 to 4 month cruises with two and even an occasional additional overnight guest or couple. Have not tried it as a full time live aboard but think two could do well and one can have no problem with space as long as they were more selective on sailing conditions as a single hander.

You should consider a boat under 28 feet to have minimal value when you consider selling her and moving up to a larger boat. Depending on now much time and where your going to spend it on her would be the factor to consider. I would not care to be in a 28 footer in the prime season, Winter in the Eastern Caribbean. Northern Swells as lot as 5 feet would make passages uncomfortable at best and your storage capacity for items like water are very limited. Your limited in your stowage of emergency materials is also critical... even a dink.

Consider chartering a few times in the locations you have most interest and see what is in use. That will give you a feel of what "most" cruisers and charters are using. Charters tend to oversize by a few feet for vacations so take that into consideration.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:09   #9
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Originally Posted by florida newbie View Post
does anyone know of a small sailboat forum? i thought i had come across one awhile ago, but can't seem to find it now.
sailfar.net might be the small boat web site you seek.

A 27-28 foot Cape Dory would work. As would a Cape Dory 25D.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:15   #10
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My first boat was a 26-foot Westerly Centaur that I purchased for about 10K and happily sailed on the Great Lakes and several Bahamas cruises to about 2.5 months. In addition to saving on the boat cost itself, storage, maintenance and insurance were all less expensive. At one point I was paying under $50/month storage and since it wasn't worth much was happy going with liability only insurance which was something like $250/year. I sold it 8 years later for 2-3K less than I purchased it for. A great value and no regrets.

There certainly are very capable boats under 30 feet, but I think most of the ones that are inexpensive and good choices for the Caribbean will be fairly small for two people.

One thing I think you should carefully consider is how important it is for you to be able to take your first boat off shore to the Caribbean. For me, that would make a big difference in what I'm comfortable with. I'd happily use a Hunter or Catalina 30 for coastal and Bahamas sailing for example, but those are not boats I'd personally choose for more extensive cruising.

The Pacific Seacraft Dana and Flickr are a couple small boats that have great offshore reputations, but they are rarely found cheap. The Contessa/Taylor 26, Norsea and Cape Dory 25, and number of folkboats have all proved capable, affordable offshore boats, but are in my opinion very small. Boats like the Westerly 26-32, Morgan OI 28 & 30 are options with a bit more room, that can be found at very affordable prices. Although not as built for offshore use, boats like the Hunter 30, Catalina 30 and Endavour can be found for 25K or less and to me the extra room they afford over many 26-27 footers is notable. For me, standing headroom is a very important ergonomic factor in selecting a boat I'll spend any notable time on.

I've owned a 32-foot Beneteau in the BVIs which has suited me just fine for that location. I just picked up a 30 foot Hunter for Bahamas cruises to 3 months.

Also check into the insurance issues with any boat you are interested in. Boats under 30 feet might be hard to insure for the Caribbean.

The more instruction and experience you can get on other boats before buying your own, the more you will know about what is important to you.

Hope this helped.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:35   #11
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When her engine isn't torn apart for repairs, my Sabre 28 does really well. She's my first boat, and I can't complain. Built tough in Casco, ME (I learned just how tough the hard way on some rocks off the Maine coast). She's fairly quick and easy to handle. Nice lines, great teak belowdecks, fair amount of storage. Good boat for $17k (you can find them from around $10 up into the $20s depending on the year, condition, and equipment installed). Obviously, there are changes I'd make: getting new sails, mounting a couple more winches and bringing all the halyards back to the cockpit, installing the additional lower shrouds that Sabre recommends (later versions than mine were built with them; I have the instructions for installing them but it's a big job), re-running the radar wiring so that it's more useful, installing shore power (again, later models have it, mine doesn't) adding solar panels, a few other things....but really how much $ do I really want to spend upgrading a boat I got for so little $ to begin with? Not too much.

My $.02


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Old 07-07-2009, 11:47   #12
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Originally Posted by florida newbie
...the price climbs pretty fast once you pass 28ft.
There's a very good reason for that. That is sort of the "break even" point where, with bigger boats, you get real standing headroom for a 6' tall person, a separate head that is of actual, usable size, a fully functioning galley, and so on. To put it simply, with boats smaller than 30', it is almost always the case that it is more like camping on the water rather than living on a boat.

And, yes, I know there are exceptions. That why I said "almost". Of course, the exceptions--the small boats that you can really live on--tend to be just as expensive as the larger boats.
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:55   #13
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I sailed a 23' around carribean and Fl for 12 yrs comfortably. Its just a point of view when someone tells you what you will be comfortable in. My best sailing memory is a 50 day purist sail in that boat. No motor, electronics , just family the elements and boat.travelled from tampa to tortugas,keys,everglades and back. Never ran low on provisions, rationing is part of experience.
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Old 07-07-2009, 12:55   #14
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Atom Voyages | Voyages Aboard the Sailboat Atom -* Good Old Boats List - choosing a* small voyaging sailboat

Aloha Newbie,

I always recommend the site above to folks who pose the same question you have. There are lots of small boat cruisers/owners on this forum and you can ask them about certain boats you've found. I just did an interisland cruise on a Columbia 28 and was very surprised at how well it acted beating into 20-22 k winds and 6-8 foot seas. There would be a couple of modifications I'd make to it, like adding a bridgedeck and enlarging the cockpit drains as well as making the berths into sea berths but for the most part it was a good little sailer.
My all time favorite is the International Folkboat but it has very little interior room.
Good luck in your search.
Kind regards,
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Old 07-07-2009, 16:32   #15
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thanks for the sites rtbates and skiprjon. and though i do agree amenities are limited on smaller boats i think that for a starting point the 27/28 should do fine for my needs.

thanks all..
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