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Old 14-05-2016, 07:45   #1
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7 ft draught or smaller ?

Hi everyone, my family and I are planning to buy a sailboat on the west coast of BC, our plan is to liveaboard whilst we gain experience on board for probably the next couple of years. We then want to go down the west coast of America to Mexico then through the Panama Canal into the caribbean, we are planning on roughly a four year cruise. I'm stuck on what boat to buy as in the draught, I have seen a couple of boats I'm interested in but they have 7ft 2 inch draughts, my first priority is the safety of my wife and daughter so I'm thinking a larger draught to give me more stability at sea. I'm also thinking this could be a problem for the San Blas islands and also many areas in the Bahamas etc. Your expertise and knowledge would be greatly appreciated. My home should be selling shortly so I need to narrow my search down. Thanks in advance.
Chris

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Old 14-05-2016, 08:23   #2
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

I'd concentrate on finding a boat as a whole that you LOVE. A 7 ft. draft is definitely pretty easy to live with. I wish I had a slightly deeper draft and I live in Florida where we have pretty shallow water. It shouldn't be much of an issue on the west coast.
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Old 14-05-2016, 08:42   #3
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

Yes it's around the caribbean islands where I have my worries.

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Old 14-05-2016, 08:43   #4
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

If it's just a matter of anchoring further out that shouldn't be a problem.

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Old 14-05-2016, 08:46   #5
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

You can have a lifting keel too. Look at OVNI and similar toys.

b.
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Old 14-05-2016, 08:47   #6
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

Thanks b I will look into that

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Old 14-05-2016, 08:49   #7
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

Hi Chris, keel length is only one of many parameters that contribute to boat stability, so it's problematic to focus on just one factor when considering which boat to buy. Even the concept of stability is problematic. Do you mean stable as in flat? If so, you need a multihull. They're "stable" till they're not . If you mean stable as in slower sea motion, then size matters (both keel and hull, as well as form design). If you mean stable as in lower tendency to get knocked down, then again it comes back to hull, keel and even rig design.

I guess what I'm saying is, I wouldn't focus on just one aspect. Find a boat that well designed, well built, does what you need it to do, and most importantly makes your heart beat a little faster.

Seven foot draft shouldn't pose significant problems -- certainly not on the PNW. Now, it is true that deeper keels will be a limiting factor in some areas. The Bahamas is one are which purports to be a challenge for us deeper-draft boats (mine is 6'). I've not been there yet, but I accept I may not be able to get into all nooks and crannies. But that is true everywhere. Here on the Great Lakes my 6' draft puts some anchorages and harbours out of reach. And it means I sometimes can't anchor as tight into shore as I'd like. So be it...

All boats are a collection of compromises. The trick is to understand what is important to you and your sailing family, and to then find a boat that best fits those criteria. This is why I usually recommend that new sailors/boat owners first buy a solid, simple monohull in the 25 to 32 foot range. Get one with all the basic systems (inboard engine, galley with cooker, plumbing, electrical) and then get out and cruise for a while. This boat will teach you what is really important for you and your crew.

Here are a couple of websites that list raw boat data. This first one lets you compare specs head-to-head.

Sail Calculator Pro v3.54 - 2800+ boats

While these other two let you search the database for various designs and then view their specs:

SailingJoy.com - Resources - Sailboat Specifications
Sailboatdata.com is the worlds largest sailboat database.

It's fun to compare specs, but this is in no way a replacement for actually getting out and cruising on various designs. Specs only tell a limited story. It's how they all fit together that makes each boat unique.
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Old 14-05-2016, 09:01   #8
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

Thanks Mike that's given me alot to think about, as in stable I meant ad un sailing down the west coast so there's going to be a few days passages. I can't really go the small boat route as we want to liveaboard immediately and gain experience on the boat we choose, the rental properties around Vancouver are very expensive so to keep our costs down and build the cruise kitty we feel it's the best choice,. I will look at those sites and appreciate your response. Thx

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Old 14-05-2016, 09:03   #9
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

Sorry for my bad spellings my phone as a mind of its own.

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Old 14-05-2016, 13:17   #10
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

7 ft. would be somewhat limiting in the Bahamas. I wouldnt go there with a boat with a 7 ft. draft. Just too nerve wracking. But the eastern caribbean would be no problem at all.
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Old 14-05-2016, 13:39   #11
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

I would probably find 7 ft draft a bit much. It can restrict you to anchoring further out etc in a busy anchorage. It definitely will restrict you in the Bahamas and some other places. OTOH... you learn to live with what you have. But having 7ft of draft will not make your boat "safer" etc. Nothing wrong with 5+ ft. Unless you are buying a real big boat, 7 ft indicates to me that you are considering an ex racing boat, and if safety and having a forgiving hull are your considerations, then get a cruising boat with a longer keel rather than a fin keel that is deeper. JMHO, some people say go in anything.
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Old 14-05-2016, 13:51   #12
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

I get ya Chris. Vancouver is crazy -- one of the most expensive places for real estate in the world (as you know). I just know from my experience that actually owning and cruising on our first boat for a few years taught me tons about what was really important for me and my partner. But I'm sure you'll figure it out just fine .
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Old 14-05-2016, 14:29   #13
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

Thanks for all your replys, I'm new to all this so every comment is welcomed and appreciated, the boat I've had my eye on us a beneteau 41s5, we really want to get to the Bahamas so I'll keep looking.

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Old 14-05-2016, 14:42   #14
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

IMO, to predicate your boat choice on an imagined issue in the Bahamas during an imagined period of cruising there in the distant future is not rational. Cruising plans tend to morph over time, and what you think you will be doing ain't necessarily what will transpire.

As others have already said, in most cruising areas a 7 foot draft will not be much of a hindrance. We sailed from the SF area a long time ago with a 7'2" draft and have had that depth ever since. There have been a few times where it would have been nicer with less draft... could have gotten through some shallow passages without waiting for high tide... possibly would not have run aground where we did... but when balanced against 30 years and ~130,000 miles of successful cruising, that seems an acceptable tradeoff. And during that time, we've enjoyed the better windward performance that the deeper keel provides.

But, our cruising has been in the Pacific, Tasman, Southern and Indian oceans, not the Caribbean. When we set out, we imagined that we would circumnavigate and spend time on the Caribbean. That's not the way it has worked out for us, and if we had limited our choice of boats to shallow drafts because we thought we'd need that feature, well, I think we would have been less happy with our two boats.

So, there is one old fart's opinion... YMM! Good luck with your adventures.

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Old 14-05-2016, 14:53   #15
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Re: 7 ft draught or smaller ?

Hi jim, we intend to purchase a boat within the very near future and plan to live aboard, we do have the makings of a plan and that does involve a couple of years in the caribbean, as I want to make my first choice a good choice I'm trying to get as much input as possible , thanks for your comment.

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