My wife and I are still going to the Oakland show so if you will be there as well perhaps we can grab a coffee and compare notes.
I thought I would provide an update on my process after a few more factory tours and boat shows, along with some general thoughts in response to posts above.
My wife and I are down to three mono hulls:
- Malo 46 Classic
440 Aft Cockpit
- Hallberg Rassy
48 (the B layout with an island berth in the aft)
We are planning a trip to Sweden
to tour all three factories and sail on each in late May. It was very tough getting to this point. These boats, of course, reflect our personal needs and preferences. They are also all made within a few miles of each other, which I believe, causes them to compete heavily, creating many similarities. These similarities are what I think draws us to all three of them, the style fits our taste and needs.
I ruled out many boats because I did not feel that they were seaworthy
in the offshore
sense, but a large number of the boats in the running just didn't match up with our needs for one reason or another. For instance, I would absolutely trust a Pacific Seacraft
44 or Cabo Rico
45 offshore, but for us the double enders just didn't have enough interior
volume and storage
. I also loved the Hylas
49, but you have to wait 2 years to get one. We also liked the Hylas
54 but it was a little too large (rig height and sail area being the main issues for us).
My wife and I can get along with very minimal possessions, but when we created an inventory list of necessities we found that we really needed a surprising amount of storage
. A place to stow the spinnaker
(and a way to get it in and out), room for weeks of provisions, appropriate chain stored low in a self stowing chain locker, two anchors fore and one aft, etceteras. It's easy to get lulled into oblivion by a nice interior
while she's tied to the dock
with a main and a jib
and one anchor
. I bring a list of everything I'll need to stow on the boat when I do a walk through and look around to find places for everything. I’ve seen some really beautiful boats that at sea would require you to drag sails through your nice saloon
to stow in the forepeak, making that two cabin
boat a one cabin
I also try to sort out the anchoring
capabilities and dig through the anchor
lockers. I've found the anchoring
systems and storage facilities on the vast majority of "cruising" sail boats to be completely inadequate. I've seen chain lockers that wont self stow, cockpits with no place to stow a stern anchor and warp, anchor locker
hatches that wont open while the chain is on the gypsy
, anchors that stow under 15 other things so that you can’t get to them easily or if you need them in a hurry, plum stems with no bow sprit and little to no clearance for anchor stowage, etc.
Cruising Yacht Size
There are people who will tell you that you shouldn't sail on anything larger than a Dana or Contessa and you have folks like the Dashews who recommend a 78 footer for a cruising couple:
Larger yachts have proven to be safer at sea, but nothing is safe if you can't handle it. With the quality of equipment
, design, layout and fittings on modern pure blood cruising boats, a properly trained couple can obviously handle quite a bit more than in the days of yore. Cruising boats in manufacture and in anchorages
everywhere are getting bigger. Some folks like to be Spartan in their approach. I met a guy last month on Anagada who lived on a 26' sail boat. I asked him what kind of head
he preferred and he said, "bucket and chuckit". You have the Dashews at the other extreme. I will not be presumptuous and cast my preferences or financial constraints upon others, there are pros and cons to cruising on a 26 footer and a 78 footer. Perhaps the real mistake would be buying
more boat than you could afford to rig and operate properly for the intended purpose.
If you've chartered for weeks at a time, sailed throughout your life and taken proper training, either formal or OJT with heavy weather
experience, you can ease into any appropriate cruising boat. You should of course spend time inshore breaking any new boat in, and then move to an over night trip, and as confidence in the rig and equipment
out to the horizon. I know a couple of folks who have picked up their new boats and headed immediately out to sea. These are not typically happy people regardless of their prior experience.
I have heard people suggest (often in a near vacuum) that if you’ve only sailed 35 footers you shouldn’t buy a 45 footer. If you never sail larger boats, you’ll never sail larger boats. Someone who buys a 45 footer and sails it locally, and perhaps acquires some instruction if necessary, will have more experience on that type of 45 footer than most people in no time. I recently completed a 6 day IYT certification
aboard a 40’ Caliber (very nice cruiser) in the snotty SoCal Channel Islands, and the owner was onboard taking the course. The owner got by far the most out of the course because everything we did applied specifically to his boat (I wish we’d used my boat in retrospect!). I would also say that someone used to 40 foot fin keel charter
boats moving to a 40 foot full keel
will be in for a lot more surprises than someone moving from a 40 footer to a similar 45 footer.
If you are highly risk averse you probably shouldn’t be cruising long range (or driving on the freeway in Los Angeles). Safety
requires developing strong sailing and power skills aboard your boat, I think that this is fairly obvious, and fairly easy for most people to develop. On the other hand I rarely hear people recommending, medical
training, meteorological skills, fire fighting knowledge and a strong navigation
background. If you don’t know what the weather’s up to these days you really have no excuse. Most of the horror stories I hear have to due with imprudent risk taking and lack of preparation in areas other than sailing skills. Cruising is one part sailing and many parts