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Old 26-07-2012, 15:32   #1
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Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

I am new to the forum and have really enjoyed the information I have gleaned from the searches I have done to try to answer questions I have about boat selection. However, I have reached that point where my searches have left some questions unanswered, and led to new questions. I am posting today in the hope that I can get some help in three areas:

1. Categorizing the boats I am interested in,


2. Actual opinions on boats/styles/sizes based on my intended use, and


3. Any further recommendations or additional information that any of you might think is relevant.

Here’s a little background on me: I was prematurely dropped by a westbound stork in Iowa in 1964. In my early years I had an unnatural draw to boats and the ocean for a Midwestern kid. That was corrected in 1980 when we moved to Southern California. I spent every free minute in the water surfing, diving, fishing, or otherwise frolicking. My love of boats led me to summer jobs at the boatyards in Newport Beach, where I excelled at resurrecting mistreated brightwork. Working in boatyards gave me an opportunity to see lots of boats up close and personal and develop the belief that nothing is more beautiful to me than teak trim with an epoxy undercoat and 6-8 coats of Epiphanes varnish.

I was also blessed with an adventurous spirit that took me and my Volkswagon Westphalia to every remote surf spot from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas back in the day when you could actually camp on the beach just about anywhere in Baja California. I feel privileged to have been part of the last generation that could actually have regular adventures in remote parts of Mexico without fearing being shot by drug gangs.

That spirit led me to ask my grandmother to loan me the money to buy a sailboat so I could spend a winter in the Caribbean right after graduating from college. For better or worse, she laughed at me and told me to get a job.

I have owned a powerboat of some sort since 1985. I found a seriously neglected Bertram 31 and became its steward in 2003. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything that I have learned as I have restored it to its proper condition. Perhaps the greatest thing about owning my Bertram is the camaraderie I have developed with my slip neighbors, particularly the sailors who unknowingly keep giving my college dreams of sailing away new life every time they ask me to sail with them.

So with all that as the backdrop of why a guy with a powerboat and limited sailing experience has been researching sailboats, here are my questions:

I have been researching sailboats generally from 40-55’ that I would be able to use to sail in the South Pacific. Generally, I expect to sail with my girlfriend as a couple, taking on crew for long passages as necessary. My plan would be to head south with the Baja Ha-Ha, and then join the Pacific Puddle Jump. From there, I would basically follow the “Round the Pacific” route identified as Voyage H in Cornell’s World Cruising Routes.

I would like to keep the boat purchase under $250K, with the expectation that I would probably spend another $50K outfitting the boat for cruising. So if I were to find a boat that already had a windvane, solar panels/wind generator, water maker, etc, I could spend more.

One thing about my Bertram 31 is that it is a great boat in snotty seas. Low center of gravity and a deep v make it a great boat for Northern California. Ask a Bertram owner what the greatest thing about their boat is and they will likely say, “It’s the ride.”

Trying to translate that “It’s the ride” satisfaction into a sailboat has been a bit challenging for me. I asked one of my slip neighbors with a J boat what he thought of a Hans Christian and he said, “Looks good, but sails like a turd in a punch bowl.” I asked the Hans Christian owner what he thought of J boats and he said, “Great day racer in The Bay, but you can’t cruise it to any destinations.” Well, the owner of the J boat has sailed it to the Marquesas, Tahita, Hawaii, and back, and the Hans Christian owner admittedly limits his sailing to the SF Bay and Delta, but seems perfectly happy with his HC's performance. In other words, I get that everyone sees things slightly differently. For me, comfort is king. I appreciate not feeling like I am 3” shorter after getting back on land, and especially appreciate the little things like seat backs in settees that are angled rather than uncomfortably straight up and down.

The boats brands that I have researched to this point that I think fit my desires (at least esthetically) and budget are Hylas, Hans Christian, Gulfstar (54 SailCruiser), Hinckley, Little Harbor, Pacific Seacraft, Lagoon, and Bristol. From my searches on this forum, I learned generally that Hans Christians’ are built like tanks and are heavy boats. Hylas are known for being more of a middle weight boat – a compromise between light air performance and heavy sea comfort. What I have not been able to piece together is a sense of what manufacturers (other than the very preliminary info on Hans Christian & Hylas) built heavy weight, middle weight, or light weight cruising boats.

I have sensed a great reluctance for anyone to recommend a specific brand/model of cruising boat here. However, it would be great if someone could take my list of builders and generally let me know what types of boats – heavy weight (comfortable performers in seas, but not great performers in light winds), middle weight (compromise between heavy sea performance and light wind performance), light weight (light air performers that are less comfortable in heavy seas) – they were known for building.

Second, I would love to hear opinions on the appropriate size boat for comfortable cruising the South Pacific for a couple with occasional crew. I get the variations on rigging make a difference, but just generally what size or size range is right. Also, what about keel styles for the South Pacific?

Third, any additional nuggets of knowledge you care to pass on will be greatly appreciated.

I recognize that this type of question gets asked a lot. I hope you all understand that I am asking after having done the initial rounds of research and getting to the point where I felt I needed to ask more directed questions.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 26-07-2012, 16:03   #2
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnV8r View Post
[SIZE=3][FONT=Georgia]The boats brands that I have researched to this point that I think fit my desires (at least esthetically) and budget are Hylas, Hans Christian, Gulfstar (54 SailCruiser), Hinckley, Little Harbor, Pacific Seacraft, Lagoon, and Bristol.
I think you're going about it all wrong.

You're focusing on brands. The collection of brands you've listed in the sentence I quoted above is as dissimilar as you could possibly get. It's almost like a joke: "What do a Gulfstar, a Little Harbor, and a Lagoon have in common?" (The only thing I can see is that they all float.)

Start thinking in terms of features. Monohull or multihull? Center or aft cockpit? Full or fin keel? Sloop, cutter or ketch?

The last few times I started boat shopping I knew I wanted an aft-cockpit, fin-keel sloop with a walk-through, sugar-scoop transom. I knew I didn't want a racer/cruiser design, and that I wanted to purchase the boat new, and that I wanted to spend XYZ dollars. I'd learned from my previous boat that I wasn't going to be happy with headroom less than 6'4", and that I flat-out refused to own a boat with running backstays. Great, now I was down to a dozen possibilities, and I could actually start looking at boats.

At that point, and only at that point, do you want to start thinking about brands.

Every boat dealer in the world will tell you I'm wrong because they want you to start your search thinking about brands. Ignore them. Trust me, you're not at the Chevy or Ford stage. You still don't know whether you want a pickup truck, a sports car, a luxury sedan or a minivan. Figure that out first.
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Old 26-07-2012, 16:40   #3
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

Resources For Cruising Sailors
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Old 26-07-2012, 16:43   #4
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

I think your grandmother is a very smart person.
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Old 26-07-2012, 22:31   #5
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

G'Day JohnV,

For once I find myself in total agreement with Bash!

You sound as if you have done some OPB sailing, and on a variety of types. So, what did YOU like? If this thread takes off you will find that there are passionately held opinions on every aspect that you ask about.

Ann and I have spent the last 25 years cruising the areas that you aspire to: Mexico through the south Pacific, and I can say with complete confidence that we've encountered folks happily cruising in every imaginable sort and size of boat. Honestly, this area isn't all that demanding if you pay attention to cyclone seasons and your location, and all the pontiffs who insist that you must have a long keel, heavy displacement this or that, or a multihull, or whatever are simply wrong.

It then boils down to finding a boat within your budget that YOU like, and that is in good enough condition that the important systems are reasonably reliable. Your budget region should allow something in the 42 +/- 5 foot range that fits the bill. That size is manageable by a couple, has room for the odd guest(s), will carry enough stores and spares for practical cruising and can be maintained by a handy owner without having to hire help.

So, as Bash has said, you will need to determine the genre that interests you before you narrow down your search to specific builders. And then, what is likely to happen is being struck by the thunderbolt of boat lust when you finally see the boat of your dreams. At that point, most folks succumb to primal lust and all the science and planning fly out the window. If you are lucky, it will still be a good choice!!

So, more homework and then lots of searching await you... good luck with it.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 27-07-2012, 09:53   #6
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

@Fortytwo: Thanks for that link. That is just the information I was looking for.
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Old 27-07-2012, 11:37   #7
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

@Bash: I appreciate your input, and maybe I am going about this all wrong. Or maybe I am not communicating where I am in the process of selecting a boat very clearly.


If you look at my post, I identify that I am interested in


1) a boat between 40-55’


2) with a purchase price up to $250K that


3) is comfortable to be in,


4) has a comfortable ride, and


5) is suitable for cruising in the South Pacific


Those are my parameters at this point. So the fact that the list of boats (or boat brands) that I have begun to research includes a motorsailer, a cat, and several traditional monohulls is by design.

If you look at the fact that a Gulfstar 54 SailCruiser with an LOA of 54’ displaces 50,000 lbs, a Hinckley Custom 53’ currently for sale displaces 38,000 lbs, and a Lagoon 440 displaces 23,483 lbs you begin to see the dilemma someone like myself without an instant in depth knowledge of sailboats that are appropriate for the South Pacific faces.


The Gulfstar 54 looks CAVERNOUS and comfortable. All the research I did on Gulfstar says the SailCruisers were built at the height of Gulfstar’s high quality production years. However, will a 60,000 lbs Gulfstar motorsailer be painfully inefficient and frustrating to sail in the average winds in the South Pacific during the cruising season?


Does a 44’ Lagoon displacing 23,483 lbs end up being more comfortable to sail than a 53’ Hinckley at 38,000 lbs by virtue of the fact that it’s a cat?

Those are the type of questions that I can’t answer without input/opinions from others who have cruised in the South Pacific…and I get that I’m asking for opinions with most of my five criteria. So before I decide whether I want an aft or center cockpit, a sloop,cutter, ketch or yawl, or even a full or fin keel, I was hoping to get the opinions of more experienced sailors on which brands of boat would meet the five criteria above.

Fortytwo gave me a great link that helps me understand exactly which boats are heavy, moderate, and light displacement. That was a tremendous help. I did not realize until I perused that link that a sailboat manufacturer might make a heavy, moderate, and light displacement sailboat. Maybe that’s the source of the confusion about my early focus on brands. Powerboat manufacturers tend to stick to one thing that they do best (i.e. Nordhavn making bulletproof world travelling trawlers).


So any other information that you might be able to add to the discussion to help me funnel my early interest through my five criteria would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 27-07-2012, 13:01   #8
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

JohnV8r,
Many times, "Boat selection" threads turn into arguments....sometimes because the original poster / questioner doesn't appreciate (or like) the reponses they get...and sometimes those trying to help, end up fighting with each other, etc....
I hope this one doesn't turn into that!!!
So, please understand that I WILL answer your questions, but I will also add my thoughts/comments that I hope will guide you through the mazes a bit easier....


1) I completely agree with Bash and Jim Cate, 100%....


PLEASE take their well written words of advice and encouragement to heart.....they have given you the best overall answers to your query!!!


I started cruising as a kid in the 1960's....
And, as someone who grew up sailing on my parents Hinckley, and for the past 8+ years have been crossing oceans on my Catalina 470.....and having sailed, owned, and crewed on a variety of sailboats over the past 40 years, like Bash wrote, they only thing they had in common is that they all float!!






2) Directly to you specific questions....


a) Understand that "weight" is relative, and once you decide on the genre of boat, if comparing "weight", you should be comparing SA/D and D/LWL ratios to give you a rough idea/comparison of vessels' performance at various wind speeds/angles....




b) Opinions of boat size, for a couple w/ occassional crew???
There are many variables, but I think Jim Cate's 42' +/- 5' is a good range...


Keel styles??? couldn't you ask a less controversial question, like what's the best anchor..

In preface, in over 40 years, I've sailed offshore/across oceans (as well as gunkholed/island-hopped thru the Bahamas/Caribbean) in well designed boats with...
...fin keels and sleek spade rudders...
...modified fin / cut-away keels and skeg / partial skeg-hung rudders....
...long, full keels and attached rudders..
and I had no troubles surviving in any of them, and I arrived at the other end of the ocean alive and well....the key words here are well designed, as this is MUCH more important than what you queried about...
(Ask a naval architect / yacht designer, and you'll see that hull shape and design, weight and weight distribution, ballast/disp ratios, moments of inertia, center of gravity, rig design, etc. etc. all play a much larger role in vessel "ride" than what "keel style" she has!!!)


But, if you must have an answer: For me, fin keel and spade rudder is my choice....




c) Nuggets of knowledge....
--- read what Bash, Jim Cate, and I wrote...and heed those words...
--- understand that almost any boat that you've thought of (or mentioned), will take more than you can imagine, and most will take more than the people/crew on them....
--- don't believe most of what you read posted on the internet...








3) Using just these 5 points.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnV8r View Post
1) a boat between 40-55’
2) with a purchase price up to $250K that
3) is comfortable to be in,
4) has a comfortable ride, and
5) is suitable for cruising in the South Pacific
I would actually choose my current boat, a Catalin 470....a 47' aft cockpit, aft cabin, fin-keeled, spade-ruddered, performance-cruiser, with a fine entry, round-bottomed hull, masthead sloop....(no, my boat is NOT for sale..

But, just because I would choose a particular boat, doesn't mean that you would find my choice to be to your liking....





4) Specific question on a heavy motorsailer...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnV8r View Post
...will a 60,000 lbs Gulfstar motorsailer be painfully inefficient and frustrating to sail in the average winds in the South Pacific during the cruising season?
In a word, Yes....







5) Specific question asking to compare the "ride" of a modern "heavy" cat to a mono....
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnV8r View Post
Does a 44’ Lagoon displacing 23,483 lbs end up being more comfortable to sail than a 53’ Hinckley at 38,000 lbs by virtue of the fact that it’s a cat?
For most people, No....

There are many variables, and the differences between a cat and mono are about as wide as you can get and still be talking about sailboats
And, while I'm not familiar with this particular Hinckley (as I am the SW-50, SW-51, and SW-52), my assumption is that its "ride" is as smooth and easy as any mono you're likely to find....
But, the differences between the "ride" of a cat and a mono are VAST...some like the cat, some hate it....some like the mono, some hate it....
It's going to be YOUR boat, and it's YOUR money, and YOUR desires, etc.....so, I cannot make these choices for you....





6) Vessel "weights".....
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnV8r View Post
I did not realize until I perused that link that a sailboat manufacturer might make a heavy, moderate, and light displacement sailboat.
Understand that all boats WILL be heavier than their "light ship weights" printed on their spec sheets....but you can use these spec'd light ship weights to compare one to another....
But more importantly, if you choose to compare vessel weights, you really should be comparing SA/D and D/L ratios.....




7) One last tidbit / nugget....don't be mislead by well meaning websites, discussions, etc. that get into the minutia of things too quickly....as much of "cruising" / "voyaging" is common-sense...


I do hope this helps...

Fair winds....

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 27-07-2012, 14:01   #9
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

@ka4wja: John thank you SO much! Your input really helps…as does everyone’s input.

On the website that Fortytwo linked, they show the following D/L classifications:

Ultra light racer: 60-100
Very light racer: 100-150
Light cruiser/racer: 150-200
Light cruiser: 200-250
Average cruiser: 250-300
Hefty: cruiser 300-350
Very hefty cruiser: 350+

And the following for SA/D classifications:

10 - 13 under-canvassed
14 - 15 conservative
16 - 20 high-powered
20+ very high-powered


I was wondering if you would give me your opinion on the D/L and SA/D classifications that you think are comfortable for Mexico and the South Pacific.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old 27-07-2012, 14:32   #10
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

A lot of wide open questions, and opinions abound. In the above list I would want a boat D/L to be "Average cruiser" or lighter. Although I've had some very heavy boats over the years, my preference has continually moved toward lighter. What is needed is lighter but with excellent construction. That's where the guessing game begins, as all the advertisements touting fancy layup materials etc, dont mean much if the boat breaks in half!
Too heavy a boat wallows in the troughs, doesnt go to weather well and is a wet ride. But really it has a lot to do with your attitude, do you want the absolute safest thickest hull you can get as priority one? or are you a gambler at heart? ride a motorcycle? do rock climbing? It's like driving an SUV around town in case you get in an accident vs driving a sports car.
At any rate I would say something in the 250-300 D/L range and to your liking will do it. You probably dont need more than 45 ft to be really comfortable.
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Old 27-07-2012, 14:52   #11
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

Watch out using the D/Ls when looking at boats in different eras. Older boats will have long overhangs compared to modern boats with a straigher bow and an aft that is almost/or in the water. The older boats don't get their design waterline until they heel over where the newer ones the LWL and design waterline may not change much.

The result is for 2 boats with the same length and displacement is that the older boat will have a higher D/L. But once each is sailing they are the same.

My last boat was 39' and had a D/L of 245, my current boat is 43.5' and has a D/L of 165. The current boat is more comfortable in ride, and waaay more comfortable in everything else!

There was thread about ratios not long ago.
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Old 27-07-2012, 16:23   #12
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

@Cheechako & Don Lucas: Interesting points about the numbers. As I have started to refilter my list this afternoon, two of the boats that I have gravitated toward are the Bristol 47.7 and the Hylas 47. Numbers are as follows:

Bristol 47.7
D/L = 301 (Hefty Cruiser)
B/D = 43% (Resistant to heeling)
SA/D = 14 – 17 (Conservative to High Powered)
Comfort = 75 (Slow Motion)
Capsize = 1.62 (Quick to Recover)
L/B = 3.6 (Relatively Narrow)


Hylas 47
D/L = 266 (Average Cruiser)
B/D = 45% (Resistant to heeling)
SA/D = 18 (High Powered)
Comfort = 64 (Slow Motion)
Capsize = 1.8 (Recover)
L/B = 3.3 (Relatively Narrow)


Coming from a powerboat background may be handicapping me a little bit with the D/L ratios. Generally, in powerboating displacement = comfort. For example, I had a 20' Proline that was very balanced at 2500 lbs displacement and had a nice deep v. I would regularly cruise it 40 - 60 miles outside the Golden Gate to go albacore fishing. It was fast (26-28 knot cruise), but it would often feel like I was on Mr. Toad's wild ride. My Bertram 31 displaces about 16,500 lbs with full fuel and cruises between 18-22 knots depending on conditions. To put it in relative terms, the difference in D/L is 125 vs 532. I'm not suggesting the D/L on a powerboat is comparable here. However, I don't feel conditions on my Bertram 31 that would have made me turn around in my Proline.


My point in mentioning that is I have a natural tendency to gravitate to heavier/higher numbers on the D/L for a sailboat because of my frame of reference where displacement = comfort. A great example of my expectation was my shock this afternoon when a Hans Christian 48T had a D/L of 281, putting in the "Average Cruiser" category. Most of what I've read and have been told first hand by my slip neighbors is that Hans Christians are considered "slow, heavy cruisers that can take snotty weather." Imagine my surprise when the Hans Christian 48T fell into the "Average Cruiser" category. I would have expected the HC 48T to be in the "Hefty Cruiser" category based on HC's reputation and my displacement = comfort frame of reference.


Am I correct in assuming that not all boats in the "Hefty Cruiser" (D/L > 300) are wet boats?

Does a Bristol 47.7 have a reputation as a wet and sluggish boat?

I've done a lot of adreline pumping things in my life like whitewater rafting, surfing big waves, etc, but I gave all the crazy stuff up when I had kids. I want to have fun, but I'd also like to play it safe enough that I don't have wonder if I'll be able to see my kids graduate from college, get married, or have kids of their own.


I really do appreciate all the feedback.
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Old 27-07-2012, 16:40   #13
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

You may already be aware of this list, but it's a pretty good place to sort through some well-built "bluewater" boats: Mahina Expedition - Selecting A Boat for Offshore Cruising

The fact that you have a Lagoon in there among the Pacific Seacrafts and Hans Christians means you have to get yourself out on a large catamaran because it's a different kind of animal. This may give you a much better idea on what kind of sailing you're going to prefer. Once you figure that out, you'll have narrowed things down that much more.
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Old 27-07-2012, 17:04   #14
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

Deciding on what features you want without experiencing those features is not a good way to start. Try to sail on boats that have the features you think you want and be flexible enough to cross some of those features off.
I know what features suit me and they can all fit on a 36 foot boat although I own a 42 and have been crew aboard as large as 55 I would stick with a 36 or less for a couple. I've sailed on schooners owned ketches and sloops and sailed on cutters. Now I prefer sloops for simplicity.
Good luck in deciding what you'd like.
kind regards,
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Old 28-07-2012, 06:11   #15
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Re: Another question about boat selection...just more detailed

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnV8r View Post

Coming from a powerboat background may be handicapping me a little bit with the D/L ratios. Generally, in powerboating displacement = comfort. .


My point in mentioning that is I have a natural tendency to gravitate to heavier/higher numbers on the D/L for a sailboat because of my frame of reference where displacement = comfort.

Yes displacement = comfort. But for the 2 boats you put all the numbers down for in your thread you didn't even list displacement, so are only looking at ratios which are effected by the hull shape. So are meaningless if the 2 boats aren't of similar hull design.

I was were you are not long ago. You have decide what you want:
1- a good sailing boat 90+% of the time
2- a boat with less motion that is slower and keeps you sailing longer to get there, "might as well be a little more less uncomfortable for the extra 20% of time it will take to get there"
3- a tank that barely sails 75% of the time but is less uncomfortable (not more comfortable) less than 5% of the time when things are rough because you were too stupid to check the weather before you left.

Get a boat that is good for the most use it sees, which wouldn't be for sailing in storms.

Forget those ratios for the most part!!!!!!! The only 1 worth concerning is dispacement/sail area as that = power. After than it is just displacement to length (total not ratios). After that real useful things become more important like: sleeping arrangement, layout cockpits, water tankage, fuel tankage.

You need to stop being scared of SAILING and decide to get a SAILING boat, or decide you really want a motorsailer (that is OK if that is what you want).
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