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Old 22-11-2008, 11:53   #1
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Bigger Boat vs Smaller Boat

I realize this question is more or less the same as discuss all aspects of life but I still have to ask.

In our quest for the boat we are daily hit over the head with the idea that all boats are a comprimise. For some reason (I assume because of smaller potential market) There seem to be a large number of quite nice boats in the 55-60' range that seem to be a much better value than similarly equiped smaller boats. These larger craft would work for us from the point of view of living aboard. Large complete galley, real live honest to god shower, room for guests, bright well lit interior. The floating condo concept. However is a bigger boat going to be a bigger pain in the posterior to sail. Everything we have seen is equiped with roller furling jib and main, power winches etc so it can be done. The big boats that I crewed on in the distant past were fine but we had a bunch of young studdly crew as well.
From a safety standpoint if we are out in the middle of the big blue and something nasty comes our way are we going to be wishing for something smaller with smaller lines, smaller sails and smaller mass, or will the larger boat be safer and more comfortable.
Storm worthyness is not something that one is likely to experience while chartering, or at least we haven't.
While the safety in blue water is the number one concern we acknowledge that we will be at anchor a lot more than we will be under way. Additionally we are not made of money either and recognize that bigger boat means bigger stuff which means bigger expenses. If anyone could hazard a rough guess as to the increase cost of say running a 42 foot something versus a 56 foot something these thoughts would be appreciated.
thanks SK
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Old 22-11-2008, 13:32   #2
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A big boat is easier to sail but harder to dock. A big boat stands up to it's canvas better then a small boat but nothing happens quick on a big boat, you must plan ahead. Big boat gear cost more then small boat gear.
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Old 22-11-2008, 13:33   #3
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I like my big boat. My Wife and I sail her and have not had any real problem, however we have not been out in anything real hazardus yet.
I have found that big boat have the correct sized equipment to handle themselves. And the comfort is worth it.
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Old 22-11-2008, 14:02   #4
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Originally Posted by Joli View Post
A big boat is easier to sail but harder to dock. A big boat stands up to it's canvas better then a small boat but nothing happens quick on a big boat, you must plan ahead. Big boat gear cost more then small boat gear.
That pretty much sums it up. A friend of mine near 80 sails single-handed a 51footer. I asked him if he felt safer being on a big boat. His reply was the only time it feels too big is docking! I had to smile at Joli's remark
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Old 22-11-2008, 14:13   #5
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We have a 53-ft ketch with electric furling main and furling jib. Easy to single-hand if necessary. The 10-hp bow thruster makes it a breeze to dock even in 30-kt breezes. This 53-ft ketch is far easier to handle than our previous 46-ft sloop which had no electric winches and no bow thruster. Ease of handling depends entirely on how boat is equipped.
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Old 22-11-2008, 14:25   #6
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I agree with everything that has been said so far.
Docking can be tricky because of the sheer weight of a big boat so anytime we pull up or leave a dock or mooring we have pow wow first to talk about wind and sea conditions and how we can expect the boat to react under those conditions (something we almost never did on our small boat). Mistakes with big boats around the dock has much more severe consequences than mistakes made on a small boat so we take that seriously.
When underway I have not noticed things being anymore difficult and in reality probably easier due to the stability of a large boat (I agree that things really do happen more slowly on a big boat).
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Old 22-11-2008, 15:03   #7
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in this part (nth oz) of the tropics we have 8m tides, most of the bigger yachts are moored that far away from land in order to stay upright on a spring low tide that on a high tide they arent in protected water at all. i've met cruising couples on 50'+ yachts who were looking for something smaller, i've met cirumnavigators on large yachts looking to do the same, i havent met anyone on a comfortable 27'+ looking to get a 50'+

i was knocked over whilst crossing the tasman in my 28' monohull, it took ages to tidy up the mess, the mess in a bigger yacht?.... cringe
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Old 22-11-2008, 15:24   #8
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Docking sucks, but you learn tricks that help you to do it.
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Old 22-11-2008, 15:44   #9
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i have noticed some of the bigger boats 48 to 56 do seem ot be a better value than the 40 to 46 range. is that becuse they are harde to sell due to a smaller market. this is esp so in the cat area. i think i want the 40 to 44 ft range but sometimes see that larger one for just a little more and its very tempting.
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Old 22-11-2008, 15:49   #10
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Everything being equal (or almost equal) I would go with the bigger boat.
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Old 22-11-2008, 15:51   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruce in oz View Post
i've met cruising couples on 50'+ yachts who were looking for something smaller, i've met cirumnavigators on large yachts looking to do the same, i havent met anyone on a comfortable 27'+ looking to get a 50'+ i
We must be meeting different type people. I have not met one person in a larger boat who wishes for something smaller. During our crossing of the SoPac this season I have met people on 3 boats who are very unhappy with their smaller boats and want larger. One single-hander decided to sail his 32-ft boat back to San Francisco to sell it and plans to start over in a couple of years in a 45-ft or larger. Women on 2 other small boats are calling it quits in NZ and flying home because they can't stand their small boats any longer. A larger boat is more comfortable for a circumnavigation and provides space for more amenities.

Biggest drawback regarding larger boat is the additional cost -- of original purchase, maintenance, insurance and berthing. And you absolutely need a really good bow thruster to assist in maneuvering in tight spaces. I could not imagine doing this in a smaller boat than what we now have, although others might have different comfort requirements.

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Old 22-11-2008, 16:16   #12
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Modern furling equipment and an intelligent manner of sailing belies any concern over being able to handle a 40 ft boat vs a 60ft.

But I think your real question is cost.
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Originally Posted by shawnkillam View Post
If anyone could hazard a rough guess as to the increase cost of say running a 42 foot something versus a 56 foot something these thoughts would be appreciated.
thanks SK
The percentage figure is easily determined by researching and comparing a few fixed costs between a 40 ft boat and a 60ft yacht.

Marina Dockage, 4 vs 6 man liferaft, haul out fees, etc…

In reality, displacement (for a mono) will be more of an accounting factor than length so compare the displacements also as a percentage increase.

Finally: it is not the size that matters, it is what you do with it that counts

If that percentile increase keeps you tied to the dock, then you have made the wrong choice.
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Old 23-11-2008, 10:03   #13
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I agree with svBeBe....I haven’t met anyone who wants a smaller boat...and I've met lots who would go bigger if the $$$ gods allowed.
I did have to add a bow thruster for stern-to crashing in the med...A smaller boat may not have needed one.
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Old 23-11-2008, 13:37   #14
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Larger going smaller and vice-versa

The Hiscocks are an example of experienced sailors who went bigger, then smaller. There are a number of such examples. But there are even more going the other way.

The controlling factor is costs. A bigger boat requires more person-hours of maintenance, and the costs for that maintenance will be higher. As your ability to absorb those costs go up, the justification for a smaller boat goes down.
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Old 23-11-2008, 14:57   #15
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I was sharing a ride to a ship yard one day with a guy planning his new sail boat. The requirement for the owner's accommodation was that it had to be of around the same area as a penthouse apartment they had as that was about the right amount of room for them to be comfortable. I could only agree and think to myself "I wish I could do that too!" .

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i was knocked over whilst crossing the tasman in my 28' monohull, it took ages to tidy up the mess, the mess in a bigger yacht?.... cringe
The probability of a knock down diminishes very rapidly with boat size. The chances of it happening in a big cruising boat is very, very slim - it is not something I would concern myself much over ever happening in sail boats in excess of around 50 - 55 foot. But the possibility would be always on my mind in a 28 foot one as they are often knocked down, even in smooth waters by wind effect alone.

Larger boats are inherently very much safer than smaller ones from a sea keeping point of view. This very obviously so once one gets to beyond 40 - 45 foot. Hunt out the statistics for knock downs and abandonments in the likes of the 1979 Fastnet, the 1984 Sydney-Hobart, and the 1998 Sydney-Hobart and you will see the far greater vulnerability of smaller sail boats compared to larger ones (albeit those examples in a race situation), especially when it comes to knock downs and abandonments.
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