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Old 30-06-2010, 22:06   #1
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Hi all,

First post, but I've been reading here for years!

I'm making another pass at cruising. Last time, I had dreams of sailing from Australia to the Med and spending 4 - 5 years cruising there. My wife and I spent most of our retirement money and bought a 44' cat. The boat was a disaster from the word go. There was rot in the cedar stripping, problems with the diesels, endless maintenance. It was also just too big a boat for us to manage easily and enjoy. The systems were all too old, sail handling was too difficult. etc etc. We sold the boat within 6 months for a huge loss (it was just as the financial crisis kicked in).

We licked our wounds for a while and didn't think we'd ever want to venture out on the water again. Time heals all wounds, and we ended up buying a small Farrier Tri (our boat prior to the cat was a stretched Farrier TrailerTri) and we're in love with sailing again.

I guess we learned a few lessons from this. First, to buy the smallest boat that will do the job. Second, buy a boat with systems that are current and not about to all fail at once. We've also re-scoped our sailing ambitions. We no longer plan on sailing to the Med, we plan to buy a boat either in the UK or in the Med.

We plan to start cruising in the french canals, then around Italy, adriatic and agean seas. If we still love it, then we might cross the pond and cruise the ICW in the USA, and onwards.

I've also realized the importance of getting the boat right, and how inexperienced I was evaluating our boat needs (even though we employed surveyors, delivery captains and motor mechanics!!!).

I'd love some advice about what vessel we should consider for this voyage. On the one hand, we are limited by the draught of the canals (about 1.2m shallowest), which suggests boats like the Westerly Centaur, good power for the canals, and easy beaching on the twin fins. However, this boat might not be so suitable for Med sailing and subsequent ocean passages. I've considered boats like the pearson 26' and the albin vega, which seem more suited to this end of the mission.

Should we reconsider the canals? I think my wife would really appreciate this part of the journey and it would ease her into life aboard with little stress. Is it possible to have a vessel that fulfills both requirements?

Also we're only considering boats in the 26' - 32' range. I think that matches our budget and ability to manage the boat. It will only be my wife and myself and we're not getting any younger! (55 y.o now).

We'll also be evaluating boats that we're not familiar with in the Australian market, so any pointers on buying boats overseas would be welcome. Our budget is flexible, but I don't really want to spend more than $80000 AUD or so.

Thanks in advance

Steve Garlick.

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Old 30-06-2010, 23:06   #2
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West Sail 32? I draw about 5'10" and the last I checked I can squeeze through in just about all the canals. From Montpelier to Paris anyway.

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Old 30-06-2010, 23:09   #3
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Take a good look at the smaller Prouts. They do fit the canals, are bomb proof by design, and are a boat that will look after you and hold their price. The electronic gismos should be budgetted for replacement or additional handheld as full route plotting autopilot is an aid to not paying attention. UK prices around 40,000 sterling.
For similar boats have a look at the multihull sales sites that are on the net or PM me.
Ex Prout 31 Sailor, Now it's a 22ft Jaguar called 'Arfur' here in sunny Southampton, UK.
A few places left in Quayside Marina and Kemps Marina.
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:25   #4
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HI steve

I am selling my nebe cape 28 she is a solid boat for cruising you can check out my add on this web site ,you can see the pictures I have posted on this web site and you can see a walking toure of her on youyube. drop me a note if you would like to talk take care and good luck. bill
lived on my pearson 35 for 7 yrs,I now have a nebe cape 28,great pocket cruiser. Can be seen on youtube.
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:30   #5
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Hi from germany we love the canal the baltic and the med but honestly all boats a compromise. for frand and the netherland a small motor boat is the way to go . no hassle with rig on deck and a decent engine setup . it is wonderfull going thru france and many retired people spent 6 month every year in the canals. The west Med i dont like actually for sailing, either no wind or too much, in greece or turkey it is different strong but predictable winds. So for living here even a motorboat is a choice to think about. going atlantic or baltic or accross the pond ok a sailbot is the way to go. For sailing boats have a look at the 3 year old ex charter boats there a re thousand available, although they normally starts at 34 feet.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:20   #6
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Good luck and enjoy the decsion process:-)

FWIW we find the canals usually dirty, lots of diesel soot, and plently of hard things to easily hit or hit you. With respect not ideal places for a tidy and loved sail boat.
I'd seriously reconsider what you wish to get the most from your trip and either plump for a small steel power yacht for the canals - or a medium sized cruiser for the oceans.

You could easily find a single engine steel power boat up to 28 foot for sub 35000 euros. It will not be pretty, but you'd not feel bad carrying dirt on board or if some other river user banged you ior you whacked a lock. And you could sell it after 2 years without loosing a great deal.

Or go for a 36 foot mono cruiser or shorter multihull and spend the time sailing around the edges...........

It's your choice.

One could easily enjoy a year or three in the canals - and possible see a lot more of the real countries pottering along at 5 / 6 knots. Cheaper too to park up at night (ie zip) or even leave for a winter (28 footer circa 600 euros) than in a coastal marina. In fact, cheaper to eat, drink and do anything compared with Med coast costs.

So if it were me and coming over from Oz I'd suggest canals first and then if you still feel the need to cross oceans after, then move onto a sail boat later to do that.

As I said - enjoy the decision process!

Don't take life too seriously. No ones going to make it out alive......Go see our blog at
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:14   #7
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Good luck on finding the perfect boat.
I don't know many boats other than U. S.. Westerly, Tyler, Folkboat are the only ones I know. If you are interested in U. S. boats then there are a couple of links after my signature and a book recommendation that might help.
kind regards,
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Old 01-07-2010, 19:18   #8
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Thanks for the input, is it a common view that the canals are dangerous for yachts? I've seen the use of tyres for all-round fenders. Does anyone else have stories of danger in the canals?


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Old 02-07-2010, 09:38   #9
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Freedom Cat Ketch 28' C/B or 33' C/B. Halsy Herreshoff designed the 33'. Stout, roomy, simple. Read the Michael Briant Canal Du Midi Log.

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