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Old 21-10-2012, 03:05   #76
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
Sorry but I struggle with the logic here. I dont see that the skipper of a 60ft yacht needs to be physically 50% stronger than the skipper of a 40ft in order to dock her...

...
It's not about coping when things go right, it's about coping when things go wrong.

All other things being equal (skill levels, degree of adversity, number of people available, etc etc) in my experience it's easier and less dangerous to cope with serious adverse situations on a smaller boat.

Not just docking, either ... think about, say, taking a towline from a large vessel in bad conditions. On a smaller boat, a miscalculation or gear failure which would get you hurt might be life threatening with the snatch loads on a bigger boat. And the bigger hole left by the windlass when it rips out of the foredeck is going to let in that much more water...

Of course that's too melodramatic to be taken seriously, but here's a few which have happened to me on three different big boats, mercifully with plenty of crew in all cases:

  • A highly unseasonal change of conditions in an open roadstead, (the best anchorage available) putting us on a lee shore requiring raising the anchor by hand due to unavailability of windlass. No problem, but we did have twelve adults.

  • A gooseneck failure resulting in several hundred pounds of boom and sail leaping about at head height. Now that WAS challenging, and the thought of dealing with that, with only one's beloved to assist, strikes a cold chill.

  • A steering failure, which looked like requiring rigging a jury steering tackle, hove to in horrendous conditions in the middle of the night, and drifting in a bad direction (towards an unlit subAntarctic island group aptly called "the Snares".)

Luckily we found another solution, but it was daunting to think of the loads we would have had to deal with had we not. I've been in a similar situation in a smaller boat and it was like a holiday by comparison.

Now of course ... there's an unlimited supply of people sailing around on big boats, not just the ones in this thread, who will say these things never happen to them.
I'm not sure how that works, but I envy them their good management and good fortune.
I certainly know a few couples who have to limit their cruising ambitions because the boat they have is rather too much of a handful.

And I know of a LOT of couples who spend what to me is an disproportionate amount of time getting the systems repaired and upgraded on their big boat.

Only you can decide which camp you are likely to fall into - and obviously the totality of the suggestions you get here is just one input.
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Old 21-10-2012, 04:01   #77
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Andrew makes the most salient point re prudence at sea and the size decision as it relates to life/safety issues. When things get bad and a small crew is on a large yacht they WILL BE overwhelmed.. no ifs ands or buts. This may be the rare situation... may never occur, but when it happens and there will be no happy endings.

So the question becomes how much extra space, and all the risks and costs which come with it are required or how much is a sort of indulgence and creature comforts (benefits)? No one is recommending getting a smaller yacht because it is more manageable when the sh*t hits the fan. The concept here is to get what you can deal with in the worst conditions AND can accommodate your (creature comforts) needs.

I don't see why a single couple engaged in normal (whatever that means) cruising can't be accommodated by a yacht less in the 42' range.

Please explain.

Bigger boats are a luxury, not a necessity unless you have crew or family. No?
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Old 21-10-2012, 04:30   #78
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Andrew, i reckon the events you cite would be uncomfortable in any size boat and would be managed by various measures in smaller or larger boats. In fact a couple of them might be a lot easier to manage in a bigger yacht.

I can think of a few reasons why a bigger yacht might be chosen;

- resale for charter-sized vessels probably better
- easier to take on friends for cruising
- in some cases not much more to build and maintain a bigger yacht.
- usually easy to co-opt a couple of crew for more adventurous sailing and a bigger vessel makes this more possible.
- more flexible function

It should be remembered that not everyone wants to just cruise the local waters or even just limit themselves to pleasure cruising. I know several people who use their vessel as a work site. Not so easy on a 35'er i found.
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Old 21-10-2012, 05:08   #79
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
but I do wonder if you would have the same size yacht if you were not constrained by budget? Just a thought...
I am sure budget does play an important part (if not "the") - but in the original plan of a late model boat that will likely be less of a consideration than if dealing with something far older........well, at least until the first major refit - but at that point could well be doing what many others do. sell .

Bigger is better!

When the weather pipes up past fun.
When having guests onboard (especially family?!).
For simply lounging around, below and on deck.
For fitting more stuff onboard - including the gizmos that do make life more pleasant .
Can fit a better / bigger dink onboard.
For annoying the Jones' (albeit only the Jones' care!)

Smaller is better!

When docking (not simply to handle, but to find places to squeeze in).
When cleaning (inside and out)
When antifouling! (whether DIY or paying)
When paying for a slip / mooring.
When stuff requires brute force and ignorance .
When paying for maintanence / going DIY.
Likely less room to have gizmos onboard = less to go wrong.

I am sure I have missed a few things out!.......IMO overall the best is what works for each. and their bank account. Personally I would feel that 50 foot of boat that constrained my budget to simply live would take the fun out of the boat, no matter that the bigger boat was in all other respects "better".........apart from perhaps when the wind piped up .
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Old 21-10-2012, 07:12   #80
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The admiral decided that 60 ft was the right size...so the rest was up to me to make happen. We go from there, easy.
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Old 21-10-2012, 07:26   #81
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Andrew makes the most salient point re prudence at sea and the size decision as it relates to life/safety issues. When things get bad and a small crew is on a large yacht they WILL BE overwhelmed.. no ifs ands or buts. This may be the rare situation... may never occur, but when it happens and there will be no happy endings.

So the question becomes how much extra space, and all the risks and costs which come with it are required or how much is a sort of indulgence and creature comforts (benefits)? No one is recommending getting a smaller yacht because it is more manageable when the sh*t hits the fan. The concept here is to get what you can deal with in the worst conditions AND can accommodate your (creature comforts) needs.

I don't see why a single couple engaged in normal (whatever that means) cruising can't be accommodated by a yacht less in the 42' range.

Please explain.

Bigger boats are a luxury, not a necessity unless you have crew or family. No?
Detjef, your valid comments prompted memories of people I have known who have had bigger vessels and found them very satisfactory and eminently manageable. Some had some other rationale in selecting their boats other than as just a cruiser for a couple but some found themselves in happy accidents like remarriages, opportune business etc

A merchant seaman who lived on alone board when not at sea. Eventually married a lovely young woman and had two children - all lived happily on board his 55' gaff rigged woodie for a decade or so.

A successful businessman in Melbourne who sold up and moved to the US to continue his family and business. He found it useful to carry a lot of his stuff on his 60'er until he resettled on the East Coast. Sailed the boat with family for another decade or so and then moved on.

A couple in the PNW who used the 65'er as a work base for getting timber in Alaska and then for pleasure in the off months. Only possible with a bigger boat.

One South African couple who sold up their worldly goods, invested all in a yacht so they could sail to Australia and restart their lives. Something about limits on moving money internationally at the time made this a good option.

One man who used his 56' sloop to do brief charter runs up and down the Reef in Australia for several years and bought/sold well.

One early retired accountant who has used his 55' yacht to cruise up and down from Sydney to Whitsundays for the past couple of decades with paying guests to give his a very cheap cruising life.

One PNW couple with a 55' yacht which they used as a floating hotel to slowly make their way around the world over several years in the salmon off-season. Very much enjoyed by accompanying friends.

One quite famous doctor/writer and wife on a 50 something big yacht who cruised on their own in the good times and took on couple of young helpers for the hard yards.

I know two men who just bought extraordinary cheap opportunities, sailed for a time and then cashed in to move on.

I could go on for much longer but you get the idea.

Most of these were a couple with an accidental or purposeful agenda which was satisfied by having a bigger than usual yacht. Life is an adventure for us all and some think a bigger boat provides more options and choices. Maybe could sell the small yacht and buy anew to suit ones purpose at that particular moment but that is a PITA as so many of CF threads point out.

One thing was outstanding though - these were all very competent people who could handle the tough times and contratemps with minimal complaint and moved on with their adventures. None of them would have been daunted by fixing a broken steering system or boom or buoying an anchor and retrieving it later. And all of them were not the slightest daunted by their bigger vessels.

Having watched your posts, I am sure I can describe you along with many on this forum as similar robust individuals who could handle similar tough times with diligence, competence and humour.
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Old 21-10-2012, 07:43   #82
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Interesting thread, money aside, a lot seems to depend on how you use your boat.If you want a liveaboard condo or weekend getaway and guests (kids?) ,then a bigger boat has it's arguments.Same goes for those with 7 league boots who make long open water passages to exotic ports and then settle in and "get to know the country".The boat is then used more like a caravan and often goes from marina to marina.
For others w/o deep pockets or with time constraints the smaller boat is the way to go, this boat can achieve much that the larger boat can but with less comfort and cost.These are the boats that go out more often ,sail more ,and are more versatile esp. in inshore waters with little or no crew requirements to delay all.I have had the chance to sample the big boat lifestyle ( 72' yawl as crew) and a number of noteworthy cruises in open craft as small as 11 feet.I can't say which was better,the experiences are just too different; the one thing both styles share is being on the water and close to nature and that is why I tell folks that I can have fun while hanging on to a floating log.
It is true however, that the smaller craft get out more often and require a higher order of seamanship.It does seem to me that when the boat is loaded up with bow thrusters,push buttons, etc. etc .,that something is lost in the elemental nature that I find so appealing.
Now as to answer how big is too big? The old rule of thumb( Eric Hiscock?) was not to have a boat larger than one can put up on a beach and paint the bottom in one day!
Regards to all. Mike
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Old 21-10-2012, 08:20   #83
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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...........Now as to answer how big is too big? The old rule of thumb( Eric Hiscock?) was not to have a boat larger than one can put up on a beach and paint the bottom in one day!
Regards to all. Mike


There's a rule I like! 'not so big that you can't be independent and self-reliant!
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Old 21-10-2012, 08:27   #84
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

these folks doit small----
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Old 21-10-2012, 08:43   #85
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Loved the video Zeehag. This little girl is wise beyond her years.
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Old 21-10-2012, 09:37   #86
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Nice video.

When my wife and I were in our 20's we sailed our well-equipped O'day 20 (actually 19 ft) three days a week, and had lot's of fun adventures over a five year period up and down the Southern California coast enjoying the channel islands. It was the right boat for that time in our lives.

Now at 55 years, I guess we need a little more elbow room.
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Old 21-10-2012, 09:52   #87
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
Sorry but I struggle with the logic here. I dont see that the skipper of a 60ft yacht needs to be physically 50% stronger than the skipper of a 40ft inorder to dock her... The neatest easiest docking I have ever seen was by a bent up old sea dog in Gibralter, alone on a 44ft yacht, without a bow thruster in a stiff cross wind. He didnt rush because he couldnt.

I am not suggesting I have that level of skill or anything like it BUT the size of yacht one sails is not dictated on a scale of huge physical strength or extreme dexterity!

And conversely... Ive never heard of anyone in rough weather at sea who wouldnt rather be in a boat 10ft longer than whatever they were on?

I am completely willing to accept that for you this is not the case but I do wonder if you would have the same size yacht if you were not constrained by budget? Just a thought...
The Pardey's in one of their books discussed the Xmas '82 debacle in Cabo San Lucas where 29ish of 42ish anchored cruising boats wound up on the beach in an unseasonable gale. They noted, and others agreed, that boats over 37' had a lot harder time when there was only a couple aboard. The boats were just too big to handle effectivelyby a couple. They also noted that a number of folks downsized their replacement boats.
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Old 21-10-2012, 10:03   #88
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

On this forum, there is a wide range of types of cruisers/sailors, and each has their own approach and skill level. If one is a weekender, then it really doesn't make sense to tangle with a larger vessel, unless size of family/friends and wallet dictate. Some of us do use our vessels as a work platform as well as living quarters. For long term livaboards having a larger vessel has it's perks and comforts and yes the expenses are higher. No one boat can be everything to all people.
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Old 21-10-2012, 10:12   #89
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Originally Posted by rebel heart
36 is our current and I suppose I could still handle low 40's, but anything bigger than that is too much for me (I'm 34 and used to lift weights competitively). It's one thing to handle a boat when everything is okay, but imagine getting all twisted up on a 50' while docking in some nasty conditions.

More money + more time at marinas = get a longer boat.
Less money + more time underway = get a smaller boat.

I've never been underway or maneuvering and said "man, I sure wish this boat was 10' longer."
150 nm south east of Bermuda in 1981, going through the same hurricane the second time in a week (who knew they could loop back). I have to say I really wished the boat was a lot larger.
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Old 21-10-2012, 10:57   #90
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Well I've just moved from a 29' to a 42' and the size seems just right. We have a powered anchor winch but everything is manual and manageable. Because it is a semi-custom we were able to build it to our spec entirely so the bed, head and galley sizes are better than most 50 footers. The trade off is that we have only one head and only 2 bedrooms. With 2 people this is fine and we haven't had to go to 50' to make it liveable. This week we anchored with a couple who looked to be well into their 70s (I didn't ask) sailing a 57' Beneteau as a couple. They have sailed it for 14 years and brought it home from the Med to Australia and seem perfectly content with it. My observation is that many of these old guys don't seem to get themselves into the problems that some of us mere mortals are so concerned about being able to extricate ourselves from.
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