Originally Posted by ScottMeilicke
of four is planning on the big escape soon, and have been looking at a J44 near us. We have some sailing experience, not much, and no racing
experience. We plan on a Pacific loop of two years, staring from the PNW. We have two dogs
, a small one and a 60 pounder.
Things we like about it:
Fast, less motoring. We really are trying to focus on less fuel
Good upwind boat.
Great layout for the four of us.
Nice and bright interior
rig, easy to sail.
Shallow companion way for the dogs
Things we don't like:
8 foot draft
. This is the single
thing that seems like a deal breaker.
Inline rig, requiring running back stays in heavy weather
. No sure if this matters, but is seems like a pain.
rig, less sail options?
Bolt on keel
, prefer the safety
of encapsulated, but maybe that is just irrational fear.
Flat bottom, possible pounding vs a finer entry. Again, is this a 1% of the time thing that we shouldn't worry about?
Not configured for cruising, so we would have to add solar
, bigger house batteries, H2O maker, bimini
plus the add one would get expensive for us.
are 100gal, and there seems to be sufficient storage
, though not great. We want to sail as much as possible, including to windward.
What are your opinions on this boat for us?
I have read part way thru the responses though not all the way. Here are my observations/opinions anyway.
The low companion way may provide good access by your family
and the dogs, but it also provides good access for any boarding water
My opinion is that cutters are easier boats to handle. The headsail and the staysail together provide a wider range of foresail areas than even a roller furling
sloop headsail. Also in very heavy winds you do not need to wrestle a large roller furled headsail down and into the boat in order to set a storm jib
, the headsail of the cutter
is either long since doused and bagged if hanked on or it remains furled and the the staysail operates as the heeavy weather
foresail. Cutters as a group require less storage
than sloops and they provide redundant support for the mast
which is the biggest plus for me.
What is your planned route
? If it includes New Zealand
then you will want to reconsider taking the dogs. If you go to either the dogs will spend 6 months in quarantine.
A lot of experienced cruisers go opposite ways on the bolt-on vs. encapsulated keel
issue. I have a slight preference for encapsulated for maintenance
The 8' draft
would be a problem in a few places but not enough to dissuade me if I already had the boat.
Given that the boat has checkstays which is indicative of a much lighter mast
, that it has know strength issues with the rudder and that you have indicated that you would be stretching your budget
a bit to get this boat already (which precludes the funds to deal with the first two items) I will presume that you choose a different boat ultimately.
That brings me to the alternatives posters are proposing. As I said I haven't been thru all the posts and I haven't looked at very many of the boats proposed but it seems to me that most of them are very good cruising boats for a couple. A case in point would be the Valiant 40 which is a great crusing boat in general. Having looked thru the Yachtworld ads for a number of them I didn't see one laid out properly for a family.
The primary issue is berthing. What you need generally is one good berth for each offwatch person and a place to sit for the on-watch person. The V-berth has too much motion to tenable underway except in the calmest weather. This means berth in the main cabin
or aft. Excellent berths would be pilot berths for minimum motion, very good would be quarter berths (somewhat more motion and exposure to drips coming in thru compaionway but better privacy). Good would be settee (fore and aft table seats) berths (slightly better motion than pilot berth since lower in the boat, but they have to converted every day between berth and table seating and sleepers may be disturbed by people going forward to use the head). Dinette berths (transverse or U-shaped bench) are marginal at best (more involved conversion process, plus the berth needs to be subdivided to a single
to provide a safe berth size.) Aft cabins are OK as long as berths are fore and aft or nearly so and can be set up easily as a single.
Berths should be angled within 10 degrees of for and aft, 5 degrees is much better. With angled berths your head
will be up on one tack which is fine, but down on the other which is not conducive to good sleep. I can see the argument that tacks and gybes don't happen often offshore
so you could just swap ends of the berth and always sleep head
up misses the fact that you always want to sleep feet forward. If the boat hits a wave and slows abruptly, or hits something or worse runs aground you will be slamming into the forward end of the berth head first instead of feet first.
Finally with kids
aboard they each need to have a permanent berth. This means pilot berth, quarter berth or singles in an aft cabin
really need a place that is their to sleep, or sulk or read or be 'alone' or.... Their own berth will give them a small semblance of control and perhaps a feeling of investment in the trip rather than it quickly becoming an imposition.
One may argue that being underway will only be 10-20% of your cruise
, so why should cabin arrangements be dictated by the minority of the time spent on the boat. The contrary argument is that while this is true poor sleeping arrangements that contribute to already strained sleep patterns can lead to poor judgement and unhappy experiences. On the other hand a layout that is more conducive to underway needs but less conducive to life at anchor
or in a berth is merely an annoyance rather than a safety problem.
For the last 3 years or so my family (wife, daughter and son) and I have been planning to do a Pacific loop so we have been considering these issues at length. If you want to further discuss boat choice, equipment
planning I would be happy to do so.