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Old 24-05-2009, 18:29   #1
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Ericson Independence 31

This is my first post, and it will most likely become obvious quickly that I'm not only a rookie in the forum but to sailing altogether. I will soon be learning to sail, but at the moment most nautical terms are like a foreign language to me. I have recently settled on a certain plan for the future, having been thinking about doing it for a few years. I think it's important you know the basics of the plan so you can make an informed reply to my question. I'm not technically "in the market" yet, as I'd like to learn to sail first, but I'm starting my research now.

I plan on buying a boat for the purpose of living on it full time, and within two years I plan to start cruising around the world in it. Therefore, I need a boat that is fairly comfortable to live in, (I have simple needs, so I don't require any luxuries or anything), is "blue water capable", (a term I've picked up in my reading, which I guess means is seaworthy enough for and equipped to accommodate crew needs on trans-oceanic voyages), and since I will most often be sailing alone, will need to be something that can be sailed single-handedly fairly easily. No, I'm not capable of single-handing at the moment, but I will be learning.

I've been looking at the Pacific Seacraft 34, as I've only read great things about this boat and it seems to meet all my requirements, (I'm not in any need of a great deal of speed), but a hundred thousand dollars is more than I was planning on spending on my first boat.

I recently came upon a boat called the Ericson Independence 31, which really caught my eye and is much closer to my desired price, (around fifty thousand, a couple I've seen were much cheaper). However, I'm having a lot of trouble uncovering good information about this boat from people experienced with it. Google searches tend to bring up very little except for some technical specifications, which I'm ignorant to being able to translate into any kind of information about its seaworthiness. It seems to me to be a boat that meets all my requirements, except perhaps in the way of its blue water capabilities.

I haven't seen anything referring to its abilities in rough waters or anything, neither for the positive nor the negative. I had read somewhere that 34 feet was about the smallest boat a person should be taking across the ocean, but I wasn't sure if that was just someone's opinion or whatever. Also, I'm ignorant to how much fuel and water capacity a boat should have for crossing oceans.

Anyway, that's a lot of information just to ask the simple question: Does anyone have an informed opinion about the Ericson Independence 31, or better yet some experience with it? I'm mostly curious about its blue water capabilities, as everything else seems to be up to par for me on it. But then, I'm sure there are some folks here that have some strong opinions about it, and most of you are much more educated in whether or not this would be a good boat for my purposes. If you don't think this is a good boat for my purposes, do you have any suggestions?

(Here is a link to one that was sold for $34,000 on Yachtworld and has a lot of information about it, (gibberish to us un-edumacated folk...). Yachtworld.com...)

Thanks in advance to any and all replies!
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Old 25-05-2009, 08:06   #2
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Nice looking boat. There is one for sale in Maine for 25K. I'm a newbie also, so I can't comment on its suitability for blue water cruising, but it certainly looks suitable.
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Old 25-05-2009, 09:12   #3
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One important thing to look for in an offshore boat is a good sea berth.

In other words, make sure a saloon settee is long enough to sleep on, and that you would be able to add lee cloths to it. (The center of the boat has the least motion in a seaway)

Also see:

Making Lee Cloths

Steve B.
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Old 25-05-2009, 10:21   #4
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The I 31 is a fine cruising boat, a nice one sold recently in FL for $17500 after they gave up trying to sell it for 29500. That was a real bargain. They are well built, but will be slower than many of the fin keel racer/cruiser types in light air. The Pacific Seacraft boats are good boats, but I have always shared your concern that they are just way overpriced. The interior work is very utilitarian, the systems are minimal and they have quality problems just like anyone else. (I was looking at boats in Seattle several years ago and asked if I could get up onto a new PacSeacraft that had just arrived... no one had even done the post shipping cleanup. There was severe gel coat cracking/shrinkage on the aft deck area obviously from way too hot a resin,gel coat mix, I'm sure this was repaired before anyone else saw it, but makes you wonder how the resin mix in the hull was on that boat! obviously the auto mixer was not working properly)
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Old 25-05-2009, 16:24   #5
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Thanks for all the replies! I was really hoping to talk to someone who had sailed in one, or better yet someone who owns one, but I greatly appreciate all input. Nobody seems too worried about it being only 31 feet in length, is it safe to say this isn't too small a boat to make ocean passages?

Personally, I think I actually like this boat better than the Pacific Seacraft 34. As a non-sailor, (hopefully to be changed soon), I can't say which one I like sailing better, but as far as everything else goes I think the Ericson is a better boat for me. Price, of course, being a huge aspect of that! If one of these boats can be had for $25,000, (most I've seen for sale are even less), then that'll save me a minimum of $75,000 to $100,000 compared to the Pacific Seacraft, allowing me to have more money to outfit the boat and make any repairs, etc.

The one I would like to buy, of course, is the most expensive one I've seen for sale here: 1981 ERICSON INDEPENDENCE 31 sailboat for sale in California. But even that is less than $50,000.

Obviously I'm not really ready to buy a boat yet, though I'm considering buying it to liveabord instead of paying rent. If I can find a liveaboard slip near LA I can buy the boat and between slip rental and the payments on the boat it will cost less than the average apartment for rent in LA. This seems like a good plan to me, because then I can be putting money towards the boat rather than an apartment, getting it paid off sooner, but I'm not sure owning a boat without any knowledge of maintenance yet is such a good idea.

Anyway, thanks again for the replies, any more information that anyone has on these boats would be greatly appreciated, since as I mentioned there doesn't seem to be much information on the internet about them, (or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
One important thing to look for in an offshore boat is a good sea berth.

In other words, make sure a saloon settee is long enough to sleep on, and that you would be able to add lee cloths to it. (The center of the boat has the least motion in a seaway)

Also see:

Making Lee Cloths

Steve B.
From what I can tell from the layout of the boat, the sea berth should be plenty long enough. The spot labeled "settee/double berth" on the layout picture appears to be more than long enough, especially considering I'm only 5'6" tall. And thanks for the link!
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Old 25-05-2009, 18:26   #6
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Hi End3r,

I'm mostly a lurker here and I don't have first hand experience with this boat, in fact I'm close to your situation, I have looked at an Ericson 35, and similar sized boats.

I have also done a lot of research and am probably interested in the same topics you are. What I have come across more than once, both online and in books, is a "blue water boat" needs to have both the tankage and storage to support a significant time at sea and in remote areas. Something on the order months, not weeks. While most folks state that you'll spend most of your time on the hook or tied up, there will be long passages, such as from North America to the South Pacific which can run from 20 to 30 days plus...

I guess the point is that one will need to run an engine regularly for a number of things such as charging batteries, charging fridge/freezers, running water makers and the like. Additionally one will need to be able to store the food, spares, tools and toilet paper for a similar amount of time.

At least these are some of the points I'm considering in my own search.

Best of luck,
Ray
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Old 25-05-2009, 18:46   #7
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Thanks trebeyar! Yeah, that was one of my questions regarding the Ericson Independence. I know with the Pacific Seacraft one of the things people always said was so great about it for ocean passages was its ample tankage. Unfortunately, as I have never sailed, I know nothing about the requirements of fuel and water on a boat. So, even though I have read what the capacities are on the Ericson Independence 31, I cannot translate this knowledge into whether or not it's sufficient for my purposes. The water capacity is 45 gallons and the fuel is 35. This sounds like a lot to me, but the Pacific Seacraft has a water capacity of 80 gallons and 75 gallons for fuel, (nearly twice the capacity of the Ericson Independence 31). Granted, the Ericson is a smaller boat, so it probably requires less fuel to operate, (only an assumption); but it's only by 3 feet in length, so I don't think that that's substantially enough to say it requires half the fuel and water capacities for ocean passages.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems to me that these capacities may be somewhat lacking in the Ericson, but hopefully somebody can prove me wrong in that assumption. I've seen the Ericson referred to as a "performance blue water cruiser", but that may only be their opinion and may not be taking into account the capacities. Since you're looking at the 35 footer, your capacities are probably greater than that of the 31, and possibly more suitable for ocean crossings.

Additionally, I'm ignorant to the storage capacities of the Ericson 31; whether or not it has enough stowage for all the proper safety equipment and extra gear for safe ocean passages, not to mention weight capacity for all that plus stores of food, etc. It's a small boat, but if it is a true blue water cruiser I would think it would have accomodations for the necessary equipment and storages of supplies. I will definitely have to confirm this with somebody experienced before I make a final decision, though.
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Old 26-05-2009, 00:37   #8
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No experience on one of those either. It is truely one of the sexiest boats I have seen since the Cheoy Lee 33' Clipper.

Love the clipper bow and the transom hung rudder.

As for tankage, the 35 gallons of deisel is plenty. The water is a bit low, but many known purpose built bluewater boats do not come standard with the 100 gallon tanks most recommend. You will just have to store more water in containers below and on deck if you making real long passages. It will be hard to get huge water tanks as standard on any blue water boat of that size from the factory. Tania Aebi circumnavigated on a Contessa 26 with only an 11 gallon water tank (carried lots of water in jerry cans).
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Old 26-05-2009, 01:14   #9
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It is truely one of the sexiest boats I have seen...
Isn't it, though? Being completely oblivious to how good a sailboat is or not, I know that this boat is the first one I've seen that I have trouble getting out of my head. When I dream about my future days on the sea I see myself on this boat. I hate to judge a book by its cover alone, though, so I was really intent on finding out if this boat is as good as it looks!

Quote:
No experience on one of those either.
This seems to be the case everywhere I look. I think one of the problems may be that only 69 of these boats were made. I don't know how many of a boat are usually made, but that seems like a pretty small number to me. 6 billion people on this planet and a maximum of only sixty-nine of them can currently be owning one of these. A needle in a haystack...

Quote:
As for tankage, the 35 gallons of deisel is plenty. The water is a bit low, but many known purpose built bluewater boats do not come standard with the 100 gallon tanks most recommend. You will just have to store more water in containers below and on deck if you making real long passages. It will be hard to get huge water tanks as standard on any blue water boat of that size from the factory. Tania Aebi circumnavigated on a Contessa 26 with only an 11 gallon water tank (carried lots of water in jerry cans).
In all honesty, I will probably rarely be making long passages. For the most part I'll probably just sail along the coasts of continents when I start cruising, working my way slowly around the world exploring as much of its coastlines as possible. But I don't want to rule out the possibility of long passages. I just want a boat capable of doing it for those few times when I need to get from one continent to another, or to get to some obscure islands in the middle of the Pacific or something.

I wonder, though, if I start packing a hundred gallons of water on top of everything that I have, (since it will be my liveaboard home), if that will be nearing the weight capacity. I don't ever hear anything about weight capacities when I'm reading about boats, it's mostly about storage capacity and room to put things, but I can't imagine there's NOT a weight capacity on a boat. I don't own much of anything as it is: just some clothes, a laptop, a guitar, and a bunch of books. The only thing I own that weighs much is my books, (I have a ton), but add to that stores of food, water, fuel, safety equipment, spare parts for the boat, and (on long passages), possibly a second body, and it seems there may be a lot of weight packed onto this 31 foot boat. I'm just thinking out loud here, don't really know the limits of it all.

Anyway, thanks for your input!
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Old 26-05-2009, 09:24   #10
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Buying the "ultimate crusing boat" your first boat would likely be a mistake anyway. A 31 footer like the I31 can take you anywhere. It will be slower and less comfortable than a 40 footer, but you will have just as much fun in it. Set your immediate goals more short term. Maybe living aboard and cruising in Mexico or the carribean, you will then learn if you truly want to continue the cruising lifestyle and learn what is important to you. Frankly, when I cruised in my 30 footer it was more about the cruising and when I cruised in my larger boats it became more about the boats!
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Old 27-05-2009, 03:16   #11
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It will be slower and less comfortable than a 40 footer, but you will have just as much fun in it.
I've lived in the backseat of my pickup truck and been comfortable enough, so I imagine a 31 foot boat won't be too uncomfortable for me. In reality, anything much bigger might be too much room for me!

As for speed, the only time I think I would really want to get anywhere in a hurry is if I was trying to get away from inclement weather. Aside from that, I prefer to take my time getting where I'm going.

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Set your immediate goals more short term. Maybe living aboard and cruising in Mexico or the carribean, you will then learn if you truly want to continue the cruising lifestyle and learn what is important to you.
Well, my immediate goals are to learn to sail first and foremost! I plan on crewing on other people's boats as much as possible, maybe taking a sailing class even before I do that so I'm not totally useless to a crew. Then once I've done that for awhile I'd like to get some experienced sailors to sail with me on my own boat to get more practice in and also get to know my own boat. Then after that I'll probably do exactly what you mentioned and sail around the Caribbean and Mexico for awhile, but even that I won't do until I've paid the boat off completely and saved up a good chunk of money. I was planning on waiting to buy a boat, but if I get hired with LAPD soon I may just buy one in the next few months as the monthly payment and slip rental will be less than rent on an apartment, and I can spend time learning about the boat while I live on it/work on it and be paying it off as I go rather than wasting money on an apartment. The only problem with that is finding a slip to rent, since there seems to be up to a five year wait in the Los Angeles area!
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Old 27-05-2009, 05:50   #12
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If you have small tanks, get a watermaker. If you have limited storage for books, get a kindle.

You will appreciate a smaller boat when you are trying to back your boat into that slip you cannot find.
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Old 28-05-2009, 02:51   #13
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If you have small tanks, get a watermaker. If you have limited storage for books, get a kindle.
A watermaker may be necessary, but one of the things I like about this boat is that there's less "stuff" to worry about breaking or needing maintenance. I don't know anything about watermakers, but I imagine it's just one more thing to go wrong on a boat. But, I'd rather the watermaker need some maintenance some time in the future than me run out of water on my first long passage!

As for the Kindle, if it were economically feasable I would definitely trade all my books for one. But a few hundred books on a Kindle would cost a few thousand dollars, I think, and I'd sooner carry fewer books than spend that kind of money! I could be wrong, but I think with my lack of material belongings I could find a place for quite a few books, even on a boat as small as this one. I don't need to have ALL of the books with me, anyway, although it would be nice. But a Kindle is just one expense I'm not willing to take the plunge on.

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You will appreciate a smaller boat when you are trying to back your boat into that slip you cannot find.
I'm sure you're right about this, although I did read two reviews about the Ericson Independence 31, both of which stated that one of the cons about this boat its "backing-up abilities". From this I gather that for its size, it's not necessarily an easy boat to back up. However, I'm guessing it's still easier than most bigger boats.

I'm pretty much sold on the Ericson Independence 31; I just need to find a liveaboard slip in LA and get a job in the same city and I'll be a new boat-owner! (Then all I need to do is learn how to sail! )
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Old 28-05-2009, 04:26   #14
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You could buy a kindle and some "electronic" books for the cost of a few stainless steel shackles or an anchor. Before you plunk down the purchase price for a boat, be prepared to spend alot more than that.

Now watermakers, those are expensive, plus you probably want at least one solar panel to keep it running.
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Old 28-05-2009, 09:38   #15
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Books are heavy, they will mildew on the boat. If you really care about them, leave most of them with someone ashore. I dragged books around for years, but what was the point, I was not going to re-read them in most cases. If you are a reader you will want to be trading books with other cruisers all the time. A lot of boats dont back that well, it's a matter of getting to know your boat. I could probably count the times I HAD to back into a place in 30 years of boating on my 10 fingers....
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