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Old 26-05-2008, 22:50   #1
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Finding the "perfect" boat

My wife and I are starting our search for the perfect boat. As always, "perfect" is in the eye of the beholder and depends on many different variables. For us, the variables are:
  • 4 children, ages 12, 9, 7, 4.
  • We're planning to start a year long+ cruise starting 24-36 months from now leaving from Seattle.
  • Our plan is to cruise to the Caribbean through the canal, and we have family in Florida.
  • Both of us are taking courses and we are renting boats 25'-40' through a club here on Puget Sound. All 4 kids go along on most of the (day long) trips.
  • Both of us plan to do at least one offshore cruise with a qualified instructor (such as Mahina Expeditions) prior to taking off.
  • I'm "pretty handy", at least from the mechanical sense, and the Admiral is a heck of sailor so far. She gets nervous when the wind drops below 10 knots. Seriously, all her courses have been in "bad" weather and she takes it in stride.
  • So far (and we are both knocking on wood like there's no tomorrow) the family has not had motion sickness.
I've been reading this forum and looking at what's on the market for the past 6 months or so. I like the idea (having not sailed any of them) of a Halberg-Rassy, Valiant, or Hylas offshore boat, but also liked the Island Packet (sailed a 35' 1990 model a couple times) except for the premium price. We're looking for something with 3 or 4 staterooms, a large cockpit, and a 5' or 6' draft. This is going to put us inthe 45-55' range. I know this sounds a little expensive/odd, but we are considering selling the house and going full time, and in relation to that it's not really that expensive.

Just to be clear: our plan is to sail all the boats our club has to offer and continue to look at the boats on the market in the PNW. We're pretty patient (or at least the Admiral is), so I'm looking for ideas on what types of boats (years and models) fit our needs and wants. We don't have a particular preference as to rig (cutter vs. sloop vs. ketch).

Ideas? Comments on boats 45-55' with a 5-6' draft and lots of staterooms? Ideas on keeping 4 kids occupied during a passage?


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Old 27-05-2008, 06:09   #2
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Aknod, you and yours are very ambitious indeed! Firstly, if your experience is limited to boats 40 feet and under, you may find the move up to your proposed size range (50 feet being the median) a little difficult. The forces on the sails go up almost exponentially with size - even the height of the boom on a 50 footer makes reefing, flaking and putting on a sail cover considerably more difficult (you will likely not be able to reach over the boom from a standing position).

In addition, your proposed itinerary is quite extensive for a single year with children, especially for neophytes - an initial trek virtually the length of the North American Pacific coast to the Panama canal, then to the Caribbean and upwind to Florida. Remember, you have hurricane season to consider and I would not recommend sailing up the Caribbean chain to Florida at any time from July through November.

Prior to selling off your house etc., you may also wish to consider some weeks of bareboat chartering with the family on a boat of the size that you are considering purchasing. It will, of course, be much more idyllic than life aboard in varying conditions for an extended period, but will nevertheless give you some more information on handling a boat of that size (at least in relatively calm conditions) and of potential family problems.

You may also wish to consider purchasing a catamaran - probably the easiest way to get the number of staterooms and the amount of privacy that you are seeking. It should also allow you to do it in a smaller (in terms of LOA, displacement and rig) boat and, one that is a much more stable platform. There are a number threads on this site that discuss multi versus mono issues, including an interesting recent post by an experienced monohuller who, because of family issues, is now considering a cat for his next boat (I believe it is called the mono/multi survey - in any event, it is under the multihull thread).

Regardless of whether you are considering a mono or a cat, have you considered purchasing in Florida? Virtually any model of boat that you may wish to view will be available and, at the moment, prices are very competitive. Indeed, if you have family in Florida and are wishing to cruise the Caribbean for a year, it would make a much more sensible point of departure (and you could spend the hurricane season in the islands off the coast of Venezuela - Trinidad, Tobago, Margarita, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao to name only the largest) and the remaining 7 months for your non-hurricane season runs to and from Florida.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Follow that dream!


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Old 27-05-2008, 07:28   #3
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Caliber 47LRC

We have done something similar to what you are planning on, only we had 2 kids (both teenagers at the time) and a large dog. We did it in a Caliber 47LRC. The boat seems to meet most of your requirements, and is reasonably priced compared to the other boats you are looking at. If you want a detailed look at one, take a look at Dulcinea - Caliber 47 LRC for Sale and call me if you would like an even more detailed discussion.
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Old 27-05-2008, 16:42   #4
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Thanks for replies

Thanks Brad and JB for your replies.

We're in the early stages of figuring out our plan, so I think lots of things will change. My goal with this thread is to get ideas on specific boats that might work for a large family that plans to cruise the Caribbean and maybe further. I've been searching on yachtworld, but unfortunately they don't have a way to search by number of staterooms/berths or draft. To start with I want to narrow down the list of boats to research by weeding out those that clearly won't fit our needs even with refitting.

On the whole mono vs. multi subject, we want to look at (and charter) mono's first, but may wind up in a multi after all.
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Old 27-05-2008, 17:34   #5
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I am a cat fan and have been since the early 80's so that is what I will buy when the time comes.
There are so many choices.
Charter Yacht Brokerage (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)=
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Old 07-09-2008, 18:39   #6
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My family and I are planning to sail from Florida and around the carribean with our homebase in Florida. We only have one child 9yr old, and we have been researching and shopping for a boat for about eight years! We are leaning towards a 30ft boat because we don't want a huge money pit on our hands. We are thinking that the smallest boat that will get us by would be best. We are still undecided about how "used/old" of a boat that we want. I think your idea is great and I hope your families/inlaws are supportive. I have heard really great reviews about the Island Packets!

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