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Old 11-04-2012, 06:51   #1
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Flat Sailing Blue Water Vessel

Hi,

I am getting ready to retire and planning to buy a ~50 foot <300K sailboat to circumnavigate. My experience is I had a Hobie Cat as a kid and have no sea time. First step is to buy the boat and get some experience but which one?

I was wondering if some people that have sailed on lots of production boats could comment on which is going to be the most difficult to knock down. I like the Jeanneau but I see them almost laying on their side in even small winds and don't think I would enjoy riding out a storm in the middle of the ocean on something like that.

Any advice on boats that are difficult to knock down?
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:31   #2
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

If you want a boat that sails with a low angle of heel you want a conservative catamaran, ie, big volume hulls, conservative rig.

Steve.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:38   #3
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

Wow. My first boat was an O'Day 25 (cost slightly less than your budget). All monohull sailboats heel - they need to when going to windward. I think a true knockdown is a fairly rare occurance, and completely avoidable if you pay attention to wind and weather conditions and adjust your sails accordingly.

My boat is a full keel (Douglas 32) which tends to initially heel 15-20 degrees and then sits there comfortably. Though no longer fashionable and many would disagree, I think a full or modified full keel boat tends to be quite comfortable, if a bit slow.

If I were in your situation, I would look at an older boat like a Whitby 42 (The Whitby 42 - A many-faceted boat known by many names by Ed Lawrence) at about $100K for a good one, plenty of cash left to fit her up for cruising. I have a buddy with a Morgan 44 Center cockpit which is also a slug but very comfortable - it reminds me of riding on a large Ferry with sails.

Only you can decide what you like. It would probably be a good idea to see if you can crew locally on some larger boats to get a feel for what you like. No comment on your goals relative to your experience, other than one of them needs to change before setting off on your adventure.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:44   #4
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

Welcome to the forum.

You don't yet appear to have the vocabulary to articulate what you're looking for, and this may be a problem if circumnavigation is the goal. A boat that tends to heel less is considered "stiff," while a boat that tends to heel more is considered "tender."

Too many novices fail to recognize that all boats represent a compromise. Stiff boats tend to be slow boats. Some folks are willing to make such a compromise, and circumnavigate the world at an average speed of 4 knots. Just plan to spend twice as much time at sea if you're one of those folks.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:07   #5
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

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Originally Posted by TheBuzz View Post
Hi,

I am getting ready to retire and planning to buy a ~50 foot <300K sailboat to circumnavigate. My experience is I had a Hobie Cat as a kid and have no sea time. First step is to buy the boat and get some experience but which one?

I was wondering if some people that have sailed on lots of production boats could comment on which is going to be the most difficult to knock down. I like the Jeanneau but I see them almost laying on their side in even small winds and don't think I would enjoy riding out a storm in the middle of the ocean on something like that.

Any advice on boats that are difficult to knock down?
Hi TheBuzz,

May I just call you "The"?

As you will appreciate a 50'er is a lot of boat compared to a HobieCat - even a light displacement 50 will be in the range of 22-28000lb. That's a lot of energy to deal with when you have any form of speed on the go.

When it comes to "knock down proof" it really doesn't exist. Yes, some vessels would appear to have higher stability on paper than others - but knock-down ability on well found vessels has more to do with captain and crew's experience than anything else!

You'll find that people will have strong opinions about stability, displacement, key performance ratios and whether you should be looking at a Cat or a monohull - these things can be discussed until the Cows come home.. However, i'm certain that nobody will argue that limited experience when planning a circumnavigation is a good thing!

I hazard a guess that the reason you've seen so many low-cost production cruisers almost healed over onto their beam ends isn't due to the boat but more due to who's sailing it. Any boat which is over canvassed for the conditions, will be more liable to suffer a knock-down. Bavarias, Beneteaus and Jeanneaus are particularly popular with charter companies and charter companies tend to have more than their fair-share of under-experienced clients who haven't yet gained the experience to know when to reef (or reduce sail); they will not have learned that you're always better reefing early and also how to read weather patterns in the sea and sky around the boat. The more experience you have the less likely you're going to find yourself in squally/gusty conditions carrying way too much sail - and therefore not finding yourself 'knocked-down'. That said, we've all been there at some point in the past - and hind sight is always 20/20.

I wouldn't be too down on production cruisers, they're generally well made and there are many of them doing circumnavigations as we speak without any issues.. if you do a quick search of long distance cruising blogs, you'll find a surprising amount of them are on Bavarias, Beneteaus and/or Jeanneaus. If you're looking at wanting a relatively young 50'er for under $300k then you're going to be looking at the mass production boats.

Don't think that mass production means "china plastic", these companies have managed to increase their market share to the point that they've manage to automate a good proportion of their manufacturing methods and as a result economies of scale come into play.. the result is less expensive boats and more market share etc.etc. Quality of the deck fittings and other items is where they tend to make their savings, but generally the hulls and such are well made.

My advice would be the following:
In the next few weeks: find a nearby sailing school and take lessons - i would highly recommend one of the intensive type courses where you sail/stay on the boat for a few days or long weekend. You'll learn a lot in a short amount of time from a good skipper and you'll start to get an appreciation for what's what.
In the next few months: try to read as much as you can around the subject. I've put some recommended reading at the bottom of the email, the more you can theoretically build on your initial experience, the more you'll have to "try out" the next time you're out on the water regarding everything from general seamanship to navigation.
Your aim should be to get to the point, even if this means taking extra courses, to be 'qualified' to charter a boat for a week or two somewhere with beginner/intermediate seas and coastline. The sail-school should be able to recommend here.
If you can get to the point that you've been on a couple of bareboat charters: maybe a 40' Jeanneau and a 46' Beneteau you'll start to get a much better appreciation for what's important, and I hazard a guess that you may find that 50' is a large boat!

The members of this forum are, on the whole, a highly knowledgeable and experienced bunch so it'd be worth heeding their advice to the best way forward. Remember, this is your own personal journey and you need to treat it that way - it'll just go much smoother if you can avoid the dark cul-de-sacs.

Good luck and i'm sure the forum here will be interested to know how you proceed - so please keep posting!

Phil

Recommended Reading (post sailing course):
Tom Cunliffe: The Complete Yachtmaster, Adlard Coles Nautical (ISBN 0-713-68948-X)
Iver Dedekam: Illustrated Seamanship, Wiley Nautical (ISBN 978-0-470-51220-3)
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:42   #6
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

Welcome to the world of cruising!

I appreciate your endeavor and look forward to hearing more about it in this forum. But like Bash mentioned earlier, it does appear gaining a lot more insight into hull construction (and specifically the various sailing hull types) would allow you to make a better decision.

Like with any type of vehicle, a sailboat that has certain advantages in one area will be lacking in others. The whole notion of wanting a boat that is difficult to "knock down" is perhaps going to point you in a direction toward a boat that may not be the most suitable choice for circumnavigation.

That's why I'm suggesting the best place to start is to learn anything and everything you can about hull construction. When armed with that knowledge, you will be able to confidently pursue choices in the hull and configuration most appropriate for your goals.

If I may, I'd like to recommend you read Chris White's book titled The Cruising Multihull. It will give you some good insight regarding various issues you might take into consideration when looking to purchase a catamaran. I would also recommend you read some books on monohull design as well, considering you want to have a good reference point for comparison.

Best of luck to you; and do keep us posted!
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Old 11-04-2012, 14:17   #7
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBuzz View Post
Hi,

I am getting ready to retire and planning to buy a ~50 foot <300K sailboat to circumnavigate. My experience is I had a Hobie Cat as a kid and have no sea time. First step is to buy the boat and get some experience but which one?

(...)

Any advice on boats that are difficult to knock down?
Hi,

Have you considered getting some sea time before buying a boat?

Perhaps if you go cruising in other people's boats (or chartered ones) you will be better able to decide what sort of boat you want for your adventure?

Many 50' sailing boats are difficult to knock down when they are sailed by a competent skipper.

Cheers,
barnie
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Old 11-04-2012, 15:04   #8
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

Stiff but not a (total) slug = cat.

I can also highly recommend Chris White's book.
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Old 11-04-2012, 15:17   #9
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Hi,

Have you considered getting some sea time before buying a boat?

Perhaps if you go cruising in other people's boats (or chartered ones) you will be better able to decide what sort of boat you want for your adventure?

Many 50' sailing boats are difficult to knock down when they are sailed by a competent skipper.

Cheers,
barnie
+1 in full agreement
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Old 11-04-2012, 15:56   #10
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

Buzz, you stand a very good chance of throwing out a lot of money and never seeing it again if you just buy a random boat and take off on it.

Take some sailing classes, in a couple of weekends plus a week-long you can go from basic to bareboat. Then go ask around to see who needs crew, spend some time on boats and see what the deal is. CHarter one offshore for a week if you want.

The dream is worth dreaming, but the reailty can be a terribly rude shock. If you expect any monohull to sail flat--you're in for that rude shock. So by all means, keep the dream, just don't dive head-first into the shallow end. That tends to end badly.
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Old 11-04-2012, 16:49   #11
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

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Some folks are willing to make such a compromise, and circumnavigate the world at an average speed of 4 knots. Just plan to spend twice as much time at sea if you're one of those folks.
Hey...that's exactly what I use for my passage planning -- 4 knots; 96 NM average per 24 hour run. Except I have never thought of it as a compromise. Besides, one reason I'm going to go on my trip is to be at sea.
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Old 11-04-2012, 16:56   #12
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

Buy a catamaran. Very difficult to knock down unless you don't reef. The problem is, once knocked down, they don't come back up.

The monohulls that do come back up will heel. They won't sail flat.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:34   #13
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

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Originally Posted by clockwork orange View Post
If you want a boat that sails with a low angle of heel you want a conservative catamaran, ie, big volume hulls, conservative rig.

Steve.
While they won't sink, the cost could sink me. That is a nice dream though and a good answer. Thanks for the feedback.

My dream retirement activity would be building aluminum tri-hull cats that can land back on their feet after a roll. I have a few invention ideas on how to make that happen.

Lots of people have good advice on gaining experience, that is what I am doing right now and planned to do most of it already. I have other life experience that is helpful and I will be just fine. I plan to hire a crew for the first 90 - 180 days until I am good to go on my own.

Thanks for all your wonderful answers.
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Old 12-04-2012, 04:14   #14
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Re: Flat sailing blue water vessel

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Hey...that's exactly what I use for my passage planning -- 4 knots; 96 NM average per 24 hour run. Except I have never thought of it as a compromise. Besides, one reason I'm going to go on my trip is to be at sea.
I like your attitude. Maybe we will cross paths out there and race to see who can go the slowest.

As an old dog that flew fixed wing and helicopters, most of my dead friends were on their way home suffering from get-home-itus in poor weather with aircraft not fit for the task. The blame always lands on the first person to die in the front seat where it belongs. There are some things you just can't teach with experience or education.

On the other hand...

I used to play pool with a one armed Indian that I could not beat. One day I commented on how damn lucky he was as he beat me for the 10th time in a row. He looked me squarely in the eye and replied with a cocky attitude "There is a certain skill in luck".

I fired back with "Were you feeling all skillful the day you lost your arm in a drunk driving accident?" That was the last time he ever beat me.

Sometimes just thinking you can is enough but 100 miles from land or 100 feet in the air can kill you unlike a game of 8-ball. I'll find a crew with the right attitude and a solid boat under me feet to get me started and be just fine.

I used to work offshore in the oil business and sometimes had to be on small vessels all day up in Alaska. I hate being sea sick. I'm going to be looking for something that someone else sunk a lot of money into that rides nice in rough waters. Sounds like a full keel and a slower boat from what I have read so far.

Best of luck to you and hope to see you out there, taking it slow and enjoying the ride.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:26   #15
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Re: Flat Sailing Blue Water Vessel

Look for a boat with a deep keel with a bulb at the end to put the ballast way down low, water and fuel tanks down low in the sump, engine that is under the deck panels, low deck house to reduce windage.

If you do this the boat with be stiffer and stand up more, it also with have a slower ride and be more comfortable. Whether it is slower is more about the sail area so look for one that has a SA ratio of 16+.
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