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Old 15-05-2007, 14:31   #1
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How much of a bluewater/open ocean boat do I actually need?

I don't ever plan on crossing the Atlantic. I mainly am looking for a boat to liveaboard and sail around the Gulf of Mexico, and occasionally out to Bermuda, BVI's, etc. Everyone on this forum seems to suggest that you stay away from companies like Catalina or Hunter for more ocean worthy craft like Caliber. The price of the "blue water" boats in nearly twice what the others are. What are the major differences? If I buy a 30-35 foot hunter and get stuck in a storm will I be cursing myself wishing I spent the extra money on a caliber?
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Old 15-05-2007, 14:46   #2
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You'll need a boat that's stronger than the storm you'll be in.

The problem with taking a weak boat off shore even a few miles is that WHEN the weather turns snotty you have one choice. And it's the wrong one, sometimes. YOU'LL HAVE TO HEAD IN. No biggie you say, wrong. The ocean is a much better place to be in 50kts than just shy of the breakwater. Breakers between the jetties are not fun and a lot of channels close down under storm conditions. Or at the least become death traps. Hitting land hurts. If you have a vessel capable of staying off shore and riding it out you have more options. Heading in a good option ONLY if you get in before the weather. Not always possible.

YES.

I'd take a PS Dana @ 24' or my Cape Dory 25D @ 25' places and in weather that I'd never want to be in a Hunter 34.

Sometimes you do get what you pay for. What's your life worth? Your families?
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Old 15-05-2007, 14:59   #3
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There are a lot of boats that will fit most of the sailing you have described, including some Catalina's and Hunters. If most of your Gulf sailing is up and down the Texas coast most coastal boats will work. Bermuda and the BVIs are another story altogether. Having spent time on both, I'll agree with Randy that I would rather be in rough weather in a Dana than a Hunter 34, but I'd rather live on a Hunter 34. What size are you looking for?
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Old 15-05-2007, 15:05   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pura Vida
What size are you looking for?
Thinking mid-low 30's. Something comfortable enough for me to live on with the occasional guest.
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Old 15-05-2007, 16:16   #5
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I will not comment on the Hunters, but the design point of a Catalina in the mid 30s and up is for island hopping.

I have done it, have been there. I have weathered a hurricane on my 380 and more storms than most people can count. I have thousands of miles under my keel and many, many of them offshore. All of this in a Catalina, with my 2 year old son, wife, and 2 worthless dogs.

The notion that a Catalina, Bene, or Jeauneau is not safe in anything but a lake is sooooooo far out of whack it is laughable. I have done it... as have countless other people. A 470 just got back from a race (where they set a record) from CA to Hawaii and back. There are Catalinas in Europe and the Med. I personally know a judge that bought a 36 and sailed all over the gulf and islands, up the east coast, around the statue, and back down (all singlehand). THere are articles in Mainsheet every quarter about the different Catalinas in different parts of this hemisphere (and eleswhere) cruising. I just spoke to Mike (will keep his last name confidential) who sailed his 400 from Texas to Key West, non-stop, singlehanding, and weathered some nice storms in her. He is now in the Turks as I recall.

Island hopping.... I would not have anything but a Catalina, Bene, or Jeauneau (well, or a Hylas 54 or old Mason... but that is another story!!). I chose a Catalina. They make a fine boat for what it is: a production boat meant for coastal, island hopping, and some offshore jaunts.

IT WAS NOT MEANT TO CROSS THE ATLANTIC OR PACIFIC OR ROUND THE HORN! THat was not its design. People have done it... I would not. I think there are better boats built for it, like A Valiant. However, as sure as I would not take a Catalina across the Atalantic, I would not take a Valiant to the islands or want to liveaboard it. Too small and uncomfortable for me. Others dissagree and think the size of a Valiant (or similar) is fine. More power to you. But if you are cruising in this hemisphere, a 36 up will be just fine for you.

One last point of clarification: I would take a Hunter around the world with an experienced crew and knowledgeable captain before I would take a Valiant across the gulf with an inexperienced one. It is the captain that makes 90+% of the difference - not the boat. Keep that in mind.

- CD
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Old 15-05-2007, 16:17   #6
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Well I'm embarrassed, you did mention the size before. Recently a buddy of mine sold his Hunter 34. We spent a lot of time sailing it on Galveston bay and it was a fun boat with a lot of room for a live aboard or a party. Also I saw a Hunter 34 that someone had managed to get into St Johns and that is where the boat finally gave up the ghost. I understand that most of the bulkheads came loose. The point is that a lot of the problems older boats face are cumulative.

One advantage of a Hunter or Catalina is the value of the boat is easy to establish because there are so many of them. They are easy to buy and easy to sell. I'm not a Catalina or Hunter fan or I would own one but they have their purpose.
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Old 15-05-2007, 16:25   #7
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I'm not stuck on either Catalina or Hunter, it's soley about the price. 100K is a whole lot easier to swallow than 200K.
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Old 15-05-2007, 16:43   #8
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For $100k you should be able to do well. Have you looked at Morgan 38s which are popular cruisers, or the Westsail 32? There are a lot of Cape Dory's in that range.
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Old 15-05-2007, 17:00   #9
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The truth is that just about any Good Condition cruiser class boat is capable of coastal sailing/island hopping the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Most of the people doing this are sailing light weight mass produced boats. No one is going to tell you that a "bluewater" boat isn't a good choice or that you will never encounter conditions where you wish you had one, but one of the biggest reasons that people abandon cruising is that it turns out not to be fun living on the particular boat they chose to do it in. It's all about comfort level, both sailing and living aboard - this is personal to you, but there is no good reason to cruise these waters unless you are going to do so slowly and leisurely. 90% of the time your bombproof bluewater boat isn't going to be sailing anywhere - it's going to be anchored. I have cruised the Bahamas/Caribbean on both a Catalina 36 and a Hunter 34 - neither is a bad choice for this kind of cruising.
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Old 15-05-2007, 17:45   #10
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Hmm,

First let me say that I am a fan of Valiants. My boat is currently about 200 feet from where they are built. They helped me outfit my 380 and are doing the same with my 400. Great people and know their stuff. Awesome boats. If you don't think there is a big difference between a bene or jeaunea or catalina and a Valiant or PS, you have never been on one or you are blind (or both). Top notch, go around the world boats.

That being said, I might dissagree that they are the right boat for everything: I think a bluewater boat is a mistake for the islands and island hopping. I even told this to Wally and the folks at Valiant (yes, I ducked!!). They claimed that the 42 is the best livaboard in the world and I strongly dissagree. No way. You want as much room and space as you can get (well, within reason). Some of you without kids can do with a lot less... I agree. However, as a liveaboard, I doubt anyone on a sailboat (and probably even a trawler) has ever said, "This boat is just too big down below. I want something more cramped!!"

HEHEHE

Thus, for island hopping, buy a boat that will be a great, comfortable liveaboard. Trust me... that is where you are spending 99% of your time (anchored). If you really want to spend money on something that will get worn out, buy a great RIB and outboard (or 2). Unless you are stupid and a piss poor captain, most of the major production boats will not only be "fine" they are "ideal."

I could have bought a Valiant and almost bought a Hylas (which is a great liveaboard, by the way). I chose a Catalina out of all of them (4 times in a row now). The fam and I hope to set back out soon and for a lot longer this time. Once we get tired of the islands again, we will sell it and probably buy a Nordhavn to cross the seas on, maybe a Hylas. But for island hopping (short of the Nord), a Catalina is a better boat (in my opinion).

Other have different tastes, that is fine. But I know both the boats quite well, and price was not the object. It was comfort. Go on board a Catalina 400/42 and then go on board at V42 or even V50 and you will see why.

- CD

PS NO, Gerry Douglas and Frank Butler are not paying me to say this!!!!! However, as Hellosailor says, I can be bought though!!! But I am more expensive than he is!
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Old 15-05-2007, 18:05   #11
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With the exception of the BERMUDA piece...I would say that all your other plans can be nicely and comfortably handled on any production cruising boat.
Four well built boats this past week did not do so well in the waters between Carolina and Bermuda...it is definitely a Blue water...week long passage and your boat better be able to take care of you and itself in weather and sea conditions that cannot be predicted in advance of the trip.
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Old 15-05-2007, 18:38   #12
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Four well built boats this past week did not do so well in the waters between Carolina and Bermuda...it is definitely a Blue water...week long passage and your boat better be able to take care of you and itself in weather and sea conditions that cannot be predicted in advance of the trip.
What brand/type/size of boat were those..?

As for good liveabord with plenty of room down below and bulletproof construction as well as reasonable price I can recommend the CSY boats.

A 33 in good shape can be had in the mid 50s. A 33 in poor shape mid 20s or below. (US Dollars X 1000)

CSY also made 37s and 44s. More room for liveaboard than most other production boats. (Well, these days the computer aided desingers can jam more bunks and "cabins" in a fat boat than ever before, but that does not make them better liveaboards as all the storage space with lockers and drawers, etc are gone to make room for coffin type sleeping areas under the cockpit that they call cabins. )

A CSY 33 is designed for one couple and has literally tons of built-in storage and tons of creature comfort...for one couple.
Yet there is a pull-out double in the main cabin, with a single across. We have used them all, but found the boat to be cramped with 5 souls for more than 3 days.

Long term liveaboard for 2 is good. Previous owners lived aboard for 5 years....Previous owners before that again lived aboard for 7 years, including 5 years in the Med and 2 Atlantic crossings..

Just thought I'd pass along the best kept secret for sturdy, safe, comfortable and inexpensive liveaboard boats....No, I ain't selling.

Since Catalinas was mentioned here, I might as well pipe up: We have good friends that owned Catalina 30s and bigger and have never heard a complaint. They have sailed the same trips as us and in as much comfort and style.
I have only heard good things about Catalinas and the factory support and the owners association, etc.
Based on that I would pick a Catalina before a Jen or Ben or Hansa or any other production boat.

Not going to switch or do anything, but uh, got an offer today from very close friends to buy their Morgan 41 Classic (Built by Catalina) for a very good price, loaded with brand new electronics and tons of gear etc.
No broker yet...
I considered it, but not doing anything as my sailing needs does not include a bigger boat.
(The friends are getting a big cat, nothing wrong with their Morgan/Catalina)
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Old 15-05-2007, 18:55   #13
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Good for you CSY Guy. You have put a lot in your boat and she is just the right size for your use. 41 feet ? Nah....

I agree with comments that any decent production boat will serve you well and take you to the BVI. Bermuda is much more open water and a different deal. Too expensive anyway.

Good luck in the hunt. There are plenty of great boats for less than 100K. If I were making a change - Pacific Seacraft. then you can do Bermuda too !
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Old 15-05-2007, 19:32   #14
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If I were making a change - Pacific Seacraft. then you can do Bermuda too !
Had 3 of those at my dock. Worked on them and got to know them briefly.

Small and narrow. Good sailors. Expensive.
The PS dealer in Ft. Lauderdale is a good friend of mine.

If I won the lotto, I may get the 44 for over half a mill...

In the meantime, the PS 34 seems kind of small for the money, although I realize she is faster and sails better than my CSY 33.

(95% of the time however we sit for anchor enjoying the extra room and comfort.)
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Old 15-05-2007, 20:23   #15
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Hey Pura Vida, what's your boat?
Seems I remember you being in a GS 44? If that's right, we need to talk. I've got an offer in on one and go to survey on Monday (21st).
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