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Old 09-09-2014, 10:20   #1
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Large or Small?

So the debate,
It was brought up as to the perfect 65 footer, and we all know the size of Cruising Boats have gone up in size over the years from what once was the perfect length of 27 feet, to people now looking at starter boats in the 50 foot range.
Has the length of the perfect boat gone up in size...

When we purchased ours 12 years ago, we were looking for a 38 foot which we felt was on the larger size for cruising. we ended up buying a 42 due to avalability which at that time , we thought was on the top end of the cruising boats, but over the years, we've seen many in the 42 foot range and a good number in the 47 to 50 foot range..

At what point is large, to large?
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:39   #2
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Re: Large or Small?

The two factors that come to mind to me with this question are speed related to waterline length and interior accomodations.

I will admit that a faster passage can be safer at times, but most of us cruising about in sailboats are not speed enthusiasts. So then you would think that the most common cause for "bigger" would be accomodation; however, when you look at the designs of most 50 foot boats compared to 35 foot boats, the most common feature is a larger space holding the same features. Larger cabins, larger cockpits, more volume, but often the same layouts. I know there are exceptions, but most often not. Many people adapting from a house to a boat might find comfort in the more open space even though it may not provide any function.

Likely, the larger boats can suit because of new technology in handling larger sails and the increased use of bow thrusters.

Our 41' boat feels bigger than we need since our two children left in their late teens. We'll likely keep our "too big" 41' boat that we've had since '85, but I'm sure we'd do well with a 30' boat.
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:07   #3
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Re: Large or Small?

Back in the day my Dad had an H28 and I thought that was the ideal cruising boat. Later he got a 38 ft Abaco schooner that was real luxury for a kid like me.

I suspect both of those boats would be viewed as a little small now a days.

I have a Seawind catamaran now and love the speed, open space, and how easy it is to single hand. One thing I have noticed in the multihull world is what I will call the charter verses owners version debate.

Lots of charter cats are 40-60 feet but seem to have what I will call substandard size cabins. Each cabin has a head at the expense of open uncluttered space, not to mention the problem of maintaining four heads. The post above seems to say this is not the case with charter monohulls, but I am not sure.

The first requirement for my perfect size boat is the ability for me to single hand it. I am just guessing but I would put that at around 40 feet for a boat that I could afford.
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:14   #4
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Re: Large or Small?

It's a great question. A big boat sure feels good at sea, but at about 45+ feet or so, it also becomes a real task to manage and sail. So maybe it comes down to budget and crew.. and crew age!
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:34   #5
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Re: Large or Small?

Great question! I don't have an answer, or an educated opinion...yet!

We have owned our 29' Bayfield for 3 years....this is the first year that we stayed on it for any length of time...6 weeks actually. We found it a wee bit small for the two of us, far too small when company was with us and we expanded to four persons.

We have just purchased a Stevens 47.....many more amenities, much larger, faster boat and yes the two of us should be able to handle it the way she is set up. Is it too big? Maybe....maybe not. We have yet to find out. We chose her because of her seaworthy reputation, sailing speed and as mentioned above, the amenities it provides compared to our "smaller" sailboat. Time will tell if she is "too big"...I'll let you know in a year or so!

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Old 09-09-2014, 11:38   #6
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Re: Large or Small?

In addition to the overall workload concerns of a larger boat you start to run into practical restrictions on where you can go. If you plan to cruise outside of highly developed areas, draft and length become issues. Look at Rio Dulce for example. A 65' length would be hard to accommodate in the cruiser oriented marinas there. And the air draft would also be a problem. So wherever you go there is at least some likelihood that you end up relegated to either commercial quays, non-intimate anchorages or expensive facilities that cater to much larger pleasure craft. That's not to say it can't be done; I see superyachts regularly in all sorts of anchorages in the Caribbean. From a practical standpoint though, more rigor and limitation has to be put into your destination planning.
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:40   #7
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Re: Large or Small?

Marinas often band boats according to length. We thought that that 12m would be suitable for our requirements as a full time liveaboard cruising couple therefore that's what we looked for. We ended up buying Norna at 14.6m as she was the right boat for the right money.

After 8 years living on board and 6 years cruising we wish we'd bought bigger. We do not go into marinas, we do not tie to quays. We anchor year round as much as we can. Therefore having a bigger boat would have, for us, increased our tankage and comfort without impacting massively on our ability to handle her or budget.
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Old 09-09-2014, 15:31   #8
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Re: Large or Small?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomfl View Post
...........................

Lots of charter cats are 40-60 feet but seem to have what I will call substandard size cabins. Each cabin has a head at the expense of open uncluttered space, not to mention the problem of maintaining four heads. The post above seems to say this is not the case with charter monohulls, but I am not sure.

.............................
I was not considering the charter fleet when I mentioned most larger boats having the same layout, yet bigger cabins than those 15' or so shorter. Certainly charter boats have a need for more separate private cabins to best compete in their market. Some of the earlier center cockpit monohulls like my own were designed for the charter trade, yet when I see the 51' version of my own 41', I see the same layout,- just expanded.
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Old 09-09-2014, 16:19   #9
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Re: Large or Small?

I think there is no upper size limit as long as the crew are capable of handling the boat in all sorts of conditions.

I think bigger cruising boats are sailed mostly by pro crews with owners possibly lending a hand now and then, but only as long as these are of the sailing stock, which is rare.

The Dashews sailed bigger cruising boats 'solo' but we must understand they were special boats, designs optimised for 'solo' sailing. Let's not overlook the fact that Dashews are extremely capable, genuine and fit sailors.

Size buys a safety margin that cannot be gotten elsewhere. I am not certain where the safe/less safe boundary is but I know it is out there. I know this boundary counts for all fine sailors and possibly twice as much for the vast majority of cruisers.

One of the indications of how little experience one has is when we ask a question of "how big a boat do I need" or "how big a boat can I sail". With time and miles sailed, one learns their limits and knows exactly which boat is too big for them.

Well. My two eurocents of some freefloating boat thoughts.

Cheers,
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Old 09-09-2014, 17:06   #10
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Re: Large or Small?

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I think there is no upper size limit as long as the crew are capable of handling the boat in all sorts of conditions.

I think bigger cruising boats are sailed mostly by pro crews with owners possibly lending a hand now and then, but only as long as these are of the sailing stock, which is rare.

The Dashews sailed bigger cruising boats 'solo' but we must understand they were special boats, designs optimised for 'solo' sailing. Let's not overlook the fact that Dashews are extremely capable, genuine and fit sailors.

Size buys a safety margin that cannot be gotten elsewhere. I am not certain where the safe/less safe boundary is but I know it is out there. I know this boundary counts for all fine sailors and possibly twice as much for the vast majority of cruisers.

One of the indications of how little experience one has is when we ask a question of "how big a boat do I need" or "how big a boat can I sail". With time and miles sailed, one learns their limits and knows exactly which boat is too big for them.

Well. My two eurocents of some freefloating boat thoughts.

Cheers,
b.
I'll be sailing my father's 38 foot boat in a few weeks. I can push or pull his boat off or on a dock using my own arms, unlike with my own 54 foot boat, for which human limbs can't influence the position, and you've got to use the engine, rudder, and bow thruster, instead of human force. His dock lines fit in a duffel bag, unlike mine, which, the long ones at least, are all one man could barely manage to lift.

Those are really about the only difference in day to day life. His sails are harder to handle, as he has no powered winches. With powered winches and in-mast furling, mine are a doddle to handle, and single-handing is no problem. I guess sail changes will be easier on his boat, but we don't do that on an ordinary cruise.

It's really not just Dashew's boats, but all modern cruisers are set up for short handed operation, these days. As someone above mentioned -- it's all about waterline length, so speed, and space. If you want it, there's not really any downside other than cost.
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Old 09-09-2014, 17:27   #11
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Re: Large or Small?

Yep. I will agree. Today many big boats have less crew hungry layouts than earlier boats.

There used to be big crews on big boats, today on a delivery it may be just the skipper and two hands.

And as you have said. Size buys speed too (at a very high price).

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Old 09-09-2014, 17:28   #12
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Re: Large or Small?

It's really not just Dashew's boats, but all modern cruisers are set up for short handed operation, these days. As someone above mentioned -- it's all about waterline length, so speed, and space. If you want it, there's not really any downside other than cost.

I disagree. They can be, but they are not unless you spend the money to upgrade a lot. You're going to need bigger winches , or electric ones and many other things... unless you are built like an America's Cup grinder.
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Old 09-09-2014, 17:54   #13
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Re: Large or Small?

for sure happiness is inverse to boat length
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Old 09-09-2014, 17:55   #14
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Re: Large or Small?

There are 2 (main) factors that determine how big is "too big". Cost and sail-ability

Sail-ability is all about whether or not you can sail your boat, dock your boat, manouver your boat, handle a sudden squall or a long storm, set and raise anchor, etc. Obviously the bigger the boat, the harder this gets. There are lots of ways of making big boats more sail-able (furlers, electric anchor winches, electric sheet winches, bow thrusters, etc.) but, for me, I approach the idea of sail-ablity from the p.o.v. of being able to get the job done if electric power was not available (for whatever reason). Not so say we don't have electric toys (anchor winch, in our case), but if the anchor winch broke, I can still raise the anchor manually (probably with the assistance of a sheet winch). So, for me, the cut of would be where the boat becomes too big for me and my lovely wife to sail, without power assistance. Certainly our 40' boat is fine for that, but I'm guessing that somewhere between 45' and 55' would become "too big for us". YMMV

Cost is a different kettle of fish. It seems to me that the cost of having a boat, including purchase, maintenance and upkeep, insurance, berthing, slipping, replacement of wear & tear items, etc is approximately proportional to the length raised to the power of around 2.75, so, for example, comparing a 35' boat to a 50' boat, the 50' boat is 1.43 times longer, but I'd predict that it will cost (50/35)^2.75 = 2.66 times more expensive.

For us, the cost of owning a bigger boat is most likely always going to be prohibitive. I often fantasise about owning a bigger boat, but in reality I don't think we will ever be sufficiently rich to own a boat much bigger than that which we have. Of course, from a cost p.o.v. some people will not be limited by cost in the same way.

In summary, for wife and I, based on our age, skill and funding, >44' would probably be "too big".
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Old 09-09-2014, 18:13   #15
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Re: Large or Small?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weyalan View Post
There are 2 (main) factors that determine how big is "too big". Cost and sail-ability
<snip>
In summary, for wife and I, based on our age, skill and funding, >44' would probably be "too big".
I think you nailed it!

- Can I afford to "successfully" operate and maintain the boat
- Can I sail and operate the boat with the available crew
- Will the boat go where I want to cruise (draft, oceanability etc)
- Is it "comfortable" to live on (personal space, galley location, sociability)
- Can I maintain the boat or do I need access to specialist technicians and spare parts not readily available to me
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