We became friends with another American couple who were sailing along England's S coast at the same time, and later wintered together in London across the dock
from one another. As a result, I got a pretty good feel for a M43 tho' not in a sailing sense. Based on being aboard the boat a fair amount and also hearing their comments (they liked the boat a lot but of course also had some 'issues' with it...) here are the cautions I would pass along for your consideration:
functionality & ergonomics are pretty poor for cruising purposes; very little protection without an expansive, expensive dodger
...and it would be difficult to integrate with working the boat. I'd put the cockpit
issues at the top of a 'disappointments' list. (During extended cruising
, you four will each use the companionway
perhaps 10,000 times - don't think I'm kidding; do the math - think about how convenient you find that hatch
& ladder). Think about a 4-hour watch in sloppy/windy conditions and try to find a place in the cockpit, out of the spray, that would suit you. Can you find decent back support anywhere?
access is poor, which is typical of under-sole installations; ventilation was another problem as the engine-related hardware
would easily rust given the last of air flow; they ended up installing a forced ventilation system for the engine bilge
area and e.g. pulling the raw water
impeller was quite a challenge with arms that only had one elbow
each. Take a close look at your stuffing box location, evidence of corrosion
flooding, and so forth.
3. This is a LOT of boat in displacement
terms (tho' pretty typical re: layout for a 43/43' LOA
hull). In turn, it requires a LOT of sail and a tall rig (which is part of the reason you hear about it being tender). My experience when cruising with kids
suggests that they sometimes require some help/care/support which is going to leave one adult to handle the boat. Does your wife feel comfortable being that one adult on a boat of this size? Do you really need that much displacement (and windage) given your space, tankage & storage
requirements? The boat is strongly built and 'feels' very substantial, but IMO at a huge displacement penalty.
4. The underbody is very conventional; some folks like this a LOT in a cruising boat design. It will track well at sea...which is another way of saying it's not highly maneuverable and a bit of a pig when maneuvering in a small basin. Add some wind
and you'll have your hands full. Similar to #3, do you really need that much keel
(and an unbalanced barn-door rudder
, which is going to build up large weather helm
, working the a/p harder in heavier going) to suit your purposes? Great boat to cross the Pacific in...but a bit of a handful at both ends.
There were some other issues which I'd describe as more minor. Aft cabin
berth (source of warmth when occupied) coupled with fuel tank
right under generates huge quantities of condensation
temps are lower. They tried to address this over two London winters without complete success. Chart table on 43 is too small and a real limitation as, on many boats these days, we use the laptop
and some radio
& other electronics
as more of an all-purposes ship information center than merely a chart table when at sea; seems like ours is always in use and I'd find the 43's nav area dimensions to be a bit too small for our needs (which in truth are pretty basic). They had to renew their teak
decks - at some considerable expensive - and of course those decks only add weight and maintenance
; do you need/want that liability? They were pleased with their boat and were able to handle it in some stiff conditions, and so I think they would offer much praise for this choice, something to keep in mind when reading my 'issues' list.
Good luck on the boat search and the prep, truly when cruising really begins!