I think there's been quite a lot of pretty good advice given here. As Atoll suggested, since you seem to be free to travel, why not spend a year or so doing as many deliveries on different kinds of boats as you can? You can discuss the pro's and con's of each boat with skipper
and crew as you experience them. After a year of doing that, you'll have learned a whole lot and will have formed a very good idea of what sort of boat best suits you and as you spend time hanging around the waterfront at common delivery
destinations, you may well hear about a bargain price
on a great boat.
You've mentioned a ketch
rig. I really like the way they look and it's a handy place to put your radar
, etc. but it adds complication and expense to the rig and to maintenance
costs, and doesn't really gain you much unless you will be sailing a lot in light winds and need a short rig to pass under bridges. But in sloops around 40' in length, there's no need to go above 64' anyway so that's not an issue. Going to weather
, it's just extra drag. Off the wind
it adds useful sail area but so does a bigger mainsail
. If the wind
is blowing hard, you don't need extra sail area, and in light air it's not a problem and is sometimes a good thing to have your extra sail area up high. I think a cutter
or solent rig is best. Yes, in strong winds you can sail "jib and jigger" but a very deep reef in your main will accomplish the same thing and closer to the center of your boat. If you find a boat that otherwise suits you and it happens to be a ketch
, then don't rule
it out, just realize that most of the time it's going to be sailed as a sloop
with some extra drag on the back. If you buy a ketch, take lots of pictures and post them here, because I love the way a ketch looks under sail.
Of course you'll never see it under sail because you'll be aboard!
I'd stay away from steel
boats without rust problems are very rare and there's a lot of extra time and cost involved to keep them that way. You mention that you'd like a fairly fast boat so that also rules out most steel boats in the 40' range. Aluminum
might be a good option if your budget
allows. There's a good website I've run into that has a good discussion of pros and cons of different type cruising boats including steel versus aluminum
. If you google
"attainable adventure cruising" or Morgans Cloud, you can find it. There's a $20 fee per year but I think is well worth it for the independent testing this seasoned cruising couple has done and written about.
There's a reason why a fairly long fin keel
and at least some sort of external support/protection for the rudder
has become common on cruising boats. A long or moderate fin will help your ability to maneuver in port and it will also give you adequate tracking ability at sea without the drag of a full keel
. You did say you don't want a slow boat. More boat are being built lately with spade rudders but I don't think it's a good idea on cruising boats because it makes the rudder
too vulnerable to any number of things it might come in contact with. A moderate fin with a skeg hung rudder allows very good maneuverability and does a much better job of protecting and supporting the rudder. If you feel you still need better maneuverability, get a bow thruster.
Slow versus fast: A lightweight boat will sail faster in light winds and accelerate quicker, but it will also pound at sea and be very uncomfortable. It sounds like you want to cover some serious distance and that means offshore
work so I wouldn't get anything too light. Even if you buy a lightweight boat, it probably won't stay that way for long as you accumulate "things" as you cruise
isn't a priority for you so the kind of speed you're interested in to cross oceans not too slowly will be determined by your boats hull speed
and that is determined by it's waterline length. Long overhangs look pretty, but it's tough to log 200 mile days in a 40' boat with only 32' feet of waterline no matter how hard the wind blows.
You haven't mentioned a budget
so it's tough to recommend a boat, but I'd take a look at the Bob Perry designed Nordic
40 or 44's that are for sale
. They have the advantages of the tried and true valiants combined with little more modern look and a reverse transom and maybe a little more performance. I had a Nordic
44 and it was a very comfortable boat at sea with good performance. If you're cruising extensively, you're not going to be stepping off a dock
onto your boat very often so a little swim platform on the transom about 10" above the waterline to step onto from your dinghy
makes it MUCH easier to get on/off your boat than climbing up the side. This is something that can be easily added to any reverse transom boat and increases its liveability on the hook a lot.
Good luck with your search and your cruising future. Get on the water
now doing deliveries, and "your" boat will come to you.