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Old 22-02-2011, 16:32   #1
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Offshore or Coastal

If a person were to purchase a boat in the 36' range and wanted to sail across the Gulf and down to Panama and possibly cross the Gulf Stream to the Carribean would that boat need be a bluewater boat or a coastal cruiser. What are the limitations of a coastal cruiser because I've seen some mighty waves not too far offshore. Can all boats take a beating for a short while and does the length of that beating determine the bluewater designation? I would think that deck safety and layout would also play a part.

I've just retired (Monday) and my cousin who is like a sister to me has some acreage and an eco-lodge on Loma Partida down Panama way. She had the Indians build her a 40' dock, several all natural houses and she's offered to build me my own thatched roof house if I'll come down and give her clients boat rides as part of her deal. She's about a 1/2 hour powerboat ride from Bocas. Thanks.
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Old 22-02-2011, 16:46   #2
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Re: Offshore or Coastal

Bill, on this forum you will read about guys doing it in a Panga. My experience has been any decent 36 footer should make it comfortably. The key to success is to pick your weather window and make stops along the way to lessen the chances of getting caught in a blow. Bocas is a great location but the limited dinghy space is a dissappointment in town. Loma Partida isn't fully developed and was the center of some actual land title disputes last year. Never heard how it ended after the government got involved. Just a hint, "secure everything", you are in a land of many "have nots".lAll the best,
Clif
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Old 22-02-2011, 16:55   #3
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Re: Offshore or Coastal

Bill,

Myself and other delivery skippers have taken Beny’s, Jeny’s, Hunter’s, Catalina’s and other “coastal cruisers” from the states to the Caribbean and lived to tell about it. Other than making sure that all is right with the boat and not pushing her to hard tankage is a big concern. Heck some people on this board have circumnavigated with them.

Ya it can be done but be prepared to strap 60 gal diesel and maybe extra water on deck and watch the weather but don’t take the forecast as gospel. Everything equal it’s as much or more the skipper that generates sucsess.
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Old 22-02-2011, 17:11   #4
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Re: Offshore or Coastal

Thanks guys, she made out just fine in the land title dispute as a matter of fact, she wasn't even involved. She acts as the local medicine man to the Indians and keeps about 8-10 of them working more or less full time. She pays $.25 more on the hour and gets the best help. The last I heard she was paying $1.25- $1.50 per hour. The paddle over in Cayugas (sp.) to work there every day. The only trouble she's ever had was a squatter moved in while she was visiting me here in Kentucky for about 3 months. Now when she comes stateside she has one of her Indians house sit. She's locked in pretty tight with all the local constabulary and really has it made.

She slings fire around for the tourists and sells pineapples and bananas in the off season. She has an ocelot, some monkeys and other beasts that the Indians have given her over the years. Raised them all from babes and they are tame but irritating at times.

I'll be going on a boat search for a centerboard something in the 34-40 foot range because her dock sits in about 4 1/2 feet of water. I'd like to find something with some pretty good tankage and I'll be looking for over 50 gallons. Thanks again.
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Old 22-02-2011, 17:17   #5
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Re: Offshore or Coastal

Bill said: If a person were to purchase a boat in the 36' range and wanted to sail across the Gulf and down to Panama and possibly cross the Gulf Stream to the Carribean would that boat need be a bluewater boat or a coastal cruiser.


Depends on the conditions, the route, the weather and your tolerance for movement.

What are the limitations of a coastal cruiser because I've seen some mighty waves not too far offshore.

Hulls shaped for speed can pound more if not designed carefully. Tankage can be limited and the scantlings, or the strength inherent in the design, can favour, again, speed over durability. Other design elements, like rudder stocks and bulkhead tabbing, can stress or fail at sea when in coastal conditions, they did fine.


Can all boats take a beating for a short while and does the length of that beating determine the bluewater designation? I would think that deck safety and layout would also play a part.

No, not all boats can take a beating. Deck safety and layout do play a role. Many modern cruisers rated for the ocean (like rated "Lloyd's AA Ocean" or whatever the hell that bogus certification is) lack proper handholds, floor hatch tie-downs, decent backing plates, high enough lifelines, provision for storm/drop boards able to take a wave, and strong enough purchases. In my view. Others may vary.

I've just retired (Monday) and my cousin who is like a sister to me has some acreage and an eco-lodge on Loma Partida down Panama way. She had the Indians build her a 40' dock, several all natural houses and she's offered to build me my own thatched roof house if I'll come down and give her clients boat rides as part of her deal. She's about a 1/2 hour powerboat ride from Bocas. Thanks.

There are 36 footers and then there are 36 footers. Your own skill and strength and ability to single-hand come into play. Take down a PSC 37, a Niagara 35, a Wauquiez Pretorian 35, a Camper and Nicholson 35, or a CS 36, and you're likely good to go. There are dozens of options. Take down a Catalina 36 or a Hunter and expect exhaustion prior to gear failure. These are essentially coastal/weekender boats: that's why they are popular. Wide open spaces, lots of places to hoard place mats, plastic nautical novelty tumblers and DVDs. Fine. Whatever.

A boat's shortcomings can be largely mitigated, however, by choosing proper weather windows, sailing in convoys, filing sail plans, etc. Pick your way down the coast, and don't try more than a 24 hour passage (or pick up crew), and you could do it on a raft.

It's better to have a cruiser with the right stuff out of the box. A "bluewater" cruiser might fall off your list because it's not as light and airy as a production coastal job, but you have to weigh strength and safety versus dock queen attributes. They are not mutually exclusive, but it's been some time since they were found together at the 35 - 37 foot range. The upside? Sub-40 boats are cheap lately. Hope this helps.
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Old 22-02-2011, 17:26   #6
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Re: Offshore or Coastal

My experience for decades was as an East Coast, Keys, and Bahamas sailor. Years later I crossed the Gulf of Mexico several times, and before getting a good lesson, figured it was no big deal, until I really got my ass whipped trying to cross it TO WINDWARD in 40 knots of wind! This was actually the first time I gave up my goal, then turned and ran for shore, a day's sail away. The waves were so close, and so damned pointy that the boat couldn't ride over them!

A friend who went around the world three times in his custom 50'er, (pretty close to non stop), told me that the worst weather he had ever encountered, was in the Gulf of Mexico...

The Caribbean is also a beast, due to the square waves and strong currents between the islands. Don't let proximity to land fool you. These are serious bodies of water... as is of coarse the Gulf Stream!

The "good, = easy cruising", as I am told by ALL my circumnavigator friends, Is those long but mostly downwind crossings of the Pacific.

For our neck of the woods, a 36'er is plenty big enough, but it definitely needs to be a blue water one! This is UNLESS you are talking about hugging the coast to the Keys, picking your weather, and just doing the Bahamas. This is well within the capabilities of a lesser boat, (With skill & good judgement). I have done it in my old 28' trimaran, years ago...

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Old 23-02-2011, 09:52   #7
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Re: Offshore or Coastal

I would define this as coastal cruising, simply because you are never so far away from landfall that you couldn't run and hide in case of bad weather.

As others have pointed out, though, if you let the calendar dictate your schedule, and go out when the weather is against you, you could face conditions far worse than the average ocean cruiser ever sees.
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Old 23-02-2011, 10:42   #8
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Re: Offshore or Coastal

How much are you planning to spend? Have you ruled out catamarans?
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