Not being much of an expert on any of the boats you ask about I can only offer general suggestions many of which you may already be aware of.Also not having any idea of your past experience plus my being a newbie to the forum, you may already know much of this..if so please pardon.
You and I are both facing the how much boat for $$ budget
constraints because Im searching for my next boat after living ashore for a little over 2 years.
I cant comment much on the common production boats around... I know that there are some excellent ones and some not so good. What I can do is give you a few observations based on my experience.
You dont describe much where you plan to cruise
. Its pretty important for a number of reasons. If you plan high latitude cruising with the sea conditions and temperature extremes that are entailed, it requires a lot different boat than you would use say primarily in the tropics. Draft
is another consideration closely coupled with the above. My Pacific boat, a PJ 54 cutter
that was drawn by Gary Mull drew 9'. She sailed like a dingy, had a b/d ratio of close to 40% but didnt have the most comfortable motion in a seaway. The draft
kept me out of a LOT of places. She won most races I was in and I did some 200+ mile days in her noon to noon without a problem. I loved her dearly but I could not end up getting into a lot of places I wanted to go. She couldnt be beat passagemaking though.
Do you plan to live aboard full time? Its another consideration. In spite of what I ve wished over the years I find that I spend most of the time living aboard
either on the hook or in a marina. A boat that seems comfortable in this type of situation may not be especially good underway on long passages.And, vice versa. Small interior
features can make a huge difference between a decent crusier and something that is better left alone.
To me,boat choices end up being as personal as choosing a mate. Someone who loves the ocean and wants to go can make something work that might send others ashore pretty quick. Along with this, something well designed can make a lot of difference between getting to the end of a short easy passage
worn out and disgusted, and a longer, more difficult passage
rested and relaxed.
As far as the production boats you talk about I ve seen some beautiful absolutely top notch Hinckleys but I think you are going to pay for the name as much as you will for the quality. On a budget that can be trying.
I am in agreement with you about S&S. They did some beautiful designs particularly back in the late 60 s and early- mid 70s and still do today. I tried to buy one of their designs, one of the Charisma sisters in aluminum
but found out about her too late and someone else bought her. Some of their boats are breathtaking beauties, sail like witches and are good sea boats. That combination incidentally can be hard to find.
Some of the Morgans are excellent as well. I ve seen a lot of them in various far flung places, they seem to hold together well and the people that have done crossings with them swear by them. I think though its important which Morgan, who actually did the lines and who built her.
The others, although I ve sailed a few of them in years past, I dont have enough experience to comment on and Im sure that there are many others here a lot more knowledgeable than am I.
One thing I will say, with fiberglass
or GRP is to be EXTREMELY careful and get the absolute best surveyor
you can find to really rip whatever your choice is apart particularly if you plan to take the boat offsoundings for extended periods.I can not stress this enough and I think most others here will agree. Passage making with the continued, sometimes for weeks, cyclical stress loads on a rig and hull
will uncover flaws that might never be apparent in occasional weekend cruising and around the buoys racing
..... Sometimes, depending on where, with disastrous results. Refer back to my comment earlier i.e. choices are very personal. There are a lot more GRP boats making safe, fast passages than probably anything else...only be aware that in a wooden, aluminum
vessel many times (but not all ) bad construction or design flaws will be more apparent. Shoddy workmanship, sub standard materials and insufficient wet out of the laminates, to name a few.... can be more easily convered or hidden by the outer laminates in a glass/GRP/composite boat . The knowledge of the surveyor
you hire and the reputation of the builder
are paramount with GRP in my opinion.
Finally and I will shut up (old people ramble LOL) buy the smallest, best quality, best outfitted boat that will work for you and your cruising plans. Maintenance
, harbor and light dues, slip rent and so on go up exponentially with size. Ditto haulouts. Ditto refits. Ditto re rigging
one ( and if you keep one and sail her offshore
regularly this will be depending on the boat between a 5 and 10 year task any way you cut it). You will be more prone between passages if alone to take her for an afternoon sail (after all thats what its about) if she is say 35 ' lod rather than say 45' lod. The smaller vessel wont strain your budget, you will be more prone to blast free for extended periods rather than shorebound working to pay for maintenance
and cost of ownership
in the larger vessel. Again this is the reason I stress best quality and best outfitted for the $. I ve seen lots of people who bought more boat for a lower price
and then had their dreams dashed by the cost both in terms of time and expense, of a major refit
. Every yard it seems has one of these broken dreams or two lying around somewhere in the back, that someone gave up on.....
Good luck. Choose wisely and Go sailing !!!
Sunshine and trades over the quarter