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Old 07-03-2005, 18:20   #1
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production boats vs blue water cruisiers

Is there anyone out there who is living aboard and cruising on a Catalina, Benneteau or Jenneau?

If so, where can a coastal cruiser take you safely?

And is it working as a liveaboard?

Our budget will only allow us to buy a 7-11 year old production boat or a 12-20 year old blue water cruiser and we're getting conflicting advice on which would be better. We're not planning an around the world cruise but won't be confining ourselves to daysailing in bays either.
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Old 07-03-2005, 18:47   #2
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It sounds like you have already started to outline your boating requirements. Where you are are going and what it type of sailing that will be done.

There are many factors. If you are just cruising coastal or planning a world cruise. this will help define the type of boat you need or want. When we still lived in the US we saw many awesome bluewater long distance crusing boats used as floating condos. Kind of a waste and overkill (IMO). Here in Venezuela we see many boats I'm not sure I would sail in the Chesapeake Bay, but here they are!!

Age has has an impact. Refit cost, speed, comfort, and asthetic appeal. And the big one insurance. The older the boat the harder it is to get insurance.

Read and talk with sailors and owners not just dock walkers or floating condo owners. Go sailing with as many people as you can. You will be amazed at how different a boat can become the longer you sail and own it.

Sorry about the long windedness. We see have seen all of them cruising in the Caribe and are no longer surprized when we pull into an anchorage and see a Catalina 36 or a hunter 27 there.
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Old 07-03-2005, 21:21   #3
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Coastal vs Bluewater

The major difference between the two are: the bluewater boats have stronger hulls and rigging for the long tedious ocean crossings. As well, they have more storage room which makes them good live-a-boards. A waste of a good boat IMO.

The coastal cruisers can take a beating, but not for long. A short jot 2000 - 3000 miles away is not too bad until you hit that big storm, and that takes a toll on the gear. When you get in port you spend time and money fix'n it back up for the trip home.

The coastal cruisers are just that. You follow the coast and maybe a little island hopping but long distance is going to cost you.

My plan, when ready, is to sell my existing (coastal) vessel. Then buy in the area that I'm going to retire and spend the time island hopping. Why take the chance of crossing the Pacific and beating the boat to hell then having to rebuild it to enjoy the rest of the time.................._/)

BTW Welcome aboard, this is a fine port.
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Old 08-03-2005, 12:42   #4
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delmarrey,

And where will that retirement area be, my brother? Possibly the Kingdom of Tonga? Or perhaps some jeweled islands in the Pacific that only you know of and haven't shared with your old shipmates?
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Old 08-03-2005, 21:28   #5
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Stede,

I hope to make homeport around Magubahay, Panay, P.I. Will spend the spring and summers there and head South when the monsoons start up. Maybe down to Oz or over to Micronesia area in the favorable weather.

The wife has a sister with teen children on Palawan and lots of other relatives on the mainland, so I'm sure I 'll have plenty of help with the lines. Island hopping will be the norm until I can't stand anymore.

Been looking at Cats and Oz seems to have a good selection. But we'll see. There maybe something closer to homeport................_/)
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Old 09-03-2005, 05:34   #6
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delmarrey,

I'm not familiar with the area that you listed as your possible homeport. I'll have to look that one up on the map. I'm familar with Micronesia though.Some of the fish for the saltwater aquarist trade come from there. I think a fish in my tank came from there. I'll talk to him about it when I get home. It sounds like you have a good plan, and crew in the making.

It was interesting reading your comments about buying a boat where you intend to cruise rather than trashing one out during a long haul. I made a similar comment to a friend recently. I'm not ruling anything out, but I'm starting to question whether long bluewater trips will make sense for me at retirement, since I'll be on a limited income.As you pointed out, there is a substantial investment in $$$ in preparing a boat for such an endeavour. With the pounding a boat takes on such trips, I imagine the cost of keeping everything "tweaked" is substantial also.

I've kicked around a few different scenarios some what similar to yours. I loved sailing the Greek waters and have thought that I might buy a boat some where in Europe.I would then sail the Med.until I've seen all I want to see, sell the boat and fly back to the states.At that point, I would pick up another boat and meander back down the "prickley path" to the Carribean. In between these proposed cruising areas, I would charter a few boats here and there at locations I want to see, such as Thailand,etc.

At present, I'm thinking I'll keep my home in the NC mountains.I enjoy riding motorcycles on the Blue Ridge Parkway too much to give it up, I think? I could also keep my 26 footer to sail on a lake close by that's really nice. By keeping my home,,l would have a place to plant a "tater" or two in my old age But, who knows? I still have a few years to go until retirement and a lot can change between now and then.

Your mentioning of purchasing a cat is interesting to me also. I've never sailed on one, so I don't have an opinion, but I would like to try one out. I've been aboard a few at the Annapolis boat shows and was impressed with the amount of space they offer.The beds were so big a guy could do summersaults on them. O.k., maybe just a tumble, but still, they were big I don't know if a charter company would allow me to charter a cat without any previous experience on one? If someone reading this has done so, please let me know.Anyway, I continue to look at many different boats, and keep my options open.

Hey, I know....how about you buy the cat to keep in Magubahay, Panay, P.I., then I'll buy a mono over in Europe, and we swap on occasion
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Old 09-03-2005, 05:51   #7
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These are arbitrary, somewhat meaningless terms...

Judith, it is very hard to generalize about 'production boats' when we're spanning a decade or more, covering a wide variety of boat builders, referring to multiple generations of designs in various sizes, and so forth. I know it can be very frustrating to get one's hands around the capabilities of the seemingly infinite number of boats out there, but it won't help you a lot to clump boats into such categories.

Let me give you several examples why this is the case. While in a small German island in the North Sea this summer, we met a German skipper who routinely sails his boat from Germany up to northern Norway and back; his Jeanneau 41 is now almost 20 years old and he's made this trip 17 times. The boat has been modified over the years to deal with the drastically different wind conditions, was in great shape, has been lived aboard each season and handles a large crew of young strapping men to help this 70+ sailor get up there and back. On the surface, I'm guessing you would think that sounds great! Yet he bought the boat new, had custom Kevlar laminates added in the hull to take the hull & rig loading the boat sees, and he was a very savvy sailor...which means he knows how to take care of the boat in heavy weather.

How do you use this info? It's very hard because e.g. Jeanneau was purchased by Beneteau a few years ago and so we now have Jeanneaus, previously built with a lot of hand labor, reporting as a business to a high-volume, almost-automated builder. What Jeanneaus 'have been' may not be quite what they 'now are'. And if you look at a Jeanneau (or Beneteau) at a dock or in the yard: look especially at the anchor handling gear, the size of the control hardware (blocks, winches, shackles), the dimensions of the mast and the strut & shaft. All of these are good benchmarks in that they should tell you what is intended for light use and normal dependence on marina environments. If you compare this hardware with that found on a similarly sized Catalina, at least you will see the robustness of the Cat hardware is a step in the right direction. If you compare it to what you'll find on a successful cruising boat, you'll instantly see the differences.

As one further example, Beneteau is very proud of using new technology to make their boats strong but also affordable. E.g. they point to aircraft grade adhesives which they now use when gluing their bulkheads into molded-in sleeves (vs. the traditional, labor-intensive method of laminating bulkheads to the hull and deck). They will tell you the glue is as strong as the resin used in the traditional method; unfortunately, the glue will hold onto the veneer covering the ply but the ply will separate from the veneer and pop its sleeves...so it's an acceptable cost-effective method only up to a point.

Two final reference points ala Beneteau: Liza & Andy Copeland have circumnavigated in their Beneteau First 38, with family, and are very keen on their boat. (The First line, racing oriented tho' it is, is generally considered the stronger structural boat in the Beneteau line). The Copelands have subseqauently gone half way around, again so their satisfaction has to be meaningful. Meanwhile, a Dane I spoke with this summer told me about the time he sailed a non-First Beneteau across to the Caribbean for charter work. They first diverted to the Cape Verdes as all the deck hardware started to explode. His next surprise was when fixing breakfast each morning on the rest of the crossing - it seemed the galley 'wasn't right' but, for several days, he couldn't put his finger on it...until he finally realized the counter assembly was v-e-r-y slowly, steadily rising as it peeled more and more from the hull structure while the hull was doing its twisting/torquing work. These examples suggest to me that its even hard to generalize by a single brand and size of boat.

I would encourage you to work a little harder at what your certain [not 'possible', but rather 'certain') cruising goals are, as how you define what the boat must do can have a huge impact on the choices (and costs) of the boats you subsequently will feel good about buying. E.g. many North Americans imagine sailing down to and around the Caribbean and in reality that is not a terribly demanding plan insofar as a boat is concerned. OTOH if you feel an ocean crossing is in your future (...and good for you!), then you are talking about a different set of demands. It is hard to imagine until you've done it how constantly, relentlessly a boat is worked offshore, even in temperate mid-latitude in-season sailing. Structures are one critical issue for you (the strength of the whole monocoque hull-deck structure and, equally important, the rudder), but so are good seaberths, a workable galley, a head you can use at sea (best location, in one quarter of the boat) and good general ergonomics that 'fit' your bodies - things that don't necessarily add cost.

Good luck on your search...!

Jack
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Old 12-03-2005, 12:14   #8
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I am also caught in the choice between an older bluewater and and new or newer production cruiser. I will live aboard, go from northeast to caribe, do the islands, and then look around to see if it was an itch that was cured or a real disease. The problem I see is the cost. I can easily spend 200k on an older blue water, or I can buy - for example - a new Catalina Morgan CC. I fear aged systems and blisters. I love the volume of newer design. My aging bones never want to sleep in a "berth" again. I have become, as has the mate, an Island Queen kind of guy ( the bed, not me). Newer has a real appeal, but I wonder if these new boats will hold up as well as the old overbuilt cruisers I have always sailed. I am in construction and I have seen too many new methods and materials fail. I read the reviews in the magazines rating and raving over new boats, but I know this is an industry, and sales and profits are a priority. We all need some level of forgiveness for error on the water. I look at some new production boats and believe that if I hit something submerged or get pushed on a shoal, that boat may not take impact like the older boats. Anyone have an opinion on newer technology and hull integrity ? Are blisters no longer a problem ? Which boat will retain more of its initial purchase price, assuming the older boat is in very good condition, when we sell in four years ?
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Old 13-03-2005, 03:57   #9
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Lar, you describe well the dilemma many aspiring North American sailors feel when they want to go cruising. First, there is a natural bias towards 'new' over 'old', altho' that suggests clear lines of delineation that don't necessarily apply. (E.g. I just replaced the forward cabin sink faucet in our 1979 13M/42' ketch. That means that the hull & deck, spars and rudder, joinerwork and sinks are the only remaining 1979 items. The systems are all less than 6 years old with many even newer, and were chosen for long-term cruising. This could be viewed as a newish boat in many respects and, WRT to its systems, more of a cruising boats than new ones that are labeled as such). And of course 'production boat' is all but a meaningless label as a definition, as is 'older bluewater boat'.

Some of your questions do have relatively firm answers. Vinylester resins further delay laminate saturation and subsequent (tho' not guaranteed) blistering, but only quality builders seem to generally avoid this problem and you certainly can't be assured you'll avoid it by buying a high-volume production boat. You also have to see 'volume' in different ways if planning to liveaboard and cruise. Walking below in a Morgan 381 gives you a visual sense of spaciousness...but does it use space as you would want? You are only given a 50 hr range under engine (minus fuel used for charging) and that engine looks a little small for a 11 ton fitted-out & provisioned boat; is that acceptable? How about a bare 10 ton boat only offering 86 gals of water - is that reasonable? Does the use of space provide sufficient deep bookshelves, accessible deep lockers and seaberths (I count none...) to satisfy? If older boats used more traditional construction methods (e.g. glassing in bulkheads to both hull and deck; partial or full-skeg supported rudders), they often also incorporated some of these other functional design features that we tend to forget about when awed by the bright interior and open design of many high-volume production boats.

And then there's the basic design as a whole, independent of the structures, interior layout & features. If e.g. you step back, look at a pic of the boat on the water, and reflect on the height of the Morgan 381's cockpit above the sea - let alone how exposed it seems, to my eye - and picture a rolling beam or quarter sea, how will you feel about that cockpit as a watchstander? Or look at the overall profile of the boat: golly, that looks like a huge volume of boat above the waterline for the small amount below. When enduring a heavy sea, maneuvering in a crowded basin or when anchored in a good blow and the boat veering around its rode, how do you feel about that windage?

None of my comments suggest you couldn't take a Morgan 381 down to the Caribbean, which can be done with only a very few overnight hops...altho' all the limitations I've mentioned will influence your experience while doing so. The bigger dilemma is when you qualify your cruising plan as being 'open ended': the minute you want to have the option of something beyond relatively easy in-season ICW/East Coast sailing & a Caribbean cruise, your needs can shift dramatically. I guess that is one of the main reservations I have about production boats as a long-term cruising boat choice. To my mind, one of the most joyous parts of cruising is the freedom you have to explore as far afield as you choose. Many of these contemporary production boats really tie your hands - structurally, layout functionality, suitability - beyond passages close to home.

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Old 13-03-2005, 08:10   #10
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all true. the other side of this debate is buying more boat than you know you need because you might go offshore increases purchase price and shrinks the kitty. The two boats I was trying to compare were the new Catalina Morgan 440 and an old (1980) CSY 44 walk over. From what I took from the URI / USCG blister study, many boats do not show problems for a long time. I came very close to buying a Gulfstar 50 last year (a story all it's own) and, while the boat was very well maintained and upgraded, serious blisters that the seller was trying to hide killed the deal. While I do not fear standard repairs and upgrades, I also do not want to buy a project or a boat with defects that can not be addressed. Most of the older boats I look at have been Awlgripped and barrier this and stripped that. I do not want to buy a pig just because it is wearing a nice dress. Specific to Catalina, any opinion on quality of construction. My understanding of the Morgan part is higher end rigging and associated components. Is this correct?
For me it is a spreadsheet problem. If I pay more up front, will a new boat with new systems give me several trouble free years ? If I buy a 25 year old boat with great maintenance and top survey, can I save the money and still expect reliability ?
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Old 13-03-2005, 10:46   #11
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For me it is a spreadsheet problem. If I pay more up front, will a new boat with new systems give me several trouble free years ? If I buy a 25 year old boat with great maintenance and top survey, can I save the money and still expect reliability ? [/B]
The answer is maybe. I have seen friends by new boats and spend two years or so shaking out the issues. I have seen others but older boats and have minimal. No one answer.

From my perspective the high quality older boat with a solid survey and maintenance record has the greatest odds of success. With boats that are know to have certain issues you just have to make sure they were delt with.

For example when I bought my Moody it had no blisters however the survey said higher than ideal water content but no signs of any voids or delamination. Surveyor thought it was a failing barrier coat, but low and behold 4 years later they cropped up. And there was a failed barrier coat when we did the peel. The repair was involved but not huge $$ for a 47. I have done a major refit on a 20 year old boat but when all said and done I have an old hull with almost everything else new. So I have a new or better than new boat for significantly less than an equivelent quality new boat.

If you have never owned boats or don't know how to evaluate what you stepping into then new is probably safer but there goes that same size, quality, cost issue. Have fun balancing it all out.
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Old 13-03-2005, 10:56   #12
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I am surprised that a Moody had blisters. They are on my "A" list of quality boats. Expensive in the used boaat market. How long ago did you do the peel and have any new blisters appeared ?
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Old 13-03-2005, 11:02   #13
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Repair was winter 2003-2004. I hope not. boat has not been out of the water since.

Any boat can blister and it is not a direct correlation to quality of build. In fact mine were confined really to the gelcoat. We peeled in just below that and that was all it took. Some manufactures have more of an issue than others, Moody in general not know for an issue but not unheard of for that age boat.

Most boats built after about 1985-6 were done with vinylester resins which seems to minimize the issue. My theory was if it did not have them by then [2000] then it probably would not, but proved wrong.

I would not take Moody of my 'A' list. Great boat.
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Old 13-03-2005, 13:27   #14
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"For me it is a spreadsheet problem."

It is a much broader puzzle than that, which is why spreadsheets only tell one small slice of the story.

In a recent Cruising Assn. seminar on blistering and blister repairs held in London, the basic points made by the consultant/presenter were:
1. Polyester resin gelcoat & laminate structures will begin absorbing moisture on Day 1; blistering will begin occurring from year 10 to year 20 or more.
2. Vinylester resin gelcoat & polyester laminate structures will begin absorbing on Day 1 but at a slower rate; vinylester resin buys you some more years but not another decade
3. Builders use moisture inhibitors in the laminating process, typically propylene glycol, which remains suspended in the resin as it cures. Hygroscopic in nature, it will continue to generate water absorption even after hulls have been dried for a year, using heaters and dehumifiers. (A RNLI lifeboat was used as one example).
4. Controls of the build environment (humidity, heat, insects, etc.) varies greatly, even from day to day for a given builder. We saw samples of wasps and birds laminated into hulls as extreme examples of how bad the airborne control can be.
5. Barrier coats, typically epoxy in some fashion, last roughly 10 years or perhaps a bit more; if barrier coating to prevent blistering, a new barrier coat is needed after that time frame.

As confirmed by a surveyor speaking at the same facility two weeks later in a second seminar, blisters are rarely structurally significant. (The surveyor estimated he'd seen 3 or 4 cases of this in 25 years of surveying).

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Old 13-03-2005, 13:58   #15
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Jack has it right. With the Gulfstar - they were laid up outdoors and some were rained on and some were buit on Friday and some had lots of waste material trapped. Quality control was nill. all the same, you can find a good one. The bad news is, just as with the Moody, many older boats are just starting to show problems. The URI/USCG study suggests that the problem will continue even after repair. I had not heard the 10 year epoxy fix approach before. The end of this question is a really old one - how long will a fiberglass hull last. The number has been increased as time goes by, but is there a limited life, or can a hull, except in rare cases, always be repaired ?
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