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Old 19-01-2009, 16:40   #1
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Questions on weight / ballast.

I am shopping for a boat somewhere in the 28'-35' range. I would like to learn how to sail and if I like the boat enough (after many years of experience) I may use it for bluewater cruising. I will be using this boat for a liveaboard as well to be entirely sure that I will enjoy the lifestyle that I think is for me.
I have seen many comments about boats being too light for extended cruising and would assume that ballast and displacement are what is being referred to.
What should I be looking for in those figures of a boat in that range?
Maybe I miss the point of what the term light means, please help set me in the right direction .
Your help is much appreciated on this subject.
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Old 19-01-2009, 18:12   #2
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Well, I'll take a stab at this...in my non-technical way..and then let other more knowledgeable...technical folks weigh in.

Yes, lightness has to do with displacement and ballast, but I think it also refers to methods of construction. ( you can have heavy boats that are not built well and visa versa )
Are the bulkheads fitted into a mold or are they glassed in supported and act as a stiffner to the hull. How is the deck attached to the hull..are the ends turned down and in glued and bolted through? There are many people here that can speak to the best construction methods. What is the deck core material? other material selections....Steel vs Plastic ports ? etc.

My simplified thought process..(open to criticism ) is that there are 3 main types of vessels that I see in say the 35-37 foot range..And I think they are designed and built to the markets they serve

Those that are coastal cruisers but that are not best suited to long offshore passages. I might include Catalinas and Hunters in this category. Those that are good coastal cruisers and may also be well suited to some offshore passages....I might include Sabres, Tartans et al. in this group...then there are those that are worthy blue water boats..I might incude Gozzards, Shannons, Passports, Island Packets...et al. in this group...

I know I've only named a few in each category and there are dozens more in each category..others will weigh in on ....but what distinguishes each group in my mind has more to do with methods of construction and material/hardware selections ..than weight, though granted they often seem to go hand in hand.

Does that mean that All Passport owners go offshore...or that no Catalina has ever made it to Bermuda...or that a Tartan can't circumnavigate ..no...But ...I've been in 10 foot seas in a Catalina and watched the water heater lift out of it's mount and nearly bust out of it's locker...I've been in 12-14 foot seas for 2 days in my boat and someone pulled the interior overhead grab rail loose other than that..things held together well..still I wasn't thrilled at that development..

Other things to consider offshore, tankage, cockpit size..rudder, steering designs..etc. Comfort for living aboard at the dock, is different from comfort at sea...often we make some compromises...

Hope that helps a little..
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Old 19-01-2009, 19:49   #3
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Helps very much thank you. Now I just have to find out what is good and what is "ok".
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Old 19-01-2009, 20:11   #4
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displacement/length ratios

Although it's a bit of an oversimplification, the monohull community tends to think in terms of a D/L ratios, where, according to many:
under 100 = Ultra-light
100-250ish = light
250-325 = medium
over 325 = heavy.

Those are somewhat classic ranges, and I think they've begun to outlive their usefulness given modern designs, which have tended toward lighter boats for the most part. A modern fin-keeled production boat with a D/L ratio of 185 will feel like a "medium" boat to many, especially on the West Coast where the ultralight revolution occurred. By way of example, a Catalina 42 has a D/L ratio of 172, and many would consider that boat to be on the border of the medium/light line. An Island Packet 485, which I would consider a fairly heavy boat thanks to its full keel, has a D/L ratio of 278.

In my opinion, a good range for a modern cruiser would lie somewhere in the 175-275 range, which is what I'd think of as the new "medium."
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Old 19-01-2009, 20:31   #5
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I agree with Bash. Those D/L raios are moving targets. The "light" boat of today is the "medium" boat of tomorrow. They are comparative numbers and are very useful. What is not so useful is to put labels on them. But, I do put labels on them and this helps me because I have used the label breakdown for years.

Ballast/displ is dangerous. It tells but a simple ratio and there is far more to the overall picture of the boat than a simple B/D.

I think Tempest has a good overall view of the situation.
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Old 19-01-2009, 20:43   #6
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Bashful...cool.....I found a D/L calculator online..not that it's hard math...

I ran my numbers and came up with 259.5...which is moderate...

Tanks..
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Old 19-01-2009, 20:44   #7
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Wow...Bob..I'm honored!...
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Old 19-01-2009, 20:57   #8
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If you took all the ratios and computed them out for all the boats you might compute the perfect boat? Ratios are a description but not a conclusion. If you can accept that any boat can have many descriptions you have to accept there might be an any number of conclusions.

Ratios start by assuming if all things were equal and that the problem is simple. Since we want the problem to be simple we refute the idea the concept might be complex. KISS is a philosophy not a reality.

Sorry, but some stuff really is rocket science. Boats could be worse. Given a star to steer by no telling where they might go.
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Old 19-01-2009, 21:06   #9
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Paul,

You lost me there....
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Old 20-01-2009, 05:22   #10
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I've been putting in the numbers on boats I been considering (as an FYI Cruisersresources.com normally has these already for most boats I find). But given the above comments about how this is just a guideline I wonder how usefull it really is. Since there isn't any way to sail boats in bad weather before you buy them I think the only way to answer the "light, medium, heavy" question is to track down owners etc. Lots times with enough searching you can find some owner reviews that I think are the best answer to the question. To me 1 good owner review is better than 6 "expert" reviews (no offense to Bob Perry).

PS - I think Tempest sized it up good. I also am starting to believe you learn alot about what the builder thought of the boat by looking at tankage. If your boat has a bigger holding tank than a fuel tank it isn't a passagemaker in design. Not that it probaly wouldn't make it.
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Old 20-01-2009, 09:05   #11
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Although many may disagree, weight does not necessarily correlate to seaworthiness. There are ultralight race boats that are sailed across oceans...safely. The design and not really the weight is what makes a boat seaworthy.
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Old 20-01-2009, 21:27   #12
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Generally speaking - you will find that the heavier boats with big displacements are more comfortable at sea. Don't underestimate the importance of this factor.
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Old 20-01-2009, 22:10   #13
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JURA - W32

Here's a boat that tips the scales....
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Old 20-01-2009, 22:12   #14
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My original intent in the question was to gather more information as to what would be a proper cruising vessel for blue water etc. Everything so far in this thread has been incredibly helpful.
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Old 20-01-2009, 22:47   #15
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I think that after much (little) reading and debating I am going to end up purchasing a boat in the 32 foot range, preferably something with two masts like a Bermudan Ketch. Because of my budget I will most likely be buying something in the early 80's, late 70's era. It is in my skill-set to rebuild diesel engines, do carpentry related projects while fumble my way through the wiring and plumbing, so I am not overly worried about having to bring up a ship to maintenance which could incur a non do-it yourselfer a signicantly higher cost in doing so. Any off the top of your head ideas for good makes of boats in that era which could eventually be set up for circumnavigating (I used a sailor term finally)?
I would also be interested in a source for this information if it is available, so I don't have to keep pestering you with my endless questions
Thanks again!
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