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Old 01-12-2008, 13:54   #1
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Size of yacht

I have noticed many posts on this and other forums on the ideal size of a blue water cruising yacht. Many report cruisers in small boats have more fun. I think there is an element of truth in this and have made up this tale to illustrate my thoughts. I am ignoring costs and assuming that that the people contemplating a yacht can afford it.
Remember all other things being equal the cost goes up with size.

Lets consider 2 couples on a hypothetical cruse for a year from “Civilization” to the remote island group “Paradise found” a 1000NM away.

Couple A have read everything the Hiscocks have published on sailing.
They have chosen a small cruising yacht with the following capabilities
Sailing: 100nm day
Water: 180L enough for 13 days with their 14 L a day usage
Fuel: 100L
Electrical power: 2 alternators on their main engine and solar panels totaling 80W
Fridge: no
Freezer: no
Generator: no
Watermaker: no

Non perishable food: enough for 1 month
Perishable food: A few days at most

Couple B need their comforts
They have chosen a large cruising yacht with the following capabilities
Sailing: 200nm day
Water: 700L
Fuel: 700L
Electrical power: 2 alternators on their main engine and solar panels totaling 300W
Fridge: Yes
Freezer: Yes
Generator: Yes
Watermaker: Yes
Non perishable food: enough for 4 months
Perishable food: enough for 4 months

In addition they have an icemaker microwave coffee machine large screen TV washing machine etc

Lets see how this hypothetical cruse develops.

Sailing:
Couple A have a difficult time sailing to paradise found. The journey takes 10 days. They have to use all their sail to maintain any boat speed in light conditions and constantly need to reef as winds increase. They need a spinnaker to maintain boat speed which can be frightening if the wind starts to pick up.

Couple B have been told their yacht will do 200NM a day and indeed it will, but they need all their sail area which takes some effort to set and change. If their boat speed drops below 5K they start the motor. They make the journey in 5 days.

Cruising the islands:

Couple A can stay out on the beautiful islands of “Paradise Found” for a week and half before they need to re-provision . They can get fruit etc at the islands but for water or non perishable supplies they need to sail back to the capital The quickly discover however that “Paradise Found” capital and only source of water and major supplies is dirty noisy and not a pleasant space to stay.

Couple B Can theoretically live on their yacht for at least 4 months before they need to go back to the dirty noisy capital.
Their first month is bliss, but unfortunately they need their watermaker generator fridge freezer and main engine to be working to maintain their lifestyle. After a month they have to leave the beautiful islands to make repairs to their systems. The only engineers in the capital grew up on tractor and fishing boat diesels. They cannot fix the complex systems on the yacht. The couple wait a month for spare parts and repair. They head out to the islands only to return a week later because the repairs have not worked.

OK well why given the above example did a choose a relatively large yacht.

Lets consider couple C
They have the same yacht as couple B they equip it more simply and are content with the water and energy budget of couple A
They can enjoy the “Paradise Found” islands for months at a time even if they experience a failure of their major systems. One failure wont even dent their lifestyle as for example their solar panels will keep up with there modest electricity demands. If their watermaker fails they still have 50 days supply of water.
They sail more conservatively than couple B reefing whenever the wind shows any tendency to pick up. They don’t motor unless their speed drops below a couple of knots. Consequently they only average 140Nm a day sailing, but arrive relaxed. They also have most of their fuel supply so don’t need to take on the dubious fuel available in paradise found.

So their you have my solution, if cruising long term in remote places , providing you can afford it, buy a largish yacht live simply with modest water and electricity demands with redundant systems.
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Old 01-12-2008, 15:42   #2
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We are couple B and plan to use everything that the boat has, If and when things break and I can not fix it we will be couple C and do with out.
We only have one alternator, genset, and a wind generator for power.
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Old 01-12-2008, 15:55   #3
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The previous owners of our 46ft boat were couple C and they took a leisurely 10 years to circumnavigate. Should we ever get to make the break, we would fall in the C category by necessity. We have many systems, but the boat has the tankage to go quite awhile if the watermaker and genset go on the fritz.
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Old 01-12-2008, 16:06   #4
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I agree. There is noting wrong with enjoining luxuries, but I have seen cruisers have a miserable and frustrating time when they fail. Enjoy the extra water and power, but if they fail and you can still live happily you will cope with cruising remote locations much better.
I think a good test is could you manage happily if any one of your peripheral systems such as genset, alternator or wind generator failed.
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Old 01-12-2008, 16:12   #5
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I'm Couple A except that I have a watermaker, refrigeration, 26 ft. of LWL, plenty of tankage, solar panels, wind generator and 7 tons displacement in my 28.5 footer.

I have fewer empty bunks, however.
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Old 01-12-2008, 16:15   #6
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I think the primary power to keep running is the genset and it is new from Pat "Nevermonday" and he would not sell me junk!
It is a simple unit and I know may way around it quite well.
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Old 01-12-2008, 16:21   #7
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We'll be couple A-C. 31ft, 6 tons displacement empty. Low requirements on power but windgen and fridge if we want. Water, food and diesel that will last us a month without bunkering.
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Old 01-12-2008, 16:46   #8
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It may already have occurred to you, but it bears pointing out again:

Most people who are in the position of "Couple A" are probably not their entirely from choice. It is all very well to suggest buying a large expensive vessel fully fitted out with all the gadgets and creature comforts, but the reality is that many of us simply cannot afford all that and have to make do with what we can afford.

My reality is putting a roof over the heads, feeding and clothing 2 kids and a beautiful woman (who is also working), expensive school fees, medical insurance, a mortgage and all that stuff. If I were to save until I could afford the large boat with all the fridges, frrezers, watermakers and stuff, I would die of old age still saving.

The reality is that, on our current budget, we have the boat that we can afford. It has 200 litres water capacity, 120 litres diesel capacity. No fridge, no hot water no solar panels nor watermaker. We have about 320Amp-hr battery capacity and an engine driven alternator. But we love our boat. We use it. We cruise for weeks at a time and have a ball. Given the choice between my boat now and a btter boat sometime in the future, I'll take my boat, thanks.
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Old 01-12-2008, 16:50   #9
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The reality that we saw out cruising is couple B will do fine till something breaks. Once that happens, they make life hell for themselves trying to get any and all offending equipment fixed. It seems that if people have a toy, they become a slave to it and can't be happy till it works. We knew one couple who had their reefer fail on the trip down from San Diego. Ended up eating as many steaks as they could till they had to throw the spoiled meat overboard. They blew through the Marquesas and Tuamotus to get to Tahiti to get the refrigeration fixed and other electrical gizmo's fixed. We took a leisurely trip through all the Islands of the Marquesas and a few of the Tuamotus arriving in Tahiti after six months (We had a six month visa when we left the States). The people that had the refrigerator failure had been tied to the hot, smelly, noisy quai at Papeete the whole time we were enjoying our leisurely crew. We sailed off to Moorea where the anchor got stuck on the bottom for several months. The next time we passed through Papeete, the boat was still at the quai though the wife had flown home and filed for divorce. When we cleared out of French Polynesia in Papeete after a year, the now crewless boat was abandoned at the quai with a for sail sign on it. Heard it was sold for a song.

Toys are wonderful on other people's boats.

Aloha
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Old 01-12-2008, 17:48   #10
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When it comes to long term cruising or permanent living aboard I generally find that those with small boats are inclined to claim that small boats are best for everyone whereas those with big boats are more inclined to have an open mind along the lines that it depends on budget. In the end every claimed disadvantage of a big boat can be beaten by access to a big enough budget as many have (including having a "little" boat on the deck, systems redundancy, spares, and a clever crew including flying specialists in to remote places if needed ). What is financially impossible for some is small change for others.

Secretly I'm sure that we all, apart from escapists from life or ultra simple souls happy with little comfort, no luxuries, few possessions and a mini 2 roomed apartment to live in, yearn for the biggest and best but don't like to admit it.

Anyways, my boat is 40 foot and I reckon that is the best size for everyone . Come to think of it I have never measured it exactly. Mmmm might do so, it may prove to be a few inches longer than I thought; I hope so .
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Old 01-12-2008, 18:07   #11
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It all boils down to a state of mind no matter what boat you have or what gears on it...Most all the examples against gadgets anywhere I have read just leave me shaking my head...If I ever get to go cruising ..it will be to cruse...stuff breaks..stuff can be left broke and not cost you a dime or a minutes worry if you dont let it..If you need everything 100% operational 100% of the time buy tickets on a cruise ship...because boat ownership is not for you.

I like all the gadgets on board..but I can do with out most of them if they fail..and would not go very far out of my way or disturb much of my peace of mind fixing them...I will even drink warm beer if it means sitting in paradise on a blow boat somewhere and not digging ditches in the mud and rain like I did today...Gadgets are there for one reason only to make life seem easier..only your mind can reverse that process... few of them actually can..

I prefer cold beer..my boat will most definitely start out its journey with that function but i would not for an instant abort the mission due to its loss.
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Old 01-12-2008, 18:45   #12
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Quote:
Remember all other things being equal the cost goes up with size.
But all things are never equal. To make the assumption is the only mistake. The world does not break down into couple A, B, and C. It can be easy to classify people that are not like you into simple categories. If that were true then there would only be 3 boats. I'll throw a new twist into the formula. It all really is supposed to be fun! I'm sure all us could make do with more misery but I doubt any of us would choose it. There are far too many ways to make the idea of cruising work and there isn't just 3 scenarios. There is however one that may work for you. You may risk being alone in your approach.

If we were all like each other then none of us would ever go any place. Why would you travel 1000 miles to see people just like you when they would already be where you are? None of us are hypothetical. I'm very sure I'm not. Some of the posters in this thread have posted before and I'll wager they are not hypothetical either. It's OK to be not like others and probably a mistake if your goal is to be someone else. It's difficult to be something you are not.
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Old 01-12-2008, 19:15   #13
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Funny that this or a variant of this thread keeps popping up. There is no right size boat, there is only a size that is right for you. Sure you can argue pluses and minuses of size but what you sail is a combination of personal preference and budget constraints.
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Old 01-12-2008, 19:25   #14
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Couple D rent a sea plane, fly in and rent a hut on the beach
Couple E buy a trawler
Couple F figure that although paradise island is 1,000 miles away they actually arrived when they dropped the docklines.
Couple G bought a cat and don't care if they ever get to paradise island

We are all different. Ain't that great!
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Old 02-12-2008, 03:46   #15
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Originally Posted by Weyalan View Post
It may already have occurred to you, but it bears pointing out again:

Most people who are in the position of "Couple A" are probably not their entirely from choice..
Sorry I didn't mean to offend anyone.
With a limited budget their is no choice, but to go for a smaller yacht. My previous yacht was 26 feet had a 40L water tank and an outboard motor. I had that for 15 years, had a fantastic time, and on average my wife and I slept aboard about 8 weeks of the year. So I know about cruising a small yacht. Your current set up is "luxury" compared to my old boat.
My post was really directed at those with the means (and there are still some depite the finantial crisis) these people often dont seem to enjoy crusing. They expect long showers and a large freezer when these are not available they get very frustrated with trying to make repairs in far away places. A slight shift in adittude where they enjoyed long showers when available, but were happy to make do with a swim and quick rince, as people on a 30 foot yacht have to do all the time,(If / when they get an equipment breakdown) would see them happier more sucessful cruisers.
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