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Old 17-08-2014, 23:48   #1
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Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

Hi Folks, I am new to posting on the forum, so PLEASE be gentle. I've been dreaming of doing this since I found a stack of sailboat brochures in a cardboard box my dad had in storage when I was a kid. Beginning with joining the International Marine Book club, the desire grew and I began planning while I was in the Navy during the early '80's. Then... I met an Aussie Lass and the ensuing changes in life, like becoming a father and obtaining a mortgage etc, put things into limbo. Now, I'm in a position to start real planning to do the DREAM...

Here is the dream:

In about 5-8 years I hope to depart on my sailboat from the US West Coast and cruise to French Polynesia and work my way to Australia. More than likely, I will be doing this solo as my wife has the need for air conditioning.

Question One:
What boats under 30' could reasonably and safely make the journey. I don't want a huge boat to maintain and I also am not independently wealthy. I'm hoping to spend around $50k for the the boat and its preparation for the cruise. (1988 Erickson 26?)

Question Two:
What are the requirements to get insurance on a boat like described above that will be sufficient for cruising to FP and using the Latitudes 38 bond exemption.

Question Three:
Since I don't think that a boat of this size would be able to transit the panama canal at the speed that is required, what are the costs for over land movement of a boat of the under 30' size in Panama if I'm coming via the east coast. (This is rather unlikely)

Please, I'm new here, so I ask for some understanding. I've been lurking for a couple of years and have only recently decided to make this happen.


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Old 18-08-2014, 00:17   #2
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

I personally wouldn't do this in less than 30. A couple came through Singapore in a Westsail 32. Even as a production boat fan I wouldn't do it in a production boat less than 39-40.

Full keel, heavy displacment if you go small. Not to say smaller can't do it.

Just my preference.

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Old 18-08-2014, 01:26   #3
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

There are a number of suitable boats. I'll mention the Albin Vega is it is a model of boat I have owned and plenty have done significant bluewater cruising, including mine which sailed from Sweden to Aus. Cheap to buy and cheap to maintain and definitely got the runs on board for the task.

I'd say don't bother with insurance. Just be careful and if not, don't invest more than you can afford to loose in the venture. Put the cash saved into safety gear - Liferaft, GPS EPIRB, Sat phone, etc.

I'm reasonably certain small boats can go through the Panama Canal with conditions. A lot of sailboats would have trouble maintaining the required minimum speeds. Someone else on this site will no doubt have the definitive answer on this.
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Old 18-08-2014, 01:27   #4
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

you may need a bigger boat for that dream i'd be looking for a full keel cruiser in the 35 foot range with a reliable autopilot system. something with a small protected cockpit where you can hide out from whatever the ocean will be throwing at you.
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Old 18-08-2014, 02:11   #5
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It's what you're comfortable with yourself. A small boat can make the passages without a problem, but for some reason most all people you'll talk to will state you'll want/need at least 35ft, preferably 40ft.

It's a matter of comfort and personal opinion. Plenty of small and very oceanworthy productionboats are on the market today. Look for an older one and do the refit yourself if it needs any. Your budget is plenty big, but only invest what you can afford to lose. Sure, a 40 footer would be more comfortable with more storagespace and headroom, but the costs increase exponentially, and I would not feel comfortable running and managing such a boat solo under all conditions.
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Old 18-08-2014, 03:13   #6
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

I think a lot of people might justify what you should do simply because that's what they would do but this is your adventure and it's of your doing.

Google the ventures of an Albin Vega 27footer called "Lealea". A older couple have been sailing this particular boat for years and have a multitude of videos posted on Youtube. Fantastic daily video records of the trials and tribulation of sailing a Small sail boat off shore. Some Bluewater Cruising passages of 55 days duration!

Albin Vegas have also circumnavigated the "America's" so they are definitely a sea worthy off shore cruiser.

Also, check out the American Vega Association is a fantastic place to start, you may not buy/sail an Albin Vega but there is a wealth of information on there site that is useful.

Check out the above videos on Youtube to get an idea what you're in for regarding daily live-aboard and equipment/preparedness required for a smaller Bluewater Cruising Mono.

A link to the FAQ Small Bluewater Cruising section

Some quick specs below of a reputable, well proven Small Bluewater Cruising Mono:

Make: Albin Vega
LOA: 27'
LWL 23'
Beam: 8'
Displacement: 5070 lbs./ 2300 kgs
Ballast: 2017 lbs. / 915 kgs. / Fin keel
Built between: 1965-1979

I'm not an Albin Vega owner nor am I associated with them, however I did investigate this very answer and had I followed through I would have searched the globe for an AV27. I simply needed more room/comfort thus, I'm going 30+ feet.
Good luck,
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Old 18-08-2014, 04:52   #7
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Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

We've an allied seawind II, 32' loa, IMHO well suited to this task, also the original allied seawind, or a contessa, or a triton, the list is endless!
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Old 18-08-2014, 05:21   #8
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

Vancouver 27 designed by Robert Harris. Some are streched to 29' Choice on plans showed two modles. You can also read the book Travels in/with Cathleen. By Donald ? Great small design and I've seen them for not a ton of money.
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Old 18-08-2014, 05:34   #9
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

From what I've read online, many sailboats that go through the Panama Canal do so in small groups as directed by those who operate the locks. I know one owner of a boat like mine, a Nor'sea 27, has crossed the canal. I've read that the wait time could be long before crossing.

Here's some boats to browse through Full List of Sailboats

The one's suggested seem to be pretty good ones to consider.
Daniel - Rhapsody Blog,
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Old 18-08-2014, 07:16   #10
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

Surprised no one has yet mentioned this website.

Atom Voyages - The Sailboat Atom

One of the classic, small boat voyagers. Includes his list of small boats the he thinks are suitable for long sea voyages.

Atom Voyages - Good Old Boats List
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Old 18-08-2014, 08:07   #11
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

Cal 2-27-

Open Blue Horizon - Home

Don't forget that Webb Chiles is on a Moore 24.
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Old 18-08-2014, 08:19   #12
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

Having owned an albin vega for 5 years I can agree with the other posters that it is an excellent small boat. Also cheap and easy to fix/maintain/upgrade.
But for the voyage you're talking about I think the best boat mentioned so far is the westsail 32.
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Old 18-08-2014, 08:47   #13
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

I'm gonna triple the Westsail 32
My neighbor has one and going through it, it seems well built. I believe there is a way on the HIN to determine if it was a factory boat or not. A lot were home finished

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Old 18-08-2014, 08:59   #14
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

To answer the question whether or not you want to sail across the pacific in a small sail boat, you need to buy a months supply of non-perishable goods, lock yourself in your bed room closet for 30 days without TV, Internet or phone.

If you can manage that, then Add rolling, storms and relying on yourself to not panic and no-one else around. Then go for it. I'd prefer a larger vessel just so I could stretch my legs a little and have a change of scenery even if that's just a different room to look at for a few hours.
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Old 18-08-2014, 09:10   #15
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Re: Smaller Bluewater Cruising Monos

A book was just released, "Orca," by John Pennington, about a young couple who circumnavigated on a Cape Dory 30. You could have one of those and have cash left to outfit it well for under $50K.

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