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Old 13-06-2008, 13:00   #16

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Put this in the context you probably know: Cars.

With a two seat sports coupe, you and the wife may be comfortable but you can't take the kids. So you get a 6-passenger sedan which probably forces you into a Crown Vic or other American made car. And you regret the cost of extra gas and the way you can't always find a parking spot but you can live with it.

Oh, drat, you wanted to take everyone on a vacation, so you trade the Crown Vic in for a Suburban and there's lots of room and cupholders, but throwing hundred dollar bills at the gas pump gets old fast.

Then again, the trip with everyone was so much fun...wouldn't it be even better in a converted school bus or Class A motorhome? Oh, right, can't park that at all and diesel is going for more than whiskey. Damn!

Same thing with boats. The best way to decide is to go out and sail on them. Beg, borrow, steal, charter, whatever. Spend some time on them. Personally? I know I can manhandle a 28'er and win mano-a-mano most of the time with a 32'er but somewhere beyond that--the boat is bigger and stronger than me. And by 42 feet, I start to wonder what lies on the other side of the bulkhead. At 45', you can't shout loud enough to be heard by someone upwind on the bow, and you'd better know hand signals.

Have some fun, work your way up, you'll find your own comfort zone and if the kids come with friends--they'll either rough it or stay at a hotel. Most boats have more berths than anyone wants to use for more than a few days, the guests can make do for a short while. While there is some argument that you "need" a certain size (34' 36' 38') to endure typical offshore bad wx, and larger boats make the waves seem smaller, there's also the need for more hands and more strength.

Ever try to stop a Suburban when it is sliding on black ice? Same old same old.<G>

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Old 13-06-2008, 15:37   #17
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We have a rather large boat and many points that have been made are valid. But the comfort that we have should not be underestimated. If our boat should sell I would likely buy something about 50'.

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Old 13-06-2008, 16:12   #18
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Right now you are working three criteria for selection of your ultimate boat - sleeps six, able to cross the atlantic, size TBD. That leaves open thousands of options.

Getting the intermediate boat is fantastic step. Get something trailerable and take it to the nearest ocean from time to time. The leap from 15' on lakes to 27' coastal cruising is about the same magnitude of step as you'll make from there to your dream boat.

Along the way, you will begin to develop a rich list of criteria for the ultimate boat and you'll have ideas and questions about your preferred rig, keel configuration, hull construction, age, budget, engine, systems, deck layout, brand etc.

Size will seem much less important to you as you go along. It doesn't matter how big it is, but what you do with it...
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Old 13-06-2008, 19:15   #19
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I've been on cruise ships when there has been a large part of the guest hurling.
We passed an approx. 40-44 foot sailboat that looked like they were on a Sunday afternoon sail, at the time.
I think size has a lot to do with sea state.
Big boats, small boats, ultimately, larger boats have more comforts.
A large boat will not compensate for a foolish captain.
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Old 13-06-2008, 20:05   #20
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If 48' is ideal, I need to do a WHOLE different set of plans than I will need to do for 36'. I might need to be more resourceful because I might have to buy older and do more refitting/fixing, that sort of thing. I guess I am just trying to feel out what sorts of experiences people are having on various sized boats.
What is ideal for some may not be you. Refitting always sounds cheaper before you start than it ends up. If you spend enough time researching you can find folks all over the board on what they did. I have friends world cruising in a 33 ft boat and have been doing it for 5 years. The dirty secret is average time cruising is about 3 years. Grandchildren seem to rank high on the list of causes for returning. Health and fatalities are maybe number 2. There is always changing your mind. The mind may be a terrible thing to waste but it is easy to change. If it's time to end the cruise you'll know it and come back to someplace.

The better you can understand yourself the better the fit can be. My rule of thumb is the smallest big boat that works. From a dollars point of view it's about a $250 per foot per year with an increasing amount extra for insurance for newer boats and a an extra increase in maintenance for older boats. That does not include marina fees or your own expenses either. Thats pretty much for the boat. You life aboard is most likely to reflect your temperament on land.

This year at the the Yacht Club we had 4 boats go south. Mostly all retired folks. One got diagnosed with one breast cancer in North Carolina, another lower GI problem and another heart problem before they reached Georgia. One made it and everyone survived and is now generally healthy. We had one of the three that had health problems lose a mother. When you throw in the close family you can see the odds are not so great. These were all well educated and experienced boat people including sail and power.

If you research this to death it can be the death of you or worse - someone close and you live. Friends that were cruising 7 years came back on sort of an un-vacation they both had moderate health problems that consumed them for 6 months and one of them lost a sister last week. There are few stories here in the forum as well.

Real life can get you if you don't get hit with it yourself. The best solution is finding something that actually works and get yourself gone! There is no perfect situation that lasts longer than your lifespan. If you get by money and time and even your own health the other externals will get you sooner or later. Later is what we all hope for.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 13-06-2008, 20:30   #21
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My wife thinks so.

Oh! I thought we were talking about something else!

Never mind...

Steve B.
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Old 13-06-2008, 20:45   #22
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Hi Isbolick,

Here's one couples experience: Started in a 15 ft dinghy, after a year bought a 22 ft trailer sailor (it seemed really big), sailed it for 7 years, bought a 30' keel boat (it seemed really big),sailed her for 7 years, bought a 36ft retired race boat (it seemed really big). Turned that one into a decent cruising boat, cruised full time for 17 years in Mexico and the South Pacific, did 86K miles, bought our present 46 ft performance type cruiseng boat (it seemed really big), and after 5 more years and 30k miles, doubt that we will ever go bigger.
The point is that we learned to deal with the size increments pretty easily, and in each case, appreciated the increments in space, performance and comfort that came with added length and displacement.
A word of caution: you sound like you enjoy the process of sailing, and appreciate a boat that is responsive and FUN to sail. Sadly, a great many of the boats that are regarded as "true cruising designs" are, to be generous, slugs. We see way too many cruising yachts that routinely turn on the engine when the wind drops below, say, 12-15 knots, and whose crews don't seem to enjoy their hours at sea. So, when you are considering designs, do pay attention to performance as well as accomodation, etc. This, by the way, does not make the job of selection easier!!
The advice to buy an intermediate boat ASAP is good. If your choice is not too new, and you buy wisely, you should recover most of your investment when it is time to buy the long term boat, and you will have a heap of relevent experience... best of luck to you!
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Old 14-06-2008, 07:15   #23
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Steve, what I am learning is that size isn't as important as what you do with it.

Oh, wait....I thought we were still talking about boats....
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Old 14-06-2008, 07:27   #24
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Jim- You know what my husband said this morning?? "Why not just keep the smaller boat for when we get a sailing jones??" And honestly, it makes sense to me. If we can afford it, I think I would like to keep the intermediate/learner boat. Of course, I haven't gotten into this very far yet and our current boat lives quite happily in the driveway between trips.

BUT...I have owned/trained/shown horses my whole life and am somewhat familiar with neverendingly expensive hobbies that suck up your whole life. We have always managed to indulge in our horse habit however we wanted and I figure I will find a way to make the sailing habit work out for us.
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Old 14-06-2008, 08:31   #25
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I have to second the suggestion about chartering boats and working your way up to the larger sizes. If you live on a 34' boat for a week, you will have some idea whether you could live on it.

I pulled a really dumb stunt that I will share with the class:

Our permanent home is on a lake and my wife decided she wanted a jet ski but had never ridden one. I asked if maybe she wanted to rent one somewhere for an hour to see if it was her cup of tea. She said she didn't need to and was sure she wanted one. She picked out the one she wanted (fortunately second hand) and we bought it and put it in the water. She rode it for 15 seconds and decided she didn't like it. We have resolved from now on to never make a major purchase like that without some better first hand knowledge.

You will know far better what you want after a couple of charter experiences. JMHO.
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Old 14-06-2008, 09:09   #26
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We have a guitar, a set of ice skates, two horses, dirt bikes, wood working equipment, a set of drums and a host of other things bought for various family members because I can't seem to learn that lesson.
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Old 14-06-2008, 10:28   #27
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Have you considered a "smallish" (say 30' - 35' or so) catamaran??

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Old 14-06-2008, 20:44   #28
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Well...we went from a 44' boat which we cruised for several years to a 52 ft. boat which was not only larger but much better built and stable at sea. As a couple, we rigged her for short handed sailing and control from the center cockpit and frankly, she is easier to control and handle under sail than my 32 and 44 footers were. This is particulalry evident when the weather and seas pipe up and I feel MUCH safer on this boat at sea as the ease of motion that comes with a long waterline and 40+K displacement. Obviously we have all the room we need, plenty of storage and living at anchor is much less like camping out.
Offsetting all of this is the cost of everything...which is about double by 44 footer and must be considered not only from an initial budget standpoint but in ongoing maintenance, insurance, marina fees, property taxes etc.
My own advice is that bigger is certainly better IF you can handle the costs and are secure in your boat handling skills.
Cam - I am no longer a member here. Look for me on other forums...same name.

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Old 20-07-2008, 07:54   #29
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Proper size boat for short handed sailing

The wisdom from the masters has always been that 30 - 36 feet is the correct size for one or two people to handle safely. Smaller and you will get too beat up in heavy weather and larger means that loads created by wind and current quickly overcome the normal human.
Many people go with larger boats when they can afford them, but when things start to get rough they can be quickly overpowered. It would scare me to be on a 45-50 boat with a sick or injured crewmate and a squall came down on me unexpectedly. I would be in real danger. Also if the windlass ever failed with 150' of 3/8 anchor chain on a 60lb anchor out in a stiff tidal current. I would really be in trouble again. I doubt that anyone but the Hulk could get that in without some gear to help. Especially when dragging.
The loads just get too high too fast.
Regarding wind loads, remember they square with the increase in velocity.
That means that if a 10 knot wind pushes against the big genoa with 100 pounds of force (reasonable) a 20 knot wind pushes against that same genoa with the square of that force. 100 x 100 =10,000 pounds of force!!! Get it?

Hiscock, Pardey, etc all sailed boats predominately in the 30 - 36 foot range. They circled the Earth many times. If I had unlimited funds, I would look for a boat in this range and set it up properly for sea (very very rarely done). A boat set up for sea should meet this criteria. When fully loaded and outfitted you should be able to turn it over shake it violently and when turned back upright everything should be in the same place.
Usually a simple knockdown of a typical sailboat results in gear everywhere and a completely trashed boat. Ridiculous!
I go to boat shows and see these OCEAN READY boats and just shake my head. Even the simple task of attaching the hatches giving access to the bilge are not attended to.

Good luck.

Smooth Seas,
Capt. Donald Quackenbush
USCG 100 Ton Master
, Power & Sail
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Old 20-07-2008, 08:21   #30
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Size does matter depending on the number of creature comforts you want. As for handling, that has more to do with set up than size. Trying to manhandle any boat heavier than a light daysailer is going to tax a person. Then the age factor strenght and fitness of a person comes into play. If you are an experienced skipper with a well set up boat for shorthanded cruising, you will have less difficulty handling a 50 ft boat than a less experienced skipper with a standard setup for two or more crew in a 30 ft. boat. As you can see the variables are many. A boat with twin engines, a bow thruster, furling main and jib all from the comfort of the cabin will dock and anchor a lot easier regardless of the size than one without. The down side is the cost. Most people don't get into cruising and liveaboard life styles to save a lot of money. Let's face it if you own a boat it will cost you money every time you turn around, and the bigger the boat, the bigger the cost. I guess it all comes down to how much can or are you willing to spend.

The basis of accomplishment is in never quitting
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