Your selection process is headed down the same path I went through in finding "the right" boat. The Pacific Seacraft
, Tartan and Island Packet
are all great boats. I'd add Hinkley and Swan to the list too. The design and quality are clearly visible, especially when comparing to production boats. My problem is that there are not many of them here in S. Calif. I also included Catalinas and Beneteaus in my search, as they are common here. There are many debates on this site and Internet
as to their offshore
ability, and they might be worth a look.
I had a few other constraints, including (1) boat suitable for coastal cruising in local waters, (2) a boat that is located within 125 miles from home so I could easily view, and (3) a starting budget
of $50K. I quickly learned that for $50-75K, I could find mid 80's production boats, between $75-100K, late 80's to mid 90's, $100-125K, 2000's and into higher quality boats (Tartan, Sabre
,....). Use Boats for Sale, New and Used Boats and Yachts - YachtWorld.com
to search for boats based on length, price
, location or by manfuacturer. We must have run 1000's of searches!
To compare, I consolidated information from SailboatData.com - sailboat database with specifications, drawings and photos, more than 8000 listings
and compared boat values (length, beam, draft
, SA....), tankage (fuel, water
, holding), common ratios (SA/D, Capsize Screen
, Comfort...) and PHRF rating. I also compared these values to boats that I was very familiar to "relate" the numbers to performance and handling. One one end of the scale I used the Pacific Seacraft as the traditional bluewater cruiser. On the other, I had Farr 395 as a great sailing boat but not something I'd want to take my wife and family
. Other boats on the list included Catalina
38/Hughes 38/Yankee 38, Catalina
42, J37, Tartan 37-x, Tartan 3500, Tartan 3700, Catalina 380, Catalian 42, a couple of Swans, Ericson
37+, C&C 40 and several Beneteaus, both First, Oceanis
Once you start comparing the specs, you get a feel for the design compromises and can start grouping the boats into viable candidates. You'll be able to identify which boats suit you. Length, beam, cabin
layout, fin vs. full keel
, manufacturer.... start influencing your choices. Of the 40 or so Beneteaus on my list, I gravitated towards the Firsts, probably influenced by my days crewing
on the Farr 395. However, the reality of sailing as a cruising couple kept the search focused and eliminated the more performance of the performance cruising boats (C&C 37+, First 40's....). Budget
was always a consideration.
Another important factor was how the boat was setup for my wife and family
. Here's where Catalina and Beneteau
have nailed the market. They sell to the wife, with large queen aft berths, open dining areas, large galley
, separate shower
, large cockpits w/table..... It seems to me that high freeboards, wide beam and wide stern..... detracts from the boat's overall sailing ability. The sailing side of me wouldn't be happy with a motor-home on the water
All this lead to a revised list and a base to continue to compare boats. Once we saw the Tartan 3500, we knew that it was perfectly suited for what we intended and was the right boat for us. The specs are right in the middle as all-around performance cruiser. The quality is quite good with well designed touches, solid construction, real wood cabinetry, good sailing boat, ... and at a stretch, "reasonably" priced. Tankage is a bit on the small side. At 35' and all controls lead aft, the boat can be single-handed. The boat just feels right.
Everyone told me that I needed to look at a lot of boats. I did. They also said that the right boat will call out to you. It did. I think your requirements are similar to mine and the Tartan 3500 matches well (except for cruising with 4 people). So far, my wife and I are real happy with the choice and look forward to really sailing the boat.