I've owned 4 cruising boats in the 26-32 foot range and chartered a few more.
A few features I prefer (as opposed to specific boat model):
Settee births and table
- I much prefer a settee with center table to a dinette. I find them more convenient to get in and out of, like that you can fold the table down and flop down on the seats as well as sleep people on them. I prefer the centered ones to the one's that have U or L shape to one side as those are harder to skoot around into.
Gravity feed holding tanks
- with the seacock under the bathroom sink. Just open it and the tank drains, with no need to go fishing
in lockers, under bunks, etc. Gravity feed means no overboard
pump which means one less thing to fail and simpler.
Accessible, straight through hull fittings
. - Elbow
joints under births are more likely to clog, harder to service
and harder to get to in an emergency
- many in boats of that range are too short for many people to comfortably sleep in.
- In boats of that size range, I prefer the newer more ergonomic designs. Many of the older models are well built, but have smaller interiors and less efficient use of space, but not all...
- In small boats, the inboard can often be crammed into a very small, inaccessible space.
Walk out transoms
- much easier than climbing over a transom.
Lazy jacks and sail bag
- much easier than gathering and tying sails.
Roller furling headsai
l - I think overall it's easier and safer than having to go forward to change sails or reef.
- Need somewhere to store the Dingy when it can't be towed. Davits
may not be the answer on many small boats due to weight issues. Double forestays can limit foredeck space.
- Boats in that size range vary a great deal in how big the cockpit
is, whether or not it has long, continual seats and whether or not it's easy to get around the wheel
. I like having a small cockpit
locker - I prefer a dedicated, properly vented propane
locker and lazarette space that can be organized.
- I sail Florida
and the Bahamas
, so draft can really affect where one can go. I love bilge keel
monohulls for that reason, but they are hard to find. Obviously this will be dependent on where you cruise
. (The Westerly Konsort is probably my favorite overall design in a boat under 30 feet)
- I find fresh water carrying ability especially is one of the biggest limitations in how long I can stay out. Ideally, I'd love to have 2 tanks - drinking and other uses, the "other" could be filled by rain water collection from a hard top instead of soft bimini
Solar and Wind power
- Relying on the engine all the time is costly and limiting.
- Hand steering
gets old fast.
or hand anchoring
system - To have adequate v-birth space, many boats in that size range have small anchor
chain lockers. Often this means there is not as much chain weight as there should be on the windlass
, causing the chain to jump off or jam.
- who ever takes their bimini
down? Hard tops don't have the wear issues, are better to mount solar panels
on and can collect rain water. Also easy to mount a cockpit VHF
under. (For solo sailing, I really prefer a real VHF
, I can hear and use while at the helm) Trade
off with windage however if you keep your boat in tropical storm locations and can't remove it. If I was sailing in mostly cold weather
, I'd go with a pilothouse.
Cockpit shower with hot water - maybe
. On a smaller boat, I don't want crew showering inside. It gets stuff wet, encourages mildew ties up the head
and requires extra space I'd rather use for other purposes. Unfortunately, many cockpit showers have cold water only. I say maybe however, because it opens up the potential for an over zealous crew member
to use up half your tank in one go. Sun showers are not as convenient, but allow you to carry more water and budget
people's fresh water use.
The above is concerning monohulls of course. I like Catamaran designs, but I think it's hard to get standing headroom
and adequate bridge deck clearance in a 30 foot cat.