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Old 22-09-2014, 13:31   #1
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Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

My wife and I have been discussing a five year plan where we would be in a position to purchase a boat and cruise part to full time. We have chartered many times on both monos and cats up to 52í and would prefer a cat for extended cruising. The crew would be us and 2 (then to be) teenage children. Our third will be in college but would at least visit from time to time. Right now I am just doing my due diligence to assess our goals and see how realistic they are. I have a few questions concerning the boat and about our specific plans/ideas. Since most of the questions concern the boat choice I figured Iíd post in the multihull section.

1. New or used? Is the premium for a new boat worth it? While we could potentially afford new, we wouldn't want to pay the extra only to lose it through depreciation in the first two years if it wasn't going to gain us anything other than that new boat smell. I guess I am mostly wondering whether a new boat would give us more reliability and less headaches for the first few years, or if maintenance and repairs tend to ramp up immediately regardless?

2. What is a ballpark cost to outfit a base model boat for extended cruising? That would include extensive instrumentation, generator, A/C, solar panels, light wind sails, life raft, etc... I am guessing somewhere around 20-30% of the up-front cost of the boat, or maybe $150,000-200,000, but Iím sure it varies based on the specific boat. Also, how much does it cost to equip a boat for a basic charter setup? It could be an option to outfit it as a charter boat initially and then if our travels take us beyond the Caribbean we could add the necessary equipment for passages at that time. However, maybe there isn't much of an up-front savings in doing that.

3. Ideally, which style cat would work best when placing safety as the primary and paramount consideration, then balancing speed and comfort after that? Of course we'd want it to be as fast as possible, but we would also want to be relaxed, comfortable, and not constantly worrying about sail trim and if we are on the edge of flying a hull and capsizing. Capacity is also a concern as it seems that some of the faster cats will lose most of their edge once weighted down. Boats that I have been researching: Outremer (45 & 51), Catana (42 and 47), Tag 50, Nautitech (441/2 & 482), Voyage 480, Lagoon (39 & 450). Those are roughly in order of performance based on my observations. I figure the new boats I'm researching right now should be available on the used market when we are ready to purchase. Or, if we are fortunate maybe we will be able to look at the next generation of new models when we are ready. I'm not necessarily trying to focus in and decide on a specific boat right now, but rather to use the above boats as examples to get an idea of the type of boat that would offer us the best balance of safety/speed/comfort/capacity.

4. Of secondary concern, but related to the above questions, is how easy it would be to place a given boat into a charter program. There seems to be a basic equipment package as well as certain models and layouts that to do better. A couple of the models I am looking at might not even be appropriate for a charter program. Maybe a crewed charter would make sense for those boats. In any case, placing the boat into charter would be a contingency plan if cruising just didnít work out for us.

5. Finally, our cruising strategy. Our idea is that we would start out with a season in Florida and the Caribbean and then see where things take us. Ultimately, we would want to keep it loose. By this I mean we might sail for six months and then take six months off for example, or we might find that we are having such a great time that we just keep going. Maybe we would consider a circumnavigation where we sail a certain region (South Pacific for example) and then take some time off before moving on to the next region. How realistic is it to have a flexible strategy where we come and go as our schedule (and the sailing seasons) dictate?

I know there is much for us to learn and figure out still, but I also know that we enjoy sailing and exploring new places. I understand the best laid plans are always subject to change, and I am open to the idea that it might not pan out for us. Nevertheless, being the consummate planner I feel like I need to be doing what I can to move us towards this goal. In a perfect world we will spend the next several years researching our options, planning, chartering to gain more experience, taking additional sailing classes, and looking at boats. Assuming we donít have a change of heart, I am hoping we would be ready and confident in our decision when it comes time to take the plunge. In the meantime, any advice on the above questions or otherwise would be much appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 22-09-2014, 13:56   #2
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re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

1. Boats lose 30 to 40% value in the first 5 years. After that they depreciate at a slower rate.
2. Bigger boats cost more to outfit because they need bigger systems. Your ballpark might be OK fr the smaller boats but low for the bigger ones you listed. Many times even charter boats will have some basic cruising gear so that may help a bit. Btw most of all that expensive cruising kit you add will depreciate rapidly and therefore will not contribute near as much on resale.
3. All these boats are fine. Esoteric models like the Tag 50 might not be as sellable down the road. The first Tag 60 had major issues.
4. I'd avoid daggerboards if putting it in charter. The deeper draft will be a potential grounding problem with charter newbies. It's different with a crewed charter.
5. Nothing wrong with your strategy. Lots of people leave their boats for extended periods.
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Old 22-09-2014, 14:16   #3
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re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

A warning, your kids are at a time in their lives when it is their job to move away from you and launch themselves in the world at large. If you are thinking that they will have much time for sharing the space on the boat with you, I hope you're not fooling yourself. We bought a larger boat because we thought we'd be having grandchildren come and visit. It has only happened once for two out of five families involved.

I'm sure you're aware that purchase costs are just the start of the slippery slope. The bigger the boat, the higher the slipping and berthing costs. Also the more complex the boat is with various systems needing maintenance, unless you are a DIY kind of guy, you're going to be spending time and money having repairs sometimes not done to your liking. Please don't misunderstand, I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but to give you some advance warning of what may be ahead, so you can plan.

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Old 23-09-2014, 06:33   #4
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

First of all Capnmatt, welcome to the forum. I agree with Ann's comments concerning teenagers - while taking young children cruising can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for parents and child alike, it is typically a different matter with teenagers: they will likely have developed firm friendships, hobbies, habits and tastes at home that a cruising life will interfere with , if not decimate. That being said, if your are also comtemplating putting the boat into charter and sailing 6 months, it may be realistic to put your boat into charter and plan on saiing initially for shorter periods so as not to interfere with their school year. Once they are off to university, you will then be free to spend whatever periods you wish on your boat.

If your plan is put the boat into charter, you will likely be better off purchasing a new boat through a charter company - it is bound to be more cost effective than making your own purchase and attempting to charter it yourself. In that case, of course, your purchase options will be more limited - most companies put only certain boats/models into charter. Since you have listed a couple of Lagoons in the boats that interest you, that should not be a problem.

This option will allow you the flexibility to alter your time on the water depending on how things work out with your teenaged children.

Brad
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Old 23-09-2014, 07:18   #5
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

1. Please buy new, so we have a nice selection when we want to upgrade. Seriously, we've known 3 couples who lost use of new boats for 2-3months while warranty work was "in progress". I wouldn't count on it being any more reliable. Also used boats often come outfitted with lines, anchors, electronics, etc... As long as they are in servicable condition, you can do upgrades when you want to.
2. For a simple caribean loop, outfitting doesn't neet to be a lot. Even for offshore work, if you buy a well outfitted used boat, it may not be a lot. Where it starts adding up is when you get to a the "want to haves" that aren't really a neccessity.
3. Is your goal to cruise or to race? If the primary goal is cruising, I would place emphasis on comfort at anchor with a boat that is capable of handling the conditions safely. Most cruisers spend the vast majority of thier time at anchor or in a slip.
4. Chartering typically requires a new or almost new boat. Any money you get will likely be offset by significant depreciation. Also, they will push you towards a boat geared toward chartering not towards long term cruising.
5. Flexible is perfect for starting out. The only major issue with 6 months off is how does it affect the budget, since you still have to provide care and feeding of the boat regardless of if you are using it. Not a deal killer by any means but something to be aware of.

I would add my support to the idea of thinking long and hard about how much time the kids and other visitors will spend on the boat. In the past 5 years we hade overnight guests for less than 3 weeks total. We are glad we didn't spend a lot of money providing spacious accomodations for such rare events.

Exactly how old the teens will be will play into this. 14 & 15yr old when you move aboard and you probably have to provide fairly nice accomodations as they will be living there for 4-5yrs. 17 & 18yr old and you will probably lose them to college in a year or two.
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Old 23-09-2014, 19:06   #6
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

Thanks for the replies so far. Helps answer some questions and also brings up additional items for attention.

As far as the kids, we have no intention of leaving them out of the equation and their preferences will certainly contribute to how we might approach everything. It is a distinct possibility that we will have to wait until the youngest is done with high school before we do any long-term cruising. On the other hand, I personally feel that if done right, taking a few years to cruise would be a great opportunity to expose them to different cultures and places of historical significance. It might be their only opportunity to do something like this. In any case, the kids and how it would effect them is a significant factor in our plans.

Aside from that, it seems that unless we have a financial windfall, the best approach when it comes to a boat would be to buy a 1-5 year old boat that hasn't seen much if any time in charter. I like that strategy assuming we can find what we are looking for when we are ready. The other option would be to buy a new charter boat to give us the flexibility of putting it in charter for a bit.

Still no clear winner on the style of boat we'd want ( i.e. lighter and more performance versus heavier and more capacity). It might be smart just to buy a more comfortable boat that will get us where we are going slowly but surely. However, it is hard to resist the sexiness and potential speed of an Outremer or Catana. I guess more research is in order here.

Good to get a thumbs up on our flexible cruising plans. That is really key for my wife (and presumably the kids) to be on board with everything. To tell you the truth I like the idea of being able to take a break from the boat from time to time as well. There will always be reasons to spend time at home, and my guess is it will make the time on the boat more exciting. We'll just need to be sure to plan out the financial side of it and make sure it will all pan out.

And speaking of finances, I have been researching what the costs are for cruising and have come up with a very wide range of numbers. I am thinking somewhere in the vicinity of $60-90K per year would be appropriate for us and provide a pretty comfortable lifestyle. That would include everything (repairs, insurance, food, moorage, travel, expenses while away from the boat, etc...) except the cost of the boat and any other housing costs we would face. We wouldn't be doing much discretionary spending as there is only so much room on the boat for "things". However, we probably would want to dine out a few times a week and experience the local food as well as visit land based attractions. I wonder if I am in the ballpark with my estimate?

Thanks again for the input and information. Feel free to add any other advice or words of wisdom.
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Old 23-09-2014, 19:49   #7
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

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Originally Posted by capnmatt View Post
SNIP

However, we probably would want to dine out a few times a week and experience the local food as well as visit land based attractions. I wonder if I am in the ballpark with my estimate?

Thanks again for the input and information. Feel free to add any other advice or words of wisdom.
Not sure just where you intend to cruise but some places dining out is simply not an option and the same goes for land based attractions if you are talking about ones that charge to enter. On the other hand if you were at some place like the Harlem Yacht Club in NYC you could spend big bucks there eating out and taking shows every night.

As an example in the Bahamas you can anchor in Georgetown and have a completely different experience than places in the Berry Islands. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, just what is right for you.

My take is that most folks wind up with a boat that is not the best fit for what they actually do with the boat as opposed to what they think they will be doing with the boat.

My boat is a Seawind that I consider ideal for a single hander to cruise in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, and even a little farther South. But if I was going through the Panama Canal and into the Southern Ocean it would not be my choice. It is not easy to get a boat that is great for both coastal cruising in skinny water and is also able to do long blue water passages. As others have pointed out you may be planning for quarters for more folks than will actually be on the boat you wind up with.

Not trying to discourage you, just pointing out having a firm idea of who will be on the boat and where you will be using it most of the time makes it a lot easier to select the right boat.
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Old 23-09-2014, 20:03   #8
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

I really like the Catanas and Outremers but they both have exposed helms. The Catanas are really exposed. Most of your cruising will be on autopilot but there will be times when you wish you had better weather protection. For an alternative you might want to look at the Antares 44 which hold their value really well and are very nicely equipped. They are about $1 mill but come with chartplotter, watermaker, solar, etc. No other cat has this as standard equipnent.
Antares 44i Catamaran: Price and Equipment List
Although much smaller I really like the Maine Cat 41. Take a look. Maine Cat 41 - Maine Cat Catamarans
These dagger board cats come with lots of standard features that are big bucks options on just about any other boat. All the control lines lead into the protected cockpit.
Both the Antares and MC are very well built cats. They are both superior to the French cats in just about every way. Not bashing the French cats but these are really good boats.
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Old 23-09-2014, 20:24   #9
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

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Originally Posted by capnmatt View Post

And speaking of finances, I have been researching what the costs are for cruising and have come up with a very wide range of numbers. I am thinking somewhere in the vicinity of $60-90K per year would be appropriate for us and provide a pretty comfortable lifestyle. That would include everything (repairs, insurance, food, moorage, travel, expenses while away from the boat, etc...) except the cost of the boat and any other housing costs we would face. We wouldn't be doing much discretionary spending as there is only so much room on the boat for "things". However, we probably would want to dine out a few times a week and experience the local food as well as visit land based attractions. I wonder if I am in the ballpark with my estimate?

Thanks again for the input and information. Feel free to add any other advice or words of wisdom.
I would recommend expecting to spend per year at least what you spend now (and being brutally honest with yourself about that number). You want the flexibility to be able to spend half the year at home, and even on the boat, honestly, you are looking at pricey boats which suggests you and your wife and your kids are used to a nice lifestyle. Is it realistic to expect you will downscale dramatically? I'm figuring I will be lucky to spend as little as your suggested budget on two of us and I have a less expensive boat and the kids are grown and uninterested in sailing. Health insurance and boat insurance for us two will probably cost about $15k in today's dollars right off the top, not even considering the deductible. I was just pricing that out today.
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Old 23-09-2014, 20:36   #10
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

We have a plan to cruise in a few years, part time with winter months spent in Vermont. Some details to still be worked out..

We made the decision to buy a boat in the Moorings charter program knowing that a good portion of the boat will be paid off under the program and we could get a lot of chartering in over the time in the program increasing our ability and having some great vacations at the same time.

In the end we'll have a boat that we like (although we'd love a Cat if finances change) and we will have also had a ton of experience as well on various boats, not just ours.

You might want to consider something like this. You won't add all the cruising stuff you'd want at the start, that would be done after you take possesion, but you can get a good boat, get a lot of charter time the next 5 years and have a good portion of the boat paid off as well. If you needed to put the boat back in charter at some point, you probably wouldn't have a problem doing that.
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Old 24-09-2014, 09:16   #11
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

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Not sure just where you intend to cruise but some places dining out is simply not an option and the same goes for land based attractions if you are talking about ones that charge to enter. On the other hand if you were at some place like the Harlem Yacht Club in NYC you could spend big bucks there eating out and taking shows every night.

As an example in the Bahamas you can anchor in Georgetown and have a completely different experience than places in the Berry Islands. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, just what is right for you.

My take is that most folks wind up with a boat that is not the best fit for what they actually do with the boat as opposed to what they think they will be doing with the boat.

My boat is a Seawind that I consider ideal for a single hander to cruise in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, and even a little farther South. But if I was going through the Panama Canal and into the Southern Ocean it would not be my choice. It is not easy to get a boat that is great for both coastal cruising in skinny water and is also able to do long blue water passages. As others have pointed out you may be planning for quarters for more folks than will actually be on the boat you wind up with.

Not trying to discourage you, just pointing out having a firm idea of who will be on the boat and where you will be using it most of the time makes it a lot easier to select the right boat.
Thanks for the reply tomfl. As for the eating out and going to attractions part. I am guessing that on average over our long-term cruising life we would be dining off the boat a couple times a week. Some weeks would be all meals on the boat while some might be most meals on land. Just depends on where we are and what is available. For the attractions part I guess I was meaning taxi rides, bus rides, tours where available, etc... I understand that certain cruising regions might not offer much in terms of dining and attractions, while other regions (the Med?) offer plenty of options along the way.

I have read a few other posts where you have made excellent points about choice of boat type. The tough thing is we (like many from the sounds of it) aren't sure what our cruising will entail. I personally hope that we venture offshore and visit other parts of the world, but we won't know until we are out doing it. Of course, it wouldn't make sense to buy an offshore worthy boat if we were going to stick to the Caribbean. In any case, we have at least a few years to figure that part out.

Matt
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Old 24-09-2014, 09:50   #12
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Re: Questions on Boat and Cruising Strategy

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I really like the Catanas and Outremers but they both have exposed helms. The Catanas are really exposed. Most of your cruising will be on autopilot but there will be times when you wish you had better weather protection. For an alternative you might want to look at the Antares 44 which hold their value really well and are very nicely equipped. They are about $1 mill but come with chartplotter, watermaker, solar, etc. No other cat has this as standard equipnent.
Antares 44i Catamaran: Price and Equipment List
Although much smaller I really like the Maine Cat 41. Take a look. Maine Cat 41 - Maine Cat Catamarans
These dagger board cats come with lots of standard features that are big bucks options on just about any other boat. All the control lines lead into the protected cockpit.
Both the Antares and MC are very well built cats. They are both superior to the French cats in just about every way. Not bashing the French cats but these are really good boats.
The Antares is growing on me. It looks very comfortable and well built and has a great reputation. Cost and speed potential are the two demerits in my eyes. As far as other boats, I keep coming back to the Outremer 51 or a used 49 for a more affordable option - though used 51s should be available when we are ready to purchase. The Outremers are more of a hands-on boat, but I figure we could just sail it conservatively if we want to relax. It's tough to resist the potential speed the Outremer offers and what it lacks in comfort compared to other boats it might make up for in faster transit times. Plus, a fast boat that can help you avoid storms and rough weather does enter into the safety equation. Just not sure about daggerboards and the WAF. I guess finding one to try out someday would be the next step.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuttyhunk View Post
I would recommend expecting to spend per year at least what you spend now (and being brutally honest with yourself about that number). You want the flexibility to be able to spend half the year at home, and even on the boat, honestly, you are looking at pricey boats which suggests you and your wife and your kids are used to a nice lifestyle. Is it realistic to expect you will downscale dramatically? I'm figuring I will be lucky to spend as little as your suggested budget on two of us and I have a less expensive boat and the kids are grown and uninterested in sailing. Health insurance and boat insurance for us two will probably cost about $15k in today's dollars right off the top, not even considering the deductible. I was just pricing that out today.
I'll have to take a closer look at the budgeting. It's a tough comparison since we have a lot of expenses that we pay now that would decrease or disappear altogether when cruising. For one thing, we tend to spend a fair amount of money of frivolous things here at home and we also buy things that we could never have on a boat (furniture and large tools for example). Part of our five year plan is to get all of our debt payed off (home loan, commercial building loan, student loans) and we are paying a huge amount towards that right now so that will be a big savings as well. We would significantly downsize our land-based residence to probably a condo that doesn't require near the expenses that our current home and property do. With a smaller home and little to no earned income the various taxes we pay should significantly decrease as well. Finally, part of the appeal of cruising is in simplifying our lives and cutting out the clutter and excess. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but I look forward to the day that we can sell most of what we own and get away from it all. I know there would be other expenses that we don't pay now that will pop up such as boat maintenance, insurance, moorage, etc... So far I have just looked at what other people spend when cruising and gone off of those numbers. I suppose I should probably put pencil to paper and come up with my own estimates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maytrix View Post
We have a plan to cruise in a few years, part time with winter months spent in Vermont. Some details to still be worked out..

We made the decision to buy a boat in the Moorings charter program knowing that a good portion of the boat will be paid off under the program and we could get a lot of chartering in over the time in the program increasing our ability and having some great vacations at the same time.

In the end we'll have a boat that we like (although we'd love a Cat if finances change) and we will have also had a ton of experience as well on various boats, not just ours.

You might want to consider something like this. You won't add all the cruising stuff you'd want at the start, that would be done after you take possesion, but you can get a good boat, get a lot of charter time the next 5 years and have a good portion of the boat paid off as well. If you needed to put the boat back in charter at some point, you probably wouldn't have a problem doing that.
It might be an option to consider, but I think where a charter company could more likely come into play is if we decide cruising isn't our thing and we have a boat that we aren't using on a regular basis. Putting it in charter at that time would allow us use of the boat, but also help out with some of the costs of owning a boat. One of the biggest reservations I have about a charter boat is that we would be limited to certain models and styles of boat. An owners version of and Outremer 51 for example would probably not fit well into a charter program. However, it is all part of the process of deciding which type of boat we want, new or used, when we want to buy it, the layout we choose, how we fit it out, etc...

Thanks,

Matt
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