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Old 04-08-2010, 23:22   #1
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Safest Family Cruising Multihull ?

I'm new to sailing and intend to continuing sharpening my sailing skills on a daysailer, but my wife and I are talking about a long-term dream of a year or more of live-aboard sailing sometime within the next ten years. We want a boat that'll fit mom and dad and three kids -- and we're also considering multihulls. Priorities in order of importance: safety, roominess, maintainability. Livability is important, but I don't need leather upholstery. Budget is up to 200k. We're open to both mono- and multi-hull recommendations. We're in no hurry at all to buy.

I'd also welcome any book recommendations for long-term travelling. I'm not planning on being rich, so any books on self-sustained sailng are welcome. So far, the only sailing literature I've read is Moby Dick and The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.
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Old 05-08-2010, 09:28   #2
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I think the safest boat is the one with a captain who has good common sense as well as experience.

From a roominess standpoint, a Catamaran is definetely going to give you more space. It has a much more open feel to it as well.

I'm not sure one particular boat is necessarily safer then another and I'd think it would really depend on the area and conditions it was sailed in.
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Old 05-08-2010, 16:23   #3
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There are differences in the "safety" of boats but how "safe" do you need. A general rule of boats is comfortable, fast, low cost. You can have two of the three but never all. Add safety as a 4th factor and you can increase the pressure on cost.

There are a lot of good used, sturdy cats out there in your price range. We drive a 1994 Prout and have never been sorry for the choice. That is not to say they aren't other boats that meet your needs but we love the "bullet proof" nature of the Prout.

Fast she ain't. Strong she is. Might be small for a family of three. Spend a lot of time looking at used boats and talking to owners of the makes and models you are considering.

Check our web site at 1994 Prout 38 Sunspot Baby

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Old 05-08-2010, 18:00   #4
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A Wharram cat or Searunner tri, awesome safety records over 40 years despite being mostly homebuilt ,most modern designs are too heavy with too much sail area. jmho.
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Old 05-08-2010, 19:27   #5
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1) tied to the dock,
2) insured,
3) no seacocks,
4) no electricity and smoking prohibited onboard.

Plainly a boring boat. But safe.

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Old 05-08-2010, 20:58   #6
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Our Privilege 39 worked well for us - two adults and two teenagers when we started out. I am still happy with the size of our catamaran.

That being said, I would have been happy to have made the same trip in a 45 foot monohull that was designed for offshore cruising. I see advantages to a beamy monohull in which there is a large comfortable salon. I like the motion of a monohull offshore except when rolling dead down wind in the trade winds.

There are lots of yachts to choose from in your price range. A monohull or a multihull can do what you want quite well.
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Old 05-08-2010, 21:59   #7
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Old 06-08-2010, 06:24   #8
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:31   #9
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Dave is correct - you should be able to find both monos and multis in your price range that will suit you needs. I would recommend joining a yacht club, getting some experience crewing on other boats, then chartering both a mono and a multi to determine your own preferences.

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Old 06-08-2010, 07:32   #10
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Like The Motion of a Monohull

Maxingout,
Wow, I am really surprised to read that you would "have made the same trip in a 45' monohull..." I really wish you would and that you would cover the trip as extensively in writing as you did with your Privilege! That would be a fascinating read and I know that I and many others have great respect for both your opinions and writing/publishing skills. Seriously, the same journey but in a monohull........I'll buy the book and dvds.
I have a lot offshore experience in monohulls from 36-63' and depending on conditions, get tossed around when below. I have zero offshore in a cat, Bahama charter only, so I'm wondering if you get tossed around as violantly in a cat? It's the brutality of being below in weather, offshore in a mono, that made the idea of a cat a better fit for my wife.
Just wondering.........

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Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
Our Privilege 39 worked well for us - two adults and two teenagers when we started out. I am still happy with the size of our catamaran.

That being said, I would have been happy to have made the same trip in a 45 foot monohull that was designed for offshore cruising. I see advantages to a beamy monohull in which there is a large comfortable salon. I like the motion of a monohull offshore except when rolling dead down wind in the trade winds.

There are lots of yachts to choose from in your price range. A monohull or a multihull can do what you want quite well.
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:51   #11
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Thanks all

Great responses! Thanks to all of your for your advice/ideas. The thing I've really got to do is just become more familiar with all boat types to figure out what my family wants/needs most right now. I do like the idea of a multihull -- both for speed and for "the ride." We'll see how things develop.
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:30   #12
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Don't take this as disrespectful of your question, as it is a reasonable one -- just not the way things are. The direct answer would be "none of them", or (so long as it is floating) "all of them, until they aren't."

There are so many designs and the vast majority are going to have positive features that the designer emphasized, but all of them will come with compromises, too. As Sunspot Baby pointed out, there is a natural conflict between performance, comfort and cost and as soon as you throw in the fourth, it becomes even more difficult. How does one operationally define "safety"? Some would say it is sailing performance that enables you to put distance between you and bad weather. But, as we've seen in the recent case of a high performance (and expensive), highly regarded, big cat in the Pacific; those are no guarantees that you won't get caught in the wrong place and the wrong time. Others would say that safety means strong and "tough", which often also means heavy and slow, but able to take the punishment when in heavy seas. Dave (MaxingOut) has written an excellent piece on his website about dealing with high winds and heavy seas (dealing with warps, etc.) in which he is a strong advocate of keeping things under control and at a reasonable speed. Yet others would say that having excellent communications and weather forecasting is essential so you keep out of the worst stuff in the first place.

Some folks have done entire circumnavigations and never seen winds over 30. Others have had their butts kicked in the first 50 miles. Some even losing their boats before ever getting a good start. It happens.

But, really, it is all of the above, and more. The best design and construction won't mean anything if the boat hasn't been properly maintained. The fact is that you have a complex machine with many mission-critical components that is living in the world's most corrosive naturally occurring element and (on even an "average" bluewater sailing day) going through hundreds of Richter 7 equivalent events, day after day. Unless you're just going to be a passenger and pay someone else to do all that, then you're going to have to learn a lot, yourself.

Others would say that the key to safety on board is the captain's judgment. Personally, I agree with that. Nothing will be as good, overall, as good judgment. Yet, even then, sometimes, "S**t Happens", because "judgment" is just that -- doing the best you can to decide between alternatives, based on what you know at the time you're making the decision. There are always unknown variables and we're dealing with dynamic systems, so what was good at the time of the decision might become bad, later.

Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to this: What is your personal risk/benefit ratio? How much risk tolerance do you have for the pay off you seek? There are big pay offs to cruising, but big risks, too. Everything discussed above involves strategies to manage the risk. How well you do that is the key to making that risk/benefit ratio work out for you.

Then, of course, there's simply "good luck"!

ID
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:59   #13
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Yes.

Thanks, Drifter, for your good advice. My own tendencies are: excellent communications (direct personal communication and then GPS/weather reporting), staying out of the high winds/heavy seas, and a capable boat. I haven't decided yet where I am on the fast vs barge continuum.

I will probably end up paying someone else to captain for me until I can learn it myself. Outside of crewing on others' boats (which i could see doing for 1/2 a day here or there, but my family commitments keep me from longer excursions), I don't see much other way other than to learn as much as I can from media, which only take you so far.

As far as good luck goes, I'll take all that I can get. Please send it my way.

Thanks again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Intentional Drifter View Post
Don't take this as disrespectful of your question, as it is a reasonable one -- just not the way things are. The direct answer would be "none of them", or (so long as it is floating) "all of them, until they aren't."

There are so many designs and the vast majority are going to have positive features that the designer emphasized, but all of them will come with compromises, too. As Sunspot Baby pointed out, there is a natural conflict between performance, comfort and cost and as soon as you throw in the fourth, it becomes even more difficult. How does one operationally define "safety"? Some would say it is sailing performance that enables you to put distance between you and bad weather. But, as we've seen in the recent case of a high performance (and expensive), highly regarded, big cat in the Pacific; those are no guarantees that you won't get caught in the wrong place and the wrong time. Others would say that safety means strong and "tough", which often also means heavy and slow, but able to take the punishment when in heavy seas. Dave (MaxingOut) has written an excellent piece on his website about dealing with high winds and heavy seas (dealing with warps, etc.) in which he is a strong advocate of keeping things under control and at a reasonable speed. Yet others would say that having excellent communications and weather forecasting is essential so you keep out of the worst stuff in the first place.

Some folks have done entire circumnavigations and never seen winds over 30. Others have had their butts kicked in the first 50 miles. Some even losing their boats before ever getting a good start. It happens.

But, really, it is all of the above, and more. The best design and construction won't mean anything if the boat hasn't been properly maintained. The fact is that you have a complex machine with many mission-critical components that is living in the world's most corrosive naturally occurring element and (on even an "average" bluewater sailing day) going through hundreds of Richter 7 equivalent events, day after day. Unless you're just going to be a passenger and pay someone else to do all that, then you're going to have to learn a lot, yourself.

Others would say that the key to safety on board is the captain's judgment. Personally, I agree with that. Nothing will be as good, overall, as good judgment. Yet, even then, sometimes, "S**t Happens", because "judgment" is just that -- doing the best you can to decide between alternatives, based on what you know at the time you're making the decision. There are always unknown variables and we're dealing with dynamic systems, so what was good at the time of the decision might become bad, later.

Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to this: What is your personal risk/benefit ratio? How much risk tolerance do you have for the pay off you seek? There are big pay offs to cruising, but big risks, too. Everything discussed above involves strategies to manage the risk. How well you do that is the key to making that risk/benefit ratio work out for you.

Then, of course, there's simply "good luck"!

ID
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:31   #14
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Morrobay, the advice from Drifter was very sage indeed. Apart from the general advice concerning boats/safety, it is important to recognize that his reference to good judgment encompasses the notion of making decisions based not solely on common sense, but also experience.

Purchasing a large, complex and expensive boat without any real experience (and then having to rely upon a hired skipper until you learn the ropes), is, I susepct, hardly good judgment. Yes, you could end up with the perfect boat for you and your family - but the odds are against it.

Again, I would urge you (and your family) to gain some experience, not only in sailing generally, but ultimately (by means of a charter or two) in boats like the ones you are condering buying. The brokerage costs alone on reselling an inappropriate boat would easily cover the cost of the charters. In additon, it would also allow your family, albeit for a short period and in somewhat artificial circumstances, to get a taste for life aboard and whether or not it could work for all of you.

Again, cheers and good luck!

Brad
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:42   #15
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I couldn't agree more Star. I should've been more explicit when I wrote "captain for me" by explaining that I'd charter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern Star View Post
Morrobay, the advice from Drifter was very sage indeed. Apart from the general advice concerning boats/safety, it is important to recognize that his reference to good judgment encompasses the notion of making decisions based not solely on common sense, but also experience.

Purchasing a large, complex and expensive boat without any real experience (and then having to rely upon a hired skipper until you learn the ropes), is, I susepct, hardly good judgment. Yes, you could end up with the perfect boat for you and your family - but the odds are against it.

Again, I would urge you (and your family) to gain some experience, not only in sailing generally, but ultimately (by means of a charter or two) in boats like the ones you are condering buying. The brokerage costs alone on reselling an inappropriate boat would easily cover the cost of the charters. In additon, it would also allow your family, albeit for a short period and in somewhat artificial circumstances, to get a taste for life aboard and whether or not it could work for all of you.

Again, cheers and good luck!

Brad
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