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Old 02-10-2008, 13:52   #1
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Shopping Advice

Ok, I have just about had it with the markets/economy etc...My family and I have agreed that if it gets worse, we'd check out for a year and do the Carribean on a boat. Home school the kids and have an adventure while we're still able to!

The kids are young (3 under 7).

So the question goes like this: If you had, say $300k for the boat, what would you do? Would you go for a retired charter condomaran already in the islands? (Granted the boat would be tired, but hopefully functional and safe)...Or would you try to find some other solution?

Bear in mind, I would prefer the best sailing cat (I race Lightnings)...but understand we'd compromise for livability.

My dream machine is the Chris White 55, but clearly out of budget. Even the 42's that come on the market from time to time are over the range.

The outremer's are nice too, but again not affordable.

I think the platform of a cat is the best for the family, so we are pretty set on the idea of going for a cat, eventhough the mono's are more affordable.

Any must have's?

Any comments?

Appreciate all the responses in advance.

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Old 02-10-2008, 14:14   #2
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Since you have kids an ex-charter boat would be good because you'll use the extra cabins--the fourth of course is for you when you fight with the spouse!!

I would look for a Lagoon 380 coming out of charter. People give charter boats a bad rap, but if you only plan to use it for a couple years in the islands, then I say go for it. You'll have to give the major systems an overhaul. Be prudent, spend the money to get a truly independent survey.

There will be lots of opinions on resale value, which is important, but if you approach this with the thought that no matter what you buy, you are loosing money on the deal, then it won't be such an issue to fixate on. Fun isn't free.

That's just my 2 cents, but I'm new here too so...

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Old 03-10-2008, 08:43   #3
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There is not much you can buy for $300K in the 40+ foot range that isn't used. I agree that not all Charter boats are bad, just do the survey. Also know that you will not get a speed boat, once you load up the cat and start cruising you will not go much faster than a Mono. There are trade offs with a cruising cat. you get space but don't expect double digit speeds and cats are far more sensitve to weight than a mono.
I have a 36 Mahe and with my wife and I on board with full water/fuel tanks, generator and A/C. We're happy if we make 8+ knots.
Before buying, charter the boat or similar boat and see if you can live on it for a week or so, on a lot of 36 to 40 foot charter boats they maximize cabin space at the expense of the heads, some heads are tiny on these boats.
My 2 cents.
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:25   #4
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Thanks for the responses. When I mentioned the sailing qualities we were looking for, it was certainly in the context that these things are not gunboats...I understand that for sure.

But from a sailors' point of view, if you had the choice of any charter design in the 38-47' range - which sails the best?

They all have similar characteristics...4 cabins/gensets etc... but there has to be one or two that sail better than the others...
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:00   #5
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Hmmmm.... When I cruised my cat, my impression was what a DOG. It got there, but, in light winds, I was wondering if we should have got sweeps to go with it!

Well. We came back from cruising and started taking all that stuff off. Wow, what a difference it made. It is actually fun! Not the excitement of bury a rail. But pretty responsive in lighter winds.

But... I think the thing that is going to make a signficant difference if you have a deep appreciation for sailing qualities is to go for a long hulled boat and load it as lightly as you can. This, I believe will be a challenge when you are constrained in $$$ and you have family aboard (They actually want to bring stuff!!! hedonists)

A Logoons or Privileges are going to be about your best bet in terms of availability, I believe. I think the Logoons are a little bit less expensive. Any thing else and it is going to be harder to find, even harder to find a good one!

There are lots of Manta's in the non-charter market. They are also a good value. But once again, not the greatest sailers at cruising weight.

Good luck.
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Old 08-10-2008, 08:02   #6
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Hi Lebowski,

Search various countries and see if your dollar will go farther elsewhere. I know it seems like a big step, especially with family, but sometimes is does work out and if you're lucky what you save will pay for the flight plus you're somewhere new to play. Talk about jumping in head first!

Last couple days I've been cheerleading Australia as their dollar has plummeted. We're Yanks living here for a bit and have to deal with the exchange rate weekly, it's become a buyers market very long??? Look up the charts at

One bit of advice. Keep it simple! You don't need half the crap you think you do. Look for a boat that sails while keeping your comfort....yeah tough, but try. Nice well designed cats with outboards are just fine and often less expensive. Honestly one doesn't need much more then a couple handheld gps units, fishfinder and a good autopilot. Few good batteries and solar and you're off. Fridges, inverters, big tvs, ssb, pressure water, etc, etc add up quick and what it takes to keep them running compounds it. 50k of toys can buy your family years of play. Trade offs!

We're on our third cat and I swear the first one was sold with tens of thousands of dollars of 'stuff' we never needed. Sure was fun buying it at the time though!

Good luck,
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Old 08-10-2008, 08:56   #7
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There is a Saint Francis 44 named Mustard Seed for sale down in the USVI, you could look at that one, a price of around 250k or so which should be fairly solid. The SF 44 has one of the highest SA/D ration of any catamaran, a very decent D/L, and should out sail anything but a purebreed such as the outremers, catanas, chris white, shuttleworth, african cat.... Head height isn't for tall people, but if you're under 6'2" it shouldn't be an issue. Most use the aft cabins for their kids, in which case it's a great boat with aft cabin head room of around 5' 10". I was on it four years ago and it was a well kept boat then. It was a boat that was kept very simple and elegant white interior. 1999 St Francis Marine St Francis 44 Sail Boat For Sale - when we were shopping we had exactly your budget and desires and really found that the SF44 was the really the only one which fit the bill.
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Old 08-10-2008, 08:59   #8
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Ok, there is no way the "Admirial" would consider not having a Fridge, hot showers and a weeks worth of water on board to take them with. That is a big point when your talking having a family on board, you need lots of water and it will be one of the biggest loads on the boat, you can lose a lot of that wieght by installing a water maker. Don't just strip the boat and go camping on the water, think smart and you can have your comforts and reduce wieght at the same time.
Other things we did was get the lightest dingy we could, air floor dingys are only around 70 pounds were a RIB will be well over 150.
We thought about adding more batteries but we opted for a small generator instead. we probably broke even on wieght but we have A/C power if needed and can charge the 400 Ah battery bank with the A/C battery charger, less wear and tear on the 2 engines and the 3 stage battery charger does a better job charging the batteries than the Altenator. We have gone for a month with this set up to the bahamas, worked out great, and got to see some of the out islands that we wouldn't have gone to if not for the watermaker.
Food for thought.
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Old 08-10-2008, 10:11   #9
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The St Francis Marine 44 certainly does have a decent reputation for performance, although as has already been emphasized, the weight of the stores for you and your family for a year of cruising will negatively impact the performance of any cat. Frankly, the somewhat beamier hulls of many of the more popular charter cats may in fact be better able to handle the increased weight if you are planning on bringing along everything 'but the kitchen sink'.

If considering used charter cats, in addition to Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot you should also consider Moorings (and the essentially identical Leopards, built for private owners/small charter operators). Although a little short on bridge deck clearance, they are no worse than some of the Lagoons in that regard. The Fountaine Pajots tend to have better bridgedeck clearance and performance, but are slightly lighter in construction (and typically cost a bit more on the used market).

The problems with most of the Charter boats coming out of service is:

1. They often have a huge number of hours on the diesels in relation to privately used yachts of the same vintage. Many have over 5000 hours of use by less than careful charterers. It will not only effect reliability and maintenance, it will also effect your resale value down the road.

2. They are generally rather sparsely equipped for extended liveaboard/cruising. They will likely need new (and upgraded) battery banks if you intend on significant anchoring. In the same connection, you will want solar panels and possibly a wind generator, a water-maker, upgraded ground tackle, safety gear (including a para anchor or series drogue) and a SSB radio. The water-maker really is critical to safe (and cheap, especially in relation to prices in the Bahamas) water for drinking and cooking. And the SSB radio is a virtual necessity for communication, weather forecasts, cruising nets ( including up-to-date reports of crime etc. on individual islands/anchorages) and, yes, with the appropriate modem, email.

You may wish to spend more for a boat that has already been equipped for extended cruising by a private owner, as the purchase and installation of the above will add a significant amount of both time and money to your ultimate cost. This is to say nothing of the cost of replacing the running rigging, standing rigging, sails and upholstery as will be required on many cats that have just been taken out of charter service.

Another alternative, of course, is to buy a boat that is a bit older in years, but was used privately and is equipped for cruising. In that connection, there are a number of used Privileges that are proven offshore boats with extremely solid construction - albeit, with less of a performance bent than either the St. Frances or Fountaine Pajots. And, as already mentioned, there are generally also a good number of Mantas on the market. Finally, for less money there should be a number of PDQ 36 LRC's that, while smaller than the others, should be quite adequate for a Caribbean cruise for yourself, your wife and small children.

Some don't like the high forward coach windows in the early Privileges (or the glued on headliners), some don't like the lack of lounging space in the Manta's saloon (or the head-bumping entry to/from the hulls to the bridgedeck accomodation). But lets face it, no matter what you buy you will be compromising. The PDQ's have decent performance (if not overloaded), bridgedeck clearance (albeit with a rather blunt leading edge to the bridgedeck) and construction (albeit not so much for crossing Oceans); as already mentioned, they will also be available as private owner boats for significantly less than your proposed budget.

I would worry much less about the vintage, the size of the boat and details such as galley up or down, than I would about the equipment inventory and the overall condition of the boat. If you are buying in the Caribbean, I suspect that the last thing you will want to do is spend a month (or much more) refurbishing and upgrading the boat for your proposed cruise. In addition, when you go to resell the boat, you will likely find a larger market for a well-equipped cruising boat than for merely another of the already huge fleet of former charter cats.

Good luck in your search.


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