And there you go, everyone has chimed in, time to look around. Were I you I would compare boats on a few things:
1) structural bouyancy, how far would the boat sink in case of a mid hull
breach? For boats like PDQ and Privilege
, its a few inches, others may quite well sink. Double check them also buy going forward and aft and looking at water tight comparments, if they are big enough to stretch out in at both ends of the hull, you've got a very safe boat. If your instead looking at a birth, then that part would fill with water and sink.
2) look at the quality of the finishes inside, it's what will sell the boat quickly when you decide to sell it.
3) look at rub rail placement, on the PDQ 44 is a high aluminum
toe rail and a mid hull rub rail. This means your boat doesn't get scratched when you pull out of a slip at the wrong angle and are looking at thousands of dollars of gelcoat repairs
. It will vastly increase the ability of your boat to age well.
4) you mentioned going into the tropics, having an small overhang over the main bridgedeck windows true helps there.
5) how well does the boat fill its footprint. One boat mentioned here started as the 38 ft multi and then was stretched to 44 ft. As a result, the last 6 ft of the boat are just transom.
6) bridgedeck clearance. its not everything as some suggest, but insufficient bridgedeck clearance will interfere with your ability to sail to wind
in choppy conditions (and that's really the only thing it will do aside from being annoying). A friend of ours drives his dingy underneath his PDQ 44 to hoist it.
Make sure the boat is solid fiberglass
underneath the waterline, that it has sacrificial minikeels or daggerboards (whichever you prefer, lots of arguments for and against, there is no right choice).
When sitting at the helm
, make sure you are protected against the elements and can see everything clearly.
Also inside the boat, make sure you've got plenty of visibility all the way around, that the windows only purpose is not to let sunlight in and heat up the boat as it is for many boats.
On the decks you shouldn't feel like your going to slip and fall anywhere from the angle.
Look at the anchor
, can you reach it and see it easily when hoisted?
Look at the cockpit
A truely well designed and protected cockpit
doubles the amount of living space you've got in your boat. The more vulnerable the cockpit is to leaks
and rain and wind
, the more its just a cockpit rather than an extension of your bridgedeck cabin
Look at an older boat, say 7 to 8 years old. Look at the veneer. Was it sealed well? If it was, it will still look great and you'll know your boat will last a long time looking great. If it wasn't, then you'll see water stains starting to work their way down and it will look like crap in a little bit. Look for stress cracks around the forward attachments for the bows to the crossbar and around the mast
and bridgedeck cabin
top. It will help tell you how strongly the boat was built.
Last, a great quality check for the boat in general is to check the wiring
really well. This is a really good measure of how well a boat is constructed because wiring
is something that's easy to do poorly, and long and tedious to do well. Most people don't know what they are looking at, so for lesser builders its not emphasized. The wiring insulation
should be stamped with labels for "marine grade" wiring, not just tinned wire. The non stamped stuff will have a softer insulation
that you can feel the difference on. It will degrade within 10 to 12 years and all of the wire within it. All of the wire ends should be well labelled, not with masking tape, but printed, heat shrink labels. There should be a really good wiring diagram saying that wire number XX starts here and goes there. It should be accessible everywhere practicable. Favorite word, practicable.