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Old 01-02-2012, 22:19   #1
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40ft or 50ft -What Do You Like ?

Hi all
New here but I love this forum and all the good info/advice you guys have.My wife and I are leaving land in 4-5yrs and just had a few ques. We are looking at between 40-50ft sailboat and are wondering is there really a big price diff over the course of a year.We plan to anchor out alot-would like water maker/small diswasher/clothes washer/dryer-good size fuel freshwater tanks etc..Have 150000 total to spend (i know we want everything) Will have land base in NC but would like to travel to australia and Carb.Is a 50ft to much for just husband & wife.Any thoughts/advice would be greatly app.
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Old 01-02-2012, 23:53   #2
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

Welcome to the forum.

We went from living aboard a 41' boat to a 46' boat, and the difference between the two was enormous. We especially enjoy the speed from the additional waterline. And we now have excess storage space. It's hard to imagine needing anything larger.

We're highly skilled sailors, and although we're convinced that we could handle a bigger boat, we're also aware that we're not getting younger. We're currently in our mid 50s, but we want to be able to cruise the boat at least 15-20 years into the future. We'd hate to have to hang up our oilskins just because we can no longer lift the sails.

Dishwasher? Really? If we installed a dishwasher, I'm not certain my wife would feel the need to keep me around.
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Old 02-02-2012, 00:01   #3
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

What Bash said.

Search the archives -- there's a lot of information on this subject.

Price and cost of maintenance goes up exponentially with length -- a 50 foot boat is nearly twice the size of a 40 foot one, in terms of volume, weight, and so forth. So price will be nearly twice and cost of upkeep more.

There are different opinions on them (you can read them in the archives), but many people feel that there is no downsize to a larger boat other than cost to acquire, cost to maintain, and the challenge of docking and undocking a larger boat.

I wanted a 48 foot boat and ended up buying a 54' one, thinking that it was much bigger than what I wanted.

I soon realized that it was just right for me, and that I wouldn't want something smaller. As far as lifting sails is concerned, you'll need crew for that anyway on any boat bigger than 40 feet or so. Handling them underway is done with the help of electric winches, so it's not such a big deal. A bigger boat is faster (length at the waterline) and more seaworthy, other things being equal.

Forget about dishwashers on board -- that's what husbands are for.
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Old 02-02-2012, 00:25   #4
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

what Dockhead said.

One other way to think through this question is from the perspective of budget. Your budget of $150,000 will purchase a pretty nice 40-footer on the used market, but by the time you try to purchase a 50-footer for that price you'll be looking at project boats.

If you get into a project boat, size will again work against you. A new suit of sails on a 50' sloop will cost 75% more than a comparable suit of sails on a 40' boat.

Bottom line: you won't be looking at dishwashers on your current budget.

ON THE OTHER HAND, what Dockhead claims about the increased safety and speed of larger boats is spot on. On the new boat we don't even notice chop that used to give us serious headaches on smaller boats. Freeboard is great when you're heading into steep seas. (Of course it's not so great when you have to jump from the deck to the dock. Honestly, we don't jump anymore.)
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Old 02-02-2012, 04:54   #5
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

Assuming one can afford the larger boat; the only time I've ever read of someone with a big boat wishing they had a smaller boat was once their cruising ws over and they were older. And a lot can be done as you get older to make the boat easier to handle.

I feel for a cruiser; get the biggest boat within reason you can afford as you never wish you had less space and comfort.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:43   #6
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

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Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
Assuming one can afford the larger boat; the only time I've ever read of someone with a big boat wishing they had a smaller boat was once their cruising ws over and they were older. And a lot can be done as you get older to make the boat easier to handle.
Well, I am in the transition from a 40 to a 48' boat and am concerned about the larger scale of the sail handling. There is a point when the loads on the lines are no longer anywhere near human scale, so a wrap on a winch or roller furling drum, or whatever, is a much bigger deal. It's good to hear from folks here who say they've moved up and it's no big deal. I just have this feeling that mistakes will turn into bigger deals and require more thought, caution, and time to undo.

When I was out last time, on a 40' boat, I often felt like I was driving a front bedroom around that I did not need. I usually had this thought while doing something that was physical and harder because it was a 40' boat and not a 36' (or whatever) boat. Like raising the mainsail, reefing it, pulling up the 66 pound anchor when the windlass was broken, and etc. So it was rare, and just a fantasy, but still, I thought -- this trip would easier on a smaller boat.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:29   #7
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

except for the anchor thing when the windlass is broke; all the rest should be a proportional thing that you don't notice much. Larger sails = larger winches and a wrap is a wrap (but if you used to only use 2 plan on 3).

Motoring means going slower when in a crowd to allow for the time it takes to change etc.

Once underway the larger boat sails faster and straighter and overall is easier!
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Old 02-02-2012, 14:21   #8
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

I agree to all the above - very happy with 46' myself. However, I think you start smaller and progress up to the 'ideal'. It would be a bit scary for a first timer in a larger boat -
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Old 02-02-2012, 14:36   #9
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

Yous don't say where you plan to go, what your experience level is or where you are now so I'm making a few guesses. 40' is a mid range boat size while 50' is big, right?

For a 5 year plan, unless you are going for a project boat (Not a good idea. Any questions - see my blog.) you really don't really want to buy a boat for another 4 years. Particularly with a big boat, depreciation, running costs, maintenance and lost earning capacity could easily double or even triple your cost.

Where you want to go would also have a big influence. Mid range cats might rule in the Caribbean, but across the Pacific or Atlantic larger cats could be the go. If budget constrained for trans ocean I'd go for a mid range mono.

As far as experience, if you have little to none we sometimes have discussions on the best starter boat. Your local area is a factor here as well. Assuming you have a sailing area nearby then with little experience I'd favor a 22' trailer sailor, or if you like cats a 16' Hobbie. These may not be impossible to sell when you need the bigger boat, keeping costs down, and the experience would be invaluable.

If you do have enough experience then maybe concentrating on building a decent cruising kitty rather than buying a boat will ease much of the strain of the transition.
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Old 02-02-2012, 14:53   #10
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

My Columbia 45 is my first sailboat and I couldn't be happier. She's an old girl and far below your budget but to your question... the things that go up in $$ are what you would expect. Lines, bottom jobs, sails, anchoring tackle. Not much inside really more expensive inside on a bigger boat but cooling/heating systems will be beefier. More room means you will not be constrained by "it won't fit" much at all, which might mean more $$ too.

ps... if you want a dish washer get one... think about a watermaker though. You'll certainly have room for one.
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Old 02-02-2012, 14:54   #11
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

There are ways to mitigate the concerns. Electric winches are one previously mentioned. Main furling is another. I never owned a boat larger than 44' before getting my present 60' LOA 65k lb. behemoth, and I've been surprised at how much it just isn't a big deal. With the power furling, hydraulic steering w/auto, electric winches, etc., it's easy. My teeny wife can single hand the boat no problem, rarely has to bother me for anything. But I still do all the parking, LOL! Mind you, she handles the dock lines and we do fine together with just the two of us. Just gotta get a short spring on first and the rest is easy. So I think boat size is just one concern for handleability, others being how the boat is rigged, how it's equipped, etc. You can get away with a small crew on a big boat if it's set up right. And there are multiple ways of setting it up right. I think once the boat is equipped and cruising the expenses will not be so different from smaller boats.
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Old 02-02-2012, 15:00   #12
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

Our previous boat was 46-ft and it did not have sufficient storage space and none of the luxuries. We sold it prior to beginning full-time cruising and bought a 53-ft boat. It is just the 2 of us aboard; and I cannot imagine living full-time on a smaller boat. We have tons of storage space and it is all filled.

As others have said, forget about the dishwasher. I have one and have only operated it twice in 6 years. And those 2 times were simply to make sure it still worked. No way I would waste the additional water consumption and power consumption to operate a dishwasher daily. Washing dishes by hand isn't a big chore. However, a clothes washer is a must, IMHO. Drying can be handled by hanging clothes on lines strung between the standing rigging. My clothes washer is also a dryer, but I never use the dryer function. That uses too much power unnecessarily.

One thing you definitely want: the highest capacity water maker that you can power. It is no fun cruising when you have to ration consumption of water. Your boat needs to have some of the luxuries that you prefer. Cruising without some of those luxuries would be like camping out on the water -- which gets old rather quickly. Every person we have met who has quit cruising said they were moving back to land because living on the boat was too much work. Those luxuries alleviate lots of that daily work. Of course, you need to be able to do your own repairs.

Just my 2 cents.

Judy
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Old 02-02-2012, 15:08   #13
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

Our Beneteau 505 was in the Moorings Fleet. The mast is a bit shorter -- it's billed as a Trade Winds mast. That makes sail handling a bit easy, IMHO, which is perfect for our family cruising whne the kids are young and later for when we get older. But we still have the 50 foot length with lots of room.

Mast height of 65 feet (plus antennas) still means we can't do the Intercoastal Waterway.

In case you are new to sailing, start on the smallest craft you can get. Smaller boats have a much faster response to your actions, so you will learn faster. Get a trailerable boat to keep costs down and so you can explore various places. (Then you could get a small, fixed keel boat so you know how to handle running aground) But that's a whole different thread.

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Old 02-02-2012, 16:04   #14
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

Forget about the dishwasher unless he/she stands on 2 feet. Going from 40 to 50 feet, look at it as 10 more feet of living space right in the middle of the vessel. Opt for a sail plan that is ketch or yawl and cutter rigged to reduce the sail area need to be handled when sailing short handed. In this market, you should be able to find what your looking for around 50 feet for $150K that might need some cosmetic attention, dated but serviceable electronics, low engine hours and ok sail condition.
If you are new to the sailing game, read all you can, take a few courses and get some sea time in crewing and helping folks out on boat maintenance. Join a yacht club, pitch in with race organizing, do some beer can races crewing and ask heaps of questions.
I'm with Don Lucas, get a boat big enough you can be comfortable aboard even if you need to hire some one to show you the ropes, literally. With 5 years as a time frame before you plan to cruise permanently, that gives you lots of time to acclimatize yourselves to your boat, how she handles in a variety of weather conditions and learn all you need to go offshore safely and with confidence. You will learn every day you are out there.
My wife and I lived aboard a 49 footer for 5 years and enjoyed every minute of it.
Good luck... Capt Phil
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Old 02-02-2012, 16:15   #15
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Re: 40ft or 50ft what do you like

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I feel for a cruiser; get the biggest boat within reason you can afford as you never wish you had less space and comfort.
I disagree. A 35-38 footer is plenty of boat for a couple. I currently have a 38 footer, and it feels huge to me in terms of useable space. My family of four cruised the Caribbean for two years living aboard and we fit just fine, but it is a big 38 footer. In general, the smaller boats go more places, sail more often, spend less time and money (a lot less money) on repairs, and I would say tend to be the happiest and most fun-loving crews. When traveling in company for several months we kept right up with a 42-foot cat and a 52-foot ex-racing mono. Cruising boats tend to go slower and mostly spend 90+% of time in harbor, so that is why people want the bigger boats. Offshore they have a more comfortable motion, but when the sh*t hits the fan it is a lot more sail area to reef, the pressures on everything is much higher, and there is a lot more boat to manage. But, in general offshore a big boat is not much more difficult to handle than a smaller boat, assuming it is well set up. But, when you are near the coast the big boys almost never go sailing. They tend to have large dinghies with outboards and blast all over the place, which can be fun too, but if you really like sailing get something a bit smaller that is also fun to sail. If you're mainly concerned with living space, bigger is better.
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