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Old 03-01-2016, 13:24   #1
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Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

This applies to the west coast, south of Oregon in my case.

Sure a nice large 35 foot boat is awesome for living space, and gives that needed "minimum length for liveaboard" requirement found in some marinas. (if any slips were available ) but...

30 feet seems to be at the upper end of versatility for crew as backup for systems. example, hoisting anchor when batteries dead, dousing and hoisting and changing headsails without a roller furler, docking under sail with motor failed, using dink motor on main craft to get back into a slip, pulling the boat alongside the dock by mooring line, managing rode up winch under winded sail etc, especially single handed. (not to mention considerably reduced costs across the board)

In addition to these factors, when traveling, it seems like a 30 foot has many more transient berth options because it will fit in smaller and always fit in larger berths. And lighter grade moorings will do, rafting options increase, less draft gives more anchoring options.

(this is my question) for these reasons, I prefer a 30 foot, (same basic boat) because it suits me better am I shutting myself out of good long term locations by not going with a larger boat due to long term berthing length minumums?

I like to fantasize life on the hook all the time, but mostly I want versatility and options because frankly, coastal marina hopping and anchoring is my cruise plan for quite some time, and most likely a different vessel altogether will be purhased for long voyages and ocean passages later.

Hey if a 35 footer is more versatile, just means more food, water, room for the dink, more living space, and more weather options I guess.

Any suggestions?
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Old 03-01-2016, 13:45   #2
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Re: most versatile length vessel for berthing options

Don't mix up living aboard and staying on board. If you're in a marina full time you may have to have a minimum length, but if you're travelling and just staying at a marina for a week or so, you are not a live aboard (as far as the marina is concerned) you're just a transient or guest. There may, however, be a maximum length you can stay or just a price that dictates you move on quickly.

Best of luck in your search,

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Old 03-01-2016, 14:07   #3
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Re: most versatile length vessel for berthing options

Hey Goat, thanks for the reply.

In my case, the plan is to live aboard, and go places. The boat will be home. This is why it is so important to me that as many options as possible be available for berthing. I want to be able to pull into more options in every port, and looking for some input from folks who have done it where the ideal length falls out when you travel frequently to new marinas, moorings, and anchorages, but also stay for extended periods in some locations (several months)
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Old 03-01-2016, 15:12   #4
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

My last boat was 35' and broad beamed. I found it easier to handle in most cases than my current 27 footer. Bow thruster, anchor windlass, roller furling main and foresail, fin keel with skeg rudder etc. I'm sure as you go up in size even more, you'll find a lot more options for boat handling.
However on the second round of repairs to windlass, steering cables (dual helm pilot house), water pumps, bow thruster, espar heater, leaky pilothouse windows et al, I opted for smaller and simpler.

Now I sail much more than I repair, which I like. If only I could do something about all the teak trim..........

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P.S. The ladies liked the bigger boat much more than the small one, but if I could afford a girlfriend, I could afford a bigger boat
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Old 03-01-2016, 15:26   #5
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

If your smaller boat has the same systems as the bigger boat, then you'll have the same maintenance issues. A Catalina 30 and our 34 have the same systems: fresh water pumps for faucets, water heaters, bilge pump, electrical, engines, etc.

You mentioned: example, hoisting anchor when batteries dead, dousing and hoisting and changing headsails without a roller furler, docking under sail with motor failed, using dink motor on main craft to get back into a slip, pulling the boat alongside the dock by mooring line, managing rode up winch under winded sail etc, especially single handed. (not to mention considerably reduced costs across the board)

Depending on your anchoring system, they will be a lot similar.

Headsails will be bigger, but doing that kind of cruising, I'd bet you'd want a furler on your jib. The 25 footer I had for 13 years was my last boat without one. We've had this boat since 1998. Raising and dropping headsails gets tiresome quite quickly. There are inexpensive furling systems out there. Adaro (sp?) is one.

I learned to dock under sail. Maybe not in my own berth (but I did do it), so you find somewhere else to side tie.

Size shouldn't matter in that range, including all the rest of your examples.

The biggest one you didn't mention is headroom.

Ducking gets real old real quick.

Good luck, happy hunting.
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Old 03-01-2016, 16:01   #6
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

So on the flip side of the coin, is finding temporary berth for 35 foot challenging? seems like from what I see most slips fit up to 40 foot, then it is end tie time-- meaning 30 or 35 foot is irrelevant (except cost). small berths are shallow and for vessels under 25 foot. but is this normal or just at the locations I have seen? does that extra 5 feet shut me out of a lot of temporary options?

I guess if I can muscle a forsail and an anchor at 30 foot, I can do it at 35.
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Old 03-01-2016, 16:29   #7
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

I'm currently living on a 29' boat, and it's fine. Very basic boat as I'm a KISS kinda gal, which is a very personal choice. Most people want a little more comfort/luxury, I have learned I am very happy with very little. Probably because I used to be very unhappy while having a lot -- but I'd have to ask a therapist about that

Would I mind a few feet more? After 2 years, Ima give that one a "yes, would be nice" - especially due to the winters, when you're inside a lot and 29' starts to feel a little small at times.
But during spring, summer and fall, when you're outside a lot and the boat is open nearly all the time, it doesn't matter much.

I'm in the Netherlands where liveaboards aren't usually welcome in a marina, with a few exceptions. Those exceptions don't have rules as to the (minimal) size of the boat tho, so that's never an issue.
Nor is it in the US when you're simply visiting a marina, staying there short-term. It is, I have learned here, when you want a year contract or something like that.

Final note: more important then the number of feet in length is the lay-out of the boat. I always use two friends of mine as an example, both their boats being 38'.
The living space simply doesn't compare due to a different size cockpit and very different lay-out inside. One of the two is fine for one person or a couple max, no more.
The other, 2 adults and 2 kids could live aboard w/out issue and 2 couples sailing together for a while would also be fine. Not so much on the other boat.
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Old 03-01-2016, 21:30   #8
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

All 30' and all 35' boats are not the same. There are 30' tanks that will have a deeper draft and weigh more than some 35' boats.

I'm not as familiar with the west coast but most slips seem to come in 35 or 40 foot size.

We have a 34x14 with a 1.5' draft (small cat). Never had an issue finding a slip and don't have an anchor winch.
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Old 04-01-2016, 09:10   #9
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

My wife and I have spent the last 5 years basically living aboard our 40footer and while we could have lived on a 36 just as easily the extra feet gave us much more space without making sailing or mooring any more difficult. Just being able to use the 3rd cabin as a junk room or for friends luggage is worth the extra length.

We have never had any problems getting in to marinas or town harbours here in Croatia and most places are geared up for 50-55ft boats anyway. OK one or two are a little snug and the bow thruster is almost a necessity but you can do it without.

I would say if you are planning on spending prolonged periods on board, not necessarily permanent liveaboard, then don't scrimp on length because you feel berthing might be an issue. Feeling cramped inside will quickly get annoying, especially if it is pouring down. Of course you can also invest in a "habitent" for the cockpit area to open that up as living space but being able to space out down below when it's cold, blowing a hoolie or the rain is making dents in your skull is far nicer.

Hope that helps your thinking

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Old 04-01-2016, 09:49   #10
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

You may already know this but many new boat owners are shocked when they take their 30' boat in to a marina asking for a 30' or 32' slip and then find that they can't fit all of the boat in to that slip if they have any overhanging bowsprit or dinghy lift or anything else making the actual slip length longer than the nominal "boat size". Our 44' boat requires a 50' slip at our marina as they will not tolerate any part of the boat outside of the end of the side docks and no overhang over the dock. Some marinas are more relaxed in the winter off season without so much traffic, but not all. Some marinas will allow "X" feet of overhang so it depends on the marina.

So make sure you know the overall length of the boat before you make a decision based on the 30' boat of your dreams. If you are traveling and will be going in to different marinas you'll generally have to give them your overall length especially for side-ties.
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Old 04-01-2016, 10:16   #11
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

I stay aboard half-time in my 45' ketch (13' beam). The aft cabin is very comfortable, the galley has a long prep area, the salon is large enough for six crew to lounge about on a rainy day.

While moving the boat from southern Cal to northern Cal, temporary slips were no problem. We called ahead if possible but in one instance we arrived at 4 a.m. and tied up at the harbor patrol dock. The next morning they found us a slip.

Long-term, I had to rent a 70' slip for three months until a 48' slip came available.

I am 69 years old and I can warp the boat and handle the sails single-handed.
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Old 04-01-2016, 13:28   #12
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

Quote:
Originally Posted by nematon785 View Post
This applies to the west coast, south of Oregon in my case.

Sure a nice large 35 foot boat is awesome for living space, and gives that needed "minimum length for liveaboard" requirement found in some marinas. (if any slips were available ) but...

30 feet seems to be at the upper end of versatility for crew as backup for systems. example, hoisting anchor when batteries dead, dousing and hoisting and changing headsails without a roller furler, docking under sail with motor failed, using dink motor on main craft to get back into a slip, pulling the boat alongside the dock by mooring line, managing rode up winch under winded sail etc, especially single handed. (not to mention considerably reduced costs across the board)

In addition to these factors, when traveling, it seems like a 30 foot has many more transient berth options because it will fit in smaller and always fit in larger berths. And lighter grade moorings will do, rafting options increase, less draft gives more anchoring options.

(this is my question) for these reasons, I prefer a 30 foot, (same basic boat) because it suits me better am I shutting myself out of good long term locations by not going with a larger boat due to long term berthing length minumums?

I like to fantasize life on the hook all the time, but mostly I want versatility and options because frankly, coastal marina hopping and anchoring is my cruise plan for quite some time, and most likely a different vessel altogether will be purhased for long voyages and ocean passages later.

Hey if a 35 footer is more versatile, just means more food, water, room for the dink, more living space, and more weather options I guess.

Any suggestions?
Your personal needs and the type of sailing you will do should dictate the size boat you choose. There are "big little boats" and there are "little big boats". Rather than length, you might consider displacement or interior cubic volume as the determining factor in your choice. Put your personal comfort and ability to carry stores at the top of the list...acquiring a boat based on slip availability for a given size may well be the death of the dream...

I lived on a 29' [4 ton] boat that was a wonderful little boat...however, in order to bring a new piece of equipment, tool, or more stores onboard something else had to be removed. Not only frustrating, but very limiting for the type of sailing I do.
My current boat is 40' [10 tons], and small inside compared to the "typical"
modern 40 footer, but perfect for me. Just enough room for what I consider essential for my lifestyle. I don't spend much time in marinas, but have never been turned away.

Living on the wrong boat for the type of sailing you choose to do could be disastrous...
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Old 04-01-2016, 17:08   #13
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

Same reality on the east coast. Small is beautiful, bigger is better. A lot of small towns now limit the size of a boat entering their harbors. Some limit it to under 35 feet. No good answers.
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Old 05-01-2016, 06:37   #14
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

Quote:
Originally Posted by reed1v View Post
Same reality on the east coast. Small is beautiful, bigger is better. A lot of small towns now limit the size of a boat entering their harbors. Some limit it to under 35 feet. No good answers.
I often cruise the US East Coast from Maine to the Florida Keys and make some choices about entering small harbors. Some places seem a little tight and uncomfortable for me even though at 41' my boat is not "big". I've come to decide for myself where I enter, but I've yet to have any authority indicate a limit to the size of a boat entering a harbor.

I have known of marinas that are limited to smaller vessels, but I'd like to know more about these many small towns that limit the size of boats entering their harbors. I'm guessing that Rockport, Massachusetts on Cape Ann might be one. I looked at that place and decided not to attempt entry due to the lack of space.

Could you please give us a few examples of these many small towns that don't allow vessels 35' or longer?
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Old 05-01-2016, 07:38   #15
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Re: Most versatile length vessel for berthing options

We live aboard our 45 foot Columbia sloop in San Diego and have not had any trouble obtaining a slip. I personally would not go over 50 feet but anything under that you should be okay anywhere you go to obtain a transient slip. Remember most places make you pay for the overall length of your boat, not what the builder specifications state. I have been in marinas where they brought a tape measure down and measured the boat from end to end. Even an inch will take you up to the next foot, they never round down only up. lol

If you want to use a mooring ball you will find it easier with boats under 50 feet. I'd recommend you go with what you feel comfortable while staying under 50 feet. You also get into much higher slip fees over 50 feet, at least the marinas here in America's Cup Harbor, San Diego are that way.
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