DPR, I'd STRONGLY suugest that you want to spend some time on a variety of boats in the range you are considering. And if that means a half dozen charters for a weekend or week each, just DO IT.
You cannot get a feel for how well a boat will handle from reading about it. To say that the Hunter 460 "looks like" it would handle well, just shows that you are at a major risk of having a bad sailing experience and possible financial loss. Not that Hunter is a bad boat, and not that I would know a 460 if I tripped over one. But Hunter also has a rep for being a "beginners boat" and "built to a price" so yes, I would want to sail on one before guessing anything based on reading.
The difference between a really sweet yacht and a pig may (may!) be visible on paper if you have really good skills with the numbers. But I don't think anyone can tell you if a boat will be "mediocre" versus "sweet" until they sail on it. A really sweet boat can self-steer simply by balancing the sails
. In theory, any properly designed yacht can. In practice? Un-uh. And then having a comfortable motion, not pounding in waves or slamming or rolling, all of these things cross well into the black arts, there is no yacht design software
in the world that can assure these things. And no paper that can tell you how to predict them.
Boats have different personalities (probably why we name them and call them she<G>) and there are Jeeps, Ferraris, SUVs, and everything in between. In big boats, those differences become bigger too. A sloop
will have a simple sail plan, but a more complex rig will have more options for keeping the boat trimmed, and that can be a good thing.
, all the good toys? They're nice, but unless you can afford a megayacht with redundant systems and a mechanical staff on standby, they're not what sailing is about. They tend to break down at the most inconvenient times, even if you are intimate with them, and then you're back to sailing again. With your muscles against the boat's muscles, and the boat is always bigger and stronger than you are, so you'd better know how to outsmart or cajole it.
Think a center cockpit
design looks good on paper? OK, now try sailing it upwind in bad wx for a weekend and getting soaked because you're in the middle of the boat instead of aft.
Think a nice wide salon
is good? It is great to be airy and roomy--until you get thrown across it in bad wx, and find out that the narrower a boat is, the closer a handgrip will be. Or at least, you can't be thrown as far. I know a well-respected 42' boat where we found out the towel bar in the forward head
makes a lousy handgrip--as you are being ejected out the head
door. Fortunately the opposite wall is less than two feet away.<G>
You just won't be able to anticipate all the differences like that on paper. You need to go out and DO IT to get the feel for how they differ.