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Old 15-02-2009, 11:12   #16
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Old farts and bigger boats

"You are only a few years younger than me and I know as we age it get a little tougher to reef, change sails in bad weather, anchoring and so on."


Hi again Creaky,

It's Jim the contrarian again!! It seems like we keep getting these folks who believe that boats in the 40+ foot range are so bloody hard to manage that a couple of middle years can't sail them well and comfortably. I notice that many of them own much smaller boats, and perhaps don't actually have experience to back up their thoughts.

For what it is worth: I'm 71, Ann is 69, and our current boat is 46 feet long and fails the boat calculator comfort test miserably. In the six years we've owned Insatiable II we've sailed some 30,000 miles, made 4 trips to and around Tasmania, crossed the Coral sea 10 times, run away from one cyclone and weathered a number of gales at sea. In crappy weather it was uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as it used to be in I-one (a 36' fairly heavy boat). In moderate to benign weather -- the sort that most voyaging is done in -- I-two is WAY more comfortable to sail and to live on. The imagined hardships of reefing, anchoring etc are mitigated by better and larger equipment, and we can attest that two old crocks can and do manage these things. We do have the advantage of a few years of experience, and you as novices will be on a steep learning curve as we all were, no matter what size boat you are on.

If you were to do a little survey of folks who are actually out doing the sort of cruising that you state as your goals, you will not see many sub-30 foot boats in the anchorages. Nowadays you don't see all that many sub-35 footers, and 40+ foot boats make up the bulk of the cruising fleet, and the majority of long term cruising boats are crewed by couples. There are, of course, exceptions galore, but my point is that if your finances permit, there is no reason to exclude bigger boats from your consideration.

Again, cheers and good luck

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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Old 15-02-2009, 12:18   #17
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A long time ago I heard that it's not the size of the ship that matters, but the motion of the ocean. One thing I do know, is that I would prefer a small boat that's ready to go than a large boat that needs work. When I was a teenager, my family bought a '40 sailboat to cruise on, but we never got to work on it in exotic destinations because we had to work on it all the time, and it never was ready. BTW I thought that you got creaky when you DON't mate a lot, or is that cranky?
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Old 15-02-2009, 12:37   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
"You are only a few years younger than me and I know as we age it get a little tougher to reef, change sails in bad weather, anchoring and so on."


Hi again Creaky,

It's Jim the contrarian again!! It seems like we keep getting these folks who believe that boats in the 40+ foot range are so bloody hard to manage that a couple of middle years can't sail them well and comfortably. I notice that many of them own much smaller boats, and perhaps don't actually have experience to back up their thoughts.

For what it is worth: I'm 71, Ann is 69, and our current boat is 46 feet long and fails the boat calculator comfort test miserably. In the six years we've owned Insatiable II we've sailed some 30,000 miles, made 4 trips to and around Tasmania, crossed the Coral sea 10 times, run away from one cyclone and weathered a number of gales at sea. In crappy weather it was uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as it used to be in I-one (a 36' fairly heavy boat). In moderate to benign weather -- the sort that most voyaging is done in -- I-two is WAY more comfortable to sail and to live on. The imagined hardships of reefing, anchoring etc are mitigated by better and larger equipment, and we can attest that two old crocks can and do manage these things. We do have the advantage of a few years of experience, and you as novices will be on a steep learning curve as we all were, no matter what size boat you are on.

If you were to do a little survey of folks who are actually out doing the sort of cruising that you state as your goals, you will not see many sub-30 foot boats in the anchorages. Nowadays you don't see all that many sub-35 footers, and 40+ foot boats make up the bulk of the cruising fleet, and the majority of long term cruising boats are crewed by couples. There are, of course, exceptions galore, but my point is that if your finances permit, there is no reason to exclude bigger boats from your consideration.

Again, cheers and good luck

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
While I certainly do not want to get into a pissing match about how much experience I have with larger boats, I will simply state to correct you that I sold my Ingrid 38 (46ft overall) and 26,000 lbs. We (meaning a crew of 3) were trying to get from Ca. to Hi. and got caught in 15+ft seas and 40+ knt winds. Because of the momentum that the boom was having on my off watch, ripped out of the mast. One member was very seasick and could not go forward. we turned around for repairs in port where I decided I would go back to a smaller boat with a good comfort motion factor. Trust me...it was not an easy task reefing that mainsail or taming the genny in a blow. The money I had spent to outfit the boat was ridiculous
I don't think it fair to make blanket statements while not knowing a persons past or ability. I'm not saying you shouldn't have a larger boat...what ever turns your crank. I feel sailing should be easy, fun and safe.
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Old 15-02-2009, 12:43   #19
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40 feet is not too big, just don't get caught up in the racer boy mentality. Make sure it is a design that has decent stability. New boats I'm afraid are no guarantee of not having any problems, I have come across new boats with delamination problems, amongst others. Saying that, mine is a production boat and I think it is really well built (Tillotson Pearson) and being a cat ketch, I believe I could move up to a similar design in the 50 plus feet range quite comfortable (I have been eying off the Wylie 65, just can't afford it). I am in the UK (North Fambridge, Essex), PM me if you want to chat by phone.
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Old 15-02-2009, 13:01   #20
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Hello Creaky,

I have a question for you. I own a Columbia 41 and would like to cross to the UK from Washington DC next July. Where can I find a listing of live-aboard friendly marinas in Britain?

Sam
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Old 15-02-2009, 13:21   #21
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Since when are smaller boats more stable? As for working and not sailing if you buy a project boat (old and neglected) you will spend a great deal of your cruising time working on it no matter what the length.
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Old 15-02-2009, 13:40   #22
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Aloha Creaky,
Welcome aboard! Nice to see that you are getting lots of good advice.
Kind regards,
JohnL
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Old 15-02-2009, 14:56   #23
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When you are looking at boat lengths just be sure you know what they mean. A 40 footer might actually be a 34 footer with a 6 foot 'sprit! Don't forget all these modern production boats all have sugar scoops which although included in the length, add nothing to the interior volume.
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Old 15-02-2009, 16:51   #24
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Originally Posted by creaky matelot View Post
Thanks to you all. It seems perceived wisdom leans to smaller boats for liveaboards .... sub 40 feet. I know I might seem a bit dim here but apart from the greater expense of being on a 40+ foot boat can anyone enlighten me as to the pros and cons for both?

Thanks and best regards
I am a proponent of small boats i.e. 30 feet or less. Having said that, there are certain advantages to larger boats. If you do not plan to do much sailing a larger boat will serve better as a live-aboard vessel. A larger boat will more readily accommodate the amenities that house bound lifestyles allow simply because there is more room for stuff and appliances; a more roomy galley with an oven, a dishwasher, trash compacter, clothes washer and dryer, more space for clothes and other junk, a larger bed, room for guests and flower pots (Don't laugh).

If you plan on owning a trawler yacht or a multi-hull this may not keep you from actually going to sea occasionally although you won't go far unless the boat is very large. If you are planning on living aboard a mono hull sailboat, getting ready for sea will entail quite a lot of work stowing the flower pots and other nick-nacks that inevitably accumulate where ever there is room which will discourage you from actually sailing your boat.

We know a good many live-aboards who have not left their slip in years for just this reason. The distaff half of one would-be cruising couple who owned and lived aboard a 40+ footer once confided in me that she wished that her husband wasn't so attached to his possessions so they could get a smaller boat like ours and go cruising. They had sailed their boat exactly once in ten years: when they bought it in California and sailed it to the marina where they live. They then proceeded to fill it with flower pots until it was no longer convenient to go sailing.

If that tendency can be overcome much of the disadvantages of larger boats can be measured in $$ (Sorry, no symbol for pounds or euros on my keyboard), but not all. On our boat, the heaviest anchor is ten kilos which my wife can, in a pinch, haul up without mechanical assistance. The sails are small enough that she can also handle setting sail without using the winches if necessary. Either of us can single hand the boat. That means that even if the electrical system fails the (Arguably) weakest member of the crew can get under way and sail to our next destination. Hydraulic assist or electric powered winches or windlasses are not needed because of the size of the ground tackle, sails and other gear. On a forty+ footer this would not be possible. If the windlass failed the anchor could not be retrieved. If the halyard winch failed the sail could not be raised.

We consider gear that does not require mechanical advantage, electric or hydraulic assist to be a safety feature of our boat. We do have a windlass of course as well as good winches but they are conveniences, not necessities.

And then there is the matter of draft and maneuverability. Our boat draws less than four feet fully loaded making more shallow anchorages and gunk holes accessible.

Understand that Laura and I have some rather ambitions voyages planned and our choices, colored by our experiences, may not be the right ones for you. It's like asking if a Winnebago or a Corvette would be better for a road trip across America. It depends.....

(We would choose motorcycles)
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Old 15-02-2009, 20:42   #25
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Vega:---I think you summed it up honestly about the ease of a smaller boat. Certainly the comfort of living on a larger boat is appealing to most people. Personally I have a nice home where I live in Hawaii. It made more sense to me to have something smaller with a good cruising track record that waits in a slip without flower pots in the gunwales. The other point I would like to make is ...Cruising is cruising... Leaving your slip and going on a small adventure up or down a waterway for a few days is Cruising!. I think there is too much emphases on Ocean crossings and chocking up thousands of miles.
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Old 15-02-2009, 21:26   #26
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when looking for a yacht 40+ I never managed to see one with a washer/dryer compacter etc I know they exist but using them as an example is stretching things. Most boats even the 50+ footers are sailed by a couple in some cases to my amazement due to their age and after watching them negotiate a flat marina. The problem with threads like these are that everyone thinks there way is best. Try telling a cat sailor that a mono hull is better, good luck. As has been pointed out cruising can be crossing the bay. My opinion - If you are going to live at marina's and just do short mainly coastal cruising then a smaller boat is adequate as power, water etc is laid on and marina fees less. If you are going to live aboard, cross oceans and use your hook and dingy I would suggest 40' minimum. This will allow you to carry the extra gear water maker, generator etc. Yes the boat will cost more and up keep will be greater but not as much as the Marina fees being paid every month with the smaller vessel. Another point which has not been mentioned is buyer availability. I have asked two brokers what length is most sought after for a cruising boat and both said over 40'. One day you will want to sell so having a boat that is likely to attract more buyers seems a better choice. Just another angle!
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Old 16-02-2009, 08:19   #27
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[quote=Celestialsailor;255094]
I don't think it fair to make blanket statements while not knowing a persons past or ability.

Celestial,

I'm sorry that you felt my comment was directed at you... you are not the only one that has espoused cruising in small boats, and I have no problem with your decision to change from your Ingrid

But, your experience with your very heavy traditional boat does not mean that Creaky and his wife couldn't manage a 40+ foot boat. This is especially true of one of somewhat more modern design and of less displacement... just like the majority of folks who are actually out doing the long-range, long term cruising that Creaky postulated in his original post.

I have no interest in attacking anyone's preferences in selecting a boat or a venue for cruising, and if you are happier in a smaller boat (and I well remember when a Rawson 30 seemed HUGE to me) then good onya! But advising Creaky that he should limit himself to similarly small boats isn't right either. Do go back and re-read the original post, where he mentioned long term ocean-crossing cruising, with guests aboard at times and so on. I don't think that any smaller boat would allow him to realize those goals.

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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Old 16-02-2009, 09:00   #28
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Hello Creaky,

We went through the same decision process a few years ago....and decided on 40'. It's nice to have the room (there are 2 of us) and the storage for things like bikes. Something larger requires more work and any parts that need replacement are more expensive. Also, depending on your plans, another consideration is marina/harbor limitations. We spend a couple of years in Europe and many of the great little harbors had a 12 meter max limit (just about 40'). Also over 12 meters seems to be the the first cost increase point.

Something I would suggest you read is John Neal's discussion on chosing the perfect cruising boat at Mahina Expedition - Offshore Cruising Instruction .
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Old 16-02-2009, 11:25   #29
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Hey Creaky,
My husband, daughter and I cruised on a 32 foot cat (a Gemini & GRP) for 5 years and were extremely comfortable and happy with the boat. We did Coastal US cruising and went off into the Caribbean for most of the time. Although we had a shower on board, it wasn't really practical to use it regularly as the boat was small, so we picked up a black bug sprayer, filled it with water, did our 'bathing' in the ocean and rinsed off with the hot water in the the bug sprayer. Creature comforts can become very important when you're cruising so keep that in mind. We did have a 2 burner range, an oven and refrigeration... all of which ran on propane (the fridge was 12v/110 and propane). Crossing the Gulf Stream and running in the ocean was a bit bumpy at times, but certainly do-able in the right weather. Being on a catamaran meant we were not heeled over so we were always more comfortable than our monohull traveling companions, so you might want to consider a multihull. We came to realize we'd prefer more waterline for a crossing and now have a 49 footer. More expensive everything, but more creature comforts, too, and she handles much better in blue water and foul weather than our smaller boat. I would say, moneywise, you seem to be in good shape and could easily get a new boat. New boats, however, don't come with everything you need/want and have to be outfitted after purchase and I'm told that you should plan on adding another 15-20% on top of the purchase price. Ouch!

If I were in your shoes, I'll look for a used boat and put the rest of the money in the cruising kitty.

Good Luck and maybe we'll see you out there soon.

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Old 16-02-2009, 15:04   #30
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Everything said by the proponents of larger boats is true (Well mostly) As I said earlier, I had done all the research, read everything then in print, combed through back issues of Cruising World and Sail (Latts and Atts didn't exist yet as Bob Bitchin was still publishing a how-to-be-a-biker magazine called "Biker Lifestyle" at the time). I came to the obvious conclusion that I absolutely needed a forty plus foot ketch, preferably steel hulled to live aboard and go cruising. I was complaining to a friend that I would never have the money to afford such a boat and he told me I should get what I could afford and just do it. He offered me his boat, which I had never seen, at an attractive price and when I hesitated he told me to just move aboard and try it.

That was twenty years ago and the boat was the Albin Vega 27 Lealea that I still live aboard today. I have sailed it all around the Hawaiian islands, across the Pacific, around the San Juans and Channel islands and into Puget Sound. I was wrong about never being able to afford that forty foot ketch and I was wrong about needing one.

Laura and I have crossed the Pacific in both directions spending weeks at sea in vessels large - the 97 ft. LOD HM Bark Endeavour Replica and the 70 foot wooden schooner Spike Africa, and small - the 27 foot Lealea. We have sailed in a variety of boats of all types on shorter trips around Hawaii and in the Pacific Northwest.

The Vega works for us and we feel no need to upgrade. Others may see things differently but we think that any couple wanting to go cruising in a capable blue water boat should at least consider the Vega and other boats in her class. If your plans include four or more adults for extended periods, obviously, a boat this size is not practical.

BTW Jim: We know John Neal from our year in Friday Harbor and from the American Vega Association. Did you know that the name of his company comes from the boat he sailed out of Vancouver. around the Pacific and back in the nineteen seventies, the Albin Vega 27 "Mahina"? We ran into the family John sold her to - still cruising, still seaworthy and looking ready to go again.
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