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Old 19-03-2017, 08:39   #1
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Advantages to have a small boat

Hi! I'm very new to sailing and i want to know are there any advantages to have a smaller boat than a bigger boat(bigger yachts cost more obviously), but is it easier to sail?Better to handle?
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Old 19-03-2017, 08:56   #2
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

in general, smaller boats are easier and cheaper all around. The question you need to ask yourself is how much space you need to be comfortable. Smaller boats also have less accomodations, so it's really what you are comfortable with.

I think everyone here will agree that you need to do some sailing in various boats of various sizes and configurations before you buy anything.
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:07   #3
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

They are considerably cheaper to buy, transport, haul, store, equip, maintain, repair, refit. They are cheaper to put in a slip (charge is by the foot, either transient or long-term). They are generally shallower draft so can go more places. They are easier to maneuver, and generally easier to single-hand.

Common advice is to buy the smallest boat that fits your needs, for all of the above reasons. People often buy more boat than they need and then are surprised by the costs of maintaining them.
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:12   #4
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

Maintenance is certainly more costly the larger you go.. dockage costs more where i live..its based on footage..sails cost more..most things do..
As far as sailing goes..in the extreme .. smaller can be more tender than larger.. but also more nimble. Small often, but not always, has less draft and there for may have access to more areas.. Mast hight may play a part also in dictating sailing grounds i.e. getting under obstacles like bridges and other possible obstructions ... handling sails and there associated control lines (sheets) on smaller boats is certainly easier.. at some point you start to require winches to assist.. thats more money more weight more maintenance again..
on displacement type hulls your maximum speed is related to your hulls length.. so longer is generally faster.. Again we are talking displacement hulls..
Lots to consider.. the first question that should be asked is what type of sailing you plan on doing I guess..
Its a big questions and lots of angles.
Welcome to Cruisers forum.. you've come to the right place..
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:19   #5
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

Welcome aboard!
I am curious what you mean by "smaller" or "larger" boat. To learn to sail, I think the Laser I used to sail was the best. When I first bought my 24 footer I thought it was HUGE. After I lived on it I thought I needed a 29 or 30 footer but definitely no more than 35! Never! Then I saw an acquaintance sail his Valiant 40 in the harbor and that was the boat I lusted for. When I chartered boats for groups of people, the 44 footer seemed small. So, I'm not trying to be a smart alec here, but how you plan to use the boat, and how much of certain comforts and conveniences you need, really determine the boat size. Smaller boats are easier and cheaper to sail and maintain. Larger boats are faster and may be more comfortable. The forces acting upon a larger boat are much greater than a smaller boat as well. And also, when you are new to sailing, it is hard to get a feel for what is happening on a larger boat since it doesn't respond to inputs as quickly.
So what kind of sailing would you like to do? Just daysailing for now? Some coastal cruising? I'm sure we have a lot of boat ideas here for you!
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:47   #6
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

Newbie perspective here! The first boat I sailed was a Catalina 22, the next a 26 ft macgreggor, and now our 38 ft Cheoy Lee.
The 22 ft boat was the easiest for me. Tiller steering and small length meant I could really feel how my steering affected the sails and vice versa. I could think about what I needed to do and see immediate results. The 26 foot had water ballast and a dager board with a wheel, it simply did not like responding and isn't a good comparison.
The 38 foot boat is much more like the Catalina that I loved loved loved. The biggest difference in "ease" is that the boat simply takes longer to respond to the wheel. So steering takes a little more forethought and slightly more pre-planning.
The larger sails are heavier, but so are the winches, so the big sails are not really harder to raise.
And there are more sail options with the larger boat. That means you can choose sails that more closely matches the sailing conditions, thus making your job easier over all.
But the cost of maintaining the big boat is 10x the small catalina.

Super short answer - a small boat, like the catalina, will give you a lot of skill building and confidence without being more than you can handle if you make a mistake.

Honestly, I think you can do skill building on a larger boat but you will make mistkes. You simply will. A smaller boat is much more forgiving when you do make a mistake and less costly to repair.

On the catalina we (2 adults and a dog) could spend about 10 days on the boat with only needing to
Empty the Porta potty. But we really really like each other, it might be too small of a cabin for two people if you aren't very simpatico. We called it "cruising lite" and it worked pretty well. My boyfriend wanted more head room so we moved up to the 26 footer. But for a first boat I think it's the perfect boat. You get all the benefits of skill building and learning to do maintenance without being overwhelming.
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:54   #7
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

I'd add two more, related to the excellent run down that Suijin gave above. The smaller the boat, the more you'll probably be willing to do yourself and gain a better understanding of boat ownership. E.g. facing a sanding job for a 25' boat you're much more likely to do it yourself and learn the work than if you owned a 40' boat. Similar for wiring, etc. It makes it more accessible.
You'll also probably try new things, like experimenting with wing on wing, twizzle rigs, etc. as the loads will be easier to control, and anything going wrong will be cheaper to fix!
With a smaller boat, you may also be able to get a tabernacle on your mast, which would keep you from having to go up it!
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Old 19-03-2017, 10:23   #8
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

here is some advice from a fellow sailor who is new to the sport also.

cabins without headroom are miserable.

heavy long keel boats with bow sprits are challenging to manuever in marinas

there is some ratio people talk about around here that says costs double every additional 5 feet in length of boat, and this old adage is actually seems very close to reality.

boats that are very small with rounded or tall cabin trunks and poorly designed dodgers make going forward more like a tightrope walk even in mild conditions

"all lines led aft to the cockpit" can be borderline ridiculous when you are learning. the easiest boat ive ever sailed had halyards and reefing lines at the mast, and that reduced complexity and snarled rats nest in the cockpit. my preference is simplicity

roller furling makes things easier. i dont like it when it has problems, but my own boat will have it.

making progress against significant wind and current can be challenging for any boat, but small light sailboats with outboard motors may have almost no progress at all, a serious concern if sailing outside sheltered waters

this is the best sailing forum, nicest down to earth people, great advice.
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Old 19-03-2017, 10:29   #9
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

I've done it backwards compared to most others. I started out sailing on a 39 footer which my buddy was using/chartering through a local sailing club. After a season or two I signed up for their ASA course of Master 40/50 but we started it sailing J24s which felt tiny and uncomfortable after a 39 (only the last third of the courses were in 39 footers). Some years later when I decided to get my own boat I started looking in the mid 30s ft range (as I couldn't afford high 30s-40ft) and couldn't find one I felt comfortable with financially. Then I found a "deal" on a 27 foot fixer upper and apprehensively bought that thinking it would turn out to be too small. 4 season later it was still a good fit for my sailing needs but the diesel croaked and the boat was not worth putting a new one in or even fixing the old one. So I slapped an outboard on the transom and started looking for something in 27-30 range and almost got a nice 30 footer but found a great deal on a 36 footer which my g/f was encouraging me to get. Since it surveyed well all around I got it and turned out this boat hit the sweet spot. Not too large to be outlandishly expensive to maintain but not too small to comfortably sail with another couple or few friends for long weekends and local coastal trips.

My current sailing needs still call for no bigger than a 30-33 footer but that 36 footer was an all around deal I could not pass and the carrying expenses did not look that much greater than a 33 footer so I figured I'll get that.

So it up to you to figure out what is small or big for your particular situation.
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Old 19-03-2017, 10:42   #10
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

We started out on a Catalina 22. 1983-1987. Bought a Catalina 25, doubled the volume, not much more to keep or maintain, kept her for 13 years. Bought the C34 in 1998. Everything on the 34 is larger, but the proportions compared to the long lived 25 are almost identical. Learned to "sail" on the 22, learned the details on the 25, still employing them now, 18 years later on the 34.
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Old 19-03-2017, 10:48   #11
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

Hi,

Welcome here!

Imho:

- easier to find a docking space,
- easier to maintain (fewer, smaller and simpler gear),
- possibly easier to find anchorage (possibly less draft),
- easier to get out sailing alone (many small boats can be single-handed),
- less damage when you hit something.

The list of disadvantages is probably way longer. But you did not ask. ;-)

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Old 19-03-2017, 10:57   #12
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

Smaller are much easier to sail for one or two people. A couple strong pulls and the main is up, vs winching it up slowly etc. In stronger winds sail handling and winching can be pretty dicey on a big boat.
However, a big boat is more comfortable at sea and a lot faster.
Docking and around other craft a small boat can be stopped and handled by a person if necessary. A big boat that will only get you injured.
I had as much fun in my 30 footer as my 47 footer. But once you have the big boat I found it very hard to go smaller.
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Old 19-03-2017, 11:27   #13
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
But once you have the big boat I found it very hard to go smaller.
Yes if the situations are similar. But if for whatever reason, you have to cut down on your sailing say from coastal long weekends or overnights with 3-4 people aboard to day sails, either solo or short crewed, then it does not make much sense to use and maintain a 35-40 footer as a day sailor since 25-30 footer will be much more manageable and less expensive choice. And it'll still be big enough for a couple to overnight on the weekends if needed. IMO any size consideration must start with a realistic (key word here) description of the boat's intended use within the next few years.
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Old 19-03-2017, 14:52   #14
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

The working loads are less on the smaller boat. The sails weigh less (for dragging them around and changing them, where no furlers are involved.)

The smaller boat is more responsive to its tiller, the steering is direct. There is some loss of "feel" when changing to a wheel, depending on how it is set up. Turns lock to lock, keep the number to a minimum. Avoid hydraulic, total loss of "feel".

Less paint required if you want to re-paint *whatever*/everything requiring paint. All the costs are lower, plus, the smaller the boat, the easier it is for the marina to find a small corner to put you in and that will lower berthing costs.

If you're in a state that taxes boats, less tax for smaller.

I completely agree that finding the smallest boat that will meet your needs is a good place to start. Like Sea Dreaming, Jim had a Cat 22 before his Yankee 30 when I met him. He trailered it from San Francisco to Port Townsend and took his family to Canada for a 2 week vacation. He also used to one design race it in CA. He had a wonderful time with it.

Big boats is about boat lust and profits.



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Old 19-03-2017, 15:16   #15
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Re: Advantages to have a small boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Dreaming View Post
Newbie perspective here! The first boat I sailed was a Catalina 22, the next a 26 ft macgreggor, and now our 38 ft Cheoy Lee.
The 22 ft boat was the easiest for me. Tiller steering and small length meant I could really feel how my steering affected the sails and vice versa. I could think about what I needed to do and see immediate results. The 26 foot had water ballast and a dager board with a wheel, it simply did not like responding and isn't a good comparison.
The 38 foot boat is much more like the Catalina that I loved loved loved. The biggest difference in "ease" is that the boat simply takes longer to respond to the wheel. So steering takes a little more forethought and slightly more pre-planning.
We experienced the same thing in the mid-90's when moving from a small sailboat a Hobie 16, to a "large" sailboat a Nacra 6.0.

The 6.0 seemed to take forever to respond to the rudders.

It may not seem like that big a deal when reading this but when you are going 15-20 knots and are in traffic as in buoy racing it can increase the old heart rate.

The 6.0 was a beast though compared to other beach cats and it was very stable. It also didn't wear you down like the smaller beach cats especially during 30-100 mile distance races.

Being out on the trapeze (double trapped, Skipper and crew) on a Nacra 6.0 was actually relaxing unless it was a heavy oscillating wind

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