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Old 02-05-2021, 17:26   #1
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Power Boat Cruiser

I donít know anything about power boats except they don't have sails.

So what makes a good cruising power boat?



I thought of writing the question like the many newbie sailboat wannabe ones. But my finger said it wasn't up to it.
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Old 02-05-2021, 17:33   #2
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

I'd put a few things on the list:
  • Enough fuel capacity / range to cover your desired cruising grounds without stretching the limits of range with reasonable reserve
  • Good self sufficiency in terms of power and water capacity (or a watermaker)
  • Adequate storage space
  • Good layout that's conducive to spending long periods of time aboard, is easy to work with for docking in unfamiliar places, spending long days at the helm, etc.
  • Good access to engine(s) for maintenance
  • Comfortable ride and capable handling in the conditions you expect to use it in, and the ability to survive the worst you think you might encounter
For coastal use, some may feel speed is desirable or important, but that's really a matter of preference.

Looking at my own boat, I'd say it fits the bill pretty well for coastal cruising, but it does have a couple of shortcomings: the water tank is too small and the gas engines burn too much fuel, which leads to somewhat limited range despite large tanks (although the range is adequate to go almost, but not quite anywhere in the US with proper planning as long as you're going slow, it's quite a bit worse if you want to run 17 kts instead of 6.5).
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Old 03-05-2021, 05:11   #3
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

RSL gives a very good start.

There's some zen involved, as with selecting sailboats... and also, some requirements are propulsion-agnostic, so much like sailing vessels in that regard too.

Suitable (you define) accommodations and layout. Good (you define) visibility from wherever the helm stations are. A hull form (displacement, semi-, etc.) suitable for expected mission. Draft suitable for intended cruising grounds. Appropriate engines, ideally with easy access for maintainance. A well-built boat, ideally with decent layup, and reliable internal systems (pumps, heads, etc.). Easy/safe access to foredeck. Easy on/off access (swim platforms, transom doors, etc.) and easy access to flybridge (stairs) if so equipped... especially if big 4-legged critters are part of the mix. Et cetera.

I prefer boats with cockpits... which eliminates (for me) many of the "motor yacht" configuration. I prefer flying bridges for better visibility, but visibility from some express cruisers or downeast-style boats can be adequate for many... and flying bridges bring their own pendulum effect to the equation, and some don't care for that.

And for some, "looks" is a deal. For example, I don't much care for modern "Italian" design, so that pretty much eliminates (for me) all current European boats. You might be just the opposite.

Back to that "zen" thing...

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Old 03-05-2021, 05:26   #4
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

It needs to comfortably do at least 9kts so it can blow past the sailboats that are also motoring.
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Old 03-05-2021, 06:08   #5
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

I thought there would be "good to have" items that a sail boater wouldn't think of. If so lets hear them.
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Old 03-05-2021, 06:20   #6
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

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I thought there would be "good to have" items that a sail boater wouldn't think of. If so lets hear them.


Phenomenal engine access. Without this you canít pamper your sole means of propulsion.
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Old 03-05-2021, 06:24   #7
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

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Phenomenal engine access. Without this you can’t pamper your sole means of propulsion.

That's probably one of the biggest adjustments in concept from sail to power. On a sailboat, engines are often buried deep in a hole with poor access. But many sailors just treat it as "that noisy thing in the bilge" until it breaks, so they don't care. On a powerboat, engines tend to get much better care and feeding.

Personally, my engines get a good visual inspection, all fluids checked, etc. before the first startup of any day. And a good sniff of the bilges for any gas fumes before turning on the bilge blowers and fume detector. On a long travel day, I'll often take a look around after a few hours of running, or if we've run a few hours and then stopped, I'll re-check everything (including fluids) before starting the engines back up.


All that said, my boat doesn't have the best engine access in the world (my engine room is definitely a crawl-in and not great for anyone overly tall or large). But compared to most sailboats and some powerboats, the access is pretty good. There's plenty of space around the engines (no tanks squeezed in next to them or anything), so with a little crawling, you can see and reach everything for inspection and maintenance.
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Old 03-05-2021, 07:01   #8
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

I had a 40í Silverton that I took from Tampa to Boston and back, and while I donít have any other experience with motoryachts to compare it to several things were significant improvements over the 4 sailboats Iíve owned.

It had a much more robust electrical system. Step 1 before untying from the dock was to turn everything off, start the generator, then Turn it all back on again- most notably, the air conditioning, which all remained on while underway. I think this was the biggest difference with the sail vs power ďexperience.Ē You had all of the amenities we enjoy at the dock.

Speaking of amenities, there were a lot more of them! Vacu-flush heads serviced with fresh water (huge tankage as well), 2x 16,000 btu air conditioner/heaters, full size kitchen appliances, etc. which all contributed to a very liveable situation.

Other features I liked- you could choose spear or range. I could knock out 200+ miles in an 8 hour day which put me in marinas in time for sun downers, or you can throttle back to displacement speed and go closer to 1000 miles on a tank.

Having twin screws made docking and close quarters maneuvering nonsensically simple.

I could go on and on- it really was a nice experience owning that over the 5 or so years we had it.

But at the end of the day, Iím back in a sailboat. Thereís an intangible factor to them that really appeals to me. Enough to make me willing to forfeit some really amazing amenities.
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Old 03-05-2021, 07:08   #9
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

The electrical thing is an interesting one. Many powerboats that have generators are designed to do as Creedence mentioned, excepting ones with more long distance travel factored into the design. Start generator before unplugging, keep it running until you plug back in. However, many of us who do more than go out for a few hours on a weekend here and there work to avoid being overly generator dependent.



In my case, I just added solar and an inverter. And we'd already added a decent house battery bank. At this point, if we're away from shore power for an extended period, the generator gets run in the evening to make hot water for showers and to cook dinner. So maybe an hour a day. And if we want a fancy breakfast and need the microwave or stove to do it, then we'll run it in the morning. But other than the stove, microwave, water heater and A/C, everything runs on battery / inverter. Fortunately, we have pretty good airflow through most of the boat, so we're not bound to running A/C 24/7 like some boat designs lead to.
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Old 03-05-2021, 07:57   #10
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

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I thought there would be "good to have" items that a sail boater wouldn't think of. If so lets hear them.
Not so easy to come up with something that's powerboat-centric... FWIW, our current shopping list is as follows:

Solid hull, at least below waterline
Wide beam (relatively)
Safe/easy access to foredeck
Shallow draft (relatively)
…Prop tunnels?? (for shallower draft)
Cockpit
Swim platform
Transom door
Stairs to flying bridge
Aft-positioned helm (and good aft visibility for docking stern-to)
Open front windshield
Hardtop
Mid-ship's master (* full beam master)
...Walk-around household-height master berth
Dry head(s)/stall shower(s)
Horizontal sightlines from seated at dinette
Horizontal sightlines from seated in saloon
Good sightline to TV from seated at dinette
Pilothouse/lower helm station available (noted in some models; not a requirement)

But much of that is just generic... and doesn't touch on stuff that's common in some of the boats we're shopping on. For example, we'd want separate freezers and fridges... but most of the models we're considering already come with those anyway... so I haven't bothered to list features like that.

Stuff like inverters or bow/stern thrusters can usually be added after-the fact. Ditto with stabilizers, although they're pricey enough so that it often makes sense to shop specifically for boats already so equipped... for those who might really want stabilizers.

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Old 03-05-2021, 10:47   #11
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

I have seen and talked to a few power boat cruisers in the Bahamas and they talk about being throw back and forth from the rocking with the waves.
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:49   #12
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

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I have seen and talked to a few power boat cruisers in the Bahamas and they talk about being throw back and forth from the rocking with the waves.

That's down to hull shape. Some hulls will have a pretty harsh, snappy roll under the right conditions unless they're stabilized. Others roll more gently like a sailboat. And of course, if you use some form of stabilization, you can significantly influence the quantity and nature of the roll.
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:53   #13
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

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That's down to hull shape. Some hulls will have a pretty harsh, snappy roll under the right conditions unless they're stabilized. Others roll more gently like a sailboat. And of course, if you use some form of stabilization, you can significantly influence the quantity and nature of the roll.
well why aren't telling me I need stabilization (how does that work)? These are the tings I am asking about, not layout and tankage.
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:56   #14
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

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well why aren't telling me I need stabilization (how does that work)? These are the tings I am asking about, not layout and tankage.

Whether or not you need stabilization depends on the boat in question, where you want to use it and your preferences. Some boats are obnoxiously rolly without stabilization, others aren't.



My own boat is a bit rolly for my taste at anchor, so I keep a set of the cheap orange cones on board. Dropping those off the sides cuts the roll noticeably, but not as well as flopper stoppers out on poles, or a gyro, or fin stabilizers. And the cones aren't useful under way. Under way at low speeds, it can get a bit rolly if things are rough, but because it's a planing hull, speeding up helps a lot. It'll still roll up on plane, but it's more of a well damped series of tilts instead of the constant rolling, as there's no momentum behind the roll on plane. And it doesn't roll as far either.
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Old 03-05-2021, 12:28   #15
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Re: Power Boat Cruiser

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well why aren't telling me I need stabilization (how does that work)? These are the tings I am asking about, not layout and tankage.


There are two basic types of stabilization, fins in the water that counteract the roll while the boat is moving, or large flywheels that will work while moving or at anchor.

But depends on the boat in question if itís a must have or a nice to have.
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