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Old 12-04-2009, 12:57   #16
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Roverhi made some excellent comments which reminded me of an observation I've made:

Often, one can choose a 30-32 foot boat over a 26-27 without seeing much more cost associated with it, but having notably more living space and carrying capacity.

When I was last looking at boats I noted many of the old traditional boats such as the Morgan OIs, Irwins, Endavours, etc, cost little more than their 26-foot counterparts, but in my mind, the extra room is notable. Many marinas and storage facilities have minimums, which mean you don't save anything there by having a boat under 30 feet. I found the same when pricing insurance. Many boat parts will be the same or of similar cost. My observations are if you place say a 35 minimum instead, you will likely see notably higher costs across the board.
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Old 12-04-2009, 16:24   #17
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I looked at this over a while, and many boats in the 32-37 range including several Westsails. I think 36 is a good size for a couple. That said I ended up with a Contessa 32, primarily because it is a good seaboat, gives a feeling of security and sails well. While everything is there and in theory it could sleep 6, in fact 4 woukl be intimate for short stays and even with two it is still a confined space.
Although the Westsail has a bigger volume it is still confined though with more storage.
One of the difficulties with these smaller boats is the lack of space for access to eg the heads, and engine, for doing repairs. This makes them more difficult time consuming and expensive.
Although the purchase price and some maintenance might be lower the costs of bringing it up to a good standard are high, think a third of purchase price plus extras for distance cruising, self-steering, SSB, liferaft etc. The costs of many items don't vary that much with size within a range. Sure an extra gallon of antifoul is a couple of hundred but many costs are measured in thousands.
I think it is a compromise between seagoing capabilities, comfort and money and ability to do things yourself.
It depends on age number of people and the degree of discomfort they will put up with. Whatever your cruising aims you will spend far more time at anchor than making long passages. Comfort then is important.
There are boats with two quarter berths, but on passage one is fine and a midline berth is comfortable. You may also find a double has some merit but in the tropics could be too hot.
I suggest that you have to cater for those generally on board say two not a crowd, and you will end up using the v berth and possibly the quarter berth for storage. Both can be cramped anyway.
If you are younger poorer and more adventurous you can get away with a smaller boat. I suspect most would want 32 as a minimum and desirably 36-37.
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Old 14-04-2009, 18:52   #18
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We, with our dog, cruised for 3 years (lived aboard for 1 before leaving) on our 28' BCC (yes, bigger inside than many - the beam does it at 10.5) We are planning on leaving again in October with our 2 children, 8 and 10. Same boat. Is it a bit snug? I'd guess yes, but that isn't enough of a deterrent to keep us tied up to the dock. We can maintain her ourselves, know what she does and how she does it, and love the comfort factor. We sailed across the Atlantic on a friend's 56' Sundeer, and many times commented that we'd have preferred to be on our boat - speed notwithstanding.

I agree wholeheartedly on the idea that a small boat will require some compromises. Still, any boat at all will involve compromises.

Good luck - just get out there!

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Old 19-04-2009, 20:24   #19
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When did a 33 or 35 footer become a "small boat" ?
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Old 19-04-2009, 23:03   #20
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Originally Posted by Sailormann View Post
When did a 33 or 35 footer become a "small boat" ?
About 10 years ago, maybe more.
Boat sizes are getting much larger vey quickly, especially when it comes to long range cruisers.

It is really quite difficult to get a guage on whats 'average' but if you look at the ARC entry list its a start.

As kit expectations has gotten bigger it has forced boats size up, and the average cost per foot has dropped with mass production (Thanks Henry Ford).

Look at the Solar panel threads... That Kyocera 130 watt solar panel is Dimension (LWD): 56.1"x 25.7" x 1.4" (1425 mm x 652 mm x 36 mm)
Where do you put 2 of them on a 33 footer?

My fishing rod is 6 feet long. When I am in port do I have to sleep with it?

What was a luxury 10 years ago is getting to be 'average' now. Within 5 years I would think many voyagers would have a water maker... expensive, big, cumbersome and energy chewing, but great.

As the average boat gets bigger then the boats shorter than the median get reffered to as small. thats all.

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

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Old 20-04-2009, 01:05   #21
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You can cruise in just about any length - but! The longer you have to endure discomfort the greater the discomfort becomes. If you are going to cruise long term (live aboard) take into consideration that the boat is your home. It is not like going camping for a week or two so most people like to take some of those items that make life easier and more comfortable hence the need for more space. Some people do not have water makers but those who cruise in hot sticky climates usually like to have a shower at least once a day. Some think jumping over the side once a day is the way to go. These are the sort of questions you should ask yourself before deciding on a boat size that will fit both your pocket and expectations. In my personnal experience a water maker is not a big power drawer but yes it does use power just like a fridge but much less. I would not cruise without either but microwave, coffee machines, satellite phones, tv and airconditioners are not on my list of requirements others will differ. Going bare bones suites some and they love telling all that will listen how easy it is and how cheap it is etc. For me making it too uncomfortable would be the difference between cruising or not but that is my opinion only.
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Old 20-04-2009, 06:47   #22
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Another outlook


By now you have had lots of opinions expressed, and each of them seems right to its owner. So, rather than spouting yet another opinion, I'll just tell you our actual experience...

Ann and I started our full time cruising in 1986 in a 36 foot ex-IOR one-ton race boat. Cruised and lived aboard for 17 years, thought that the boat was comfortable and entirely adequate in size for the two of us. Loved her and the life she brought within our reach.

Around 2000, our circumstances had improved financially a bit, and we had 5 kids and 11 grandkids between us, all back in the States. We wanted to have room for them to visit, so we searched for three years, eventually finding Insatiable II, which is 46 feet long and around 3 times larger in terms of available volume. I-two is a great boat and we love her too. When we go to visit on our old boat, she seems horribly cramped and tiny! Same boat, but a different outlook...

So, my point is that you can adapt to just about any size of boat (or home for that matter), and then while you are in that phase of your life, it will seem "normal" and acceptable. As others have often noted, when you find the "right" boat, you will know it instinctively, boat lust will attack you, and you will bust your buns to make it happen.

It can be fun, but it may well take a long time!

Good luck
Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II, still hanging out in Port Cygnet. Summer was nice... it was on a Tuesday... and now winter has descended upon Tasmania. Brrr.
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Old 20-04-2009, 07:05   #23
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I have a 30 footer - easy to sail single handed now that I have set up the systems for it and the cockpit is relatively small. Friends have 33, 38 and 40 footers and there is certainly an improvement in the action at sea as the length (and displacement) increases but they all require crew for reefing, mainsheet handling and headsail trimming - all difficult to perform while steering because of their size but still quite easy on a 30 footer. The one thing I would like is the faster passage making offered by a larger boat.
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Old 20-04-2009, 09:51   #24
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Originally Posted by meyermm View Post
You can cruise in just about any length - but! The longer you have to endure discomfort the greater the discomfort becomes.
That's a very good point. I'll add that the discomfort as it relates to boat size can vary from person to person and the situation. When island cruising in pleasant weather, my living space may grow to include an entire islands and acres of snorkeling/swimming space. I need less of my boat.

Technology has provided an interesting interplay here as well. On the one had, a higher reliance on technology seems to go hand in hand with bigger boats and more space, but on the other other hand, my Ipod that fits in my pocket does more than a trunk full of stuff did only a few years ago.

I've spent 36 days sharing the space of a kayak with another person and had all the space I've needed. I've been snowed in a 1,200 ft. square space for three days on my own and felt so confined it nearly drove me crazy.
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Old 20-04-2009, 09:56   #25
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We have a Caliber 33 - Big enough to have a decent sized v berth and even a quarter berth that can be closed off - heavy enough to be OK offshore but small enough for two to handle easily, or one if necessary. It will even go up wind, unlike some of the heavier designs. You have to be clear on what you want. We originally looked at bigger boats but decided that it was more important to have money in the bank than more space for occasional visitors. We can still have visitors - but not more than two at a time. Besides, even though I love my family and friends, the list of people I want to have in my face 24 hours a day isnt very long. Renting a bungalow on the shore occasionally makes everyone happier (esp. my wife) and is much cheaper than a 40 ft. boat.
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Old 20-04-2009, 12:46   #26
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Had a great time in my 30 footer with two people. And no aching back from the sail size! It depends really on how many heads and beds you think you need, and how much stuff you "have" to carry. The bigger the boat the better sea motion as a generalizm. On the other hand, handling large sails in a strong blow is very challenging.. My driest boat (other than my cat) was my 30 footer. That's a design thing....
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Old 22-04-2009, 09:14   #27
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We livedon a Flicka 20 with our 2 dogs

We were very happy on our Flicka and now live on our Allegra 24 basically a big flicka still with our 2 dogs. We are very happy and have been doing this for years. We can go three months on the stores we carry. Would I like a larger boat? Sure but then I would have to work for a living. "buy small live large" Ali
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Old 22-04-2009, 09:33   #28
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Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
To me it comes down to how many crew you have.

A 36'er would be nice with two crew. If it's just you a well set up 27' might be the ticket.

By well set up I mean all lines set up to single hand with dodger, bimini and a good autopilot.
To me, a well set up boat for singlehanding also means a tiller, instead of a wheel (unless the boat is bigger than one that would be small enough to single hand for most competent sailors).

Among the advantages of a tiller:

1. far less complicated and subject to breakdown.
2. easier to steer when both hands are busy (just straddle it and steer with your legs)
3. unclutters the cockpit and makes it easier to move around.

I absolutely cringe whenever I see a boat smaller than 35 feet or so with a wheel.
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Old 22-04-2009, 11:24   #29
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I like tillers, but I dont know...... setting the wheel brake allows you to leave the cockpit entirely.... for a limited time! Of course you can tie the tiller, but the slightest movement in the tiller deflects the boat a lot more than the slightest movement in a wheel due to the ratio... All this doesnt mean I prefer smaller boats with wheel though. Nothing like a tiller going to weather...
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Old 22-04-2009, 12:52   #30
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I agree with boatyard pirates. Currently outfitting my Islander Bahama 24 for cruising. Got the sink/freshwater tank operating yesterday! No more buckets!
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