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Old 31-05-2008, 07:53   #1
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Best Cruising Boat for Couples

Is there a "preferred" style of long distance live aboard sailboat? Is a 40-foot ketch a better choice than a sloop? Are some sailboats in the 40-foot to 50 foot range easier to single-hand than others?
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Old 31-05-2008, 08:17   #2
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As many different boats satisfy as many different cruisers there are. Nearly any boat can be single-handed if set up properly. No one can give you the definitive answer, but......... you can take in tons of advice, and thoughts. BEST WISHES in sifting through the information, and WELCOME
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Old 31-05-2008, 09:02   #3
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"Preferred" Sailboats

Ahoy, Churchill:

You're going to receive plenty of opinions in answer to your questions. Fortunately, the world is awash in information to give you some idea of what type of boat would be best for you. If you jump in with both feet and do some definitive research of the history of sailboat design you will discover that sloops, ketches, yawls, cutters and schooners all work. Ease of sailing the various rig types depends on a host of factors ranging from deck layout of fairleads, blocks and winches, to total sail area and its distribution throughout the sail plan. The topics of best hull design, best sail rig, best anchor, etc., etc. are what keep the sailing magazines in business.

I think it's important to realize that there is no one perfect sailboat for solo sailors, couples, or families. At the top of the list for those living aboard their boats the year around, and those who are doing long-distance voyaging, is interior volume and layout. A 30-footer with a 10-foot beam is adequate for a single-hander, or a loving couple doing passage making, but for living aboard all the time for years at a time, something in the 37-40 foot range with an 11-foot to 13-foot beam would be better. Whether it is sloop, cutter or ketch rigged is less important. If a 50-footer's deck plan is laid out for single-handing, it will be just as easy to sail as a 30-footer. Handling the ground tackle for a 50-footer will pose a bigger challenge than sail handling.

When you consider that you are putting your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk when you go offshore, I believe the most important criteria in choosing a boat is its reputation for sea-keeping. I would look for those boats with the strongest and longest-running history of successful ocean voyaging across the world's oceans and around the major capes. There are thousands of boat designs, and tens upon tens of thousands of boats built, but relatively speaking, there are only a handful of designs that have met the challenges of the sea in any great numbers.

You want a boat that is sea-kindly, meaning it has a gentle motion and won't beat you up on a passage. With a balanced rig and the sails properly trimmed, the boat should sail herself with the helm lashed down. No autopilot should be required. That criteria alone eliminates 80 percent of the boats floating today. Investigate the reputation of the boat's builder and interview some sailors who have done offshore sailing in that boat. Over the last 4 decades or so of "plastic fantastic" fiberglass construction, there have been some real abominations cranked out by greed-driven builders. Their boats are cursed with everything from ballast keels that drop off and bulkheads that separate from the hull, to water pouring in through deck-to-hull joints, and pot metal fittings snapping off under load. Do your homework!

To protect your investment, buy a boat designed by a naval architect with world class reputation and built by a yard with a long history of superior quality. If you're a half-way decent sailor, and you buy a boat that is properly rigged, it won't make any difference whether the boat is a 30-foot sloop, or a 50-foot ketch, especially once you're offshore, trimmed down, and the next stop is 3,000 miles away.

Good luck to you,

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Old 31-05-2008, 09:45   #4
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thank you for that informative reply. The safety of my family is tantamount and I was wondering if you could supply me with, say, 1/2 dozen boat types that I could begin to research.
Thanks again,
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Old 31-05-2008, 10:35   #5
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What might be best is to ask what boat they have chosen and the whys behind it. your going to get a number of different people with different ideas.
I went with a middle weight performance cruiser, built as a racer in the mid 80s. the boat is 42 feet long with a beam od just under 14 feet. because it was designed as an open ocean racer, its capable of putting up with anything I would through at it.
A century ago, boats were built of wood and built heavy to achive the necessary strength for off-shore voyaging. along with long shallow keels which ment huge balast weights for the short arm between the center of floatation and the center of gravety.
Any weight above the center of floatation is bad weight which needs to be compensated for weight below. cruisers who in the past put to sea in heavy,
poorly performance vessels completed their voyages in spite of, rather than because of their vessels.
Yachts no longer have to be heavy. Modern materials and building methods backed by a vast increse in design knowledge have changed this, Today a cruising boat is far stronger, safer, and last longer than those built decades ago.
Excess weight detracts from performance which means longer passage time, poor windward ability, more water, more food and other stores, which in turn means more weight.. Add more sails to compensate and a heavier rig which means more weight aloft which means more weight below.
In a storm a heavy weight boat may be an advantage when broad sided by a wave BUT its a definate disadvantage when running before the wind as the stern will not lift so readily to the wave and pooping is a real danger. when rinning down the front of a wave, the bow will slow to rise in the trough which in really bad conditions, may result in pichpoling.
In grounding, a heaver weight boat will drive harder upon and will be harder to break free, by kedging off or being towed. Anchoring systems must also be larger,and engines larger.
I wouldnt look for a "light weight" boat but rather a midle weight..
Maybe a 35 footer in the 11,000 to 16,000 lbs.....40 footer range between 15,000 and 22,000lbs ....and a 45 footer between 20,000 and 30,000 lbs..
Our is a 42 foot and dry weight across the scale weighed in around 24,000lbs
but now that we've moved aboard I figure we've added another 3,000 lbs. It responds well, easy to sail, easy to reef, holds a forsaile and staysail and can be managed by one person without a problem. Its a joy to sail and becomes more stable as the wind picks up. Points like a hound dog and runs like she was on tracks.
Inside it comfy with lot of room to streach out, The galley is very large for living aboard and the wife has just turned the quarter berth into a pantry.
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Old 31-05-2008, 10:41   #6
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Oh that's an easy answer. A catamaran. You have "his" and "hers" hulls.

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Old 31-05-2008, 11:53   #7
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"Preferred Boat"

Ahoy, Churchill:

I was afraid you might ask that. As you can see from the post by Randyonr3, you have opened a real Pandora's box. There will be no end to people trying to tell you what constitutes the "best" boat.

And I am as opinionated as any other sailor when comes to what makes for the ideal boat. I am essentially a solo sailor, and only occasionally have one or two persons on board for very short periods of time. At one time, I owned a 73-foot gaff-main, Marconi mizzen ketch, and later, a 65-foot masthead cutter. But I was making a living with them in the charter trade. My first boat was a Dutch-built 35-foot sloop, built of strip-planked/edge-nailed teak riveted to steel frames. I lived and traveled year round on her with my mate and daughter. There's a big difference between a 73-footer setting 2,000 sq.ft. of sail in her four working lowers, and a 35 footer with a jib and main sail of less than 600 sq.ft. And I have owned 3 other bluewater cruisers of varying dimensions and sailing rigs. The point here is that you want to choose a boat that fits your particular intended usage.

May I suggest that rather than taking a look at a half-dozen particular sailboats, that you take a look at the work of a dozen designers? That way you get an appreciation of the designers' approach to the needs of each of their clients. I, for one, would never sacrifice sea-keeping qualities and sea-kindliness for speed. The most important thing is to be aboard a vessel that has proven it can stand up to the unexpected severities of long-distance voyaging. If a boat can not be relied upon to stay afloat, then its speed performance is irrelevant. I don't know about you, but I cannot imagine owing an ugly boat. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, they say, so what constitutes a gorgeous boat depends on whether the sailor likes the classic look with plunging sheer and a bowsprit or clipper bow, or a spoon bow with the flatter sheer of modern designs.

Depending upon whether you're inclined to buy a boat built of wood, steel, aluminum or plastic, the "best" designers and builders will vary accordingly. In wood and plastic, some name designers to consider are John Alden, William Atkin, Al Mason, William Garden, Sam Crocker and Bruce Bingham. In steel and aluminum, Charles Wittholz, Merritt Walter, Alan Pape, and the Australian, Denis Ganley. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, it is representative of the designers who have drawn boats that appeal to my eye and have gone on to be successful cruisers.

Hope this has helped.

Best regards,

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Old 31-05-2008, 14:24   #8
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Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
Is a 40-foot ketch a better choice than a sloop?
Before this boat I owned a sloop, and then a ketch. They each have their pros and cons, which are constantly debated and most people prefer whatever they happen to have. Having had experience with both, when we went boat hunting this time, I decided that I just don't care which type of rig the boat has. Too many other more important things to consider, I wouldn't be swayed one way or the other by the type of rig. IMHO, the condition of the rig and consequential expense of rerigging is more important than the type.
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Old 31-05-2008, 17:40   #9
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Yes, there is such a thing as a perfect liveaboard, long distance sailboat. It's my boat!
You can buy her if you don't mind picking her up in Australia later this year, or I'll be happy to deliver her to you for a reasonable price.
s/y Arabella

She's a very comfortable offshore passage-maker all set up and ready to keep going.


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Old 31-05-2008, 18:49   #10
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Are some sailboats in the 40-foot to 50 foot range easier to single-hand than others?
I'm afraid the answer is the the boat is about you and not the other way around. If you were an expert sailor you would already know. If you have only a limited experience then they all are a challenge. The boat like a tailored suit that needs to fit the people not the other way around. As a sailor you may not really know what kind and size you are and it isn't that you picked the wrong boat or failed to ask the right question. Picking boats it seems new sailors seem to worry that they will pick the wrong boat and if they only asked they would get the "right one". Please consider yourself better than that.

Boats that works - work. You can hear a lot of stories about people that pick this boat or that boat and it was PERFECT! But the truth is it was right for them. No one knows what is right for you. No one picked a boat because it was the best boat for everyone.

To some extent you can grow into a boat and to some extent people can steer you clear of a bad boat or a bad idea but your budget and your trip and not someone else's is what is at stake. You need to find your own boat that is for you. 90% of it is being on a boat and just knowing it's the one. I spoke with a man that had a lot of money and he researched it for years. He walked on a boat with his wife and they were both as sure as each other that it was the right choice. They approached the situation for opposite sides and found the right choice - for them.

It is not about ratios or formulas or this brand or another type. The right boat is all about YOU - not the boat. Why should it be anything else? If you can explore the sailor inside you then you can't help but find the right boat and you will be absolutely sure of it or it's the wrong boat. Do not accept any other. It works that way no matter who you are. You have to be present to win. You have to search for it to find it. The best way is to sail something and feel you have learned something. Repeat as required.
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Old 31-05-2008, 19:02   #11
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Thank you Pblais,
You have very eloquently summed our our earlier dinner table conversation. While I espoused formulas and ratios from previous threads my wife simply stated that she'll just know the right boat when we find it. How can I argue against such logic. Thank you for your input into such a personal subject.
Best regards,
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Old 31-05-2008, 19:10   #12
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While I espoused formulas and ratios from previous threads my wife simply stated that she'll just know the right boat when we find it.
We had another thread and the rule is it's Ok if you like the boat too but it's not required. Do the math.
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Old 31-05-2008, 22:53   #13
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We went for a ketch because I though the sails maybe easier to handle. I do say they are. I struggle enough as it is with handling the big Genoa and it isn't as big as many of the sloops/cutters big sails. It's not hard raising and lowering. That part I don't think is an issue. It is taking them on and off the boat. Plus the mizzin is a simple quick sail to raise and lower. The Genoa is a piece of cake to furl in and out. The furler is the best thing we put on the boat. The auto Pilot is not essential, but is a wonderful help to steer the boat when we are packing sails and other on deck tasks. We are going to start some longer distance sailing this next season and I think the Pilot will be a great help when we have to go foward an reef etc, while the other is below resting.

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Old 01-06-2008, 11:25   #14
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A couple of questions you should also ask yourself is/are
1. Where will you be sailing? If you limit yourself to one region, you will find certain boats a better fit to the locale.
2. Will you be living aboard permanently or just for vacations? Your space, size storage expectations will be much different.
3. How do you want to sail? Go fast or go comfortable? A heavier boat will ride smoother, but a lighter boat will go faster (is the destination the point or the trip?)
I've done some research on this topic myself and have learned alot of what is said here already the right boat will be right for you.
"I am the Master of my Fate,
I am the Captain of my Soul."
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Old 24-07-2012, 15:20   #15
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Re: Best Cruising Boat for Couples

It is real fun to sail away; the problem is to get back in one piece.
Older yachts are better built to handle the hardships, i.e. rough hobby-horsing. Breakers are something quite different. I have seen the English Channel in full gale, and it was not a pretty sight.
In order to find a yacht, that I think I can handle, there are figures that need to be explained in order to find the correct yacht for a transatlantic crossing for example.
I have been thinking about this for a long time. I’m soon to retire and the need for a good sailing yacht is imminent.
How much can a person handle on a heaving deck? I had this in mind when I made my plans.
Scandinavian double ender. Ketch rigged cutter, Masts standing on deck.
Dry weight max. 33.000 lbs.
Full keel, 45-50 percent of the deadweight.
Balanced rudder protected from any damages from “fish”.
Beam: max 13 feet.
Engine Power 6 HP per ton. A good old English rule. Propeller with 3-4 reversible blades.
Balanced rudder will improve mooring and normal steering.
The yacht must be able to go away from a leeward coast in bad weather carrying adapted sail area.
The reefs should be placed so that the boat balances without mainsail. Staysail and mizzen.
Enough space for fresh water –diesel- septic tanks with correct size and placed correctly.
I would not recommend plastic tubes or plastic tanks all due to smell. GRP will not hold the diesel.
Enough space for refrigerator and freezer.
No propane on board, I would prefer kerosene. Hulls moves to much.
Full lightning protection.
Shower Stall and head separated.
All sail handling should be done from cockpit. All sails roller reefed.
Means to charge batteries. 1 start, three for normal usage, make a power budget.
Make sure you can load into the batteries 10 percent of the total amp. All the time, incl. normal usage.
Batteries should be placed to make a counter weight to pantry.
Self-steering that isn’t dependent of electric power.
Strobe light in the mast top.
Generator (sep.) should power winches incl. anchor and fresh water manufacturing, as well.
No solar cells on deck they are too slippery.
Avoid teak deck, old teak deck is not fun to deal with. There are non-slippery substitutes.
Security ladder is to be added on this list. A ladder that is so long, and so strong, that you can get on board, in spite of tree knots of speed and whet weather gear">foul weather gear, weighing 250 lbs. When did you swim fully dressed?
Take a forty feet long rope and place it between two trees, in one end you place a scale. Then you pull as hard as you can, and find out how much power you represent as far as the security lines fastenings are concerned. If not, run into the line, and let the line stop you… You now have to make some reinforcements, because you should absolutely not, be able to find yourself outside the yacht.
Good luck to both of us.
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