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Old 04-08-2009, 11:08   #1
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Help Refine My Purchase Criteria

Hi all,

I have been lurking for quite sometime now and my husband and I are starting to look for our cruising boat. I have already learned alot from reading posts on the site, so thanks all. At this point we are about 6 - 7 years from slipping the lines from the dock and getting out there. We are looking to purchase our boat in the next year or two for a couple of reasons:

1) What to pay it off before we leave, so we need to start the payment cycle now

2) Market seems pretty good right now

3) Want to become very familiar with the boat and slowly add appropriate equipment over time

So, where are we going you ask?
Caribbean for 1 - 3 years or so and then on through the panama canal and off to the South Pacific for a TBD timeframe

What are my criteria thus far in a boat, you ask?

Price Range 100 - 200K
Use Live aboard, cruise caribbean islands for 1 - 3 years, panama
canal and South Pacific for another 1 - 3 years
Length 35 - 45
Age I am comfortable with any age boat, condition and construction are
more important than specific age or era
Condition Excellent to Bristol, not a project boat, ok if it requires some
deferred maintanence
Underbody Modified full keel, cut-away full keel or modified fin keel with a
skeg-hung rudder or protected rudder. Not interested in boats with
a fin keel and a spade rudder. Draft shallow enough to explore
Material Fiberglass
Cockpit Prefer aft cockpit, but would not rule out a center cockpit if it were
the right boat. Must have combings of adequate height for
comfortable seating and benches of adequate length for lying down
in cockpit. Stern rail seats would be great
Rig/Sail plan Cutter rig, prefer without a ketch or yawl, but would not rule out a
ketch or yawl if placement of mizzen mast makes sense. I would
not consider a ketch or yawl on the lower end of the length
specified. I am indifferent about a furling main vs a standard main
with lazy jack or stackpack, either is fine. Roller furler on the head
sail a must. Roller furler on the staysail and self tacking staysail
would be great. All lines lead aft to manage sail plan from the
Construction/Design Prefer a boat with traditional lines and nice overhangs, love
wine glass transoms, however may have to compromise on
this to achieve 2 cabins Not interested in a boat with teak
Performance I am looking for a cruising boat, not a racing boat. It is important
that the boat have good sea motion and stable (i.e. no pounding)
with good both up wind and down wind performance Although I
realize that the type of underbody I am looking for will mean this
will not be an extremely fast boat, however it should not be a tub
Engine Accessibility to the engine for maintenance and repairs is
important. Ratio of HP to displacement should be close to 2 HP for
every 1,000 lbs of displacement. I don't want a boat that is
underpowered. Engine hours should not be excessive, low engine
hours would be great. Prefer an engine that has parts and
maintenance/repairs available in the state crusing area - Yanmar
Interior Minimum 2 cabins with at least one berth queen size or larger
One head - prefer separate shower stall or at minimum the ability to
pull a curtain around to not get entire head wet. Good sea berth in
salon. Galley small enough to brace yourself in a seaway but with
enough counter space to work without having to move to open the
frig. Generally, not too dark or broken up down below. Bright & airy
with adequate ventilation - one large hatch for each area and
dorades. Well laid out nav station is important, a place to sit down,
table large enough to handle charts, back or side area that can
handle the addition of electronics
Electronics Prefer minimum electronics on board and will plan to add these
closer to our cruising departure

Specific boats we have interest in:
Mason 44
Gozzard 44 ("A" layout only)
Island Packet 350, 38, 380, 40 and 420
Cheoy Lee
Little Harbor
Cabo Rico

Right now my biggest struggle seems to be with size, for many reasons that have been stated on this forum in other posts, I think I want to stay as small as possible and still feel comfortable and with the amenities that we are looking for and will enough storage. At this point, I am just not certain how small is too small. Island Packet 350 seems to be high on our list right now.

Also my next biggest struggle is between drop dead sexy traditional lines and practical modern interior. Love those sexy line boats that turn heads, however would like to find one that also comes with the practical modern interior.

Third struggle, performance. We keep coming back to Island Packets. I want a very stable boat that is comfortable in a seaway however I worry that a full keeled boat will not be fun to sail in lighter winds. Given how we intend to use the boat, would I be ok with the fuller keel boat in the trade wind areas?

Realize that buying a boat is a series of compromises and perhaps the 3 areas of where I struggle are ultimately the compromises that we will need to make.

Any insights you all have? Does our stated criteria make sense or am I missing something or being too anal.

Thanks in advance for what I am sure will be a good discussion.
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:15   #2
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Leaky Teakies seem to fall in the catagory for drop dead sexi, traditional lines with loads of room and aft/no cockpit, but of course they are slow to move in less wind.

Compromise is a well known word
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Old 04-08-2009, 14:10   #3
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Looks like you're off to a great start on your boat-hunting expedition!

I can give you some feedback on the Island Packet 380. We bought ours in 2002, and sailed it around the Chesapeake quite a bit, then offshore for the first time to Bermuda in 2003. Took her to the Caribbean twice, then back to the Bay once, through the Bahamas, and also from the Virgin Islands to Tampa Bay. All told about 15,000 nm in conditions from drifting on the glassy Chesapeake to a Force 9 storm in the Atlantic, and everything in between.

I consider the boat to be ideal for a couple, especially for Tradewinds sailing. The cutter rig is great for offshore and the Trades. All three sails are on furlers, so you can make small adjustments and keep the helm perfectly balanced. I had luff pads sewn in the 110% furling jib, so it stays flat even when rolled up most of the way. A triple reefed main, full staysail and the jib just overlapping the staystail works great on a close reach in 45 kts. She sails best at a 15* heel, so I trim for that.

For light air, I bought an asymmetric spinnaker in a sock. The boat doesn't sail very well off the wind in light air with the stock sails--that's really my only complaint about it. But the asym fixed that very nicely. The sock allows me to set it and douse it single-handed, with the autopilot steering. The rig, autopilot, and anchor windlass control in the cockpit make it an easy and safe boat to single-hand.

The quality of construction is great, and factory support is terrific whether you buy new or used. I can highly recommend the IP line.
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Old 04-08-2009, 14:35   #4
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I like the Island Packets too.

I was a little surprised to see Bob Perry's Tayana 37 and Valiant 40 missing from your list. I would also look at the Bayfields. I would try to find something where the teak decks have been replaced.

As for the Hinckley, I know it's a quality boat, but people are asking 150-200K for 40+ year old boats with teak decks and older electronics. It's pure snob appeal if you ask me. But I've never even been on a Hinckley, so folks should feel free to correct me.
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Old 04-08-2009, 15:34   #5
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I like the post and you have done some excellent thinking.

Have you been aboard any of the boats mentioned? I haven't except a few so I can't really comment on them.

I have a 36 which has a very large accommodation plan noted by almost every sailor who comes aboard. "This is only 36' it seems like 40 or more."

Point being, you need to really get into these boats to see how they are set up for living and sailing (life in a sea way on the tilt).

I will only mention a few area which I think are worth discussing but every feature is important and cannot be ignored.

Really shoal drafts are not that important unless you are going to be in very thin water lots of the time. This does not apply for virtually all of the windward and leeward islands.

Many ask for a separate shower especially in a one head plan. I don't have one but have found that our system works great and has some advantages. A separate shower gives up a volume of interior space which is used for 5 - 10 minutes a day. It does so by taking volume from other parts of the plan - a smaller head for example.

What I have found is that having the entire head as a shower means whenever we shower we wash the entire head and in 24 years have had no odors or mildew. We have a large hatch for ventilation of course and this means it dries out real fast. Our head is all teak - high gloss varnish - many coats and it looks perfectly new after 24 yrs including almost 4 yrs of live aboard cruising. We squeegie then wipe the surfaces a bit when we finish showering. Our shower is large compared to many stall showers, we can sit on the head and shower too, even in a seaway! The in head all in one shower may not seem like a good idea, but the architect of the Contest36 really proved this wrong. I now prefer it to a stall shower.

Next is a cockpit with wide flat benches which allows you to stretch out, or have a table to dine out. Ours has a bridgedeck which allows one to sit there under the dodger, protected, yet with good watch keeping visibility. It's a favorite spot for everyone underway. We have our instruments over the companionway on a dash and all controls in the combings to stbd and port in reach from the "catbird seat" on the bridge deck. Our benches are wide enough to sleep on perhaps for 3 people at once! Since you spend lots of time you want a cockpit that really works and that means large, dry, and secure. We have an attached swim ladder at the stern for dink boarding. You want to have an easy dinghy approach as well as you'll be getting on and off a lot when you live aboard.

Avoid mechanical props, more trouble than they are worth to a cruiser. A good prop which backs is essential for docking which is only topping up in many cases since you'll be anchored most of the time.
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Old 04-08-2009, 15:35   #6
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I've been on a Hinkley SW 40 and it's a terribly small accommodation plan for the money. Good build, sweet lines, sails wet.
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Old 04-08-2009, 15:40   #7
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I'd add the Kelly Peterson 44-46 to the list. A fine sailing boat though on the upper end of your size range. They've got some age related problems that have to be addressed if not already done but they are well documented. Good website help at Peterson Cutter Website - Welcome. Also the Alajuela 38, a very well constructed and performance optimized Atkins Ingrid. Most will be completely set up for long distance cruising so additonal expense would be a minimum.

Full keel boats aren't at their best light air but most will still sail with little breeze. They really come in to their own in the trades. These full keel boats aren't 'fun' to sail because they tend to be heavy displacement and directionally stable. Just the things you want for comfort and ease of handling but not for the 'fun' quotient. A steady 15 knot wind will drive them to hull speed and they are usually a joy to sail in those conditions. Did SoPac in a Westsail 32 and averaged 119nm day with almost no engine use so they will make good passages and carry a ton of detritus while doing it.

Peter O.
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Old 04-08-2009, 15:46   #8
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Most folks on this forum have seen my comments preferring 32-36 boats so I won't repeat it. Sail/line handling becomes just a bit more difficult for aging sailors in larger boats and there is the added cost and larger areas to maintain. I'd stay away from teak decks. Leaky teakies is an expression with a great deal of meaning. Although Cheoy Lees are truly beautiful vessels some had hardware issues. So look for a Cheoy Lee that's deck has been glassed and has had its hardware/rigging replaced lately.
Getting aboard these boats as has been already mention is the surest way of making a good decision. You'll know what compromises fit your personality.
Kind regards,
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Old 04-08-2009, 17:41   #9
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I'm on a similar course as you (5 year plan) and I have a Valiant. The 40 is alot different than a few of the boats brought up, but I it is my choice for offshore work. Make sure that you get some time on the boats in your short list- ie find an owner or charter. It is money well spent at this stage of your shopping.
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Old 04-08-2009, 17:46   #10
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IMHO one of the important things in a cruising boat is a nice easy motion. You don't want too much pitching or rolling, which can be a PITA hour after hour. And you don't want a boat that pounds, which fin keelers sometimes do.

Why are full keeled boats less "fun" to sail? You can come about, jibe and sail in circles just like a fin keeler, if that's what you want to do. In fact, it's more challenging to make good time upwind when your boat doesn't point as well. It's not like the difference between a Ferrari and a Winnebago.
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Old 04-08-2009, 20:50   #11
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Hi all, thanks for the replies. I guess perhaps the reason I am leaning toward Island Packets is because you tend to go with what you know and several of you have mentioned spending time on the boats. Some friends of ours purchased an Island Packet about 2 years ago and we sailed on the Chesapeake with them for a week prior to them shipping it back to Minnesota. Have also sailed with them here in Minnesota on it, one day in 30 knot winds, it was a fabulous sailing day for an Island Packet. Earlier this spring my husband and I toured the Island Packet factory and got to see the building process and construction methods. Hud, I appreciate your insights about the Island Packet. Can you tell me a bit more about maneuverability in docking? Do you find it difficult without a bow thruster in full keeled boat?

Curmudgeon, I guess those boats are missing from my list cuz I am not a big fan of canoe sterns, although I do like some of Bob Perry's designs. I guess my favorite Bob Perry design right now is the Nordic 40. I have been looking at the Bayfield’s and may add those to my list, designed by Ted Gozzard. Had the opportunity to see the Gozzard 44 MK II last fall at the Annapolis Boat Show and I really loved this boat, however my budget doesn't allow for the purchase of a new Gozzard 44 and there are very few Gozzard's on the market. I actually don't care for the salon forward version of the Gozzard 36's, the Gozzard 44 ("A" design) had a more traditional cabin layout and was beautiful. The Bayfield’s have alot of Gozzard characteristics with a really good layout for the size in a 40'.

As much as I love to look at Hinckley's, I am afraid that one will ultimately come off my list for many of the reasons mentioned. At the end of the day, it won't be a practical boat for the live ability that we are looking for.

Also had the opportunity to see the new Cherubini at the Annapolis boat show as well. This is one beautiful boat. If money were no object this is my dream boat. But unfortunately money is an sadly it's looking doubtful that one will stay on the list. Talked quite a bit with Dave Cherubini at the show, great guy.

So defjef, in response to your question, those are the ones on the listing that I have been aboard. Would love to try to get aboard as many more as possible. You gave me some food for thought on the separate shower idea and perhaps considering the merits of having the separate dedicated space. I think we agree on the topic of cockpit use and space. Although I should comment that neither I or my husband are taller than 5'4" so the length of the cockpit seats does not need to be excessive for us to comfortably lay there. So I am glad you mention a good approach for dinghy landing. Most of my experience on a boat and landing a dinghy has been on charter boats in the Caribbean. These boats, of course, usually have large swim platforms or sugar scoops that make landing a dinghy quite easy. What do others do when you don't have this type of transom? Tell me what type of transom you have and how you use your dinghy.

SkiprJohn, I think I read some of your posts on size with quite a bit of interest, so thanks for your insight. You caused me to look at what I was really getting between choosing a 35' boat and a much larger boat. Based on my criteria, I am starting to conclude that I can get what I want on a boat less than 40' and quite possibly at 35' boat. This will allow us to cruise much longer for our dollars.

So, on the topic of getting to see more of these boats, we have talked to a couple of brokers and have looked at a few boats this spring when we were in Florida on vacation. We don't have a "regular" broker that we are really working with at this point, although they are of course keeping in contact via email quite regularly. What is the best way to get to see more of these boats? Am I at the stage that I really need to commit to a broker and work with them to effectively see more of these boats? What are other ways of seeing them?

Roverhi, I was looking at the Kelly Peterson's just the other day and I do like most things about this boat. The one thing that I just can't get over about this boat is the separate companionway to the aft cabin. If it didn't have that feature, I think it would be on the list.

We have looked at Valiant's in the past, been aboard them at both the Chicago boat show and Annapolis. I like the layout down below, I think the 2 issues for me would be deciding if I like the canoe stern and sorting through the 40's that are known to have blister problems on hull numbers 116 - 250.

Looking forward to more comments and suggestions. Keep them coming.
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Old 04-08-2009, 21:34   #12
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Go with a modern design that is functional. Function over form (or the best compromise) is the best bet if you really will be sailing for 6 years. Pretty looks good at the dock and on the bay for a day sail, but utilitarian boats get it done day in and day out. All boats are a compromise. Talk to owners who have been at sea on the boats on your short list... your list needs to get shorter.
The designs you mention should keep you and your sailing partners safe, happy and comfortable. What boat is on the top of your sailing partners list? This should not be overlooked... lest you want to sail by yourself and be "one of those strange attention starved single sailors" that everyone else wishes to avoid like the plague. Get buy in now. Full time cruising is a couples game... if you want to play make sure your partner is "on board" with the decision.
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Old 04-08-2009, 21:40   #13
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Love the Valliant 42. Yes, can be slow underway and hard to maneuver in the marina especially in reverse, but a rock solid "worst case" scenario boat" built for tough going at sea.

KP 44 is sweet. Just add a sugar scoop transom or stern platform as many owners have and you have a great livable boat. Great cockpit to hang out and decent daily runs, much better than a Valliant 40 for speed on passage.
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Old 04-08-2009, 22:38   #14
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Is it possible to "arrange" a free boat?

Given that boats look (on a very rough rule of thumb) to cost 25% of their reasonable condition value each year, if you can hold your horses and wait until just before you go (putting all that lovely cash in the bank) then you could have 150% of the purchase price, plus your original dosh.

You should be able to charter every year in some nice locale with the 50% left over.
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Old 05-08-2009, 00:26   #15
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Ergonomics !

Great work “Sweetsailing” in putting together your purchase criteria.

To answer your question on ways to refine it, I would suggest you prepare a single page spreadsheet:

Generically listing on Rows every area and important components of each boat you are inspecting.

For Column headers….Use Personal evaluations like: First Impressions/ Quality / Ergonomics/ Management/Style/ “IT” factor/ Budget price…. Etc, etc…. to give each evaluation a weighted value (say 1 to 5 with 5 being best)

The reason I suggest this is that you will be looking at many, many boats over the next 2 years, learning all the design trade-offs, pros and cons and forming a very personal purchase criteria, so this inspection form, will help you to quantify differences.

Also for that reason, I think it is too early to allow a buyer’s broker to guide you as this initial learning process is too personal to be guided by an outsider, until you have formed your own agreed upon criteria.

One tip I would give you is to look and test very closely the “ergonomics” of a designer’s/builders solution, for the reality of a cruising liveaboard.

To me this is very telling about the amount of actual sailing experience and pre-thought they have given to the design.

A good design, generally leads to better builder’s execution, so simple ergonomics will prove a useful guideline

Best of Luck!
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