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Old 27-05-2023, 11:36   #1
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Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Hi all, after a long search for a cat to use as a family round-the-world cruiser with the intention to give us many many years of enjoying exploring the planet from the ocean-sides, we came down to Balance as the boat builder.

In terms of short-handed sailing (parents with teenage children) the Balance 526 will probably be easier to handle.
In terms of overall design - especially far more spacious and modern interior - as well as for hosting friends, family etc. - 580 seems like the perfect boat. But might be quite a challenge for a couple to handle alone. It is also not negligible to mention that 580 is cca $500k+ pricier

As we seem to be stuck in a pros-and-cons circle I wanted to reach out to get some more ideas on the matter. Any feedback from the more experiences cat sailors here would be very much appreciated!
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Old 27-05-2023, 12:03   #2
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Now that you have a sense of what is out there, go sail them and similar cats. A 58’ boat is big -very big. Sure, you’ll have more room, but you’ll have more windage when docking and maneuvering, the sails will be bigger, the forces on the lines exponentially increased, etc.
My 50’ (53 LOA) X5+ is plenty big for a couple to live on long term and has no issues with 6 people for months over long haul passages. I cannot imagine needed a 58’ personally.
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Old 27-05-2023, 12:27   #3
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Firstly I would just like to say that if I had the cash I would buy a Balance, excellent choice. I know the builders in St Francis bay and they are great guys who take pride in their yachts, the build quality is fantastic.

The 526 will definitely be big enough for your family. It will also be easier to handle and cheaper to maintain.

Good Luck.

Eugene.
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Old 27-05-2023, 12:55   #4
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Remember the square cube law. I lived with my wife and two kids on our 38ft cat for three years and never found it small - it was great.

Every time I think of a larger boat I think of the loads and expense required to sail one. The loads on cats (and all boats) go up, not linearly but with the cube of the length. This means that the difference in cost between say - a block or a side stay may not be the ratio (58-52)/58, but instead the same ratio cubed or even to the four.

(this is because weight goes up by the cube and rigging loads are displacement x 1/2 beam)

Whenever you are fighting your boat, getting it into a dock, getting it slipped, reefing a main, or paying for it, you will want it smaller. Many times you will want it bigger. Many people have far more money than me so they can go larger, but a smaller boat is often a better choice.

If you offered me a 45ft version of my boat in the same condition, I would refuse, I couldn't afford to run it and love the easier sailing of a smaller cat. But many others could run a larger boat.

cheers

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Old 27-05-2023, 13:00   #5
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Hey there, this is a subject I can provide some input on. I happen to be offshore as Iím typing this on one of the most recently launched 562 MkIIís. We did all the same research, considered all the same boats HH, Outremer, Privilege, Garcia, etc. in the end Balance was the clear choice for us, but I can understand why others would make a different decision. Our 526 splashes next fall, and we have sailed well over 3,000 miles aboard Balance cats and have visited the Nexus yard in St. Francis so feel free to DM me if you have specific questions.

What I think is that the 526 is the ideal size for a couple sailing shorthanded. For the 580, Iíd want a deck hand or a captain on the boat, it is significantly larger than the 526. Or if you are extremely experienced/expert type level then the 580 could be a great choice. I struggled briefly with the same idea of getting the larger boat, but maybe on the second lap around we will upgrade : )

Good luck with your choice, Balance wonít disappoint you!
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Old 27-05-2023, 23:33   #6
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

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Originally Posted by Kinkircating View Post
Hey there, this is a subject I can provide some input on. I happen to be offshore as Iím typing this on one of the most recently launched 562 MkIIís. We did all the same research, considered all the same boats HH, Outremer, Privilege, Garcia, etc. in the end Balance was the clear choice for us, but I can understand why others would make a different decision. Our 526 splashes next fall, and we have sailed well over 3,000 miles aboard Balance cats and have visited the Nexus yard in St. Francis so feel free to DM me if you have specific questions.

What I think is that the 526 is the ideal size for a couple sailing shorthanded. For the 580, Iíd want a deck hand or a captain on the boat, it is significantly larger than the 526. Or if you are extremely experienced/expert type level then the 580 could be a great choice. I struggled briefly with the same idea of getting the larger boat, but maybe on the second lap around we will upgrade : )

Good luck with your choice, Balance wonít disappoint you!
Hi @Kinkircating this is amazing to get some first-hand feedback like this. These are really difficult boats to find - in fact I wasn't able to find any Balance in charters in med or Caribbean... to be able to sail 3,000 miles on them in order to then make an informed decision is truly phenomenal.
Would you care to share some more on your learnings and experiences during these trips?
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Old 28-05-2023, 18:18   #7
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Quote:
Originally Posted by eneas View Post
Hi all, after a long search for a cat to use as a family round-the-world cruiser with the intention to give us many many years of enjoying exploring the planet from the ocean-sides, we came down to Balance as the boat builder.

In terms of short-handed sailing (parents with teenage children) the Balance 526 will probably be easier to handle.
In terms of overall design - especially far more spacious and modern interior - as well as for hosting friends, family etc. - 580 seems like the perfect boat. But might be quite a challenge for a couple to handle alone. It is also not negligible to mention that 580 is cca $500k+ pricier

As we seem to be stuck in a pros-and-cons circle I wanted to reach out to get some more ideas on the matter. Any feedback from the more experiences cat sailors here would be very much appreciated!
Eneas, I am sorry to respond when I don't qualify, not being a cat sailor, or a big boat sailor. But I have a lot of experience on many kinds and sizes of boats.

If you have a large and capable family crew a 50+ plus foot boat may be manageable. If every thing goes well it may be fine. But when things go wrong, it will quickly exceed your strengths and your abilities to cope with it.

When it is just you and your partner even when just docking your skill level, line handling strength and luck will be challenged. In my view you are betting that things will always go well (weather, equipment, etc).

I have friends who are superb sailors with years of experience, and they all acknowledge that as boats become bigger, the difficulties multiply, and the consequence on the crew, become grave.

Most of us would love the room and luxury of a 58 foot performance cat, but perhaps it needs a captain and a strong mate, full time.
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Old 29-05-2023, 11:18   #8
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Thank you @wingssail - these are all very valid points and very much aligned with our thoughts and worries/concerns.
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Old 29-05-2023, 11:42   #9
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

We were balance shopping at one point, but decided to stick with our boat. Was just hard to justify the price over what we already had.

After being on a couple of 526’s, we thought it might actually be too big for us. But then the 482 seemed not quite enough of an upgrade for our 43 ft cat. Goldilocks situation.

Either way they make great boats and I don’t think you could go wrong with the 526.
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Old 29-05-2023, 15:53   #10
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

The balance cats are nice boats.

We found a bigger boat was easier to handle then a smaller boat because it's simply more stable. We sail a 61', 65,000# boat with a 93' rig, it sails well and fast, is easy to handle and is docile when docking. YMMV

Not knowing your experience but if you've been around boats for a bit go sail some of the boats you're thinking about. Pull the sails up, reef it, park it in a tight spot, anchor it and see how you do.

If you're not an accomplished sailor it's probably not best to buy a 60' cat unless you plan on having a full time captain.

Good luck with your search.
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Old 29-05-2023, 23:16   #11
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

Did you consider Outremer (55)? More consistent build quality than balance, and stunning record of world cruising.
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Old 29-05-2023, 23:42   #12
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

while personally i cannot believe any couple really needs such large boats, a couple of thoughts ;

- in my experience larger boats are actually way easier to dock than smaller...but when world cruising you don't really dock that much

- facilities to dock and / or maintain large cats are scarce and get fewer and fewer as boats get bigger

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Old 30-05-2023, 05:48   #13
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

We did consider Outremer 55; very nice boat, but we find its build quality actually and materials used inferior to Balance; in the hulls, despite +3ft, there is considerably less space, and importantly, the helm station of Balance is just way better... more protected when rough, more comfy when pleasant; better line management, etc.
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Old 30-05-2023, 20:43   #14
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

If both boats are within your budget then it sounds like you prefer the larger one. While sailing offshore the larger cat will be just fine for a couple as long as the handling systems are set up for single handing. Sail conservatively to start with and let your experience build before starting to push the edges.

The biggest difference between the two cats will be docking. The higher the freeboard and the longer the hulls the more difficult it will be - windage, sight lines, accessing the dock or jetty. But you will get used to it and after a while will have worked out the tricks to make it easier. A bow thruster can really help.
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Old 31-05-2023, 06:32   #15
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Re: Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser

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Did you consider Outremer (55)? More consistent build quality than balance, and stunning record of world cruising.
Iíd have to disagree with this statement. Having spent appreciable time on both brands, there is a significant difference of the build quality and materials used on the 526 compared to the Outremer. Donít get me wrong, the Outremer is a great brand and phenomenal cat that we strongly considered, but itís a polyester gel coat production boat built in quantity, the Nexus yard only builds 3 of the full epoxy/carbon Balance 526ís a year and each one is bespoke customized to the individual owners desires.

The real advantage of the Outremer brand is their mature customer service network and pedigree of building high quality blue water cats for decades, I wouldnít hesitate to recommend this as your choice. Thereís a reason the Balance costs more and it is up to the buyer to determine if that extra cost is worth it to them and their mission with the boat. If you choose the Outremer, just be sure to ask them to put the displacement in the build contract.

Cheers!
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