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Old 11-04-2021, 17:36   #1
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Power or Sail...can't decide

Hello, here's the scoop.

Family of 6. 4 Kid's 0-9 and a dog

We live on the North Chanel of Lake Huron - Beautiful cruising grounds

We love to spend time on the water. We currently have a 20' crestliner powerboat and spend many afternoons and occasionally overnight boating/camping trips.

We would like something that we can sleep on board and take further distances.

I enjoy sailing and have some experience with smaller craft. I would personally prefer a sailboat, yet have to take the whole family into mind.

Budget is 25-30k Canadian

This budget limits our sailboat size. If we get something in good shape max would probably be 32ish feet. This would be a little crowded for six people I think (although it's much bigger than a tent). Whereas a powerboat in this price range will afford a lot of room.

The kids are very active, no devices/screen time. The like to bring their kayaks, fishing poles, snorkel gear, etc.

So powerboat makes more sense for the family for the space and ease of use.
But they are loud, they pollute and cost a ton in fuel to go anywhere.

I think I'm a sailor at heart (I love sailboats) yet feel pulled to get a powerboat as the family would enjoy it more and it would be much easier on the adults.

I can't decide....help!
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Old 11-04-2021, 18:04   #2
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

Xanthan,
Welcome aboard!


First piece of budget advice: Don't focus solely on CapEx. The figure that governs success or failure is the total cost of ownership: price up front, plus initial repairs (every used boat needs repairs), plus marina, fuel, winterization, spring commissioning, insurance, etc. for X years, minus what you can sell it for after X years.


Powerboats can actually do fairly well on that metric, if they're designed for efficient cruising at displacement speeds and have good access to the engine. A fast planing hull with enough sleeping space for 2 adults and 4 kids is likely going to have a pair of 5 to 8 litre motors crammed in very tightly, which makes for expensive maintenance to go with the high fuel bills. They're often cheap to buy for a reason - people keep discovering what an expensive pain it is to keep them running.


Used sailboat prices in Ontario have gone up a fair bit in the last year. I think a lot of people are saying "well, if COVID is stopping us from travelling to Europe, maybe we'll just get a boat and sail here instead". 18 months ago, you would have had quite a few choices for sailboats like that at $25k CAD. Today, I don't see much. There's a Heritage 35 and an Aloha 34 in Toronto's brokerage listings right now..... in a normal year you'd have maybe 20 boats of that size at that price on the lower Great Lakes at any given time, but this year it's like a quarter of that.

Powerboat-wise, the pickings aren't much better. I do see a 1962 Chris-Craft Constellation 37 in Killarney that'll just barely fit under your budget, if you're willing to take on 50 year old wood. You can squeeze a Sea Ray 300 Sundancer in for under $30k, and there's a '92 model up in Toronto right now, but twin 4.3L V6s will rack up three-figure fuel bills with alarming regularity. At a glance, I don't see much else from the usual listing services that'll handle a family of 6 for multi-day cruises and still fit under your budget cap.

4 kids on a small sailboat is a lot. We take 2 kids under 6 on our 35-footer, which feels about right. Luckily, kids under 9 tend to fit OK in the miniature berths that powerboat builders like to include to pad the "Sleeps __" number on the brochures.


Have you thought about doing rentals / bareboat charters while you try to figure out what's right for you? That can make a lot of sense, the whole thing's a fixed operating expense with no CapEx and no long-term risk on your part. With the used boat market on the Great Lakes being somewhat overheated right now, I'd be reluctant to buy from *very* slim pickings at 20-40% more than was typical a couple of years ago.
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Old 11-04-2021, 18:56   #3
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

The only reason to have a sailboat is to sail. Weekends and cruising on a sailboat you are controlled by the wind. If you want ti go our and sail that mostly isn't a problem. But if you want to go “somewhere” it becomes a different thing, especially if you have limited time.
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Old 11-04-2021, 19:08   #4
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

sail is a better example for your children and their future.
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Old 12-04-2021, 01:20   #5
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

As someone running a yacht share programme told me a while ago, power boaters use their boat to get places and do stuff there, while sailors use their boat for the sake of hanging out on the boat. Which are you?
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:35   #6
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

The differences between power and sail are obvious and filled with the cliches you see above.

If the goal is to cram 6 people into a small space in different venues, buy a trailer.
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:59   #7
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

I will add this. Your average 35 foot cabin cruiser or trawler is going to have a heck of a lot more room inside for six people and pets, than your average 35 foot sailboat.

We had a 42 foot sailboat for years. Six people and a dog would have been a lot of people on an extended trip, but okay for a few days. Our present 42 cabin cruiser could handle that many people for as long as we felt like staying out.

Look at power and sail before you buy. But, our powerboats, have always been a lot more expensive to maintain than our sailboats, and at this point, in our 60ís, we have had a lot of both.

But, we always enjoyed both!
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Old 12-04-2021, 04:05   #8
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Xanthan.
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Old 12-04-2021, 04:41   #9
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

Kids will bunk into whatever space may be available and make do. And not actually think about it much.

There were 4 of us kids and a poodle in my family and we used go camping in one of those 17' trailers that you pull behind your car. I have no idea how we did it; we just did. The only memory I have about sharing space was my sister and I used to take turns on sleeping in the "outside" bunk in the trailer's loft.

Later, dad got rid of the camper and we had a series of boats and again, I have no memory of how we all stuffed ourselves into the small amount of space.

It was all so fun. We loved the adventure, the sailing, the exploring... The fact that it was so unlike our land-based lives, I suspect, is what made it so amazing.

You can see the effect of that experience in my profile bio, but suffice to say, 3 of the 4 of us have all maintained our connection to yachting and the sea and if land-based, all 4 of us still live within a mile or less of water...

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P.S. What Group 9 said:
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Look at power *and* sail before you buy. Our powerboats have always been a lot more expensive to maintain than our sailboats...
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Old 12-04-2021, 04:47   #10
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
The differences between power and sail are obvious and filled with the cliches you see above.

If the goal is to cram 6 people into a small space in different venues, buy a trailer.
And the cliche in the RV community is to drive a compact car to a hotel...though I do agree with the sentiment.

At 25-30k, you are going to get an older fixer upper boat if you are in the low to mid 30ft range.

As mentioned, you can easily be spending $5-10k/yr on maintenance, upkeep and storing the boat.

If you mostly have weekends, go power. At 20kts, an 80mile radius from your home port is very much viable. At 6kts, that drops to 24mile radius. Depending on where your home port is, a power boat gives you most of the North Channel and likely a good chunk of Georgian Bay and northern Lake Huron as weekend cruising grounds.

For shorter weekend trips, you can slow down and get close to sailboat fuel economy plus don't forget sails and all the do-dads that go with them are expensive.

It can certainly be done but you will need a plan to handle the kids. A 35ft boat is best handled with at least 2 people but 4 kids under 9 plus a dog are likely going to take the full attention of someone when docking, so you will need to plan out maneuvers and set rules (ie: do the kids and dog all go into a specified cabin during docking manuvers). In a few years when the oldest can take on a role (after being taught how to do it safely), the situation changes significantly.
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Old 12-04-2021, 05:22   #11
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xanthan Echo View Post
We live on the North Chanel of Lake Huron - Beautiful cruising grounds

We love to spend time on the water. We currently have a 20' crestliner powerboat and spend many afternoons and occasionally overnight boating/camping trips.

We would like something that we can sleep on board and take further distances.

Any chartering opportunities nearby?

And FWIW, fuel hasn't been our largest expense. Marine fees, insurance, upkeep, etc...

Any chartering opportunities nearby?

-Chris
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Old 12-04-2021, 05:39   #12
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pirate Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

Depends how 'Cheap' you are..
1/ Are you a Chill dude..
Go sail..
Or..

1/ Do you want 'Go Faster' Stripes..
2/ Do you want to avoid calloused hands..
3/ Do you live to a schedule..
4/ Do you hate tinkering..
Go power..
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Old 12-04-2021, 05:39   #13
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
...A 35ft boat is best handled with at least 2 people but 4 kids under 9 plus a dog are likely going to take the full attention of someone when docking, so you will need to plan out maneuvers and set rules (ie: do the kids and dog all go into a specified cabin during docking manuvers). In a few years when the oldest can take on a role (after being taught how to do it safely), the situation changes significantly.
Valhalla,

I'll respectfully disagree, as my sister and I (the older ones) both navigated and helmed from a very young age.

I remember standing watches, helming and piloting our boat in the ICW when I was 9-10-11. My sister would use the binoculars to pick out the channel markers, find them on the chart and keep track of our progress. (Again, we took turns.) This was all before modern electrics and GPS. Addition: Maybe even younger. I just sought out a pic of when we had our 30' boat. I think I was 7 yrs old then. So I was doing that helming and piloting at 7; my sister would have been 6.

As long as dad clearly instructs the crew, we all helped with docking. Of course, dad was much more concerned with one of us loosing a finger or something, so he was very emphatic that if the choice was smashing the boat or smooshing us - or a body part - ALWAYS let the boat smash.

It became a personal challenge to never let the boat smash. Sometimes if the kids are small, small kids stay on deck and throw lines to the 8 + 9-year olds who can leap onto the dock, but doubling up of hands seemed to work fine for us.

Also it became the coveted job: my brothers, who were younger, were eager to get bigger so they could graduate to the 'big kid' tasks...

LittleWing77

Remember: When docking, "slow is pro"!
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Old 12-04-2021, 05:58   #14
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

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Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
Valhalla,

I'll respectfully disagree, as my sister and I (the older ones) both navigated and helmed from a very young age.

I remember standing watches, helming and piloting our boat in the ICW when I was 9-10-11. My sister would use the binoculars to pick out the channel markers, find them on the chart and keep track of our progress. (Again, we took turns.) This was all before modern electrics and GPS. Addition: Maybe even younger. I just sought out a pic of when we had our 30' boat. I think I was 7 yrs old then. So I was doing that helming and piloting at 7; my sister would have been 6.

As long as dad clearly instructs the crew, we all helped with docking. Of course, dad was much more concerned with one of us loosing a finger or something, so he was very emphatic that if the choice was smashing the boat or smooshing us - or a body part - ALWAYS let the boat smash.

It became a personal challenge to never let the boat smash. Sometimes if the kids are small, small kids stay on deck and throw lines to the 8 + 9-year olds who can leap onto the dock, but doubling up of hands seemed to work fine for us.

Also it became the coveted job: my brothers, who were younger, were eager to get bigger so they could graduate to the 'big kid' tasks...

LittleWing77

Remember: When docking, "slow is pro"!
Out on open water, yes, it's much easier to incorporate them into running the boat. As you say watching for buoys or holding the wheel while under Dad's direct supervision is a great way to learn.

And as I suggested, in a few years, after they have gotten some experience, sure expand those duties. But I presume, with 4 under 9yrs old, they have 3 kids in the 2-7yr old range. While docking or under tense conditions, the kids need to be taught to stay in a safe place out of the way.

Not saying it can't be done but it takes a lot of thought and planning by the parents to do it safely. Certainly around docking maneuvers, it's very easy for a kid to get a leg or arm crushed by a big boat, so it's not something casually putting them on the bow with a line, is questionable.
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Old 12-04-2021, 09:00   #15
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Re: Power or Sail...can't decide

Thanks for the replies. While I do appreciate the extra speed therefore range provided by a powerboat, I'm leaning towards sail.

I also appreciate the comment about the environmental consideration. I don't think I would feel good about burning 100s of litres of fuel each trip.

Yes it will be crowded yet it's all relative. Attitude is everything.


Kids are much more capable (if allowed to be) then most people give them credit for. Our 9 and 6 year old routinely drive our 20' powerboat (under direct supervision of course) and can load/unload it from the trailer often without help.

I just hope we can find something suitable this season.
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