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jbosborn 23-03-2010 15:39

Seaworthy Pocket Cruiser - Advice ?
I am looking to buy a seaworthy, bluewater pocket cruiser (25-27 feet). No longer than 28. I might be doing lots of single-handling and I hope to sail around the world eventually on this boat. My comfort needs are low, but I want something safe.

As far as seaworthy goes, I recognize that no boat is perfectly safe and that almost any boat could cross the Pacific or Atlantic with enough luck. I just want to find a boat on the safer end of the spectrum.

Some boats on the market in my area (LA to Santa Barbara) are a '69 Ericson 26 (Crealock design), '79 Ericson 25, Coronado 25, '71 Columbia 26 MK II, Cape Dory 25, Islander Excalibur 26...

Your thoughts on these boats as well as other boats that I should keep my eyes open for?

- Jay

s/v Beth 23-03-2010 16:09

All boats are going to require a little work. Contessa is one that is a rock solid design- just plug the holes...

nautical62 23-03-2010 16:28

A few I'd add:

Noresea 27
Flicka and Dana by Pacific Seacraft (not cheap)
Westerly Centaur.
and Contessa as mentioned above.

I had a Centaur for 8 years and really enjoyed it. Built like a tank, 5-8 standing headroom, shallow draft and very economical at 26 feet. Took me to the Bahamas several times as well as Great Lakes. Several Centaurs have circumnavigated. Personally with the possible exception of the Allied boats, I'd want something a bit bigger to circumnavigate in.

boatman61 23-03-2010 16:32

Contessa 26, Hurley 27, Folkboat(grp), Bristol 26, GK 29, Sadler 25.... all but the Bristol are UK/europe so may be hard for you to find....:rolleyes:

s/v 'Faith' 23-03-2010 16:34

You will find a wide variety of 'opinions' on this question here. Keep in mind, some who will reply may sail large multi-hulls and would not consider anything less... and think you are crazy to.

Others will reply, with confidence and certainty... from salty places like Ohio, or South Dakota... having never even SEEN the ocean. (no slight intended to my fellows from those states).

Take ALL posts on this thread with a grain of salt... including my own.

I sail a Pearson Ariel. It is the 'Triton's little sister' and fits your size criterion at 25'8". It is a solid, full keel boat and probably as good as any for such a trip.

If you are interested in more info on my boat here is a link with some. Here is a link to the owners association.

I also have some experience with the Coronado 25, and would suggest you cross it off of your list. The high freeboard, weak rudder, and overall light construction do not (IMHO) lend themselves to a boat I would recommend taking off shore.

jbosborn 23-03-2010 17:16

I will keep an eye out for all these boats you are suggesting. Any opinions on these boats that are currently for sale in my area?

'69 Ericson 26 (Crealock design)
'79 Ericson 25
'66 Coronado 25 (thick hull)
'71 Columbia 26 MK II
Cape Dory 25
Islander Excalibur 26

jbosborn 23-03-2010 17:17

Okay. Scratch the Coronado 25. Thanks, Faith.

BubbleHeadMd 23-03-2010 18:05

I also own a Coronado 25 (fixed keel, not CB). I wouldn't call it's construction light. It's a pretty solid boat but I would still cross it off the list. It simply doesn't displace enough. Most of the other boats on your list have more keel and more ballast and are probably more stable.

As Faith said, my opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it. ;)

j3r3my 23-03-2010 18:15

Fisher 25
Fisher 25 - Ketch and Pilot house. Can use rudder or wheel. My dream boat.

CalebD 23-03-2010 18:36

Nor'sea 27'
Flicka or any Pacific Seacraft boats

Boats that are built as 'coastal cruisers' like the Tartan 27', the Cape Dories, Bristols etc can be modified to be blue water ready.
Heck, there is a guy who crossed the Atlantic and Med in his 19' day sailor.
Good luck. It is all about the compromises.

boatman61 23-03-2010 18:39


Originally Posted by j3r3my (Post 423543)
Fisher 25 - Ketch and Pilot house. Can use rudder or wheel. My dream boat.

From the looks of his list I'd think $30,000+ is a bit above budget Tartan 27 sailboat for sale in Maine

j3r3my 23-03-2010 18:42

Than I recommend a flicka. Reading a book currently from Charles Dewell who took his flicka to the south pacific, hawaii and back to Los Angelas. Also see :
South Pacific Adventure


Originally Posted by boatman61 (Post 423557)
From the looks of his list I'd think $30,000+ is a bit above budget Tartan 27 sailboat for sale in Maine

barnakiel 23-03-2010 19:36

A small boat is never safe. About comfort do not worry either - not much of it in this LOA range. We buy some safety with size - for a small boat the bad weather starts earlier than for her bigger sister. And F8 happens more often than F10.

There is plenty of choice and from the designs discussed above I would consider the small Contessa too - proven, well designed, repairable, sailable.

I also like the Vancouver 27 - not as swift as the Contessa 26 but with better interior, better storage space, the cutter rig and great build - IMHO - a great choice for a small boat to go on a long cruise.

I like the small Westsnail - tank, slow, but a great cruising boat and easy to sail. Even better interior space and volume than the Vancouver.

The PS boat I think is called an Orion. It is good too.

Avoid very-very classic boats - they may have bad LOA / LWL ratio - long overhands and too little space / volume in result.

Avoid ULDB and light boats - in this size they do not offer strength nor load carrying capability yet.

An ocean can be sailed in a tub too, but try to find something that fits your style and is easy for YOU to sail in.

You cannot build ocean crossing skills other than by crossing an ocean. But you can build sailing skills that will help you make safe crossings way before you cast off the lines. Do it.


roverhi 23-03-2010 19:41

I'd stay away from the Columbia 26. Lots of room for a 26' but that's the end of the pluses. Boat handling is extremely squirrely. In gusty winds with the main up, boat would stall out the rudder and go out of control. No directional stability which makes single handing a bit of a challenge. The construction isn't all that hot. I sailed mine to all the Islands in Hawaii, often into steep seas into the tradewinds. The boat pounded badly hard on the wind. I managed to break loose all the bulkheads except the stern bulkhead. With the pounding, the bulkhead tabbing wasn't able to handle the flexing.

clockwork orange 23-03-2010 22:54

Im going to suggest a boat that you likely have never seen recomended before,the Lindenberg 26, why? because it has a lot of good features and not many bad ones.
1/ it is huge,one of the biggest 26ft boats i have seen.
2/ 6ft headroom throughout the accomodation.
3/ awesome layout,similar to the Cape Dory 25D,no vee berth so the mast b/head moves foreward giving a main cabin that is longer from the companionway to the b/head than an Ericson 35 or J35.
4/ Huge quarter berths,36" wide at the top of the cushion and you can sit up under the deck even at the foot end.
5/ plenty of displacement, about the same as the Contessa or Albin Vega.
6/ Lots of freeboard,this is a good thing as when you are loaded down as a liveaboard it is not going to be awash like the Contessa and should be reasonably dry on deck.
7/ Good load carrying ability, lbs/inch immersion is 795lbs.
8/ High ballast/disp ratio of 50%.
9/Huge deck space,the sidedecks are 20" wide for the length of the trunk cabin and the foredeck is flush from the mast fwd,you could carry an 8ft dinghy on the foredeck.
10/ quite well built,foam cored hull above the waterline from the bow to about amidships where compound curvature takes over and it is solid glass from there back and below the waterline,this is engineering rather than the brute force and ignorance approach of many small offshore boats. Decks are foam cored also.
The chainplates bolt to a massive ,properly tabbed in fore and aft settee back 3/4" ply plus about 1/4" of glass,this is as strong as i have ever seen on anything under 40ft.All furniture is stout molded glass and well glassed in and the hull to deck joint is also glassed which is not common.
11/ This boat is fast, about,over a minute per mile faster than most other boats that always get recomended on these threads.
12/ Cheap and available,usually go for well under 10k,often under 5k.
Ok,thats a dozen good points so whats the bad, well,no bridge deck but then neither does the Contessa but folks always tend to ignore that for some reason, i think its dangerous and would need addressing. Fin keel and spade rudder but the keel is moderate and the rudder is huge and very well built,mine is a 1977 boat and the rudder is perfect and quite light,mind you,if i were to go long distance cruising i would change it out for a skeg rudder, i just like them better.Some people may not like the lack of any decent cockpit lockers but the area under the cockpit is easily accessed from inside.Lack of tankage.
All boats unless built specifically for long distance cruising will need a lot of mods to be suitable.

jbosborn 24-03-2010 08:23

What are some thoughts on the Ericsons as trans-oceanic vessels?

jbosborn 24-03-2010 08:32

Also, what about the Catalina 27?

cantxsailor 24-03-2010 09:00

Pacific Seacraft 25. Not a lot for comfort but not bad enough for me to sell mine. The boat is built like a tank and with carefully thought out layout. Double ended so good seakeeping. Short stout mast and heavy standing rigging. Tiller steered and diesel powered(mostly). Mine has been across the Pacific and back and survived being thrown ashore by a hurricane in Texas. I love my little boat but would trade her straight across for a Dana anytime...........m

boatman61 24-03-2010 09:21

Most boats are Ocean Crossing capable if reasonably well built... (many will disagree and quote their idea of the perfect boat)... just choose the right times of year, be prepared to reef down earlier than one might when going Coastal where potential rescuers are close at hand... skip the Macho ****... treat your boat with love and kindness.. don't push the limits.. as a matter of fact... don't even come close to them. Don't set a time schedule... your not on land.. there's different forces out there that you cannot beat.. only survive.
Make sure its got adequate clean water storage capability... that's more important than food... it'll keep you alive.
The next is water tightness.. nothing induces depression quicker than being cold and wet... outside it goes with the territory.. inside is another matter... wet bedding and clothes for days on end is a soul killer and they never really dry till they're soaked well in fresh water... so make sure any/all deck/portlight/hatches are leak-proofed.
Next is your buying technique... Personally I scan both sides of the Atlantic for possibles... save the pages to my comp.. then when the time comes.. calculate travel costs + asking price + boat budget to survive initially.. compare it to what I have then delete accordingly... weigh up remaining boats comparing equipment and storage capability.... delete some more.. then jump on a plane with a coupla bags.. fly to where the boat is, buy it and start traveling.
Now I'm a LOW BUDGET sailor.. my current boat cost me $3000, the one before $2500.. both took me across the Biscay, one did it in December.. not the best time of year but an awesome sail.. This is important if you want to sail sooner rather than later.. larger choice, often cheaper than where you live... and if your not fussy about which Ocean you start on... perfect.
Currently my 21ft boats up for sale.. if I get my price I'll fly to the US and pick up something between $4-7K that's seaworthy and livable on.. basics OK with me.. don't need the AC/Fridge etc.. I'm a 61 going on 16 sorta guy... camping is fun.. really...
Boats on my list on the east coast US are CD25, Tartan 27, Pearson 27, Maxi 27, Grampian 30... all under 7k, 70% 5k or under..
If I don't get my price I'll fly to the UK, get another cheapie a metre longer than this one and sail back down here where boats are more expensive... till I get enough to get me over there.. really fancy another winter in the Carib's.. and another West/East passage..
Some here will say the above's a recipe for suicide.. if that's true I'm a bloody bad chef.. aint got it right yet... lol.. but I've known bigger and better prepared boats founder through over confidence in sea's I've been passing through at the same time... the boat didn't let them down.. they let the boat down.
All round the World boats turn up abandoned.. no sign of crew... My motto is when the waters up to my knees and I'm standing on the 'button' (top of the mast), that's when I get off the boat.. boats are amazingly resilient if treated well..

DaveC 24-03-2010 09:29

A Westsail 28 if you can find one available.

Others off the top of my head:
Flicka 20
Dana 24
Cape Dory 28

matrix 24-03-2010 10:09

There is a Flicka 20 for sale on my dock in Southern California for 15k...they seem solid... I'd be all over it in a heartbeat if I had not just found a great pocket cruiser myself! :)

clockwork orange 24-03-2010 11:24

I dont know the older Ericsons but the Bruce King designed 27 and 29 are fairly decent boats,i dont think they have bridge decks and like all coastal cruisers would need the cockpit drains enlarged which may or may not be easily achievable depending on the location of the sole above the waterline,there are much better boats out there than the Cat 27 even though one has circumnavigated.

rtbates 24-03-2010 12:11

On the Cape Dory, be sure you look at the 25D, as in diesel. It's a totally different boat than the 25.

nigheandonn 24-03-2010 14:20

May people speak highly of the Albin Vega. As well as a specific model, I think you should focus on age and condition. You could end up with a boat with a good reputation which has not had sufficient TLC over the years.

You ar unlikely to end up with a boat like my own - a Van De Stadt Offshore 8 metre. I haven't crossed any oceans in her but all I have asked her to do so far she has done comfortably and safely. When the kids get older, I intend going further. You can read about our adventures so far in our blog link in my signature.
Someone said to me when buying

"Go for a boat which has been someone's pride and joy for years - they will have invested so much in their boat which will not be reflected in the asking price" - good advice.

Tony :)

barnakiel 24-03-2010 19:22

Flicka - too small (if she is 20 as the name suggests),
Albin - too voluminous cockpit, too low coamings (easy to get pooped),

Ericsons - I know a guy circumnavigated in a 9 meter one. But 9m is about 30'. Still, if the make a circumnavegable 30' they might have something just as good yet smaller.

Do check out the Vancouver and the Westsail.


dcstrng 25-03-2010 05:18


Originally Posted by jbosborn (Post 423459)
I am looking to buy a seaworthy, bluewater pocket cruiser (25-27 feet). No longer than 28...

- Jay

If you haven’t already, you might find it useful to grab a copy of Vigor’s; Twenty Small Boats… As voiced elsewhere, this is only one guy’s opinion, but he is one of the very few in print who countenances reality-sized boats for serious blue-water journeys. He does make specific recommendations; however, the meat of the book are his explanations as to why one craft or another. Also, his Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat is worth an afternoon of scanning, as you adjust and prepare whatever you acquire for longer-rang sailing… Some of his ideas are pretty good, although sailors being sailors, few will take another’s word for it lock-stock-n-barrel…

On my short list would be a Flicka (should a non-existent rich uncle will me a small fortune) or a Contessa 26 (which apparently has a few maintenance issues, but is…) renowned for its seakeeping ability… Nonetheless, I have what I have and despite some upkeep issues of its own, I love its sailing qualities and comfort (for this size), and have no ambition to change only to impove what I have… So almost any sensible vessel can make you content, with a modicum of effort and an open mind…

Good luck !! :)

DaveC 25-03-2010 07:38


Originally Posted by barnakiel (Post 425330)
Flicka - too small (if she is 20 as the name suggests),

Too small for what? Several have circumnavigated. Do you know anything about the Flicka 20? 6000lb, 6' headroom inside, full keel, inboard diesel, ruggedly built...

Take a peek:
Home of the Flicka 20 Sailboat

NormanMartin 25-03-2010 07:49

Take a look at the J28. I had one for ten years and loved sailing her. Very seaworthy and well built.

The book Kawabunga is an excellent treatise on small boat voyaging.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious: "it is not the ships but the sailors who man them."

Cyrus Safdari 25-03-2010 08:54

Contessa 26
Good luck finding a Contessa in the US!

How about a good old fashioned Triton?

boatman61 25-03-2010 09:42

1978 contessa contessa 26 sailboat for sale in Alabama under 10k

The other 5 Contessa's are over $13k

Randyonr3 25-03-2010 09:52

There's a project boat setting on the dock in front of my boat, its a ChoyLee offshore 31 that he's asking 2K for... probably take a hundred hours or so to bring it back to life and maybe another 5k in funds..
If your looking for a full keel, slow boat, could be a real deal...........

dcstrng 25-03-2010 10:09


Originally Posted by boatman61 (Post 425629)
under 10k...

Man, assuming the pictures aren't hiding something, that little gem has got some serious possibilities...

boatman61 25-03-2010 10:21

LOL... thats why its on my list of possibles.... if its still there when I've sold my boat and bits...
Buga.. now everyones looked at it it'll be gone in a heartbeat...:banghead:
Ah well... if it helps a kindred spirit....

Cyrus Safdari 25-03-2010 12:22


Originally Posted by boatman61 (Post 425629)

The other 5 Contessa's are over $13k

Multiple ads for the same boat. And outside of the US.

boatman61 25-03-2010 12:31


Originally Posted by Cyrus Safdari (Post 425725)
Multiple ads for the same boat. And outside of the US.

Oppps... sorry bout that... but figured a drive across the borders a bit like a drive up to Scotland...
working fast so did not spot the
Just saw Milton and Bayfield...
1978 Contessa Sail New and Used Boats for Sale -
but they are out there... MA is a US state... isn't it..?

boatman61 25-03-2010 12:39

Buga..wrong again.. just had a call from a friend who read the previous post of mine... easy to get out.. hard to get back in.... forget Scotland reference.... Sorry..:banghead:
This ones for US and Canada... dedicated to Contessa 26's

Cacique 25-03-2010 14:23

If you can find a Vancouver 27 I think this would suffice. My V27 circumnavigated 1990 to 1993 single handed. Caught in a bad storm two other bigger boats were dismasted Cacique was fine:). Make sure you get a windvane for ocean crossings.

Cyrus Safdari 25-03-2010 14:54

My biggest complaint about pocket-cruisers is the lack of an enclosed head in most.
Look, I love my fiance dearly...

But not that much.

Cyrus Safdari 25-03-2010 14:56


Originally Posted by boatman61 (Post 425734)
Buga..wrong again.. just had a call from a friend who read the previous post of mine... easy to get out.. hard to get back in.... forget Scotland reference.... Sorry..:banghead:
This ones for US and Canada...The Contessa Corner - A site for Contessa owners, sailors and dreamers. dedicated to Contessa 26's

Saw that but wonder how many of the boats are still really for sale. 800+ days on the market? I think it all boils down to 1 boat available in the US.

Curmudgeon 25-03-2010 16:18

LOL my boat (28.5 lod) was designed to do exactly what you want to do and would be perfect for you, except that she's probably too comfortable. Alas, she's not for sale.

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