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Old 04-15-2013
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Why a racer for cruising discussion...

We all have different opinions of what makes a good cruising boat. I get that. Believe me, Paulo's idea of what makes a good cruising boat, Jeff_h's, my dad's, and mine are three different animals altogether! I respect all of their opinions, but I have long tried to make a different case.

My question in what could be a very debated thread is why you would choose what I consider a race boat for cruising? I am sure to get the typical response of, "Because we appreciate being able to sail and appreciate sailing over creature comforts." I have heard some variation of that for years. But, for a fulltime cruising boat, do you really gain that much going to a racing boat for cruising?

First, lets define cruising. Cruising, in my opinion (and everyone gets their own), is fulltime, probably no house, everything in storage, I am going-going-going or living on the water for well over a year, and likely many years, if not permanently. I have to tell you that the difference between taking off for a few weeks or even a few months (both of which I have done) while still maintaining a residence is TOTALLY different than selling it all and sailing (which we do now). Why? Because when you sell it all and sail, you don't have the luxury of odd storage, a place to return to when the boat gets cramped, that (un)realistic knowledge in the back of your head that if your boat sinks, you will just have to move back to your house and deal with the insurance company. I think SSCA has a similar definition, which I agree with, but I guess everyone gets their own. What I don't think is cruising is taking off for a few weeks, maybe a few months, where the idiosyncracies of your boat can just be shrugged off until you get back home. That seems like vacationing to me.

Next, lets define racer/performance/HD. My idea of a performance boat is a boat that meets or slightly exceeds hull speed in normal wind conditions. These are the typical conditions a cruiser will set off in, not necessarily the conditions they will see. Lets say these conditions are 15-20 kts sustained. A boat that cannot reach hull speed at these numbers is what I would define as a HD (heavy displacement cruiser... though I can think of a few more metaphors!). A boat that goes well over hull speed in 15-20, or in less than 15 sustained, I would define as a racer. Again, these are all open to discussion. They are my loose definitions.

Now, I am not in any way suggesting that everyone needs to get a HD Cruiser for cruising (though an argument can be made for them), but why get a racer? The majority of these boats are generally narrow beams, light storage, very light tankage, and deep draft. Many have air draft over 65, cutting off any hope of the ICW, and I can even make a good argument that air and water drafts over ICW limits also cut off safety. The comment will come up as usual, "because we appreciate a performing boat over the creature comforts." Well, if you are cruising, is your boat really still a racer?

For example, my boat used to be a LOT faster than it is now. SHe loved to jump up and go, and now it takes pretty close to 20 to get her at hull speed or thereabouts. I have a LOT of stuff on my boat, and I have two kids. I will admit that without the kids, it would be easier to rearrange this stuff to make it more accommodating for speed. Heck, our cans and food would be cut over half! But does my boat really have that much stuff on it for a cruising boat? Solar? Gotta make power some way. Without solar you are doomed to make power with a generator and subsequently carry more gas and diesel at what can easily add up to more weight. Water jugs. A few diesel jugs. Lots of food. Lots of tools. Lots of spare parts. Life raft. Some books (more minimal now with kindle). Snorkel gear (though I carry dive gear too). Tender. TV. Guitar. Bike. Cart. Minimal documents (now have scanned in most). My boat is heavy. I could cut some stuff, but these all get used and make our boat our home.

So what do you cut? And more importantly, where do you put that stuff that you feel is essential on a race boat? Most of the cruising boats I see, which have lots of storage, still have stuff crammed in every corner and every spare inch. I am not going to say I couldn't get rid of some stuff, but our deal is that if we don't use it much, it is off the boat (spare parts and tools the exception). Lets see, just my tools take up a 30x30x60 area... and that does not even include all the spare parts! Pots and pans of various sizes, including vacuseal bags, flower, sugar, and other necessary items take up the exact same side across from it. Can goods and bottled water fill the bilge. Spare parts in the holds below the waterline. Everything heavy is low, light is high. Most everything on this boat is secured in a locker or behind strong fiddleboards.

So again, what do you cut on a race boat? Can you? Cabinetry is often at a minimum. If you do not cut much, is that boat still a race boat? My argument has long been that when cruising on one of these boats, the stuff that the HD or even performance boats can stowe safely below and in holds, you end up stuffing in every corner, above the waterline, and/or on deck. Whereas we can keep most of our stuff safely secured and below the waterline, you may not or your boat is sooo stuffed down below that you cannot move around. And if you stuff it above deck, is that boat still performing well? Is she still safe for cruising? Because if you put 5000 pounds of stuff on a boat that is 25,000 lbs, then you have altered its displacement by 17%. If you put that same 5000 lbs on a boat that displaces 15000 lbs, you have altered its displacement by 25%... or about 50% more. Not to mention, much of that stuff in my opinion will go above the waterline and on decks whereas other boats can keep it below.

Now, a 40 foot racer as a man cave, single guy, I get that. I don't agree with it, but I get it. Its just you. But can you and a spouse really make that work long term? With kids? And is your boat going to be safer than mine, or a HD cruiser, when you really load it up with what you will need to cruise with? My guess (GUESS) is that you have now really changed that boat and the very properties you came to admire it for are now lost upon your chosen lifestyle. I also guess (GUESS) that in reality, that boat is less safe than the typical HD or performance cruiser which has the ability to properly stowe items.

What are others opinions? Agree? Disagree? Why?

Brian
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