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post #16 of Old 07-11-2013
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Re: Cruising Worlds Top 40 Boats

I have copied the list of nominees from Cruising World's 40 best cruising boats of All Times(below) to keep people from having to search for it. To me this is one very strange list both for the boats included and those it does not include.

At some level, I can rationalize why most of these boats are on the list, while I am totally baffled by others. After all these are supposed to be the the 40 best cruising boats of all time. Two words jump out at me, 'best' and 'all time'. I find myself asking are these boats really the best 40 cruising boats of all time? Really?

When I work my way down the list there are quite a few boats which are charismatic and draw at the heart strings, which is not a bad thing, but this is not a beauty contest. Its a search for best cruising boats of all times and it seems to me that for a boat to be included on a list of 40 greatest cruising boats, it first and foremost must clear the hurdle of functionally being a great cruising boat.

To me the most critical piece of what makes a cruising boat 'great' is how it functions. The rest is icing on the cake. Cruising implies a certain minimuim level functional requirement, and even the accompanying article seems to suggest that Cruising World saw meeting a minimum functional requirement as being a part of the criteria.

To me, at a minimum, cruising boats need to provide shelter and house their crews; providing a reasonably minimumally a place to sleep, eat, navigate and vacate thier bowels. They need to carry adequate consumables and operating gear to sustain a voyage of some reasonable length. They need some degree of self-sufficiency.

They also need to be reasonably good sailing boats; able to sail well across a broad windrange, have a decent level of motion comfort, protect thier crews, offer safe cockpits and appropriate sail handling gear. Be robust enough to take whatever nature hands out.

So, if this is the 40 best of all times, why are there so many boats on this list that fail horribly at that minimum price of admission?

But beyond that, to be the best of anything, the candidates should be exceptional. Some of these are really crummy boats by any reasonable comparative standard. Why are they on any list of potential 'best of all times'.

With that all in mind, I cannot understand how boats like the Alberg 30, Alerion Express 28, Beneteau Sense 50, Columbia 50, Dufour Arpege 30, Hinckley Bermuda 40, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 43DS, Moore 24, Pearson Triton, Pearson Vanguard, Hunter 356 even ended up on this list.

Compared to all of the choices out there boats like the Alberg 30, Pearson Triton, Pearson Vanguard, while cheap to buy, and with care and the right skipper can be cruised, in any fair comparason these were not all that well constructed, do not sail all that well in light air and really beat up a crew in a breeze. If the magazine was looking for a well rounded small cruising design from the 1960's, why isn't the Morgan 24/25 or Tartan 27 on this list.

The Hinckley Bermuda 40 is a beautiful boat to look at, were well constructed, and are fun to sail if for no other reason that they are not a great sailing boat, but they are miserable as cruising boats being essentially submarines with a mast or two, short on carrying capacity and internal space, sail on their ear in enough breeze to get them moving, roll and pitch miserably and requires great skill and a lot of hard crew work to keep them safe in breeze.

While someone may chose to cruise any of these boats, given their limitations, are they really candidates for 'best of all time'.

Or how did something as unforgiving and squirelly to sail as the Dufour Arpege 30 make this list? Dufour has built some very nice boats, but this was not one of them.

The Moore 24 is a super little race boat, and a very cool design. I love these boats. But again, how did it show up on this list? If you wanted to include ultralight cruisers wouldn't something like the Express 27 or Laser 28 make more sense since they actually have something resembling cruising accommodations?

There are a cluster of interesting and decent production coastal cruisers on the list. Some of these are emblematic of a particular place and time, and some are good boats in their own right, but when I think about each I find myself asking what makes them exceptional enough to be on this list?

The polling at this point shows the Island Packet 38 as leading as the number 1 best of all time. To me this boat fails on the sailing ability characteristics being lousy in light air, corky in a rough stuff, and not great heavy air boats. They are good live aboards, they have benefitted from aggressive advertising, but are these really the best cruising boat of all times? If that is what the readers of Cruising World believe to be true, then I seriously question the criteria of these readers.

I need more time to finish my thoughts, but I am out of time.


Alberg 30
Alerion Express 28
Beneteau 423
Beneteau Sense 50
Bristol 40
C&C Landfall 38
Cal 40
Catalina 30
Contessa 26
Columbia 50
CSY 44
Dufour Arpege 30
Freedom 40
Gulfstar 50
Gozzard 36
Hallberg-Rassy 42
Hinckley Bermuda 40
Hunter 356
Hylas 49
Islander 36
Island Packet 38
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 43DS
Mason 43/44
Morgan Out Island 41
Moore 24
Morris 36
Nonsuch 30
Nor’Sea 27
Pacific Seacraft 37
Passport 40
Pearson Triton
Pearson Vanguard
Peterson 44
Sabre 36
Swan 44
Tartan 34
Tayana 37
Valiant 40
Westsail 32
Whitby 42

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