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post #14 of Old 07-29-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Jeff & the group:

I agree with Jeff that this discussion about what kind of boat deserves to be called ''crusing compatible'' is an important one; we should probably all be over on the ''Cruising'' forum, which is my error and one I''ll further compound by adding a few more thoughts here.

First, I nominate Jeff to rewrite the Cape Fear 38 ad copy as he''s done a far, far more convincing job of earning the ''cruising/racing'' label for them than their web site. In fact, I still can''t find any evidence there even exists a ''cruising version'' at their site. I retain significant reservations about this boat being considered ''cruising capable'' (see why below...) but I haven''t seen the boat while Jeff has, and that leaves me at the edge of my ''response envelope'', so to speak. I''ll just add one further comment to illustrate my hesitation - in a cruising sense - about the design: However functional the cockpit is for racing, it appears to me to be the opposite of what a cruising couple would want. I recognize this was also one of Jeff''s reservations about the design, but I feel it more strongly. Rather than offering protection and supplementing the space allotted to the interior, it appears designed for rapid crew movement fore & aft, steals significant interior space and to my mind doesn''t seem to recognize that a crew would ever want protection. As for safety, unless my wife were very, very careful when in this cockpit offshore, I think she could be crippled if thrown off balance. Please understand, I''m not saying the cockpit is a ''bad design'', just that it reflects the racing heritage of the design and is dysfunctional in cruising terms. IMO it''s a good visible example of what happens when you seek to adapt a racing design to other functions...or perhaps I''m just over-sensitive, having learned over and over how important a functional, safe and comfortable cockpit is to a cruising crew.

The thrust of this later discussion is about ''cruising'' and what we mean by that label. To recap Jeff''s definition, accurately I hope, I hear him carving out two, somewhat distinct ''on the ends'' alternatives (marina hopping while ''weekending'' and sailing long distances in ocean waters while ''voyaging'' from a wide middle ground of ''cruising'' that could include the family 2-week vacation in coastal waters but also an offshore passage to ''Bermuda & the Bahamas''. We''re pretty close but don''t fully agree, as in my mind the ''voyaging'' aspect is not distinct from but really just a subset of that large ''cruising'' middle ground; here''s why: Voyaging implies longer durations but imposes few other requirements on a boat and its crew than cruising as we''ve defined it. At least if we really do mean by cruising: "capable of being handled *safely* in a self-sufficient manner in the range of conditions which at least coastal waters can present and while offering reasonable accommodation and services to the crew who are, after all, living aboard."

On Jeff''s hypothetical cruise to Bermuda and beyond, he''s going to be as conscientious about carrying important spares for his critical systems (few systems on boats are not critical when offshore) as a Pacific voyager. This is because of the long passage times and the remote nature of the vast majority of Bahamas islands, and because few things are worked as hard and relentlessly as boat systems while cruising. He''s going to have a windlass and lots of chain on his #1 rode for the same reason the 32 footer does (with whom Jeff compares the CF 38) - because you add crew, groceries, gear & spares, liquids and personal effects and you''ll end up with a 7-8 ton boat...and you can''t safely handle the anchor tackle in an anchorage gone sour with nothing but two human hands while shouting over your shoulder to the helmsperson. Because the pocketbook always intrudes on how we''d like to do things (and especially after we had to lay out the bucks this boat probably costs), the cook will be stocking up on canned goods, grains & pastas, seasonings and beverages, and a hundred other things before we left, because Bermuda costs are half again those of the local Walmart. (And the cook will also be trying to find enough places to put all these foodstuffs, in lockers that are quickly disappearing or in other areas from which these foodstuffs don''t get launched when offshore). The Bahamas islands that follow will only be able to add very little to the ship''s larder but whatever they have will cost dearly - even more incentive to load up before heading out, and to have a place to put it. Choices about everything from propane (2 bottles?) to chandelry bits will be weighed carefully, while the boat''s boot top disappears. Bermuda may only be 5-8 days away but a front could still rip thru on passage that will require sails capable of handling 40-50 kts of wind, more than some circumnavigators ever see. Do we carry a drogue in case we''re caught in the Gulf Stream? Where did we stow the wx fax paper? And so it goes...

To backtrack just a bit, many of the demands placed on a boat "only" doing coastal cruising can look quite similar. Oriental, NC sailors heading for holiday on the Outer Banks, Newport sailors planning to sail to Maine, Pac NW sailors heading for Desolation Sound and California sailors looking forward to tasting margaritas below the border all face many of the same logistics, safety, heavy weather and fix-it challenges that we''ve saddled Jeff''s family with as they visit Bermuda & the Bahamas - it''s just that the duration involved is less.

I recognize I''m assuming the best for Jeff''s hypothetical boat & cruise. If we were sitting around WHOOSH''s cockpit having this discussion, we no doubt could all offer some pretty funny but also sobering stories about boats that were being ''cruised'' to places or across waters they shouldn''t have been. It''s truly amazing, to me at least, with what some folks have managed to arrive in Paradise. But that''s not how we''ve chosen to define it and, in reality, we wouldn''t want Jeff''s wife or child to accept the risk and also fear that an inadequately built & prepped boat forces onto a crew when...ahem, here it comes...they are out there, ''cruising''.

Looks like I''ve got one more reason to attend the Annapolis show this Fall - to scope out the CF 38 and see just how well that windlass will fit. <g>

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