Originally Posted by Vitesse473
A couple of things I'd personally steer clear of. The shoal draft keel and furling main will greatly hamper performance. I also think the shorter keel is a safety factor, as that will have an affect on the boats righting moment. The furling main has become very popular, but since I'm a racer gone (performance) cruiser, I prefer the full main for the extra sail area, and infinitely more tuning options. I also don't like the thought of the extra gear inside the mast, which adds weight aloft. All lead to performance degradation.
There's a Left Coast sailor for ya! I can't go with the deep draft on the east coast. Just not practical, and particularly not with the Bahamas in mind. The standard boat has a 5'9" fin, and we're just going to have to deal with that, if we choose this boat.
I am struggling much more with the mast furling issue. My gut reaction is to go with a traditional battened main, but my wife thinks I'm nuts. We don't race, or at least not seriously, so the performance degradation is not all that much of a concern to me (and this boat already is likely to be much faster than anything else we've owned). Likewise, most of the time I'm single handing with three other people on the boat (as my wife tends to our tots). The bigger issue is what to do if the sail jams halfway out? Can't furl it, can't drop it. That's my bigger concern. I've been doing research and asking questions, including of the folks at CW who reviewed the boat and gave it their BOTY award. The sense I'm getting is that furling mains have come a long way and it's not unlike furling jibs - initially, no one wanted them because they were viewed as unreliable, but now they are much better and no one really sails without them (Pardey-types aside). I'm being told by just about everyone who's using them that they work just fine, even in heavy air. Frankly, in Bermuda, there were many many boats with furling mains (not the racers of course, but perhaps even a majority of the cruisers who were there). Our current boat has a furling boom, and I actually love it, but of course, I still get to have a fully battened main with roach, and if in trouble I still can just blow the halyard and drop the sail to the deck.
Surprisingly, to me anyway, a traditional main now is more expensive than the in-mast furling unit. Still more research to do, but it's looking like if we buy just about any new boat, we'll need to address this issue, as they all come with furling mains and they charge you extra to go the other way.