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post #5 of Old 02-01-2004
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cruiser vs live-a-board

A big missing piece in this fictional but functional ''cruiser vs. livaboard'' characterization is clarifying just what is meant by ''cruising''. While there are large regional differences in weather, living aboard nevertheless remains a fairly clear, constant picture in all our minds: one is aboard and afloat, suffers small spaces but hopefully offsetting positives in lifestyle, environs and perhaps that ''interim'' stage (if only a dream) between the 8-5 Rut and shoving off for good.

OTOH ''Cruising'', it seems to me, has been watered down to such an extent now that it''s meaningless when used as a modifier when discussing boats. (Did anyone else wince at the types of boats CW was featuring in their cover article on small cruising sailboats a few months ago? Apparently, a horizontal surface on which one can lie or place a camping stove makes a boat into a coastal cruiser).

If we use Jeff''s description as a template, it seems to me it fits more or less accurately depending on what definition of cruising we choose to use. E.g. one is truly labeled a seasoned cruiser who wanders up and down the ICW several times, perhaps at some point carefully loping 90 NM across to the Abacos (altho'' this may be trumpeted as "We were in the Caribbean this last winter..."). There are not many folks around my hometown who would hesitate to label that boat''s crew as cruising sailors, but in truth much of the Liveaboard side of Jeff''s template could be quite suitable for that kind of cruising (nor am I suggesting there is anythng wrong with it). In fact, 35-45'' trawlers - hardly seagoing vessels by and large and very much fitting within the Liveaboard category as Jeff describes it - manage in small numbers to occasionally find their way as far south as Trinidad or up the Rio Dulce. They do this mostly by moving in the weak seasons (late Spring and early Fall), smelling few roses, and tolerating lots of rolling.

So as much as Jeff''s template does an excellent job of laying out the continuum and differentiating between two conceptually different types of boats, much (I would claim ''most'') cruising falls into a more modest, compromise category...which, I believe, explains why there is such a huge market for compromise boats that offer liveable quarters and get away with claiming to be cruising capable.

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