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post #4 of Old 09-10-2004
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Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat

Stede, FWIW I find the views of the ''cruising couples'' reported on by CW to reflect CW''s limited exposure to the real cruising world and their tendency to offer bite-sized chewable articles rather than dig in deep. I also suspect these couples are typical of the Caribbean cruising contigent one finds down in the Eastern Chain (for a while, until they have ''done their thing'' and gone home to swap boat for RV), with relatively high net worth and limited world cruising experience. It doesn''t mean their views are not worth considering...but it does suggest they represent only one view and a limited one at that.

"Comfortable length (in feet) - 35 to 55"
There is nothing comfortable about handling a 40-55 footer in crosswinds in crowded basins or when backing to a quay wall and Med Mooring. Oh, it''s comfortable to slip into a nice captain''s chain in a large main salon or to have room for the washer-dryer (until you have to fix it) but, other than the few percent of use when a boat is off soundings, much more comfort can be found in medium sized boats as e.g. handling the anchor gear on a 35 footer rather than a 45 footer.

"Five in six crews chose cutters, with one choosing a ketch..."
No doubt driven by the fact they are all thinking of fairly large sail areas while sailing short-handed. A simple, easy to maintain, less expensive to operate, perhaps fractional, sloop rig (perhaps with a removeable solent stay for the heavy weather foresail) would be easier to live with and better performing, if only they would halve the displacement of the boat.

"Ideal underbody - Five of the six crews preferred full or modified full keels, with one crew choosing a modified fin..."
Very conventional thinking...for the 80''s. Three things typically drive the desire for these larger volume hull shapes (and their drag, and their weight, and their cost): room for lots of systems, tankage, and load carrying capability. The first is solely a function of the degree to which the crew wants shoreside amenities and toys; it''s not about cruising requirements but lifestyle preferences. The last two are driven by the usually-mythical desire to own a boat that ''I can take anywhere'' - the classic Pacific Crossing - while in reality perhaps 300 boats a year make that run. For North American, Caribbean, Mediteranean, and N European cruising, where far more cruising is actually done, water can be secured almost everywhere (and supplemented with a water maker if one simply must have that system), and food (including fresh food) is easily obtained.

So one wonders...for the 120,000 subscribers to CW, how many of them truly have the requirements described by these 6 couples? Or said differently, how many of these 6 couples actually will find their own expressed preferences ''ideal'' in their own future cruising?

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