Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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There are a lot people with the same dream out there. The current trend is toward larger boats than I would consider ideal. For the most part US distance cruising couples seem to prefer boats around 42 to 44 feet. I personally would prefer something smaller around 38 feet. While a lot of people have covered a lot of the world in 35 foot and smaller boats, I think 35 feet begins to press the envelope toward the small size.
The boats that you list (Hunters, Catalinas, Beneteau''s,and Gulfstar) build predominantly coastal cruisers. They are more optomised for the lighter winds and more protected conditions that are typically encountered in coastal cruising. They are really not designed with many of the critical features of a boat that I would consider "bluewater cruisers". That said each of these manufacturers have produced boats that make good passagemakers.
For example, both the Hunter 54 and Hunter 37 have made successful circumnavigations. I don''t know have any first hand knowledge of any heavy weather passages made in Catalinas of Beneteau, but Gulfstar 50''s have made very good passage makers.
When I think about passage makers for the kind of thing that you are contemplating I think of boats like the Valiant 40, Brewer 12.8, Whitby 42, Niagara 42, Ta Shing (Taswell, Norseman)43-44, the Peterson 44, J-44. This actually represents a pretty wide range of boat types and not everyone would agree that all of these should be here. If I was going to so what you want to do I would probably choose the J-44 but most people would not.