Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal, West Coast
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Some guys have said that they had learned something on this thread about boats. I am happy and proud with that.
Regarding that shared knowledge I have posted a generic post on another thread that I think can contribute to those global better view of cruising sailboats and I will post it here too:
Any sailing boat is also a sports machine unless you chose not to use it like that and stay in port when you can have fun with the boat.
Sailboats are slow if you compare them with a car and a car is slow if compared with an airplane but the sensations you can get on a sailboat are not with accordance with that slowness, the same way you can have much more vivid sensations in a car comparing with an airplane that is way faster.
Between sailboats a 1K difference is a lot and you can say that is nothing but that is not what is more important between a performance cruiser and a modern cruiser sailboat it is the sensation and precision you have at the wheel.
The sensation you got at the wheel of a light sports car has nothing to do with the sensation you have at the wheel of a modern turbo diesel sedan even if the two can go at the same speed in the straight line (and on the boats the performance one will be faster). While on the sports cars you put the car exactly where you want it with a minimum effort, on the Diesel sedan, is more or less. Of course, all that precision calls for an experienced driver to take advantage of it.
That's about the difference you have in what regards steering between a modern cruiser and a good performance cruiser. Now that the boats have a two wheel set up the differences are even more noticeable. The two wheel set up takes sensibility to the wheel and to compensate that there is needed a top ruder system, not only stronger but with a very low friction.
When you go out downwind at 10k (I hope it would be more in my next boat) with 25/30K wind surfing two meter waves that come slightly sideways you have about the same sensation at the wheel as when going fast on a twisting dirt road with a powerful car or bike: You have to have the wheel in constant motion to control the slides, you know, just like in a car, before it happens you have to compensate and before the slide finishes you have to have the wheel strait again.
The sensation you have in a boat on these conditions are not very different from the ones you have in a car going fast with the additional pleasure of controlling 8T with the tip of your fingers. I guess you will understand by this the importance of having a very sensitive steering.
The difference between a more sportive boat and a heavy boat here can be very important: While on this conditions a lighter sportive boat maintains a very light steering a heavy cruising boat can be hard on the wheel and what is a pleasure on a fast boat can turn up in a muscular tiring effort on a heavy boat, not to mention the much bigger control a sensitive wheel gives.
And if you think this are not very frequent conditions, well in what regards coastal cruising they are not but in what regards crossing oceans in the trade winds they are.
Another similarity I found is with my old racing dirt bike, I mean when you are powering upwind full sails on 18/20K wind. My boat could go at 7K sometimes jumping 3m waves crashing down and most of the time just breaking them, water flowing all around, in a very powerful and bumpy ride. The power that the boat is making on these conditions is huge and you can feel it at the wheel. Lots of work with the wheel to prevent the boat to slam and not to lose speed, keeping that power and speed up.
After some hours of this I was always amazed to find an intact interior. It is just wonderful that a cruising boat can take this kind of punishment without the interior coming apart.
A good cruising sailing boat is two things, a caravan and a sports machine. There are ones that are more a caravan others that are more a sports machine. For some sailors the sportive part is completely irrelevant, they only want a sea caravan, others only wanted fast cruising boats for racing.
For the ones that like sports and want also a sea caravan for the family the trick is too chose the right combination between interior space and sailing performance and regarding this you can be sure of one thing: The boat that you will see at the boat show with the bigger and nicer interior will not be the best sailing boat, specially in what concerns the space on the front cabin.
Last edited by PCP; 01-15-2012 at 12:41 PM.