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Old 01-29-2012
tankersteve tankersteve is offline
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Planning for family cruise - looking for options

Hi, been an avid reader for awhile, but now getting closer to some decisions. I am looking for different boats to consider on a 2-year Caribbean sail.

We are a family of 4 with plans (approved by my significant other) to go cruising in the caribbean. I am retiring in approximately 5 years and would like to do this cruise before our eldest daughter enters high school. Our daughters will be 7 and 12 years then.

We will be in our early/mid 40s. Right now, wife and I have attended ASA 101 and 103 and plan to do 104 in the future. My father has a 34-foot boat on Lake Erie that we have plans to sail on this summer. We also intend to rent some Colgate 26s locally and sail on some weekends. We hopefully will be able to charter in Florida in the near future.

In 2 1/2 years or so, we will move (military) and hope to be on the Chesapeake . The plan then is to buy a 30-something boat to continue to build our experience level. Sail it for 2-3 years, with evening beer-can races, long weekend overnights, and summertime week-long vacations. All of this will likely be in the bay.

At that point, we will buy a boat to actually sail on for the next 2 years. We intend to island-hop and limit the long passages. We are not looking to go to Bermuda. We intend to be patient, wait for good weather windows, and take our time. Hopefully, 3-4 days would be a long passage.

So the question becomes, what boat? The requirements:

- Sturdy enough. We are not crossing the pond. I don't think I need a Valiant or HR or even Tartan. I am not thinking MacGregor but I am trying to be realistic about price/build/quality.

- 3 separate sleeping cabins - I'll have teenaged daughters and this will help seal the deal. We could work with 2 cabins if the one had separate bunks. I kind of liked how Southerly had the overlapping V-births. I just wish I could afford one...

- A decent galley and stowage space. As we will be island hopping, we don't think we will need a year's worth of parts and canned goods.

- Shoal draft, max 5 foot. Bahamas will be prime sailing ground.

- Used is assumed - I rarely buy anything new that doesn't appreciate in value. I was thinking of a price range around $150k with an additional $30-40k for the refit. Obviously, there will be a possible trade-off between more recent, needing less work but costing more, and 15-20 years old, requiring more work, but costing less (and taking longer to get ready).

- A real plus is ease of maintenance or factory support and readily available spares. I am willing to take some time in refitting our purchase. I don't want to spend 2 years.

Right now, I am leaning toward a Catalina 42 with the shoal draft, pullman and 3-cabins. Some pluses and minuses:

+ Plenty available and at good price points. Seem to stabilize in value.
+ Decent quality reputation - not a Sabre, but will work for what we are doing. Factory support seems very good, with some outlying experiences.
+ Forward cabin and head seem optimal for the size.

- Galley layout not optimal and storage limited.
- Tankage limited.

My thoughts are that I could add tankage (Cat 42 Owner's Group had folks adding over 100 gallons!) and perhaps create some long-term yet temp storage in the twin aft cabins.

I have sailed on some Beneteaus but wasn't overly impressed with the systems. Note that these were not the 'First' series, which I have ruled out due to deeper draft. But I would love to hear some various opinions.

I am interested in different info on Benes, Juneaus, German/Scandinavian boats, Brits, etc.

I am not enamored with Hunter. The design/look just doesn't 'inspire' me. I do like traditional lines.

I am comfortable with Catalina. We can't afford BMW or even Buick and don't want/need Porsche. I can deal with Chevrolet/Ford. I probably could deal with VW/Renault/etc, but not Skoda/Fiat/AMC or, well, I think you get the point. I am looking for other ideas/options that would meet our requirements. I just don't want to miss out on valid options.

Tankersteve
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