38-42 cruiser recomendations
I think there are pro''s and con''s to every type of design, larger 42ft CC vs 38ft aft cockpit for example. I looked at boats in the 38-43ft range some time ago before settling on a Wauquiez Hood 38, aft cockpit sloop. She is an excellent, all venue sailor of excellent build quality. Her bluewater reputation is unquestioned.
Having cruised her for about 3 years now and cruised on quite a few other boats recently and over the years, I have some observations on the compromises you make.
I think larger 42ft CC''s are very nice for living aboard. There is greater separation between the staterooms and the CC makes a nice patio at anchor unconfined by a pushpit and lifelines. But not all 42-43ft CC''s are. The Morgan 43, example, has a huge aft cabin that is great as well as a nice galley. This comes at the cost of pushing the main salon forward and thus it is smaller than most 36''s. The vee berth is an afterthought. The Whitby 42 has a very nice cabin layout but the aft cabin berth is not the nice centerline many people are looking for (in port) and the main salon again is the size of any 38 footer. Many Whitby 42''s don''t even have an opposing settee, just a space for a couple chairs.
My boat has a private Qtr cabin with a nice double berth in the hip. This makes a perfect sea berth underway and is perfectly fine for visiting couples. Yes, a larger cabin and more separation would be nice...but the reality is that I have guests perhaps only twice a year and we spend very little time down below. My owners stateroom is the forward cabin. It has a HUGE vee berth and an oversized hatch overhead. I just like sleeping there and like the ventilation. On hot summer nights, it is the best place to be. The aft Qtr cabin seems a waste sometimes...having that space just completely open would make the boat feel more spacious, but I feel you just have to have the availability of a second private stateroom and it functions as the ''garage'' much of the time.
In port, I might prefer a CC, it is true that it makes a nicer ''patio'' and is more open with perhaps even a better view (at anchor) than an AC. When sailing, however, I like my aft cockpit. I have better visibility of the sails and the way ahead is not obstructed by the jib. I also like the security of being locked in back there with the lifelines and pushpit when we are heeled over and going for it (my preferred point of sail :O). I kick back and ''dinghy'' sail this thing, sitting back on a side bench, legs outstretched. It is great to feel the bow rise and fall as we lope over the waves, to me this is a nicer motion. Most cruisers spend most of their time in port, so a CC gets used and appreciated A LOT. But...eventually you are going to SAIL that boat...and for many an AC is simply a ''must have'' when sailing. Look at most new boat designs. Boats that are designed for sailing are all AC''s (under 44ft).
Once you make the decision for one or the other configuration, I think there are then two other decisions that trump all others: Displacement and age.
Displacement drives the size of the sail plan and deck hardware, including ground tackle. The greater the displacement the heavier EVERYTHING is. The heavier everything is...the more WORK it all is. My boat is 22,000lbs and while I love the steadier motion this gives (on my boat) and its load carrying capacity for cruising, it takes me more work to sail this boat than it would a lighter boat. I don''t have any problem but I do get winded at times and have had light weight crew that found sheeting in the jib, raising the main and raising the anchor challenging. I think I am personally done at 24,000lbs. I just don''t see wanting the work load involved with a boat of a displacement greater than that.
There is a website that has the logs of a guy who is living aboard and cruising a mid 70''s vintage Gulfstar 44. It is a good case study. The boat is not built very well, it is old, it does not sail very well and it is big. Reading Bill D''s daily logs is almost painful. He has to put down two anchor''s much of the time and it can be an ordeal raising them. Every single day he has to fix something on the boat. Every sail turns into a motoring run because the boat cannot get up to even 4 knots.
And this past weekend I saw an Irwin 42 try to dock. The owner was having a tough time in CALM conditions. He came in too steep into a FIFTY foot slip and ended up smashing his bowsprit into the taffrail of the ajoining boat. Well....that ended up splitting the taffrail and taking it away. Unreal.
A 38ft aft cockpit will have a smaller anchor, less windage and be easy to singlehand. One that sails well will spend more of its time...sailing in wonderful quietude and less time motoring along stinking, rolling uncomfortably in the swell.
Sorry if this is long. This is a great subject and the above is just my point of view for whatever it is worth.
My best to all