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  #1  
Old 10-19-2004
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This is my first post, but I have long been reading posts here, and we recently attended our 5th Annapolis Sail show. I have learned MUCH from just looking and listening, but it''s time to solicit feedback from the experienced open water sailors/owners that I have enjoyed seeing on this board. Wife and I love sailing, and are retiring and moving from inland lakes (TN, GA) to Oriental, NC. We have owned, maintained, and sailed: Cal-24, J-22, S2-7.9, and Com-Pac 33. We''re trying to come up with a list and evaluate pros & cons of boats meeting the following criteria: (A)37 to a max. of 42 feet. (B)Traditional, comfortable for two on a long cruise, and a STRONG high quality boat. (C)Modern enough to perform well on Pamlico & Albemarle Sounds, but also capable, manageable, and SAFE offshore to wherever we might want to go. (D)We value, and are prepared to pay for, quality, strength, maintainability, and traditional beauty. (E)WE DO NOT value dated technology, teak decks, "glitz", floating condos, deck salons, etc, nor do we expect this boat to provide "all" the comforts of home!

We fully realize we are looking at several compromises, but hope the above gives you seasoned and experienced folks enough information to sense our preferred direction of compromise. I cannot adequately express my appreciation for the amount of insight that I have gained from reading the posts on this board; nor can I say !!THANKS!! enough for the investment in time and effort that some of you invest in answering the questions and requests for information that appear here. We will greatly appreciate EVERY THOUGHT OR FACT that you might share with us!!!
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Old 10-20-2004
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Rollr:

Congratulations on the coming lifestyle change. As a former lake sailor, I can assure you that moving into the USA''s SE Sounds will increase your sailing pleasure immeasurably.

I know this isn''t responding to your question in the way you''d expected, but here are some recommendations I''d like to make which apply to the front end of your search:
1. Move from thinking in terms of ''length'' (e.g LOA or even LWL) to displacement. It''s a better measure of boat costs, at any level of comparable quality, it better reflects the volume and functionality of the boat and, perhaps most importantly, it''s a good reference base for understanding the forces involved in you two managing a boat and the level of hardware that the boat will require.
2. Offer us a thoughtful summary of how you and your wife plan to use the boat, which in turn will us make useful recommendations. Avoid relying on the term ''cruising'' - exclusively - as it is so general as to be all but meaningless these days. Instead, describe the geographical range of your intended plans, whether the crew size will remain two regardless of distances or sailing grounds covered, realistic long-term plans or hopes, etc.
3. Surrender your hierarchial mindset that there is a single ''quality'' continuum on which all boats can be plotted. It would make things oh-so simple if this were true, but in reality ''quality'' can be represented by competing methods of construction and is also, in part at least, in the eye of the beholder. E.g. Some will view cored hulls as an indication of both a better design & better technology being used by the builder, ergo higher quality. (Others of course will see it the opposite...and still others will tell you this depends on your intended use). When looking at cored hulls, the coring may be above the waterline, or it may span both above and below the w/l for intentional reasons. It may consist of balsa, or of closed cell foam. It may be a successful practice in use by a given builder for many years - one of many examples would be Hallberg-Rassy - or the builder may have much less of a demonstrated track record. You can see where I''m headed with this: Rather than a 2-dimensional ''quality continuum'', in reality there''s something like a 3-dimensional quality grid and plotting boats on it is a function of the given method, the builder''s demonstrated performance in using it, and your own view of its desireability.
4. Further refine your requirements so they don''t imply competing priorities, to the extent you can. I see several references to ''traditional'' design and features, yet also references to ''modern'' design and ''maintainability'' criteria. It leaves me wondering if a Baba 40 or Bayfield 36 would be joyful eye-candy for you two, or whether you''d see their hull forms as dated and the nature of their deck/cabin construction promising heavy levels of annual wood maintenance.
5. Since you are probably like the rest of us, your financial circumstances are going to be finite and - ultimately - you will face the predictable tradeoff of cost vs. value. If you could put a general price tag on your search, it would be very helpful. This along with the displacement estimate and intended use would prove very useful when responding.

Are you working from a good general reference or two on boat design, construction and systems? Hearing others comments can be far more productive if you can apply them to an overall, objective understanding of boat design & construction. If you are not, I would recommend Calder''s the Cruising Handbook & Dave Gerr''s The Nature of Boats as two good references when further learning about design/build issues and tradeoffs. I''d expand that to add Beth Leonard''s Voyager''s Handbook if serious long-distance cruising was in your plans, for two reasons: She does an excellent job of outlining the consequences of boat choice to all kinds of financial consequences, and her book in my experience seems to resonate better with both men & women than any other cruising-related book I know of, important in insuring your wife and you progress together in your thinking.

Good luck on the search, and consider giving us a more refined target from which to work.

Jack
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Old 10-20-2004
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THANKS WHOOSH!!! Your response was just what I was hoping for, and I will try to refine (or define) just who we are, and where we are in the progression of things... I struggled with what to say in my initial post, and was hoping that I would get a response or two like yours to help me communicate in an accurate and organized manner. I repeat myself, but I REALLY APPRECIATE the time that some of you spend sharing your knowledge and experience! In retrospect we are perhaps further along in the process than my initial post indicated, and we certainly have seen (and felt) plenty of "hot air" at this point. The best real help has been reading this forum, and a few direct contacts with experienced folks that we have met. HERE GOES WITH MORE SPECIFICS: (1)US: Early 60s; Reasonably fit and active but not "jocks", average size. Have hiked, camped, backpacked, now own sea kayaks, and thus don''t need or covet a 50 foot floating condo. Don''t want a boat that will stretch us physically as we grow older, but appreciate some of the emerging and helpful technology that has made dealing with larger boats easier (examples-would consider a powered halyard winch, don''t want a rig needing powered primaries, love the "Dutchman" on our Com-Pac 33 but would not want to accept the compromises and safety issues coming with mainsail furling systems). (2)PLANS: Sailing with crew of two with very occasional guest(s). No crossing of oceans, but would want to be comfortable heading for Bermuda, Belize, windward islands, etc. Compromise slanted toward strength, seaworthiness, and not "sweating blood" in case the forecasters miss (they do miss occasionally in the Ocean don''t they?). (3)BOATS: Am aware that displacement (not just OAL) means a lot, but most discussion starts with OAL. It looks like anything we should be considering falls between 17,000 (Sabres) and 24,000 (Valiant, Seacraft) lbs. One of our biggest questions (and an area where we have heard MUCH "HOT AIR") has to do with the compromises over displacement, full keel, performance, motion, etc. "Jeff H" in particular has posted several insightful comments on the importance of technology and progress without losing sight of value of tradition and proven performance. One thing I neglected to mention in the first post is our need for shallow draft. It is shallow around Oriental, and everything beyond 5 feet hurts a bit (with 6 feet being too much). This may make a modern and efficient fuller keel design less of a compromise for us, as we cannot deal with any of the standard deep fin designs. I guess this is the only design area where compromise won''t apply. We have liked the SCHEEL KEEL on our Com-Pac; it works better than I thought it would. There is some compromise in lift going to weather, but only on that point of sail, and it is not a "mud anchor" like some of the wings. (4)QUALITY: This word is more overused than "awesome", but it serves as a starting point. I hope that I communicate more effectively when I say that we are looking for a boat that is not built down to a price point, or on the other hand up to a "glitz point" either. (5)AESTHETICS: I hope that I can help clarify here too... Babas and Bayfields are beautiful, but not what we are looking for. On the other hand if one of the "Modern Hunters" best fit most all of our criteria (they really don''t though), we would really have a hard time buying something that looks like a Clorox jug. Just as examples... Seacraft, Valiant, Caliber, Island Packet are all very nice inside and out, and Cabo Rico is drop dead GORGEOUS! That observation is based on aesthetics only though, and there are many more compromise items to consider. Teak is nicer on the inside than the outside too! (6)COST: We have saved for this, but aren''t wealthy. A max target would be $250K, but there is some latitude. For instance we would possibly consider getting a loan and going higher (new) on a couple of boats that might prove to be a good fit, and where recent models seem to be holding their value exceptionally well. (7) SPECIFIC QUESTIONS: I hope that some of you will go ahead and comment on these, and at the same time we both hope they will provide additional insight into the experience based advice we are seeking. (A)What is the feeling about the Caliber boats? Will they sail and tack, and are the integral fiberglass tanks a reasonable idea, or a potential BIG problem? (we do have a bit of experience on Island Packets - seem well built, are beautiful, but do not sail well enough on the sound to be a consideration for us - we are liking the lines of the newer, bigger ones less and less too). (B)We like the size, lines, quality, and price availability of the P.S. Crealock 37, but wonder about the age of this "senior design" and its sailing ability in more moderate conditions. For a 37 footer it could be roomier in the forepeak sleeping area too (some of us guys do get up in the night, eh). (C)We have some of the same concerns for the Cabo Rico 38, and the newer, larger Cabos (40/42) seem to be beyond our reach price wise. Comments? (D)Is the Valiant becoming dated, or are the running upgrades keeping it relatively close to the contemporary designs in terms of performance? (E)We have always liked Sabres, but wonder if the experienced among you would take one across the ocean? (Ideally we would rather have better rudder protection and all "real" ports - but they are probably the best sailors of all under moderate conditions) Comments? I hope all this paints a clearer picture for those of you who will help us! We do realize that there are LOTS of compromises to consider, and we don''t have the larger boat, big water sailing experience to sift through the "hot air" and dogma without help. Also please feel free to tell us if we''re "all wet" with any of our thinking, no one is thin skinned here! THANKS SO MUCH!!! George & Marilyn.
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Old 10-20-2004
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To rollrsail,

I currently sail a com-pac 27 on Long Island, NY. While I can''t help with your new boat, your circumstances drew my attention. I''m just starting to consider Oriental, NC or surrounding area as a place to retire. I know its way off topic for this board but if you''re inclined to chat about your pending move and experiences my e-mail address is "stephens84@yahoo.com". If not, let us know what boat you decide on. Maybe We''ll run into you some day.
Good Luck

Carl & Sue Stephens
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Old 10-21-2004
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G&M:

Well, that''s certainly a lot more info. I think you''re still uncertain about your actual preferences. Cabo Rico is not a boat I would describe as ''modern'' nor does it fit your desire for wood to be belowdecks rather than demanding attention topside, and it''s hard for me to clump CB together with Sabre...but let''s back up a step or two.

Based on your last post - and assuming what you''ve written has been carefully considered and reflects reality, not just dreaming - here are the meaningful criteria I see so far:
1. You do seem to be interested in what I''d call a ''moderate'' design, given your mention of Caliber, PS and Valiant. You''re not seeking sparkling performance nor placing a high premium on the quality of your local sailing experience. Instead, you seem to want a design which blends good seakeeping qualities and long-distance cruising features with late 20th century design trends. Your choice, whatever the brand, is likely to offer an extended fin keel, a full- or partial-skeg rudder, a D/L ratio of around 250-280, and reduced draft. Given the above, you''ll see choices that offer a cutter rig, which will be billed as the ''offshore rig'' of choice but which more likely exists to boost the SA/D ratio on paper (the potential ''horsepower'' from a sail plan) given the displacement inherent in a ''cruising amenities'' boat choice.
2. Your most meaningful criterion IMO is your stated plan to visit Bermuda and Belize, altho'' I''m not sure if you realize how much this influences your choices. I''ve sailed to both those venues and they are wonderful destinations for someone to have as sailing goals; I endorse your intentions totally. OTOH this is comparable to saying you want your next boat to cross the Atlantic, as just about all the issues you''d face in an ocean crossing are potentially present in a run out to Bermuda and back. What this means to me is that you might select a boat, at a much higher price point, for this ultimate level of use BUT which will be used 99% of the time for local Sounds daysailing and limited, protected water weekending. What if you never made any of those longer cruising runs?
3. Give a little thought to the possibility that the average North American (NA) boat shopper usually suffers from a very provincial notion of what is available on the boat market, driven in turn by which builders attend boat shows, buy ads in CW, and/or offer a dealer in each major sailing venue. Or at least this is my impression, especially after having spent the last two years in Northern European waters where the diversity of sailboats is mind-boggling. If I were planning to spend $1/4 Million, I''d want to be know the full sweep of choices I face, even if it could initially make things more confusing than clarifying. As examples, consider that the Feeling line of French-built boats are all offered with centerboards, Hunter builds their boats with twin keels in England, and Southerly builds boats with NO keel, as do several others. (I''m not recommending any of those but just mentioning them to show the diversity you may not be aware of). In general, the highest production standards seem in my view to exist in Scandinavia, The Netherlands and Germany - how many boats from that region have you considered?
4. For anyone considering the level of expense you are willing to incur, one of your primary criteria IMO should be ''resale''. This is just basic financial common sense. This can have widespread implications but could be helpful in winnowing down your choices. E.g. no ''unusual'' hull materials (you''re looking at a GRP boat), extreme designs or ''cutting edge'' rigs. Boats built outside of North America (NA) should be produced by a builder who routinely converts his boats to the NA infrastructure (120V AC, NA LPG system, plumbing fittings not totally foreign to NA vendors & owners, etc.). From a resale standpoint, you''d want your boat to be generally perceived as a quality product with a long-term presence in the NA marketplace and you''d like to see used models from that builder hold their values well, plus on inspection you''d like to find them holding up extremely well.

I''m running out of time, so just a couple of tag-on comments:
-- integral tanks (e.g. as used by Caliber) can be executed well or poorly by the builder (note the point I made earlier about the builder''s rep in executing any specific build choice). If done well, the next step is to look at the stability curve with the tanks nearly empty, not just when full.
-- don''t be quite so absolute in your draft requirement; e.g. I''ve sailed in your intended waters with 1.7M/5.5'' draft on several boats without complaint.
-- give up thinking of LOA or LWL and think displacement. Yes, I know I''m repeating myself repeating myself...<g>
-- to broaden your perspective, I''d recommend adding one or two benchmark non-NA builders to your boat list so that you can get a better sense for the diversity of choices you could enjoy. E.g. the build quality (and overall reputation) of a Malo 36, Najad 37 or Hallberg-Rassy 37 (all Swedish built) are simply outstanding, they reflect a choice of center and aft cockpit layouts, they are each a modern design with top notch hardware, and they each have a U.S. distributor. (I could say the same thing about a Vilm 34, which is built in Germany...but it''s misses on some of the ''resale'' criteria I mentioned). All these Swedish boats bring their own compromises with them (long ordering periods, teak decks, the limitations inherent in lower-volume hulls) but they represent a diversity of choice I don''t think you aware of today. Try to expand this diversity of choices further.

FWIW - and if you really are serious about sailing to Bermuda, or perhaps wanting the option of crossing the Caribbean non-stop as we''ve done - I can tell you that I would sail any of those 3 Swedish models to Bermuda in a heartbeat, with no reservations whatsoever. (And in case you''re wondering, we cruise an older Pearson 424 ketch, pretty much the opposite kind of choice).

Hope this helps, and let''s see what others can offer up...

Jack
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Old 10-21-2004
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HELLO JACK (WHOOSH): Thanks for the latest response and the additional insight that it offers. Here goes with some more feedback to (hopefully) help you and others identify where we are at this time. We have been more focused and searched harder than probably seems evident with all our questions. But again, we are wrestling with compromises, and hope that we will gain insight here to help us make the right choice. There''s a lot of "conventional wisdom/urban legend/hot air" out there and plenty of armchair sailors/brokers/salesmen ready to perpetuate it. Again, thanks so much for the time and effort you have already expended in sharing your experience and knowledge!!! I hope: (1)We don''t wear you out; (2)Others who watch and read (as we did for quite some time) will get something out of this; (3)Some of the seasoned vets will "weigh in" with their reaction to the questions and compromises we are trying to resolve (or just tell us we''re "all wet" on any issue). HERE GOES WITH MORE DATA: (1)THE SPECTRUM: Cabo Rico and Sabre are indeed dissimilar in many ways, and they represent the opposite ends of what we are considering. We seek the "experienced truth" regarding compromises running from Sabre sailing ability to Cabo Rico construction, traditional styling, and seaworthiness. In short, if it looked and was built like a CR, and sailed like a Sabre, we would talk to the bank and get in line (undoubtedly, there would be one)!! Pacific Seacraft, Valiant, Cabo Rico, etc. CAN be had with reduced exterior teak, and this is becoming a popular approach. I hope all this translates to "they''re wrestling with compromises, hot air, and boatshow wisdom" rather than "they''re all over the place with their thinking"!!! (2)DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION: We are not "hard line" on anything but draft, and there''s a reason for that. You CAN sail in the area with deeper than our 5 foot target, 6 foot absolute max., but not to our property there, and there are boats that do meet this requirement. Otherwise if a quality builder uses reasonably conventional approaches and materials, and has a proven track record with their product, then we don''t have a problem. I feel as you do on the cutter rig as a way to tout more sail area, but can see the value of the increasingly popular idea of the detachable/movable inner forestay (with a hank on staysail ready in its bag below). Also wouldn''t a boat well built, seakindly, and stable enough to take us to Bermuda comfortably, and without anxiety, still be able to do without some of the systems, redundancy, and storage needed to cross major oceans? I hope we have not missed on this possibility for compromise. (3)OTHER BOATS: We have been aboard and have current literature on most all of the European boats you mentioned. We really liked a couple (Hallberg Rassy, Najad), but here''s what we have found. In the 36 to 40 foot range (NOT hung up on ft. per se, but not sure what sense it would make for most folks if I said 20,000 lb. range) they cost $350,000 and up new because of the dollar vs Euro thing. We have watched the listings for brokerage boats and found very little so far. Bottom line is that we are aware of the better of these boats, and do have our eyes open in that direction. Please though, continue to mention anything we might have missed! We agree with you in that it looks like some of the Europeans do a good job and have a fine track record. (We were not impressed with Bavaria though) We also had spotted the Southerly with its swing up keel, but the above on cost and availability also applies to them... And as you say it''s a bit of a departure fom the norm (?popularity, resale, longevity, does anyone remember the Clearwater?). (4)QUESTIONS: Could you (or anyone) comment on the following? (A)SABRE: suitability, safety, pros & cons, etc. if taken to Bermuda, Belize, etc. Would you sail a Sabre to Bermuda in a heartbeat, as you would the better Europeans? (B) CALIBER: Inshore sailing ability, quality, design approach, track record, etc. To us they look good, offer a lot for the money, etc., but we would like to know more. THANKS AGAIN... George & Marilyn.
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Old 10-21-2004
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G&M:

I''m rushing a bit but let me just comment on one point in your last post...

"Also, wouldn''t a boat well built, seakindly, and stable enough to take us to Bermuda comfortably, and without anxiety, still be able to do without some of the systems, redundancy, and storage needed to cross major oceans?"

Let''s assume you depart via the Cape Fear R., adjust your course a bit off the rhumb line to miss a contrary eddy or two (or perhaps to work around some convective activity) and you end up sailing 750 NM to St. Georges, Bermuda. Given the Gulf Stream, the convective activity that inevitably is produced nearby, and at least one frontal passage as a low moves across the N Atlantic above you, you are going to experience a mix of wx patterns, you will motor some, you will probably have some headwinds at times, and in general you''ll have a great time covering that 750 NM in about 6 or 7 days in conditions potentially ranging from calms to 40 kts of gusty winds.

Now...take a moment to think about that description. There''s nothing I''ve described that''s actually threatening here, provided you stay ahead of the wx & wind changes, nor have I omitted anything you''d experience the rest of the way across the Atlantic near those latitudes. Sailing for 6-7 days, short-handed (even if you had add''l crew), you''ll need to sleep, bathe, eat nutritionally sound food, sleep yet some more, and the boat needs to be steered 24/7 while a bit of navigation is done and the boat is regularly inspected, on deck and below, on a regular basis. If you''re clever (and why wouldn''t you be?), you will be monitoring wx patterns and talking with other boats along your route to refine your routing to get the best, most comfy weather you can under the circumstances. And while it''s probably unlikely outside the storm season, it is possible you''ll have even tougher conditions.

Now...what is it that you don''t think you''ll need in that 6 days/750 NM that you will need in the 17 days/2000 NM to the Azores from Bermuda, the bulk of the remaining Atlantic? The sail combinations used will probably be the same, the critical importance of self-steering will exist for both passages, the importance of a decent seaberth for the offcrew is the same, and that relentless workout that the ocean gives a boat remains the same.

The one thing which is different that comes to my mind you already mentioned: some additional fuel, water and food stores will be consumed. But storage of all those probably won''t tax any decent boat you''d consider. (For comparison''s sake, we showered every 2nd or 3rd day on the longest run, about 2,000 NM from Bermuda to Horta, Faial, never skimped on water, don''t carry a water maker other than the one in our ditch bag, and we used 50 gals of water for the two of us in 17 days.)

A critical system for you is going to be self-steering, whether Bermuda- or Azores-bound and you will probably be just as motivated to have an alternative if it should fail (be that spares or a 2nd system) whether you are heading for Bermuda, the Azores or the Atlantic Coast of Spain. (Of course, that presumes the basic systems all perform properly). I honestly can''t see any way you''d want to otherwise skimp on spares, inspecting hardware upfront, sail handling underway, weather following, and the other things that make a lengthy offshore passage actually somewhat anti-climatic and mostly quite pleasant. In fact, the fewer the systems the more likely you''ll have time to read, sightsee, and enjoy the moment.

FWIW one definition of ''offshore sailing'' is when the boat & crew have to sail far enough and/or long enough that the weather f''cast they leave with becomes obsolete, after which they have to deal with what comes their way while at sea. And I think you''d want to feel as safe for a week as for two or three.

Let''s see what others have to say...

Jack
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Old 10-22-2004
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Although I have sailed to Newfoundland and not to Bermuda, I would second Jack in stating that a passage such as to Bermuda IS an ocean crossing.

To me, it is coastal cruising and marina living that involve "extra" systems that one doesn''t need for passage making -- for example, shore power!

Regards,

Tim
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Old 10-22-2004
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THANKS FOR MORE INPUT WHOOSH AND CATAMOUNT: This all helps, particularly the actual facts from passages that you''ve made. We also are very interested in Greenland, and have met a couple in Oriental who went ther last summer on their sturdy trawler (Eagle 40). The responses to date are a great help in organizing my thoughts and formulating further questions too. Let me respond to a couple of your points... I do realize that Bermuda, Belize, Greenland, etc., all are ocean passages away. But again that''s not crossing ENTIRE oceans, and we are going to sail (actually we already do) on the Carolina sounds on a more regular basis than to the farther destinations. You ask about my perceived (lesser) needs for going to Bermuda vs the Azores. I would not need less safety, strength, seaworthiness, etc., but do hope that I would need less food, water, fuel, storage, and other equipment than we would want for ensuring self sufficiency on long passages to remote parts of the world. I would also think that we could stand a lighter boat with a rougher ride (not an unsafe ride, yet better performing inshore vs the real heavyweights) than we would want if we were planning to take off for the South Seas and be gone for a few years. Please understand that we aren''t experienced at all on the Ocean, and we have heard a lot of... "I''d NEVER go offshore unless the boat had a fixed keel, prop in aperture, fully protected rudder, etc., etc., etc". We know our compromise lies out there somewhere, we''re just listening a lot and struggling with it!!
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I too am looking at NC as a possible retirement location...but more to your question. In our search for a 34-38 cruising boat, we actually decided on a 1980 Tartan 33...old, solid, little teak, basic, w/scheel keel as we plan FLA/Bahamas cruising. About 75% done with the refit. For longer passages we were leaning toward a Tartan 37.

For the newer boats, we like the following:
Tartan and Sabre (with slight nod to Sabre interior work), a few of the Beneteau First series models (at lower price points), Farr (if you need quick), and there are a number of full-keel options (if quick isn''t necessary).
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