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FRRizzo111 10-20-2004 08:15 PM

Thoughts on a mid size cruising boat
 
My wife and I have just begun the search for a cruising boat. We donít want anything too big, Iím thinking in the range of 28-34 feet. We are more interested in comfort and easy of sailing than speed. We will be using it on the Chesapeake Bay. My wife put a priority on a decent bed in the stateroom and a nice size bathroom with shower. As for room for other guest, it would be nice if it were comfortable enough for two kids or two guest also for a weekend. But we would not be doing too much extended cruising, just weekends. Right now we have a 21 foot Precision, which we love but overnights are somewhat tight and little too close to camping.

As for sailing capabilities, parts of the Chesapeake can get real shallow so draft is an issue. I have taken cruising courses and have sailed several boats 30+ feet in length and am comfortable with my abilities. Not looking for a complicated boat to sail or maintain. Just looking for a fun boat to enjoy weekend sails on.

Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated. Again this is just the beginning of my search so Iím prepared to cast a wide net for now, to look and trying boats out to see what works best for my family and me.

PaulBl 10-21-2004 03:58 AM

Thoughts on a mid size cruising boat
 
A lot of choices out there. I think you''ll find the larger end of your range will make you happier. 32 - 34 is a really nice size for the comfort features you are looking for.

A good place to start is to go to Yachtworld.com enter in say 32 - 34 ft, Used sail boat and maybe add a price range and start to see what is out there in your budget. Get your expectations right and match you budget to what you look at. Just look at what comes with various boats and get a feel for what is out there for sale. then you can start to walk on them and see what they are like. Going from a 21 they all seem huge.

I sail on the south end of the Bay and draft is an issue you never escape anywhere on the Bay. There is a shoal waiting for all draft of boats<g>. You have to have a depth meter and good charts. My draft is 5-3 and I wouldn''t want it much deeper. 4-6 seems like the trend down here at the south end of the Bay. You do trade performance when you give up too much draft. Don''t give up all the draft because you can still go aground no matter what you have. It''s not that bad either. You''ll do it a few times or you just are not on the boat enough.

My hard and fast draft rule would be to make sure you can come home and get in the slip at _any_ tide. When the Admiral has had enough you better be able to get into the slip or else.

Used Tartans and Sabres seem to be popular choices with the club we sail with but are by no means the only choices either. Any boat needs a good survey and I wouldn''t think just the brand name is enough. Also look at what gear comes with the boat and the creature comforts too. It can effect the price a lot. You want a lot for your money and a boat in good shape will cost you less in the first years.

Also note that once you can handle a boat 32 ft 38ft really is not a huge step up at all. Boats in the 35-38ft range are nice for family cruising. I think in weather that gets a little heavier 32ft plus will "feel" more comfortable even though a 28ft could handle it very well. Comfort on a short cruise counts a whole lot.

At 32-34ft you find you get the storage, tankage, and room to move on if you need to be on the boat for a whole weekend or more. I''ve done 17 days with my wife on our 33ft boat and it''s comfortable and we enjoy it. It also feels comfortable in 25 - 30 knots of wind. Above 30 knots and suddenly the fun factor starts to drop for me and the Admiral gets very very nervous. Comfort is the key. Buy as much as you can afford. Comfort on the water and comfort at anchor count both.

FRRizzo111 10-21-2004 11:05 AM

Thoughts on a mid size cruising boat
 
Thanks very much for those good words of advice. It might help to provide some more information. Our budget for a boat is around 65K-70K. I also see a lot of boats advertised as race/cruisers. We donít care to race. We are more interested in a large cockpit for ourselves and guests and a nicely laid out cabin. Safety is a major concern but we donít too often find ourselves out in inclement weather, but it would be nice to know, we were on a boat that could handle any situation we might face.

Hunters seem to be well priced but I have heard very mixed things on these boats. Some love them for their affordable comforts other say their quality is poor. Is the truth somewhere in the middle? Still hoping for more options of boats to look at. Thanks again. Iím having fun with my search.

PaulBl 10-21-2004 02:26 PM

Thoughts on a mid size cruising boat
 
Many boats that are Racer / Cruisers are basically boats that are not specifically for a race course. It''s just a way to sell the boat to someone that might want to do one or both. Lots of crusing people like to club race. In general true race boats have nothing below decks but the minimum. You want a lot more below<g>.

A quick search on Yachtworld.com (go there do a search) showed a few 34 Sabre''s in your price range in Maryland. These are mid 1980''s boats and I think a good value for the price. The actual price you pay is of course negotiated and will vary a lot depending on te goodies that come with the sale and the survey you do.

Don''t overlook the nice extras. Things like a full canvas enclosure cost a whole lot brand new but are very nice on a cruising boat. With A/C on board you can be plugged in at a marina in July and August and thus have a summer place for the weekend. All the "goodies" make the deal better.

Think of how you can spend more time on your boat. Boats are expensive to own no matter what they are and you need to get full use!

You can get what you are asking for in your price range.

Lots of folks do like to bad mouth Hunter, Catalina, and Beneteau as being of lessor quality than others. I see no point to it myself since there are a great many types of sailors out there and these companies sell more boats than most all the rest combined. They do know what people want in a NEW boat. You can''t afford a really great 34 ft boat brand new on your budget.

About all I would say is buy a used boat. You''ll get far far more for your money and I know there are a lot out there. Just be sure to pay up front for a professional surveyor and have the boat checked properly. In the 32 - 34 ft range you won''t be able to afford a brand new one fully equipped, but in a used boat from the mid 1980''s you should find something pretty nice with lots of extras already on the boat.


ross99 10-24-2004 09:19 AM

Thoughts on a mid size cruising boat
 
I just did a quick "Yachtworld" search on 32-36 footers in your price range the MidAtlantic region, (MD, DE, VA) and hit on 76 boats, including relatively new (early-to-mid-1990''s) Beneteau, Catalina 320 and Hunter 336 models, as well as older Sabre, Erickson, Pearson etc. etc. You are in good fishing grounds to cast that "wide net" over a wide selection of boats.

I sail in the Pamlico, and the cautions on draft are important here just as in the Chesapeake. I''m owner of a Catalina 34,(shoal draft!) and based on your desire for comfort vs. speed, the cockpits and accommodations on the newer Hunter/Catalina boats may help you with the First Mate and the kids. Also, since there are so many around, and the factories are still turning out boats, support and advice is probably going to be easier to come by.
Good hunting.

Jeff_H 10-25-2004 03:51 PM

Thoughts on a mid size cruising boat
 
I also sail on the Chesapeake. There are big differences between sailing the upper, middle, and Lower Bay but in a general sense the Bay offers light air punctuated by heavier air, with little in between. The Bay tends to kick up a pretty steep chop and tends to require beating and dead downwind courses more than anything else. As a result the Chesapeake rewards boats that sail well on all points of sail and in a wide range of windspeeds than anywhere else that I have sailed in my life.

The usefulness for light air performance and a little more speed has little to do with racing on the Bay and everything to do with having a greater number of sailing days and a fewer number of engine hours. It has more to do with having options where to anchor for the night or in some of the lower reaches of the Bay, being able to cover the relatively long distances between sheltered places to lay in for the night.

Boats designated as ''racer cruisers'' usuallly have a little less weight and a little more sail area than your average cruiser and so are ideal for the Bay. For most people a good performing coastal cruiser will work well on the Bay. There are few places to hit rocks and enough places to duck in that heavy duty cruisers are not necessary and with their poorer sailing performance are often next to useless as sailboats on the Bay.

Boats like Beneteau''s First series, Hunters and Catalina''s make reasonably good choices in the Bay''s somewhat protected environment but there are also a lot of other options out there in your price range.

I keep hearing people talk about how shallow the Bay is but I sail a boat with 6''-4" draft and frankly I have not found that draft to be a problem.

Within your price range boats like the following work well on the Bay:

Beneteau First 305
Beneteau First 32s5
Beneteau First 345
Beneteau First 35
Beneteau First 35s5
C&C 35 III
C&C 36
CS 30
CS 36
Dehler 31
Dehler Optima 101 (one of my favorites on this list)
Ericson 34
Ericson built Olsen 34 (This is a really neat boat for the Bay.)
Goman Express 30
Farr 1020 (Farr 11.2) Probably my favorite on this list in terms of a balance of sailing ability, build quality and accomodations)
Hunter Legend 35.5
J-34c (not to be mistaken for the J-34 that was a race boat this boat is part of J-boats cruising series and an extremely nice boat.)
Mirage 35
Pearson 303
Pearson 33
S2 9.1
Sabre 30
Sabre 34
Schock 34
Tartan 31
Tartan 33
Tartan 34 mk II
Thomas 35 (Tartan)
X-102
X-99

Good hunting,
Jeff


miyagi 11-13-2004 05:10 AM

Thoughts on a mid size cruising boat
 
There have been a few good articles in Cruising World "Classic Plastic" that might offer some ideas. In our area (Maine and New Brunswick Canada)you can find mid 80''s boats in great condition as many of them in the small to mid size range are used on weekends by retired people for 3 months a year! Advice that served us well in our latest jump was to focus on finding a boat in good condition with good gear that was on the small end of what we thought would be nice. In making the moce from 22 to 27 ft, the way we used the boat changed and I firmly believe that had we gone bigger, we would likely have gotten less use rather than more. As it stands we weekend and spend a week aboard when the mood strikes with no problems, as well we can be under way quickly with a simple boat and as a result spend many evenings out, maximizing our use. Have fun.


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