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post #1 of 6 Old 02-23-2006 Thread Starter
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My Great Struggle

Hello all,

I would like all of your opinions on my problem

I have been sailing for sometime and have sailed fin keeled, full keeled, and modified keeled sailboats.

But...I have done all coastal cruising with the exception of a trip to Bermuda.

So for those of you that do long, extended cruises in remote areas of the goes:

I have been planning for years to circumnavigate when my financial situation warrants it, and I'm now only a few years away, so it's time to start really looking hard at boats to purchase.

I'll buy the boat in the next year, make my transition to living aboard with my wife, then cast off the lines and head out. My route will be following the trades from the East coast of the U.S. through the Canal, island hop to New Zealand, across the Indian Ocean to Africa and then head home.

As I browse Yachtworld and Boatsearch I see many different boats with full keels. Tayana 37, Allied Mistress and Princess, and Union 36 for example, and see great advantages of a classic full-keeled sail boats. I'm in no hurry, I love being out in the middle of the ocean on beautiful days and even squalls, so an extra day here or there will not bother me as long as my boat is up to it. It could handle more weight in gear becuase of the heavy construction. I would have the advantage of tracking well, being sturdy and comfortable, if I hit a shallow bank or reef I am less likely to damage something, and something that I believe is a huge advantage of a full keeled boat - ease of careening. I won't have the money, nor do I trust some of the rusty contraptions, to haul out to simply paint my keel or change a through hull or prop.

Next are modified full-keeled boats, such as an Endeavour 38, Pearson 39, Cheoy Lee 38, Sabre 34, CS 34 and 36, Morgan 382, or CAL 39. These offers much of the advantage of their full keeled sisters, plus a little more speed and perhaps up-wind performance. They offer less wetted surface. Generally heavy and could handle a good amount of gear and supplies. In a grounding they would be fairly well protected, not as good as a full keel, but good. I would, however, be quite nervous to careen this boat on a remote beach, the skeg is there to protect, but it doesn't seem like the wisest of ideas.

Then of course there are those performance cruisers out there. C&C 40, J-boats, and others. With these type of boat I would arguably be able to out run storms as long as I have the necessary equipment to forecast them accurately. They have good performance and better speed meaning shorter passages. But they offer no rudder protection, and both the keel and rudder may be seriously damaged if a grounding occurs. I would also say that careening would be near to impossible. They generally also have deeper draft.

Centerboarders such as a Tartan 37 can offer good performance downwind, make shallow waters look more attractive, and can easily be balanced. However there is a moving piece of equipment below the water-line. Also (I'm not sure, this is only a guess) they may not be able to be carreened because of the pressure of sand/mud/whatever pushing up into the reccess and therefore damaging something. But they may offer many different advantages.

So that is my huge quandry, what would be the best for my endeavor. I see advantages of each.

So after all that my question to you all is this:

Which would you pick for a circumnav, and why?

Is careening something you even do often, if not why?

Would you prefer speed over a little safety? Is speed in itself safety?

Best Regards,

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post #2 of 6 Old 02-23-2006
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Speed is good for a number of reasons, not to mention the pleasur eof good performance, and you don't need to consider slow boats for strength or carrying capacity. And I would not use careening-cabability as a decision factor, relative to the tradeoffs you would accept, it aint worth a thought.

I happen to know if an good example of offshore ability and experience, which doesn't need to be slow, overweight or ugly, a proven cruiser with two successful South America trips, that has been refitted to go again. She even has about 10 inches of freeboard for dumping another thousand pounds of stuff on board, and will still float on her lines.


Good luck.
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post #3 of 6 Old 02-23-2006
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George, great post.

To achieve clarity, why aren't you considering cruising cats?

You summarize the quandry well, and I think you're well on your way to making a choice that suits your preferences and desires.

One place where this topic has been discussed well is in the Letters area of the Latitude 38 site (for several years). Here's one of my favorite posts and responses:

The editors believe that speed is safety, but they also acknowledge that full-keel boats have crossed oceans for quite awhile now...

Good luck on your search!

Jim H

Last edited by Jim H; 02-23-2006 at 01:22 PM.
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-23-2006
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One of my favorites


I did not pick up in your post regarding your budget. Well, I have an all time favorite boat that I have sailed, and would not hesitate to take on a world tour. The Valiant 42. This Bob Perry desigened cuttter is in my opinion the ultimate long distance boat. She is swift, built like a tank, has a canoe stern to help with following seas, is designed from the keel up with your purpose in mind. She can handle a blow for days on end, yet can ghost along in the light stuff as well. Her deck layout is superior to just about everything else out their when it comes to working a boat in a seaway. Her total lack of wood above deck means no maintenance. Her ability to manage multiple ground takle on her stout bowsprit is a huge plus. Her realatively shallow draft will get you into all the good spots, and as far as stranding/careening is a concerned, no sweat. She even has nice replacable hull strakes for those particularly nasty rafting opportunities. There is just about no other boat I could think of that hits on so many world cruisers hot buttons. The world is full of wanna-be cruisers, but very few other boats comes even close. New, you are talking a breathtaking $450k+++ boat, and used in the mid $300's. Their was a bug about the older (1990's and older I think, but not sure on the exact dates) boats and the resin problems with the fire proofing additive and it's delamination issues, but that was fixed on leter production runs. Look at a late model Valiant 42 and you will find a boat that has the world traveler in mind.
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post #5 of 6 Old 02-24-2006
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George, if it's any consolation, please know that picking even a 'good' boat (let alone the 'right' boat) is tougher than it first seems. Here a couple of things to noodle on...

First, you characterize boats by hull form & keel type as tho' that's the primary criterion or differentiator. It's a more complex puzzle than that and you are misleading yourself - IMO - by zeroing in on that one characteristic. You'll notice e.g. that all those hull forms are being cruised now and there seems to be no generic trend that one hull form is inferior to the others. Instead, what varies are the criteria of the crews/owners and to what extent a given hull form meets their own preferences. If there is any common denominators for 'successful' blue water cruising boats, it's probably a mix of an excellent design and high quality building practices...and there are examples of that in all hull forms.

Similarly, don't underestimate one 'hull type' based on logic alone; research it. E.g. you mention a Tartan 37 having the weakness of a 'moving part' (her centerboard). Before TIGGER did her Circle, the Ragles glassed the board up, they did your planned route, and never had a 'board' worry. That wouldn't have been my choice but it illustrates that ID'ing the right Q's and then seeking out data to develop the A's is the way to go.

FWIW I'd emphasize build quality and design suitability as your two prime criteria because you intend to do the African route, which can be really tough on boats. Depending on crew, I'd then think carefully about how short-handed the boat can be sailed and how functional the layout for supporting the crew at sea. I'd put keel shape way down the list...

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post #6 of 6 Old 02-24-2006 Thread Starter
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That is a great article and is extremely true. I suppose that keel type is like hair style, some are glad that 80's are over with, and others want to keep with there perms.


The boat you mention if a great boat, I hear nothing but good things about the CS 36. Especially with the equpment and new rigging offered it would be a great deal.


I'm afraid my budget won't quite allow a Valiant 42, though I have seen a Valiant 40 in need of repair that does. My price is really anywhere between free to around 90,000. The boats I list as examples are in my range.

The term 'time is money' has never held so true for me. The more expensive the boat, or more work I must do to get it in shape means that I must spend more time in the states working a job and preparing. I'm young enough where that is not an issue for me. I will do all work myself, so if I find a a boat that needs some work but is in overall solid shape I'll take my time and do it right, and saves lots of money not hiring anyone to do it for me. If i find a boat equipped with most things I need, perhaps someone that planned on cruising then things changed, and I have to spend quite a bit more for it that's fine too, I'll take out a boat loan, pay it off as quickly as possible, and then wave goodbye.

Hope that clears up what you may have been wondering.


I understand what you are saying completely, and while I agree on some parts, I am hesitant on others.

I have, IMHO, mostly grasped what I want on or in my boat. From running all lines to the cockpit with winches in good placement. To a small cockpit with excellent drainage, good hand holds down below, wraparound galley, good berths for use while underway, ect, ect.

I wrote this post because if there was only one keel type I would take my money right now and go pick up which boat I felt was designed the best above the waterline.

My struggle comes, however, when I dive beneath that lovely waterline stripe and see whats underneath. For each and every hull type I can list its good points and its bad.

I want fast passages and to avoid storms, but what happens when the forecasting is wrong, or my weatherfax dies, and my SSB? What if I'm dimasted? What if, what if, what if. If that were to happen I'd give my left arm for that Tayana 37, or that Valiant 42. But again when the storm is off my port quarter and coming in fast I'd like to give up the Tayana for a nice fast multi-hull and avoid it all completely.

Perhaps I just said the same thing again. I've gone through all those factors of choosing a boat like you have suggested. I know almost exactly what I want in every category, I know what fits my budget.

What I lack is experience in major offshore cruising. I love remote places so careening does have a rather high placement on my list of concerns, but perhaps that is unfounded.

Anyway I'm rambling and should probably get back to work. Thank you so much for your time.

Best regards,

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