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troyaux 01-28-2002 05:55 PM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
I would like to hear what is the definition of a coastal cruiser and a bluewater boat. I am on a limited budget as are many of those who come here to seek info on buying boats.

I hear an O day is good, then not.. same with Hunter and Columbia and I keep getting advice to spend money I don''t have at the moment. I have more time than money at the present. Prrthead and my self would like some idea of what determines how far a production boat should go off shore..
I want to sail across the Gulf from florida to that beyond what I could expect a production boat to take? I found a good price on a Dehler and here good things from Europeans but not from Americans. I get mixed reviews of Catalina''s too.

What gives?

Jeff_H 01-29-2002 03:21 AM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
Hi Troy,

This is a fairly complicated question and one for which there is not one universally correct answer. In broad general terms, Coastal Cruisers are intended to be used in areas where there is a lot of places to duck in for refuge from a storm. They deck and interior designs that are optimized to be comfortable at anchor. Cockpits tend to be larger and companionways more exposed. Coastal cruisers tend to have more and larger operable portlights and hatches. Coastal cruisers will have brighter more open feeling interiors with wide open cabin soles and fewer hand holds. Seakindliness is less important and voluminous interiors are more important.

Because they are sailing in and out of tight places, pointing ability, speed and reasonable draft become more important. Load carrying capacity is not as critical. To control price, and because sophisticated engineering is not as necessary to survival, the engineering and construction on purpose built coastal cruisers tends to be less robust. On the other hand they tend to be more well rounded sailors, sailing well in a wider range of conditions. They tend to have more gizmos for sail handling such as in mast furling or roller furling.

Boats designed to be used offshore (I really don''t like the term ''Blue water boats'') are designed to take prolonged periods of being thrashed by bad weather. Interiors are simplier with fewer sharp edges, more handholds, narrower tighter cabin soles with more places to get a grip with your feet. They should have more seaberths. Carrying capacity and seakindliness are mush more critical. Offshore boats tend to have large tankage, and good storage. They either have very large refrigerated ice boxes or almost no icebox at all. The interior layout pulls main functions (sleeping, cooking and using the head) close to the center of the boat and out of the ends of the boat where motion is greatest. The interior is designed to work while bouncing on a steep heel angle. Everything has a hold down so that it can''t go flying during a major knock down.

In the past offshore boats tended to have much higher displacements that coastal cruisers but modern engineering and understandings of weight distribution and form stability have allowed substantially lighter boats, pretty much on a par with coastal cruisers, with adequate strength, seakindliness and carrying capacities. Offshore boats tend to have smaller cockpits with larger drains in case they are pooped. Portlights tend to minimized in size to reduce the chance of being broken. Deck gear like lifeline stanchions, and the like, tend to be heavier duty and a few inches taller. Everything, including dorade vents, is designed so that it can be dogged down to prevent downflooding. Sail lockers typically have automatically latching hatches and have watertight bulkheads to prevent a flooded locker from flooding the boat.

There is a divergence of thoughts on rigging design. Offshore boats need to be able to quickly switch to heavy weather mode. For this reason multiple head sails or split rigs tend to be popular. Sloops are often fitted with a removable jib stay that can be set up quickly with a storm sail. Offshore boats will often start out with less sail area, so that they don''t need to reef as often but in doing so give up sailing ability in light going. Today you see more and more offshore boats goint to fractional sloop rigs because of the ability to quickly depower and end up with a well rounded heavy weather rig.

Offshore boats tend to have simplier more fool proof hardware with fewer gizmos and down to basics hanked on jibs, slug mounted mainsails, and slab reefing.

To somewhat obscure this issue further, there is a whole class of ''value oriented boats'', boats that are designed to provide ''a lot of boat for the dollar''. To do so, a certain amount of robustness gets compromised. They often have interiors designed to look great at a boatshow or at anchor, but which lacks the necessary storage, seaberths, handholds, and compact walking surfaces of an offshore boat. Almost by default the value oriented boats are only suitable for coastal cruising with limited offshore jumps being made only in a carefully sellected weather window.

Boats lines like Bucaneer,Columbia, Coronado, Oday, Hunter, Catalina, early Islanders and early Ericson''s, Morgan Out Island series, Beneteau Oceanis Series, C&C Landfall series, and Bavaria fall in this category of value oriented boats. It is not that these boats are not suited for many people. In fact they are ideal for the way that most people use their boats. The problem comes when one wants to take them offshore for prolonged periods of time. They are really not suited for the day in/day out knocks, and the need to carry a lot of stuff that is so critical to an offshore boat.

It is not that people have not made offshore voyages in these ''value oriented boats'' but in terms of risk management, it is better to pick a boat that was intended to take the abuse of being offshore for prolonged periods without needing major repairs or overhauls after every storm.

The other point is that not coastal cruisers are ''value oriented''. Boats like Tartans, Dehlers, Sabres, C&C''s and the Canadian Express''s are better built coastal cruisers. They tend to have better gear, and engineering, making them more robust and often permitting better sailing abilities. As a result, these boats are more suitable, even if not optimized, for offshore work.

Dehler offers as variety of designs varying from stripped out racers to good offshore cruisers. The Dehlers that I have been aboard are really well built for their purpose and have included nice details. Depending on the model these can be very good modern style offshore boats.


manateee_gene 01-29-2002 04:20 AM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
Jeff: your remark of there is no universally correct answer is right on the money!!
From a cruiser''s view.I see many more "this is what we have;this is what we will use"
cruisers out there,than cruisers with Ocean
Cruising Specific boats.It is sort of like
which is best a brown egg or a white one!!
Under any normal conditions almost all boats can circumnavigate,see the articles about
Catalina 30''s doing it!!Under adverse conditions any boat can flounder or be flipped.See once is enough by Miles Smeeton!

BigRed56 01-29-2002 05:27 AM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
Ahoy , at the risk of being silly or unhelpfull I think you need as strong a boat as you can afford. Take jeffs considered opinion to heart as he really is a warehouse of information . Beyond that you have got to feel comfortable with your choice and seriously sea trials in the bad weather we have here on the SW coast (summer squalls)is about as good a test as any for boat and man. If you like I''ll take you out on my wreck of a project boat and show you what I mean. Worse that can happen is we both get killed and my vessel sails it self home! Big Red 56 the Pirate of Pine Island.

prrthead 01-29-2002 05:33 AM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
I think Troy and I are being really particular because we''re trying to find the best bang for our buck. I will admit, cabin niceities are a plus for me (especially with a less than enthusiastic fiance) but safety and strengh are the most important.

Let me ask this and maybe this will help...what are some good numbers to look for? What is a good displacement weight for a coastal crusier that will do occasional longer hauls (Bahamas)? What are good lengths and beams? I''m looking now at a 27'' S@ but it seems lightweight. I need something that drafts no more than 5'' because of my home area. Any suggestions or advice on particular numbers to look out for?

Jeff_H 01-29-2002 08:33 AM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
Numbers really don''t do you much good because they really don''t refect engineering or workmanship. They also somewhat change with length. For example a modern 36 foot or more foot boat with an L/D in the range of 150 to 160 and a SA/D of well over 20 can be a good offshore cruiser with all of the right boxes checked. While a smaller boat might require as much as and L/D over 200 to be a good offshore boat. Of course traditionalists push the L/D ratios upward to 250 to 300 as a good range.

A better way to think about size is that traditional cruisers generally used a rule of thumb of 3 to 6 (long) tons of displacement per person as a good rule of thumb for sizing long distance cruising boats. Better hardware amd the need to haul all kinds of stuff around with us, has pushed up the upper number up a bit and lighter, stronger boat building techniques and longer boat waterline lengths relative to length on deck has allowed the bottom number to be pushed down a bit.


manateee_gene 01-29-2002 09:57 AM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
I have no quarrel with you or JeffH about boat suggestions.What I was pointing out is!
we can all talk optimization and when it comes to $$$ do what we can afford and hope that our seamanship is up to the task for the boat is normally better if the skills are too.Too many these days read a few Pardey''s sail a safe bay like SD. Ca. and
think they are expert enough to give others advice.IT TAKES REAL SEA TIME TO BE A REAL SAILOR AND MORE IMPORTANTLY A SEAMAN!!
Once you reach a good seaman ship level than you to can be a Joshua and make do with what
you have!!

BigRed56 01-29-2002 01:40 PM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
Ahoy ,dancy8888 , in-dup-it-ally, ye got me point, we must be tryed and true before we venture to the deep blue. tis no book nor vessel strong when captians puking all day long. me self been sick on many a voyage tis not the place for seeking help else you''ll wind up in the kelp. Take all advice when offer''d true ,test self and vessel till your blue. Big Red the Pirate.

thomas s 01-29-2002 04:16 PM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
Parrot Head, where in coastal nc are you?
Hope you are not trying to sail in the ICW. Troyaux alot of the boats you are considering I would call coastal cruisers although they could be modified for live a board or extended passages. Met a guy this summer who came across the pond on a catilina 25. (heavier rigging , glassed over port holes, additional cockpit drains, windvane, etc. Might be kinda tight with your crew . I would consider you think about some sixtys or seventys boats, or maybe you could leave your wife with Big Red and trade your dogs for a parrott.

troyaux 01-29-2002 06:36 PM

what determines a coastal cruiser???
Whne you say consider 60 or senventy boats are you saying look at that many or look at that many brands?

When I find a boat I''m interested in how can I really know anything about its abilities and capabilites from an hour long sail the broker takes you on... Which is the best way to shop? I mean... a survey doesn''t tell you if the boat sails well or not? How much time should I expect a seller to let me have testing it?


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