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Moniker 05-16-2007 11:20 PM

Looking for budget bluewater cruiser suggestions
Howdy all, I really enjoy reading these forums and there are quiet a few nuggets of info to glean from them. I'm trying to build a list of some budget bluewater cruisers to consider and could use a little help...

"Go small, go now" is my mindset; purchase budget is around 60k and I've got a reserve for refitting/outfitting (the less of that I spend the more I leave in the cruising kitty). Current plan is to spend about three years out.

The luxury of space and possibilities for higher latitude sailing make me like higher displacement boats like an Alajuela or a Tayana. In all likelihood though I'll probably be spending most of my time closer to the tropics and that coupled with the probability of some light airs and a fair amount of singlehanding have me shying away from them.

Sensible choices to me seem to the likes of a Morgan 382 or a Tartan 37... Any suggestions to expand my list of potential boats?

My budget is modest and I'd like to get all the sailing performance, liveability and beauty I can with it. Not looking to win any races, but passage speed is important. At 6ft2 some boats and berths get a little headroom limited, and I have to be able to take on one or two crewfor at least a couple months at a time. Preferences are sailing over motoring, anchoring over marina's

Happy to fill in any other information about my plans...

sailingdog 05-17-2007 12:02 AM


A Tartan 37 isn't small... either is a Morgan 382. If you're seriously trying to find a budget bluewater cruiser, you really need to pick up a copy of John Vigor's "20 Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere".

A few boats mentioned in the book include the Alberg 30, the Westsail 32, the Southern Cross 31 and the Pearson Triton. Many of these can be gotten for under $30,000 and that would leave you a decent budget for fitting it out.

Valiente 05-17-2007 12:23 AM

You'll get a better boat if you can go a little smaller than 37 feet with that budget, like maybe a Pacific Seacraft 34 or a Contessa 32 or Ontario 32 or Niagara 35 (which is going to be hard to find at 60K). A Tartan 3400 isn't a bad choice, either.

It really depends on whether it's you alone, you and a wife or equivalent, and your need for speed vs. bulletproofness. You can get a nice 10 year old race boat for that money, but it won't have the tankage or reserve strength of a "tub".

Avoid cored decks, and shop for something with a skeg-hung rudder and perhaps a partial full keel (cutaway forefoot) instead of a fin. You won't win races, but ocean crossing are about a steady pace and not making a lot of lee. That tends to mean a fuller, deeper keel, if only to hold the tankage necessary for long crossings. Don't rule out steel, particular Brewer or Brewer-ish designs. A lot of them, like the Goderich 35, were built very well on the Great Lakes and have never seen salt, and make excellent ocean cruisers.

Moniker 05-17-2007 12:31 AM

Thanks Sailingdog, I'll definitely pick up the book!

I've got budget above 60K for fitting... but I would like to keep as much as I can for cruising.

I do need to be able to cruise comfortably with 3 adults aboard, so keeping it small isn't a major constraint... I guess I've mentally set 38ft and 18000lb as my upper limits. I would like something singlehandable (if that' a word) so length and displacement are a major factor.

T37Chef 05-17-2007 12:37 AM

You would be hard pressed to find a Tartan 37 under $60,000 that wouldn't need allot of $$$ to get it prepared for blue water cruising. They are getting old (486 Hulls from 1976 - 1989) and will need significant refit for a safe blue water cruise IMHO. They are semi cored hulls and decks and most are centerboards with skeg rudders. Tartan is one manufacturer whom seems to have been able to used cored hulls successfully. You can check out the Tartan 37 forum for more details Tartan 37 Sailing Association & • Index page

As SD & Val have said, you may want to consider something smaller as suggested.

Good luck,


Moniker 05-17-2007 01:15 AM

Looks like some good ones to consider there Valiente, although at first glance the pacific seacraft 34 the asking prices are out of my range...

No wife or equivalent, although I will be stopping by NZ to see the ex-wife... I'll be present the whole time with some shameless opportunists hopping aboard for some ports of call. I hope to be able to keep a second aboard most of the time (maybe even a wife equivalent :) ) but I'm not counting on it.

I don't know a lot about steel boats, is there a such thing as a moderate displacement steel hull, or are they pretty much all heavy displacement?

Or am I a little skewed in thinking that larger displacement boats tend to require more effort when singlehanding?

And I guess I should have stated from the outset that my purchase budget is around 80k total (fitting included) and I'm hoping to come in well under that but I could stretch for "the right boat"

sailingdog 05-17-2007 02:40 AM

There are a lot of boats that would be suitable for you... but do you need to have three separate cabins, or are two of the adults a single couple—that could share a cabin??

There are no real moderate displacement steel hulls in smaller boat sizes... mainly because the material for the hull is so heavy to begin with. Once you get in to larger boats, 45'+, then you might start to see moderate displacement steel boats, since the hulls are overly heavy for the size of the boat.

A properly rigged boat isn't necessarily going to require more effort to singlehand. However, if the equipment fails, like the electric winch dies unexpectedly, you will probably be wishing you had gone with something more manageable.

One good general rule of thumb I've been told is that a 300-350 sq. ft. main sail is all that you want to be hoisting by yourself. Anything much larger either requires crew or an electric winch.

TSteele65 05-17-2007 07:21 AM

Here's a nice steel-hull cutter for you: Boats and Yachts for Sale

The price is a little over your budget, but she looks to be fairly well outfitted.

camaraderie 05-17-2007 07:50 AM's a pretty good list of bluewater boats.
Mahina Expeditions - Boats to Consider for Offshore Cruising

As I look thorough the list and compare it to the room you need and your budget I don't see much that will fit except something quite old and in need of a lot of TLC. I think something has to give...budget/blue-water or size.

cardiacpaul 05-17-2007 08:44 AM

IMHO, three adults on a tub of less than 35 ft is just askin' for trouble.

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