Yes, Brian, I'd like more details.
I was really disappointed to hear what you and Camaraderie were saying about the 445, I'm sobbing over my keyboard - well, not quite.
Dock orientated? No, that will not do. I must have a boat that can sail well and get into the groove. But the Admiral must also like it, and from the first look, I was hoping that we just might have the perfect compromise.
The 400 is definitely a contender but the Admiral wants something a little bigger. I guess it may be the 470, if not the 445.
- Is the 445 dockish like the 350?
- would You take your 400 south through the canal, & over to Polynesia, with your family onboard?
On all points, please advise.
It is our intention to use our 400 everywhere in this "hemishphere". If you are certain you are going to cross the Pacific, you would probably be better off choosing another boat. It is not to say that you cannot, but there are better boats for it which are built to that purpose.
Let's discuss Design basics. These are generalities, as there may be exceptions to these rules here or there... but in general (in our price range) these are good rules of thumb.
Production boats, in general, are made for primarily coastal work. When you get into the larger boats, they become more suitable for longer jaunts offshore. THere are many differences/aspects to these boats that make them very good for that design. These are:
1) Lots of hatches for ventilation and light.
2) Designed for winds 10-30 kts in general. Good performance in light airs.
3) Strong focus on interior layout and comfort at anchor/marina.
4) Less robust hardware which keeps costs down.
5) Generally low fuel and water capacities.
6) Large cockpits for entertaining and comfort.
7) Small lazarettes so that more room is translated to the interiors.
8) Generally have sugar scoops for ease of boarding from water and enjoyment at anchor.
Typical "Blue water" boat.
1) Fewer hatches and darker interiors. Often less ventillation. THis may be over compensated for with Dorades (which I believe any ocean going boat should have, but that is another discussion). Certainly this may be debated, but hatches see a vulnerable point on a boat. I am not saying that blue water boats do not have hatches, but certinaly are not the light, airy interiors that is typical with most "coastal" boats.
2) Generally heavy/robust boats. Where as the typical coastal boat might be able to avoid any nasty stuff by waiting out weather windows, you do not have that luxury when making long crossings. Sooner or later, you will be in a blow and it may last for days. THis is when the typical blue water boat has a nice easy motion and takes a beating. Production boats are lighter (not always a bad thing... I am generalizing) and certainly not as well prepared for a beating. I can discuss in more detail if necessary. But the portholes, hatches, cockpit, bulkhead, and in my opini the rigging, simply is not designed for days of pounding.
3) The design on most blue water boats is for lots of storage and tighter spaces for transversing the boat at sea. THis obvioulsy makes the inside more cramped.
4) These boats are made to take a beating and the hardware is appropriately selected for it. Mast, rigging, stanchions, etc are "over built".
5) Without exception (that I can think of), blue water boats have large capacities of fuel and water. THe positive of this is it allows for a lot more motoring and travelling to distant shores. The negative is that you may not cycle the fuel enough if you are coastal and just island hopping.
6) Almost without exception, blue water boats have small cockpits. THis is so that you have a smaller, controlled environment when getting bounced around, and so that if you get pooped, there simply is less volume of water to fill the cockpit. The negative is that a huge amount of your time is spent in the cockpit - especially at anchor. You will have lots of people over at anchorages. THese cockpits do not accomodate that very well at all - compared to a production boat.
7) Without exception that I can think of, blue water boats have large lazarettes for lots, and lots of storage. THis might include extra hardware, sails, lines, etc. The reason for this is obvious.
8) Seems like there may be a blue water boat with a sugar scoop, but I am having a difficult time thinking of one this morning. Most have swept back or may be canoe stern. The reason being that you have less area vulnerable to a following sea. This becomes especially important when they start breaking on the stern and the water wants to push you around to beam on or broach. I have been in these circumstances and can tell you that it is an issue.
THere are other things that I have not mentioned, including (maybe) watertight bulkheads (not all BW boats have them), protected running and rudder, etc. Some production boats have done a better job at protecting these than others.
So ater reading everything, you may be under the opinion that every boat going to sea should be a blue water boat? There certainly are people (even on this forum) that feel that way. I strongly dissagree. Each boat has a design purpose. You can go the islands with a blue water boat. Many people do. But remember that 99% of your time is a tnachor. Your comfort level is MUCH higher on the typical production type boat. You have more liveable space. You can entertain in your cocpit. When you open up all your hatches, you get an awesome amount of ventiallation. It is bright, airy and comfortable. For 99.99% of what you are going to do, this boat is not only suitable, but better suited than the typical blue water boat (for all the reasons that make it a blue water boat). The fact that these boats generally cost less is another positive.
However, when you start talking about making for very distant ports with long passages, there are boats that were built for that purpose. Could you do it in a production boat? Certainly. Many people have. But you need (as Cam as has put it before) more luck than you might in a bluewater boat. From fuel capacities to lazarette, blue water boats are better suited to make those distant ports in safety and comfort.
Two different boats. Two differnt purposes. Now, you might be able to take a production boat and change her such that you have a blue water boat. We have certainly done many of these modifications. However, you start running the risk/reality that you will end up spending more money on the production boat that you would have should you have simply bought the blue water in the first place. Also, there are some things (like rudder protection) that are expeisive and very difficult to change without a major refit of the boat.
SO when I tell people to choose your destinations carefully, I mean it. I really think a person will be very happy with a production boat in the area it was designed for - much more happy than should they have chosen a blue water. I believe they will be happy with the blue water in the area it was designed for - much more happy than should they have chosen the production. Try not to mix the two if you can. Don't buy the blue water unles you are CERTAIN to cross the Atlantic/Pacific.
DId that help?
PS THese are my opinions only. Take them as such. Some may dissagree, and that is fine. I have seen a bunch of Valiants that are abandoned by their owners because they are uncomfortable at anchor and for what 99% of the boat is used for. I have heard of many productio nboats losing a rudder at sea or them taking a beating in a storm because they pushed the limits of design and safety. But do not underestimate the necessity to have a comfortable boat and the ventilation and cockpit, etc. You will burn yourself out on a bullet-proof shoe box where a production was better suited.