Bluewater vs Coastal...
Alot of discussion has taken place here over time about what constitutes a 'bluewater' boat.......it is one of the all time Sailnet classics.
One of the controversies of this debate seems to be the question of whether this type of boat or that type of boat, or any average production boat is a suitable bluewater vessel........with replies to unsuitable vessels all seeming to say something along the lines of 'no, but they are a good coastal cruiser....'
Which leads me finally to my question, umm well do alot of the boats disqualified from bluewater duties actually really make good coastal cruisers??
Does not alot of the things that disqualify a boat from being bluewater capable also make them a compromise for real coastal cruising??
The reason I ask is that we are looking to reboat, our plan for the immediate sailing future is going to involve the east coast of Australia, with possibly a hop across to the Louisiades Archipleligo.
So basically coastal cruising....
However as I think about coastal cruising on the east coast of Oz, and I think about relying on 'weather windows' etc. I am reminded of a couple incidents.
Firstly A modern yacht whose keel broke partly away in 40 knots in the mouth of a bay....
Search continues for abandoned yacht - National - smh.com.au
...The Excalibur disaster in which 4 people died a mere 40 nm off the coast.
Sea survivors relive nightmare - National - www.theage.com.au
...and also I think of the fateful 1998 Sydney to Hobart race. 55 of 115 boats finished a race in which 5 yachts sank, 55 sailors were winched off boats by helicopter and six people died. Weather windows??? Well the fleet left Sydney in gorgeous weather with a forecast that in no way resembled the frightful reality they had to face....
Now obviously crossing an ocean is indeed a whole other ballgame to just cruising a coast, that is indisputable.
However could it not also be argued that things like a sea kindly hull, a well protected skeg-hung rudder, a high angle of vanishing stability, Glassed in bulkheads, good proper sea berths( taking to sea for a night to gain sea room and wait for conditions to change would be better than crossing a bar in the wrong conditions to try and seek shelter wouldn't it?) would also improve safety enormously when coastal cruising??
So I am seriously interested in what the experienced and knowledgeable on here think?
What is the ideal coastal cruiser?
Are some modern boats, not only unsuitable for bluewater sailing but also really unwise to coastal cruise in, and best confined to sheltered waters as weekenders and daysailors??
For me, living on the Central Coast of California, a good coastal cruiser means a bluewater-capable boat.
Chall...I think a lot depends on where you live and what is meant by coastal crusing. Some of the bluewater boats I like a lot (med to heavy dispacement) would be quite poor choices for sailing here on the East Coast of the US where light winds prevail during sailing season. They would also be poor choices for those who enjoy tweaking things to go a bit faster or doing club races. If I were sailing the Chesapeake, I'd probably prefer a Beneteau to a Tayana. Of course there are also issues of living space, entertainment and how much more expensive a bluewater boat is than a similar sized coastal boat.
I like to think of coastal boats as sailing within 24 hours of a safe port and reachable with ease by coast guard rescue services in an emergency. The reality is that here...probably 90% + of all coastal boats never get 12 hours offshore let along 24.
I am not familiar with OZ sailing and weather forecasting or typical wind/sea conditions but I think most coastal boats over 30' are perfectly capable of handling 8-10 ft seas and 30 knot winds with a decent captain...but a sustained 2-3 day gale might have a few things shaking apart. So good weather reports/forcasting in your sailing area is also a consideration when thinking about a boat. The Sydney/Hobart tales I've read indicate that things can go rather quickly from benign to horrendous without much notice but perhaps that has changed with modern forecasting.
As to individual tales of things going badly wrong fairly close to shore...one thing I've noticed is that some VERY bluewater boats have had similar issues and I attribute the overwhelming majority of gear failures to poor maintenance regardless of the quality of the boat. There of course have been known production defects in some boats, but that is a different issue.
Anyway...hope this is helpful and I will be interested in others perspectives.
Sounds like you may need a sturdy bluewater boat in your future? Maybe now is the time to do it? Unless you see in the near future being able to buy yet another, and bigger boat?
I would simply buy the biggest, and strongest boat I could afford including upkeep. That way your options are open in the future with the same boat. A lot of variable going on here, but BEST WISHES in finding a good boat to serve you, and your well in safety. It's as much about the decisions made as it is the boat sailed too........i2f
Cam thanks for the food for thought, your right, coastal conditions I guess do vary considerably around the world. There are also certainly plenty of Beneteaus/Hunters/Bavarias etc cruising the east coast of OZ....
i2f, you have essentially hit our current dilemma right on the head....Our dreams our big, but our experience and the kitty is still growing.....
We currently own a 27ft cruiser/racer. We are wondering whether the nest step should be to try to buy the sturdy bluewater boat now, or whether we buy something like a 32-34 ft ex charter Beneteau first...
Chall - good to see you back around dude!
We're in the same hunt as you. I've been researching and looking at a hell of a lot of boats with the same issues in mind.
I love the Benes and Catalinas. All of them I've looked at have been really nice, exciting boats. If it were just up to my impulsive self, I'd most likely spring for a Bene in the 40' range for our upcoming coastal boat purchase. Fast and cool.
But, thinking about all the same issues you've listed above, I've decided to narrow my search to a heavier boat with a CC. It'll be a more comfortable ride for the wife and kids than a beamy hotrod - and, overall, will afford us more protection from my horrendous sailing abilities and poor judgement.
So yeah, I'm kind of digging the old shoe for our near term coastal life. I'll just race the C27 in our lake and enjoy that.
Nothing gets done without dreamers Chall. There would be no man on the moon. Most of us would still be living in Europe, but in my case Hawaii lol. I think you get the idea. For the short time I have been here you always seem to make good sound decisions. I believe you will make a good choice for your future ride.
Good to see you realize there's more than BFS. If you want the family to stick with you. Their comfort, and fun is important too. Then again I probably need not say anything like that. You are already raising some pretty polite young folks. BEST WISHES to you both finding something comfy, and safe.......i2f
Thanks Smack, I have been here on and off, but also been hiding out in New Zealand with work for a bit.
I am hearing you, I guess I like the Bene's for when I am sat at anchor off a palm fringed beach with the rum and coke in hand.....but if the thing is going to lose it's friggin rudder on a sunfish on the way up the coast for example, it's going to spoil the vibe of our cruise big time. Ok sure we wouldn't die, but call me crazy If it is an issue I would prefer to buy the sturdier boat and keep the rudder attached.
I still also think that even with good accurate forecasts, using weather windows etc, there is always going to be that one time you do get caught out in bad bad weather.....I just finished reading one such account from the Pardeys that took place off the OZ east coast.
Here is OZ around Sydney alot of ports also require a bar crossing, so in bad weather it is often better to head for sea than try to cross a river bar in untenable conditions....
Maybe I am being too critical of production boats like Benes though?? Im not sure.
Thanks for the kind words i2f, we basically just need to get our act together :) I will let you know how we go!
Actually, that's the beauty of BFS - it's not boat dependent, you don't need no stinkin' Bene to throwdown. As a matter of fact, a sturdy mutha of a boat will now actually allow me to stumble into far more BFSs because I can completely blow off wx reports and stuff.
What could possibly go wrong?
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