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  #1  
Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

From all my reading, on the net and in books, I seem to have come to one basic decision before buying my boat/home. Do I pragmatically buy a boat suited to coastal/inland cruising and possibly forego "real" bluewater cruising? Or buy one that can go anywhere, knowing it is unlikely I will, and less suited to what I most probably will use it for?

I know it is a question only I can answer, but the thoughts of those who have "been there" and those that would like to be, seem to be appropriate to making such a major decision.

I will be 57 when I retire and buy my boat, and at this point, expect to be singlehanding (though who knows what may happen in 4 yrs). And with only lake experience at this time, feel it would take 2 or 3 yrs to feel profiecent enough to venture into major bluewater cruising, solo, if I should decide to do that.

It seems though, that one could easily spend 20 yrs, just sailing around the coasts, inland, and the Carribean without worrying about it getting stale.

As I will be retired, the only consideration for time and/or performance, will be weather. No need to be any certain place at any certain time. And my "style" of sailing, I can best describe as lazy. No rush, no stress, just being on the water. When I drive, it''s to get from point A to point B in as little time as possible. When I sail, it''s just to sail.

So there''s my conundrum. Spend more than I need to for more boat than I will probably need, or spend less and have more to keep me going? For, unless I fall into a super deal, my comparsion pricing, seems to indicate that is the choice. (My budget for the boat and any repairs/upgrades at this time is $50,000)

John
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

A year ago, I went through about the same conundrum as you. I had a few years till retirement, and my ultimate goal was/is to "sail the world". But first, I would need to become a better sailor in (somewhat) protected waters before I could/should venture too far from shore. What vessel would be most appropriate under those circumstances?

After reading many posts on this and other sailing forums, our best course (pardon the pun) of action was to get a decent coastal cruiser with which we could learn to sail better and enjoy on the Chesapeake. If and when we take the plunge (oops, another pun) to go far from shore we would sell the coastal cruiser and buy a suitable offshore vessel.

Thusfar, we are enjoying the Bay in our Hunter 34''. It seems to be a very good boat for coastal cruising. We have much more to learn, so we''ll probably keep it for a couple of years. At some point we''ll decide if we still want to "sail the world" and if so, sell the Hunter 34'' and get something more seaworthy.

I hope our decision making process sheds some light on yours. In any event,

~ Happy sails to you ~ _/) ~
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

PBeezer,

Some thoughts from someone not yet there (so take it for what it''s worth):

Some advantages to getting a "real bluewater boat" in good shape might be the peace of mind that the boat would be better able to handle the stresses of severe weather, should you get caught in it. Also, if you choose to cross oceans, you already have a boat to handle it, rather than having to sell your coastal cruiser and start over.

Some possible disadvantages to buying a bluewater boat that you don''t ever really take offshore might be the extra expense of the purchase, and the fact that such a boat will likely be more work to sail and offer poorer light-air performance than a lighter purpose-designed coastal cruiser. [These are generalities and exceptions exist, I''m sure.]

Another comment I gleaned from other discussions is that sailing from the US down to and around the Caribbean is not necessarily "coastal" cruising. I guess if you are very good choosing weather windows, you could get by fine with just a plain vanilla coastal boat, but I''m told it''s not to be taken too lightly.

Good luck with your planning. Ok, the rest of you, now you can blast away. 8^)

Duane
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

Greetings

I am not sure you are in a conundrum. Certainly there are very inexpensive, lightly built boats that would suit the purposes of someone interested solely in day sailing in protected waters. But being boats...they are not exactly cheap and you could still spend 50k.

Sailing in any waters, you want a boat that is very seaworthy, well built, that will give you confidence. You will likely want a boat that can handle going to weather when a blow comes up and you want to get home...even if home is just a few miles away.

I would submit that there are plenty of seaworthy boats that I would term "offshore capable" for around 50k. The question is more what is an appropriate boat for you and your needs. How much boat can you handle, what kind of rig is best (ketch vs sloop), and what kind of cabin layout would you like below. Also, what kind of boat appeals to you...shippy looking, traditional or euro modern. And what design is best for your needs, a heavy full keel boat or a more modern underbody.

Age affects people very differently. I do not know what you can handle. I do know one couple just in the 70''s that are out there kicking butt racing a Wauquiez Hood 38...a 22,000 lb displacement sloop rigged sailing MACHINE.

And as to the question of crew...I would not think it an issue. Its probably best to get a boat you can singlehand even if sailing as a couple.

Perhaps you could post a little more info on your sailing experience and skills. That might enable some folks here to respond with some good suggestions.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

I currently have a Hunter 26, which I purchased last summer. I sail on a shallowish, large natural lake where winds can easily be in the 20+ mph range, though generally in the 10-15 range. Though I know the basics, my trimming is probably my weakest point. I can get to Point B from Point A, but not necessarily in the most profiecent manner. In part due to inexperience, but also because I''m not a slave to speed, per se.

At this point in time, I see myself mostly sailing the Tennesse river system in summer, then moving down to the Gulf Shore during the winter months. For this, a mast height of 50'' or under is necessary. I figure I can spend 4-5 yrs, just exploring these areas, and getting some experience with saltwater sailing (tides, currents, etc), of which I have none now. As well as navigation and weather related skills.

As this will also be my home, liveablity, is a definite consideration. I feel I can sacrifice some measure of performance and stoutness for comfort, as I will be able to come and go as the weather permits. Though I know..."the best laid plans...."

Right now, I feel drawn to the Hunter 320. I like the layout, it has the proper mast height, and think it would be fairly easy to solo on. Especially since I already have, and will have more, experience with the B&R rig they use. And though it certainly isn''t a "bluewater boat", I think with experience and not having any set schedule to keep, I could probably island hop the Caribbean.

Obviously, this could change with time. I''m mostly trying to be pragmatic about what I will actually use the boat for, yet, it''s hard to take the chance of not being able to do more. And though it might seem a bit premature to be worrying about it, you never know when something might just drop in your lap.

Hope this makes things a bit more focused.
John
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

PB, I can respect your dilemma,because I''m facing a similar one myself.The choice to go "Bluewater/Coastal--large/med./small" on choosing a boat is one that I guess every cruising sailor has to eventually address. For my 2 cents worth,I can tell you this: I''ve sailed boats up to 45 ft.,but when I was sailing my 26 ft.sailboat in the Bahamas, I heard time and time again, "Man,you got the right idea..my boat stays at the dock most of the time because I don''t have crew to go out with, or "hey,... how much do they charge you for a slip?" Now, I''m not saying that a 26ft.sailboat is the way to go, especially for a retirement live-aboard home, but I do think there are some definite advantages to having "smaller sized cruisers." Economically and physically. Jeff H responded to some of my questions on ideal single-handed boat sizes (which is what I''ll look for even if I have crew) and he made a comment that stuck with me. For a single-handed sailor, DISPLACEMENT is really the key factor a sailor should be looking at.Something around the 13,000lb.range being ideal. Jeff can explain all the reasons to you better than I can, but looking back on the boats I''ve chartered around that displacement range, they were indeed easy boats to sail. Does that mean you should get a 38ft Coastal cruiser,or a 32ft.Bluewater boat?, I don''t know.You''ll find your own answer for that one, as I will. Of course there are many other considerations for a single-handler, cockpit layout,sail controls,etc. Plus all the other considerations of build quality,systems access,etc. I think the main thing to steer clear of is not to purchase more of a boat than you can handle, whether it be a big one,or small one. After all,it''s for retirement...right? Who wants to work 8^)
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

John,

Great question! This is the dilemma which faces all cruisers. I will approach this from the "been there, done that" side. I retired at age 49 with strictly inland lake experience. Our first coastal boat was a C&C 40 (aft cockpit) which we sailed for 7 years. We decided to move to a 41'' Irwin CC after meeting numerous cruisers who owned center-cockpits. Like you, we had no interest in racing. We were seeking a different life style, as well as the enjoyment we get from traveling and sailing.

As I see it there are several very general considerations:

a)(You have already answered this one)Do you want a "performance" yacht? You mention that the only consideration in regards to speed is weather? One of the arguments often made on this BB and elsewhere is: faster boats are safer since you can get from A to B faster. BULL!! You might be able to run from some hard blows, but you can''t run from them all. When you do get caught (and you will), this is when your choice of boats will "come home to roost". I have met very few long-term cruisers (more than 2 years) that are on performance/cruisers. In the long run they all opt for well founded, comfortable boats with little if any regard to speed, how well they point or PHRF numbers. This will be your home. You want to be comfortable at anchor as well in rough weather.

b) The type of sailing venue you are talking about will not require a true "blue-water" vessel. Why spend $ on something you may never need. Also, there are alot of tough coastal cruisers that do just fine for extended island hopping.

c)Single-hand sailing & age. If properly set-up, a 42'' cruiser is easy to single hand. Just use your head. Reef early and pay attention to the conditions.

My suggestion is this: Visit some coastal towns and talk face-to-face with a few couples who are out there doing it. Offer to buy them drinks. You can learn a ton this way. It will be the best $300 you ever spent. (remember, I said YOU were buying the drinks) When my wife and I first made the commitment to cruise we met a couple in Morehead City, NC. We took them to dinner and learned more that evening than we had learned in 2 years of reading. Not any secrets, just straight talk about what it is really like. Instead of dreams, we came away with a true "understanding" and feel for the life style. Most cruising couples are very friendly and open to others who are serious about wanting to cruise.

From reading your post, I feel you are on the right track. Good luck!!!
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

I also just went through this dilemma a year or so ago myself. I began by realizing that most of my sailing, whether distance voyaging or in my own back yard, would still be coastal sailing. Coastal sailing puts its own special demands on on a boat such as good windward performance, the ability to quickly switch from light to heavy air mode, comfortably long cockpit for lounging, good ventilation, etc. Offshore boats have a very different set of requirements that often make them miserable boats for the kind of short hops that many of us like to take.

Coastal cruisers do not necessarily mean less ability to fight it out with a storm. In fact they are often better engineered and equipped to better deal with quick changes in weather.

As I wrestled with this issue I began to look at boats that had both good coastal cruising characteristics and which had notable offshore records. In my case I chose a Farr 11.6 (Farr 38) but boats like John''s Hood designed Wauquez 38, Dehler Optima, or a Sabre 38 would also be other good examples of good dual purpose boats.

Given your goals, and assuming that you have good sailing skills, I don''t think you really would want to go to either extreme.
Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

Thanks for all the thought provoking responses. I realize, in the end, it comes down to a personal decision, and even that, sometimes, the boat picks you rather than you pick the boat. But any input makes it that much easier, and it''s great to have a forum such as this, and people interested in sharing their opinions, to get that input. So once again, my thanks and appreciation for these and any responses to follow. I look forward to the day I have the experience to do the same for others.

Fair winds
John
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Old 01-07-2003
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A Philoshopical Question

If a man speaks and his wife is not around is he still wrong?
eric
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