What boat would you NOT take out bluewater cruising? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 50 Old 04-08-2010 Thread Starter
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Post What boat would you NOT take out bluewater cruising?

Hi All,

My girlfriend and I are getting closer to buying a boat to set on a 2 years sabbatical (expected cast off date of ~Nov 2011), leaving from the West Coast (Los Angeles), cruising along the South American Coast and eventually ending up on the east coast of the US either via the Panama Canal or Cape Horn.

We have researched boast extensively through books, internet boards (thanks for previous answers to some of my posts) and boat databases and have come up with a short list based on the following criteria:
- A boat of that type can be purchased for < 100k
- Draft: < 6 ft
- DISPL/LWL : < 380
- Motion Ratio: > 30
- Capsize Ratio: < 1.8
- SA/DISP Ratio: > 15

While those criteria could be argued upon, this isn’t the purpose of our post.

Those criteria have yielded the following list of boats, and we’d like feedback on what boat you would NOT take cruising on a long passage, and to make it an interesting conversation, we are setting the scenario that the boat would go around Cape Horn (We are not saying we will, but we want a boat that could if we decide to take that route back to the East Coast).

The list includes lengths 35 to 42 ft. Obviously, space on a boat is important, but it isn’t what we’d like your comments on either .

We’d like to understand if any of you have strong reactions about any of the below boats when thinking to take it on a potentially long and difficult passage. Basically, we want to create a short list from the following long list:

MORGAN 382 / 383 / 384
SHANNON 37 / 38
CAL 40

Thank you for your help. If you can comment on what boat you would NOT take bluewater cruising, and why, we’ll update this table for future users.

Philippe & Erin
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post #2 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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That's a pretty good list of solid boats.

You'll probably here from more than a few who will feel these are on the heavy side for their liking. But I doubt there's even one boat on your list that hasn't taken owners there and back.

That said, since your itinerary is largely coastal (if remote at times), you might cast your net a bit broader and look at some other designs that are not as specifically oriented towards making off-shore passages.

If it's only these boats you're considering and you're not interested in looking beyond this list, then one way to narrow it down a bit would be to scratch off the full-keeled boats. Or at least, make a separate list of fin keels and full-keels. In this size range you're looking at, it is harder to make the case for a full-keeled boat, as there should be more than adequate hull volume and displacement in boats of this size without going to a full keel.

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post #3 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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I would think a search of the forum would yield a trove of information on this topic.

"Tell 'em I'm busy. I'm on a sails call."
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post #4 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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I would reject all of them for your purposes, because of the premise and criteria under which they were chosen. When looking for a boat for the kind of purpose you are proposing, there are no one size fits all solutions. Everyone comes to their own boat search with very specific criteria that define their goals for a boat that they plan to take voyaging, and those criteria are more nuanced and subjective than simple numbers or names out of books.

That criteria should be unique to you, and you alone, and typically should reflect the needs and tastes of that you as an individual base on your experiences and personality. When I look at the absurd range of choices on the list that you have posted, I see boats that range from rehashed IOR race boats to clunky posers, to production coastal cruisers, to protypical distance cruisers except that any one of these that was for sale for less than a $100K would not be in a condition that would be suitable for your needs without a whole lot of time and money, and a spectrum of vessels in between. Your list tells us that you don't know enough about sailing to know what you want out of a boat, and so are looking to the opinions of strangers to validate your random stab in the dark. That is no way to pick a boat.

Perhaps if the boats on the list had even some small degree of consistent character, we could guess more about your sailing personality and recommend a reasonable pick kinda like Amazon does based on your past choices. That may work for buying downloads for an Ipod, but it is no way to pick a boat for the kind of voyaging that it sounds like you plan to do.

More to the point, if I were you thinking that I was going to set off voyaging in roughly 19 months, I would get serious about really learning about sailing and boat handling, develop my own tastes and understandings about what I wanted out a boat, and at that point the boats on your short list will be a lot more consistent in charater, and will actually make sense for your needs and tastes given the sailing personality that you will have hopefully developed by then.

I do not mean this as a put down to you personally, just to the innane nature of your post. I understand that we all had to start somewhere. There is no sin in asking naive questions. But at the heart of it, the basic premise is that you plan to go off and do something potentially very risky without doing your homework or paying your dues.

If you were an experienced sailor, you would know that it just does not work like that. It takes work and some level of discipline and dilligence to be a good sailor. It takes a williness to learn by actually doing, an apprenticeship of the sea. There are no instant or universally right answers in sailing. You need to learn what works for you and the only way to do that is to spend the time that it takes, hopefully you can start by developing a plan that will lead you through a reasonable learning process and that process will lead to the right boat choice for you.

Buying the right boat that specifically meets your personal needs is expensive, buying the wrong boat because you arbitrarily chose to use some some goofy, very dated criteria, and then actually bought a boat that met that criteria on the word of some nameless stranger you have never met, is wildly expensive.....


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post #5 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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What Jeff said... The basis criteria you've used, as Jeff said, is a minute aspect of what may make a good cruising boat. It is also a rather odd way to rule in/out boats.. While there are some decent boats on the list it is certainly an odd list clearly chosen based only on theoretical data points that generally mean little in the whole scheme of cruising. Personal skills generally mean a whole LOT more than the boat you are one. Also, a fair number of those boats will not be bought at anywhere near 100k, in any shape ready to cruise..

Having had family owned cruisers such as a Cape Dory's, Bristol's and a Hinckley I must say that in rough weather I don't prefer the older CCA style short waterlines and hobby horsing hulls. Having sailed thousands of miles on old and new style hulls I find the "motion comfort" ratings to be basically quite off the mark..

What boats I would not take around Cape Horn has more to do with personal comfort than build. Most any of those boats could do it if you could and if they are in good overall condition and ready for it.....

-Maine Sail / CS-36T

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post #6 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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Wink Wait, here's one more....

What Maine and Jeff said!

Also, this is one of the few times I have seen a rather lengthly "blue water" list like that without a Cascade 36 or 42 on it.
While my blue water miles are fewer than many, I can at least speak to having spent 36 hours in gale conditions, 50 miles out from shore off Cape Mendocino, in a Cascade 36. Lots of surfing with only the vane steering the whole trip. Very well built boats, and fast too.
("Rain Drop", overall winner of the last Pacific Cup is a Cascade 36, too).

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phboujon Look at my cruising boat spreadsheet.

It pretty much fits your criteria, although you need to read more at Ted Brewer, John Holtrop and others as to why those criteria exist in the first place.
See Definitions tab at bottom of spreadsheet, loads of info there!

You need to define some things - and I do find lame posts about "you don't know what you want" as so useless.

Full keel or fin keel - slow vs. faster - lots of posts on that in here
Budget: 100k means what. Just boat or boat plus cruising setup, insurance, moving, trucking, survey, other fees.
Yachtworld search for avg price - see my spreadsheet for links to YW for boats of each type

Next you gotta shortlist boats by boat type.
You could get a Rafiki 37 (full keel slug) and find there are no parts, no community, nothing
You could get a Tayana 37 (full keel...) and find a vibrant community of people willing to help
Valiants are pricey and you have blister boats to watch out for
Corbins cheaper, med community, a bit ugly but solid
PacSeacraft and Cabo Rico - you can't afford probably out of budget

Next is it on Mahina or Kretschmer lists?
Read their why's about what makes a good cruising boat.
Some boats have good numbers but are a serious PITA to move around in or work on the engine

Next just get it down to 3-4 boat types and start visiting dozens of them.
I had to visit 50 boats before I had a clue as to what I liked.

| Ranger 23 Sausalito, CA |
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Last edited by emagin; 04-08-2010 at 06:02 PM.
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post #8 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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I would have to ask what experience you and your girlfriend have in terms of sailing. The Pacific coast can be rather challenging, especially if you are leaving that late in the year.

I would also ask what boats you've had experience sailing on? Do you really have any idea of what you are looking for in a boat??? Do you know if you or your girlfriend will get seasick or not, and under what conditions???

I'd point out that a boat that you'd need/want for rounding Cape Horn is not necessarily the same boat you'd want to do a Panama Canal crossing.

IMHO, you really should get the boat at least six months before you plan on departing. This is so that you can sail the boat and get used to her and figure out what additional equipment and modifications you'll want to make to the boat before you leave on your voyage. This is also so you can gain experience sailing your boat on progressively more difficult and longer voyages gradually and shake down the boat so that you know what works, and what needs to be modified.

I would point out that you may be better off looking at boats on the smaller size of your boat range, rather than larger. If you've not read Beth Leonard's The Voyager's Handbook, 2nd edition, she has a good section on why starting with a smaller boat is a good idea. Among the reasons getting a smaller boat is a good idea are:

For each additional 10' in LOA, the maintenance chores double and the boat-related costs triple.
Larger boats have more rigging, more systems, more deck area, more hull, larger and often more complex deck gear, larger sails, etc. Many places charge mooring and slip fees per foot, as well as costs for haulouts, storage, etc.

In many places, a large boat will limit the choice of marinas and make it harder to get fuel and water
It will also limit the moorings and slips the boat can use, as well as the number of hurricane holes you can use. Larger boats are also less likely to be used for daysails and such... if you look at any marina, you'll see that the use of many boats is inversely proportional to their size.

Larger boats are also more likely to attract thieves and pirates, since smaller boats are usually considered less valuable as targets.

Though Hawk (47' LOA) is much more stable than Silk (37' LOA) and therefore much "safer" in extreme conditions, Silk was much more forgiving. If we misjudged a squall and didn't get the chute off in time, we could wrestle the sock down over it and manhandle it to the deck. If we wrapped the jib during a jibe, we could unwrap it by hand in light air and with a winch in windy conditions. But brute force gets us nowhere aboard Hawk. She requires much greater forethought, because the forces she generates quickly become unmanageable and dangerous. Silk offered the perfect learning environment while we made every mistake in the book; Hawk demands all the skills we've acquired to sail safely and efficiently.
Smaller boats are often far more forgiving. You can often push a smaller boat away from a dock or haul it into a dock with a spring line, unaided, but try doing that with a larger boat, and you're risking life and limb.

Before we started sailing Hawk, I'd been of the "bigger boat, bigger winches, no problems" school.
Yes, larger winches, an electric windlass, etc., can make sailing a larger boat easier, but that doesn't necessarily mean the boat will be easier to handle. Carrying the sails or anchor and rode out of the locker requires more sheer strength than doing so on a smaller boat. What happens when the nice powered accessories you're relying on fail??? Hauling in the anchor rode on a 45' boat is often much harder than doing so on a 35' boat, as are carrying the sails, flaking the sails, coiling the docklines, etc.

Just some food for thought.


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a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
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post #9 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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The Pacific Seacraft 34 is only a bit smaller than the 37 and is a fine blue water boat.
Andante PSC 34 #276
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post #10 of 50 Old 04-08-2010
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ph- rough crowd here today. While I agree that your list may not be consistent and some of the boats do not fit your own criteria (well equipped Passport 40 for under 100K?), unfortunately no one has done what you asked. There are a couple of boats on your list that I personally wouldn't take around Cape Horn, but there are lesser boats than any on your list that have done so with no problems so who is really to say. Starting with a list of criteria is just that, a start. Hopefully you will get some responses that address your request from people with experience in the actual boats on your list. Good luck with your dream.

SV Laurie Anne

1988 Brewer 40 Pilothouse

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