Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Almost by definition a motorsailor would be hard pressed to be "a good ocean boat."....too much drag, too much windage and too much top hamper. Its not that one can't make a decent ocean passage in good weather in a motor sailor but from the way that you are phrasing the question I am assuming that you are looking for a boat which is first, a good offshore boat, and second anything else.
In a general sense, most motorsailors have generally been optimized as coastal cruisers rather than as offshore cruisers, with hull forms, weight distribution, interior layouts, deck plans and rigs which are better suited for sailing along the coast than making offshore passages.
I think that the terms 'offshore' and 'coastal' get bandied about quite freely without any real thought about what the differences are. A well made coastal cruiser should be capable of making brief offshore passages but a dedicated offshore cruiser needs to be a very different animal.
In my opinion an ideal offshore cruiser should offer the following traits:
An ideal offshore cruiser should be seakindly which means an easy motion. Seakindliness comes from long waterline relative to overall length, fine entry, minimal weight in the ends of the boat, moderate beam, Vee'd bow sections and eliptical hull sections (not too round and not too hard a bilge) from amidships aft, a low vertical center of gravity, a tall enough but light enough rig to slow roll without increasing roll angle dramatically.
An ideal offshore cruiser should be robust and simple. Weight should not be expended on fancy interiors or excess weight in areas that are soley for show. The hull and deck should have small panel areas with reasonably closely spaced framing and bulkheads. Details should be simple and solid.
An ideal offshore should have an easily driven hull so that it can get by with smaller sails and a smaller sail inventory making it easier to handle across the wide range of wind and sea conditions that will be encountered. Sail plans and under water foils should be robust and efficient.
Sailing systems need to be robust, easily operated, suitable to short-handing and easy to maintain offshore. Here there needs to be a balance between having the tools to do the job efficiently vs. being overly complex and maintenance prone.
Personally, I like fractional rigs for offshore but good cases can be made for cutter or multiple-headsail rigged sloops as an ideal offshore cruising rig. In large enough boats (in my opinion over 50 feet) a case might be made for ketches as well. In my opinion there is absolutely no place for in-mast furling for a dedicated offshore cruiser and it is hard to justify furling headsails on a small dedicated offshore cruiser.
Electronics and the electrical systems need to be simple, and no more than is absolutely necessary to get by. Here again there needs to be a balance between having enough to do the job efficiently vs. being overly complex and maintenance prone. In my opinion, the boat needs to be operable without an electrical system should the worst happen.
The boat needs to be adequately brudensome to carry all of the consumables and spares that are required for distance voyaging. I personally like the traditional rule of thumb which was 5,500 to 11,000 lbs. of displacement per person. There needs to be solid, secure and low in the boat food storage lockers. There needs to be adequate storage for tools and spare parts. Water tankage needs to be adequately large (To me this is between 1/2 to 1 gal. per day per person for the longest passage that is anticipated which ironically means that small and slow boats need bigger tanks), with multiple maintable tanks. Other types of tankage and storage is less critical.
Ideally, there is complete direct access to the interior of hull everywhere in the boat. I see hull and deck liners as being inconsistent with a dedicated offshore cruising.
Deck houses should be low and there should be solid foot and hand holds along the deck. There needs to be good ventilation, which can be secured from leakage when offshore; large portlights and hatches are a no-no. Cockpits should be small with huge drains. The possibility of downflooding needs to minimized with cockpit and deck locker accesses opening into water tight self-draing lockers. Access to the cabin needs to be small, capable of being made nearly watertight and separated from the cockpit by a bridge deck or bulkhead to minimize the downfloording. Coamings need to be designed to minimize trapping water in the cockpit.
Life raft storage should be an integral part of the design rather than an afterthought and dinghy's have no place in davits of smallish boats (under 45 or so feet in my book) at sea.
There needs to be a way to secure ground tackle off the deck and to secure hawse pipes when offshore. There needs to be really great ground tackle and ground tackle handling gear.
Ideal offshore cruisers should have narrow passage ways in the cabin, with good foot holds and hand holds, so you are not thrown about. Galleys and heads should be small so you can brace yourself when in them. Refrigeration is less important than good dry storage. There needs to be one really good sea berth per person, ideally located near the center of buoyancy, low in the boat and in the best of all worlds with duplicate berths on both sides of the boat. Vee berths are next to useless in bad conditions and afts cabins or quarter berths can be not much better.
I am sure that I am missing something here but this should cover the basics.
Boats like the Island Trader fail on almost all points; they lack the seakindliness, seaworthiness and so on that I would want out of an offshore cruiser. I would also very strongly support the recommendation of a glass decked version of the Kelly-Peterson 44 or 46 for your purposes that is mentioned above.
One last point, In tackling this I tried to answer the question "What makes an ideal ocean cruiser?' I think you actually asked, "What makes a good ocean cruiser?". Obviously those are very different questions but frankly at some point when you are truly ocean cruising, 'a good ocean cruiser' may simply not be 'good enough'.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 06-16-2010 at 08:53 AM.
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