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  #1  
Old 06-14-2010
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The Eternal Question.... What makes a good ocean boat?

Hello All,

I am new to posting on Sailnet, but have searched the site and enjoyed many of the articles and debates. There are lots of articles all over the internet and elsewhere that suggest boats you might like, or might be good for you. The issue I have, is that I don't feel I'll live long enough to make enough mistakes on my own, and want to do what I can to get the right boat for me, the first time! First of all, right now I fit into the dreamer category, as I step in to a new phase in my life. I need a new boat, one that will safely take a family of 5 (the wife and three young daughters) safely around the world. (We plan on extra crew for the crossings, with more experience than we have.)

We are not new to sailing, but have mostly coastal cruising experience. We owned a Columbia 30 for several years, until we outgrew the boat, and found it too hard to maintain from 500 miles away. Now our location and lifestyle has changed, and we want to live aboard and sail! So, here's the question, after the long winded intro!

What TECHNICALLY makes a good blue water motorsailer? We want a large enough boat, that we can comfortably live aboard. What are the technical aspects we should look for for a safe offshore boat? We want the ability to motor like a trawler, but aren't interested in maintaining stabilizers. We want to stretch our range, but are willing to sacrifice sail performance for the ability to motor efficiently.

Please feel free to recommend boats that display the attributes that you are suggesting. So far the Fisher's seem like a good boat for us, perhaps an Island Trader, but I'm a little nervous about that one... We like fiberglass, internal volume, lots of light, and above all, seaworthiness. Oh yeah, we only have $200,000 for the boat, ready to cruise.

Please help!!

MotorMark & Co.
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Old 06-15-2010
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The prime factor of any 'blue water' boat is 'reserve structural strength' or a boat that is built to adequate 'scantlings' that will adequately withstand the rigors of the open ocean during the 'worst conditions'. Eg. a boat that is built at least 3 (or 4) times as strong as would be needed for 'normal' conditions.

Other factors: A cockpit that is smallish so that when pooped does not take on an extreme amount of water, a cockpit that quickly drains when doing so.
Adequate 'bulwarks' along the sides - to help keep you onboard. A 'bombproof' companionway with a bridge deck high enough to retard any 'downflooding'. A boat that is 'seakindly' - not one with an especially 'quick or stiff' roll period (tiring) yet not one with a looooong roll period (vomit comet); one with adequate reserve buoyancy in the 'ends' to retard 'hobbyhorsing'.
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Old 06-15-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
The prime factor of any 'blue water' boat is 'reserve structural strength' or a boat that is built to adequate 'scantlings' that will adequately withstand the rigors of the open ocean during the 'worst conditions'. Eg. a boat that is built at least 3 (or 4) times as strong as would be needed for 'normal' conditions.

Other factors: A cockpit that is smallish so that when pooped does not take on an extreme amount of water, a cockpit that quickly drains when doing so.
Adequate 'bulwarks' along the sides - to help keep you onboard. A 'bombproof' companionway with a bridge deck high enough to retard any 'downflooding'. A boat that is 'seakindly' - not one with an especially 'quick or stiff' roll period (tiring) yet not one with a looooong roll period (vomit comet); one with adequate reserve buoyancy in the 'ends' to retard 'hobbyhorsing'.
Short and to-the-point.


Of course, now, everyone with a 'net connection will start tossing in their own fav. hull.
You are wanting to focus on the characteristics of said hull. Hmmm, for once I have little to add. One of my longer deliveries was also one of the most comfortable -- on a KP-44.

Happy shopping,
L
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Old 06-15-2010
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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'.


Respectfully,

Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 06-16-2010 at 07:53 AM. Reason: spelling and syntax errors
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Old 06-15-2010
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What Jeff said.
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Old 06-18-2010
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Wow... Well, while Jeff ices his fingers, I'll thank him for all his excellent advice! The more research I do into the "ideal ocean cruiser" the more my earlier interests in designs are changing.

I have looked at the KP44/46 designs carefully, and with the technical attributes that have been mentioned, studied the boat. There is no doubt the KP44/46 is a sound blue water boat. So, now the compromises begin. Jeff is certainly right about one thing, "good enough" may not be "good enough". I am an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, and none of you out there would be happy if I said that was "good enough" now would you?!

So, other than a low, pure sail design such as the KP 44, can anyone think of a reasonable design more along the lines of a Mariner 50 / Mandarin 52 that would be appropriate? Perhaps with the right modifications? We intend to live aboard this boat, and we are looking for a pilothouse and lots of light (I can already hear Jeff say the windows are too big!). I definitely want an inside helm station for northern latitudes and safety (like a young person or wife standing a midnight watch, I can't sleep if they aren't inside the boat). I also want to be able to motor efficiently, as time and tide wait for no man, but diesel engines can slow them down.

In aircraft, we have what is called a design maneuvering speed. Basically, it is the speed where you can have maximum control surface deflection, applying maximum force to the airplane, and not damage it. That is where an aircraft designer says the airplane is "strong enough" as he knows it can withstand designed loads. Seaworthiness is far more than pure strength, or we would all go to sea in corks. Is there a system of rating things like window size / thickness / material to ensure it exceeds design loads? Is there published information on such?

As I see it, one can not predict all possible scenarios. I am assuming that even a KP 44 could be lost if all things aren't going your way, so where do we draw the line between "this is a reasonable risk" and "this is foolhardy"?

"Ships in harbor are safe... But that's not what they were meant for" - unk

MotorMark
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Old 06-20-2010
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Bump this back up! Come on guys educate us on some bluewater!!!
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Old 06-20-2010
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Just follow the designs of those who principally design 'blue water' boats: Creighlock, Peterson, Bob Perry, Bob Harris, Pieter Beeldsnijder, etc. etc. etc. etc. ... and then just examine their 'latest designs'.
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