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  #11  
Old 08-04-2010
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Originally Posted by sawingknots View Post
the single, most significant factor would be the skipper!
sound like the best answer I ever heard! A corollary would be that any boat is blue water worthy only in the mind of it's captain. Ever heard of the Titanic?
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Old 08-04-2010
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This is a draft of an article that I wrote for another purpose but it answers much of your question:
What are the differences between a Coastal Cruiser, Offshore Cruiser and a Race boat? This is a question that would require a book to answer properly but I will take a stab at it. I think that the terms 'offshore' and 'coastal' get bandied about quite freely without any real thought about what the differences are. Boats intended to be raced vary quite widely depending on the type of racing that they are intended for.

While the EU has a system that certifies boats into one of 4 categories, this rating system was intended to remove trade barriers between the various EU countries. It represents the lowest common denominator between all of the regulations that pre-existed the formation of the EU. A boat that is certified as meeting the CE Small Craft Directive, in the offshore category, has met this minimum standard but it does not certify that the vessel is actually suitable for offshore use. For example the EU standards do not look at motion comfort, or the suitability of the interior layout for offshore use. Stripped out racers with minimal tankage and fragile rigs can and do obtain offshore certification. The ffice:smarttags" />lace w:st="on">USlace> does have the ORC, ABS, and ABYC standards which are somewhat helpful, but again does not certify that the vessel is actually suitable for offshore use.

A well made coastal cruiser should be more expensive than a dedicated offshore distance cruising boat because it needs to be more complex and actually needs more sophisticated engineering and construction than most people will accept in a dedicated offshore boat. In a general sense race boats are optimized to perform better than the racing rule under which it is intended to race. This has a lot of implications. Under some rules (IMS and IRC for example) race boats are optimized to be fast and easy to handle across a wide range of conditions, producing great all around boats, but in the worst cases (International, Universal, CCA and IOR rules for example), the shape of the hulls, and design of the rig are greatly distorted to beat the short comings of the rule, producing boats that become obsolete as race boats, and to a great extent as cruising boats once the rule becomes history.

In a general sense, all boats are a compromise and with experience you learn which compromises make sense for your own needs and budget. Most times the difference between an optimized race boat, coastal cruiser and a dedicated offshore cruising boat is found in the collection of often subtle choices that make a boat biased toward one use or the other. A well designed and constructed coastal will often make a reasonable offshore cruising boat and club level racer, while traditional dedicated offshore cruising boats generally make very poor racers or coastal cruisers. This brings up another key point. I would think that most knowledgeable sailors use the term ‘offshore cruiser’, they generally think of traditional, long waterline, full keeled or long fin keeled, heavy displacement, cutters or ketches. But in recent years there has been a whole series of ‘modern offshore cruisers’, which have been designed to take advantage of the research into stability, motion comfort, performance, and heavy weather sail handling that emerged as the result of the Fastnet and subsequent disasters. These boats tend to be longer for their displacement, often have fin or bulb keels, and carry a variety of contemporary rigs such as fractionally rigged sloop rigs. Depending on the specifics of the boat in question, a race boat may also make a reasonable coastal cruiser or offshore cruiser but will rarely be ideal as either.

When I think of a race boat vs. coastal cruiser vs. a dedicated offshore boat, there are a number attributes that I look for:
-Structure:
A typical well used coastal cruiser might only sail five hundred to a thousand miles a year. A well used offshore cruiser may do as much as 20,000 to 30,000 miles in a single year. Whether traditional or modern, offshore cruising boats need to be designed to stand up to the long haul. A single year of offshore cruising can literally be the equivalent the abuse encountered in 20 or 30 years of coastal cruising.

Traditional offshore cruisers come in a range of flavors. Whether fiberglass, steel, or timber, they tend to have robust hulls simply constructed. lace w:st="on">Hulllace> panels tend to be very heavy, accessible and maintainable. Engineering tends to be simple and reliable. Materials tend to be low tech, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The down side is that a weight goes into these structures using up valuable displacement that could be used for additional carrying capacity or ballast. Some of his weight is carried high in the hull and deck structure reducing stability and increasing roll and pitch.

Modern offshore cruisers tend to use higher tech materials and structural design. Some robustness and redundancy may be given up, but often the better of these newer designs have greater strength despite their lighter weight. These newer designs often take advantage of sophisticated framing systems and purposefully selected alloys or laminates. They often benefit from careful engineering intended to improve impact resistance and longevity.

Whether traditional or modern, offshore cruisers need to be able the cyclical loadings that insidiously wear out a boat over long passages. Larger margins of safety are required. In offshore cruising boats more than the other types, a little weight added, an often breed a whole lot more weight. A little added weight has a way of ricocheting through the whole design cycle. A little weight added means that perhaps the sail area needs to be increased. The increased sail area means a little more ballast. The added ballast perhaps means larger keel bolts and more robust transverse frames. This additional weight and sail area means higher stress on the rigging and so perhaps heavier rigging and attachment points get added, and that means perhaps a decrease in stability or perhaps a bit more ballast. The added weight means more drag and so fuel consumption increases and perhaps so does the size of the fuel tanks. And with all that added weight the designer is then faced with an under-canvassed design or else adding a sail area and risking going though another round of weight addition. Which is why, when all is said and done, traditional offshore cruising boats tend to be so much heavier than race boats, coastal cruisers or even more modern offshore designs.


Coastal cruisers generally benefit from better performance than offshore boats and do not have as stringent a requirement for a robust structure as and offshore boat. As a result coastal cruisers greatly benefit from lighter construction using modern materials and methods. Redundancy and self-sufficiency is less of a requirement. Fully lined interiors and other conveniences are often the norm on coastal cruisers. Even quality coastal cruisers use molded force grids or pans that are glued in rather than laid up in place. Framing is often wider spaced and less robust. Hull panels are often cored and thinner than on an offshore boat. Rarely do they receive the careful workmanship that is required for a quality race boat, or the high safety factors ideally applied to a dedicated offshore cruiser. Then again they don’t need either as their use and abuse is generally much less harsh then encountered in the life cycles of either racing or offshore cruising boats.




-Accommodations:
On a coastal cruiser there should be good wide berths, with enough sea berths for at least half of the crew for that night run back to make work the next day. An offshore cruiser is often handled by a smaller crew and so fewer berths and fewer sea berths are necessary. The berths on an offshore boat should be narrower and have leeboards or lee cloths. On both, I am looking for a well-equipped galley but the galley needs to be larger on a coastal cruiser so that there is adequate space to prepare meals for the typically larger crew or a raft-up. Refrigeration is less important on a coastal cruiser, where ice is typically readily available at the next port of call, although the case can be made for no refrigeration or icebox if you are going offshore. The galley on an offshore cruiser should be located to minimize motion and should be shaped to protect the cook in rough going. Offshore fiddles need to be tall and secure and storage generous and easily accessed without disassmebling the boat. Race boats typically only have to reheat prepared foods so the galley can be simple.


-Cockpit:
A comfortable cockpit for lounging is very important on a coastal cruiser. It should be larger than an offshore boat to accommodate a larger number of people which is OK since pooping is less likely to occur doing coastal work. Race boat cockpits are all about allowing a large number of crew work efficiently and the allowing the helmsperson to see the sails and the waves.


-Deck hardware:
While gear for offshore boats needs to be simple and very robust, coastal cruisers need to be able to quickly adapt to changing conditions. Greater purchase, lower friction hardware, easy to reach cockpit-lead control lines, all make for quicker and easier adjustments to the changes in wind speed and angle that occur with greater frequency when coastal cruising. There is a big difference in the gear needed when ‘we’ll tack tomorrow or the next day vs. auto-tacking or short tacking up a creek. Race boats are all about being able to precisely, quickly and repetatively achieve a high degree of control over sail shape. They tend to have very high quaility equipment that is ergonomically placed for the anticipated creew size and number.


-Displacement:
Offshore boats need to be heavier. They carry more stuff, period. The traditional rule of thumb was that an offshore boat needs to weigh somewhere between 2 1/2 and 5 long tons per person. A coastal cruiser can get by with less weight per crew person but they are generally cruised by a larger crew. The problem that I have is that most offshore sailors and many coastal cruisers seem to start out looking for a certain length boat and then screen out the boats that are lighter than the displacement that they think that they need. This results in offshore boats and some coastal cruisers that are generally comparatively heavy for their length. There is a big price paid in motion comfort, difficulty of handling, performance and seaworthiness when too much weight is crammed into a short sailing length.


I suggest that a better way to go is to start with the displacement that makes sense for your needs and then look for a longer boat with that displacement. That will generally result in a boat that is more seaworthy, easier on the crew to sail, have a more comfortable motion, have a greater carrying capacity, have more room on board, and be faster as well. Since purchase and maintenance costs are generally proportional to the displacement of the boat the longer boat of the same displacement will often have similar maintenance costs. Since sail area is displacement and drag dependent, the longer boat of an equal displacement will often have an easier to handle sail plan as well. The displacement on race boats is usually dictated by the racing rule it races under and can vary pretty widely. That said, race boats are generally lighter in weight and have their weight distributed to improve stability and overall performance relative to the rule.

-Keel and Rudder types:
I would say unequivocally that for coastal cruising, a fin keel is the right way to go here. The greater speed, lesser leeway, higher stability and ability to stand to an efficient sail plan, greater maneuverability and superior windward performance of a fin keel with spade rudder (either skeg or post hung) are invaluable for coastal work. Besides fin keels/bulb keels are much easier to un-stick in a grounding. In shallower venues a daggerboard with a bulb or a keel/centerboard is also a good way to go.


There is a less obvious choice when it comes to the keel and rudder type for offshore cruising. Many people prefer long or full keels for offshore work but to a great extent this is an anachronistic thinking that emerges from recollections of early fin-keelers. Properly engineered and designed, a fin keel can be a better choice for offshore work. There is the rub. Few fin keelers in the size and price range that you are considering are engineered and designed for dedicated offshore cruising. >>


-Ground tackle:
Good ground tackle and rode-handling gear is important for both cruising types but all-chain rodes and massive hurricane proof anchors are not generally required for coastal cruising. Racers generally carry the lightest ground tackle they can get away with and count on sheer brute strength to handle anchoring and making way.


-Sail plan:
At least on the US East Coast, (where I sail and so am most familiar with) light air performance and the ability to change gears is important for a coastal cruiser. It means more sailing time vs. motoring time and the ability to adjust to the 'if you don't like the weather, wait a minute' which is typical of East Coast orGreat Lakes sailing. If you are going to gunkhole under sail, maneuverability is important. Windward and off wind performance is also important.

With all of that in mind I would suggest that a fractional sloop rig with a generous standing sail plan, non- or minimally overlapping jibs, and an easy to use backstay adjuster is ideal. This combination is easy to tack and trim and change gears on. I would want two-line slab reefing for quick, on the fly, reefing. I would want an easy to deploy spinnaker as well.

Offshore cruisers need a robust and reliable rig that can shift gears across a very wide range of windspeeds but generally does not need to change rapidly as there is usually the luxury of lots of sea room. Traditional offshore rigs often feature low vertical centers of gravity to reduce heel angles, and multiple sails rigs such as cutters and ketches which can shift from moderate winds to heavy winds simply by dropping a single sail (and in the case of the cutter reefing the mainsail). As a result of better sailing handling hardware, sail and spar materials, more and more modern offshore cruisers are employing fractionally rigged sloops which permit a very wide range of windspeeds for a single headsail and can then deal with building conditions by blading-out or reefing the mainsail.


-Speed:
I think that speed is especially important to coastal cruising. To me speed relates to range and range relates to more diverse opportunities. To explain, with speed comes a greater range that is comfortable to sail in a given day. In the sailing venues that I have typically sailed in, being able to sail farther in a day means a lot more places that can be reached under sail without flogging the crew or running the engine. When coastal cruising, the need for speed also relates to being able to duck in somewhere when things get dicey.


-Ventilation:
Good ventilation is very critical to both types. Operable ports, hatches, dorades are very important. While offshore, small openings are structurally a good idea, for coastal work this is less of an issue. >>


-Visibility and a comfortable helm station:
Coastal boats are more likely to be hand steered in the more frequently changing conditions, and higher traffic found in coastal cruising and are more likely to have greater traffic to deal with as well. A comfortable helm position and good visibility is critical. Offshore, protection of the crew becomes more important. >>


Storage and Tankage:
There is a perception that coastal cruisers so not need storage. I disagree with that. Coastal cruisers need different kinds of storage than an offshore boat but not necessarily less storage. Good storage is needed to accommodate the larger crowds that are more likely to cruise on a short trip. Good water and holding tankage is important because people use water more liberally inshore assuming a nearby fill up, but with a larger crew this takes a toll quickly. Holding tanks are not needed offshore but they are being inspected with greater frequency in crowded harbors and there are few things worse than cruising with a full holding tank and no way to empty it. Offshore boats generally need larger fuel tanks.
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 08-05-2010 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 08-06-2010
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There's a lot of really good info here, and I appreciate everyone's response! I think puddinlegs was right on with his comment about absolutes.

There's definitely "outliers" who will (and have) gone offshore/deep water cruising in almost every type and size of boat. There are always going to be exceptions, but surely there has to be a "general rule"...isn't there?

What is your criteria for a boat to be blue water worthy? For example, do you require a certain amount of fresh water per person per day? Does the rigging need to be of a certain gauge of line? Would you be willing to go over the deep in a boat with a displacement of less than 14,000 lbs?

What is your opinion of the minimum specifications a boat should be in order to be blue water worthy?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyPappy View Post
There's a lot of really good info here, and I appreciate everyone's response! I think puddinlegs was right on with his comment about absolutes.

There's definitely "outliers" who will (and have) gone offshore/deep water cruising in almost every type and size of boat. There are always going to be exceptions, but surely there has to be a "general rule"...isn't there?

What is your criteria for a boat to be blue water worthy? For example, do you require a certain amount of fresh water per person per day? Does the rigging need to be of a certain gauge of line? Would you be willing to go over the deep in a boat with a displacement of less than 14,000 lbs?

What is your opinion of the minimum specifications a boat should be in order to be blue water worthy?
>14,000 lbs? Depends on the boat A well prepped Olson 40 at just over 10,000 lbs, sure! A Farr 40 of racing fame and similar weight, nope. All that said, I'm a huge sucker for S&S swans even with their limited tankage and hole into the pit companionways.

Regardless of the boat, the running rigging and standing rigging deserve extra attention and preparation. If you think it needs replacing, just do it. One thing that many overlook is carefully sanding shivs... this one simple prep task will do more than almost anything to save halyards. And again, choosing a boat has much to do with the type of sailing you like to do. One man's delight is another's folly. What else? Tankage, sure, especially if the boat is too heavy to sail well in under 15kts of breeze. Water? It's nice, but again, one man's puddle is another's lake. Again, check out the books I mentioned before. They'll do more to help you answer this question than any of our truncated posts will.

Last edited by puddinlegs; 08-06-2010 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 08-06-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddinlegs View Post
>14,000 lbs? Depends on the boat A well prepped Olson 40 at just over 10,000 lbs, sure! A Farr 40 of racing fame and similar weight, nope. All that said, I'm a huge sucker for S&S swans even with their limited tankage and hole into the pit companionways.

Regardless of the boat, the running rigging and standing rigging deserve extra attention and preparation. If you think it needs replacing, just do it. One thing that many overlook is carefully sanding shivs... this one simple prep task will do more than almost anything to save halyards. And again, choosing a boat has much to do with the type of sailing you like to do. One man's delight is another's folly. What else? Tankage, sure, especially if the boat is too heavy to sail well in under 15kts of breeze. Water? It's nice, but again, one man's puddle is another's lake. Again, check out the books I mentioned before. They'll do more to help you answer this question than any of our truncated posts will.
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oops... sheaves it is.
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Old 08-06-2014
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Re: What makes a boat "Blue Water" worthy

Jeff_H, sorry to drag up an old thread, but this answered several questions I had - and as seems to be usual, created several new questions as well.

Could you give some examples of "modern offshore cruisers" you mention in your article? I'm getting into the market and had all the bluewater vs production boat questions, and I think a modern offshore cruiser - if it exists at non-exorbitant prices - might be exactly what I'm looking for.

I see a lot of people have a ton of respect and appreciation for traditional offshore cruisers - the traditional lines, teak decks, etc - but I have zero interest in maintaining teak decks - the less wood the better in fact. I'm not entirely opposed to a traditional pre-1990 offshore cruiser, but if people are valuing the traditional aesthetics that doesn't do much for me since I prefer functional - so I'm better off going after the market where I'm actually paying for what I value, rather than things I don't value (teak, traditional lines, racing equipment, excessive electronics).

With technological progress it seems it'd be possible to make a safe, medium displacement offshore cruiser almost entirely of fiberglass, with a well laid out interior, okay sailing performance, in the pocket to mid-sized cruiser range (30-38 ft).

But looking in the Northwest market (Seattle, Oregon, Alaska), most under 24-year-old boats (post 1990) seem to be performance cruisers and racers, and most pre-1990 bluewater capable boats are the traditional type (Tartans, Hans Christian 38T's).

Last edited by agusus; 08-06-2014 at 12:50 AM. Reason: typo
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Re: What makes a boat "Blue Water" worthy

A blue water boat should have a strong hull small windows big cockpit drains and over sized rigging,preferably cutter rigged.Mine has a steel hull so I have no issues with keelbolts leaks or chainplates tearing out.
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Old 08-06-2014
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Re: What makes a boat "Blue Water" worthy

In my mind, there is "offshore" and there is "offshore".

I've sailed across the Gulf of Mexico a few times, and crossed over to the Bahamas a few times. That's kind of offshore, but it's not the same as across the Atlantic Ocean offshore. I realize that.

My boat is without a doubt, classified as a coastal cruiser. It has a wing keel, spade rudder, roller furling, is 42 feet long, and only weighs 22,000 pounds. It has a wide beam and a cabin you can hold a party in. It handles bad weather well and I've never had it in any weather that it was uncomfortable in. The highest wind it's ever sailed through with me on board is about 45 knots and it handled that fine. But, I wouldn't want to be sailing it through a hurricane.

I'm doing with it, exactly what I bought it to do with it. The first boat I bought was a true offshore, sail around the world, take anything boat. I never took it more than 20 miles offshore and at some point I realized I had paid for a lot of boat features that I was never going to use (even though I had bought it dreaming that maybe I would sail around the world in it)

I liken paying more for an offshore boat that will never go offshore, to people who buy heavy duty off road, four wheel drive vehicles, who never leave the pavement. It sure doesn't hurt anything, and if putting their money in features they are never going to use, rather than putting it in features they will use, is what makes them happy, how is it my business to disapprove of their choices?

But, I see a lot of people getting hung up on getting an offshore boat, that a lot of them are never going to take offshore. Nothing wrong with that, though.
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Re: What makes a boat "Blue Water" worthy

Great writeup Group9. I have been reading about cruising now from many authors while looking for a boat and the responses are so dependent on the source. Ask sailnet, SA, AS, L38 etc for an answer to this question and you get radically different answers but I tend to listen mostly to those that are doing it. And those comments seem to reflect yours most closely.

Read the Steve and Linda Dashaw stuff and it really opens your eyes from folks that have really done it. And they interview folks with lots of boats and get their feelings after the fact. Good reading. (And yes sell and design boats so keep that in mind when reading recommendations. Bet they would say one of theirs is best.)
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