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Old 09-21-2010
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Question Feedback Needed: Blue Water Cruising Boats 32-36 Feet

Hi Folks,

I'm new to the forum, but I'm not at all new to sailing. I spent my childhood in dingy racing, my the summers in college crewing expensive cruising boats for (mostly) unskilled owners, and was a liveaboard for four years in my late 20's/early 30's. I've done a handful of long single handed coastal trips and one blue water passage.

Now, some 20 years later -- having taken a long break from boating -- I'm looking to buy a boat, and I wanted to tap the collective wisdom that I've seen on this board from lurking for the past six months.

I've been out of the boating world for two decades, during which time I'm sure lots has changed, but below is a brief summary of what (I think) I'm looking for. Mostly, I'd appreciate your input and suggestions to help me refine the objectives and pick the appropriate boat.

Here's our criteria:

1. 32-36 feet (but we'd consider slightly smaller and larger boats)

2. Blue water capable/proven (although we have no immediate plans for anything more than extended coastal cruising): stout, seaworthy, solidly outfitted. We'll trade speed for stability and safety.

3. Berthing: a minimum of three usable berths; five would handy for the few times when we invite a couple of friends for the weekend.

4. Hull design: most likely a full keel design with a cutaway forefoot, but we'd consider a stoutly built more modern design.

5. Outfitting: we'll trade gizmos and the latest amenities for proven, simple systems that require little maintenance.

6. Rigging/layout: cutters probably fit our needs best, but yawls and ketches are not beyond consideration and a single headsail would also be workable. Aft cockpit.

7. Emotional: we'd like to find a boat that captures our hearts as well as our minds: so history, lore, and traditional styling, etc. would be have huge appeal. There's something about teak decks and a class design that we cherish.

8. Budget: up to $100K, but we're prefer to find something under $80K. The market's quite soft.

I've got a short list of boats we like: Valiants, Cape George cutters, some of the Sam Morse designs, Pacific Seacraft, etc., but I really don't know how any of these boats line up against our criteria.

We expect to use the boat for weekend adventures during the year, trips of 2-3 weeks in duration during the summer, and (in another ten years after we retire) for extended periods of living aboard and cruising (probably nothing beyond extended coastal voyages, rather than open-ocean passages).

We're open to (and would be greatly thankful for) any input, but our specific question for the group is:

Given our criteria and budget, what boats/designs should we target and should we revise our criteria in any way given our objectives?

Gratefully yours,
Oyster7
PacNW, USA

Last edited by Oyster7; 09-21-2010 at 09:18 AM. Reason: clarification of objectives
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Old 09-21-2010
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What you haven't said, and the item which would best allow comment on the specifics of your criteria and short list, is what you plan to do with the boat.

I would suggest that collectively your criteria makes sense only if your primary goal is leisurely long distance cruising with a large maintenance budget. Most would be lousy coastal cruisers, especially in an area like the PNW known for big currents.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 09-21-2010 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 09-21-2010
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The Hans Christian 33 or 38 would work for you if you consider the bunk area in the salon for guests sleeping arrangements. Most of the 33's have a quarter berth, but ours does not, so I can't tell you how comfortable they are. We have had guests on our 33' boat, and as long as they don't mind the salon, the comfort is fine. Everything else meets your criteria for the HC 33.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remetau View Post
The Hans Christian 33 or 38 would work for you if you consider the bunk area in the salon for guests sleeping arrangements. Most of the 33's have a quarter berth, but ours does not, so I can't tell you how comfortable they are. We have had guests on our 33' boat, and as long as they don't mind the salon, the comfort is fine. Everything else meets your criteria for the HC 33.
Pretty boats, but waaaay too much teak for my tastes.
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Thanks, all, for your input. Jeff, I've updated the criteria to say "We expect to use the boat for weekend adventures during the year, trips of 2-3 weeks in duration during the summer, and (in another ten years after we retire) for extended periods of living aboard and cruising (probably nothing beyond extended coastal voyages, rather than open-ocean passages)." Remetau, having guests sleep in the salon is fine (and what we had in mind). I doubt we'll have overnighting guests more than a couple of weekends a year anyway. Thanks, again!
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Old 09-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oyster7 View Post
We expect to use the boat for weekend adventures during the year, trips of 2-3 weeks in duration during the summer, and (in another ten years after we retire) for extended periods of living aboard and cruising (probably nothing beyond extended coastal voyages, rather than open-ocean passages).
Ten year is a long time, why don't you buy a boat that fits your current need and look for another one ten years from now. It is most likely that you can afford a better boat by then.

After joining sailnet in 2006 and read every post about blue water boats vs other, I am still clueless of which I should buy. I hope you have better luck than I.
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Old 09-21-2010
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From my read of your intended use, you dont EVER seem like you need a salty, bluewater cruiser on this comment

Quote:
probably nothing beyond extended coastal voyages, rather than open-ocean passages.
Looks like you need something that would be a good liveaboard that could make the occasional gulfstream or mona passaeg crossing with good weather window. Correct?

If so, a production coastal cruiser would fit the bill and save you some bucks to get you in your budget with a newer boat which would sae you big bucks in refit costs. Liveability cant be beat for the bucks you'll spend...nice cockpits that are perfect for bimini/dodger, airy belowdecks, lots of ventilation, low maintenance (no teak).
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Old 09-21-2010
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Are you going to need to cook meals, and sleep in rough seas too far offshore to make it to a protected anchorage? If not it sounds like a bluewater cruiser would be a huge mistake for you!

Most heavy classic style bluewater cruisers don't sail at all in the usually light winds of the pacific northwest; you might as well get a trawler since you'll be motoring most of the time anyway.

They also have huge compromises for sleeping at anchor/dock in calm water since they're designed for sleeping/cooking/living safely in very rough seas. Narrow bunks for use with lee cloths, small gimbaled stoves, tiny portholes/companionway, etc.

My wife and I do the type of cruising you're talking about in a Catalina 22- and it's more than seaworthy enough, if a bit cramped. We take it offshore, as long as we can spend the night in a protected cove on an island, and not at sea. You could do this sort of thing in most any sailboat.

Last edited by casioqv; 09-21-2010 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 09-22-2010
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This is all very helpful, as it's forcing us to rethink the merits of buying a boat with far more capability (and with greater limitations) than we probably need. Alas, we also happen to be smitten with more classical designs. I guess it's all about tradeoffs. I'm not sure where we'll come out, but I'd appreciate any (and all) the feedback you folks are willing to offer, so please keep the comments coming...

Much obliged!
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Old 09-22-2010
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Hi Oyster,

We all have our various reasons and predilections that attract us to certain style boats. There's really no accounting for personal preference.

That said, the thing that strikes me most about your criteria is the preference for a full-keel design. Full-keels have some advantages, but they also offer many disadvantages too.

If you were looking to find the smallest possible boat that could safely cross oceans, and carry a heavy payload, then I'd say look at the various full-keel options in the 20-30 foot range. A full-keel on boats in this size range can yield some advantages, such as offering more displacement in a small length-over-all package.

But once you start moving up into the 30-plus foot range, it really is no longer necessary to have a full-keel in order to achieve the heavier displacement some find desirable in off-shore boats. Most blue-water boat builders, like Pacific Seacraft, Valiant, Hallberg Rassy, etc etc, are not using full-keel designs. Take a look, and you'll see that they use fin keels, usually with a full- or partial-skeg at the rudder.

In the 30'+ size range, there is plenty of hull volume available to achieve needed storage, etc without going to a heavy displacement full-keel arrangement and all its downsides. The downsides are that full-keels hugely increase wetted surface, which creates drag and hampers performance particularly in light air. To compensate for that, you'll need a bigger rig/sailplan, which increases costs and difficulty of handling. Also, a full-keel is simply not as efficient a shape for generating lift as the higher aspect fin keels. So not only do you get more drag, but you get less lift along with it.

So, I would say, throw out that "full-keel" criteria. That doesn't mean you shouldn't end-up with one, only that you shouldn't be disqualifying boats because they don't offer full-keels. You will really open up many more possibilities by considering fin keels too.

I also will agree with others who have said, that for how you plan to use the boat, there are loads of offerings from mainstream production builders that would suite your needs very well. So my best advice is to cast your net a little wider as you continue your search. And don't discount the "comfort" features and amenities so quickly, either. They are really nice to have and can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the boat.

Good luck!
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Last edited by JohnRPollard; 09-22-2010 at 01:28 PM. Reason: typos
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