advice on buying a cruising boat
I think Duane makes a very good point worth repeating and commenting on. I have sailed quite a few boats since I was a kid. Lightnings, 420''s on up to racing a J/30 and now a moderately heavy performance oriented 38. Small boats are great for feeling the wind and being able to react almost instantly. When things go south, you can simply let the main go or round up and everything''s "Jake." A big boat is an entirely different matter.
I think Jeff H wrote somewhere here that one difference between a big boat and a small boat is that a big boat will move no matter how she is trimmed whereas sail trim is more important in a small boat. That single comment underscores a great many issues in sailing a larger boat. One being Duane''s point.
It is much easier to let a situation get ahead of you in a big boat. Much easier to continue with the canvas and trim you have up as weather deteriorates. And just when you realize that the situation is dire, you are already in extremis. The forces that build up on the rig and boat are amazing. Thousands of pounds of force. I must say that sometimes when I have people aboard my boat who sail smaller boats, they think they will be able to haul in the sheets by hand or swing the boom over on a jibe by hand. NO WAY. When they realize the amount of load on these lines....the look on their faces is instructive. That fact of physics is not to be taken lightly.
So, yes, a big boat can be sailed just as easily as a smaller boat. IF you know what you are doing and you have knowledge and respect for the physical forces you will encounter. Thus the maxim: reef early, reef often.
My best to all