Planning for family cruise - looking for options
Hi, been an avid reader for awhile, but now getting closer to some decisions. I am looking for different boats to consider on a 2-year Caribbean sail.
We are a family of 4 with plans (approved by my significant other) to go cruising in the caribbean. I am retiring in approximately 5 years and would like to do this cruise before our eldest daughter enters high school. Our daughters will be 7 and 12 years then.
We will be in our early/mid 40s. Right now, wife and I have attended ASA 101 and 103 and plan to do 104 in the future. My father has a 34-foot boat on Lake Erie that we have plans to sail on this summer. We also intend to rent some Colgate 26s locally and sail on some weekends. We hopefully will be able to charter in Florida in the near future.
In 2 1/2 years or so, we will move (military) and hope to be on the Chesapeake ;). The plan then is to buy a 30-something boat to continue to build our experience level. Sail it for 2-3 years, with evening beer-can races, long weekend overnights, and summertime week-long vacations. All of this will likely be in the bay.
At that point, we will buy a boat to actually sail on for the next 2 years. We intend to island-hop and limit the long passages. We are not looking to go to Bermuda. We intend to be patient, wait for good weather windows, and take our time. Hopefully, 3-4 days would be a long passage.
So the question becomes, what boat? The requirements:
- Sturdy enough. We are not crossing the pond. I don't think I need a Valiant or HR or even Tartan. I am not thinking MacGregor but I am trying to be realistic about price/build/quality.
- 3 separate sleeping cabins - I'll have teenaged daughters and this will help seal the deal. We could work with 2 cabins if the one had separate bunks. I kind of liked how Southerly had the overlapping V-births. I just wish I could afford one...
- A decent galley and stowage space. As we will be island hopping, we don't think we will need a year's worth of parts and canned goods.
- Shoal draft, max 5 foot. Bahamas will be prime sailing ground.
- Used is assumed - I rarely buy anything new that doesn't appreciate in value. I was thinking of a price range around $150k with an additional $30-40k for the refit. Obviously, there will be a possible trade-off between more recent, needing less work but costing more, and 15-20 years old, requiring more work, but costing less (and taking longer to get ready).
- A real plus is ease of maintenance or factory support and readily available spares. I am willing to take some time in refitting our purchase. I don't want to spend 2 years.
Right now, I am leaning toward a Catalina 42 with the shoal draft, pullman and 3-cabins. Some pluses and minuses:
+ Plenty available and at good price points. Seem to stabilize in value.
+ Decent quality reputation - not a Sabre, but will work for what we are doing. Factory support seems very good, with some outlying experiences.
+ Forward cabin and head seem optimal for the size.
- Galley layout not optimal and storage limited.
- Tankage limited.
My thoughts are that I could add tankage (Cat 42 Owner's Group had folks adding over 100 gallons!) and perhaps create some long-term yet temp storage in the twin aft cabins.
I have sailed on some Beneteaus but wasn't overly impressed with the systems. Note that these were not the 'First' series, which I have ruled out due to deeper draft. But I would love to hear some various opinions.
I am interested in different info on Benes, Juneaus, German/Scandinavian boats, Brits, etc.
I am not enamored with Hunter. The design/look just doesn't 'inspire' me. I do like traditional lines.
I am comfortable with Catalina. We can't afford BMW or even Buick and don't want/need Porsche. I can deal with Chevrolet/Ford. I probably could deal with VW/Renault/etc, but not Skoda/Fiat/AMC or, well, I think you get the point. I am looking for other ideas/options that would meet our requirements. I just don't want to miss out on valid options.
Don't know what the tankage is on a C42, but a watermaker might make up any shortage. Since you want extra cabins and only plan to cruise for a few years and not push the boat too much, what about a used charter boat of appropriate size? Would be a lower cost, but would need more upgrading, but probably cheaper overall.
While the galley storage on a C42 is limited, there is a lot in the pullman area. Nothing says you cannot store provisions there. I like top and front opening fridge.
Seems to me you've got things well thought out, you have a reasonable time frame and a really good transitional plan.
The one thought that occurred is that given your stated 'not across the pond' mindset, when it comes to the Caribbean boat you might want to try to find a boat already in the chain (a newish ex charter perhaps) when the time comes. The 1000 miles to windward from Florida to the chain is a tough slog - it might be easier to 'cross the pond' ;)... This plan might exclude your C42 (great choice, btw) as we didn't see too many of those down there, seems the mainstream brand in the charter trade is Jeanneau - but I've like what I've seen in some of those boats.. certainly the 3 cabin requirement can be met that way.
Your interim 30 something Chesapeake boat could easily do the ICW and a few seasons in the Bahamas before heading east...
... but please don't bring up the likelihood of being retired in your 40s again... :(:mad::(;)
Definitely have watermaker on the list. I am concerned about the Diesel tankage and expanding that.
Thanks for the feedback.
Thanks for the replies
Jackdale and Faster,
I greatly appreciate the feedback. I'll have to look at the boats in charter. I guess I have been casually hearing (but not really acknowledging) that the jump off is a bit tough. Is there an actual 'route' that is the recommended track? What is the general method of doing the Caribbean?
One area I didn't mention is that at least partly doing the ICW is also interesting, but I wouldn't mind just getting a boat in FL, doing a refit for a few months, in conjunction with some test sails, and then head off through the keys and into the bahamas.
Island hopping can be a doddle, easy 40-50 mile daysails (usually) reaching in tradewind conditions, esp from Antigua/Barbuda pretty well all the way to Grenada. Great fun on a good boat.
But the long beat from Florida is often done strapped down and motorsailing upwind.. and it's a long way. (disclaimer..not done this myself, just going by what we hear) Doesn't sound like much fun.
Buying charter boats is an 'eyes wide open' proposition, some of them get a bit beat up, and the constant UV exposure tends to make them look older than they are. Hopefully finding one with a good outfit will make a difference.
A Moody 41 has three cabins. So does a Kirie Elite 37, but its draft may be a bit much at 6'. Recently saw one of the latter listed at under $40K - a good price for a stout design.
The only Moody I have sailed was a 34CC. Nice roomy boat.
Ahh, a brand new topic to research. Actually, sounds very interesting, with some tough jaunts - probably get some help and offload the family. I'll be getting deep into this...
Like that Moody - will have to keep my eye on those. Definitely more Buick/Mercury than Chevy/Ford, in my eyes. However, for the money involved, probably have to get an older one, which likely means longer, more extensive refit. I have some new research to do.
And there is definitely a theme about checking boats coming out of charter. I'll give some looks. Would be hard to just jump on a boat without a big checkout and some gradual 'orientation' sailing, but may make a lot of sense.
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