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post #21 of 24 Old 01-22-2004
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Well written as usual.... I do want to touch on just one of your points. (In as much as I basically will concede to your points on the Beneteau 42s7.) My point on the long boat arguement is this, if you are looking at a 20,000 lb 37 footer with a 29 foot waterline, you would be much better served with say a 41 foot 20,000 boat with a 38 foot waterline. (Its my size is set by displacement not length arguement). In that scenario the longer boat will have large tank tank capacities and a better ability to carry the kinds of gear that one needs to go cruising. In saying that I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that not all long (light) boats are made the same. In many of not most cases the longer lighter boat is laid out to be a coastal cruiser and so may not be suitable for distance cruising or for a particular person''s taste.

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post #22 of 24 Old 01-22-2004 Thread Starter
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Yep, I''m still here. We have been digesting all the excellent and greatly appreciated information from everyone. We have pretty much started over. The displacement/length issue really changes the landscape, leading us to consider longer (I no longer use the term larger) boats with medium displacements. This change in thinking has been welcome since the longer boats allow for more stowage, larger tanks, more livable space and should provide a more comfortable motion at sea.

Jack made reference to our crusiing plans. In short I will retire in 2 yrs - 4 months - 9 days (but who''s counting). We will both be in our early 50s and hope to cruise as long as our health allows. We intend to crusise the Bahamas, VIs, Hispaniola and Latin America. As most sailors do, we dream of the South Pacific & the Med, but we realize that will require a totally different boat.

One of the big issues we wrestle with is: exactly how much "sailing" will we actually be doing and how many multiple day runs will we be making? Will we be spending 90% of our time at anchor? If we will only be making 2-3 multi-day jumps -vs- numerous 4-5 day runs, how should this influence our choice.

To the issue of safety: this IS our number one concern and those issues go into all of our discussions. There will never be a compromise in this area.

Gear: NO = freezer, water maker, electric winches, propane

YES = SSB, refrig, pressurized water, GPS/Chartplotter, ORIGO stove/oven, autopilot, solar, wind gen.

MAYBE: water heater, small Honda genset, radar

Thanks again for all the excellent info!!

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post #23 of 24 Old 01-23-2004
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Thanks for the follow-up, El. Hang in there on the homework and it’s good to hear this is helpful.

I completely agree with Jeff''s point about a longer boat (for that 20K displacement) being preferable. The snag is when it comes time to afford that boat, as typically longer boats suitable for long-term cruising and that have (for their length) lighter displacements are more carefully engineered and built, are fewer in number in the marketplace, and will consequently be more pricey. But that doesn''t impeach the preference.

A couple of thoughts about ‘systems’ for your planned cruise, as those decisions and your choice of boat are inter-related. Being clear about system needs up front can help you buy more boat if shopping on the used market. Finding ‘the right gear’, carefully maintained, on a used boat will help you avoid subsequent gear purchases and the time/cost of installation, thereby allowing you to plow more into the boat purchase itself. And I’d like to challenge your basic notion that the boat you buy for a Caribbean cruise could not eventually become a good choice for crossing the Pacific. You will find it immensely more cost and time effective to pick a strong and capable boat initially, and then incrementally improve her, should you decide on longer passagemaking, rather than trade up later, pay tax a second time, change out or add the necessary systems, and start a new learning curve. And some of the cruising challenges in the Caribbean can be formidable in one way or another. When you look at the sea conditions you might face off the Venezuela and Columbia coast enroute the San Blas Is., that can be tougher sailing than anything you’ll find enroute the central South Pacific outside storm season. And if planning to cruise e.g. the Roques and Aves off the VZ coast or the atolls off Belize and Mexico (common cruising destinations) the need for adequate water capacity and alternative forms of electrical generation are not unlike those you’d have in the Marquesas or Tuamotus of French Polynesia.

Your gear decisions seem compatible to me with your planned destination and route, with perhaps the following quibbles. Just about any boat you find with pressure water will have a water heater; I suggest you insure it is heated by the FW side of the engine as well as electrically. Any layout that offers a workable shower arrangement (ideally, a small stall) will, all by itself, make life aboard much more enjoyable AND allow you to consider less expensive dockage where shoreside amenities ashore are cruder, as you won’t need them. Using a fridge and SSB (since you have time, I hope you will consider a ham license so you can benefit by the excellent Winlink system – will mandate a high-capacity DC electrical system (at the least, a hi-cap alternator, 400+ amp/hr house battery bank and some form of alternative energy; wind suits best in the Caribbean trades). There are numerous vendors who can help you in this area re: education and system configuration (see e.g. – nice folks). And please think carefully about redundant self-steering: you will be sailing short-handed, sometimes in robust conditions, and gear does break. You can passage-plan to reduce the length of your passage legs…but losing self-steering when it’s just the two of you can really take the bloom off the rose.

Two final thoughts:
1. I strongly encourage you to join the SSCA so you can receive their monthly bulletins, and especially to purchase their CD of their last 8 years of bulletins (only about $15, I think –; go to the Store, shop under Publications). There is a huge collection of helpful, relevant info from other cruisers in there and it’s easily searchable by computer).
2. Within the Caribbean Basin, it is relatively easy to upgrade or add systems later, based on your own cruising experiences, rather than trying to have all the right answers upfront, before you’ve even headed out. There are reliable, affordable supply chains straight back to the U.S. in Puerto Rico, the VI’s, St. Martin, Trinidad, Grand Cayman and up the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. The more you can stick with the basics – picking a good boat and getting sound, basic systems set up – the more time you’ll have to sail her before shoving off and build your skill sets, which in turn will reduce anxieties and increase the pleasure factor once you leave.
Believe it or not, you will find you need ALL of that 2+ years of remaining time to adequately prepare yourselves and your boat for your new adventure.

Good luck to you both.

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post #24 of 24 Old 02-07-2004
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When making your selection between boats, safety is a very important consideration.

And . . .

Sometimes, (when you need it most), there is a need - "the need for speed"!

The best way of surviving a storm, is to not be there when it arrives. In making crossings (such as the gulf stream), being 25% faster, can get you out of a lot of trouble when weather windows close down on you unexpectedly.

Last note

It is a mighty fine problem for you to have to solve, when choosing between 3 fine ships. You are most fortunate indeed, if this dilema is one of your biggest ones.

Best to ya,

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