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Old 02-02-2004
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norsea 27

I have two questions about these boats. A yachtworld search brings up 7 boats with displacements that range rom 7,000 - 14,000. How is that? There is also a 26'' pilothouse version. I would not have thought of this as a cruiser but I have seen a similar but slightly larger boat recommended on another site. Would any of these boats be up to a great circle cruise of the pacific?

Jeff and Jack and others who have graciously answered my earlier posts will see that my thinking has been all over the place, but right now Arlete and I are taking a KISS (Keep It Simple, Sailor)philosophy.
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Old 02-03-2004
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norsea 27

R, there are several interesting, complex questions wrapped inside your short post.

To start at the end, buying a smaller boat doesn''t mean you''re buying a simplier one. (To see this illustrated, visit and consider that Greg has just purchased yet another huge load of ''stuff'' to add to his already-stuffed Norsea 27). The design displacement of that boat was, as I recall, around 7,000#; it was after all originally marketed as a boat one could trailer, which is one reason why it''s beam is so narrow. How it ends up having twice that displacement is a mystery to me.

I''ve met two cruising couples who did long distances in Norsea 27''s. Wayne Carpenter wrote a book about traveling with his wife, 2 daughters and a mother-in-law and sailing around parts of the Atlantic (an Amazon search will turn it up), an episodic adventure that struck me as much more fun to read about than participate in. We met the second couple in Horta last summer. Like GUENEVERE in the URL listed above, the boat was heavily (an apt modifier, I think) equipped, had been out cruising for some years, and perhaps contained as many different systems, anchors & rodes, safety gear, electronic gizmos, multiple self-steering systems et al. as any boat which had made it into Faial. Just the canvas ''components'' were gawk-worthy: dodger, bimini, lee clothes, side enclosures, aft enclosure, (plus cabin awning) AND some way to a) rig it all while b) being able to move about and sail...all on a 27'' boat.

If you were to look at each ''piece'' of the owners'' approach, it appeared thoughtful and seamanlike. As I stepped back and looked at the forest rather than the trees, I had to wonder what they were thinking. Perhaps they loved the boat and, incrementally, kept adding things while enjoying their cruising. My hunch is that it was a somewhat different circumstance: they started out thinking a small boat was preferred (shift with background music to Pardey''s mantra, here) but weren''t really willing to cruise or live simply, and so fell into the trap of associating ''things'' with ''outcomes'' (safety, comfort, etc.). Having done extended cruising with a small family (3 of us) on both 20'' and 27'' sloops, I think I can picture what a huge compromise they were experiencing while thinking they were impressively set up.

I digress. I think you could be much more comfortable on a considerably faster boat (once it''s loaded down for the Pacific) that could manage the load-carrying needs you''ll face while spending less than most Norsea 27 sellers seem to think is warranted for their boats. OTOH you won''t own a character boat and you''ll invest significant sweat equity - a good thing as you''ll know the boat well.

If KISS is what you''re after, don''t think that bigger means more complex. As just one eample, when we sailed out of Santa Barbara, a very sought after Pacific voyager was an older Islander 34. Very seaworthy hull with modest, productive lines, usually very few systems, and it dealt well with being loaded out for cruising. They remain cheap, have simple structural components that can be easily surveyed and, if repowered, rerigged, and given good sails and a vane, would be suitable for the same kind of cruising today. (On the East Coast, a common preference for similar use was a Pearson Vanguard). While these are older examples (tho'' not much moreso than a Nor''sea 27) and may be far from the best compromise choice you could make today, such boats by contrast illustrate the characterture-like nature (IMO) of duded-up, high-end pocket cruisers.


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Old 02-03-2004
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norsea 27

Thanks for the reply Jack. When I think of five people on a 27 foot I have to conclude there is something either really beautiful or really sick going on in that family. But to the point: I have actually spent a lot of my time so far thinking about an approach like the one you suggest with the Islander 34. My concern is that I will be in my late 50''s when I get on the boat full time and hope to be in my late 60''s or more when I return to land-based life. I don''t want to get forced off the boat early because I can''t handle the sails. Mainsail furling is out for me and I''m not keen on roller-furling jib either for that matter. Ketch rig doesn''t fit the KISS philosophy too well, plus Jeff H''s case on another thread for the fractional sloop is very persuasive. I had pretty arbitrarily put 32'' as my size limit. Am I being too worrisome about sailsize? I''m beefy enough, but 25 years as a bricklayer has put a some wear and tear on the wrists elbows shoulders and back. I know this is a totally individual decision, but if anyone can share personal experience I would appreciate it.

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Old 02-04-2004
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norsea 27

Dick, I suspect you''ll both chuckle and sigh a bit to hear me say this...but you seem to be falling into the same mindset ''trap'' we see here often when you correlate your physicial limitations re: sail handling to boat length...when it really should be to boat size (displacement). And even then, I think you''re worried about something that''s highly variable and a quite small piece of the overall puzzle of choosing a boat suitable in size for your abilities and your cruising plans.

Specifically WRT handling the main, keep in mind that you will improve over time your own efficiency as your skills build, you can augment your physical strength with simple sail handling systems (I''m amazed at how much easier I find it to hand my main after adding the simpliest of lazy jack systems, which cost me perhaps $25), you will come to act sooner by anticipating better a change in conditions, and finally - radical as it sounds in theoretical discussions like we have here - there is no reason why you can''t trade off a bit of sail area for improved ease of sail handling. And all of these varibables involve no specialized, expensive equipment.

Two illustrations:
1. I met Klaus at sea when we were on passage to Horta last summer. He was sailing a 44'' cutter with a high aspect sail plan, he was alone and late 40''s/early 50''s, and he was finishing his sixth (that''s SIXTH!) Atlantic Circle - from inside the Med to the Central/Western Caribbean, and return - in the last 6 years, and almost exclusively while singlehanding. How does he do it? One answer is that he relies on roller furling of both foresails, and he has all 3 sails well built but undersized (including a roachless main). His attitude is that he does not fret about going a bit (not a lot) slower at sea than might be possible, because a more important criterion to him is minimizing the amount of sail handling he has to do, most especially that which takes him out of the comfort (and safety) of his cockpit. Yet he would be considered by any thoughtful person to be an accomplished seaman. (He relied on other strategies that were also well considered and conservative in nature; too bad he isn''t here counseling the rest of us on this stuff!)
2. A good friend is currently in New Zealand, two years after we shared an anchorage in Mexico. Prior to that, he''d crossed the Atlantic twice, sailed the Med and lived aboard for two years on the Black Sea while earning money teaching English. It seems reasonable to expect he will complete a Circle after 6-8 more years, assuming no terrible incidents along the way, but has already accomplished a tremendous amount of sailing. He''s alone (altho'' he''d like to have someone join him), he doesn''t need nor can he afford a big boat, and so he''s done all this on a sloop-rigged centerboard Tartan 27. I''m sure we can all sit back here on the BB and discuss how unsuitable such a boat is for long Pacific passages or tough runs such as the one to reach NZ from French Polynesia...but Russ'' ''adventures'' and mishaps have only had to do with systems failures, not with the performance of the hull and sail plan nor seaworthiness of the Tartan.

IMO the point of both these illustrations is that single sailors figured out how to make a boat of their choice meet their needs, and then adjusted systems and behaviors accordingly. Neither is cruising what might strike us as an optimum boat choice, but both are successful by any reasonable standard, and by now the length of time they''ve been doing this would reveal fundamental flaws in their approach. And of course most importantly, both fellows are obviously capable seaman who use sound judgement and demonstrate good skills - except IMO for being at sea without a watchstander, something that in my mind just seems imprudent by any reasonable standard.

If you look just a bit, you can find 30 footers much ''bigger'' than 34 footers (compare a Baba 30 or Tashiba 31 with an Islander 34 or H-R Rasmus 35, e.g. - all considered decent cruising boats insofar as hull form, sail plan, etc.). Think instead about the whole package, and then reflect on simplifying and modifying. If the budget is thin, fall back on good references from 20-25 years ago, when ''systems'' were fewer and far less important - e.g. Hal Roth''s excellent After 50,000 Miles or Ross Norgrove''s The Cruising Life. And don''t forget to put all your homework in the context of the cruising grounds you hope to cover and type of sailing you hope to be doing - both are of paramount importance.

And then, just get on with it. Time''s awasting...

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