Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 14
Caribbean cruisers: Advice please?
Simon, I saw your post and held off while looking forward to Jeff posting his comments, as how he classifies and comments on boats is always interesting and useful. And regrettably, he is right about your list: better to discard it and whatever method you used to develop it and start from scratch on your research (which Jeff has of course helped you with).
One observation, one quibble and one addition re: Jeff''s comments. First, it will save you much time if you accept at the get-go that searching for ALL the boats that best meet your criteria will waste a lot of time, because you''ll find only a subset of them are likely to be in your geographic area (wherever that is). As with another thread on this BB, maybe small Bristols and Tartans would appeal - and even be affordable - but if you''re in the SE U.S., they will be harder (not impossible) to find. Better to at least start with the subset of acceptable models that were sold in healthy numbers in that region. (Smaller boats more often tend to stick near ''home'', where they enjoyed healthy regional sales).
Personally, I think a choice that would suit your needs well is the Albin Vega 27'' sloop Jeff has on his list, but I surely wouldn''t consider it suffering from any serious liability (assuming you survey the below-decks mast step carefully). These seem to be available here in Florida and certainly up in New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, but perhaps the $9-10K and up purchase cost is more than he was assuming you would want to pay. A number of these boats have circled the world. John Neal''s Log of the Mahina is enjoyable reading, covers his cruise thru-out French Polynesia in his Vega 27 (and back to Seattle, no small feat), and offers an appendix on fitting out a Vega for cruising that would serve you well as a basic primer. It costs <$5 via Amazon.
To this list I would add a Cal 29 (or later but more expensive 2-29, which came with a small diesel vs. gas Atomic 4). I notice these are more available on the East Coast than their SoCal heritage would suggest.
Two final thoughts: First, you talk about ''sailing around the Caribbean for several months'' but are considering surrendering a fair amount of money for the privilege. If you really meant, despite using that casual phrase, that you hope to enjoy an open-ended jaunt, then great! But if you only have a few months...well, then getting any older boat properly set up and basically safe will eat up all that time, easily, and you need to rethink your goal. Second, any small boat is only going to get truly into the Caribbean (by which I would define getting past G''Town on Great Exuma in the Bahamas) by sailing to windward well. You won''t be able to power into it like the bigger boats (which is actually a good thing...but will require more patience and more time). So choosing a boat that may be solid and strong but of limited on-wind sailing ability (the Westerly comes to mind, along with others on both lists) is probably not a wise choice. I can think of few things worse than someone discovering that cruising is a hoot and truly fulfilling...but discover the boat they poured most of their money and all of their effort into is what''s keeping them from getting where they want to go. You can go almost anywhere in almost anything...if you are lucky. But with cost & time constraints, best look for something that slithers to weather nicely.
Good luck to you.