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Stede 09-06-2004 05:45 AM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat
There is an article in the June issue of “Cruising World” that I thought was interesting. It’s titled “Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat.” Six live aboard crews were interviewed. Their average cruising years ranged from 4-17 years. The article goes into a lot more detail than I can provide here, but below are a few items that they feel would be in an “ideal” cruising boat. It would be interesting to hear the opinions from other members of the cruising community on these items.

• Comfortable length (in feet) - 35 to 55

• Ideal comfortable length (in feet) - 40 to 50

• Ideal hull material - Five out of six crews chose fiberglass, with one preferring aluminum.

• Ideal rig - Five in six crews chose cutters, with one choosing a ketch, for the benefit of having a large private aft cabin.

• Ideal underbody -Five of the six crews preferred full or modified full keels, with one crew choosing a modified fin.

• Ideal cabin layout - Five crews preferred having an aft cabin, with one crew just stating a two cabin preference.

jbanta 09-06-2004 04:10 PM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat
Stede my brother good to see your shining words again on my screen.. GB... You do mean Ocean crusing not coastal right? For coastal crusing I prefer a much smaller boat one I can single hand. I don''t mind a V berth cabin as long as it is long enough I need over 6 feet.. I also like a comfortable head (One that doesn''t smell on warm days is even better :) ) Well I guess we all want something differnt out of our sailing.. Always great see you I''ll end this how I started.. God Bless...

Stede 09-07-2004 04:48 AM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat
Hi Jim,

Good to hear from you as well my brother.Yes, the article was referring to ocean cruisiing.What was a little surprising to me is the size of the suggested "ideal" length of a cruising boat.Apparently the average cruiser has a larger cruising "kitty" for associated costs as well.Clearly the advances in gear has changed the size of cruising boats.I''ve been thinking that a 37-38 ft.boat would be ideal for me, a single-handler.Several boats come to mind, but the more I consider long term maintenance costs,I''m starting to think maybe smaller is better.There seems to be two very distinct camps when it comes to hull configurations.Full keel vs.fin. Ocean cruisers seem willing to accept the loss of some speed for the benefits of full keels.As a single-handed sailor, the cutter rig makes sense to me.Or even better yet, a fractional rigged cutter with a removable forestaysail stay.I like you, like a v-berth. I like the airy feel to them. Anyway, the more I read, study, and talk to other sailors, the more defined my views become. Sail on the "true" course my friend. God bless!

WHOOSH 09-10-2004 02:08 AM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat
Stede, FWIW I find the views of the ''cruising couples'' reported on by CW to reflect CW''s limited exposure to the real cruising world and their tendency to offer bite-sized chewable articles rather than dig in deep. I also suspect these couples are typical of the Caribbean cruising contigent one finds down in the Eastern Chain (for a while, until they have ''done their thing'' and gone home to swap boat for RV), with relatively high net worth and limited world cruising experience. It doesn''t mean their views are not worth considering...but it does suggest they represent only one view and a limited one at that.

"Comfortable length (in feet) - 35 to 55"
There is nothing comfortable about handling a 40-55 footer in crosswinds in crowded basins or when backing to a quay wall and Med Mooring. Oh, it''s comfortable to slip into a nice captain''s chain in a large main salon or to have room for the washer-dryer (until you have to fix it) but, other than the few percent of use when a boat is off soundings, much more comfort can be found in medium sized boats as e.g. handling the anchor gear on a 35 footer rather than a 45 footer.

"Five in six crews chose cutters, with one choosing a ketch..."
No doubt driven by the fact they are all thinking of fairly large sail areas while sailing short-handed. A simple, easy to maintain, less expensive to operate, perhaps fractional, sloop rig (perhaps with a removeable solent stay for the heavy weather foresail) would be easier to live with and better performing, if only they would halve the displacement of the boat.

"Ideal underbody - Five of the six crews preferred full or modified full keels, with one crew choosing a modified fin..."
Very conventional thinking...for the 80''s. Three things typically drive the desire for these larger volume hull shapes (and their drag, and their weight, and their cost): room for lots of systems, tankage, and load carrying capability. The first is solely a function of the degree to which the crew wants shoreside amenities and toys; it''s not about cruising requirements but lifestyle preferences. The last two are driven by the usually-mythical desire to own a boat that ''I can take anywhere'' - the classic Pacific Crossing - while in reality perhaps 300 boats a year make that run. For North American, Caribbean, Mediteranean, and N European cruising, where far more cruising is actually done, water can be secured almost everywhere (and supplemented with a water maker if one simply must have that system), and food (including fresh food) is easily obtained.

So one wonders...for the 120,000 subscribers to CW, how many of them truly have the requirements described by these 6 couples? Or said differently, how many of these 6 couples actually will find their own expressed preferences ''ideal'' in their own future cruising?


Stede 09-10-2004 04:39 AM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat

Thanks for your comments.They are all valid points.I respect your views as someone that is "doing it." The largest boat I''ve ever sailed on was a 45 footer that I chartered out of Athens, years ago.I had to do a Med.moor with her in the small island harbor of Mykonos during an early Meltemi.I was lucky to get her to the quay.Handling a boat that size had been great up until then.However,It has never been my desire to own a boat that big for many reasons.Cost being one of them.

While reading the article in CW, I too wondered how many of the cruising couples are truly doing world voyages? Considering hull shape,of the few world cruisers I have talked with, all of them did have boats with full keels with attached rudders.Granted, I have only talked with a few,but the reasons they gave for having a full keel were the same as the reasons given in the 80''s."Better tracking, able to take a hard grounding,more protection for the rudder,volume,etc." I''ve looked at pictures of your boat...very nice! If I remember correctly, she is a Pearson 42 ft.Ketch.I don''t know the hull shape,but I imagine her to have a fin keel.If so, I would appreciate hearing your views on the pro''s and con''s of the fin keel.

Concerning sail configuration, fractional rigs do seem to be a good alternative. Sailing single-handed most of the time, handling large sails is a major concern for me. One concern I have with the fractional rigs I''ve considered is that they have cored hulls.I''m still undecided about whether I want a cored hull, but that''s just me.Of the older boats I''ve seen with solid hulls, the cutter plan seems to work well, while reducing sail handling size. It is indeed a trade-off though.The PHRF ratings are almost always lower on the cored hull boats.

As I complile as much information as I can before making a choice on my next boat, insight like yours and others is very valuable. Thanks!

WHOOSH 09-12-2004 08:56 AM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat
Stede, I didn''t follow your association of cored hulls with fractional rigs and wouldn''t stay away from the rig preference simply because you seek a solid hull. OTOH I''m much less concerned about coring with a closed cell product like Dinylcell (often found in N European products) than in balsa, so don''t be too quick to categorize all coring as similar.

WHOOSH is 13M/42'' x 4M/13'' x 1.7M/5.5'' and is a Pearson 424. She has an extended fin with a large gap aft of the keel followed by a full-length skeg and rudder. Having had 3 full-keel boats before her (all smaller), I enjoy being able to maneuver this larger, heavier boat generally more easily because of that extended fin...and I would be unlikely to prefer a full keel again.

I''m sympathetic with your need to Med Moor in a crowded basin in a crosswind in a big boat; it''s not fun. But again, I think that a huge percentage of even the small extended cruising contingent need less boat than they think...and it''s only in the wide open spaces where all that tankage and load carrying serves a purpose. And it all costs more money - lugging around that stuff, wearing out bigger/heavier gear, and enjoying a bit less spontaneity and trying a few less things if your boat''s big and your crew small.

I''m not an eager follower of the Pardey Mantra and so not trying to sell the notion of a ''minimalist'' boat. The main reason is because I hold the view that the best cruising is that which is shared, which means the woman/women aboard need to find as much pleasure as the men, which usually means more amenities and lighter gear (because women have far more sense in these things than men do, it seems to me). So a ''middle size'' boat seems about right for me, for all but the Coconut Milk Run/Indian Ocean/South Atlantic crowd. 10-11M or thereabouts should provide comfort, adequate load capacity for even long passages (e.g. our run across the Atlantic included stops every week to 2 weeks), and accommodate sufficient systems to make life on board more than camping out.

When you next visit a 40''+ cruising boat, if you have the chance, ask them how large their freezer is. Chances are they''ll go on at some length about how much beef they''ve got stowed in there, or tell you how few hours their generator runs to ''pull ''er down''. That''s what the bigger boats usually seem to be about: systems, volume for ''stuff'' and the (false) sense of security it gives one to haul around a butcher shop rather than eat what the locals find acceptable.

Good luck on the search! It is in fact the very first part of your cruising adventure.


Stede 09-12-2004 03:07 PM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat

Thanks for your comments.I guess I was a little vague on the fractional rig/coring item.As I look around for a good blue water boat,part of the criteria I''ve set is for the boat to have a PHRF of ~150.It seems like most of the fractional rigs I''ve seen that share this rating,or lower, have cored hulls.To complicate my search, I''m limited to a boat in the $65K range, which means my selection will be an older boat.I''m not necessarily against having a cored hull, but I do have some concerns about them.Especially in older boats where previous owners possibly have installed thru-hulls improperly.Also, there are many types of coring that I''m unfamiliar with.The Dynacell you mentioned being one of them.Another boat I looked at on "Yachtworld" had something called an "Airex" core.What the heck is that?Anyway, if I find a boat that meets my other criteria, but has a cored hull, I won''t rule it out,but will do more research on what type coring it has so that I know what I''m buying.Also, I know a good surveyor should be able to identify problem areas in a cored deck/hull.

I believe your comments on the needed size of a vessel are right on target.That was an issue that was surprising to me concerning the CW article.Reading your comments on crossing the Atlantic caught my attention as well,and made me re-examine how much room I would really need for stores, and water tankage.

Your viewpoint concerning the cutter rig / full keel is well taken.I know I''ve read some previous posts here about how difficult it can be to tack them at times.In my price range, and for my needs though, I can''t rule them out.Reading your comments concerning a full keel are insightful as well. As mentioned previously, I do respect your opinion highly as someone whom "is doing it."

Thank you my friend. Fair winds to you!

sailingfool 09-12-2004 05:33 PM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat

you might check the Bristol 35.5, they rate 150, have solid hulls, and are well built.

As to the subject of cored hulls, you can find a very passionate and through discussion at:

There are different points of view, that cored hulls can be kept Ok. But when we bounced over a rock last summer, I was glad we had decided to stay with all glass.

good luck.

Stede 09-12-2004 05:53 PM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat

Aye,my friend.I have taken a look at the Bristol 35.5. She is on my final list.She''s a real beauty.I believe she would be a pleasure to sail.

Thanks for the link on the coring.I''ve run my present boat pretty hard aground twice.I thought I was going to loose a tooth filling during one of them. O.k., maybe that last part is a lie ;^) ... My boat does have a solid bottom though and she came out of both abuses unscathed.Maybe a cored bottom would''ve done the same, I just don''t know.Looking at used older boats in my price range, I just know I have to be very,very careful on what ever I buy.With some of the names manufactures used for their coring process, I find it much harder to find out what''s in it.I''ve not given up though.I just need to learn more. Thanks again!

Jeff_H 09-12-2004 06:34 PM

Second Thoughts on the Ideal Cruising Boat
Hi Stede

I like the direction this discussion is going. As usual I enjoyed Jack''s take on the subject. I hear over and over again how this or that is the ideal type of boat to go cruising and yet I am constantly amazed at what people take cruising.

I somewhat agree with Jack that distance cruisers in the Atlantic seem to do quite well with comparatively modern designs and comparatively smaller boats. I am beginning to get the impression that for distance cruisers within the central regions of the Pacific there is a greater preference for larger, more robust boats than is popular in the Atlantic.

I don''t think that coring should, in and of itself, be a deal breaker. A well constructed cored hull boat should hold up as well as a well constructed non-cored hull. Pound for pound it is hard to build a non-cored hull with the strength and stiffness of a cored hull, but it can be approximated with a carefully engineered system of transverse and longitudinal framing. That is actually how my boat is constructed.

Airex is a PVC based expanded foam. The earliest. low density versions have not had a great service record but their higher density and later foams have done quite well.

I would think that with your budget you will probably want to stay below 40 feet (and perhaps below 38 feet) in order to find a reasonable quality boat in your price range. Although a little rare in the States, Farr 11.6''s (Farr 38''s) are a non-cored hull fractionally rigged cruiser that can be bought well within your budget and which have excellent offshore cruising records. Of course they do not represent what a lot of people''s ideas of what an offshore cruiser should look like.

Nice to see you back.

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