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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum
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Old 03-10-2005
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Johnno is on a distinguished road
the ideal crusing yacht

The topic is as varied as sailors themselves but the reality is that there are some things that are common to them all - an understanding of boats and what they are intended for.

Everyone comes to sailing with preconceived views of what they want. And there is no problem with that. The difficulty that they have though is sorting through the maze of information out there and making sure that it is right for them. Yes I am about to add to that but I hope I can make it as simple as possible and be flexible enough for you to realise that it is important to understand your needs and how best to satisfy them.

Sailing covers a lot of territory and if you want a fast and competetive yacht then you go for that but if it is cruising that you are into it - that is a world apart. My comments are related to cruising and therefore if you want a yacht for pose and speed you need read no further.

Cruising is a completely different world to the normal world of sailing. It is not concerned with getting the biggest and the best but just getting something (in boat terms)that suits you and does what you want.

It is not money driven although like everything else it does cost. But there is no reason why it has to cost the earth. Certainly my advice would be to start small and work out what you want and then go from there. The problem that I see is that too many people just keep upgrading (like their cars) to keep up with the joneses. Sailing should not be like that and really it isn''t. It is more about getting out there and enjoying yourself.

Much has been said about the Pardeys and what they achieved in relatively small boats. But the truth is that the boats that they have had have been quite heavy displacement albeit small in overall length. So it is not appropriate to compare their craft with similar craft of lighter displacement.

The reality is that light craft just do not respond the same as heavy craft and if you want to go cruising you should understand that first before you make a purchase decision. You should also understand that most people do not go cruising in the way the Pardeys do. In fact most people who own yachts only do coastal cruising. Passage making takes a lot of skill and is beyond the capacity of most people unless you are really robust.

So to get back to the point of this article I would recommend that any wannabe sailor start in a modest boat. Something that is capable of doing coastal cruising and then working from there. You will get a lot more fun out of a boat that is capable of sailing in shoal waters and giving you the experience than you want.

In fact for those of us who have done the passage making bit - local sailing is where it is at. That is to say enjoying the sailing in your area without all the added angst associated with more serious ocean sailing.

Your boat does not have to be a thoroughbred. In fact once you have been there and done that there is less need for that. As long as it sails as you want and you can enjoy being out on the water that is far more important than anything else.

It is hard to impart that to young sailors because of their need to achieve and be noticed but once you have done that and are content with your life the reality is that the sailing is what it is all about.

So what is the ideal cruising yacht? The answer to that question is - what is right for you. Frankly unless you are about to sail around the world it is likely to be something quite modest. Something that you and your partner feel comfortable in and can manage.

Avoid all the hype and just get something that is suitable for the area in which you sail. You will enjoy the sailing just as much in a 25 footer as the flash Harry in his tupperware special with all the bells and whistles and the reality is that you will be out there far more than he is.

There are plenty of platitudes to prove that point but unfortunately people being what they are tend to carry their "need to impress" on the water with them. You can pick them easily and it is sad that cruising has degenerated to that level.

For those of you out there who are real devotees I salute you. Lets all enjoy sailing for what it is and the camaraderie that comes with it.

Yes, buy the boat that suits you but remember big is not always better and when it really comes down to it buying a sailing boat is like buying a pet. You don''t buy the biggest and the best. You buy what suits you and frankly if you do that you will have far more enjoyment. After all who wants to buy a greyhound when all you need is a fun loving spaniel?

Don''t worry over the years I have heard all the usual arguments. Mostly from wannabes but take it from someone who has been there and done it - if you want to enjoy yourself sailing buy the boat that suits you for the sailing you want to do and thumb your nose at the others. Their boats sit idle at the pier far too long and not surprisingly when you understand how hard they have to work to pay for the privilege.

That''s not what sailing is about. So get out there, have fun and then make up your mind. Chances are like me you will eventally gravitate to a small boat that you can handle without all the hype. Hey it wasn''t that long ago that we had to lead line to know depth and only have a compass to guide us. Technology has made that so much easier but that is not to say that we need all the mod cons that the marketers would have us believe.

One thing that being a sea dog has taught me is that you need to rely on your own resources and be prepared to do it simple. To do otherwise is to take away from the experience.If you want your boat to be a floating home buy a house boat. That is not what sailing is all about.

The Pardeys have been quoted as recommending - go small go now. My advice is - just go and do your own thing! Leave all the normal "upmanship" behind and enjoy sailing for what is is. That is enjoying being out there without all the hype.

Now here''s the rub - I''m in Australia and doubtless to some of you that will explain the idealism, but hey if you ever want to come sailing with me, I''m here.

Johnno
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