Intro and Advice Sought
We are a family of four with kids 10b and 9g. We have been planning for several years to cash out and cruise for at least a year. Originally, we had planned on leaving in early 2009. Circumstances have changed and we find ourselves with the opportunity to set sail next winter (2007). We currently live the mountains of Western North Carolina. I grew up in the Panama Canal Zone and crewed a bit. I am not an accomplished sailor. We have owned several small sailboats (a laser and a lonestar 16) and a 20' motorboat that we spent a lot of nights on. We have sailed together as a family from Nassau to Staniel Cay and back. The kids are great around the water. My wife was a bit claustrophobic in the forward berth.
I need advice about the following things:
Buying a boat - Our budget for a boat tops out at $140k with the ideal being in the 100k range. We would prefer a catamaran for several reasons but a monohull that provides separate "staterooms" for the kids would work. Also, a master/owners stateroom that would be airy and roomy. Design and soundness far outweighs luxury. We have looked at Hardins and like the design. Where can I find that great family cruiser?
Kids education - We've heard about calvert but would welcome alternatives. I'd love to find a good website or discussion with families that are about to, are currently, and have cruised.
Pet on board - Guffey is a 85lb 2 year old yellow lab. Are there any restrictions about pets entering international ports? I've read plenty of articles about "boat-training" dogs but any additional advice would be greatly appreciated.
I have a million other questions but those are the big three right now. I know that there are questions that I haven't even thought about asking. My wife and I are planning on getting instruction from a reputable source. Advice on a good school for couples/families would be appreciated.
www.noonsite.com is a good reference for various countries and the laws therein, with regards to the cruising sailor.
For education, there are some other recommendations, but I'd have to look them up.
A catamaran like a PDQ 34, Prout Snowgoose, Maine Cat 30, Tom Cat 30 or Gemini 105 would give you three cabins (at least most of them are three cabin layouts), and give you a lot of room, and are in that budget range. See this page here for some listings. Living aboard a cat can be easier for the wife and kids, since you don't live life at a 15-20˚ tilt on longer passages... and at anchor, the size is nice, as it lets you spread out.
You don't say where you want to cruise. That would influence what boats would be recommended. I know that Geminis, Prouts, and PDQ's have crossed the oceans, but I wouldn't recommend them if you were planning on doing mostly bluewater sailing. They're a bit small as cats go for that type of work.
I would highly recommend that you set aside about 10-20% of your boat buying budget for upgrades, repairs and re-fitting of what ever boat you buy. I have yet to see anyone buy a boat that was "perfect" for them, and didn't need some changes—this includes new ones.
I would also recommend that you take at least the ASA 101-105 courses for you and your wife, given your relative inexperience.
If you have questions on multihulls, please feel free to PM me... Most of the sailors here are monohull sailors... ;)
We're planning on hopping down the East Coast to the Keys and spend time in the Everglades/Naples, Fl area. Then we'd like to island hop through the Caribbean. We'd like to do some service projects in the Grenadines, Panama, Guatemala, and Honduras. There is a possibility that we'd cross the Atlantic to Senegal, West Africa where my wife was in the Peace Corp. If we did that we'd also like to spend some time exploring the Med.
We are not seeking constant long passages. We'd like to spend more time anchored and exploring.
A catamaran would make an excellent platform for that... and the shallow draft opens up more anchorages than a deeper draft vessel would have. Bluewater passages are possible in many catamarans, and I know that Prouts, PDQs, and Geminis have all done trans-Atlantic passages.
The one major caveat with all multihulls is that you can't "fill" up all the available space. Multihulls are somewhat weight sensitive, and most should be kept as light as possible... this is more true for trimarans, which generally are more weight sensitive than catamarans.
A good book to read would be Chris White's The Cruising Multihull. Although this book is getting a bit long in tooth, it does have some excellent information in it. Another good book is Thomas Firth Jones's Multihull Voyaging. This too is getting a bit long in tooth... but is also a pretty good read, but less technically deep than White's book.
So, generally speaking, what kind of length range should I be looking for. We would prefer a cat for the very reasons that you pointed out: shallow draft, level sailing, space, layout, etc. We also like the idea of private and common areas.
As always, Thanks!
The smallest cat that I saw listed in the link in my previous post was a Catalac 9m, and the largest was probably the Prout Snowgoose, respectively 29.5' to 37'. The Gemini is about 33.5' or a bit shorter, depending on the model.
The draft on most of these boats is in the neighborhood of 18-24" with the centerboard or daggerboard up, and 4-5' with the boards down.
The Catalac and Prout catamarans are going to be a bit older than the Geminis and PDQs, which are still being made IIRC.
Sailing a mulithull is a bit different in subtle ways from sailing a monohull. For instance, in a monohull, you generally reef the sails for the average wind speed and let the boat handle the gusts... on a multihull, you reef for the gusts and let the boat deal with the average winds. Multihulls, if kept light, tend to accelerate far better than monohulls, as they have significantly less inertia—not having heavy ballast. Conversely, they tend to slow down faster than monohulls, having less inertia.
If you want to see some video of a multihull in action, in fairly stiff winds and seas... go here.
Lake Ontario waves are typically squared off unless you get 200 miles of fetch out of the northeast-to-east, which isn't as common. Then you get longer, more sea-like wave trains...but they don't last long.
At the beginning of the video it is about 5–7' seas with 20 knots of wind and gusts up to about 28 knots. Near the end of the video it was probably 6-8' seas with 25 knots of wind and gusts up to about 35 knots... by the end of the afternoon, there were the occasional 9-12' seas with 28 knots and gusts past 35 knots. When the hat was lost, the boat was doing about 12 knots.
The area is not enclosed, it is Buzzards Bay, just north of the Elizabeth Island chains. See this webpage for where it is.
At the beginning of the video it is about 5–7' seas with 20 knots of wind and gusts up to about 28 knots.
Sure doesn't look that rough. Only occasional whitecaps would mean around 15Kt. ....were you reading apparent wind???
Looks like a fun time was had by all!
Triton...welcome to the board. I deleted your other duplicate thread rather than move it as there was no content to the replies you got. Newbies get lots of leeway here so no worries! I don't know squat about catamarans but if you end up going the monohull route and can adjust your plans to NOT cross the atlantic...(maybe do the whole caribbean circle or go through the canal and up the coast?)...then I think one of the larger Beneteau 3 cabin models out of one of the charter services can fit your needs, budget and be capable of doing the trip. Just need a really good survey for out of charter boats. Another alternative since the kids are still young is to get a center cockpit boat for privacy and de-construct the V berth into split single berth cabins for the kids. Something like an Irwin38-44 would work for that or perhaps a Morgan.
The Prout Snowgoose is a pretty good candidate for an Atlantic crossing, considering that is how they get to the US normally. IIRC, they were built in France, but don't tell Giulietta that...he'lll start foaming at the mouth.
I'm basing the wave heights and winds on what NOAA and other sailors were telling me... I'm not great at estimating the wave heights.... really bad at it in fact.. In any case, it was a really good day of sailing. My favorite part of the day was when one of my marina neighbors said, "You know that there was a small craft advisory today". I said, "yes, why" and he replied, "You know your boat is technically a small craft". I had to smile and say, "But we had to go out, the weather was so perfect for sailing". Of course, the guy talking to me didn't go out since he has a powerboat. LOL
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