North Carolina to Central America in First 310? - SailNet Community

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Old 05-18-2009
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North Carolina to Central America in First 310?

Hello all,

My friend and I have access to a 1992 310 Beneteau in excellent shape and are considering an extended cruise. We are thinking about the Carib. chain to Venezuela and then over to Panama to explore El Salvador, Guate and Costa Rica in search of some waves to surf. I've done a few deliveries and some island hopping in the Carib. on smaller boats but haven't sailed this one yet, nor do I know much about it. Can anyone shed any insights on the boat and it's capabilities when handled well and responsibly? Any tips particular to it or this specific route? We would like the to keep option open to potentially head to Galapagos and beyond if things are going well, funds permitting after a year. Your comments greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Colin
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Old 05-18-2009
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Colin,

I was with you up to the point where you mentioned "Galapagos and beyond".

I do not have first hand knowledge of this particular model. Beneteaus are certainly capable of crossing oceans, but most folks doing that are in much larger models. The mid/upper 30 footers and below are decidedly more of the coastal variety.

Aside from that, I think the trip through the Carribean, to central america, is within (but probably near the limit of) the capability of most 30+/- foot Beneteaus - properly handled and with a schedule that permits favorable weather patterns. You don't have to go to the Galapagos to have a grand adventure with this boat.
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Old 05-18-2009
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Hi John,

Thanks for your reply. Sounds good!

Could you please elaborate a little more on the part about being close to the limits of this boat. Specifically, could you suggest what the boat's greatest weakness will be (ie. upwind in heavy weather etc.) and maybe give an idea of what the boat was designed to do well? Coastal, lake cruising?

Best,
Colin
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Old 05-18-2009
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Colin,

Like I said, I have no first hand familiarity with this model, only a general familiarity with the Beneteau line in this size range from this era.

Speaking generally, the First series Beneteaus were/are more racing oriented than the Oceanis/cruising range, so while they generally perform better in a wider range of wind conditions, they do tend to be a bit light on the amenities that make cruising more comfortable. They tend to have less tankage, more spartan galleys and heads, and less plush accommodations. If you are young and hale -- accustomed to roughing it -- none of this may matter to you.

On the plus side, they tend to be tripped out nicely with more sail controls, and have a more serious rig and sailplan as befits the racing orientation of the First series designs.

I took a quick look at a few First 310 models that are for sale on Yachtworld. It's a Group Finot design (well respected) and looks like a nice all-around coastal racer/cruiser. Tankage is a bit light but probably okay for a couple guys. The single, circular galley sink looks pretty darn impractical for long term liveaboard (no paper plates!), but otherwise it looks adequat ein a minimal way.

It would take a while to discuss all the features that distinguish a coastal racer/cruiser from a dedicated off-shore capable boat. We have some threads here where folks debate those features ad nauseum. Features like robust rudders, rigs, hull and deck construction, hatches, portlights, tankage, ground tackle systems, etc etc.

But beyond these debatable features, there are some fundamental aspects to off-shore designs that the initial design brief for a coastal race/cruiser likely did not include. Before embarking on an extended off-shore voyage (e.g. Galapagos) I would want to understand what the limit of positive stability (LPS) calculation is for this model, as well as some other benchmark data like Capsize Ratio and Motion Comfort Index. No single one of these calculations is disqualifying, but taken as a group and in context, they can serve as a useful basis for comparing to other vessels in a similar size range.
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Old 05-18-2009
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I've been on First 310 (and also owned First 285). They are nice boats for what its worth. In fact, there is a website that tells a story of a few guys that crossed Atlantic in 310 (or an earlier 30, perhaps) - Welcome To The Atlantic Crossing Of 'Little Wing' A Beneteau First 30

That said, my experience with 285 was that it is a very lightweight boat, fun to sail on good days, which becomes quite uncomfortable in any kind of weather. Even a light chop in Chesapeake with 15 kts wind is less than fun for a small crew (though perhaps tougher men could have made a decent day of something like that, I don't know).

So, as always the answer depends on a person, but a smaller lighter boat requires a stronger stomach under the same set of conditions
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Old 05-19-2009
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Hi Colin,
I own a new First 31.7 in Hong Kong and have been sailing a lot for 3 months now (already put nearly 600 miles..and week-end sailing only !). Maybe the first impressions would help :
She is a very sweet, easy and fast, but as the guys say, mostly coastal racing and cruising orientated. Being brand new (and Beneteau not being X-Yachts or Hallberg-Rassy), I have already had a few incidents with some cheap-designed-cheap-built items, which you may want to check before you head to the big blue (secure the batteries, keep an eyes on the blocks at the bottom of the mast, check the stanchion bolts, etc...). There are also many things you should do before you go offshore. Simple details like a plastic door to close the cabin while sailing under pourring rain (much better than the heavy wooden door!), a belt at the chart table, nets at the open storage spaces, etc.. This being said, and once all these details fixed (which will take another few months) I would certainly feel confident to go offshore with her, say Hong Kong to Philippines or Indonesia. The problem would be bellow deck. 40 liter tank of diesel is ridiculous so you will need lots of gerrycan stocked on deck. 160 liters of fresh water is not enough for a long haul crossing. The fridge is very small, and the 2 commodity batteries won't be enough to keep it cool long enough, while running the auto-pilot, the nav lights and the kitchen lighting (hence the gerrycan of diesel on deck to feed the engine to charge the batteries). Lockers a very small so you won't have the luxury to embark too much. Also, considering 2 liters of drinking water per day per person, that makes lots of water to store...As I said there isn't much storage space, so you would have to do some improvement or create some...or all you have to store would be at the only safe place...the floor
Just a few thoughts for now as I don't want to make it too long, but cruisers are called cruisers for a reason I think. Having a safe and fast hull is not enough to go too far, unless you get the boat really prepared for it. In fact that is shown very well in the story and the pictures of the First 30 Brak just gave us. Check all these little details on deck and bellow here and there...there are lots of thoughts and preparation behind each of them. And again, changing a little week racer cruiser into a longhaul bluewater cruiser demands lots of heavy equipment...which might change a light fast little boat into a heavy lazy nut shell...
My 2 cents mate.
Sail safe.
(sorry for the lack of English marine vocabulary...)
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Last edited by Encre2Chine; 05-19-2009 at 05:55 AM.
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As for sailing ability (almost forgot this detail, haha), keep in mind that this is a rather "flat" hull. Well reefed and set she can handle 25kt wind nice and easy if the sea is nice. Once you start hitting big waves it's getting really Bang ! Bang! and sporty, which made me wished the cockpit was a bit deeper sometimes..and a bit more protected..and bigger and, and... Fun for a day, but not sure I would enjoy it for a 3 day non stop nav
Hope that helped a little.
Sail safe !
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Galapagos

I have a friend who recently sailed in that area. You can read his blog here: Log of the s/v Tamara: 2008-11-02
He has great info on places to stay.
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Old 05-19-2009
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This is a poor choice for a cruising boat to try to bash into hundreds of miles of head winds and seas. Low tankage, shallow bilge, flat bottom and light weight.
Not saying it can't be done...just saying there are far better choices and it is not bult and designed for such passages. This is not a bash of the boat or the brand... as they are nice boats for their designed purpose and sail well.
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Thanks John, I will look into finding out those numbers and make some comparisons or bounce them off other users here. Galapagos doesn't look much further than North Carolina to the Caribbean, so I'll have to decide if the boat will be capable of these types of passages. I'm not sure exactly how to tell other than to put her through the paces in a coastal cruise type environment first. I'll do a search on those numbers and see what I can find.

Best,
Colin

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Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
Colin,
But beyond these debatable features, there are some fundamental aspects to off-shore designs that the initial design brief for a coastal race/cruiser likely did not include. Before embarking on an extended off-shore voyage (e.g. Galapagos) I would want to understand what the limit of positive stability (LPS) calculation is for this model, as well as some other benchmark data like Capsize Ratio and Motion Comfort Index. No single one of these calculations is disqualifying, but taken as a group and in context, they can serve as a useful basis for comparing to other vessels in a similar size range.
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