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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum
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  #1  
Old 04-24-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

I am wondering what types of boats people are cruising on. What types of boats would you condsider to be good for cruising florida and bahamas? I am looking in the 28-30 foot range and hope to spend 30k or less. I am planning on getting a boat to sail on for about 2 years and then most likely sell it.
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Old 04-24-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

There are a number of important traits for sailing in the Florida/Bahamas venue that I would consider desireable as follows:
-Shoal Draft (5'' or so with less being helpful)
-Good fuel and Water capacities
-Good ventilation
-Well insulated ice box
-Minimal wood on deck
-Comfortable motion in a chop
-Good light air performance (comparatively light weight, low wetted surface and good sized sail plan) and the ability to quickly adapt to heavier conditions in thunderstorms (comparatively light weight, low wetted surface, and a quickly reefable sail plan)
-Good ground tackle and ground tackle handling gear
-This might be controversial but good performance. You are making some big jumps in pretty high currents, and with minimal ports of refuge and so the ability to get decent speed through the water can be important
-Quality construction (again this may be controvesial but you are sailing in a potentially rough venue and at $30K looking at a 20 or so year old boat. If you don''t want to spend a bunch in repairs a boat that began life with a better build quality probably makes sense)

I am sure that there are other points that I have missed here but if you find a boat with those characteristics should should do fine.

Good luck,
Jeff
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Old 04-25-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

Jeff_H, My husband and I are planning a cruise to the Bahamas in our 2002 Catalina 28 MkII in May. I''ve been reading all the posts on Catalinas and not many are favorable as seaworthy. Are we foolish to attempt a Gulf Stream crossing from Ft Worth to the Abacos and back?
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Old 04-25-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

I was aboard a Catalina 32 for one week with a friend in March (Bahamas). It was a fine boat as long as the winds stayed below 20 knots and the seas were 2-4 feet. We were hit with 8-10 foot seas and 30 knots for two days. Based on that experience, I don''t care what the manufacturer or any other owners say; Catalinas are NOT blue water boats!!!! They make excellent lake or bay vessels. I have sailed aboard 50+ sailboats over the last 40 years and there is a BIG difference in a boat that is "sea-worthy" (ie - blue water)and recreational boats. I think you would be foolish to attempt what you propose.

Yes, I know that 14'' boats have sailed across oceans, but that does not make it a wise thing to do.
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Old 04-25-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

fibrgrl,

A man who was the long-time editor of one of America''s foremost boating magazines, and who wrote 30-some books on boating, told me he thought it entirely safe and reasonable to cross the Gulf Stream and cruise the Bahamas in boats much smaller and more fragile than your Catalina 28. A few weeks ago a fleet of 22 to 26'' sailboats made the crossing over and back with no problems. A friend of mine in his seventies has made the crossing and cruised the Bahamas many times in a Catalina 25. Another friend cruised all over the Bahamas in a 23 foot sailboat. I could cite more examples.

If the weather is bad, then don''t start to cross the Gulf Stream until the bad weather passes. When you are in the Bahamas, check the weather before you start a long passage, and be willing to wait for good weather.

When you are coastal cruising or island hopping, there is no reason why you should get caught out in 30 kt winds and 8-10 ft seas. Plan your trip for a time when good weather is most likely, check weather reports before you go out, make sure you know how to handle your boat and all its equipment, and, when in doubt don''t go out. Cruising the Bahamas is well within the capabilities of a boat that is designed as a "coastal cruiser."
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Old 04-25-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

Sailormon6,

I really appreciate your post. I was beginning to get discouraged by the previous remarks. We will take all precautions and plan on having a wonderful time. We''ve been posting on other message boards looking for buddy boats crossing at the same time. Again, thank you.
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Old 04-25-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

Here''s the deal as I see it, with careful planning and any luck at all you can probably do fine crossing to the Bahamas and going cruising. People do it all of the time.

That said, the Catalina 28 would be almost at the very bottom of my list of boats that I would recommend for this. My experience in sailing in this area, this is a portion of the world where the weather forcasting is notoriously inaccurate, where storms come up extremely quickly and sometimes almost without warning, where you can quickly find yourself sailing in a steep chop and where the winds can shift or die quite suddenly and come back from a completely unexpected direction or speed. Given the comparatively long transit time that you would expect with a boat of the size and speed of a Cat 28 I don''t really think that you can guarantee that a suitable weather window on departure will still be a suitable weather window by the time you get to the Bahamas.

If you are experienced sailors and have handled the boat for a day or so of hard going then perhaps the Catalina 28 would work for you but if you have a choice, I would look at something with a better build quality and better sail handling gear. When you consider just how expensive these boats have gotten ($50-$60K), there are a lot really good boats out there for that kind of money.

So while I am not sure that I would call it fool hardy to sail to the Bahamas in a Catalina 28, if that is the kind of sailing that you expect to do it might be time for a trade to a better boat.

Jeff
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Old 04-29-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

It''s worrisome to hear advice directed at, apparently, sailors new to cruising offshore which relates safe passages on small boats by others as evidence they too should go...simply because it uses apples to confirm the desires of oranges.

First off, how experienced were the folks sailing those smaller boats? How many times in the Bahamas? How many years sailing? How well found were their boats?(John Guzwell''s 20'' TREKKA was built like a bank vault and sailed wonderfully; what does this tell us about 20 footers?) And how was the weather this boat flotilla experienced, and for how long? And where did they go? Some of the Family Islands are far afield - where are you hoping to go, and for how long?

Second, it''s easy to say "we''ll take all precautions" but in reality what does that mean? E.g., where will your reliable source of weather f''casts come from? (Not from your VHF, and perhaps not from your SSB receiver if prop is bad, there''s a thunderstorm nearby, the frig is on, etc.) Second, how good are you at interpreting a wx f''cast for your circumstances, location, boat and season? Third...well, I could go on. My point is that your intentions may be suitable but that doesn''t insure you can act on them.

Finally, please don''t be confused about a buddy boat equaling increased safety. Under some circumstances, that could prove true...but it can also work against you, as e.g. when ''their'' choice of dealing with bad weather isn''t really a good one for you, but you hate to leave them and the perceived safety.

Now...having said all that, you undoubtedly have a good chance of sailing in the Bahamas with few problems related to boat size or boat brand. And the problems you will have could be nothing more than those inherent in a smaller boat - any smaller boat. Limited water tankage, food storage, comfort in a surgy anchorage, etc. The ''catch'' is a) how well found YOUR 28'' boat is (how fresh is the rig? when was the quadrant/cables/sheaves/idlers last inspected & adjusted? how''s that furler? and what do you do when it won''t work or can''t be used because of high winds? how old is the fuel tank and how much sludge is going to get churned up and sucked up by your fuel filters? - the list can be fairly daunting), and b) how capable are your skill sets for the really important stuff (anchoring & reanchoring; dealing with tough wx & sea conditions).

I''m sure others will find all these cautions unnecessary or overly negative but, when posting to threads where one doesn''t know the boat nor the crew, it''s not unwarranted to suggest you be ready for the bad stuff that cruising can & does throw you. And contrary to some of the advice here, if you have a history with your Catalina and feel good living aboard her for extended periods, I''m not sure the boat brand is where you need to exercise some more thought with your plans.

Hope you sort it out; cruising is worth the effort it takes to do it right no matter what size your boat.

Jack

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Old 04-29-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

doing it right is COMPLETLY subjective
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Old 05-14-2003
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What should I look for in cruising boat...

We just bought our first boat this year in anticipatition of coastal cruising. We bought a CAL 27, and live here in N. California. We however start with the boat and crew some other boats while the work proceedes on ours. We started by dropping the stick, checking rigging, and replacing masthead sheaves, halyard lines, mast lights, and wind instruments. Next we stripped the deck of all hardware, drilled out the boat holes, and glassed them up with resign and micro balloons. The we paint the deck and redrill/install NEW hardware. This should fix any leaks from fastener holes and old hardware. We are basically just going through the entire boat getting her ready, WHILE sailing with veterens and racers. We look to make our first cruise, down the coast, next year. My advise is simply find a boat that you like, then work her over without missing anything. This not only helps the boat, but makes you more knowledgable about it as well. Let us know what ya do and how it goes!!!

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