Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 14
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.