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Old 03-14-2013
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Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

Well I have followed the sage advice given to date and have signed up to take my second USCG approved boating safety/intro to boating class and I have sent for an application to join the Pelagic Sailing club as a crew member so I can get some ocean sailing experience. Providing I like ocean sailing and decide to invest in an ocean capable sailboat, I will be looking for a boat that is seaworthy enough and big enough to comfortably and safely (as much as that is possible) sail the coastal waters of the Atlantic seacoast and forays offshore.

I am cautious by nature so I am leaning towards a boat that can handle pretty much any weather that might be expected and then some. I can see myself sailing and living aboard for up to a month (with stops for provisioning). My wife will come and sail with me (hopefully) sometimes, but I do not anticipate she will be with me all the time. Moral is, I will be sailing single handed.

So my questions, are (always erring on the side of caution please)

1)are there options to consider besides a full keel or modified full keel boat? I know from the ladies comments that I need a full head with a closing and LOCKING door! See girls we can listen when we want something bad enough!,

2) What is the smallest/shortest boat I should consider so we don’t end up like the Honeymooners (My wife and I are quite compatible and like to be close)?

3) What equipment would you consider NECESSARY for single handed sailing in most conditions (please consider reliability, simplicity and safety as paramount).

Please be specific as possible, examples rollerfurling (what brand if it matters), boomvang, rigging, sail material, etc.? I have read everyone from Joshua Slocum to Beth Leonard (Both remarkable), but I want to know what works now in the most minimalist and safest way with the necessary, but minimal creature comforts. I know this is dependent on each individual, but I want your opinion.

I am a minimalist to the extreme. I once lived for 5 months with only a backpack and 40 pounds of gear. My wife……………………………….Nope! Perhaps I will never get to the point that I put your advice to use, but I Love to sail in inland waters and I Love the ocean (Almost got to spend 2 weeks with Jacques Cousteau!) And I am determined! Someone once said that, “The whole world steps aside for a man who knows where he goes”.

Please comment so I can get there. Thank you.

Last edited by Faster; 03-14-2013 at 08:45 PM. Reason: invented paragraphs ;)
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Old 03-14-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

The perfect boat, the perfect wife, and the perfect .... are all matters of personal preference. You will need to get up close and personal with a whole bunch of boats to determine what your personal preferences are.

I like

cutter rigged ketchs
cutters
sloops

smallish aft located heads facing forward
smallish u shaped galleys with centreline sinks
propane stoves (Force 10)
galley harnesses
leecloths
floor that can be bolted / screwed down
Magma or Dickenson BBQs
big nav station

fractional rigs
backstays
slab reefing main with stowable lazy jacks (reefing hooks and leech reefing line)
removable inner forestays
Dacron sails
high modulus halyards (winches on the mast)
Dacron sheets

gennakers

I do not like
most island queen berths
curved seating in the saloon
electric winches
in mast furling
hydraulic steering
cockpit cushions

etc..
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Last edited by jackdale; 03-15-2013 at 12:37 AM.
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Old 03-14-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

Jackdale is on a roll and gives good advice. For starters get rid of the idea that there is a perfect boat out there if there were, you would not find the products of many dozens of builders and a score or more designers out there.

Before suggest a boat, or even a configuration, for you we would need to know things like your age, your budget, and what you mean by 'offshore forays'. In our travels we have met several couples who were doing extensive cruising including circumnavigations in Vega 27s and having a grand and safe time. But they were all young and had limited budgets. I would not enjoy one at my age but almost bought one 35 years ago. You might not like it because the head is in a cupboard. BTW, why do you want a head door that locks?

Some advice re your wife. Get her involved in the boat selection process and it will be more likely that it becomes a joint dream. You can do the homework and short list 3 or 4 boats that will do the trick, but let her pick the boat you buy.

Unlike Jackdale I like furling mains on larger boats if they work properly.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

If you've been "lurking" around here for a while, you may have found one of the most sage bits of wisdom I've seen: buy for your intended, regular use, not what you "might do" one day. Personally, I'd love a 35' or so, deep keel boat with a nice bow angle and modest beam to slice through the waves for the trip we hope to make to the Virgin Islands. But, as a practical matter, I live in the Northeast. Getting my "daily-use" boat to Florida so I could make the trip down to the VI's is a long prospect (unless I can convince my wife to take some of the night shifts), and as a practical matter, I don't have that kind of vacation time. Once I realized that, my perspective changed significantly, because I, like you, wanted a VERY safe boat since my kids and wife would be aboard. But there's "blue water" safe, and then there's near-shore/inland safe. As a practical matter, in the next 5-10 years (i.e., the timeframe I expect to keep our new-to-us boat) I highly doubt I'll be going much beyond a trip from Barnegat Bay, in NJ to New York/Long Island or the Chesapeake, and even those longer trips are probably a year or two away at the very least. So, what I needed was a boat that would fit my family's needs at this moment in time. If I somehow strike it rich and can afford the time away from work, and have the inclination to try the voyage to the USVI's before I have the right boat, I can always charter. And then I can come home to the boat I'm used to, the boat that fits my "regular" needs.

By way of example, the boat we've bought has high freeboard and a shallow draft, which makes it a poor candidate for sailing to windward, and the large cockpit can be disadvantageous when waves and rain are flooding the cockpit. But at 31' long with a 3'10" draft, I can take her almost anywhere in Barnegat Bay or the Chesapeake where the water in some places is only 4-5' at low tide, if you're lucky. The "tri-cabin" layout of our boat gives my wife and me some private space while still giving our boys a cabin to call their own. The 6'5" headroom in the cabin means even my father-in-law can come along and hide out below without having to stoop. The big cockpit means we can have family and friends over for rides without feeling cramped, and the wide beam makes for significantly more "elbow room" both below and on deck.

So, I would encourage you to think carefully about how, and WHERE, you truly plan to use the boat. For example, you said you expect to live aboard for a month, yet your wife won't be with you. Does she know this? (or, as might be the case for me, did she suggest it?) Once you can better define the use case, then I think we can help you better find the "perfect boat for you", keeping in mind that, as others have said, all boats are compromises.

Edited to add:
If you REALLY want to start looking at boats now, at least give us your area, whether you primarily want to race or cruise, and what your budget is. For example, if your budget is fairly modest, something like an O'Day or Catalina in the 25-30 range, or even some of the Cherubini-era Hunters, would probably be a good place to start. In my opinion, once you begin to push the 35+' range, you get into a LOT of sail, and a LOT of boat, and that can make it tougher to single-hand unless the boat is properly equipped (e.g., electronic winches, bow thrusters, etc.) especially if this is your first boat. Sure, some of the folks here may single-hand their 42'er with manual winches, etc., but most of them have been sailing for years. The last thing you want to do is to buy a first boat that is so big, and so hard to handle, that you get discouraged from sailing or using her (and that happens more often than you think).
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Last edited by jimgo; 03-15-2013 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

If you intend to spend nights on the hook with your wife. Forget about the furling, AIS, autopilot and carbon fiber spinaker poles, she does not care.
The only absolutely critical, indisputable feature that she will not let you live without is "HEAT".
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

Something that often gets overlooked - and is rarely mentioned - accessibility.

What I mean by this, is that boat stuff breaks. Wires corrode, pipes leak, engines need servicing...can you *get* to all that stuff? I have crawled around almost every inch of my boat, and am grateful that she was designed with access in mind. Okay, soe areas I wish I had double-jointed arms 12" longer, but I can get everywhere, if uncomfortably. I have a friend with a beautiful teak interior (I love that), but to access almost anything the paneling needs to be removed, and even then, there are some areas that cannot be reached without an element of destructive removal. Why anybody would design a boat that way beats me.

If you like tinkering - you either like tinkering, or have huge stack of sack to pay somebody to do it - you need to reach the guts of the old girl.

So when you look at boats, poke around everywhere, and imagine maintaining her...
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
...

Some advice re your wife. Get her involved in the boat selection process and it will be more likely that it becomes a joint dream. You can do the homework and short list 3 or 4 boats that will do the trick, but let her pick the boat you buy.

...
I would even suggest earlier involvement. She needs to be personally equipped to make that final choice. Ask her to make a list of Requirements and Wants (two separate things) before you even start the boat research. This will hopefully get her to start putting things in perspective as you both do research and start visiting boats. Hopefully she can then visualize how her needs may or may not be based in reality.

The way John and I did it was I got his requirements (thankfully very few), we decided on a budget and he said to let him know when I had it down to three boats. I spent two years researching online (which narrowed the list), one year visiting boats (which eliminated quite a few) and I narrowed it down to, well, one. That's what we bought and that's what both of us are extremely happy in for the way we're sailing today.

Now we're going through a similar process for the Next Boat. We're evaluating how we're using this boat, where we want to sail next and taking note of what's working now and what isn't.

Good luck!
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
If you intend to spend nights on the hook with your wife. Forget about the furling, AIS, autopilot and carbon fiber spinaker poles, she does not care.
The only absolutely critical, indisputable feature that she will not let you live without is "HEAT".
I humbly suggest paying more attention to what your wife wants and not to what strangers think women in general want. You aren't buying the boat for the rest of us.

I know the OP said his wife probably won't be sailing that much but others in a similar situation will read this thread. If in doubt about what your partner's needs are...ask.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

Donna, I guess it depends on the spouses' relative interest in spending the time and having the knowledge to make a short list. June came to see all the boats that I had short-listed, we took it as an opportunity to have mini-vacations ranging from one day to about four days. When we got right to the end of the process it was June's choice since any of the last three were fine with me.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Advice on the Perfect Boat Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
Donna, I guess it depends on the spouses' relative interest in spending the time and having the knowledge to make a short list. June came to see all the boats that I had short-listed, we took it as an opportunity to have mini-vacations ranging from one day to about four days. When we got right to the end of the process it was June's choice since any of the last three were fine with me.
I get that, and you're right. I guess I'm trying to counter the "all women want heated head seats" tendency to overgeneralize. We aren't all cut from the same cloth and from asking some of the men in my boating courses, I know that some of them didn't even think to involve their SOs. They just assumed she wouldn't care (to which the women in the room snorted in disgust).
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