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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising and Sailing with Children
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Cruising and Sailing with Children All things sailing and kids related, from safety to life aboard.


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  #1  
Old 07-24-2013
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Boat Size

My husband and I are in the very early stages of preparing to cruise with our two young daughters in three years. Our daughters will be 3 and 4 years old. We have begun to look at boats and were thinking the mid 30ft range and were wondering if this would be a good size. We recently looked at a Morgan Out Island 41 and liked the forward berth bunks and the aft cabin design but 41 ft is a lot a boat and the price was not right. For others who have cruised with two small children, what size boat have you sailed?
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Old 07-27-2013
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Re: Boat Size

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Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
My husband and I are in the very early stages of preparing to cruise with our two young daughters in three years. Our daughters will be 3 and 4 years old. We have begun to look at boats and were thinking the mid 30ft range and were wondering if this would be a good size. We recently looked at a Morgan Out Island 41 and liked the forward berth bunks and the aft cabin design but 41 ft is a lot a boat and the price was not right. For others who have cruised with two small children, what size boat have you sailed?
We coastal cruised with our daugther and son from babies to adults. Our first boat, 28', was plenty for two adults and two small bodies. Mostly weekends but also a winter in the Bahamas.

When they reached 10 to 12, things started to get smaller. Berths, galley, dinghy, cockpit, head, lockers. We still did it in the smaller boat, but when an old 38'er found us, there was a collective sigh of pleasure from all of us.

The best part of the bigger boat was that it has two pilot berths. A 1961 design, our Alden Challenger is tiny by today's boats standards. But I can't for the life of me think of a worse arrangement for two siblings than an aft cabin. Our two got along so well together, but kids are kids. Two kids in an aft cabin would be like putting your dog and cat back there.

At 3 and 4 years old, many arrangements will work well. You don't need a big boat. Think of each having their own space to sleep and a small area to stow their stuff in a way that leaves the boat open for you to use when their sleeping(napping during daylight).

Think of a cockpit big enough for all of you underway and at anchor(you'll spend most of your time there).

You can find these spaces on smaller boats, but many are not designed with kids in mind.

Good luck, best thing we ever did was sail with our kids for 2 decades.
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Old 07-27-2013
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Re: Boat Size

Tom's comments echo my own experiences growing up. My family bought a 25 footer when I was 11 (almost 12) and my brother was 8. Like most boats of that era, the interior of the boat was tiny compared to a modern boat. We went out pretty much every weekend and typically would take a 10-11 day cruise each summer. In hindsight I cannot imagine how my folks pulled that off. I cannot imagine a modern family going through the daily routine my folks went though in terms of packing and unpacking the galley and disassembling the galley table and bunks to stow everything.

By the time I was 14 it became too much for my folks and they bought a 32 foot Pearson Vanguard. We ended up living on that boat during the summers and cruising up to two weeks at a time. But even the Vanguard took a lot of ingenuity to work for a family of four. Making and striking bedding each day to allow adequate storage to be able to sail or use the main cabin and erect the galley table.

Newer designs often have a more convenient lay out but the problem on a small boat is always going to be access to storage which means more labor and less convenience. This inconvenience mostly comes in the form of using every crevice efficiently. And that means removing bunches of stuff from lockers to get to the one thing you need.

My sense is that you probably could get by with a 25-30 foot boat while your children are young. It won't be easy but it can be done. I think that will get old pretty quickly. My sense is that pretty quickly you will end up with a 38-42 footer.

That does not mean you should start that big.the lessons from living small will help you pick the right big boat and use her efficiently.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 07-27-2013
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Re: Boat Size

We had an 18' trailer sailer for many years with two children up to their early teens and a dog and cat. Had a lot of great times too. Sure 22' would have seemed luxury, and in those days 28' was enough for a couple anyway to head offshore.
Boating like camping can involve some deprivation of comfort but has other gains.
probably what the kids enjoyed most was hitting the beach and snorkeling, or cooking sausages on a fire on the beach, and having the dog along.
These days people might expect greater comfort but I would think 28-36' adequate even for older kids. After all you are not spending days at a time confined to the boat, assuming you are not going offshore and require large amounts of storage.
The advantages of smaller size are cost, and maintenance costs and time, which can eat into the actual use time. Smaller is also more likely to happen.
I would buy according to your likely actual usage. Sure in 5-10 years you may want to go offshore or maybe not. At that point you will have a clearer idea of your needs then.
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Old 07-27-2013
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Re: Boat Size

For some reason there are some questions and discussions which bounce around in my mind like a BB in a box car, and while I was out sailing today, this has been one of them. As I began to think about this question, I initially thought, "gee, this is kind of a how long is a piece of string?' kind of a question.", because any reply that you receive will not likely be the correct answer for your situation. After all we all have our own tolerance for how spartan or plush our world needs to be, our own sense of privacy, our own routines, our own tastes and our own budgets. The answers that you receive are more likely to tell you more about the responder than about what is right for you.

But as I thought about that thought relative to my earlier comments, I thought that sounds perhaps discouraging and perhaps dismissive, when in fact I think its a neat thing that you are trying to do. I tend to romanticize my memories of living as a family on our boat. I remember it as a time when I was close with my parents, learning and sharing. There was a sense of shared responsibility. My brother and I were responsible for strpping our beds, folding our clothes and bed linens, putting on and removing sail covers, hanking on the jib. When we got older, we were each assigned a side of the boat to keep the teak oiled and the chrome polished and waxed. When one side began to look better than the other, Dad had us switch sides.

The close relation that I built with my Dad working on the boats and sailing together has held for the 50 plus years since. The ability 'to do things' was learned at his side. My Mom passed a decade ago, but the shared sense of adventures carried through our relationship as well.

So examine your self. Ask what you need to be comfortable. With a small boat every thing needs to be carefully marshalled. Can you get by with rationing electricity, and water, washing in salt water and only rinsing in fresh, doing spit showers, and cooking on two burners. It can be done, but its not right for everyone if you see what I mean.

Jeff
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  #6  
Old 07-29-2013
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Re: Boat Size

Quote:
Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
My husband and I are in the very early stages of preparing to cruise with our two young daughters in three years. Our daughters will be 3 and 4 years old. We have begun to look at boats and were thinking the mid 30ft range and were wondering if this would be a good size. We recently looked at a Morgan Out Island 41 and liked the forward berth bunks and the aft cabin design but 41 ft is a lot a boat and the price was not right. For others who have cruised with two small children, what size boat have you sailed?
What is your definition of cruising? I ask this because it changes the answer. For some (us) it is fulltime, no car, no house, living and moving on the boat. If it doesn't float on the boat, it doesn't go. For others, it is a six pack of beer and a pizza after work while tied to the slip.

Happy to help here. Cruising with kids is my passion.

Brian
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  #7  
Old 07-29-2013
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Re: Boat Size

Thanks so much for your comments.

Jeff—your comments were very inspiring since we have started to get some discouragement. We know we are on a tighter budget which means a smaller boat, but we also are very committed to making this happen. We are hoping to create similar memories with our family.

Cruisingdad-our plans are to live aboard the boat full time. We will start in Beaufort and sail down the coast and then to the Bahamas…from there who knows. We are hoping to be able to do this for a couple of years depending of finances. We want to keep things small, simple, and safe.
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Old 07-29-2013
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Re: Boat Size

Not that I live aboard with kids........but the few I know that do so, have boats in the 40-45 even 50' long. As noted, have space for ea kid per say, a boat that can handle any kind of weather etc.

This is no different than my taking my kids out with a RV trailer we had. Ours was 24' long, about as short as we could get away with for how we used it. If it would have been much longer than weekends during ski season, maybe a week or two in the summer. A MUCH bigger trailer would have been needed. Boating is the same. Are you weekending, or full timing, to something in the middle. By the way, there is a really nice ready to go Jeanneau SO49iP in the NW. Owner took his twin daughters and spouse on a round the pacific trip. Boat is still ready to go! Altho with close to 8' of draft, east coasters may find it too confining. Here in puget sound, along the pacific etc, no issues.

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Old 07-29-2013
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Re: Boat Size

The beauty of your plan is that you're already building in time to handle setting up the boat properly. You aren't expecting to just hop aboard and go. That gives you time to spread out the cost of repairs that will be needed for the boat. When you buy, you'll likely have an initial outlay for "stuff", even if it's just silly things like head deodorizer, teak oil, boat soap, etc. And you'll find that you need tools that you never needed before. But, after that initial buying spree, you can start to pace yourself and figure out what you truly need, and how soon you'll need it.

So far, it sounds like you are taking a reasonable, logical approach. Yeah, it would be great to have $200,000 to spend on the boat. You don't. So, you basically have 2 choices: give up completely, or modify your plans/expectations. Given that I'm a member here, I think you can figure out which side of that fence I come down on!

You say you want to sail away, but on your other thread, you mostly discuss coastal cruising and the Bahamas. As I understand it (I've never done it, so don't rely on me for this!), the trip to the Bahamas is a day sail from Miami if you have good weather. Sailing with 2 younger kids aboard means you're likely to only try to make that trip in good weather. Can you be content cruising around the US and the Bahamas? If so, you may not need the super-stout, super-big boat that you have in mind. Brian (Cruisingdad) lives aboard a 40' Catalina with his wife and 2 boys. With all due respect to Brian and Catalina, those boats are coastal cruising boats, not ocean crossers. But it meets his needs perfectly (or at least well enough to keep him and his family happy), and something like that might work for you as well. Heck, even something slightly smaller might work. Here are a few examples:

1984 Catalina 38 sailboat for sale in Florida

1984 Catalina 36 Tall Rig sailboat for sale in North Carolina

1985 Catalina 36 sailboat for sale in Virginia

1989 catalina sloop sailboat for sale in Florida - yes, it's well above your price range, but she's been on the market for several months, and possibly longer. Never hurts to ask.

1983 Catalina Catalina 38 sailboat for sale in Maryland

So, are you only in if you can cross oceans, or do you want to spend a year or three (or more) building amazing memories while hopping down the coast, seeing the sights, and enjoying a lifestyle most of us wish we could pull off?
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Old 07-29-2013
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Re: Boat Size

Really appreciate your thoughts jimgo. We have a Catalina 25 right now, so I have no idea why Catalinas haven't been a big part of our search so far. I agree that they aren't ocean crossers, but luckily, that's isn't in our plans at all right now. In fact, when we first decided to become cruisers in a few years, we immediately started getting overwhelmed about boat issues, navigation issues, money issues, safety issues and the list went on and on. But we finally took a step back, recommitted, and set our goals to be very achievable. We're not trying to cross oceans, just head south down the ICW for a while. As we get comfortable with that, maybe cross over to Freeport. If we like it, head to some of the other out islands. From there, we'll just see what our confidence and our wallet allows. When we simplified our vision, it didn't seem so crazy anymore, we refocused, and now we're working to make it all happen.

We read a personal finance blog and an article was written about the power of optimism. I'm a big believer in optimism. You kinda have to be on these forums...many people will list all the reasons why you can't go or shouldn't go. I appreciate all of the advice, but sometimes you have to block out things you don't want to hear. So anyway, the writer said " the very act of believing in the viability of a bold plan, greatly affects the chances of you succeeding at it." I'm gonna go with that.

By the way, those listings you posted are all great! I like that Catalina has such a great sailing association and availability of parts so we're gonna take a good hard look!
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