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SansaBoat 03-05-2011 08:34 PM

Family's 1st cruise - Eastern US for a year?
What do you think about a year-long cruise up and down the east coast of the US for a first-timer cruising family?

Never owned a boat, but dreaming about cutting land ties for a year or three and thought maybe coastal cruising for a year might be a smart way to get started.

Kids are 10, 9, 7 yrs old.

Probably a 38' or larger catamaran? Seems like the best choice given the size of our crew? Or a 45+ foot mono?

Maybe work our way up to Maine (and further?) for the summer, then head south as late summer/fall sets in? If everyone is enjoying the lifestyle, then we head for the Caribbean and ???

Any and all comments welcome!


labatt 03-06-2011 01:52 PM

We did this for almost a year - with our two kids (8 and 12) left Annapolis in December (a bit chilly), headed south through Norfolk, Beaufort, Charleston, (skipped Georgia because of our draft but hear it's great), several places in FL, Bahamas, back to FL and north. We stopped in many of the east coast ports for 1-2 weeks (or more in a couple of cases) and explored the history, culture and people (and just relaxed). The Bahamas are phenomenal in the Winter. Northward to Maine is a standard in the Summer, but be prepared for bugs and fog. It's definitely a very viable trip and one that can act as a great training run for longer term cruising in the future. The ages are perfect too - old enough to appreciate what they see, young enough that they are focused on family and not their friends at home.

kd3pc 03-06-2011 01:58 PM

Not knowing your family, it would be difficult to know whether everyone is up to the task, or is this a "dad dream" thing. If everyone is on board, great. Else I would buy a small boat, do some weekends and see how it goes. A big cat or mono is a heavy investment in the dream.

late summer and fall are hurricane season, please plan accordingly.

labatt 03-06-2011 02:11 PM

Sorry - I should have said the same thing as kd3pc. If you have never sailed with your family I would make sure that I do a number of weekends/weeklong trips before you decide to spend a year doing it. We met several families that were ripped apart by the experience, or just realized that their kids always get seasick, or other things like that.

SansaBoat 03-06-2011 03:57 PM

Great points.

It is, of course, mostly a dad dream, but wifey is on-board with the concept, but we are a ways away from saying "let's do it".

We may do a 10 day bareboat in the San Juans this summer. That $3000 bareboat cost is probably a good investment to see if they like it. Then again 10 days on a boat may not extrapolate to 365 days.

Makes me think.... same thing for me - even thought it's mostly MY dream, how do I know that I will enjoy cruising?

Thanks for the thoughts. Ideally, we'd keep the house so we have an "out" if we need it. I seems, however, that we'd need a $200k+ boat (?). ("need" vs "want", of course, is debatable ;) ).

wolfmanmike 03-06-2011 06:18 PM

$200k + boat!! wow, i want to go.

SansaBoat 03-06-2011 07:56 PM


Originally Posted by wolfmanmike (Post 705822)
$200k + boat!! wow, i want to go.

Send me your sailing resume. Can you cook? Are you a good anchor yanker? How do you look in a bikini?


labatt 03-07-2011 02:01 AM

Nah - kids that age can easily double up in bunks. We originally planned to buy a 50'-55' monohull to cruise on. Timing ended up being right before we bought it so we ended up cruising on a Passport 40 and were fairly comfortable. Depending on your cruising grounds, you spend more time up top than down below anyway. You will find that boats suited for cruising with 5 people will probably average $70k-$80k on the low end to $150k or so on the high end (unless you want to go bigger than 45', go new, or go with an Oyster or something). Then add on outfitting and updating - that's what may push you into the $200k+ side. We got our boat for the $150k range and probably put about $70k into it before cruising - but I tend to spoil my family and myself.

svHyLyte 03-07-2011 09:17 AM

For the trip you describe and the size of your family, you might find that a Gemini 105 Catameran would be just the ticket. A cat is somewhat easier to adjust to for non-sailing wives and the boats are pretty easy to handle with a bit of training. Moreover, they are good coastal cruisers and could easily take you from Maine to the far Bahamas in reasonable comfort. The boats are also relatively simple making fixes less problematic; and one in reasonably good condition can be had for well under $200,000.

The nice thing about coastal cruising in the US is the common language, the largely friendly natives and a super abundance of interesting places to visit. Note, however, that there can be challanging conditions even along a friendly coast so the initial learning curve will be steep.

Do it while the kids are young. They can be home schooled without too much difficulty for a year and, by using events on the boat, they will learn as much history, geography, math and science as they might in a classroom, if not more.


FromINtoKN 03-07-2011 05:27 PM

My wife and I are too in your "boat". We are only a family of three right now, but when we plan on going we will be a family of four. We are 6 years away we think from our trip but are in the planning/dreaming phase as well. We won't be working with a $200k boat budget but are looking at cat's around the 50-60k range. There are quite a few older but refitted boats in that range.

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