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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Washington State
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Always enjoy your thoughts and threads, Jeff.
I used to say, "I don't care about how fast the boat is. I want a heavy boat. Somthing that will push through the seas, steady on her feet. You know, if it takes a little longer to get there, who cares."
Then came my first, serious, offshore storm.
The seas were quartering, tall, square, and occasionally breaking. The two other boats with us lost their autopilot and hand to hand steer behind us. The autopilot held for us the whole time, but we did eventually turn it off and hand steer to try and control the boat better.
The heavy boats do handle the seas better. They have to because you are going to be in them longer! Also, they tend to not respond as well as a performance boat in steering in the seas. They are however more flat footed and feel more stable. However, for those of you that think you are going to have a nice, comfortable ride while drinking a martini in 15-20 foot seas... dream on baby. I don't care if you are in a 200 foot, solid steel, circumnavigator - you are going to be riding those hills all the same.
My current boat is on Lake Texoma until we finish outfitting her and drop her in the gulf. For those of you that do not know, Lake Texoma is where they make the Valiants. In general, in light airs (especially), my 400 will outrun a Valiant. I have not tested it against them in heavy airs or seas. However, it is probably fair to say I would do well.
The point of all of this is: Be thoughtful of how fast your boat sails unless you just plan on sitting in the dock or cruising around the lake somewhere. Even for 'coastal cruising', if you want any chance of being able to duck into bay before a storm, you better keep in mind that the winds don't always jump up before the storm. And when they do, it may be too late to make it.
Speed = less time exposed, more options. It does not mean everyone should go out and buy a Swan, but a good, solid, fast boat is better than a chunk of lead setting in the water waiting for the next storm to take a swipe at it. PS - I am not taking a punch at Valiant, it is still a better boat than mine. Just making a comparison.
As far as motoring, which was another point of your thread, I do not know where you have a choice (in general). At least, not in most of the areas I have sailed. Try sailing through the ICW on the miserable mile one time: I hope you have you life jackets on and good insurance.
This will start an argument, but SAILBOATS NEED FUEL TOO. There are very few purists left. If you need to punch it on, do it. Don't be ashamed of it. Come out of the closet, baby. Smell the fumes and be proud of that stinky, clanky chunk of metal downstairs. It might just save your life one day... or at least keep you from killing your kids.