Join Date: Jun 2006
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I do not consider "blue water" cruisers and "liveaboards" to be the same thing at all. Most of the production boats today are geared to resembling the newer sort of condo, and I'm sure if you had running water and 60 amps to your dock, you would find most 38-45 footers quite comfortable and airy. Sailing them in under 20 knots would also be very pleasant, as most of them are daysail-oriented.
A blue-water boat, by contrast, is often darker inside because of the smaller net window area in the coach house (three or four 7 x 14" portlights plus a modest foredeck hatch might be it. They are often narrower, because so much of the "living area" is devoted not to floor space but stowage for all the gear and provisions you like to have long-term cruising. The bunks aren't behind door or disguised as settees: they are very evident, coffin-like, partially enclosed boxes designed to keep a sleeper in if the boat should slew off a wave in a heavy weather night watch. There are more handrails, and sometimes padding on upright supports. The floorboards and locker hatches can have simple or elaborate latches, to keep the gear in if the boat capsizes.
An offshore boat is a combination of fairly Spartan and usually traditional (because traditional is proven) accomodation mixed with NASA-level technology and elaborate, expensive systems to ensure independence from the shore, like watermakers, gensets, satphones, radar, extensive ground tackle, and so on. The tankage seems like overkill, as does the spares inventory, but that is from the point of view of never getting out of sight of Europe, North America or the more developed parts of the Caribbean, the cruising grounds of the light, fast, condo-like cruiser. And that's fine: any sailboat trumps an RV as a vacation or retirement home...why not?
There are a few designs that combine some of the performance and looks of the typical production cruiser with the more rigorous requirements of the offshore passagemaker. Saga Yachts, Swans, some of the J-Boat line, some Moodys, and so on. All great boats and all three times the price of a Bendytoy, several of which I boarded recently at a boat show and poked around in the innards. I liked the Tartan 43 about the best of the "boats I wouldn't buy, but can understand why others would" set. A Bavaria or a Dufour, on the other hand...not so much. Some of the construction in those boats actually looks weak to me.