Join Date: May 2007
Location: Boerne, Tx
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I agree with everyone's thoughts, but would like to put a slightly different spin on the question. Do not ask how big is too big for YOU, ask how big can the kids handle. Nothing is worse than a bored kid on a sailboat. By the sam token, a kid who is given the helm to steer the boat is fascinated. If you throw a plastic bottle overboard, and have the kid go back and pick it up, they are challenged, and into the sailing. I am NOT saying the kid has to be able to do everything on board, just that the boat is small enough to get the kid actively involved.
One of the reasons people are advocating smaller boats to learn on is the way they teach you when you make a mistake. If you make a mistake on a really small boat, the reaction is right now. This means that when you make a mistake, the lesson is immediate. On a big boat, when you make a mistake inertia carries the boat along for a while, and then things go haywire. You then have to think back, and figure out what you did several moments ago that caused the trouble. Animal trainers long ago figured out that in training correction for bad behavior must be immediate.
I would never own a boat on which I could not pick up anything on board by myself. If the anchor is too heavy to lift, your boat is too big. Etc ad nauseum.
And finally, different boats do better in different locations. Most around the buoys racing fleets end up in boats which are well suited for the locale. Therefore, look around your area and investigate boats popular in your area. Most racing fleets are always looking for crew. Take advantage of this, and find out which boats you like on someone elses dime.