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post #1 of 238 Old 04-15-2013 Thread Starter
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Why a racer for cruising discussion...

We all have different opinions of what makes a good cruising boat. I get that. Believe me, Paulo's idea of what makes a good cruising boat, Jeff_h's, my dad's, and mine are three different animals altogether! I respect all of their opinions, but I have long tried to make a different case.

My question in what could be a very debated thread is why you would choose what I consider a race boat for cruising? I am sure to get the typical response of, "Because we appreciate being able to sail and appreciate sailing over creature comforts." I have heard some variation of that for years. But, for a fulltime cruising boat, do you really gain that much going to a racing boat for cruising?

First, lets define cruising. Cruising, in my opinion (and everyone gets their own), is fulltime, probably no house, everything in storage, I am going-going-going or living on the water for well over a year, and likely many years, if not permanently. I have to tell you that the difference between taking off for a few weeks or even a few months (both of which I have done) while still maintaining a residence is TOTALLY different than selling it all and sailing (which we do now). Why? Because when you sell it all and sail, you don't have the luxury of odd storage, a place to return to when the boat gets cramped, that (un)realistic knowledge in the back of your head that if your boat sinks, you will just have to move back to your house and deal with the insurance company. I think SSCA has a similar definition, which I agree with, but I guess everyone gets their own. What I don't think is cruising is taking off for a few weeks, maybe a few months, where the idiosyncracies of your boat can just be shrugged off until you get back home. That seems like vacationing to me.

Next, lets define racer/performance/HD. My idea of a performance boat is a boat that meets or slightly exceeds hull speed in normal wind conditions. These are the typical conditions a cruiser will set off in, not necessarily the conditions they will see. Lets say these conditions are 15-20 kts sustained. A boat that cannot reach hull speed at these numbers is what I would define as a HD (heavy displacement cruiser... though I can think of a few more metaphors!). A boat that goes well over hull speed in 15-20, or in less than 15 sustained, I would define as a racer. Again, these are all open to discussion. They are my loose definitions.

Now, I am not in any way suggesting that everyone needs to get a HD Cruiser for cruising (though an argument can be made for them), but why get a racer? The majority of these boats are generally narrow beams, light storage, very light tankage, and deep draft. Many have air draft over 65, cutting off any hope of the ICW, and I can even make a good argument that air and water drafts over ICW limits also cut off safety. The comment will come up as usual, "because we appreciate a performing boat over the creature comforts." Well, if you are cruising, is your boat really still a racer?

For example, my boat used to be a LOT faster than it is now. SHe loved to jump up and go, and now it takes pretty close to 20 to get her at hull speed or thereabouts. I have a LOT of stuff on my boat, and I have two kids. I will admit that without the kids, it would be easier to rearrange this stuff to make it more accommodating for speed. Heck, our cans and food would be cut over half! But does my boat really have that much stuff on it for a cruising boat? Solar? Gotta make power some way. Without solar you are doomed to make power with a generator and subsequently carry more gas and diesel at what can easily add up to more weight. Water jugs. A few diesel jugs. Lots of food. Lots of tools. Lots of spare parts. Life raft. Some books (more minimal now with kindle). Snorkel gear (though I carry dive gear too). Tender. TV. Guitar. Bike. Cart. Minimal documents (now have scanned in most). My boat is heavy. I could cut some stuff, but these all get used and make our boat our home.

So what do you cut? And more importantly, where do you put that stuff that you feel is essential on a race boat? Most of the cruising boats I see, which have lots of storage, still have stuff crammed in every corner and every spare inch. I am not going to say I couldn't get rid of some stuff, but our deal is that if we don't use it much, it is off the boat (spare parts and tools the exception). Lets see, just my tools take up a 30x30x60 area... and that does not even include all the spare parts! Pots and pans of various sizes, including vacuseal bags, flower, sugar, and other necessary items take up the exact same side across from it. Can goods and bottled water fill the bilge. Spare parts in the holds below the waterline. Everything heavy is low, light is high. Most everything on this boat is secured in a locker or behind strong fiddleboards.

So again, what do you cut on a race boat? Can you? Cabinetry is often at a minimum. If you do not cut much, is that boat still a race boat? My argument has long been that when cruising on one of these boats, the stuff that the HD or even performance boats can stowe safely below and in holds, you end up stuffing in every corner, above the waterline, and/or on deck. Whereas we can keep most of our stuff safely secured and below the waterline, you may not or your boat is sooo stuffed down below that you cannot move around. And if you stuff it above deck, is that boat still performing well? Is she still safe for cruising? Because if you put 5000 pounds of stuff on a boat that is 25,000 lbs, then you have altered its displacement by 17%. If you put that same 5000 lbs on a boat that displaces 15000 lbs, you have altered its displacement by 25%... or about 50% more. Not to mention, much of that stuff in my opinion will go above the waterline and on decks whereas other boats can keep it below.

Now, a 40 foot racer as a man cave, single guy, I get that. I don't agree with it, but I get it. Its just you. But can you and a spouse really make that work long term? With kids? And is your boat going to be safer than mine, or a HD cruiser, when you really load it up with what you will need to cruise with? My guess (GUESS) is that you have now really changed that boat and the very properties you came to admire it for are now lost upon your chosen lifestyle. I also guess (GUESS) that in reality, that boat is less safe than the typical HD or performance cruiser which has the ability to properly stowe items.

What are others opinions? Agree? Disagree? Why?


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post #2 of 238 Old 04-15-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

What you write is the essential reason for the huge variety of boats and the continued demand for custom designs.

Everybody's idea of the "ideal" sailboat is different - even within the various subsets like cruising boats.

Even within the different points in a single persons life for that matter.

I can well appreciate the "all the comforts of home" offered by Huntabenelinas but my taste runs more towards a more "roughing it" type of boat - simpler and with more personality. I also prefer more involvement in boat handling than the set it and forget it, all furling rigs.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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post #3 of 238 Old 04-15-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

I kind of like the racers for their simplicity more than anything else.

Since many "cruisers" as you define them, statistically, are at a point in their lives (50's or over empty nesters) where they can afford new or new-ish large cruising boats, the numerous systems probably become less of an issue to them.

But I certainly know that every boat I've ever stepped foot in myself has been close to 30 years old. And things like hoses, through-hulls, miles of old and sometimes-shorted (always corroded) wiring, etc. etc., all hidden behind cosmetic paneling and very difficult to access, makes a "cruising" boat a huuuuuuge PITA.

Things like in-mast mainsail furling and other complications to rigging also in my opinion make some "cruising" boats more anchor-friendly, but less sailing friendly.

That said, even a racer is gonna be slow if it's loaded down, especially a boat designed to plane or semi-plane, it gives up something upwind for that planing hull-form and if you are too heavy to plane off the wind, you are possibly slower overall than a true cruising boat.

The solution? GET A BIGGER BOAT

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post #4 of 238 Old 04-15-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

To be honest when we do distance races its serious to US and for us distance is 200 miles or less

So you have 7 people doing 3 hours on at most then crashing and doing it again until the finish

Anything remotely nice down below is a problem as your dragging sails up and down constantly And in generally can't really be worried about nicking fine woodwork

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post #5 of 238 Old 04-15-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

Interesting definition of a cruiser. Is a cruiser someone who stays in the Caribbean or one who cruises in many different varieties of conditions. Person who never goes more than 500 miles from their home base and just circles the Carribean to me is a live aboard who takes trips, not a cruiser. Gary was a cruiser IMHO. Wingnwing live aboard cruiser in my definition.

Someone like Killarney is really a cruiser to me. Many different wind conditions. Can't just run in for protection in 2 or 3 days. Endures light winds and the. Boat moves, and heavier winds and seas without trepidation. Most cruisers I know are couples. Not all require the creature comforts like air, etc.. Many prefer a simpler less expensive way of cruising you do. They are more of minimalist nature. Look at the anchorages of the real world traveling cruisers who travel in style .they have Amels, Moody's, Hans Christians, Taswells, Passports, Vagabonds, Outbounds, Oysters, Calibers, Hylas. These are not the charter boats of he Carribean.

A cruiser hits many brief wind conditions as they travel to many different areas. Not just 15-20 in the trades, but also lighter winds too. The cruiser definition you used will never apply to 98% of us. Most of us are hybrids. Very few of us are live aboards therefore we don't need to carry what we have around with us all the time. Even when we travel 6months a year to the Caribbean we will not be considered cruisers by your narrow definition. So I guess we will be taken a 6 month vacation on our boat by your definition. Not our definition by the way, I think we will consider ourself cruising because of the distances we will e traveling as well as the many destinations.

Racers. True racers I have see are like cruisers at he other end of the spectrum. They are a breed who goes fast...all the time, light and heavy wind. The have minimal accommodations major electronics , huge winches, open cockpits, many different sails. Most of us are not racers either. Look t he Vende boats, those are racers.

Sundeers are racers.

Racers and Cruisers make up 2% at each end of he sailing community. The rest of us in the middle with attributes of both ends of different degrees. As mentioned boat makers hybridize to catch our individual preferences, that's why so many variations from J and X yachts to Catalina's, Bennes, Hunters to Tartans, Sabres....to Hanse.. To Ip.

Paulo likes performance cruisers, I do also. Most of they rest of us on Sailnet are in the middle. Never to be racers or cruisers by your definition.

Boats have so many accessories you can add to turn any boat into a cruiser for living style. However you cannot turn some boats into performance boats. Many boats can hit hull speed, but can they blue after it for 30,000 miles without busting apart? Will they last 20 years sailing in blue water.

I am alo a member of SCCA. What type of boas do you see they have?
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

Brian, this is akin to debating whether you are a serious racer if you haven't taken sandpaper and removed the varnish and the bulkheads on your boat.

It is what it is, and each person sets their own criteria for how far they pursue the differences.

One skipper has coffee cups. The next has titanium coffee mugs, because whether he's racing or cruising, they weigh less and make his boat faster and lighter--which is safer for cruisers as well. And then the next guy won't allow coffee cups onboard at all, because real sailors don't need "hot" anything at all, and the excess weight is intolerable.

A cruiser with two kids aboard? Come on now, Fedex takes live animals. The kids can spend the night on a carousel in Memphis, and join you once you make landfall. :-)
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post #7 of 238 Old 04-15-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

The more I think of it, the less sense it makes to try to define terms like 'cruiser' and 'blue water boat', when we think of some of the people we have met while cruising. On one hand, a couple on an Oyster 56 bought from the factory exactly to spec with the owner in the factory most days to make sure it was done right. On the other hand, a singlehander on an engineless Bristol 27 that was older than the owner by quite a few years. Both boats though were on pretty much the same path at roughly similar speeds.

I think when we get down to it, we really define for ourselves what cruising is (or is not) and what boat makes sense for what we want to do. I would not want to do the singlehanded, Bristol way and I can't afford the new, big Oyster route so we made our own definitions and got on with it.
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After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.
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post #8 of 238 Old 04-15-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

I would also take issue with such a narrow definition of a cruiser. As far as I am concerned, if you are going away on your boat for multiple days for the purpose of exploring, or just getting away, you are cruising. You can sneer at such people and say they are not "real" cruisers all you want but the fact is the vast majority of people who consider themselves to be cruisers do not fit your definition.

If I WERE going to leave my entire land based life behind and live on a boat, I certainly wouldn't do it on a pure race boat unless my intention was a high speed circumnavigation of some kind. I doubt many people would.

In the context of your very narrow definition of cruisers and racers your question is pointless, because few, if any, of YOUR kind of cruisers WOULD use a race boat.

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post #9 of 238 Old 04-16-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

15-2 knots of wind?!?!?! that as noted would be tradewinds only! Here in puget sound, many more days one needs a good iron genny to get around! Even if you only own theboat/house etc!

Locally any how, there was a "race your house" ace last october. As Irecall, the types of boats varied as much as one would like to see. From a few heavy tayana style boats, to a 40 Elan that was in that brands race/cruise mix.

I also know of one fellow living on board the saem boat I have, ie about the size of a catalina 28 mkII! so, live aboards and cruisers fit all kinds of sizes and shapes etc.......

At the end of the day, you will get what works for the type of cruising you do.....in the mean time, anybody know where I can get an extra 6" of draft for my boat, would like it to be 6' vs the 5.5!


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post #10 of 238 Old 04-16-2013
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Re: Why a racer for cruising discussion...

A "pure" race boat would be a HORRIBLE cruiser. Why? Well how is it when the head is out in the open? No shower. No insulation. Sometimes needs more people to properly sail. Usually has more sail area requiring more care to sail. Is made lighter, and usually light isnt as durable.

I think anyone doing long term cruising wants the amenities of home. Heat/AC, insulation, electronics (radio/TV) easy to sail shorthanded, more stable and can handle more weather. Yes there are plenty of race boats that sail around the world in all kinds of weather, but even the Volvo 60s/70s and Vendee boats had major failures, and they were made to go around the world.

Now there are lots of race inspired cruising boats. The Beneteau First 30, Elan 310, Junneau Sunfast 3200, etc. These are boats they say can race well, but are also stable and easy to sail as well as have full interiors and lots of amenities. I ALMOST bought a First 30 because of how much more comfortable the boat was below deck, yet still was easy to sail, and had nearly the performance of a race boat.

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