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  #11  
Old 01-19-2005
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What makes a good family cruiser boat?

I think that it is interesting that most of the responses to your post have been from men. It''s kind of funny to me when people try to tell you how much space and entertainment options you need for your children. It has been my experience that every family is different and I have yet to see a one size fits all solution for every family. I am not knocking their responses (well actually, I guess I am a little...sorry) but your question as I understand it was what you should look for in a family cruiser. I think the idea of going to the boat shows is very good as it gives you the opportunity to see a large range of boats and is easier to compare layouts etc. I would like to suggest that you look at Hunters or Catalinas (this is sure to bring alarm to some of the bluewater guys as they seem to believe that these boats are deathtraps on the water :-) These boats are great for families and are well suited for the type of sailing that you are talking about doing. The newer Henderson design Hunters are easy to handle and quite fast to boot! (Your husband might like that) As far as layouts go, there are very few boats that will meet your requirements more closely.) As far as the equipment and safety factor is concerned you will find that well respected companies such as Harken, Lewmar, Seldon, etc are well represented on these boats. Many people refer to these boats as condos on the water but in a lot of ways, what''s wrong with that? I can say that if that is true, here in the Chesapeake there are a lot of "Condo" owners who are loving life at 7+ knots! :-) Good luck on your search, I hope whatever you decide on brings much joy to your family.
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  #12  
Old 02-07-2005
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What makes a good family cruiser boat?

don''t forget safety- especially with small children. ETAPs are becoming more popular as they are filled with foam and designed to be unsinkable.
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Old 07-15-2006
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Personally I would put ease of sail handling at the top of the list. My kids are 2 and 3 right now so one of us is always on kid watch. The boat we have access to (not own) is a San Juan 7.7 (26') and all we can do is motor. The sails are set up such that I cannot sail the boat alone and my wife is too busy with the kids to help much. Problems with the San Juan are as follows (with solutions). The jib is set up with a luff foil where a rope on the forward part of the jib slides in a track on the forestay. Very popular with racers as it makes the jib more efficient. The problem is that someone has to go forward to feed the sail into the foil to raise it and when it comes down it is not attached to anything and therefore goes flying. You want roller furling on a family cruiser. The mainsail has the same problem, you'll want lazy jacks to keep the main under control. Winches require some one to tail and someone to crank. I can do this by myself, my wife can't. Self tailing winches should be very close to the top of your list. An auto pilot so the helmsman can leave the helm for a minute to tend to sails etc will be a big help. As far as comfort below, that is very dependent on you. We have spent most of our married lives (16yrs) hiking, backpacking, and bike touring. For us, having an enclosed head with a flush toilet is luxury. I am currently setting up our boat with one settee that folds up into bunks with lee cloths for our two kids while we have the v-berth. The ameniites on a boat will not equal your house until you get to a boat that is very large and expensive. I would look for a boat that will comfortably sleep the four of you. Extra berths are installed at the expense of storage and functionality. If you are weekending I would look at using some solar showers in the cockpit to clean up with. Keeping a head that is also used as a shower clean can be a real pain and that much moisture inside the boat can be a problem. Something else to look at is ventilation. You will have four people living inside a small compartment. It will become hot and humid without lots of air exchange. At least some opening ports will be very helpful. Good luck on your search.
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Old 07-15-2006
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Just remember, no ballasted boat is going to be unsinkable... for that matter few, if any boats, even multihulls are truly unsinkable. The problem with the ETAPs is that you lose a significant amount of storage due to the foam.

Any boat can be safe for little kids, especially if you take certain precautions. PFDs for the little kids unless they're down below, tethers and harnesses for them when they're on deck, netting along the lifelines... etc.

Making the boat easy to handle, easy to sail, and manageable when short-handed is also very important.

I'd agree with most of what Steve has said as well.

Also, using a head like a Lavac, which is considerably more fool-proof and easier to use than a standard marine head is a good idea.
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Old 08-04-2006
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Fast and easy to sail can also imply some other things. A lot of racer-cruisers (actually most boats over 10 years old) could probably benifit from a number of improvements that make the boat both faster and easier.

for example:
1. Traveller upgrades. Harken windward sheeting travellers are SO easy to use that adjustments get made without complaint.

2. Dump the old blocks and replace with roller-bearing blocks.

3. Take out the pin-stop genoa cars and replace with adjustable roller-bearing systems.

4. Upgrade the roller furler.

5. Make sure the reefing works well (change as needed)

6. Put new sails on the boat.

Happy sailing your now faster and easier-to-sail boat!
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Old 08-04-2006
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I do like what Jeff H has to say, I to when I was a kid my parents, me and my sister was out for weeks in a small 27' IF(swedish made Sailboat) No head room, alcohol burner and sink as a galley, really small head without shower. But we where never bored, we had a blast. Today I own a 37' Irwin, it accomodates 6-8 people with all the luxuries you can expect being out such as full galley 2 heads and showers. fridge and AC plenty of room for all. But you are compromising the sailing part for comfort....But I've heard the J-boats are a pretty good family boat with it's own racing class. Maybe that's something to look into.

E.
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Old 08-04-2006
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Something that nobody here have brought up is weather you are actually going out sailing with your kids or not. When we go out "sailing we leave the kids home because it's just to darn hard to focus on kids and boat at the same time. Kids needs to much attention when you are at sea, we got a 3,5,8 and 9 year old and it's just no way possible to set sail and actually enjoy and trying to attend the kids at the same time. We have kids weekend out and it's motor only but they love it, when they get older we will most likely take them out sailing and hope they love that to.

E.
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