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post #1 of 11 Old 03-27-2006 Thread Starter
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Need help on planning for retirement

My wife and I plan to cruise the Caribbean upon retirement. Neither of us know how to sail, although we intend to learn over the next few years. We want to live aboard while we tour the islands. What size and type boat might be suitable for an in-shape couple to handle alone and still be a comfortable size on which to live?
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-27-2006
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Probably around 32-34 feet; bigger, and the sail area's too much for a couple, smaller, and it's a bit tight to live in. You may want roller furling for the jib, maybe for the main too. There are a lot of boats in this category, no need to select one now, just work on learning to sail the first couple of years, then you'll know better what kind of boat might be best for you.

Learning sailing--you might start on the smaller, more responsive boats, then work your way up to the larger cruising liveaboard candidates. It's kind of a long road, but a fun one. Best of luck.
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-27-2006
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There's also the financial side to consider. Now's the time to start building your cruising kitty. Be thinking about a realistic assessment of what you will do, as opposed to what you would like to do. For instance, will you stay at marinas, or anchor out? Big cost differential right there. There's some good articles, right here on Sailnet that can guide you in working out a budget.

Take some lessons, then perhaps charter some different boats once you reach that level of competence. It's a good way to understand the different plus's and minus's of different designs. Also a good way to seek out your comfort level for what you want on your boat.

Once you reach a realistic budget, and learn what you want, then is the time to start thinking about the boat.

Best wishes

John
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-27-2006
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"and still be a comfortable size on which to live.." is all a matter for perspective and funding. Two people can fit in a mid-20's boat, what is comfortable depends on your expectations. Cruising is a little like camping, two can camp with backpacks and a puptent or in a 40' Gulf Stream coach. Do you "need" A/C, heat, inside shower, microwave, only you can decide.
As to boat size, with the advances in boat handling you can configure a boat into 50' range or so for short-handling, as the size goes up, the demands on expensive mechanical and power systems increase.
I regularily single-hand my 36' and find it no more stressful than a pram.

That all being said, my own thoughts for what you seek run to the following (not too big, not too little, not so expensive...):
http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listi...ick&searchtype=

good luck.
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-27-2006
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I think 32-34 feet is a lower limit of size for your purposes, because a smaller boat has less storage, and if two are going to cruise long-term, they'll need some storage. I singlehand a 35' boat, and believe two reasonably competent people should be able to handle up to about 38-40' easily. Actually, I agree that they could handle a 50, but a 50 footer seems like an awful lot of boat for two people.

Everything on a boat is a compromise. The bigger the boat, the more it costs to maintain it, fuel it, keep it in a marina, etc. So, you might think you'd like all the amenities of a big boat, but then you have to face the reality of whether you can afford the cost of owning a big boat. Choose a boat that meets your needs and that you can afford to enjoy.
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-28-2006 Thread Starter
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Many thanks

Thanks for the information and the links.

I was looking at something in a monohull around 45' - 52', would a cat of the same size be easier to handle with only two people?
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-30-2006
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Ease of handling... junk rig!!!

For ease of handling and just a bit smaller than your stated range, take a look at a Tom Colvin designed Gazelle. Chinese Junk rig and aluminum hull would be ease of handling and easy maintenance. Draft right at 4' so it is suitable for Bahama exploring, fore and aft cabins and lot of deck space.

As to your original question, the ease or difficulty in handling is a function of the type of rig and the thought that went onto 'ease features' more than the hull type.
However, all other things being equal the multihull will win hands down when you have to go out on deck and (a) the deck is NOT leaning 20 to 30 degrees and (b) there is more clear deck space which makes it easier to get around.
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-04-2006
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Get The Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South. by Bruce Van Sant

This book is fun reading and has great information about the path from Florida to the Islands.

My wife and I plan to also retire and head for the islands in our 32' 1982 Pearson with 23 hp Volvo. I have almost 25 years experience sailing this boat. It's a little on the small side. I wish I had more room to install air cond, life raft, extra fuel, extra sails, water toys, etc; but we will make do. It has the best option of all - it's paid off.

To learn more about sailing, go to marinas and ask around for people who might take you out or let you crew for Wed night races. Put up posts on the marina board.

Max
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-04-2006
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The Cruising Life A Commonsense Guide for the Would-Be Voyager by Jim Trefethen is a relatively strong, critical and useful book on this topic as well.

http://books.mcgraw-hill.com/getbook...3607&template=
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-05-2006
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One thing to remember, is that the larger the boat, the higher the costs, both initial and ongoing. The maintenance, dock, marina, mooring, haulout, maintenance and gear replacement costs are all generally related to the size of the boat... most are charged per foot, and the hardware, rigging and sails on a larger boat are more expensive to repair.

My recommendation, based on the boats the couples I know living aboard and cruising long-term, would be a boat 35-40 feet in length for a monohull, or 30-37 feet for a catamaran. Anything bigger, your maintenance, mooring/dock, and repair costs are going to be more than you will probably want to spend a year.

You should definitely try to charter a few different types of boats, to get an idea of how much work they are, as well as how livable they will be for you.

As you're planning on the Caribbean, I would also recommend getting a shoal draft boat, as there are quite a few places that a draft greater than 5' can be an issue. A shallower draft also gives you more options for finding "hurricane holes" in case of really severe weather.
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