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brettandj 10-23-2007 01:57 AM

A few beginners questions
Hi all, my wife and I have just joined the forum and are hoping you may be able to shed a bit of light of a few questions we have.

We have just returned from holidays and have set ourselves a long term goal of living onboard a boat for a few years.

1. We have a young family and I was wondering if it were possible for a father and son (13 year old) combination to sail a large catamaran?

2. What size boat is generally considered a minimum for open water sailing? We live on the east coast of Australia and would be sailing the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef. I have been looking at the 45'-50' catamarans.

We have recently joined the sailing club and will be looking to purchase a small boat to learn on.

Thank you

Brett and J

tenuki 10-23-2007 02:32 AM


Originally Posted by brettandj (Post 210532)
We have recently joined the sailing club and will be looking to purchase a small boat to learn on.

First things first, and this is the right step. Welcome to sailnet and sailing!

chris_gee 10-23-2007 02:35 AM

Hmm. Yes it might be possible until he discovers girls.
2. It depends. In a cyclone none is big enough. In reasonable weather providing it isn't raining you can have fun in a relatively small boat if you fit and can stand it for a time.
You are mixing 3 things. One a young family - size. Liveaboard. Cruising in open waters but close to land.
Generally say 40' would be fine for a small family, depending on design and how carried away you get.
Unless you have found an oil well, and depending on how long term longterm is, I wonder if you might not be better off starting with something modest where you can have fun soonish even in a 25- 30'.

brettandj 10-23-2007 02:42 AM


Originally Posted by tenuki (Post 210536)
First things first, and this is the right step. Welcome to sailnet and sailing!

:D :D

I know, I know, I getting ahead of myself here, but you've got to have something to get you through those long tiresome days at work...

Raggbagger 10-23-2007 05:12 AM

Hi and welcome aboard , so you joined a sailing club ehh . Why dont you rent out a few boats from them , ask around and see who needs crew , throw up an add at the club billboard and get you and your son out on as many boats as you can before you make the comitment to buying one . Unless you can afford to change boats at the drop of a hat and money is no object .Your taste in boats may change drastically once you get going .

Yes you and your son could crew a large cat if you know what your doing , even so , I think youll find that 2 is a very small crew on a boat of some size . Not that it cant be done , but its going to be work . Hard work and sleepless nights if you plan on offshore sailing .

Offshore minimum size is dependant on the crews experience , not the boat .
If you dont know what your doing , a bigger boat is not going to help you , in fact it may hurt you .

Its great that your getting into the sailing life with your family . I hope your son is enthused about it ,13 yrs old , wow . I wish my dad had plans to buy us a 45-50 ft Cat when I was 13 well , not a Cat , I prefer the monohulls .
Theres a bunch of Aussies on the net here and Im sure theyll chime in with recommendations on a small boat to get you going .

Fair winds

sailorsez 10-23-2007 07:19 AM

Hi Brett - you will just love the Whitsundays. Our boat, a Catalina 380 has travelled from Sydney to the Whitsundays three times and every cruise was absolutely fantastic !!!

Our Catalina is not known for its blue water capabilities but up and down the east coast of Australia it has been great.

When are you planning to leave ?? If it's within a year or so why not just go and buy the cat you like and learn to sail on that.

Cruising the Whitsundays is not that taxing - there are numerous safe anchorages for any wind direction- you just have to keep an eye out for the reefs.

I'm all excited now after hearing your plans. I think I'll start work on my hubby for our next trip ....

Jotun 10-23-2007 08:05 AM

I don't advocate doing the same (although I am a fan of them), there was a young couple with no sailing experience who bought a 35' cat and sailed around the world. You can read their logs here:

chucklesR 10-23-2007 08:20 AM

Brent, J
Get a copy of Charles Kanter's 'Cruising Catamaran Communique' (his proof reading sucks, but the data is good) as a general guide to what makes a good and bad cruising catamaran.
Chris White's books on multihull's are also exceptional data sources and must reads for multi-hull'ers.
Next, subscribe to the UK's 'multihull' magazine.

If the budget permits, charter a cat before you buy it - what looks good on the dock or a shows doesn't always translate to works in life - try one before you buy it.
Also, time and budget permitting - don't just take sailing courses, take diesel repair, electrical repair, woodworking (the skills translate to fiberglass and steel sometimes) etc.. Living on a boat isn't like living in a house, the repairmen do not come to you, you are the repairman.
Stay away from bad designs, unsafe designs etc.
My wife and I went with the perfect for us 'couples' cat, you'll be looking for bigger. We have done weeklong charters on 44, 42, 41 and 38 ft cat's (going from big to small) working out what we did, and didn't like. During that time we had as many as 8 others on board during the week (four kids, plus thier partners). I could have handled a couple on the 44 ft, anything else gets my need for space and privacy on edge after a week.
There are a lot (LOT) of older cat's out there that make wonderful family boats, enjoy the hunt.

sailingdog 10-23-2007 06:20 PM

I'd second Chris White's The Cruising Multihull, and also recommend Thomas Firth Jones's Multihull Voyaging.

Also, I'd recommend chartering the boat you're most interested in as well.

I'd also recommend getting the smallest boat you're comfortable with... since larger boats also have larger costs associated with them, and also require more strength since the sails are larger, the anchors are heavier, etc.... Yes, electric winches and windlasses help to a point, but they don't do much for you when you're trying to wrestle the mainsail down and put it into a sailbag... or haul the anchor off the roller and stow it in the locker for a bluewater passage...

Finally, mistakes on a larger boat can quickly become dangerous. Having a problem with the jib on a 30' boat, you can often muscle the sail down or furl it manually. Doing the same thing on a boat that is 40' LOA isn't generally possible. A 40' boat isn't 33% larger than a 30' boat...but more like 135% larger...since boats grow in length, width and height.

Giulietta 10-23-2007 06:28 PM

Welcome...your question makes a lot of sense, and I am sure people here will answer it perfectly for you.

Now I don't know if you are aware, but its good sailnet etiquette to post one's photo on the first posts...we don't require one of the missus, but if she wants...we won't say no..but DESERVE a photo here.

Muchas Gracias,

Manuel Perez de Cuellar

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