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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > cruiser vs live-a-board
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-04-2004 02:41 AM
WHOOSH
cruiser vs live-a-board

Dick:

I think you make a good point and, fundamentally, ask a question which applies to many folks who picture themselves cruising a lot, but who either plan to or end up cruising in more challenging circumstances only occasionally or even rarely. One reason boats of immensely different capabilities are seen in the Caribbean, or down on Mexico''s west coast, is that cruising conditions IN those regions can be fairly benign, transiting between islands and ports can be relatively easy and quick, and weather patterns are seasonal (meaning one can choose to be there when it''s safest and the wx most stable). In such circumstances, one can cruise with a cautious agenda in truly marginal boats, not that most of us would aspire to do so.

I would put an ocean crossing - even a relatively short run such as visiting Bermuda from the U.S. mainland - in a different category, however. If an ''occasional'' or even ''single'' ocean crossing is in the plans, I don''t know how to be concerned about the safety of the crew - let''s set aside the goal of the passage being a relatively enjoyable one - without placing significantly higher weight on the vessel''s offshore capabilities. The reason is that even major stable, seasonal wx patterns don''t exist uniformly, unwaveringly, across large areas of an ocean, and some level of disturbance (convective, subtropical, frontal) has to be anticipated. They''ve run the Caribbean 1500 for many years now, and the vast majority of the boats doing it have had mostly good conditions altho'' usually with a rambunctious period given the autumnal wx patterns...but the occasional boat has been abandoned and crew members have been seriously injured. The occasional loss of boat and life has also occurred in the ARC runs (and also individual passages) from the Canaries to the Caribbean, considered by most folks to be a rolly, convective-laden but warm and relatively safe run. When you start with a relatively inexperienced (re: offshore sailing) crew and an untried (re: offshore conditions) boat, and add in wx variability, you already are operating with a mix of unknowns that represent a significant level of challenge. To add to the mix a boat which brings inherent design and build weaknesses (re: offshore use) is to roll the dice much further, IMO.

I don''t know what you mean by ''coastal cruising both sides of the Pacific'', as that would imply a Pacific circle, in which case a truly capable cruising boat would be essential for numerous reasons. I''m wondering if you mean ''both sides of Central America'', instead. I recently corresponded with a fellow who did that in a Catalina 34 (Glen Herman; email address can be found on C34 owner''s website; he essentially cruised from California to Florida via the Canal) because I was interested in his impressions of how his C34 held up. His remarks related far more to systems (DC power generation, watermaker, canvas and cockpit protection, anchor gear, etc.) than long sailing runs or sustained heavy weather (altho'' he did see windy conditions on occasion) and I think that''s typical of what ends up being the important issue when doing extended cruising...but in relatively small areas with many coastal or island stopovers.

I''m also not sure what you mean about design features which offset long periods in cold waters. Perhaps you could elaborate.

Jack
02-03-2004 01:11 PM
rskaug
cruiser vs live-a-board

With all the good stuff on this thread, I''m still not sure where I would fit on the cruiser/liveaboard lifestyle continuum. My wife and I have decided we don''t care too much about earning the circumnavigation merit badge, and might find coastal cruising both sides of the Pacific more enjoyable and interesting. In that scenario we might have only one crossing in the ten years we hope to spend on the boat.

How does one weight the importance of that one passage in choosing the boat? And are there design features to minimize the risks of long periods of time spent in cold waters?

I''ve had so much good, helpful, and encouraging advice on sailnet. Thanks in advance. Dick
02-02-2004 06:41 PM
Jeff_H
cruiser vs live-a-board

Unless something changed in the past few months I don''t believe that PC builds the Dana or any of the full length keel designs any longer.

Jeff
02-02-2004 05:16 PM
capttb
cruiser vs live-a-board

You are correct, this picture is of Dana 24, with full keel. http://www.pacificseacraft.com/cgi-bin/printview.php?2414
There is nothing on their website about 31 & 34 but 37'' & up they spec a fin keel. I don''t know what made me think they were all full keel.
02-02-2004 02:44 PM
Jeff_H
cruiser vs live-a-board

Actually, the Pacific Seacrafts currently in production are fin keel with a skeg hung rudders.

Jeff
02-02-2004 02:16 PM
capttb
cruiser vs live-a-board

As far as the brokers & builders are concerned the only consistency I can find is the "horizontal surface suitable for sleeping" mentioned earlier. Catalina puts my 27 in their "Bay" category while a 31 is a "Cruiser". This seems based solely on size as the boats are about equally seaworthy. I always associated "liveaboard" as an attempt to describe a boat big enough to live on in some measure of comfort. The big difference is between boats built for speed (racing) and those built for comfort & safety (or something approaching them) while at sea. All sailboats are a compromise between the two, a "bluewater Cruiser" IMHO is probably a full keel design (like Pacific Seacraft) as opposed to fin keel, (I know there are plenty of circumnavigations with fin keels). I''m really reinforcing others in the post that the terms are a lot like Real Estate ads in that the seller will describe what he thinks potential buyers want, and the things that make a boat more pleasant at the dock are not necessarily the things you want in a boat that will be offshore a lot.
02-01-2004 04:01 PM
PBzeer
cruiser vs live-a-board

To me, cruising is about going places. Doesn''t matter if it''s offshore or coastal as long as you don''t have permanent docklines. An unending journey, so to speak. (Not that one can''t cruise for a specific time frame, but in a general sense, it''s the cruise, not the destination.) And living aboard is part of that.

IMHO, it''s the person that needs definition more than the boat. You can''t choose an appropriate boat, until you honestly define how you''ll use it. Not wishfully define, nor romantically define, but honestly. Once you do that, then put your finances in perspective, you have some useful parameters for searching.

The key, I think, is that "you" have to define yourself, not let someone else do it. And to remember, there''s nothing wrong with whatever definition you come to. You don''t have to sail to Tahiti to be a cruiser, nor do you have to be tied to the big fat yellow cord to be a live aboard. What you "have" to do, is enjoy whatever you''re doing, or why bother.

There is no perfect boat, only the boat that is right for how you''ll use it. Once you know that, you can buy the best one you can find.

Fair winds, and best of luck in your search,

John
02-01-2004 03:19 PM
WHOOSH
cruiser vs live-a-board

Jeff and the group:

A while back I offered an informal hierarchy of cruising categories; damn if I can remember the detail of it now. But IMO that''s what''s lacking in any discussion about cruising boats...and I only reintroduce the notion because of the original post, asking about ''cruiser'' vs. ''liveaboard''.

As memory serves, I was trying to slice the cruising pie into the following categories:
A: Daysailing
B: Inshore, protected waters sailing with occasional coastal leg and/or occasional overnight, but close to shore and within a 24-36 hr wx f''cast window
C: Coastal to 1-2 day passages offshore, still within 48 hr wx f''cast window; Bahamas cruising, skirting the Gulf Coast Panhandle, jumping outside to skirt ICW sections, or SoCal Channel transit are examples
D: Offshore for a period in excess of solid wx f''cast period; examples might be returning to a SE or Mid-Atlantic U.S. port from Bahamas, a big leg enroute the Eastern Caribbean (e.g. Georgetown to Provo, T&C), or the first (longest) leg of the Baja Ha-Ha to Bahia Tortugas from San Diego.
E: Offshore for extended period (measured in weeks) with whatever seasonal wx patterns and convective nonsense that are typical

IMO Jeff''s definition of a ''cruiser'' best fits D and E passages. I (and probably everyone else here) would prefer making C passages on the ''cruiser'' type boat, but in reality would mostly (8 times out of 10) be fine doing them in the archetypical Morgan 41 liveaboard-type boat and not suffer the difference. Just about anything would suffice for A and B, not that we would object to a fine sail in a nice sailing sailboat.

The CE ''A'' rated boats we''ve had those tiring discussions about here in another thread are great for A, B and C runs, IMO. D is when one begins to seriously regret the absence of a truly functional galley, or decent seaberths, or when a head up in the bow of the boat causes one to haul the bucket out of the sail locker, or when shortening down sail requires more than just roller reefing a big genoa.

Jack
02-01-2004 11:10 AM
Jeff_H
cruiser vs live-a-board

Jack, once again you inject a very thought provoking nuance to this discussion. To some extent you are exactly right about the definition of a ''cruiser''. This was was nudging at the back of my mind while I wrote my post. I found myself using terms like ''distance cruiser'', ''purpose built cruiser'' or ''serious cruiser'' to try to distinguish between boats that are intended to spend time offshore or cruise long distances vs boats that are more suitable as a liveaboard or a purpose built coastal cruiser. But really in the end I only danced around the issue that you so squarely raised, which of course is the on-going blurring of terms.

All to often I see terms like ''bluewater cruiser'' thrown casually about. All too often I see boats that are optimized for a comfortable trip down the ICW or over to the Bahamas called ''Bluewater'' or ''Offshore capable'' when many of the features that make a good offshore boat are absent. Very often I meet people who have years of coastal cruising under their belts who are disparaged for a lack of offshore experience as if that is the only mark of an experienced sailor. They are often disparaged by the so-called experienced cruisers who would no more jump offshore for three or four days rather than suffer a week or two of screwing around in the ICW. There is no right or wrong here and I am not sure that the offshore voyager is any more of a cruiser than the ICW passage maker but it does make it harder to define terms doesn''t it?

Good point Jack,
Best wishes,
Jeff
02-01-2004 10:46 AM
WHOOSH
cruiser vs live-a-board

A big missing piece in this fictional but functional ''cruiser vs. livaboard'' characterization is clarifying just what is meant by ''cruising''. While there are large regional differences in weather, living aboard nevertheless remains a fairly clear, constant picture in all our minds: one is aboard and afloat, suffers small spaces but hopefully offsetting positives in lifestyle, environs and perhaps that ''interim'' stage (if only a dream) between the 8-5 Rut and shoving off for good.

OTOH ''Cruising'', it seems to me, has been watered down to such an extent now that it''s meaningless when used as a modifier when discussing boats. (Did anyone else wince at the types of boats CW was featuring in their cover article on small cruising sailboats a few months ago? Apparently, a horizontal surface on which one can lie or place a camping stove makes a boat into a coastal cruiser).

If we use Jeff''s description as a template, it seems to me it fits more or less accurately depending on what definition of cruising we choose to use. E.g. one is truly labeled a seasoned cruiser who wanders up and down the ICW several times, perhaps at some point carefully loping 90 NM across to the Abacos (altho'' this may be trumpeted as "We were in the Caribbean this last winter..."). There are not many folks around my hometown who would hesitate to label that boat''s crew as cruising sailors, but in truth much of the Liveaboard side of Jeff''s template could be quite suitable for that kind of cruising (nor am I suggesting there is anythng wrong with it). In fact, 35-45'' trawlers - hardly seagoing vessels by and large and very much fitting within the Liveaboard category as Jeff describes it - manage in small numbers to occasionally find their way as far south as Trinidad or up the Rio Dulce. They do this mostly by moving in the weak seasons (late Spring and early Fall), smelling few roses, and tolerating lots of rolling.

So as much as Jeff''s template does an excellent job of laying out the continuum and differentiating between two conceptually different types of boats, much (I would claim ''most'') cruising falls into a more modest, compromise category...which, I believe, explains why there is such a huge market for compromise boats that offer liveable quarters and get away with claiming to be cruising capable.

Jack
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