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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > herSailNet > What makes a good family cruiser boat?
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Thread: What makes a good family cruiser boat? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-04-2006 07:45 PM
Eleanna 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.
08-04-2006 07:14 PM
Eleanna 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.
08-04-2006 03:40 AM
paulmcquillan 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!
07-15-2006 05:19 PM
sailingdog 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.
07-15-2006 01:39 PM
SteveCox 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.
02-07-2005 12:32 PM
h20ski
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.
01-19-2005 02:52 AM
kb7176
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.
01-12-2005 06:27 AM
BarryL
What makes a good family cruiser boat?

Hello,

I have come into this discussion late, but I may have some useful comments.

My family and I started sailing in the summer of 2003. There are five of us, my wife and I, and three kids. The kids were 2, 4, and 7 when we first started sailing. The original plan was for a cheap small daysailer. We decided on an older Catalina 22, which was great for the first year. By the end of the year I was totally hooked on sailing and I wanted a bigger boat, something large enough to spend a weekend on, but still small enough to be easily sailed and, more than anything, affordable to purchase and maintain.

We started 2004 with the Catalina. At the end of June we sold it and bought a Newport 28. We did spend a few nights aboard and I want to do more in 2005.

Anyway, here are my specific comemnts regarding a boat suitable for family cruising:

1. The boat must be easy to sail single handed. With the age of your kids, one of you will most likely be watching the kids, and the other will be sailing the boat. You will need a good, reliable, easy to use autopilot. In addition to things like sheet winches at hand, etc, make sure that the boat has a well designed, easy to use, reefing system. Think about this scenerio:

You are sailing in a nice breeze, everyone is happy, you are loving the sailing life. Then the breeze and the waves start to pick up. The boat heels more and starts bouncing off the waves. The kids start getting scared, nervous, and unhappy. You start getting scared, nervous, and unhappy too. One of you (probably you) needs to tend to the kids. The other one must handle the boat, which is in need of a reef.

Being able to quickly and easily reduce sail makes the difference between everyone calming down and enjoying the sail and having people on edge, uncomfortable, and unhappy. And believe me, if the kids are not happy, no one will be happy!

2. Kids are not as well balanced or as agile, as adults. Make sure that the cockpit is open and easy to move around. While the traveler mounted in the cockpit is great for racing, it will really make moving around it difficult. Look for a boat with the traveler mounted on top of the cabin or at the end of the boom leading to the stern, like on the S2 9.2A. I was cloe to buying an Oday 30 until I realized that the main sheet, located right in front of the companionway, would be very difficult for my kids to pass each time they wanted to go below.

3. A stiffer boat will be more comfortable than a tender boat.

4. Look for a boat with an easy to use swim platform. My boat does not have one and I regret it. To get back into my boat you need to climb up a ladder, then climb over the pushpit. Not easy for a 4 year old! My next boat will have a walk through transom and swim platform (with shower).

5. Personally, the galley is not at all important. With the type of sailing I do (mostly day sails, the occasional weekend trip) no one wants to have to cook and clean up on the boat. For day sails we bring a cooler with prepared food. For weekends we will have a meal or two on the boat and the rest off the boat. As long as I can grill some dogs and burgers, and keep milk cold, my galley needs are met. I don''t see baking bread on the boat in my future!

6. Hot and cold pressure water (and a shower) is important. After a day of fun in sun, swimming, being slathered in sunblock, it''s nice to be able to clean the kids off. As you know, they are not fans of cold water rinses. And boiling water in a kettle gets old fast.

7. An open layout down below is also important. The table on my boat folds up against the bulkhead. I didn''t know it at the time, but that''s a great idea. It allows the kids to spead out on the sette, or the cabin sole and play. I don''t have to worry about them climbing on the table, the table falling down, etc. The table can also fold in half so it can be open, but still allow easy access to the head, V berth, etc.

8. I don''t know what sleeping arrangements are best, but everyone needs a bunk. I put one kid (the youngest) in the v berth, so he can fall asleep first, without interruptions. My wife and I sleep on a sette, it pulls out to a double. One kid sleeps in the rear quarterberth. It''s tight and hot but she doesn''t know any better. My oldest sleeps on the other sette. Forget about privacy!

9. For entertainment we bring books, toys, radio, etc. We have dedicated toys for the boat. We try to change them often so the kids don''t get tired of them and they look forward to playing with them. My kids tend to get seasick if they stay below when we are sailing, so mostly they play in the cockpit. At night we use a computer w/DVD drive to watch movies.

I guess that''s about it. I think you need a boat in the 27-34 range. You didn''t list your budget, so I won''t make any specific recommendations. We looked at Catalina 27 (nice, but too small for 5, would be OK for 4), Catalina 30 (perfect for us), Hunter 31 (I don''t trust the quality of 1980''s Hunters). Irwin 31 (all had leaks), O''day 28 and 30 (traveler location), S2 (nice but on the expensive side), Newport 28 and 30, and a few others.

If I were buying a new boat I would get a little bigger one, something 32-34, but that starts getting large for single handing (not to mention expensive).

Good luck,
Barry
01-11-2005 06:08 AM
PCP
What makes a good family cruiser boat?

Interesting thread.

I have some experience, since in summer my family and I live and cruise for 1 month and a half in our boat.

Let me summ up what has been said and it seems more important to me:

"The specifics of what makes a good family cruiser will vary with the family."

"Today, I think that people expect a lot more out of a boat, comforts that are closer to home."

"Generally, these days the focus of a Family cruiser leans toward a certain amount of room to lounge and carry the kinds of ''toys'' that keep a family amused."

"Galleys tend to be surprisingly well equipped, approaching all of the comforts of home."

"Today almost the smallest boats have pressure water and so the water tankage has to be quite large."

" Two very young children as ''crew'' will mean someone quite often will be required to have the ''Kid Watch''....so for starters, you''ll want a boat that is easily handled - by either of you - and sails without fuss. This may be in conflict with your husband''s desire to have a ''racer/cruiser'' "

"This may also argue for a boat that is smaller rather than larger. (It doesn''t speak to any specific boat choice, but I''d put an autopilot at the top of your ''extras'' list".

".....you should look at the cockpit carefully. E.g. a mainsheet traveller bisecting & spanning the cockpit, often found on boats set up to race, is just an impediment and tripping hazard to young kids wanting to spread out their toys."

"Talk with your husband about the local area and and how that should influence your boat choice. E.g. secluded anchorages or easy access to shore, for the benefit of family cruising, might dictate a shallower draft"...

"But if sailing turns out to be, for your family, a great experience, then there''s one especially valuable thing your two kids can potentially get from the experience that''s worth keeping in mind: a love of sailing. And that is likely to happen more easily if your boat is fun to sail. "

"My suggestion would be to go to a boat show and check out the different boats. I think that everyone is going to have different ideas of what the best options would be. You need to find something that is going to suit you."

"Charter a couple different kinds of boats. Use the charter as both a vacation and an evaluation."


Those are, in my opinion, good advises.

I would say that to maximize the single handling of the boat (even by someone that is not experienced) the boat should have the sheet winches at easy reach from the helm and if possible a self tacking head sail.

I think that for very small children center cockpit designs have a security advantage, being easier to maintain the children in the boundaries of the cockpit. This type of boat offers also a traveller situated behind the cockpit, offering a clear and safe cockpit area and good control of the boom, being at reach to the helmsman.

All this put together (including the above quotations ) if it falls inside the budget, I would say that the new Najad 38 or the new Halberg-Rassy 37 are obvious choices as (small) family boats. They are both good and fast boats.

There are two others center cockpit, not so well known and not so expensive that will fit this parameters, the C-yacht 10.4 (and 11.0) and the Sunbeam 37.

I like particularly the C-Yachts. The 10.4 costs around 160 K euros and the 11.0 around 200K.

Regards

Paulo
01-10-2005 10:57 AM
p32
What makes a good family cruiser boat?

I would recommend taking ghostsailors suggestion (boat show), but take it to the next level. Charter a couple different kinds of boats. Use the charter as both a vacation and an evaluation. A week long charter is not going to provide adequate evaluation in terms of time or use that a potential live-aboard/world cruiser might require. But for the use you''ve described it may be just the ticket to give some more realistic use-case experience than a boat show or test sail scenario.

Brian
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