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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-07-2004 06:44 AM
Help save our marriage!!


When making your selection between boats, safety is a very important consideration.

And . . .

Sometimes, (when you need it most), there is a need - "the need for speed"!

The best way of surviving a storm, is to not be there when it arrives. In making crossings (such as the gulf stream), being 25% faster, can get you out of a lot of trouble when weather windows close down on you unexpectedly.

Last note

It is a mighty fine problem for you to have to solve, when choosing between 3 fine ships. You are most fortunate indeed, if this dilema is one of your biggest ones.

Best to ya,

01-23-2004 01:17 AM
Help save our marriage!!

Thanks for the follow-up, El. Hang in there on the homework and it’s good to hear this is helpful.

I completely agree with Jeff''s point about a longer boat (for that 20K displacement) being preferable. The snag is when it comes time to afford that boat, as typically longer boats suitable for long-term cruising and that have (for their length) lighter displacements are more carefully engineered and built, are fewer in number in the marketplace, and will consequently be more pricey. But that doesn''t impeach the preference.

A couple of thoughts about ‘systems’ for your planned cruise, as those decisions and your choice of boat are inter-related. Being clear about system needs up front can help you buy more boat if shopping on the used market. Finding ‘the right gear’, carefully maintained, on a used boat will help you avoid subsequent gear purchases and the time/cost of installation, thereby allowing you to plow more into the boat purchase itself. And I’d like to challenge your basic notion that the boat you buy for a Caribbean cruise could not eventually become a good choice for crossing the Pacific. You will find it immensely more cost and time effective to pick a strong and capable boat initially, and then incrementally improve her, should you decide on longer passagemaking, rather than trade up later, pay tax a second time, change out or add the necessary systems, and start a new learning curve. And some of the cruising challenges in the Caribbean can be formidable in one way or another. When you look at the sea conditions you might face off the Venezuela and Columbia coast enroute the San Blas Is., that can be tougher sailing than anything you’ll find enroute the central South Pacific outside storm season. And if planning to cruise e.g. the Roques and Aves off the VZ coast or the atolls off Belize and Mexico (common cruising destinations) the need for adequate water capacity and alternative forms of electrical generation are not unlike those you’d have in the Marquesas or Tuamotus of French Polynesia.

Your gear decisions seem compatible to me with your planned destination and route, with perhaps the following quibbles. Just about any boat you find with pressure water will have a water heater; I suggest you insure it is heated by the FW side of the engine as well as electrically. Any layout that offers a workable shower arrangement (ideally, a small stall) will, all by itself, make life aboard much more enjoyable AND allow you to consider less expensive dockage where shoreside amenities ashore are cruder, as you won’t need them. Using a fridge and SSB (since you have time, I hope you will consider a ham license so you can benefit by the excellent Winlink system – will mandate a high-capacity DC electrical system (at the least, a hi-cap alternator, 400+ amp/hr house battery bank and some form of alternative energy; wind suits best in the Caribbean trades). There are numerous vendors who can help you in this area re: education and system configuration (see e.g. – nice folks). And please think carefully about redundant self-steering: you will be sailing short-handed, sometimes in robust conditions, and gear does break. You can passage-plan to reduce the length of your passage legs…but losing self-steering when it’s just the two of you can really take the bloom off the rose.

Two final thoughts:
1. I strongly encourage you to join the SSCA so you can receive their monthly bulletins, and especially to purchase their CD of their last 8 years of bulletins (only about $15, I think –; go to the Store, shop under Publications). There is a huge collection of helpful, relevant info from other cruisers in there and it’s easily searchable by computer).
2. Within the Caribbean Basin, it is relatively easy to upgrade or add systems later, based on your own cruising experiences, rather than trying to have all the right answers upfront, before you’ve even headed out. There are reliable, affordable supply chains straight back to the U.S. in Puerto Rico, the VI’s, St. Martin, Trinidad, Grand Cayman and up the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. The more you can stick with the basics – picking a good boat and getting sound, basic systems set up – the more time you’ll have to sail her before shoving off and build your skill sets, which in turn will reduce anxieties and increase the pleasure factor once you leave.
Believe it or not, you will find you need ALL of that 2+ years of remaining time to adequately prepare yourselves and your boat for your new adventure.

Good luck to you both.

01-22-2004 01:55 PM
Help save our marriage!!


Yep, I''m still here. We have been digesting all the excellent and greatly appreciated information from everyone. We have pretty much started over. The displacement/length issue really changes the landscape, leading us to consider longer (I no longer use the term larger) boats with medium displacements. This change in thinking has been welcome since the longer boats allow for more stowage, larger tanks, more livable space and should provide a more comfortable motion at sea.

Jack made reference to our crusiing plans. In short I will retire in 2 yrs - 4 months - 9 days (but who''s counting). We will both be in our early 50s and hope to cruise as long as our health allows. We intend to crusise the Bahamas, VIs, Hispaniola and Latin America. As most sailors do, we dream of the South Pacific & the Med, but we realize that will require a totally different boat.

One of the big issues we wrestle with is: exactly how much "sailing" will we actually be doing and how many multiple day runs will we be making? Will we be spending 90% of our time at anchor? If we will only be making 2-3 multi-day jumps -vs- numerous 4-5 day runs, how should this influence our choice.

To the issue of safety: this IS our number one concern and those issues go into all of our discussions. There will never be a compromise in this area.

Gear: NO = freezer, water maker, electric winches, propane

YES = SSB, refrig, pressurized water, GPS/Chartplotter, ORIGO stove/oven, autopilot, solar, wind gen.

MAYBE: water heater, small Honda genset, radar

Thanks again for all the excellent info!!

01-22-2004 12:35 PM
Help save our marriage!!


Well written as usual.... I do want to touch on just one of your points. (In as much as I basically will concede to your points on the Beneteau 42s7.) My point on the long boat arguement is this, if you are looking at a 20,000 lb 37 footer with a 29 foot waterline, you would be much better served with say a 41 foot 20,000 boat with a 38 foot waterline. (Its my size is set by displacement not length arguement). In that scenario the longer boat will have large tank tank capacities and a better ability to carry the kinds of gear that one needs to go cruising. In saying that I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that not all long (light) boats are made the same. In many of not most cases the longer lighter boat is laid out to be a coastal cruiser and so may not be suitable for distance cruising or for a particular person''s taste.

01-22-2004 11:46 AM
Help save our marriage!!

The more this topic is explored – selecting a ‘good’ cruising boat – the more its complexities and challenges emerge. There’s good stuff here; I hope the archives allow its retrieval.

El, are you still with us or have you gone off and bought your boat? <g>

I’ll attempt two tag lines, one of which relates to Jeff’s additions:

1. Heavy/big is no panacea, and light/long will generally be more fun to sail. But no matter where you place your own preferences on this continuum, there’s no justification IMO to accept clear safety risks such as the 42s7 foredeck I mentioned. Don’t ‘cave’ when it comes to obvious safety issues, nor allow the good stuff to ‘average out’ what you know to be unsafe. Longer at-sea times with more engine hours is not something to aspire to (altho’ it doesn’t kill anyone), which is partly why we were both negative about the CB 38. But today’s light/long, nice sailing boats often suffer to a significant degree from major compromises when used for extended cruising. They preclude extended motoring because they have sail drives which don’t provide for sail-leg gear oil changes without hauling the boat (a big downside if cruising the Pacific Northwest, coastal California & its offshore islands, the East Coast’s ICW or the Gulf Coast, just to name some U.S. venues); they offer inadequate tankage (which typically drives owners with cruising plans to a) install a watermaker & its associated plumbing – the downsides being cost, space, spares, and required maintenance – and b) create jug farms on their side decks with their own risks); and they frequently feature dysfunctional layouts (from a long-term cruising perspective) because they are appealing to a mix of customer groups, the vast majority of whom only aspire to weekending, charters for large groups, and the annual vacation. To this list of inherent issues, one can add the light/long boat’s limited ability to absorb cruising junk if that’s ultimately what one desires. None of these impeach the long/light boat from being the ‘right’ choice for the ‘right’ person (see next point), but they will all need to be reckoned with.
2. I’m struck by how there are some huge variables that we aren’t addressing but which El and her husband must face. To mention just a few, let’s start with the intended length of their cruise, as stated in both miles and months, all by itself a critical factor. The second is their actual passage plan: even if staying within the Caribbean, what makes sense will vary depending on where they actually go within that one confined body of water. Another is the certainty of the time period they have chosen to be living aboard and cruising. The same choices about systems and system complexity can look like profligate overkill or thoughtful upfront planning, depending on how long the investment in effort and money pays off. And there’s Thoreau’s advice about being true to thyself: what actually ‘fits’ and makes sense for El and her hubby, reflects their values and fills them with pleasure, which is in part what this cruising gig is about? It’s impossible for us to know about this second category of variables, and yet they may be – and deserve to be – the truly influential ones.

Come on, El – give us an update. Inquiring minds and all that… <g>

01-20-2004 04:05 AM
Help save our marriage!!

While as usual Jack raises a lot of valid points here, I did want to touch on a few. I agree with Jack that a boat like the 42s7 is at the lower threshold of a distance cruiser and in fact expressed my mixed feelings about these boats. Still a lot of these boast have done a lot of very successful long distance cruising.

There are some minor points that I am not sure that I agree with in Jack''s post, have a different perspective on, or which have been altered during the Beneteau production run. The 42s7 that I was on seemed to have the metric equivilent of the ORC required lifeline height, which is roughly 65 cm or a touch over 24 inches and in intermediate lifeline as well. I can''t recall being on a Beneteau first series with shorter lifelines but these boats are sold in a lot of different ways and I may only have seen a US market or racing version. That boat also had nice toe rails but I agree with Jack that a part of prepping a 42s7 for going offshore would be to install a centerline grab/foot rail.

I agree with Jack that rub rails really adds some protection in a docking situation and the lack of rub rails on the 42s7 means that greater care must be taken when coming and going than a boat that has rub rails. That said, walking around boat shows these days, you see fewer and fewer boats with rub rails (even on solely cruising oriented boats). (It meant a lot to me in the selection process that my boat had rubrails as compared to almost all of the other boats that I had considered.)

I don''t agree with Jack''s point about motoring into a head sea with these boats. Their veed bow sections combined with a fairly fine bow means that they should be able to motor into a steep chop easier than a more traditional vessel that would be colliding with each wave with greater force. This is a similar hull form to my own boat on which I have found motoring into a steep chop is surprisingly gentle compared to more traditional boats that I have owned or sailed. But more to the point, the better windward ability and more comfortable upwind motion of boats like these may mean that you sail and don''t motor to windward to get down there.

I strongly agree with Jack''s main point about comfort being more than motion comfort.I think that any boat that is intended as an offshore distance cruiser should have at least have one good seaberth for each crew person, a full sized nav station, a head and the galley located near the center of buoyancy of the boat. (The current fad of placing head in the very bow of the boat really makes very little sense to me.) The seaberths need to be safe on both tacks and should not be located under the cockpit or next to the engine. A secure and workable galley at any heel angle, good footing and good handholds are essential on any boat heading offshore. (as a side note here, down below I think that Beneteau does a very nice job on the 42s7, much better than some of the so-called ''blue water cruisers'' that I have been on as of late.)

I also want to say that I agree with Jack''s point about the J-40. However, I think this raises a different point than Jack intended to make. There are a lot of ways to go long distance cruising. As has been pointed out on this very BB, people have made all kinds of long voyages on pretty spartan boats. These days I seem to see an increasingly pervasive belief that one can''t go distance cruising without a massive quantity of gadgets and gilhookies. If you are of that school any boat that displaces less than something like 18000 lbs or so is going to be severely challenged to carry the weight and windage of a rib, and all of the electical stuff involved with that lifestyle decision. I am not making a value judgement here, but if you are of the ''You must take it with you'' school of outfitting then a boat like the J-40 or J-37 probably won''t work for you, but neither will a more traditional boat of that displacement which of course would be somewhat shorter in length. For those of us who believe in going simply but who see being able to sail as much as posible and motor as little as posible as the biggest luxury then a boat like the two J''s would seem to work fine. Individual J-40''s and J37s have made tremendously long passages and one gent that I spoke to at a Storm Trisail party had circumnavigated on his J-40 and only had high praises for the boat.

In way of an example of what that kind of thinking is about, a sistership of my boat was single-handed from South Africa to the Carribean and then cruised up the Atlantic Coast. The sistership left Capetown just behind a friend with a much larger heavier displacement cruising boat. On the leg from SA, (the first ten days were in 30-50 knots winds and then later sailing through the duldrums),I believe that the fellow told me that he beat the cruising boat to the Carribean by over a week. On top of that the sistership used less than a full tank of fuel (roughly 15 gallons or less than 24 hours of motoring time)compared to the heavier cruiser who motored nearly half of the trip. I am sure that the heavier cruiser had more amenities but to me this represents the extremes in our ''there is no one right answer here'' sport. The answer for most people usually seems to fall somewhere in between the two extremes.


01-20-2004 01:05 AM
Help save our marriage!!

El, sorry to have bowed out on this thread for a while. There’s a lot to comment on but you deserve some praise up front: you’re clearly using this discussion to broaden your own understanding of the issues, and you’re focusing on some important stuff (like suitability for short-handed sailing and maintenance costs). Keep at it; you’ll end up getting much closer to the boat you want and will enjoy it a lot more due to your perseverance.

As usual, Jeff’s remarks deserve a lot of consideration. Some of my comments will seem to challenge his, but this is primarily to broaden the discussion a bit more. And I’m sure you realize, to the extent you weigh one criterion too heavily, you’ll be distorting the total constellation of issues you’ll want to consider. As an example, Jeff’s been generally very positive on this BB in his comments about the Beneteau First Series, citing their build quality, design parameters (they’re good ‘sailers’) and value. I view them a lousy choice for cruising despite these attributes, as they simply are not designed with important cruising realities in mind. IOW they are heavily weighted around some criteria but not around nearly enough criteria. Right now, a 2001 42s7 is across the dock from us, recently returned from Denmark and a summer on the Baltic. The young couple had a really tough time cruising the boat, as almost any slip/berth they approached involved fitting between or riding alongside pilings or bulkheads and their boat has no rubrail, and has plastic ‘ports’ on a beamy, unprotected hull which was constantly in danger of being damaged. The foredeck on the boat is, mostly, one wide/long blister – no handholds, useless outward oriented lifelines of 22” height, and some of the surface which would be horizontal when the boat is heeled is smooth gelcoat. I think you would find its sailing qualities exciting when coming back but you’d find its ability to motor(sail) into stiff head seas somewhat limited, which is what you’ll be doing going down, and the first time one of you was heading up to that foredeck in bouncy conditions, you’d worry about it being a widow(er)maker.

The point I’m trying to make is to think about LOTS of criteria and avoid zooming in on a few. Speed is far more helpful on longer passages than on the shorter ones you’ll be making. E.g. we made several runs that were long by conventional ‘Caribbean’ standards including one from VZ up to Puerto Rico, lost the engine in a storm, but in the end averaged 6 knots. Our boat is a beamy, not fast, shallow drafted Pearson ketch; how many hours longer were we really out there than e.g. if we were in a Sabre? This 440 NM run is probably longer than any you’ll need to make. By contrast, how about using the galley offshore? Even if you live on sandwiches during your 2-3 day runs, someone will need to make them. How convenient to your seaberth and cockpit is the head…and how useable is the head in a seaway? How functional is the chart table, with the boat bouncing around and/or on its ear? These things are more important than speed for the kind of cruising you’ll be doing, IMO.

Jeff is right about the CR 38. We sailed in company with one from Grand Cayman to the Honduran Bay Is. and, while they left well before us, we arrived 2.5 days later well ahead of them…and at times we were only using our jib and mizzen. Also, I think you should expand on Jeff’s notion of ‘comfort’. It’s not just about boat motion in a seaway; I think it has even more to do with ergonomics as designed in by the builder. One of the things that IMO distinguishes a Hallberg Rassy (or Malo or Najad) is that they are built by Swedes, and Scandinavians have an appreciation for and ability with ergonomics that’s superb.

We saw a J40 in St. Lucia that typified to me the care one must exercise when drawing specific conclusions about suitability for cruising based on the standard from-the-factory design. This boat had a family of 4 aboard, it was tricked out with a bountiful set of toys, most of them hanging off a radar arch, and it had stout anchor gear, rollers, windlass et al. And then there was the RIB and big outboard, the hard dodger and big bimini (Oh my, the windage…), multiple extra sails, and on and on. It looked to me like a Porsche that had been outfitted as an RV, and I have to wonder how the boat actually was to cruise vs. how it probably day-sailed in its homeport before the crew got the Caribbean gleam in their eye. I think the Hanse (and obviously the J37) suffer from the same issue.

I think you’d benefit highly from some selected reading. Both Beth Leonard’s Voyager’s Handbook and Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook do an excellent job of outlining design characteristics and systems issues from a cruising perspective. Beth’s work is especially useful, as she ties boat choice directly to cruising budgets and helps lift the veil on ALL of the financial variables when one makes the decision to head out. I find women in particular seem to resonate well to Beth’s writing, tho’ men praise it highly, as well.

Good luck and keep us posted on your decisions.

01-19-2004 04:45 PM
Help save our marriage!!

To a great extent to boats of equal displacement but different lengths will have similar maintenance costs. Sail areas, rigging sizes, ground tackle, engine sizes, fule consumption, and those kinds of things should be similar. Depending on how the work is priced the longer boat may have a higher price for bottom painting although I have successfully pointed out the lack of bottom surface area and gotten a break with a light boat. Dockage may be (and generally is) more with the longer boat.

The longer boat of equal displacement will generally have a more easily driven hull and so get by with less sail area in a blow. Within reason, the longer boat should be easier to sail at the extremes of the wind ranges and generally will be able to sail into much lower windspeeds with less sail area. That ability to get by with smaller working sails means fewer sail changes and easier sail handling.

The longer boat will generally have better dampening and so have a more comfortable motion. Studies as diverse as the Report on the Fastnet Disaster, The Coroners study of the Sydney-Hobart Race, and the CE study developing STIX, all seemed to look at length as being one of the single most important determinants in how much abuse crews took in adverse conditions.

01-19-2004 03:18 PM
Help save our marriage!!

Jeff H

Again, thank you for your helpful input. To expand upon what you have said here and in other posts: Extending the loa and lwl while maintaining the same displacement & displace/ballast ratio should help to eliminate the p&r (while also providing more livable space). Am I getting this correct?

Another question: assuming 2 sailboats of equal displacement, one is 38'' and the other is 42'', would the maintenance costs be roughly equivalant, all other things being equal? (I know this is an over-simplification, but I''m still at the macro- economics stage) Two of our primary considerations are maintenance costs and ability to sail shorthanded. We have steered away (perhaps needlessly) from 40-42 footers. If it is displacement that drives both these factors and the boat with the longer loa/lwl would have a more sea-kindly motion, as well as providing more speed, we need to re-examine our choices as they relate to these areas!

01-19-2004 08:26 AM
Help save our marriage!!

My comments on the Cabo Rico is based on both my own limited experience sailing one in a short chop and then a conversation with the owner of that boat after he sold her in which he said, he did not realize how badly that boat pitched and rolled until he sold her and bought different boat.

He also told a story about getting really beat up in a 30 knot blow. While 30 knots plus can be a lot of wind which when combined with an adverse sea state can really offer some pretty rough going, his description of the CR 38 was not complimentary. This was a very experienced sailor and not someone who was new to the sport or going offshore. He was also the person who said that the bigger CR''s did not seem to be as rolly or pitchy.

As far as owner''s opinions I think we all get used to what we sail. So, I think of my boat as having a great motion (albeit slightly on the quick side) but with excellent dampening and minimal roll and pitch. I was out sailing with my father on a day that was gusting into the mid-20''s or so and we were driving into a short chop. Now dad sails a heavier displacement 42 footer and frankly probably would have carried a little less sail than we had up. If you asked me, I would have told you how impressed I was at how smoothly we were driving up wind in that steep a chop. From dad''s perspective, it was a pretty wild sail.

Another aspect of this is the individual in question. As I have said before on various BB''s, based on US Navy studies, about one third of people who are prone to seasickness are impacted by the amount of movement but not the accelleration of the movement, about one third are affected by the accelleration of the movement but not the amount, and the remaining third are affected by both. Large amounts of movement will grind down a crew just as quickly as quick motion.

I happen to fall in the category impacted by the amount of movement but not the accelleration of the movement. I find boats like the CR, with high roll moment of inertias and high vertical centers of gravity,very uncomfortable and so I am accutely aware when I am on a pitcher and roller. An owner who is more comfortable with large roll angles would not have that same complaint.

The Pacific Seacraft 37 feels a bit claustrophobic to me as well. I thinkl of them as 35 footers with a bustle.


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