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  Topic Review (Newest First)
05-26-2004 12:38 AM
Attributes of a Coastal Cruiser

Jeff, congrats on the neat write-up (and two Firsts, too). Nice site.

Saw this when researching autopilots in one of the former Dutch East India Co. ports (Enkhuizen) before they built the dykes. Our a/p is in small pieces...ahh, but this is cruising, isn''t it?

05-22-2004 07:35 PM
Attributes of a Coastal Cruiser

Hi Jack,

I don''t know if you will get this but thanks for your kind words. I hope you are well and enjoying your trip. You can get a glimpse of what I have been up to at

Best wishes,
05-22-2004 06:54 AM
Attributes of a Coastal Cruiser

Jeff, I grabbed some time on-line to do some banking and, with mins. left, visited here. Your description of a coastal cruiser was excellent. Hope you''re doing well and having a great Spring.

WHOOSH, lying Amsterdam, NL
05-18-2004 04:34 AM
Attributes of a Coastal Cruiser

When I think of a coastal cruiser, there are a number attributes that I ideally look for. While a lot of boats can be made to work for coastal cruising, in my mind the ideal coastal cruiser would be configured as folows:

Good wide berths, at with enough seaberths for at least half of the crew for that night run back to make work the next day. I am looking for a well-equipped galley that has adequate space to prepare meals for a larger crew or a raft-up. Refrigeration is less important.

A comfortable cockpit for lounging is important. It should be larger than an offshore boat to accommodate a larger number of people which is OK since pooping is less likely to occur doing coastal work.

-Deck hardware:
While gear for offshore boats need to be simple and very robust, coastal cruisers need to be able to quickly adapt to changing conditions. Greater purchase, lower friction hardware, easy to reach cockpit-lead control lines, all make for quicker and easier adjustments to the changes in wind speed and angle that occur with greater frequency. There is a big difference in the gear needed when ‘we’ll tack tomorrow or the next day vs. auto-tacking or short tacking up a creek.

Keel and Rudder types:
I would say unequivocally that a fin keel is the right way to go for coastal cruising. The greater speed, lesser leeway, higher stability and ability to stand to an efficient sail plan, greater maneuverability and superior windward performance of a fin keel with spade rudder (either skeg or post hung) are invaluable for coastal work. Besides fin keels/bulb keels are much easier to un-stick in a grounding. In shallower venues a daggerboard with a bulb or a keel/centerboard is also a good way to go.

-Ground tackle:
Good ground tackle and rode-handling gear is important but all-chain rodes and massive hurricane proof anchors are not.

At least on the US East Coast, (where I sail and so am most familiar with) light air performance and the ability to change gears quickly is important. It means more sailing time vs. motoring time and the ability to adjust to the ''if you don''t like the weather, wait a minute'' which is typical of East Coast sailing. If you are going to gunkhole under sail, maneuverability and windward and off wind performance is extremely important.

With all of that in mind I would suggest that a fractional sloop rig with a generous standing sail plan, non- or minimally overlapping jibs, and an easy to use backstay adjuster is ideal. This combination is easy to tack and trim and change gears on. I would want two-line slab reefing for quick, on the fly, reefing. I would want an easy to deploy spinnaker as well.

I think that speed is especially important to coastal cruising. To me speed relates to range and range relates to more diverse opportunities. To explain, with speed comes a greater range that is comfortable for the crew to sail in a given day. In the sailing venues that I have typically sailed in, being able to sail farther in a day means a lot more options in terms of places that can be reached under sail without flogging the crew or running the engine. That extra speed will often put you safely at anchor rather than fighting a storm in the confined passages that are more frequently associated with coastal cruising.

Good ventilation is very critical. Operable ports, hatches, dorades are very important. While offshore, small openings are structurally a good idea, but for coastal work this is less of an issue.

-Visibility and a comfortable helm station:
You are more likely to be hand steering in the more frequently changing conditions found onshore, and through the higher traffic found in coastal cruising as well.

Storage and Tankage:
There is a perception that coastal cruisers so not need storage. I disagree with that. Coastal cruisers need different kinds of storage than an offshore boat but not necessarily less storage. Good storage is needed to accommodate the larger crowds that are more likely to cruise on a short trip. Good water and holding tankage is important because people use water more liberally inshore assuming a nearby fill up, but with a larger crew this takes a toll quickly. Holding tanks are not needed offshore but they are being inspected with greater frequency in crowded harbors and there are few things worse than cruising with a full holding tank and no way to empty it.

05-17-2004 01:12 PM
Attributes of a Coastal Cruiser


I get the impression that you have not done a lot of sailing, forgive me if I am wrong.

What you should look for:

Books, in the library, there are tons of them on buying a boat. Personally I like Ted Brewers articles on the subject, he takes a complex topic and makes it easier to understand.

Some one with a boat who will take you sailing. If you can do this you really ought to a bit of experience will help a lot since much of boat ownership is finding the boat that feels right for you. At the very least take a few two hour sailing trips on different sailing school or charter boats. Tell the captain what your thinking of doing and you will get a sail and advice.

A good surveyor. I surveyed 2 boats before buying and in your price range survey is very important because the boat will not be new and you don''t want to buy a hidden problem. Also a good surveyor will talk boats with you while doing the survey. The guy who surveyed the first boat for me told me about the boat I own.

Just for comparison with the previous poster my boat is a Quoddy Pilot an 1850s design built in 1971. It has a head and I am writing this while avoiding the installation of a holding tank. It has 35 gallons of water which is fine because there is no onboard shower. It has a 12 gallon fuel tank which I can suppliment with plastic fuel cans if I feel the need. I like to bring along freinds and my cockpit seats 10. The boat sleeps 4 and is roomy below. It weighs 9 tons and draws a little over 5 feet but has a big gaff rig and it will also hit hull speed on a reach. Its a very comfortable boat. I expected it to be slow and I was suprised to find that it moves along pretty well, my best run was 70 miles in 10 hours of force 4-5 winds. Its also real pretty.

You can definitley get something that you will enjoy for $30k.

A few other things to look for:

Previous owner that cared enough to keep the boat in good shape.

For cruising I would avoid most older race boats because race boats often sacrifice too much comfort for too little speed. There are exceptions, I crew on a J30 that is a nice combination of speed, comfortable ride and comfortable living space.

Consider a boat that can sail in shoal water. It opens up a lot of nice possibilities. I was looking for a Meadowlark ketch but the Quoddy Pilot was a good deal so here I am. Sharpies are also worth looking into if your interested in this.

Learn about diesel engines. Its the one thing I wish I had known more about when I bought my boat. I know a lot more now.

Remember that new boats get old real fast but a well maintained old boat can be much more well maintained than old.

Tell us more about what your looking for and people may give you good suggestions about production boats that are worth a look. Personally I am a character boat guy so my suggestions and experience are more in that area.

Good luck

Tom Hunter

05-17-2004 10:10 AM
Attributes of a Coastal Cruiser

The term "Coastal Cruiser" may mean different things to different folks. I think I have one, but someone else may disagree.

My coastal cruiser (a Hunter 34) was under the $30k figure you mentioned. It has: sleeping room for four or more adults, a galley, a head (with shower), water storage for a few days (65 gallons), fuel capacity for up to 48 hours of motoring, a keel that draws less than 5'', and a rig setup that allows sailing in all directions except into the wind. The boat is responsive, quick and easily sails to its hull-speed on a reach.

A Blue-water or passagemaker may have similar attributes, but they tend to: be heavier, have deeper keels, carry more fuel and water, have smaller/tighter cabins for a given boat length, (but have at least one real sea-berth), carry less sail area and not sail as well windward. As usual, there are always exceptions.

~ Happy sails to you ~ _/) ~
05-17-2004 08:51 AM
Attributes of a Coastal Cruiser

What attributes make up a "good coastal cruiser". Can anyone explain some basics(101 )on what I should be looking for. My knowledge on sailboat design is limited and I would like some help.
My intended use is Atlantic coastal cruises, days, weekends & vacations. A design that can be single handed or easily sailed by two.
Can a modest budget of $30K(US)acquire such a boat?
Thanks, Aspy...

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