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Discussion Starter #1
The Crew: Young couple and a Toddler
The Plan: Live and cruise for 2-3 years through the Bahamas and Caribbean
Boat budget: $30k
Boat Size: Under 35' ideally
Experience: New to cruising; Sailed a 22 footer for 4 years in Biscayne Bay.
Requirements:
  • A boat that can be single-handed if needed
  • A boat that can take the ground with grace
  • Shallow draft would be great
  • A small space for each crew member
  • Reasonable access to storage without dismantling the boat
  • A functional galley
  • A quarter berth or aft cabin

Yes I know it tough considering our budget, but we don't want to wait till we are rich and old to do this. We are finding older boats (70's era) give us more bang for our buck but they don't make good usage of space like newer boats.
Although we are not planning to do mayor ocean crossings, we would like to get a boat that can handle heavy weather and big seas if we feel like doing longer crossings in the future.

What we've seen so far
  • Pearson 35: Not crazy about the huge cockpit taking away from interior accomodations.
  • Morgan 34: Our favorite layout so far with twin Q-berths aft but its hard to find a good one in our area. Shallow draft is a plus.
  • Tartan 34: The ones we've seen are in rough shape
  • Pearson 323: Roomy. But no Q-berth or aft cabin.
  • Bristol 29.9: Roomy for a 30'.
  • Tartan 30: Good layout and space. Not crazy about a 5' draft and attached fin keel.

What has been your experience with 1 child on board and which boat(s) do you recommend we should look for?

Thanks in advance,
Paulo
 

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Obviously, I'm biased, but a Catalina 34 with a wing keel would fit the bill. Definitely not a blue water boat, but island hopping where you are almost never more than a day, maybe two from the next island, is doable.
I have a private aft cabin, both berths are very roomy, functional galley, decent (not great) storage. Most come with a Universal diesel, which is very reliable and parts easy to find since it is such a popular engine.
Support on the C34 owners website is second to none.
 

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There are plenty of boats sailing the islands with 6 foot drafts. Unless you get a boat that can be beached, you're going to need a dinghy (unless you only plan on staying at marinas). Increasing the draft requirement will give you more choices. You just have to dinghy to land from a little farther away.
 
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