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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Why not Etap, indeed! I came very close to the 37i a couple of years ago, and opted for Ovni mainly for the bigger size. The Etap is no Titanic, it is made unsinkable in the only failsafe way: by filling with floating "foam". Some guys made a demonstration by filling it with water as far as it would go, then sailing it through the English Channel. I said "sailing" - even when full it is capable of being sailed. The construction has a minor drawback for long journeys, a certain loss of storage space due to the extra cavity fill. Even so, they are pretty good, with a delightful interior. Sail performance is moderate, though easily better than some of those sturdy designs being promoted as "blue water."

I understand and agree with the thrust of this thread, to define "blue water" boats in terms of comfort in the sea, safety and so forth. At the same time, let us not sneer at people who want to try e.g. a Beneteau. They are no polar expedition ship (neither are many of those recommended here), but considering that the world's largest manufacturer has more boats cruising the oceans than anyone else, perhaps we should at least grant that one could perfectly well cross oceans in them. After all, "blue water" sailing isn't an around-the-world solo race never touching shore; it tends to be 2-4 weeks in the ocean at most between lengthy landfalls. Time your trip sensibly, and you can take advantage of a more modern boat with good facilities at anchor.
 

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This is about boats that can take full time cruising for years...not boats which can make it across an ocean. This is about boats designed with crossing oceans in mind and with full time living aboard in mind. This is about boats with handholds and tankage and storage and deep bilges and comfort at sea.
It is NOT about boats that don't sink cause they have foam in them.
No one is sneering at people who want to cross an ocean in something else. This is advice for people who want boats well suited to the task of continuous extended cruising with significant passages as a lifestyle...old and new, fast and slow. There are PLENTY of modern boats on the list. Contest, Deerfoot, Farrs, Halberg-Rassey, Malo, Njaad...just to name a few.
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This is a LIST not a discussion of what is a bluewater boat. That gets done elsewhere please. The rule is if YOU have not sailed it in extended blue water YOU can not nominate a boat to be included. Thus..your OVNI post qualifies...the ETAP post does not ...nor does theSnorts. SEE post #2 for the "rules".
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Camaraderie, don't be mad at me, but :)
You said "This is about boats that can take full time cruising for years...not boats which can make it across an ocean. This is about boats designed with crossing oceans in mind and with full time living aboard in mind. This is about boats with handholds and tankage and storage and deep bilges and comfort at sea. "

Yes, I realise this, but that's my point: this list is nowhere near consistent. To take an example: the Vega, 27ft, is listed along with several of similar size. Yes, Vega is surprisingly capable at sea, but I cannot see it qualifying on any of the other criteria you mention. Full time living? Life onboard barely qualifies as camping, and it is no mean feat to make room for essential safety gear. Tankage? Hah! This is the Joshua Slocum version of ocean sailing. On the net one can find logs and video from "Berserk", a gang of Norwegian madmen sailing far and wide on a Vega. Impressive, but not an example to follow.

Against this, one could count in the hundreds Beneteaus and even Bavaria that have spent years crossing the oceans. So, I think one should think twice about these criteria. Is it proof because a design (e.g. Vega) has circumnavigated, or are we looking sternly for design features?

To be pedantic: the 1960-70s were a high point of sailing when many tried long journeys. The did so, of course, in the boats available to them then. Our statistics would skew differently today. Also, a great many world travellers do it in second-hand boats, and so skew the records towards older boats, long-keelers, canoe sterns and so forth. It is not in the designer's bible that these must be superior. Worse: These boats don't come new. To recommend e.g. a Vega today is to advocate a boat with 40 years of material fatigue in all components. The "Berserk" videos show numerous sequences with an outstanding mechanic buried in a broken engine in the middle of Arctic oceans.

So, when someone wrote "why not an Etap?" my instinct said "Why not, indeed?" (while thinking to myself: "rather that than a Vega"). I am not qualified to claim it should be included, but would invite someone with experience of it to say their piece.
 

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OsmundL
What makes a bluewater cruiser has been discussed countless times here before. The bluewater boat list is composed by John Neal...his resume:
"John Neal was born on the banks of Sudan's Blue Nile River, but sailed away from Seattle on a 27' Vega sloop to the South Pacific in 1974 at age 22, wrote Log of Mahina, a best seller, and has since sailed 257,000 miles. Since 1976, John's passion has been sharing his knowledge of ocean cruising to exotic locations. John has conducted 128 sail-training expeditions since 1990 in the South Pacific, Patagonia, Antarctica, Atlantic, Scandinavia and the Arctic aboard Mahina Tiare II & III."
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Many people without much sailing experience but with big dreams come here to ask "What boat should I buy". John's list is HIS answer to that question for people with different sized budgets and different sized boat dreams. It is hard to argue with his choices... which does not make them complete...hence post #8 on the thread and other people's nominations of boats which THEY have done extensive cruising on. Thus, the thread remains a living resource for those who desire the cruising life. Your OVNI is a good example of this. Indeed...in his discussion of what makes a good cruising boat...he singles out OVNI's as well built. Why they are not included in his list then, remains a mystery. Perhaps there are other qualities other than build strength/quality that he feels disqualifies them. (He does mention susceptibility to rapid corrosiion in marinas as a downside of aluminmum hulls.)

He does not suggest taking a Vega with 40 year old everything on a world cruise...rather...he says that a fully updated Vega is a good choice for such cruising IF you are on a budget and looking for a boat THAT size. Since he sailed one across the Pacific in 1974...he is rather uniquely qualified to evaluate that boat in my opinion.

If I was single handing, and on a strict budget, there isn't a 27 footer being built today that I would rather try it on compared to a well found Vega.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Camaraderie, I am not trying to be provocative, but I need to make my case and clarify the core question:
Will boats be included on this list because a sailor with personal experience recommends them, or because they meet certain design criteria? Or a little bit of both?

I believe this is a pertinent question for several reasons:
(a) As you have accurately stated, people have different needs, budgets, and very varied opinions about what constitutes a blue water boat. There won’t be a single definition covering these. (b) People tend to recommend the boats they know best or own – and, to some extent, to carry miscellaneous prejudices against those they don’t know.

No disrespect to John Neal or anyone else, but I am not convinced that experience from a long voyage in 1974 qualifies as valid comparison in 2009. Of course John Neal has done much more than that, he is an authority, period. He too has moved on, btw, he sails a Hallberg-Rassy 46 now.
I do, however, question the preponderance of old boats on this list, which I suspect has little to do with the failings of newer boats but quite possibly happens because some people are not posting here.

In short, if I (hypothetically) were to ask a few world-traveling Beneteau owners to send their recommendations to this list, would the boats be included, or would they be excluded based on some overriding judgment based on design preferences and personal theories?

I am not bothered whether Ovni makes the list or not, its cruising records speak for themselves. Personally, I doubt that Neal left it out for a reason, I assume he just forgot. It is clearly not warranted for you to speculate on why, as you just did: was it some “other quality”, was it perhaps “corrosion in marinas”? Neal could answer the question, you cannot on his behalf. Fair is fair.

In a way, you said it yourself: “If I was single handing, and on a strict budget, there isn't a 27 footer being built today that I would rather try it on compared to a well found Vega.”

That, Camaraderie, is bias. The Swedes, where Vega was built, have their own site with recommendations for blue water sailors, also with reports from actual owners. Among the recommended work to undertake before a long voyage are: Strengthen the mast support, ideally with a base led all the way to the keel; strengthen the stay supports; modify the rudder mechanism; replace the diesel tank with stainless “as it will sooner or later leak”; modify the windows so that “they are not crushed in by a wave.” There are weak points in the join of keel and hull halves. The Swedish site ends on a somewhat amusing note, referring to a famous voyage to Antarctica in a Vega which was covered on TV: “The Vega sank inexplicably near land one night, which may be taken as an argument for steel boats.” The list is longer, but my point is: this list is not “maintenance”, it is “modification”, and if similar latitude were granted many modern production boats, they too would make the grade.

The couple Martin Vennesland and Anne Brevik sailed seven oceans for 9 years and lived for 15 years onboard a 40ft GibSea. They write: “What makes a blue water sailing boat ideal is an extremely subjective topic.” That is an honest statement, which is why I would err on the side of including boats rather than excluding. To say “there isn’t a 27 footer built today…” etc. is a rather extreme judgment. Give me the funds to modify one of today’s stock production boats as much as a Vega requires, and I’ll give you a better boat.

You make good and valid points of course, but I take issue with any suggestion that boat production has not advanced in 40 years. By the same token, a great sailor could take almost any boat around the globe. I like Vega, that’s not the point - I would feel more confident if the list could begin with taking CE certificate for Category A as a baseline before evaluating other features. Boats made prior to 1994 did not have to meet this scrutiny.

But, since you mention him, why not quote John Neal: “Because of a real shortage of quality ocean-cruising boats in the 3-10 year old range, and the high cost and amount of time involved in upgrading a solid 10+ year old boat, purchasing a new production boat is more attractive now than it has been for many years. Example: if you purchase a 15 year old boat for $80,000 and spend $50,000 replacing engine, sails, wiring, tanks, rigging, electronics and epoxy bottom job using 1-2 years of potential cruising time in the process, you end up with a 17 year old boat, probably worth around $90,000. A better choice might be a new boat that costs more initially but returns closer to 100% of your investment. You will be out cruising 1-3 years earlier with fewer mechanical breakdowns. For a confirmation of this, read Tom Neale's articles in Cruising World of the unending breakdowns and repairs of his old Gulfstars and Dan Spurr's articles in Practical Sailor of all the years and money he has spent upgrading his old Tartan 44, Viva.”
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's OK, I'm done with this topic. The list is fine as far as it goes, and it is only one of many anyway. People vote with their feet, and we can see the up-to-date list of blue water boats in harbors all over the world.
 

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That's fine...it is JOHN NEAL's LIST so you will have to talk to him about your objections. I have ZERO objections to new boats...I just would not buy MANY of the new boats for cruising the world or significant parts of it.
You make it sound like any boat with a Euro A is worthy...I disagree...but i am done here too.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You make it sound like any boat with a Euro A is worthy...I disagree...but i am done here too.
Nice bait, just after I'd promised to stop! To be totally clear: No, I do not trust CE Cat A as a final arbitrator of blue water boats, but as I said, it or a similar standard ought to be the baseline below which one should not list a boat. There are alternatives such as Lloyds, Veritas etc., though none universal. Behind all I've said lies a recognition that boats are increasingly a "consumer" product both in terms of production and buyer's rights. For older boats the best we have are lists like Neal's, but for boats after the early 90s standards become important. In Europe certainly, yachts are classed essentially as a capital asset with comparable manufacturer's liability to a house, certainly better than a car, and far exceeding the "warranty" that builders would have you believe in. This implies, to my mind, that when you buy a boat to the highest spec, a "blue water" cruiser, you have actual legal rights if it should fail in critical ways, and this goes also if you bought second-hand with not too many years under the keel.

In short, it would be good to see a few more baselines applied. For such expensive assets and personal risks we deserve better than mates' advice however experienced they are. One cannot legislate for "comfort" and other crucial factors, of course, so lists based on user experiences still have plenty of scope.

And now I am really, really done :)
 
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