SailNet Community banner
1 - 20 of 47 Posts

·
Super Fuzzy Moderator
Joined
·
17,136 Posts


What do you all feel the pros and cons of cruising on a mid size to small boat are. Say something like 27-36 footers.
To some extent I think that depends on age. In the sub 30' bracket there are some definite possibilities for sure but once you get up round 35 and up there are plenty of more than adequate choices.

Once you get to my age anything under 35' starts to feel a bit cramped and you start looking more to 40' and up.

LOA is not necessarily the be all and all end all. Some 35-40'ers have plenty of room.
 

·
Salty
Joined
·
106 Posts
Although I am still waiting for our cruising years, I can only speak from limited experience and our own desires. Our plan is to stick to the smallest boat WE find comfortable. We plan to be minimalists, but that term is relative as each cruiser has his/her idea of minimal. In general, we would like pressurized water, seperate shower stall, roomy cockpit, and an aft cabin if we can find it in a boat below '40. Our current boat, we find is great for extended weekends and even a couple of weeks which is all we can manage to get away from the jobs currently.

Having what you want is not always a good thing...Wanting what you have will save you a lot of stress and money in the long run......
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
992 Posts
It all depends on your priorities. If your major priority is to get out there and cruise, then going with a smaller boat, that has simpler systems and fewer amenities is the way to go. If you need to have all the comforts of a shore-based life and want to have the big queen size berth, the 42" LCD tv, with DVD, hot and cold pressure water, 110 VAC available at all times, then you won't be happy.

The Pardeys have spent decades on boats smaller than 30', and put hundreds of thousands of miles under the keel of their two boats.

It also depends on how many people you are talking about. For one or two very close people, a <30' boat is possible. Once you get more than two people, you'll probably need more space at a minimum because of the increased stowage requirements.

Smaller boats have lower costs overall. They have the ability to anchor in more places, and require less draft generally. They're often less likely to be attacked by pirates. They're easier to handle in many ways. They're usually slower. They're not as comfortable. I wrote a bit about this in a previous thread I started:

I've noticed that some people on this site seem to discount the idea that a smaller boat can be the ideal boat for a person. I guess it has a lot to do with what you got the boat for.

If you want a floating condo, with all the pleasures and conveniences of modern life, including the microwave oven, the big screen TV, and the washer and dryer, you can't do that on a smaller boat.

If you want to live aboard a boat and run a business from it, a larger boat may make sense. You need to have living space as well as office space. I know a man who runs a very successful company from an office on a 34' catamaran... where he lives and has his office.

However, if you want to sail to far away places, and live a life that is based around sailing, a smaller boat may make a lot more sense.

Look at what boats some very well respected sailboat designers chose. Many chose smaller boats for their personal sailing craft.

Capt. Nat Herreshoff designed for himself the 26' "Alerion III". When Capt. Nat was in his seventies and living in Florida, he sailed a 30' K/CB "Pleasure"

Joel White sailed a Bridges Point 24 named "Ellisha" after his grandaughter

Phil Rhodes sailed a wooden 25 footer named "Nixie"

Carl Alberg sailed a 26' Pearson Commander named after his wife "Alma"

Bob Perry sails a 26' Cirrus called "Perrywinkle"

Part of the problem with a lot of the mass media is that they are driven by advertising dollars...and the larger boats are where all the money is. Look at the pages of Blue Water Sailing, Cruising World, and those magazines, it would seem that you can't sail across an ocean in a boat smaller than 40' in length.

Part of the problem is that many people confuse cruising with chartering. Most long-term cruising sailors I know have tried to simplify their lives and have gotten out of the rat race, and the rat race's need to compete with the Joneses.

However, I believe you can go and do a lot of sailing, and even sail long distances in relatively small boats. In fact, this was in fact the norm until not too long ago.

Look at Tania Aebi, who sailed a Contessa 26, Donna Lange, who is in a Southern Cross 28, Pat Henry, who was in a Southern Cross 31, have all circumnavigated the globe... okay, Donna's not quite done yet, but she's in the home stretch... The Pardeys sailed aboard two different boats, Talesin was less than 30' LOD, and Serrafyn was less than 25' LOD. Webb Chiles circumnavigated four times, once in a Drascombe Lugger, but that's an extreme example IMHO.

John Vigor's book, 20 Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere, lists boats all smaller than 35' LOA. Bigger isn't necessarily better... if your goal is to sail and cruise for as long as possible... then a smaller boat may make far more sense.

A smaller boat costs less to buy....leaving you more money for the cruising kitty.

A smaller boat costs less to maintain....making the money in the cruising kitty last longer.

A smaller boat often can go more places than a larger boat. Bigger boats don't gunkhole well.

The small boat is often easier to repair. The hardware needed on a smaller boat is often simpler and more reliable than that on a larger boat. A manual windlass is going to have fewer maintenance problems than an electric or hydraulic windlass; an electric winch is going to need more maintenance than a manual winch; the electrical system is often far simpler, and require less work to repair; stepping the mast often can be done without a crane, and so on.
 

·
Big Chicken Baby
Joined
·
410 Posts
I would echo again what Sailingdog said- how many people? Are you going out with your partner/spouse with whom you are used to sharing space with, or are you going out with a family? Kids? Taking along your best friend whom you are very fond of but you both need adult space?

We have found that 38' is the minimum we could deal with, but that's for two full time adults and one full time kid, with no room for additional guests. The 40+ range is really more workable for us.

In a few years, once the youngest is out on her own we will be looking at smaller boats but for now, we need the space to keep everyone sane.
 

·
Member
Joined
·
2,448 Posts
Depends on your definition of cruising

Is cruising for you knocking around the Chesapeake? Sailing the Intra Coastal? Island hopping the Carribean? Sailing the Southern Ocean?

A "comfortable boat" would be very different for someone planning on spending a lot of time on the hook in remote places versus someone who wants to spend a lot of time in marinas hooked to shore power.

If you're cruising with a spouse the boat must meet both your definitions of comfort. My wife and I have very different thresholds of what is "acceptable".

Our Catalina 30 is a very comfortable boat for weekend cruising and the occasional week or ten day trip. It's not a boat I'd take to the Carribean for a year long cruise. Preserving marital bliss would require something at least 38-40 feet. ;)

I guess what I'm saying in a round about way is you need to define your cruising needs before you can start to think about what boats will fit those needs.

Jim
 

·
Swab
Joined
·
825 Posts
Jim is right.

If you want all the comforts of a house you will need a large boat.

The more time you spend at the dock and the more you like to entertain the more you will need a larger boat. A pressure water system, stand-up shower and a roomy "Airy and light" cabin are not advantages in a boat intended to spend a lot of time at sea. In my experience, a smaller boat is better for voyaging, a larger boat makes a better live-aboard.

Be honest with yourself about what you will actually use the boat for. A Bristol Channel Cutter or Dana 24 (Or a Vega 27) make great sea boats but a cocktail party for half a dozen guests (Or even two couples) aboard one of these would be a flop, nor would you want to invite your in-laws for a weeks cruise.

New video log added 3-27
 

·
Seattle Sailor
Joined
·
192 Posts
There are several advantages to a smaller boat. Price is obvious (not just boat price, but the price of nearly EVERYTHING else goes up quickly). Not so obvious is that two people can handle a 30' boat quite nicely. For my wife to be able to handle a 40' cruiser it would have to be prepped well. I'll admit after waling around some of the boat shows this winter, that most of the newer large boats are designed to be handled much easier even at 40'.

I personally plan to cruise on the smallest seaworthy boat my wife will let me use, but that probably means at least 38-40', but I'd sure like to be able to live aboard a well-made older 28-30' boat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Style of cruising. A smaller boat with much smaller costs could leave money to stay on shore in a hotel!!!! So the boat is used as transportation . No boat is as comfortable as a nice hotel. Obviously if there is plenty of money you can have both. But for many of us buying a 40' boat in good condition for sailing would break the bank leaving little money for cruising. So with a $100,000 or whatever amount. would you spend $30,000 on a boat and save $70,000 for the cruise??? Or spend $70,000 on a boat and spend $30,000 on the cruise??? A case can be made for either decision. Having money to enjoy the cruise is at least as important as the boat. Sailing to Cozumel and having money to eat well and enjoy scuba diving etc is different than sailing to Cozumel and living on the hook without money to dive or enjoy carlos and charley's. Also having a kitty in the bank to pay for unexpected expenses is a good thing. Being rich is a good thing unfortunately I am not rich so more of my money is in the bank and less is tied up in the boat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for your continuing thoughts: ). I am of a similar mind to have the smallest boat that we will be comfortable (financially long and short, physically, handling & maintenance) with. I plan on being in more remote areas on the hook, marinas have little interest to me. The smaller the boat the more concern to the interior design I start paying attention to; some of the bigger boat look smaller than some of the bigger boats.
S Dog: Thanks for the re-posting of the well thought out old post.
Mimsy & J McGee: Yes I agree the boat size should be a comfortable choice for all the crew.
Padean: Yes, single handling is a concern.

Ditch
 

·
Picnic Sailor
Moody 425
Joined
·
2,181 Posts
I guess its the old adage of whatever works for you.....

So this is our story and our perspective only....

We are a couple both about to turn 30, who currently cruise in local waters on a 27ft boat. We spend weekends aboard regularly and can do coastal hops no problem....To our non sailing friends life aboard is very cramped, a few days on board means provisions and stores in every nook and cranny and our style ends up being very much camping on board.

We are looking at making a break for a couple of years and doing some 'real' cruising' for this we reckon 33-38 is about our size range.

Any smaller and tankage and storage becomes a major issue for the 'off the beaten track' type sailing we hope to be doing. Any bigger and well we would run out of money, run into draught issues, and the boat becomes too big for either of us to handle without the other.....

Now we won't have air-con, genset, watermaker, or a microwave. We will hope more often than not that the party is on someone else's boat.....but I think this size for us will work well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,600 Posts
Chall brought up a good point...tankage. I'll add battery bank size, dink & motor, refrigeration and storage for anything and everything you want to bring. So you need to look at what you NEED vs what you WANT and the inconvenience of dealing without some of the things a bigger boat can provide.
 

·
Swab
Joined
·
825 Posts
Style of cruising. A smaller boat with much smaller costs could leave money to stay on shore in a hotel!!!! So the boat is used as transportation . No boat is as comfortable as a nice hotel. Obviously if there is plenty of money you can have both. But for many of us buying a 40' boat in good condition for sailing would break the bank leaving little money for cruising. So with a $100,000 or whatever amount. would you spend $30,000 on a boat and save $70,000 for the cruise??? Or spend $70,000 on a boat and spend $30,000 on the cruise??? A case can be made for either decision. Having money to enjoy the cruise is at least as important as the boat. Sailing to Cozumel and having money to eat well and enjoy scuba diving etc is different than sailing to Cozumel and living on the hook without money to dive or enjoy carlos and charley's. Also having a kitty in the bank to pay for unexpected expenses is a good thing. Being rich is a good thing unfortunately I am not rich so more of my money is in the bank and less is tied up in the boat.
I'd spend about $10K on the boat, spend a few months getting her ready while my partner (Wife) works to add $20K to $30K to the kitty. We spend one or two nights in a hotel on arrival after a long passage, live on the hook mostly, treat ourselves with a restaurant meal occasionally and cruise indefinitely.:cool:

I guess its the old adage of whatever works for you.....
Absolutely!

So this is our story and our perspective only....

We are a couple both about to turn 30, who currently cruise in local waters on a 27ft boat. We spend weekends aboard regularly and can do coastal hops no problem....To our non sailing friends life aboard is very cramped, a few days on board means provisions and stores in every nook and cranny and our style ends up being very much camping on board.

We are looking at making a break for a couple of years and doing some 'real' cruising' for this we reckon 33-38 is about our size range.

Any smaller and tankage and storage becomes a major issue for the 'off the beaten track' type sailing we hope to be doing. Any bigger and well we would run out of money, run into draught issues, and the boat becomes too big for either of us to handle without the other.....

Now we won't have air-con, genset, watermaker, or a microwave. We will hope more often than not that the party is on someone else's boat.....but I think this size for us will work well.
We have been living aboard and cruising quite comfortably for a long time. Tomorrow marks nineteen years since I moved aboard Lealea, a Vega 27. Our longest passage to-date was 55 days. We have no problem storing six months or more of food aboard and we don't feel like we are camping. I'm with you on the air-con, genset and microwave but I disagree about the watermaker.

Latest video added March 27th
 

·
Barquito
Joined
·
3,753 Posts
Given the same crew, similar quality of equipment, in the same storm, I would think that a bigger boat would be safer than a smaller boat. (bigger seaworthy boat, not Vega 27 vs. Catalina 35)
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
992 Posts
Depends on the boats...
Given the same crew, similar quality of equipment, in the same storm, I would think that a bigger boat would be safer than a smaller boat. (bigger seaworthy boat, not Vega 27 vs. Catalina 35)
 

·
Seeker
Joined
·
129 Posts
Size does matter...
It seems to me that most of the conversation on this topic revolves around how close you can mimic the "house" conditions on the boat. "look honey, we can have house plants, and a carpet, and a microwave, it will be just like our living room at the condo..." My thought is that in the end it is a boat first. For it to just float, it needs solid seacocks, maintained stuffing box and properly clamped hoses, not even mentioning the pumps and other safety gear. I think we should consider making the hull and all the parts livable and inviting, instead of adapting a house to be able to float. This thing on the water will never be a house, but it can shelter and comfort us, just like home would.
So here is my two cents: A boat for me should be as simple as possible, less things to break, can be sailed by me alone, even with available help, all the gear can be repaired or superfluous, like fancy electronics and music boxes, all the sailing gear and dinghy handled by one person, even in rough conditions.... Electricity is nice, but would you survive without it? Would you be able to get back without any battery power?
Comfort question is a personal one. First, this is not a house, you have to accept some adjustments. It might take some time, but we can get used to a lot of "discomfort" or rather lack of comfort. Hot chocolate is nice, and any alcohol stove will do just fine... Pizza would be good, but if it means having an oven and everything that comes with it, I would choose to order out.
Shower is nice, but in warm climate a swim and a douse after will be fine.
I live on a 30 foot boat and find that it is more than adequate for my level of comfort. I have a bunk to sleep in the front, a galley for making simple dishes and coffee, a laptop to watch movies in and type at this moment, a radio to listen to NPR and just enough good books to last me for a while.
I am content and happy... things rarely break here, mostly simple maintenance, most complicated piece of plumbing is a hand pump.
My boat can sail the high seas, I imagine, after a few safety fixes, like good locking hatches and storm sails. Fresh water tankage is an issue at this point, but I am sure once the time comes to break for it, I will be able to carry plenty. Besides, placing all your drinking water in one container is risky on a long trip...
Sail on, thanks for a good topic
 
1 - 20 of 47 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top