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Old soul
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Discussion Starter #1
Some recent threads about frugality, dreams vs reality, and the small bluewater boats, have me thinking about my boat choice. I forget where I first read this, but the idea of choosing the smallest boat you can live with really has driven my choices.

I like this approach b/c it's about finding the right balance between too large and too small. Too large and the boat becomes unmanageable (both physically and financially), but too small and it becomes too austere, and limits your ability to be self-sufficient.

So I'm curious -- how did you choose your current boat?
 

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...So I'm curious -- how did you choose your current boat?
Smallest boat with an enclosed head. We do mainly daysailing, and the enclosed head made my wife more comfortable with the idea of going out for the WHOLE day.

No regrets, since the boat is a good size for 2-4 day cruises too (in protected waters). Very easy maintenance, so we can focus on sailing and less on maintaining.

By having a smaller boat, we save enough in slip fees and maintenance to pay for chartering a much larger boat when we want to go out for a whole week. We've done that a couple times.
 

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One of None
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Mike most all of us want a larger boat then we have! I'd be "happy" on a 38-42 ft boat. I'd feel like the queen of the Nile if I owned a 100 ft + J- class antique yacht LOL
My Oday 30 is "adequate"
 

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My Columbia 29 MkI was just the right price. We liked the design and asthetics so it was a done deal. That being said it is for sale as we'd like something just a tad bigger! :)
 

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I chose my current boat, like most I have owned on being a good deal or value....at the time of buying it, and one I can refit to my liking etc...

it happens to be my biggest one yet, but definitely not large by any means...solo or doublehanded

I think for me it has always been about best value...only once did I set out to buy a specific boat and that was a folkboat...I looked for the best deal there too

once having it...that was at the limit size wise for myself...while I did hate crouching all the time...the known benefts in performance, ease of handling, single handing, ease of anchoring, maneuverabilty, size of outboard needed, low cost of refitting and replacing parts like rigging and sails all influenced me more than say the size parameters, it was 1 con versus many many pros in my mind at the time...

it had an enclosed head and fully legal holding tank with pumpout...not bad for a 25footer

still miss it

just for kicks mike there was a saying that was VERY popular for a while and might still be(although I see a new niche of frugal crusing again) that went something like this

"BUY THE BIGGEST BOAT YOU CAN AFFORD"

dont know why it became so popular but I think it started a trend where bigger was better and "safer" but based on hearsay not actual facts...

the reasoning for that crowd was that the bigger the boat you could afford the more comfortable, ease of motion and stowabilty you gained making cruising "easier"

but what people failed to see there was that often times they didnt calculate the cost of refitting, engine size, or repowers, cost of rigging and how it escalates so wildly when going up a few "boat" sizes etc...and they often ended with a subpar refitted boat whereas gooing a bit smaller size would of left them more cruising kitty money, or better equipment for the trip etc

a lot of people fail to realize who much costs go up exponentially when going up say from a 27footer to a 32 or 34footer...

there is really a big difference
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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When I was establishing the parameters for my 'forever' boat it had to be something I could manage single handed as I approach senility, have big water tanks 150g+, standing headroom [ I am 6'3" ] and have a long bed that is reasonably wide.

One of the features about the boat I finished up buying is the size of the shower. So many modern boats have fairly bijou shower compartments, not mine, I can shower with a friend and save water.
 

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Our first "real" sailboat was a Chrysler 26 with an outboard engine for $4000. It slept 6, and we had great times on it.

Then we got a 1971 Irwin 38 that slept six. We had great times on it, but it was much more work.

Then we got a 1973 Tartan 41 that slept six. We had great times on it, but it was even more work.

Then we got a 2000 Beneteau 47.7 that sleeps six. We are having a great time on it, but work is substantial, and annual slip fees are more than the cost of the Chrysler 26. Thinking back, we had every bit as good a time on the Chrysler as the Beneteau. But we just sort of expect more now that we have grown.



Some recent threads about frugality, dreams vs reality, and the small bluewater boats, have me thinking about my boat choice. I forget where I first read this, but the idea of choosing the smallest boat you can live with really has driven my choices.

I like this approach b/c it's about finding the right balance between too large and too small. Too large and the boat becomes unmanageable (both physically and financially), but too small and it becomes too austere, and limits your ability to be self-sufficient.

So I'm curious -- how did you choose your current boat?
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Before you can decide which boat, you have to have a firm idea of how you'll use it. My 32' is perfect for me, and what I have done, am doing, and will do. Doing something else, I could go smaller or larger, depending on what the something else was.
 

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Heck, I share a boat through a club right now because I'm still figuring our what size would fit. We've nailed it down to larger than the Ensign we currently sail!
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Your question is germane to me. We are currently in the process of buying a new boat, selling the old, and you know what one of the absolute criteria for the new boat was? It had to be smaller than our current boat.

We broke things down into how we intend to use the boat. Based on that, we created a list of needs and wants, and our goal became to find the SMALLEST boat possible that had everything on the list. Also, I've come to believe that displacement is a better measure of size than LOA is.

Our Formosa 41 is 50ft LOA with it's bowsprit, but I used to think "it was really only a 41." However, we weigh as much as most newer 50 footers due to our overbuilt hull construction, which means bigger masts and sails in order to get a decent SA/Displacement ratio. The bigger stuff means more expensive to maintain, just like a true 50 footer would be...

PBeezer's point can't be emphasized enough. Think about how you will use the boat, and from there, think about what features, design characteristics, and gear will help you use better succeed at using the boat the way you plan to use it.

Again in my example, my Formosa 41 is not a very good boat for the PNW, but it was bought to live aboard and be capable of going to Australia. Once in Australia, we planned to sell it before returning, because it is not suitable to us for cruising up here. Now, we think we may have found a boat that is more suitable for the kind of cruising we do up here, AND will take us to Australia. Since it's suitable for up here, we now can plan on bringing her back too... But our needs are specific, and very different from just about everyone else, so the boat that makes sense for us, won't make sense for someone else. Then, it was a matter of getting the smallest one that would do the trick so we'd have as little expense and maintenance as possible.

MedSailor
 

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I "lived" very happily with a C&C 24 for several years. I didn't live on it. just for day sailing and weekends with wife, 3 kids and a dog.
It was the right price and got us out sailing instead of dreaming.
I would have bought a Cattalina 22 or anything in the size range if price had been right.

Sold her, Did other things. Missed it went looking for another boat. Wanted slightly bigger and a bit more comfort. Looked at 26's 27's thought a 30 would be nice. almost bought a 32. bought a 35.
I have a bunk which is long enough and wide enough. She is older needs work, no heat, no fridge, no hot and cold water, no shower, No spray hood. Oven doesn't work.

Big deal, She sails great. I have no intention of sailing across oceans.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Length only, is not the only thing to consider. For instance, I almost bought (and would have if I hadn't found this boat at the last minute) a Hunter 320. Still a 32 footer, still usable within my needs, and, as it turns out, it would have been the "smarter" buy.
 

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Master Mariner
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8,204 Posts
I had five things I wanted in my "last" boat;
1) A real, rectangular, common size bed; we have a standard queen.
2) A real, walk in engine room, so maintenance wasn't a hellish experience.
3) roller furling everything, and we love it! Infinite reefing, even ddw.
4) Electric main winches; a huge help when single handing a bigger boat, in docking, as well as sailing.
5) A real pilot house! Sorry dude, one can't have everything.
Bought the boat in August 2009, right at the bottom of the market, with winter approaching; an extreme buyer's market.
Many things just happened to be better than any of her sisterships that we've been on, but that was just luck.
 

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Asleep at the wheel
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Mike, I think there is a lot of truth in what you're suggesting. It's hard for a lot of folks to fathom, especially when you're new. But with the significant increase in cost as you increase size (it isn't linear, at least in my experience), I think the "typical" person (i.e., someone without a lot of discretionary income) would be better off carefully defining their needs and then looking for the smallest boat that meets those needs. Medsailor's comments are a good illustration of this.

There are also some externalities that come into play that some may not consider. Depending on where you are, marinas may not be set up for a boat over a certain size (i.e., they don't offer slips long enough) or with a draft that exceeds a certain depth, or height restrictions may come into play. So, as you define your "needs" you also have to take into account not only HOW you'll use the boat, but WHERE you'll use her.

Capta, what boat DO you have?
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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I agree with John it depends entirely on what you want to do with the boat. We are in the process of deciding what to do with Ainia when we get back to North America next summer. She is wonderful for extended cruising - strong, comfortable, safe, and reasonably quick. If we are going to be staying on the Great Lakes probably too much boat and too much cost for dockage, winter storage, maintenance, for the short season.

If we sell I can see anything from a Nonsuch 22 to about 35 feet depending on what we want to do.
 

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Daniel - Norsea 27
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The main criteria that I had when looking for my boat was that it has to be easily transported. Being in the military, I've moved around a lot over the years. I even grew up around the military so even now at 35 yrs old, I haven't been anywhere for more than a few years.

When I was looking at boats online, I thought of getting daysailors or weekenders but wanted to eventually do some traveling around. Then, a crazy idea struck me so I figured I would get the largest I coudl legally tow without permits. That shortened my list of potential boats. I was about to take a look at a couple Cape Dory 27s then my Nor'sea was listed. It happened to be moved closer to where I was moving to in TN a couple years ago so I thought I would take a look at it first. Needed some work but went for it.

Personally, I think it's perfect for me. I have it on a lake right now, so I can use it to build up my experience and learn more then I can move it to the east coast to continue growing my skills. It should be good to handle anything I happen to encounter.
 

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Old soul
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks everyone. Some great comments. I wasn't sure if I was articulating my question/musing well enough. I shouldn't have feared.

You're right about knowing the intended use. If I was day-sailing, or even just planning to do a few weeks per year, I'd choose a different boat. If I was a solo sailor (thankfully I'm not), I'd definitely have a smaller boat. Location would also matter. But within all those parameters one still faces the question of how to choose.

As Christian said, there seems to be this tendency to go after the biggest boat one can afford. I suppose this is encouraged by brokers, our affluence, and by our consumerist culture in general. Everyone says the average cruising boat size has been increasing, so too with the average house size, number of cars, etc... I guess it's no surprise to see boat sizes increasing.

Keeping things as small as possible sure keeps the costs down. As many of you have said, costs go up exponentially with size. And that's an interesting thought about using displacement over LOA or even LWL. Either way, it's not a linear expense curve.

But it is also possible to be too small. I would not want a cruising boat that I could not stand in. Crouching around all the time would wear thin pretty quick. I want a boat with a functional galley, and an enclosed head. I want one with adequate tankage and storage space. And obviously I want one that is well built and can stand up to the expected conditions.

I guess it's about understanding what one really needs. And then having the wisdom (or painful experience ;)) to follow through.
 

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美国华人, 帆船
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Between forty to forty two is good for me. But I will take 39 or 45 if she speaks to me. A fifty nine feet is way too big. :laugher
 
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