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594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As part of long-range planning, we visited five boats today:

1998 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2
1988 Hylas 44
1982 Moody Grenadier 134 (44 foot)
1983 Rival 41
1999 Warrior 40

A full photo gallery from the visits is here:

Visit to Five Boats

Some notes:

The Rival was the best updated and perhaps the most serious off-shore boat, but it would also be the hardest to fit two growing kids into. Excellent wood interior. New engine. Good gelcoat. Poor forward visibility with dodger.

The Jeanneau had the most interior space (five cabins?) and a dual wheel cockpit. Overall, good condition. But it also felt like more of coastal cruiser for a family. Aft cockpit a plus to us. Linear galley a negative.

The Hylas had the most class-- especially in the interior and overall deck/cockpit design. It also had the coolest galley I've every seen, with a broad stainless sink and counter under the companionway ladder. The lack of apparent sea berths was a real question, however, as well as no clear designated sleeping spaces for both kids. It was more like a great couple boat.

The Warrior 40 was an unexpected visit. Great overall condition, but the cabin layout was uninspiring. Two small cabins in back for kids, and the biggest forward cabin I've ever seen on a boat this size-- literally it seemed to take up half of the boat. The enclosed nav station also made the main cabin feel small. We liked the aft cockpit, though.

The Moody was a ketch and came closest to all criteria-- separate cabins for kids, nice aft cabin for parents, decent deck and center cockpit design. It was showing wear, however, and also it seemed to have 8 feet of freeboard, and we were wondering if jet packs would be needed for reaching the docks when landing.

It was a fun day, and all the boats gave us ideas to think about. In sum, the kids liked the cockpit of the Jeanneau, the toughness of the Rival, the homey main cabin of the Hylas, the boudoir aft cabin of the Moody, and the newness of the Warrior. Go figure...

2,172 Posts
Shopping for boats is fun. I looked at about 6 during the last year, watched ebay, yachtworld and craigslist every day.
Mine were older, all wooden or steel.
I finally bought an Alden Ketch.

594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
And that is why I only buy new boats....good luck

Just a curiosity..where are you seing these boats, Jim?
All five boats were in a fine, South Coast UK town called Lymington. We sailed there last month for an overnight, and the kids found it charming and were anxious to return.

I have nothing against new boats, but I'm not sure how to afford one. Also, by new boats, do you mean custom design and build, or do you include production boats?

Some have argued that new boats have resale benefits that justify the higher pricing from the start. I think the Copelands took this route when going with the Beneteau First series for cruising, and they argued to buy upwind, sail downwind, and then sell and rebuy again.

I also enjoyed reading Jimmy Cornell's latest book, and how he custom-built his first cruising boat in a railyard shed on the Thames in downtown London while still working for the BBC. At the end, they launched her into the Thames and took off around the world. That was back in the 1970s, but now his son is doing a similar thing with a smaller boat today, in downtown London on the Thames.

I don't think I have the time with my job (his and his son's were very part time), but we could run the numbers again on a new Beneteau, HR or similar new production boat. 3-5 years of a boat loan before we could leave, but...

On the other hand, we may have no cruising kitty by the time the boat was paid off. There's some discussion here on YBW (Yachting & Boating World home | boat news, boats for sale, sailing forums, marine companies) that new boat prices are going to take a dive, so that the companies can keep their production lines running during the next 2-3 years of recession. Thus, buying a new boat might become more realistic, in the short term, but this could also drive down the market for used boats. Could be an interested balancing act. Smaller yards may also have a hard time making it...

594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I finally bought an Alden Ketch.
Sounds like fun. The largest boat we ever looked at was a 52 foot Farrington Schooner (similar, but rougher, than the pictures below). The interior was like a home, and had dive compressor and tanks and a amazing range of round-the-world toys (some very outdated).

The only problem was that the deck hardware was frighteningly large-- winches that were like small trash cans, and massive steel travelers. It made us think that we'd have to be deck gorillas to manage the rig. Also, the raised bow and bow sprit, and the raised aft deck made the idea of parking the thing a bit daunting.

At the same time, the boat was the picture of a round-world cruising home, of a specific type and design, that would need more than a crew of two to tame. She also had a great name on a large wood nameplate below the aft cabin windows on the stern: Desert Star.

594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
A List

I went to Starbucks this morning to think over the five boats from yesterday. Pulling together ideas, I came up with the following list to keep in mind as we look at similar long-range boats.

I used a nice little laptop I really like-- the MSI Wind. We may have more of these in the future.

Additionally, none of the boats we saw yesterday had all of these characteristics, and we're unlikely to find a boat that does. Some could be added after the fact, and others not. There is a reason why some cruisers custom build their second cruising boats, I imagine.

When it comes to lists, I think it's also true that it's better to go and do some things along the way instead of trying to do it all before going, and then never going. The author of "Your First Atlantic Crossing" recommended this, noting that he had many unfinished lists before he left but he found that some were better to do, and less expensive, at ports along the way. He also admits that he could have prioritized better, since a leaking thru-hull connection that wasn't replaced with a sea **** was the most dangerous thing on his first crossing, and the replacement of that fitting should have come before other things he did do.

Apologies for not ordering the following list better into categories.

Things We’re Looking For in a Cruising Boat

1. No teak decks, if possible. If teak, then should be recently refurbished in appropriate manner.

2. Fractional or masthead rig. Ketch only if standing rigging recently replaced and masts recently refurbished.

3. Removable inner forestay.

4. Fully battened main and lazy jack system, both with some years of life left.

5. Appropriately sized headsail, designed for roller reefing and not just furling.

6. Storm sails, and second track on mast for storm sail if possible.

7. Easy to use cruising chute with snuffer and rigging ready to go.

8. Norseman rigging connectors, if possible.

9. Uncluttered, wide side decks.

10. One cabin per kid (two in rear, two in front, or one in front and one in side cabin).

11. Sensible interior for both living at anchor and in a seaway.

12. Shaft drive Yanmar, non turbo.

13. Rope cutter on a feathering or variable pitch 3 blade prop. (Maybe in an aperture, or not.)

14. Long or regular fin keel, and either a skeg-hung rudder or a very solid balanced blade rudder
that gives remarkable manoeuvrability in reverse. As noted by Beth Leonard, you can choose designs that are made for the worse-case conditions (like running aground) that may happen infrequently, or for ease of use during events that will happen all the time (like backing up in tight marinas).

15. No more than 6’6” keel depth.

16. Not chartered or circumnavigated, if possible.

17. Not junked up with old, poorly installed electronics.

18. Acceptable freeboard height for landings and windage.

19. Aft cockpit, if safe and has good forward visibility.

20. Center cockpit, if not too high and separated from boat interior. (Rival 41 had a center cockpit that still felt like a aft cockpit to someone working the galley and communicating outside. Other boats, with a full ladder to the cockpit, seem to cut off the interior from exterior too much.)

21. Large, racing wheel probably not wanted if clutters or bisects cockpit.

22. Backs up well.

23. Bow thruster, if needed.

24. Good main cabin—for eating, homework, fishing gear, watching a video.

25. Comfortable, safe cockpit.

26. Can sail in lighter winds- either with large light wind sails, or by being a lighter boat or a more-modern hull and rig design.

27. Good tankage—at least 50 fuel, 100 water.

28. Dry.

29. Easy to work on—like rebedding everything.

30. Running back stays already installed.

31. Hard dodger a plus, as long as there isn’t too much windage.

32. Boom gallows a plus.

33. Easily rigged and removed Bimini a plus.

34. Simple refrigeration system.

35. Not reliant on generator.

36. Windvane and electrical autopilot.

37. We like the simplicity of tillers, but realize wheels are the norm on boats of this size and weight. We don’t like wheel houses or wheels mounted on cabin houses.

38. Solid, easily rigged emergency tiller.

39. Good access to all sides of engine, drip seal, and steering quadrant and emergency steering setup.

40. Good anchoring platform and engineering, manual windlass option.

41. Simple main reefing system, in boom like SR. Good roller reefing on head sail(s).

42. U or L shaped galley. Not linear in main cabin.

43. Galley that is correctly sized for use at anchor for four, but also safe to use at sea with crash bar, waist strap, sinks closer to the centre line, fiddles to keep hot pots from sliding off counters, sea water pump, etc.

44. Adequate sea berths and lee cloths.

45. Good forward visibility for all members of crew, including Eve.

46. Solar panels and/or proven wind-generator.

47. Easy access from water, such as a sugar-scoop stern or good stern ladder system.

48. Split bow pulpit for bow-on Med mooring.

49. Good stern for stern-access Med mooring (if the boat can back up).

50. Aft-anchor roller set-up.

51. Good size line locker, with space for many extra mooring lines and a long line for stern tie-ups.

52. Non-obtrusive life raft and dingy storage options.

53. Large inspection ports on stainless tanks for fuel and water.

54. Salt-water pump in galley and on-deck wash down system.

55. Manual water pumps at all sinks.

56. 200-300 feet of anchor chain at bow, but stored as low and as far back as possible in boat.

57. Fiberglass hull (epoxy coated below waterline) or well-regarded aluminium hull.

58. Dedicated shower stall, if possible, with good calorifier.

59. Ample storage for gear, including snorkelling gear and dive skins for four. Hiking boots, on-boat school library, multiple laptops, etc.

60. If cockpit lines well-run to cockpit, we can see the increased safety. If lines poorly run, then we’d rather have winches at the mast for managing reefs and halyards.

61. Self-tailing winches, easy to maintain. Primary and secondary set in cockpit. Jammers on main lines lead to cockpit.

62. Fold-up latter steps on the main mast (and mizzen mast if a ketch).

63. Traveller placed sensibly and easy to adjust. Maybe not on coach roof.

64. No electrical winches, and a manual option important on windlass.

65. Deep, dedicated sail and fender storage. (Deep lazarettes on Westerleys and other boats a good example of this.)

66. Two heads preferred, but not a necessity.

67. 6’1” headroom in all main areas, but not necessary for all areas (such as pass through to aft cabin.

68. Holding tank(s) already installed.

69. Proper seacocks on all thru-hulls, including engine exhaust.

70. Approximately a four battery system, with a little extra amperage for growth, and an appropriately sized alternator for battery system. Would prefer less electrical needs (no freezer, no large frig, no large watermater, efficient lights and radar, and wind-powered auto pilot) than so much electrical need that generator and fuel a requirement.

71. Dorade boxes that are correctly sized and installed for the interior, with enough air circulation for both the tropics and the northern latitudes.

72. Glass hatches in main cabin and forward cabin that let in good light and can have air-scoops installed in the tropics.

73. Both darkening roll screens on glass portlights, and a separate rolling bug screen on opening glass portlights.

74. A stern pushpit that can hold a moderate sized outboard for the four person dinghy. We don’t need a rib, but we will be at anchor most of the time, so a Portabote might be a good choice.

75. Depending on our travels, I’d rather have future space for a dive compressor and two tank sets than a dedicated generator for making power.

76. We can install our own GPS and Chartplotter, but I would like an energy efficient Radar set installed already with LCD screen. Same with knotmeter and windspeed direction and speed indicators. We can make our own choices about SSB vs. Sat phone.

77. Would prefer to have a good shore power charging system for batteries, and a good battery strength indicator.

78. Inversion preparation: we’d like to see cabin soles that secure in place, and hefty and secure latches on cockpit lockers and anchor storage. Same for locker doors in main cabin, etc.
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