Used boat prices vary geographically and tend to be lowest in areas
of the country experiencing economic downturn and weak real estate markets.
If people can't sell their property, they are less likely to be able to
afford to purchase and outfit a boat for extended cruising. Since January
1996 prices have firmed up substantially nationally, and we are hearing
few tales of "stealing" good used cruising boats for 20% to 30%
below asking or BUC Used Boat Guide prices. Brokers on both coasts are
mentioning a real shortage of good ten-year-old or less cruising boats
in the $60,000 to $180,000 price range. In 1999 and later the shortage
will become more acute. Pacific Northwest
prices have remained slightly higher through the last recession, due to
demand and the strong economic climate. Here are some points to remember
when considering boats from different regions: Florida
boats tend to be less expensive than boats in other regions, but the higher
humidity and salt really take their toll. When I was boat shopping in Florida,
I found that many of the boats I looked at had been sitting for some time,
often unattended. In several cases the owners had run out of time, money
or interest and had parked the boat with a broker and returned to Europe
or the Northeast. New England and the Great Lakes
are excellent regions to shop for a cruising boat. A ten-year-old boat
that has been dry stored in a low humidity, low salt environment for seven
months each year will often be in much better condition than a five-year-old
Florida boat. Southern California has a very
limited inventory of offshore capable cruising boats. The light air and
generally moderate sea conditions and temperature mean that less-expensive
and more lightly constructed coastal cruisers dominate the market. Pacific Northwest prices are higher and inventory
of good offshore-capable boats is scarce because of many years of a booming
economy. Canadian prices are good and inventory
particularly in the Great Lakes area is worth looking at. When trying to
decide whether or not it is logical to purchase a boat out of your area,
make sure to factor in all shipping and commissioning costs. Here are approximate
costs for shipping a 35' and 42', sailboat with a beam of no more than
12' and a trailer height of under 14'. Boats with beam in an excess of
12' will require a pilot car at $1.00 per mile in some states. Add approximately
$200 for trucking insurance rider, and $1000 to $2000 for decommissioning
and recommissioning, depending how much of the work you do yourself. Florida
to New York or Los Angeles to Seattle: $2815 $3069 Annapolis to Seattle
or Seattle to Florida: $6800 $7600 Wisconsin to Seattle: $4000 $4600 The
present currency exchange rates have made purchasing a boat overseas much
less of a bargain than it was in 1984/85. Prices of identical cruising
boats tend to be consistently higher in Europe at this time. New Zealand
has some quality cruising boats for sale at attractive prices, but as these
are small run production boats, few people in North America are familiar
with these boats. If you're interested in cruising specific areas such
as Scandinavia, the Med or the French canals and aren't interested in the
long passages, purchasing a boat on location may be a good choice. If you're
considering purchasing a boat overseas and plan to sail it back to the
U.S., try and select a wellknown builder who has dealers in the States.
You'll find it much easier to sell a wellknown boat for a reasonable price.
The cost of shipping a 35' boat from Europe or New Zealand to the U.S. is
$12,000 to $15,000. Any U.S. Embassy will be able to provide you with temporary
documentation papers if you're purchasing and planning to cruise a boat
in another country.
Boat Selection Checklist
If at all possible, contact the designer before purchasing. Relatively
few boats were actually designed for ocean passage making. You will need
to learn if the boatbuilder followed the designer's construction criteria.
Some Taiwanese built yachts advertised as being designed by Robert Perry
or Doug Peterson may actually be pirated designs where the designer has
not been paid a royalty and the builder may have tried to save money by
reducing structural integrity. None of the Taiwan yards employing this
practice are still in business today.
If the yard is still in business it can be quite helpful for purchasing
some parts and assemblies, but is by no means essential. If they are still
in business, call and ask them about the boat you're considering. Have
the hull number and date of manufacture ready. You may find that boats
built by a yard that is still in business sell for higher prices than boats
where the builder has gone out of business. As an example, friends of mine
had a Southern Cross 35 built for them by Ryder Yachts about 15 years ago.
After a successful Pacific circumnavigation and the arrival of two lovely
daughters, they decided to move up to a Morris 46. They related that the
Morris 36 which they were considering when they ordered the Southern Cross
then cost $20,000 more but is now worth approximately $160,000 compared
to a value of $75,000 for the Southern Cross today. Morris is still in
business building excellent boats; Southern Cross went under not long after
my friends boat was completed. If you're considering purchasing a new boat,
check the financial condition of the company. Some builders are just barely
staying in business and may use your deposit money to complete another
person's boat. This only works as long as the deposits are coming in!
You'll sure appreciate a design that offers good sailing performance
and ease of handling the more miles you sail. Few potential cruisers think
of passage-making speed as important criteria in choosing an ocean cruising
boat. After 160,000 miles and 25 years of ocean cruising, it is now high
on my personal list of priorities. The shorter your passages, the less
exposure you have to heavy weather conditions. A boat with good sailing
performance requires less motoring and fuel, is faster, more responsive
and fun to sail in the light air conditions so common worldwide. Windward
sailing performance is nearly as important as passage-making speed. A design
that has graceful overhangs and a shorter waterline will often tend to
hobbyhorse or pitch when sailing to windward into a chop. Upwind passages
back home may be impossible or extremely difficult. On the other extreme,
a very modern, light displacement boat with a flat entry may tend to pound
when sailing to windward. The ability to sail off a lee shore in an emergency
is dependent on windward performance.
Negative design aspects to be avoided:
Long bowsprits which may prove difficult or dangerous when changing
headsails or maneuvering in close quarters. Low freeboard may indicate
a design that will ship a lot of spray and water on ocean passages. Excessive
freeboard may cause poor windward performance and a tendency to "sail"
back and forth at anchor. A small amount of weather helm as the wind increases
is desirable, but an excessive amount which cannot be decreased by sail
trim or rig tuning may mean that a boat will be difficult to steer by hand,
windvane or autopilot. If the design is excessively tender, you'll have
to get used to living, cooking, navigating and sleeping at 25 to 30 degrees
angle of heel every time you are sailing to windward, something you may
find fatiguing. A comfortable motion at sea is very important. A vessel
with a short waterline and long, graceful overhangs often tends to hobbyhorse
when to sailing to windward and may lack directional stability when sailing
downwind in a large following sea.
A Comfortable Home
This is just as important as each of the above points, because a boat
may have the best sailing characteristics in the world, but if your partner
views it as a deep, dark, damp, unattractive place to live, you'll either
be singlehanding or giving up your cruising dreams. Remember most cruisers
are at sea less than a quarter of the time, so comfort at anchor is also
Space for the for additional sails, tankage, food, lines, spare parts,
medical and safety supplies that are required for extensive cruising is
important. On some boats valuable storage space under the settees and berths
is filled with tankage that could have been designed under the cabin sole.
Weight Carrying Capacity
A purpose-designed cruising boat will be able to carry the additional
weight of three anchors, a windlass and several hundred pounds of chain,
as well as additional water (8 lbs. per gallon) and fuel (6 lbs. per gallon),
a liferaft, dinghy and outboard. You'll be adding several thousand pounds
of equipment, so if the boat you're considering is already on her waterline
before you start loading cruising gear you may end up several inches below
the designed waterline. On some designs this may be a dangerous problem.
Boats that handle the weight the best are not real narrow at the waterline
beam and have transom sterns without excessive overhangs.
Hull thickness doesnít necessarily translate into strength. A
thick hull with a high of a resin to glass ratio may actually be more brittle
than a thinner hull where the resin has been carefully squeezed out. Read
Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats by Henry C. Mustin, International Marine,
1994 for a clear and concise view of hull and deck design, structure, and
condition. Some builders have a history of serious osmotic blister problems.
In some cases blistering may be serious enough to require removal and replacement
of part of the hull laminate, which can be quite expensive. A knowledgeable
surveyor will be an excellent resource and may recommend looking for a
different boat if the blisters are deep and extensive. If the hull is balsacored
and the core material becomes saturated because of improperly installed
thruhulls, or if the boat has "gone on the beach" you may want
to look at a different boat because of the cost of repairs and potential
for future problems. Foam-coring provides excellent insulation above the
waterline but there can be problems with water absorption if coring is
used below the waterline.
The deck surface must provide adequate nonskid without being overly
abrasive on bare knees. If you plan on living aboard or cruising in nontropical
areas, insulated decks will reduce condensation and moisture. If teak decking
was laid over plywood there can be serious problems once the boat is over
approximately 8 - 12 years old. If the plywood core material is not marine
grade or if insufficient bedding compound used, you may end up with the
core material becoming saturated and many small deck leaks where the screws
are. Teak docks look great at the boat show, but on older boats improperly
laid decks will present additional leak potential and maintenance. Many
of the less-expensive Taiwan builders of the 70's and 80's used random
bits of plywood as deck coring material, with filler between the wood scraps.
When water penetrates this core material, repairs are often expensive and
very time consuming. Check with any marine surveyor to verify this. I would
recommend having a surveyor look very carefully at any boat older than
eight years with balsacored decks. Unless the core has been eliminated
in favor of a solid laminate where stanchion bases, genoa tracks, cleats
and other deck fittings are placed, water will penetrate the balsa sooner
or later, and repairs may be extensive and expensive. If the boat has foamcored
decks, the marine surveyor will check all horizontal surfaces carefully
for voids or delaminating by tapping with a small hammer.
Hull to Deck Joint
There are several methods of attaching the hull and deck of fiberglass
boats. When there are bolts and nuts or screws protruding through on the
inside of the hull to the deck joint, a mechanical clamp joint is relying
on the bond of a sealant adhesive (3M 5200 is often used) to stop leaks.
After 10 to 12 years and several thousand miles of ocean sailing the sealant/adhesive
loses some of its elasticity. Due to the working of the boat and the different
climatic conditions the toerail and hull expand, contract and flex at different
rates eventually weakening the bond, allowing water to follow the bolt
or screw threads down, and drip on the inside of your lockers.
The two options for solving the problem are: Remove the teak cap rail
or aluminum extruded toerail and clean and rebed each bolt. Radius the
inside of the joint with epoxy and microballoons and then lay several layers
of fiberglass tape over the inside of the joint, totally sealing it and
strengthening the area at the same time.
Bulkheads must be securely attached to the hull. On a fiberglass boat
they need to be substantially glassed to the hull on both sides and to
the deck with multiple layers of tape. Some builders skimp on this, gluing
bulkheads in instead, but once their boats have made several ocean passages,
bulkheads and interior wooden cabinetry may come unbonded from the hull,
allowing the hull to flex more than it should. The repair is messy, involving
grinding and fiberglassing in some difficult to reach areas Internal stiffening
systems (grid floor systems, and/or full-length and transverse glass over
foam (not wooden) stringers) contribute greatly to the stiffness and rigidity
of a boat. If the interior woodwork is just glued or lightly attached to
a hull liner pan or to the hull, you may find it breaking loose after a
few thousand miles of ocean sailing. Access to hull and deck areas is often
restricted when fiberglass liners and pans are used in construction, making
equipment installation and leakstopping difficult. From a manufacturing
standpoint, hull liners are less expensive, but you won't find them on
top-end ocean cruising designs.
Chainplate Load Transmission
The loading from chain plates must be evenly transmitted to bulkheads
and structural members below deck to avoid lifting or distorting the deck.
Separate chainplates for forward, upper and aft shrouds provides more stability
for the mast and reduces the chance of deck loading distortion. External
chainplates (fastened to the outside of the hull) look salty but may eventually
leak and need to be re-bedded. They also can restrict the jib sheeting
Mast Support System
Deck stepped masts work well, but only if proper structural members
transmit the load to the keel. Otherwise deflection and possibly delamination
under the mast occur. With keel stepped masts, inspect for corrosion at
the base of the mast. Check the mast for trueness even with an aluminum
Underbody Design: Keels and Rudders
Most cruising boats run aground at one time or another, and sometimes
at speed. Some keel designs are better suited to withstanding a hard grounding
without damage. In my experience the best type of keel for serious cruising
is not a short, deep, high-aspect fin. There are two keel options that
work well for cruising boats that may occasionally run aground. A longer
keel with external lead ballast attached to a substantial stub that is
an integral part of the hull absorbs groundings well. When external ballast
is used, keel bolts attaching the keel to the hull must be accessible,
and keel loading must be spread out through the floor system. Another option
is internal lead ballast that is lowered into the keel cavity and then
heavily fiberglassed over. Internal lead ballast eliminates some potential
problems with keel attachment, but check closely during survey for any
voids or water penetration in the keel area between the ballast and fiberglass.
Read Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats for more details. Cast iron or mixtures
of iron and cement are less desirable ballast materials, resulting in a
boat that heels more quickly and has less room for tankage in the keel.
Centerboards and lifting keels are an option if youíre plans include
more coastal cruising than ocean voyaging, but the increased complexity
and lowered stability are drawbacks. High aspect deep and short fin keels
(in a fore and aft measurement) are best suited for racing boats. Running
hard aground can result in damage to the area where the trailing edge of
the keel meets the hull and can cause leaks around the keel bolts. Wing
keels have a shape similar to a Bruce anchor and can be very difficult
to refloat. A rudder must be able to take the impact of hitting logs and
grounding without jamming or being damaged. Unprotected spade rudders are
more likely to be a problem. Ideally you should be able to remove the rudder
with the boat in the water for repairs in remote areas. In the past, cruisers
assumed a full-keel design with attached rudder was the only design for
ocean voyaging. I have cruised 75,000 on four different modern full-keel
boats, plus another 70,000 miles on a boat with a longish keel and separate
full-skeg and rudder. My present boat has a partial skeg, providing some
protection from logs and debris and a third rudder bearing and more strength
than a spade rudder. Having the skeg extend only partway down the rudder
means that the rudder is semi-balanced. This greatly reduces the amount
of effort required to steer the boat. It is almost like power steering
and means that not only hand steering, but also steering under autopilot
or windvane is much easier and that there is much less loading on the steering
system. For me the trade off of less protection is worth the ease of steering
and added maneuverability. Plan on removing and thoroughly checking the
rudder on any used boat before venturing offshore. To check for excessive
rudder play, when hauled out grasp the bottom of the trailing edge of the
rudder and try and move it fore and aft and also athwartship.
Skegprotected rudder, detached from the keel
is well suited for long distance cruising. The skeg protects the rudder
to some degree, and may increase directional stability. Examples of this
type of design: Valiants, Crealock 34, 37, 40, 44. There are many suitable,
well-built boats of this design type and they are a popular choice for
long distance ocean cruising.
Partial-skeg rudders can be semi-balanced
which is like having power steering. This type of rudder generally has
three bearings, making it sturdier than a free-standing rudder which often
has only two bearings. Examples include Morris 44, 46 and the Frers-designed
Modern cutaway full keel, with attached rudder
and moderate displacement is another good choice for cruising in isolated
areas where groundings or scrapes are common and the nearest shipyard may
be thousands of miles away. The cutaway forefoot is a faster, more maneuverable
design that will have fewer tendencies to trip or broach when running under
storm conditions than a traditional Tahiti ketch type of full keel boat.
Having the rudder mounted slightly above and protected by the full length
of the keel and the propeller enclosed in an aperture offer the best protection
against damage from collision with submerged or floating objects. Careening
or hauling out in primitive boatyards is easy with this type of design.
Examples include: Island Packet, Mason, Cape Dory, Freya 39, Nicholson
31, Endurance 35.
Fin keel/spade rudder is the fastest and
most maneuverable design for racing and is the easiest and least expensive
underbody to build. Some designs featuring a deep, high aspect keel may
exhibit a lack of steering directional stability when ocean swells are
present. There are several very successful cruising designs that have a
longer, substantially supported keel (not a thin, highaspect keel) and
strong rudderstocks. Some examples are the Sundeer and Deerfoots, Niagara
31, 35, 42, Cal 40, and Sabre Yachts. If your cruise plans involve high
latitude sailing or gunkholing in remote areas, you will need to be more
cautious with this type of design.
Heavy displacement fullkeeled doubleenders
based on Tahiti ketch or Norwegian lifeboat lines used to be a nearly automatic
choice for long distance voyaging. However, yacht design has made some
great advances in the past 40 years, and you may choose to take advantage
of these improvements which make for faster, more comfortable passages,
and smaller, more easily handled sail plans without resorting to bowsprits
Having said that, there are plenty of folks happily cruising on their
Westsail 32s and Hans Christians content that they have the best design
for their cruising lifestyle. There is not one design or style of cruising
that suits everyone.
Being able to maintain at least six knots under power will get you in
most passes and channels at the time of least current. A rule of thumb
is two horsepower per thousand pounds of displacement for a sufficiently
powered cruising sailboat. Purists may say that this is excessive, but
in my experience it has been an advantage to have sufficient power to deal
with currents and the ability to motorsail to windward for short distances
into steep chop when necessary. Here are some points to consider:
How good is everyday access?
Can the engine be removed if necessary for rebuilding without having to
destroy the cockpit or companionway?
Is there an engine hour meter and logbook showing maintenance history?
What is the fuel consumption and range under power? 600800 miles minimum
under power for long distance cruising where fuel may not be available
for months at a time is only a minimum, from my experience. Ideally the
boat you are considering will have a common make of engine that will be
easy to find parts and service for in lessdeveloped cruising areas.
Examples of engines which may be difficult to obtain parts for are BMW,
Isuzu, Mercedes, Pices, Pathfinder, Bukh and to a lesser extent, Yanmar.
Best manufactures for worldwide parts availability are Volvo, Perkins,
Caterpillar, and Cummins. When I bought my Hallberg Rassy 31, I thought
the 25hp diesel engine was excessive for a displacement of only 9,500 lbs,
but the top speed of 7.2 knots, cruising speed of 6.5 knots and maximum
range under power at 5 knots of 1,200 to 1,500 miles proved useful. My
42' ketch displaced 25,000 pounds and was powered with a 62 hp engine which
proved very adequate in areas like Patagonia, Antarctica and Alaska where
conditions dictated powering for weeks at a time, encountering strong currents
and tidal rips and fierce catabatic winds daily. My present 48', 38,000
lb boat has a 95 hp. motor which provides an 8.3 knot top speed, and a
1,500 mile range at more economical 6 knots. I have supplemented standard
fuel tankage with jerry jugs stowed in cockpit lockers with each of these
Steering System and Position
Some sailors prefer tillers on boats under 35' as there is less to go
wrong and installing most windvane steering systems is less complicated
than with wheel steering. If the boat youíre considering has wheel
steering, hopefully the system was built by a reputable company like Edson
or Whitlock where you're assured of quality components and that youíll
always be able to spare parts if needed. Many Taiwanesebuilt steering systems
suffer from poor initial design, inferior bronze castings and rudders that
aren't able to hold up to the stresses of ocean sailing. This isn't a problem
on the more expensive boats like Norseman, Taswell, Mason and Little Harbor.
The location of the steering position is also important. If the wheel is
mounted at the far aft end of the cockpit, it may be very hard to design
a dodger that will provide protection to the helmsperson without resorting
to a long, potentially unseaworthy design.
The majority of long distance cruisers are choosing sloop or cutter
rigs. Dependable furling and headsails and mainsails have meant that cruising
couples are able to easily handle cutter or sloop rigged boats in the 40'
to 50í range. Many cruisers are adding a removable inner forestay
on a sloop on which they can set a storm staysail once they have furled
or dropped their working headsail. I don't have any hard and fast rules
that apply to my choice of rig. I used to think that I would not like a
ketch rig, but after seven years and 70,000 miles on my previous boat which
was ketchrigged, I appreciated theflexibility of the rig and the ability
to drop half the total sail area (the mainsail) in less than a minute without
having to resort to a furling mainsail.
The ideal stern for a cruising boat includes a builtin swim step on
a slightlyreversed transom stern. An overly large, sugarscoop stern may
prove a liability in a heavy following sea. Double enders may look salty,
but the loss of valuable, hardtoreplace lazarette storage area and buoyancy
must be taken into consideration. More double enders have a higher tendency
to "squat" in the stern when loaded with cruising gear than do
Hull Construction Material
Fiberglass is the least maintenance-intensive material for cruising
boats, but construction quality varies greatly from one builder to the
next. The majority of fiberglass boats were never designed or built for
extended ocean sailing and may eventually start falling apart if pressed
into this type of service. The other extreme are designs that are so heavily
built and overweight and do not have the sailing performance which makes
for fast and comfortable passages. Pearson Vanguards, Tritons and Alberg
35's are examples of very well built, reasonably priced earliest production
fiberglass boats. After 35 years these boats are still going strong.
Steel is an excellent material for boatbuilding,
and frequently the choice of sailors who have done extensive offshore cruising.
The impact resistance and total watertightness of the hull, deck and fittings
is an advantage over other materials. With sandblasting and the new epoxy
coatings, steel takes less time to maintain than it used to, although it
still requires more time and cost to maintain than a fiberglass boat. Many
of the steel boats on the North American market are ownerbuilt hardchine
designs. Although strong and stiff, they are not particularly fast or attractive
to many person's tastes. A poorly-built steel boat will have places on
the inside of the hull that will trap water and rust through from the inside
out. Access to every part of the interior of the hull makes checking for
corrosion and painting much easier. Some attractive, modern steel cruising
boats are the Waterline Yachts built in Sidney, BC, Brewerdesigned Goderich
35, 37 and 41 built in Ontario; and the Amazon 37 and 44 which were built
in Vancouver, BC.
Aluminum boats are generally lighter and
faster than steel boats, have less impact resistance and may be more difficult
to have repaired in remote shipyards. Painted aluminum boats often tend
to develop paint blisters after four to five years of serious cruising,
requiring an expensive repainting job if you want a perfectly fair and
shiny hull. There are dozens of unpainted French aluminum boats cruising
the world, and although you may not find their concretecolored oxidized
aluminum hulls attractive, they are strong and practical. Aluminum suffers
from electrolysis more severely than steel; if you're cruising on an aluminum
boat you'll need to be very careful when moored in electrically "hot"
marinas. Quality aluminum builders include Kanter in Ontario and Topper
Hermanson in Florida.
Wood boats often offer a lower purchase
price, although the cost and time involved in keeping them in good shape
is more than with other materials. If you have a limited budget, and don't
mind the additional work, a wellbuilt wooden boat may be a good choice.
It may be difficult to find longdistance offshore insurance for traditionally
built wooden cruising boats. Perhaps because there are so many potential
sources of problems on wooden boats in the tropics we see fewer of them
long distance cruising each year. There is the special warmth and appeal
of wood that some people find irresistible, whether or not it takes more
care and maintenance.
Modern wood epoxy saturation (WEST System)
technique produces boats that are lighter, stronger and often faster than
traditionally built boats and have a better chance of being insurable for
ocean cruising. The best areas to find modern coldmolded boats are in the
Northwest, New England and New Zealand.
Ferrocement is the only material that has
no advantages other than inexpensive construction materials. It is the
most labor-intensive material to build with, is difficult to finance, insure
or repair, and has the lowest impact resistance of any material. Having
said this, I have met two cement cruising boats that have completed two
and three circumnavigations respectively.
Multihulls advantages include very little
heeling or rolling and tremendous interior volume and deck space, making
them great for living aboard and chartering in tropical climates. Another
distinct advantage is that multihulls don't sink if holed, unlike ballasted
monohulls. Their disadvantages for offshore cruising are that they are
more weightsensitive to overloading, they may be uncomfortable going upwind
into a head sea and under extremely rare instances they can capsize.
Keypoints to Remember
Realistically assess your needs in terms of size of boat and amount
of equipment. If you're outfitting and cruising on a budget, remember the
KISS formula. More complicated systems mean more money and maintenance,
repairs and spare parts to track down. Think moderate in terms of displacement
and sail area since extremes, ultralight or heavy displacement will be
either less comfortable or restrictive because of poorer performance. If
possible, find and talk with people that own sisterships to the boats you're
considering. Cruising world Magazine's "Another Opinion" Service
(1.900.988.2275 or 5 John Clarke Rd., Newport, RI 02840) is an excellent
resource. Practical Sailor also has a sameday fax service of comprehensive
37 page evaluations of more than 80 different boats for $3.50 per page
and several excellent books, 203.661.4802. Sail on as many different designs
as possible, noting pluses and minuses of each. This can be done by joining
a sailing club or chartering. If you are quite convinced that you want
a specific boat, a oneweek charter on a sistership will be a sound investment.
Don't overspend on initial purchase price; save at least 40% to 50% of
your total budget for outfitting, provisioning and cruising funds.
Practical Sailor's Practical Boat Buying, Volumes 1 & 2,
available from Belvoir Publications, P.O. Box 2626, Greenwich, CT 068362626
for $39.95 each or $59.95 both
Practical Sailor December 1993 issue has an excellent list of
cruising boat prices between $5,000 and $200,000 which is still surprisingly
Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats, Henry C. Mustin, International
marine, 1994 Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts,
by John Rousmaniere
For a detailed five-page list of boats to consider for offshore cruising,
send $2 to Mahina Expeditions, Box 1596, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.
John Neal's passion since 1976 has been sharing the knowledge of preparing
for offshore cruising through 98 Weekend Offshore
Cruising Symposiums to over 5,000 sailors. When not teaching ashore,
John and his New Zealand wife, Amanda Swan-Neal conduct offshore sail and
navigation training expeditions aboard Mahina Tiare III, their Hallberg-Rassy
46. Past expeditions have included Cape Horn, Antarctica and just about
every island in the Pacific from Alaska to Australia. They are currently
at sea somewhere between Auckland and Alaska; to view satellite log updates
of their current expedition, click here.
If you'd like more information on selecting an offshore cruising boat,
consider attending one of the following Weekend
Offshore Cruising Symposiums. Yacht designer Robert Perry is co-presenter
of the boat selection section, and additional presenters include Dan Spurr
from Practical Sailor, sailmaker Carol Hasse, weather instructor Earl Seagars
and West Marine Catalog Advisor author and Safety at Sea moderator, Chuck
Seattle: November 13 & 14, 1999 and February 19 & 20, 2000
San Francisco: February 12 & 13, 2000
Annapolis, Maryland: February 26 & 27, 2000
Boats to Consider for Offshore Cruising
I am not in the business of recommending or representing any specific
boat builders or brokers. Here are some boats to consider for offshore
cruising, listed in alphabetical order. Included in this list are boats
that I have been aboard, sailed, cruised or have come in contact with during
25 years of ocean voyaging.
USA AbleAble 32, 42, 48 Superb quality, expensive.
*USAAlajuela 3 Good value, well built
*USA PearsonAlberg 30, 35, 37Early f /g boats. Well proven, not expensive.
Narrow, short waterlines, graceful overhangs
USAAlden 38, 44, 46, 54, 58 Classy, well built, beautiful & expensive.
*USAAllied 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 39, 42 Good value. Functional, practical.
FRAAmel 36, 53 Strong, well designed. Excellent passagemaker
*CANAmazon 29,37,44 Steel boats, attractive modern designs.
FRA Henri WaquiezAmphitrite 43 Strong & roomy. Good storage. Odd deck
design, but great boat. Excellent company.
USA MorrisAnnie 28 Every boat built by Morris is a work of art!
*CANBayfield 29, 3032, 40Good value. A bit "plasticy" interiors,
USABluewater 60 Modern, top quality Chuck Paine design.
ENGBowman 36, 58 Strong boats. Excellent passagemakers.
*CANBrewer 42 Improved version of Whitby 42.
*USABristol 2745 Good boats. Later models were better quality.
USABristol Channel Cutter 28 Well built, not my personal choice. Good company.
CANCabot 36 Ted Brewer design
*USACal 230,34, 36, 39, 40, 246,Bill Lapworth designs. Many 2-46's have
circumnavigated.346,48 Comfortable, reasonably priced.
USACaliber 28, 33, 35, 38, 40. Fairly wellbuilt. Michael McCreary designs.
The 47 is not an attractive boat.
*USACambria 40, 44Fast, wellbuilt & gorgeous. Yes, expensive.
*ENGCamper Nicholson 31, 32,35,38,39,40,43,47,56,58,70 Out of business
except for shipbuilding. Watch for serious blister problems on all models.
*USACape Dory all models All models are well designed & built.
USACape George Cutters 31, 36, 38 Some owner completed. Strong & fast.
USACascade 36, 42196567 design still being built. Fairly narrow.
USACherubini 44, 48, 62 Semicustom boats. Beautiful, great sailing &
*CAN & ENGContessa 26 & 32Tania Aebi & B.J. Cardwell both circum
navigated in 26's.
HOLContest 31, 35, 36, 38, 40, 41, 42, 46, 48 More common in Europe. Rather
plain-Jane, but appear to be well-built.
*USA PearsonCountess 44Early f /g John Alden design. Will need to be repowered
CANCorbin 35, 39 Watch for hull blisters.
USA Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31, PH 32, 34, 37, 40, 44 Santa Ana, CA.
One of the very best companies building cruising boats. Good value.
*USACSY 44Sturdy & reasonably priced.USA Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 An
expensive (for the size) pocket cruiser capable of ocean passages.
*VariousDeerfoot Yachts Fast & innovative, aluminum & fiberglass
GERDehler 34, 38Modern, racercruisers.
USADickerson 36, 37, 40, 41, 50Nicely proportioned & wellbuilt boats.
Earlier 36's are very reasonably priced.
*USAEastward Ho 31 EldredgeMcInnes design, limited production.
ENG, USA, CAN, RSA, SCT Endurance 35, 38, 40 Peter Ibold design, some owner
completed. by various yards in ENG, USA & Canada.
*USAEsprit 37 Perry design. Comfortable, well proven.ARGF & C 44 Modem
Frers designed cruising ketch.
USAFast Passage 3 Some built in Canada, some by Tollycraft. Excellent boat.
ENGFisher 30, 46 Motorsailers. Great for N.W.Alaska & N.E.
USA Pacfic SeacraftFlicka 20 Mini Ocean Cruiser, but slow, slow, slow.
Very solidly built.
USA MorrisFrancis 26Beautiful design from an excellent yard.
CANFraser 41, 46, 50 Good modem cruisers.
USAFreya39 Good value. Many owner-completed, so quality varies. FAST, 200
mpd full-keel design!
FRA Henri WaquiezGladiateur 33Very sturdy, short on tankage.
CANGoderich 35, 37,41Attractive Brewer steel boats.
SWEHallberg Rassy, 9.4, 31, 312,
33, 35, 352, 38, 382, 41,42, 42F, 45, 46,49, 53 Well built, comfortable,
& surprisingly fast. Very strong company, excellent service. Newer
Frers designed boats have better sailing performance than earlier boats.
ENGHalmatic 30Similar to Nicholson 31.
USAHinkley 3064Well built, very expensive, hold their value well. Short
on tankage & storage.
CANH.T. Gozzard 31, 36,44 Good design & construction.
FRA Henri WaquiezHood 38Strong, fast, & attractive. Short on tankage.
TAIHylas 44, 47, 49 Frers & S & S designs. Good sailing qualities,
tankage & storage centerboard.
USA Island Packet 27,29, 32,35,350,37,38, 40,44,45 Roomy & comfortable.
Improving every year.
USAJ40; J44, 130 Fast, light.
USA Miller Marine Jason 35 Built near Seattle, some owner completed. Several
have cruised extensively.
HOLJongert 50, 55, 60, 67, 73Heavy, expensive, wellbuilt steel and aluminum
USAJustine 36Excellent Paine design, Morris built cruiser. Expensive
USAKaiulani 34, 38 Lovely steel Brewer & Yohe designs.
CANKanter 42, 45, 60, 65 Steel & aluminum boats, semi-custom. Highest
Quality. Chuck Paine & Ted Brewer designs.
DENLM 27, 28, 290, 30, 315, 32, 380 Some have inside steering. Wellbuilt.
USA MorrisLeigh 30 Very well built, attractive.
USA MorrisLinda 28 Gorgeous design.
TAI & USALittle Harbor 42 90 Ted Hood designed, heavy displacement.
Semicustom. Production returned to U.S. from Taiwan. Expensive and solid
as a rock.
USA AlliedLuders 33 (DOVE), 36Older wellbuilt fiberglass boats.
SWEMaloQuality offshore boats.
USA Pacific SeacraftMariah 31At least one circumnavigation.
TAIMason 33, 43, 44, 53, 54, 63Some of the very best Taiwan built boats.
USAMercator 30 Inexpensive. At least one has circumnavigated
ENGMoody 24 44Good boats, reputable builder.
USA & ENGMorris 26, 28, 30, 32, 36, 44 Chuck Paine design. Superb quality,
SWENajad 330, 361, 370, 390, 420, 490, 520Quality, attractive boats.
FINNautiCat Motorsailers 35,40,43,53 S & S designed models are much
better performers than earlier models.
CANNiagara 31, 35, 42Wellbuilt & roomy. Good company.
USANordic 34,40,44,45Bellingham, WA. Attractive well built boats
USANor'Sea 27 Offshore capable, but not a comfortable boat.
TAINorseman 400,447 Wellbuilt, fast, expensive and attractive.
*ENGOcean 60, 71Powerful boats, many have had blister problems
*USAOcean Cruising 42Only a few built by Hank Hinkley. Classy.
USA Pacific Seacraft Orion 27 Offshore capable.
ENG Oyster 42, 45, 485,49, 55, 61, 70, 80 Some have inside steering. Attractive,
expensive and first class! Strong resale value.
*USAPearson 35,365,424,520 Wellbuilt, not flashy. Reasonably priced.
FRA Henri Waquiez Pretorien 35 Strong, fast & attractive. Excellent
company. Best value for a boat under $85,000.
*USA PearsonRhodes Bounty IIEarly fiberglass boats, classic design but
verrrry old, so will need lots of upgrading.
TAIRoyal Passport 41, 44, 50Modem cruising design. Good storage/tankage.
ENGRival 3641Strong, good-looking and sailing boats.
USASabre 34, 38, 42, 362, 402, 425 Built in Maine, excellent quality.
ENGSadler 34Unsinkable, fast, beautiful. Superb boat.
CANSaturna 33Attractive, Bill Garden designed pilothouse cutter.
SWEScanmar 35Limited production but good design.
CANSceptre 41Modem pilothouse with good performance.
*USA AlliedSeawind II 32 Excellent boats. Good value. First f /g boat to
circumnavigate the world.
USASeguin 44, 51S & S design. Excellent boats. SemiCustom.
USAShannon 28, 37, 38, 43, 50, 51Excellent boats. Expensive& reliable.
*TAISkye 51Similar in appearance to Swans. Strong & fast.
*USASouthern Cross 28, 31, 35, 39 Good boats. Attractive designs. Fairly
*CANSpencer 35, 42, 44, 54 Older, very solid boats, built in Vancouver,
USASundeer 56,64Excellent & expensive.
*USATartan 37Centerboard, well proven with at least one circumnavigation.
SWESweden YachtsExpensive & well built. Racercruiser designs, short
on tankage and storage.
TAITaswell 43,49,56,58, 60, 72Quality, attractive, good sailing performance.
Excellent tankage, storage and design.
TAITashiba 31, 36, 40Perry designs.
USATownsend 30Built in Pt. Townsend, WA. Traditional design. Attractive
and strong boat.
HOLTrintellaRoomy and well built.
*USA PearsonTritonSuperb value. Earliest F/g production boat. Very sturdy.
USAValiant 32, 37, 39, 40, 42, 47, 50 Major blister problems on Valient
40 hull numbers 116250. No problems with any of the excellent Texas built
CANVancouver 27Also built in Taiwan & England.
*USA PearsonVangard 32Excellent value.
*SWE AlbinVega 27At least six have circumnavigated.Inexpensive.
ENGVictoria 30, 34Chuck Paine designed.
SWEVindo 29, 34, 38, 39Attractive, well built.
*USAVineyard Vixen 30, 34Attractive design.
ENGWesterly 26, 36 Not flashy, but wellbuilt boats.
*USAWestsail 28, 32, 39, 42, 43 Well built boats. 39 are rare & attractive.
CANWhitby 42 Sell for around $75100k. Good value.Inexpensive but sturdy
USAWindshipExpensive custom boats.
*USAYankee 26, 30S & S designed. Inexpensive and capable.