Trading Phases

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Phil Herring, May 20, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Phil Herring

    Phil Herring Dethroned Admin

    Joined Mar 25, 1997
    4,406 posts, 343 likes
    Hunter 450
    US Bainbridge Island
    When is it time to trade up to a bigger boat?

    When your boat starts to feel too small? When it develops nagging maintenance problems and requires frequent repairs? When you fall in love with a different model?Or just because you can?

    Is bigger truly better?

    Or have you traded down to a smaller, more manageable boat?

    Share your biggest and smallest ideas here.


  2. Ken Cross

    Ken Cross

    Joined Oct 24, 2010
    1,970 posts, 320 likes
    Hunter 30
    US Everett, WA
    Bigger = more work to maintain, more cost, higher marina fees, and more difficult to find a spot at that destination. We tried to find a balance of big enough to be somewhat comfortable but minimized the above downsides. We could afford a bigger boat, but unless we were spending a lot more time on her, I think we are big enough.


    Will Gilmore and jssailem like this.
  3. Justin_NSA


    Joined Jul 7, 2004
    5,653 posts, 1,202 likes
    Hunter 30T
    US Cheney, KS
    Our H30T almost maxes out the club crane capacity. "Bigger" on our pond means launching would not be practical or affordable.

    Whatfiero1 likes this.
  4. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    10,282 posts, 3,299 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    I've been up, down, up and down the size spectrum. 22, 25, 34, 23, 36, 26.

    Based in Minneapolis we can sail 4 HOURS away in Bayfield, or 4 MINUTES away on Minnetonka. So you have lots of choices, but rarely a clear-cut one. While I've made difference choices in the past, for Jodi and I BlueJ 4 minutes away makes great sense. We have a blast racing, but she's a great cruiser as well, perfectly sized for the lake. When we retire it will be on to a 40 footer, carefully chosen to keep loads and sail handling simple and easy. We plan to do this for a long time.

  5. Rick D

    Rick D

    Joined Jun 14, 2008
    6,720 posts, 226 likes
    Hunter Legend 40.5
    US Long Beach, Shoreline Marina, CA
    We love our Hunter 40.5. We have had her for twenty good years. Having said that, the Vision 32 we had for nine years before it did just about everything this does for a couple and occasional guests. We are within an hour and a half of her (off commuting peak!).

  6. AlastairLC


    Joined Jan 2, 2017
    466 posts, 168 likes
    O'Day 322
    US Lake Pleasant
    My O’Day 322 is a perfect size for Lake Pleasant, AZ.; although a Catalina 30 would do almost as well. There are a couple of Catalina 36s docked near me. Never seen them out!

    Rick D likes this.
  7. abarrow


    Joined Jul 14, 2014
    17 posts, 0 likes
    Beneteau Oceanus 390
    MX Puerto Vallarta
    I love being able to handle a smaller boat single handed, but I wanted something that didn't feel like camping for overnights, and felt moderately safe offshore. The tradeoff, of course, is you either need crew or sometimes a little assistance getting on the dock (my slip has a pretty fierce cross current). So, 39ft for me.

  8. Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Joined Mar 1, 2012
    1,746 posts, 700 likes
    1961 Rhodes Meridian 25
    us Texas coast
    Traded down and am totally happy. No longer have the UUMPH o maintain a bigger boat

    Had a Cross 35. Lived aboard several years, with three. Now? nope :)

    Then went to a 21 footer-Which I still have. But the lack of head room gets old after about 12-14 days aboard
    miss welcome.jpg

    So now I have my Meridian 25, which has worked out to be the perfect size. easy to single hand, room for two. And I have a trailer for her- just not a big enough vehicle to tow it :)

  9. glaufman


    Joined May 23, 2016
    142 posts, 24 likes
    O'Day 1984 23
    US Island Park, NY
    Love having my 23 3 minutes away... But... When there friends asked me to join them in buying a42i jumped at the chance... One of these days she will be 15 minutes away... Well see who gets more attention

    When SWMBO asks why not get a bigger boat, that's the time to get a bigger boat

  10. JRT


    Joined Feb 14, 2017
    1,229 posts, 409 likes
    Catalina 310
    211 US Lake Guntersville, AL
    When the wife says she wants something newer and bigger. The move from my O'day 25 to Catalina C310 was a good upgrade, I'd like to get a small boat to keep at home and trailer in a few years.

    glaufman likes this.
  11. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    4,682 posts, 2,633 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    I always thought 50 feet would be about right as a fulltime live-aboard/ World cruiser. Many marines charge more per foot above 50 feet, but there is still room to have a project/art/ woodworking space or entertain guests on deck and barbecue. Even a boat that size can be designed to single-hand.
    Having bought into a 19' weekender because of opportunity and cost, I am beginning to really appreciate the trailersailer that can go more places and get most of the way there at 60 mph. When your happy camping out of a backpack for multiple days, even 19' seems more like glamping. It sure is a lot less expensive than a 50 footer.
    When is it time to move up or down? When the opportunity, finances and sailing focus have all come together to say, "time to let go and move on."

    -Will (Dragonfly)

  12. TomY

    TomY Alden Forum Moderator

    Joined Jun 22, 2004
    1,747 posts, 1,735 likes
    Alden 38' Challenger yawl
    US Rockport Harbor
    The time to get a bigger boat was always clear to me.

    I had a 23' boat on Lake Champlain in VT that was perfect for the water and me at that time. Then I asked a girl to go sailing,.... The 23' boat was still handy for us on the lake.

    Then I got the cruising bug and asked if she would like to skip a winter in Vermont. Again, she was game. Soon we were headed down Champlain, in a snowstorm, toward the Hudson River on a Cape Dory 28'. The 28' was perfect and affordable. We spent a year away, had our fill, and came back to VT with our first baby, not yet born.

    And soon after, we had another (baby). The 28'er evolved including a starboard settee that would convert to a family sized couch or a folding pilot berth over,...
    MJ sleeping on Reliant.jpg
    ,...and a port settee converted to dinette that could hold baby chairs.
    TT Reliant.jpg
    This worked so well in fact, we stole away the better part of another VT winter and took a 2 and 3 year old to the Bahamas in the 28'er.

    The 28'er took us up the coast, past the Hudson this time, to Maine. It was a good boat to leave for weeks at a time and commute from VT for weekends, etc.

    We moved that boat slowly up the coast over several years. Eventually, it sailed us into what would become our residence.

    After a few more years I realized we had used it up. I'd run out of conversion ideas in the space, my family was growing.

    A friend told me about a donated old Alden for sale. It was a big boat (in 1999), 38'. Cockpit, decks, below, I could see our sailing life nicely fitting the boat with room to spare.

    2 kids, 2 pilot berths, no more conversions. You could walk by the cook in this boat. Everything fit inside the lockers, with room to spare. The wide decks all around opened new space we'd never seen.

    I made an offer that was accepted quickly. A few months later, I was handed a check for the 28'er - that was exactly the amount remaining that was owed on the new boat,...the day before the closing.

    Shivers Island Christmas dawn_.jpg

    The biggest surprise was the range this boat added to our sailing. More miles easily covered in heavier conditions. Time spent onboard stretched out. Everyone was content and the four of us sailed through life

    Time marches on. Over the last 20 years, 38' has shrunk to a 'medium sailboat'. It's mostly the two of us now so what was ample with four, is luxurious with two. We deserve that, I figure.

    Bigger in our case was truly better. But bigger is relative. I say, fill your cup.

    jon hansen, JRT, AlastairLC and 2 others like this.
  13. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,948 posts, 605 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    Sadly I never moved up to the three masted boat I wanted after my wife had watched “White Squall”. Maybe in my next life.

  14. RoyS


    Joined Jun 3, 2012
    492 posts, 195 likes
    Hunter 33
    US Bay Pointe, Quincy
    Every time I bump my head or trip over something in my 33' I feel I need a bigger boat. On the other hand, my wife and I are 70 years old and a bigger boat may be too hard for us to handle. When docking our present boat has a low freeboard and my wife can jump down to the dock without breaking a leg. Would have to get a younger wife or maybe an Au pair with a bigger boat but my wife won't let me. When we could handle a bigger boat we could not afford one. Guess we will stick with the 33.

    All U Get likes this.
  15. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    4,682 posts, 2,633 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    Which part won't your wife let you do?
    I'm guessing all of it. :poke:

    -Will (Dragonfly)

  16. JRT


    Joined Feb 14, 2017
    1,229 posts, 409 likes
    Catalina 310
    211 US Lake Guntersville, AL
    Our 25' O'Day fit what we needed to start with and learn. Didn't really over analyze buying her at the time, I had a budget, and had looked at a lot of sailboats in very bad condition. The old 25 was the oldest boat but the best condition. 2+ years later we moved up to the C310 because the 25 showed what the family liked and didn't like. The move wasn't a need but an opportunity when the right boat came along. Not a ton of time under the C310, but I'm guessing that at least 5 years for her and maybe we move to the gulf and start marina hopping for our next life change post kids. But maybe we upgrade to that dream boat, Jeanneau 440 if life is kind to us...

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