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What length for ocean travel????

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Jacko, Jul 14, 2005. Add this thread to a FAQ

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  1. Jacko

    Jacko Guest

    Hello , Was wondering about anyones opinion about what minimum size sailboat should be taken for ocean voyages, only 1 or 2 people, on a limited budget. I was thinking 30 to 34 ft. length? Also, any opinions about what manufacturer. I was looking at a catalina 30. Thanks in advance.

  2. dwayne13628


    Joined Jun 28, 2005
    101 posts, 0 likes
    Northern Northern 25
    CA On the Hard, Bradford Ontario
    Not to ruffel feathers

    ...but, I will say if you need to ask this question, perhaps you are not ready for Blue Water. Just my humble opinion, not meant to insult so don't take it that way, I just believe that safety should always be at the forefront. Not to take the wind from your sails, I too hope to do an ocean crossing but I am still a newbie. But in answer to your question: I read an article on the Grampian website about a G30 going from Newfoundland, Canada to The Azores. Let me grab the link for ya, its a neat and inspirational story.

  3. Jacko

    Jacko Guest

    By no means...

    I am considering buying a sailboat to live on while learning to sail, then once I gather enough experience and training I would like to have the option of sailing to say... Hawaii. I am a complete novice, but would like to hear others opinions. I know bravery has a little to do with what size vessel. Thanks

  4. BarryL


    Joined May 21, 2004
    707 posts, 23 likes
    C&C 110
    US Mt. Sinai, NY
    size has nothing to do with it

    Hi, It's my understanding that size (length) has nothing to do with safety for ocean voyages. There are safe 26' models (Contessa, read Tania Aebi's stories) and there are 40' models are that would not be good for Ocean crossings. There are certain designs that are meant for extended blue water crossings. Those designs may not be the best for living aboard, or for coastal cruising. Good luck, Barry

  5. Wayne

    Wayne Guest

    Experience is important

    Jacko Like you and Dwayne I am also looking at an ocean voyage soon. I have done a lot of research and its not so much the size of the Yacht, its the experience and preparation required. I have a C380 that I will sail around my local bay for 12 months and occasionally go through the heads just to get the feel of the open ocean. Where I sail in Melbourne ( Port phillip bay ) it enters into Bass straight, which is renowned for being one of the roughest streches of water in the world, they say if you can handle bass straight you can handle any ocean. The answer to your question is simple. Buy a good sound yacht, Catalinas are a great boat, I would suggest a 34 footer, I have been in some rough stuff and the 380 loves it, I'm the one that worries. Then sail as much as you can in all types of weather conditions, you will find as you get more experience you actually prefer the wind blowing hard. As you go you will discover how to fit your boat out, what types of food to take, spares parts for the engine and fittings that are likely to need replacing. You will probably have a check list. As Dwayne suggested, you will know when your ready to take on the ocean, you won't need to ask anyone. See you both out there. Wayne

  6. John Dawson

    John Dawson

    Joined May 18, 2004
    386 posts, 0 likes
    - -
    US Baltimore
    size has a lot to do with it

    that's why many offshore organized races have a minimum size requirement. Most small boats are not built with heavy enough scantlings and gear to take much pounding. Also the smaller lighter boats have a poor comfort ratio and get tossed around pretty badly, punishing their crew to exhaustion. Yes there are some small boats that are capable enough, and there are large ones that are unsafe. That doesn't mean size and weight are irrelevant; it just means size alone is not a good measure.

  7. sailaway78


    Joined May 11, 2005
    3,431 posts, 15 likes
    Seidelman S37
    US Slidell, La.
    My .02

    There are good little boats, and not so good bigger boats. In my humble opinion, it has more to do with who is in the boat, than the boat itself. A good skipper is, well, a good skipper. And a bad skipper is still a bad skipper, whether he is sailing a 20 day sailor or a 50' mega yacht.

  8. JB

    JB Guest

    Bluewater boat

    What you might want to look for is a strong stiff boat with an integrated keel. Catalina's are not thought of as blue water boats, unless it's a new one. A very roomy, fast, not too expensive, and blue water proven is a Cal34. There are other heavier more expensive boats, such as Westsails, Pacific Seacrafts etc. They are tanks. However they are very old full keel designs and sail poorly and very slow.

  9. . . .

    Though experience, design, and scantlings matter, generally a bigger boat is going to be safer and more comfortable. If I was younger and alone the smallest I'd consider would be 30' - but now, in my later years, comfort seems to win over adventure and I wouldn't go too far offshore in anything under 35' (maybe 40' if the li'l lady is coming too). That being said, it'd better be a boat designed for offshore sailing, with a well protected rudder and HUGE cockpit drains.

  10. RichH


    Joined Feb 14, 2005
    4,775 posts, 12 likes
    Tayana 37 cutter; I20/M20 SCOWS
    US Worton Creek, MD
    Trends ......

    Europeans tend to favor boats in 26-35 ft. range, while americans seem to favor boats 35-45ft. The larger the boat the more work, especially in sail handling. The longest boat that you can afford is probably the best rule for selection as the longer waterline will affect faster passages, more storm avoidance, more sea-kindly motion etc. A stock Catalina 30 without MAJOR ($$$$) upgrade and MAJOR strengthening would probably NOT be a suitable choice as this is a lightly built 'coastal' boat. It would probably come apart in the first major storm you encounter. A blue water boat typically has the following characteristics: Built like Brick S__T House, small cockpit, very small and very strong 'windows', very robust construction to withstand a major 'pounding' by storm force conditions, LOTS of tankage, able to carry heavy stores without sinking greatly into the water and 'wallowing' because its too deep in the water. For American design 'ocean boats' follow such boat designers such as: Creighlock, Perry, Harris, Hess, etc. Certainly one can 'rebuild and refit' a coastal design to withstand the rigors of passagemaking. Many have done it and on a shoestring budget.... but its a lot of work, etc. For world famous passagemakers who either built their own boats or refitted/rebuilt lightweight coastal boats: A coastal design boat can do 'island hopping' - short 'dashes' between islands by waiting for appropriate weather. A blue water design is usually built to 'take whatever comes along'. That said and as as others have stated .... its not so much the boat as the sailing experience of the crew that really counts.

  11. p323ms


    Joined May 24, 2004
    341 posts, 0 likes
    Pearson 323
    US panama city
    Crossing Oceans???

    I think that crossing oceans is different than ocean sailing. We take our Pearson 323 on 100+ mile trips in the Gulf of Mexico. Hopefully we will cruise up the east coast and over to the Bahamas. But the P323 is a coastal boat. That means that you can get to a safe place in 24-48 hours before the big waves can build. If you stay within 200 miles or so of a safe harbor many boats can be used and a fast beamy boat might be best. But if you are crossing oceans and entirely different type of boat is required. I met a couple that sailed around the world in a 24' pacific seacraft "Dana". They said that the worst weather they encountered was from South Africa to St Helena but that the boat did well. All things being equal a larger boat is better because the longer the boat the higher the wave required to roll the boat. Robust construction is probably more important than length. There are a lot of books available on boat design. You should read a couple before buying a boat for a particular purpose. A great boat for crossing the north atlantic would probably be a miserable boat for coastal sailing around the gulf of mexico in the summer. Here on the gulf a boat that does well in light wind and has a large cockpit for entertaining might be best. I don't think that any experienced sailer would consider a Catalina 30 a good boat for crossing oceans. BTW I am a big fan of catalina 30's and consider them the best buy for coastal cruising. Tom

  12. Peter18012


    Joined Jun 3, 2004
    145 posts, 0 likes
    Catalina 27
    US Stockton CA
    Cat 30 for Ocean Cruising

    While I agree with most of the comments, you shouldn't discount the ability of a Cat 30 as a live-aboard long-range coastal cruiser, as long as you recognize her weaknesses and allow for them. Take a look at "Stargazer's Diary", the story of a couple's travels from San Francisco Bay down the coast of Mexico and Central America thru the Panama Canal and up to Florida. The book doesn't go into the boat's strengths vs. weaknesses a lot (I don't think it even mentions that the boat is a Cat30), but they had a great time over a couple of years. They did lots of "ocean sailing", but no "ocean crossing". Available on Amazon & elsewhere. Sure can't get a bigger boat in 30ft, or more boat for the buck than a Cat30.

  13. dwayne13628


    Joined Jun 28, 2005
    101 posts, 0 likes
    Northern Northern 25
    CA On the Hard, Bradford Ontario
    Live aboard?!

    Now I am envying you. My dream is to sell the house and buy a 40' to live on, but alas the wife won't go for it.

  14. Franklin

    Franklin Guest

    How much

    can you get for the wife? :)~

  15. ecoughlin


    Joined Jul 14, 2005
    5 posts, 0 likes
    - -
    US windchimes
    Think and research

    Jacko, I encourage you to look at proven pocket cruisers that are designed for blue water. My personal experience in 1990 on a crossing from Bermuda to Noank CT taught me to re-think what I was doing. As part of a sailing training cruise, we students and instructors were aboard a brand new Catalina 42. We encountered a low pressure sustem while in the Gulf Stream. The resulting force 10 winds and 30 foot seas managed to break about everything on board. we all made it safely to the good old US, but it was very close call. Consider a proven blue water boat, no matter what the size. Eric

  16. Jacko

    Jacko Guest

    Catalina 30????

    I heard that a Catalina 30 isn't the best for ocean voyages, but what manufacturers are? I read some responses listing manufacturers that are good, but can anybody be more specific. I am thinking 30-34 footer, if a full keel is the best then so be it, able to be sailed by one or two people. P.S. This is the greatest, most informative sailing website & forum on the internet. Very happy I found all of you. Thanks again.

  17. Allan

    Allan Guest

    newport 28

    there is a guy sailing around the world in a 1982 newport 28. He left maryland and is now of the coast of Figi. It's all in what you feel safe and trust in I guess.

  18. George

    George Guest

    Gannon Benjiman-

    check spelling, is the only builder that builds boats constistinsly thru the sizes. Thier 20 ftr is as strongly built as thier 65 ftr. Any one would take you around the world. Read the book, WOODEN BOATS, by Micheal Ruel, again check spelling. Or better yet, check out their shop in Marthas Vinyard!

  19. dwayne13628


    Joined Jun 28, 2005
    101 posts, 0 likes
    Northern Northern 25
    CA On the Hard, Bradford Ontario
    Jacko, I think I am incorrect

    Was just reading the latest edition (July 2005) of Blue Water Sailing. There is a story in there of a young couple that bought a sailboat to sail down from California to Florida via the Panama. They only knew two things when they were buying this boat: need good chain plates and a diesel. A good story, and rather upifting. So, it comment to my original comment: do whatever you think you can handle, and like this couple in the story teach yourself along the way. I still think that is not safe, but if it is what you need to do to keep the dream alive, all the power to you. But be safe, and understand that there are somethings you do not yet fully understand and practice accordingly.

  20. Ed Hanley14076

    Ed Hanley14076

    Joined Mar 18, 2005
    84 posts, 0 likes
    - -
    US Panama City, FL
    Blue water boat size

    You have plenty of time to spec out a particular model, but I think you will find that the mid-thirties is very popular size range for extended cruising. Comfort increases with size up to a point, but "boat handling" means getting around your boat and pulling, pushing, lifting, cranking, belaying, lashing, etc., and the bigger the boat the heavier, longer, further apart, slower, and more complicated everything is (not to mention more expensive). Review your personal requirements. Mine include standing headroom throughout; single purpose made-up berths for all hands (not including athwartship or V-berths); tankage to run a small engine 4-500 miles; lazarette; small cockpit with bridge deck; room to carry a rigid-bottom inflatable on deck; rigged all inboard. This is easily managed in 32' with ample stowage for two. Take every opportunity to visit and sail aboard other boats, noting what you consider essential and otherwise. Good luck.

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