Boat size

Sep 3, 2012
195
Hunter 285 Grand Rivers Ky
When I first started paying attention to size (of sailboats), or more specifically length of boats people owned was when I saw this man who sailed a 26ft most of his life till retirement. He then went out and purchased a 40ft and he and his wife sailed into extended vacation. Then the boat sold at a loss within a year and he never sailed again. The dream some said was better than reality.

Then I noticed guys buying bigger and bigger boats till they quit sailing. It seemed if bigger was better and better was more expensive then that would come later in life.

But then, there was this sailor who in the years leading up to retirement built his own 40 something footer. Retired and sailed it for a year and it was up for sale. He then purchased a 30 and he and his wife loved it.

I asked why? Wasent he going to wrong way? What I found out was under 33 Ft boats are comfortable and can be more easily single hand sailed.

I asked another man who "down sized" about why, and he told me "I could not wait to be in a new 44ft, then after I got it, maneuvered it out to sea and wondered why I ever got rid of my 30. Nothing worse than being in the wrong sized boat." Thought I would like 40, but just didn't.

Another man once told me he or his wife had developed minor medical problems over the years and the smaller boat was easier to handle if the other had an "off day" and would prefer to not be on deck it could be operated "single handed".

Would love to hear from others and their thoughts on the subject.
 

Apex

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Jun 19, 2013
1,054
C&C 30 Elk Rapids
I think a 28 is a good single hand all the time compromise, 10ft beam provides room below. 30 is more comfortable below, with the length, and have heard 32 is a sweet spot for the great lakes.....having moved up from 25, to 28 and a friend who just purchased 28 from 27 I have no point of reference beyond. A couple of friends have moved to 34's and don't sail as much.
 
Nov 6, 2006
9,226
Hunter 34 Mandeville Louisiana
I bought a 23 foot boat to learn sailing and boat handling.. sailed a lot of OPB (other people's boats) crewed on some longer (?) passages of 400-600 miles.. then considered single handing and maintenance and operating expenses. I came to the conclusion that for the kind of sailing that I intended to do, something at 40 feet or less would work. Budget dictated something less.. I found that at the time I was ready to buy (1991), the Hunter 34 met my needs pretty well. I am still happy with her after 25 years.
 
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Jul 7, 2004
8,032
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
We went from a Macgregor 26S with almost no maintenance to a Hunter 30T with all sorts of features to be concerned about. It's a handful at 60 but manageable. I think the curve isn't as steep as you go bigger but there are extra costs that may just make or break going any larger. I can't imagine polishing or bottom painting a 40 footer!
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,385
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
Assuming you can manage the costs as you get older....

The biggest issue will always be your declining physical ability. No way around that. Noticing the trend in the aging population, many builders are trying to create 'sweet spot' boats that match easy system use with manageable length and designs for realistic use patterns.

Alerion Express, anyone??

PS - Everything on this boat is electric, halyard winches, sheet winches, aux power. If you can on the thing and sit down, you can sail.



I have a 60 year old friend who is an accomplished long-distance solo racer. He's selling his beloved C&C 44 for a boat he feels he can manage for the next 10 years.

I do agree that 28-30 often presents the most manageable loads while being a decent size for sailing. Going bigger is possible (like the 33 above) but the designer and builder must be smarter to help out. I would not want to sail my friend's 44; a huge heavy old-school racer with a giant masthead rig. The loads are immense.
 
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Jan 19, 2010
10,024
Hunter 26 Charleston
... and if you are a trailer sailor, the sweet spot is a bit smaller.... I have sailed a MacGregor V22 all over the Mid-Atlantic coast, and day sailed her often....I could show up at the ramp and have the boat launched and O.B. at idle in less than 20 min.... but she was really cramped when at anchor....then I got bigger boat-itis and purchased a Balboa 26. Wish I still had the Mac 22. The Balboa is so much harder to launch and retrieve that I don't do as many day sails as I used to and frankly the Mac 22 was more comfortable in a chop than the Balboa.... I recently compromised again and have purchased a Hunter 26 water ballast... I think I could fall in love with her but have not had a chance to really test her out yet. If I can learn to launch and retrieve her fast... this might be the sweet spot for trailer sailors.
 
Apr 14, 2009
741
Sabre 28 NH
All boaters eventually get that dreaded affliction called boat i tis where one can no longer help but think of anything else but a bigger boat. It's not until you're unable to take your bigger boat out alone & you find yourself sitting at the dock do you realize you've made a mistake. Ask me how I know this:)
 
Aug 1, 2011
3,959
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
Most of the trailer sailors suffer from lack of headroom and the associated appendages needed to work around that. We had a pop top for our 26c that got used, I think, once. The headroom that it provided worked out to about a square foot of floorspace. Nice in theory but quite impractical in application.
 

jwing

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Jun 5, 2014
503
ODay Mariner Guntersville
Misfits:
Do you find the Sabre 28 too big to sail by yourself? I ask because I'm trying to decide if my next move should be to fix up what I have, or to invest in the next step toward my ultimate goal (a sailboat comfortable enough to spend three consecutive months sailing).
 
Aug 1, 2011
3,959
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
Yeah, but unless you're a modest type, you usually had to put on pants to raise the roof and install the canvas, and that after crawling to the bow to dig out the canvas. I wouldn't go back, and I doubt that we'd ever go much more than a 320 for all the reasons listed. You have to be able to handle it by yourself, and none of us is getting any younger.
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,318
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Some people prefer pop-up campers. Others prefer class A motor homes with multiple slide-outs. As the saying goes - you need the right tool for the job. Obviously smaller is easier and usually cheaper but not necessarily as comfortable or 'livable' on long trips

Boat size is nothing more than personal preference for the intended use and usually limited by budget. My son's 36 ft racing boat requires a crew of 11 to sail, has no galley or berths. I can single hand our boat with a beer in one hand. Usually better after 3 or 4 beers.
 
Nov 26, 2012
1,535
Hunter 34 Berkeley
The general rule of thumb that I have always heard is to go with the smallest boat that can accommodate you comfortably. This rule is mainly for cruising but it applies generally as well. Bigger is harder to handle and way more expensive.
 
Apr 14, 2009
741
Sabre 28 NH
Misfits:
Do you find the Sabre 28 too big to sail by yourself? I ask because I'm trying to decide if my next move should be to fix up what I have, or to invest in the next step toward my ultimate goal (a sailboat comfortable enough to spend three consecutive months sailing).
JW,
For me a 28 is perfect, I wouldn't want anything bigger. I could spend three months on her & be quite comfortable. There are folks out there for long periods of time on boats smaller than this & they're quite content.
When I first decided to buy a sailboat I had my eye on boats in the 32-36 foot range. Sitting in the cockpits, they felt to big. I made that mistake with powerboats, wasn't about to repeat it with a sailboat.

Bob
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,959
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
I found that at the time I was ready to buy (1991), the Hunter 34 met my needs pretty well. I am still happy with her after 25 years.
After a C22 and then a C25 for 13 years we decided to move up. We "skipped" the C30 because my wife said: "Get the boat you really want!" Who was I to argue? We'd saved the Catalina 34 brochure from a 1987 boat show and bought her in 98. Couldn't be happier. Brand new ones were twice what we paid for a pristine then 12 year old boat.

It's not until you're unable to take your bigger boat out alone
Agree. But if you can't solo your boat, of any size, you already have the wrong size. Singlehanding a 34 foot boat is and should be easy. Here's how:

Single Handing 101 http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5445.0.html

Single Handing 101.1 Midship Cleats Pictures http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4921.0.html

Single Handing 101.2 HOPPING OFF THE BOAT IS UNNECESSARY
http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5445.msg33766.html#msg33766

Bigger is harder to handle and way more expensive.
Not necessarily. See above about signlehanding. More expensive? Sometimes. If I compare SYSTEMS between a 28 and 34 footer, most of them are the same, i.e., fresh water, water heater, head & holding tank, engine & parts. The only things bigger are winches (rarely, if serviced, ever need to be replaced), running rigging (one time deal for most of us), and standing rigging & sails (that's where it's more costly, and again usually only once in most sailor's cruising lives).

Obviously smaller is easier and usually cheaper but not necessarily as comfortable or 'livable' on long trips
Quite right. Don't forget HEADROOM.

It all comes down to what is right for YOU, not for us. Each of us makes their own decisions, based on factors that are wide ranging.

Oh, and I singlehand a LOT. Twice a month at least for two nights at anchor. After 13 years with the C25 stoop, I LIKE to be able to stand up everywhere down below on our boat. I think it's just the perfect size for me, my family and guests.

Your boat, your choice. :)
 
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Mar 20, 2012
3,983
Cal 34-III, MacGregor 25 Salem, Oregon
speaking in relation of the most common boat owner, I believe the "big boatitus" definitely has an age/ego thing at its roots... that along with the fact that so many people dont know how little they actually know....their inexperience is such that they dont have the sense to be cautious and thoughtful in their choices.
as a new owner of a small boat, they may become an accomplished sailor, or may be just a fairweather sailor with big dreams, but either way most of them will always aspire for a bigger boat with more room.... and so they may upgrade, maybe even a couple times, until they probably get to a 27-34 footer... this is great for a few years, almost perfect, but not quite... or so they think....
then, when their financials change a little for the better (hopefully), it gets them to thinking about sailing away on the "retirement boat", or being able to entertain more guests while going somewhere... and they begin to look for a big boat to fit the dream.... and buy one. without any regard as to their own increasing age and the effects it will have, or without taking into account that all they know about it is what they have lived in the past with their smaller boats....
and, as unpopular as it may be to say, some people give in to their better judgment, due to the wants of their SO, who needs more room, "because, I dont like being so cramped up all the time"..... but again, this only happens because someone has not done what it takes to get a thorough understanding of the "boat ride" they are about to take....

so happily charging ahead, not knowing how little they actually know about big boats, in a year or two the realization hits them that a big boat is extremely expensive to continue to maintain(quadruple... more?), and is a lot more work for the crew to sail.... everything is bigger and heavier, there are lots more systems involved which means more failures more often, and the whole of it consumes more time with less pleasure involved.... its not fun anymore.
and without the ability to hire it done, it can leave a sour taste very quickly.... and the next happy day on the horizon will be when a buyer comes along so that the burden can be passed off to someone else....

there are people who are more experienced, and have a better understanding of what they have in a boat that is somewhere in the range of 30 to 40ft long, and what bigger boats cost, and are very happy and content with what they have now

one fact remains constant, the bigger a boat gets, the more difficult it is to manage.
boats ranging over 38-40' have very few upsides for the average couple, but a lot of downsides.... but there are always the fringes and extremes at both ends of average where time or money doesnt matter quite so much, and the people who fall into these areas may seem to be a bit luckier or unluckier than us average boaters, but the reality may surprise you.....

there is a balance somewhere that one has to find, and its NOT always about personal preferences, and how the boat fits you, but usually, for long term comfort, its about how you fit the boat, and how you balance your needs with what it has to offer.... accept what cannot be changed and learn to be happy with it.

as Clint Eastwood once said, " a mans got to know his limitations"..... and he should learn to recognize when he is fairly well off with what he has.

the smart "average" boat owner, knows these two things:biggrin:...
 
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Jan 19, 2010
10,024
Hunter 26 Charleston
Centerline.... I think your musings are correct for a lot of folk. For me it was berth space. I have four kids + the admiral so that makes 6. I liked the smaller boats and for cruising I still think the best trailer sailboat on the market is the Rhodes 22.... but it only sleeps 4 in the cabin. You can add another two in the cockpit with the cover but.... you still don't have room for 6 people's worth of gear and food....

So the biggerboatitis for me was about stowage and room for the family to sleep at night. Eventually as my kids got older and busy with their own lives... I no longer can round up a crew of 6 so I only need to find stowage and space for 4 (sometimes 5 in a good season). My father has taken to joining us on our summer cruises so... I still need something in the 26' range. I'm hoping my new-2-me H26 will hit the "sweet spot" on size verses trailerability. I'm really looking to season.

I had some fantastic trips in my Mac 22 but in each case we were a total of 2 or 3 for extended cruises.
 
Mar 20, 2012
3,983
Cal 34-III, MacGregor 25 Salem, Oregon
Centerline.... I think your musings are correct for a lot of folk. For me it was berth space. I have four kids + the admiral so that makes 6. I liked the smaller boats and for cruising I still think the best trailer sailboat on the market is the Rhodes 22.... but it only sleeps 4 in the cabin. You can add another two in the cockpit with the cover but.... you still don't have room for 6 people's worth of gear and food....

So the biggerboatitis for me was about stowage and room for the family to sleep at night. Eventually as my kids got older and busy with their own lives... I no longer can round up a crew of 6 so I only need to find stowage and space for 4 (sometimes 5 in a good season). My father has taken to joining us on our summer cruises so... I still need something in the 26' range. I'm hoping my new-2-me H26 will hit the "sweet spot" on size verses trailerability. I'm really looking to season.

I had some fantastic trips in my Mac 22 but in each case we were a total of 2 or 3 for extended cruises.
I will agree that when a larger number of persons must be accommodated (some of who are not always so considerate of their shipmates), the playing field has to change.... the cost has to be accepted as the play dictates.... but whether for a long term cruiser, or a weekender, the need for more accomodation can be met reasonably well as long as ALL the "accomodators" can find their balance within the little world that the hull creates for them... this is a much harder challenge to meet, than a couple on their own will find...