Which Boat for Cruising?

Actually this blog was posted by me (Alex) – not Sarah as the website would suggest.

 

Disclaimer: Most of pictures in this post were taken by me (Alex), which means that they will naturally not come up to the stadards exibited in any of our other blog posts. You can probably pick out the one that was taken by Sarah.

 

I am sometimes asked “what kind of boat should I get to go cruising?” I like this question, because, like most men, it makes me feel good to have someone confide in me that they value my opinion and consider me an expert on a particular topic. I also like this question because it allows me to discuss boats. At length. One could be forgiven for thinking that I might occasionally want to talk about something other than boats given that I live on one, work on one, spend 95%+ of my time on one and 95%+ of my brainpower thinking about them. But it’s a funny thing – whenever cruisers get together for a reparte of some sort, all the men talk about their boats (or more specifically, the problems that they have with their boats) and all the women talk about…………. well, i’m not really sure actually.

 

So, when posed with this question I get a treat – I get to launch into a diatribe of long-winded opinions (and their supporting evidence), explanations and reasons why one boat or another is more or less suitable for this sort of thing. I get to discuss hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, stability characteristics, sailing performance characteristics, comfort characteristics both at sea and at anchor, ease-of-handling, sail plans, rigging considerations, ground tackle, power management, self-steering, ballast ratios, construction materials. In short, I could (and would, given the opportunity) go on for days……… and days………. and days. But the stark truth is that absolutely none of this matters one jot. Not to mention the fact that the boat I would describe simply couldn’t exist  (I’d like a fast, lightweight catamaran with minimal windage made from thick plate steel and with an angle of vanishing stability of 180 degrees) the smorgasbord of designs and types that DO go cruising, very successfully, safely and comfortably means that, to be quite honest, all of my opinions are of absolutely no value whatsoever.

Here is a classic production cruising yacht. I'm not sure specifically what make or model it is, but it's about 46ish feet long, monohull, made from GRP.

Production cruising yacht. I’m not sure specifically what make or model but it’s about 48ish feet long, monohull, made from GRP. Very shiny.

 

 

Aluminium monohull. Centreboard model. This boat came from the Atlantic via Patagonia, the straights of Magellan, Chile etc.

Allures 44. Aluminium construction. Centreboard model. This boat came from the Atlantic via Patagonia, the straights of Magellan, Chile etc.

 

 

'Prati', owned by our friends Carlos and Madeline. About 46 feet in length. This is the second boat that we know of to have come up from the bottom of the world. Lightweight modern catamaran with dagger boards and no keels. Foam sandwich construction. Not exactly what you'd call a classic cape-horner but again, they managed just fine.

‘Prati’, owned by our friends Carlos and Madeline. About 42 feet in length. This is the second boat that we know of to have come up from the bottom of the world. Lightweight modern catamaran with dagger boards and no keels. Foam sandwich construction. Not exactly what you’d call a classic cape-horner but they managed just fine, and came around the wrong way too! From Spain.

 

 

'Vagabond', owned by our friends Carine and Medi. 32 feet in length. Monohull. Steel construction. From France via the Panama Canal.

‘Vagabond’, owned by our friends Carine and Medi. 32 feet in length. Monohull. Steel construction. From France via the Panama Canal.

 

'El Nido'. Lightweight modern catamaram. Looks racy with those reverse-bows. From Belgium. Owned by Olivia and David who are cruising with their two young daughters. We've kindly been invited to spend a couple of days aboard with them while we take a cruise back to the island of Akamaru. Since the tides are no longer springs we can't get Bob into the anchorage there at the moment so we'll leave her in Rikitea and jump-ship.

‘El Nido’. Lightweight modern catamaram. Looks racy with those reverse-bows. From Belgium. Owned by Olivia and David who are cruising with their two young daughters. We’ve kindly been invited to spend a couple of days aboard with them while we take a cruise back to the island of Akamaru. Since the tides are no longer springs we can’t get Bob into the anchorage there at the moment so we’ll leave her in Rikitea and jump-ship.

 

'Argo'. Another very racy-looking boat with her open transom and what looks like a code-zero on a furler up forward. Monohull. About 42 feet in length.

‘Argo’. Another very racy-looking boat with her open transom and what looks like a code-zero on a furler up forward. Monohull. About 44 feet in length.

 

 

Here we have 'Mangaia' in the foreground and Sparrow in the background. Mangaia is no longer actively cruising. A french couple own her and sailed here a few years ago. They liked it so much that they stayed. We haven't met them, but our friends John and Jesse are house-sitting for them on Taravai while they are away. Mangaia is steel, ketch-rigged, monohull with a moderate draft, about 44 feet in length.

Here we have ‘Mangaia’ in the foreground and Sparrow in the background. Mangaia is no longer actively cruising. A French couple own her and sailed her here a few years ago. They liked it so much that they stayed. We haven’t met them, but our friends John and Jesse are house-sitting for them on Taravai while they are away. Mangaia is steel, ketch-rigged, monohull with a moderate draft, about 44 feet in length.

 

 

Here's a close-up of 'Sparrow', owned by John and Jesse. She's a contessa-26. 26 feet in length. GRP construction built in 1973. John and Jesse have sailed her here over the last two years from England. She will set sail in a week or so bound for New Zealand.

Here’s a close-up of ‘Sparrow’, owned by John and Jesse. She’s a contessa-26. 26 feet in length. GRP construction built in 1973. John and Jesse have sailed her here over the last two years from England. She will set sail in a week or so bound for New Zealand.

 

 

Finally, here are four boats: Sparrow in the foreground, followed by Mangaia, then Bob and finally Ohana, owned by our friend Chris, from New Zealand. 55 feet long, foam-sandwich construction but with fixed 'keels' this time rather than dagger-boards. He has just departed Gambier bound for Galapagos, via Pitcairn and Easter Island if the winds allow. We might be a little biased but we think Bob is the best-looking of the bunch :-)

Finally, here are four boats: Sparrow in the foreground, followed by Mangaia, then Bob and finally Ohana. Ohana is owned by our friend Chris. Catamaran. 55 feet long, foam-sandwich construction but with fixed ‘keels’ this time rather than dagger-boards. From New Zealand. The photograph is a little deceiving – Ohana is in fact a good 150 metres or so further away from the photographer than Sparrow. We might be a little biased but we think Bob is the best-looking of the bunch 🙂

 

So basically, if you’re wondering what boat you should go cruising in the answer is: the boat that you already own, or the one that you can reasonably afford.

6 Responses to Which Boat for Cruising?

  1. Definitely Bob has my vote for the best looks! Fascinating reading and photos are great! Never knew there were so many adventurers sailing these remote parts of our globe. XOXO

  2. Fascinating – as always, many thanks!
    Re probs with posting your photos, are they very large files?
    (If so, maybe try with lower-res versions?)
    The vicarious pleasure of reading your blog is becoming addictive… but do keep it up – you’re living the dream I’ve cherished for decades!
    🙂 Tony

  3. A long time coming for me to comment, but I think your conclusion is on the money. Equally, no matter what the ship / boat – it’s the crew which matters! Too bad you are with a Yorkie ………

  4. Bob’s sheer and your sheer hutzpah, are the best. Keep these blogs coming, including the ‘nautical boy’s stuff.

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