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How to choose the boat…

Posted by on October 29, 2012

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had is trying to decide how to choose “the” boat. Foremost I have decided that it is extremely specific to the person(s) that will be sailing the boat. For instance, for me, I really needed lots of headroom. I’ve been on hundreds of boats, large and small, and everyone I owned I had to hunch over to pee. So, in my search, headroom (pun intended) became important for me. To be prepared to make the decision for other factors, though, I did a LOT of reading. I started with All in the Same Boat by Tom Neale and family years ago and never stopped. I must have read dozens of cruising books from how-to to romanticizing the lifestyle. I am a member of multiple cruisers forums online.

The Voyager’s Handbook was very influential for me because it presented the challenges from three points of view; bare bones, mid-range, and champagne styles of cruising. During my reading of this book I started to coalesce what type of cruiser I wanted to be. I wanted to be as self sufficient as possible. This means anchoring, not mooring or slip cruising.  It means growing vegetables and sprouts on-board, repairing where possible instead of replacing, and celestial navigation as a primary with GPS as a backup.

Most of all I learned that I want to do this as a lifestyle, and not as a singular adventure.

Knowing these things has helped me look for “the” boat. When I first started actively planning for this dream, I thought I wanted a nice fast light fin keel boat. That has changed now to looking at older proven bullet proof cruisers with loads of safety gear. Living aboard my Hunter 34 for a few years also helped shape my opinions as well.

Here’s some my list of features I’m looking at:

Strong full or fuller keel boat with good sea kindliness
Big, self draining cockpit
Windvane steering
Storage, storage, storage
Large deck room
Good downwind sail inventory
Good at sea and at anchor accommodations
Good ground tackle with electric/manual windlass
Solar/Wind/Engine Power generation with well planned battery bank
SSB with modem
Working area
Propane stove and oven
Swim platform
Easy access to engine for repairs
Good tankage/water and fuel

Some important books I’ve read and resources I’ve found:

The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising
Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat: A Guide to Essential Features, Handling, and Gear
Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair
Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual
Celestial Navigation DVD by William F. Buckley (informative and hilarious)

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