What Should You Look For in a Blue Water Cruising Boat?
You can either buy a new blue water cruising boat or a used one. They both have their pros and cons. Here, we will unravel the possibilities to get you started on your own list of potential cruising boats. The first part of the equation is always budget. You should be looking at purchase price and costs associated, like insurance and equipment upgrades, replacements, redundancies, and other options. Of course, you can't spend all your money on the boat. You are going to need the cruising kitty of funds that will propel you away from your home dock. The next consideration should be accommodation; how many people will be going cruising with you? If you are just a couple, you don't want to buy a boat that requires 3 or 4 crew to sail, right?
One thing to keep in mind is that cruising consists of passages and destinations. When it all adds up, the passages will be a small sliver of time. The majority of the time will be spent in anchorages and gunkholing from one spot to another once a destination is reached. So, while you want a good passage-making yacht, you also want one that will be comfortable and suit your lifestyle when you get there!
New Boat Purchase - There really is nothing like setting foot on a brand new cruising yacht. If your financial situation allows it, there are myiriad of choices to consider. Full disclosure: We are the Island Packet dealer in California. One of the reasons we chose this American made brand over all others is their long reputation for building deliberate cruising sailboats. This is particularly true in the under 40' range. Your enjoyment level increases with your confidence in the equipment. While you can cross oceans in just about any craft, (people do) sailing over the horizon in a boat you feel is fully capable, easy to reef and steer, shorthanded will win out in the long run. So, get as large a platform as you can afford. Keep in mind that with every foot of length added, the costs associated are exponential in every way. The big pros of starting with a new boat is you know everything is... new... especially the standing rigging and the engine. With proper care, you should have great confidence in them to help you do what you want; move forward!
Used Boat Purchase - While a new boat to cruise in sounds fabulous, many of us just can't afford a new boat to set us free from the constraints of a land-locked life. That's ok! The size of your wallet should not determine whether you go cruising or not. In fact, there are many used blue water cruising sailboats right now for less than half the price of a new boat the same size. In some cases, much, much less. The best way to start a search for a good used cruising boat is with a broker you can trust to have your best interests in place. Secondly, do not get wedded to one particular brand or model. Instead, let the broker guide you through the process. Was there a better boat available yesterday? Will there be a better boat tomorrow? Perhaps! When the broker locates a boat he feels meets your needs and you like what they present the next step is to get serious. A survey by a reliable professional will tell you everything you need to know about any boat choice. At the end of the survey you will know what needs to be repaired or replaced to be ready to cruise. This step actually gives you some negotiating power. Everybody involved will know the facts. Your broker will help you navigate this entire process which will their most important role they play in it.
Once the cruising yacht has been purchased the fun really begins. You get to make the boat yours. We recommend you walk before you run. Start with some day sailing. As you become more confident in your boat, take it out in less than ideal conditions and practice heavy weather, working with currents, heaving-to and all manner of cruising strategies. Next, go for a weekend. Then go for a long weekend. Finally, take a full week or more and make a passage. By this time you will have shook down your boat and yourself. You will find each of your limitations. Now it's time to plan the cruise! Where will you go on your cruise? We want to know!