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March 2015 Cruising Tip: Hints on Choosing a First Offshore Cruising Boat

Posted by on March 3, 2015

There was a note in the Seven Seas Cruising Associate Newsletter a few years back, asking, “What hints would you give to someone who was looking for their very first offshore cruising boat.” When the next issue of the newsletter arrived I read some of the answers and felt that they reflected budgets and desires that could discourage any but relatively wealthy folks from thinking they could get out cruising. So, I compiled the following quick notes. This list originally appeared on the YachtPals site and was commented on by folks in a closed facebook cruising group this week. So I thought I would share these thoughts with you as they definitely relate to the newsletter I just posted. I also know this list reflects my experiences and some folks will disagree with me. But remember I am a woman who came to love sailing and enjoyed cruising with the same partner (Larry my husband) for over 45 years and 200,000 offshore miles. (I have had the experience of crossing oceans on boats ranging from 24 feet to 55 feet in length, sailed on boats up to 140 feet, and still enjoy and prefer cruising on those under 30 feet.) I hope you find these thoughts useful.


  1. Everyone will try to convince you the boat size they chose was the best and the gear they chose was absolutely necessary – after all if you buy the same it validates their choices.


  1. Length, size or displacement do not equal safety.  (Hal and Margaret Roth, Eric and Susan Hiscock, Gary “Cap’t Fatty” Goodlander and Carolyn, are just a three other couples who each cruised extensively and enjoyably for many years on boats 35 feet or less.)


  1. Seamanship, preparation, forethought and flexibility equal safety.


  1. The very best piece of safety equipment you can have is a skilled and willing crew.


  1. Not one woman I have met cruising on boats over 45 feet felt she could maneuver her boat into port or move it to a safer anchorage without help if her mate was debilitated.


  1. Work to make your boat un-stoppable, i.e. if something stops working such as the alternator, if the battery fails, even if the engine fails, you can still get water from your tanks, have navigation lights and reading lights, get your anchor up, your sails set and keep going onward until you reach a good place to do repairs.


  1. Learn to appreciate the pleasures and practicalities of sailing, have nylon sails that will keep your boat moving in light winds, practice using them and your engine becomes a true auxiliary instead of an absolute necessity.


  1. Security and comfort do not equal freedom and adventure.


Almost 45 years ago Larry first coined the motto:  Go small, go simple, go now. I add, if you wait until you can afford perfection, you might find you or your partner are no longer flexible enough or healthy enough to leave shore life and enjoy voyaging.  When we crossed the Pacific a few years ago, we found we could still have adventures with local people by slowing down, turning off the internet and being open to the locals. Our new friends Ruth and Duncan found the same thing applies this year. So come on out, the water is fine.

2 Responses to March 2015 Cruising Tip: Hints on Choosing a First Offshore Cruising Boat

  1. sailroo

    This is an excellent tip and one that rings very true for us. Admittedly our boat is very small at 22′ and we are not voyaging across oceans due to an aging dog but we get beat up all the time here in the Salish Sea due to our small simple boat. We live aboard full time and sail every chance we get, it always amazes us how many people around here don’t sail even when there is great wind. Most of the boats we see are motoring or motor sailing with their jib while the main is furled and covered. These are the sailors who usually tell us we are unprepared even though we feel fully prepared and use the boat 365 days a year in one way or another. We do have a small outboard motor but have a three minute rule for it and use it as little as possible. Even with our small boat we feel like we will never finish her but that didnt stop me from cutting the dock lines and sailing away nearly 2 years ago without a single penny to my name. We still sail the same waters and still feel like we are having more fun than any other couples we meet and yes we have found high paying short term jobs every where to keep us going. When the timing is right we will continue the voyage further afield and I’m sure people will continue to be critical of our small simple dream. For now its fresh crab, salmon and oysters all eaten as slowly as we sail and explore this beautiful inland sea. For anyone new to sailing I will add that our little boat has never let us down, we can carry 3 full months of provisions with room to spare and contrary to what some may have you believe we share the same sunsets as all those fortunate enough to sail mega yachts. The only difference between us and them is that when sunday rolls around and they all have to hurry of to return to work we are still out here taking in all in, one day at a time.

  2. John Petersen

    Thank you so much for all you have shared – instrumental for us in this exciting phase my wife and I are about to enter 🙂

    John and Pam Petersen
    Ventura, CA

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