If I told you that there was one particular monohull or catamaran that is absolutely perfect for cruising would you want to know which one it is? Unfortunately, there is no perfect cruising boat that suits everyone just like there’s no one-size-fits-all answer about what you should do with your life. Different people have different likes, dislikes, preferences, budgets, dreams, and aspirations.
One person’s perfect cruising boat will be another person’s very worst nightmare.
When helping our readers and Britican Club Members select a future cruising boat we first ask them to put aside any solid ideas they have regarding a particular boat.
Sure, it’s possible that the boat you currently like best is right for you, but what if it’s not?
What if the boat you’re considering actually doesn’t best suit your plans?
The first step to finding the right cruising boat is to define YOUR Big Picture. People often mistakingly think that getting the boat is the end goal. It’s actually not the boat – it’s what the boat will give you. Many people want freedom, an ability to see the world and perhaps a way to escape/retire from the rat race.
Interestingly I know many people that have bought a boat and failed to find freedom, were too afraid to leave the dock and transitioned from the rat race to an equally unfulfilling situation on a boat.
Unless you define what the boat will give you – the big picture – it’s almost impossible to find the RIGHT boat. By defining where you want to sail, who you want to sail with, what sailing conditions are preferable and what you want to spend your time doing once you have the boat, you can then work backward.
Let me give you some examples of how people can get it wrong.
I met a Canadian guy in Antigua on a 38’ light displacement monohull. He sailed the boat down from Toronto. He said that once he got into the Atlantic Ocean he realized that the boat was not big and heavy enough to handle the seas. During his journey, he determined that he definitely loved sailing but he got the wrong boat for the seas he wanted to sail in. He’s since then sold the boat and is looking for a larger heavy displacement boat.
Another example – A retired couple decided to sail around the world. They were sold a boat that was far too large for them to actually handle. The broker said they’d easily manage a 62’ blue water cruising boat. The broker was wrong. The couple’s requirement was that they could sail and maintaining the boat themselves but in the end, they bit off way more than they could chew. They quite quickly had to hire an extra crew.
They got the wrong boat for what they truly wanted to do.
One more example – While anchored in Puerto Rico I met a British Flagged sailboat that stopped over for a drink. I couldn’t believe it when they told me they were heading for America’s Intracoastal Waterway. The plan was to spend the season off the ocean and in the comfort of the calm inland waterway system. I felt terrible breaking the news to them that it wasn’t going to happen. Not only was their mast too high to make it under the bridges but their keel was far too deep to manage most of the waterway. It was the wrong boat for what they wanted to use it for.
As I say often if you don’t know exactly what you want and why you want it, a boat broker will sell you what they have (convincing you that it’s what you want).
There are very good boats that are more suitable for the Bahamas than others. There are other boats that are better for cooler regions and of course, there are boats best suited for the tropics. There are boats that are more stable for people that are less mobile and there are certainly boats better for big oceans.
Once you determine your big picture it is time to understand what type of boats best fit your requirements.
And then it’s a matter of looking at a variety of specifications to choose from. It’s important to look at as many boat elements as possible to determine what will be best for you and your crew.
For example, rigging style is a massive consideration. Do you want to be able to set sails and reef them (reduce the size) or pull them in from the comfort of the cockpit or are you okay with going up on the deck? What about having to pull a sail down on the foredeck in a storm?
Other considerations to think about are deck material, cockpit placement, galley layout, comfort factors, keel type and on the list goes. The more you understand which options are available and how each option impacts your big picture the easier it is to make a tick list that suits your needs.
If you’d like help to determine which boat is right for you (or you and your partner / you and your family), please consider joining our Britican Membership Club where Simon and I can be a sounding board.
We’re happy to discuss your big picture and help you look at potential boats to determine what might work and what might not.
Failing that, purchase a copy of our Sailboat Buying Guide here in our store (digital version only) or on Amazon.com (Kindle or Hardcopy). The guide provides an easy to follow 10 Steps To Buying A Sailboat outline including:
- Step 1: Understand Your Big Picture (12 Questions and loads of options to help you define EXACTLY what you’re aiming for)
- Step 2: Prioritizing Your Requirements For The Right Boat (35+ variables to consider that will make your boat the RIGHT cruising boat)
- Step 3: Understand Boat Ownership Costs (A list of over 90 potential cost areas broken down into costs to buy the boat, costs to get the boat ready for cruising and finally, costs to maintain and service the boat. It’s a great help for budgeting and making the unknown costs known.)
- Step 4: How To Study Different Sailboats & Cruisers (from home)
- Step 5: The Importance Of Getting Out Sailing & Gaining Experience
- Step 6: Finding Potential Boats To Buy & The Important Questions To Ask (At least 10 questions you should ask about the boat before spending any time making plans to view the boat)
- Step 7: Create A Strategy On Boats To Buy & View Them (A 50 point checklist on what to look at and why you’re looking at it)
- Step 8: Sea Trial & Survey (What to do during your sea trial)
- Step 9: Negotiating The Terms Of Sale (Don’t ever offer asking price!)
- Step 10: Buy The Boat (The process involved in taking possession of your new baby).
Visit our shop to get more information on our Sailboat Buying Guide
Are you planning to sail in the Caribbean?
Make sure to read Top 10 Must-Haves: The Best Boat For Cruising The Caribbean