Boat Selection

Selecting a cruising boat is one of the most important decisions in preparing for an offshore voyage and often is a pivotal point in the changing of dreams from "Let's take off and go cruising some time", into the reality of "Let's get outfitted and go". Obviously there isn't any single design perfect for everyone; the boat you choose should be safe, comfortable, well built, and ideally capable of fast passages and prove to be a good investment. The process of selecting and purchasing a boat for long distance cruising usually takes a minimum of six to 12 months. First you'll need to research boat types which suit your budget and cruising plans. Be patient, ask questions and learn everything you can and keep an open mind. If your plans are for coastal cruising you'll be able to consider a wider range of boats than those suited for long-distance ocean passages. Secondly you'll need to locate, examine, survey, test sail, complete the purchase transaction and possibly ship or deliver your new boat to a place convenient for outfitting.
If you make a poor choice you may be plagued with structural problems, leaks, slow uncomfortable passages, endless repairs and a low resale price. I mention resale price now, because the money used for purchasing a cruising boat often represents a substantial part of many people's life savings. Although sailboats are rarely a "good" investment in strictly monetary terms, you'll want to recoup as much of your original purchase price as possible when it comes time to sell.

Size and Cost
Two of the most important points to remember when selecting a boat are size and cost. The size of boat you select will affect your cruising costs, not only in initial purchase and outfitting, but also in cruising expenses once you're under way. Few people realize that outfitting a stock boat for long distance cruising can easily take 30% to 50% more than the initial purchase price. On a 40' new or used boat, this can mean an additional $20,000 to $50,000 just for essential equipment including additional sails, ground tackle, liferaft, safety gear and tender. This amount excludes optional equipment such as refrigeration, electronics, outboard motors, scuba gear and autopilots.
Here is a common scenario: you overspend on the initial purchase of the boat, spend more money on equipment that isn't essential and then run short of funds once you've completed your initial provisioning and have actually started cruising.
A better approach, if you're working within a fixed budget, is to spend less on the initial purchase by either purchasing a well-built used boat or a smaller new boat. Purchase the priority equipment first, provision the boat (or set aside $2,000 for it), set aside an average of $700 to $1,800 (for a couple) per month for the period of time you want to cruise. Then see if there is enough money left for the expensive, non-essential but "sure would be nice to have" equipment.
From my observations and experience, the majority of boats cruising for a year or longer are sailed by couples, and a boat in the 35' to 45' size range works out best, particularly if they are new to sailing. The cost, time and energy required to maintain a 50' to 60' boat versus a 35' boat once you're "out there" cruising is significantly higher.
When I started cruising the South Pacific in 1974 on a Vega 27, there were many cruisers on shoestring budgets, open-ended cruises on boats under 35'. Today we are seeing people cruising faster on larger boats, covering a lot of countries in a shorter time with a planned cruising time frame. It is no longer an open-ended lifestyle choice, but one that most people experience for two to three years before moving on to the next phase of their life.
In general, the median length of cruising boats has been increasing steadily. This may correspond with an increase budget of many cruisers due to the strong stock market and economic climate and the development and improvement of sail-handling systems including furling mainsails and electric winches.

Crew
People cruising on larger boats may have to depend on finding pick-up crew in different ports in order to safely manage their boat on ocean passages and keep their insurance valid. Crew difficulties are one of the most persistent and common problems on cruising boats. It's easy to find friends and family members excited about sailing with you when you first leave your home port. As you get further away from home airfares become more expensive, it becomes expensive and time consuming co-ordinating the logistics of crew arrival and departure. You might also find that you may not be comfortable trusting your boat and life to people whom you don't know well.
You must be prepared to singlehand your boat. Seasickness or illness may incapacitate you or your partner, leaving one person to handle everything. Safety dictates a boat with manageable-sized sails, a totally dependable wind-vane self-steering system and a powerful electric autopilot. Fatigue is the number one cause of short-handed or singlehanded boats being lost on the rocks or reefs while making landfall; so it becomes essential that you are able to handle your boat without help, and that you realize your abilities and limitations. If you are considering a boat over 42' and aren't as strong as you used to be, consider adding electric winches, furling headsail(s) and possibly a furling mainsail.

Purchasing Options
1. New Production Boat: Because of a real shortage of quality ocean-cruising boats in the 3-10 year old range, and the high cost and amount of time involved in upgrading a solid 10+ year old boat, purchasing a new production boat is more attractive now than it has been for many years.
Example: if you purchase a 15 year old boat for $80,000 and spend $50,000 replacing engine, sails, wiring, tanks, rigging, electronics and epoxy bottom job using 1-2 years of potential cruising time in the process, you end up with a 17 year old boat, probably worth around $90,000.
A better choice might be a new boat that costs more initially but returns closer to 100% of your investment. You will be out cruising 1-3 years earlier with fewer mechanical breakdowns. For a confirmation of this, read Tom Neale's articles in Cruising World of the unending breakdowns and repairs of his old Gulfstars and Dan Spurr's articles in Practical Sailor of all the years and money he has spent upgrading his old Tartan 44, Viva.
Some people use the justification that since they have rebuilt every system on their boat, they now can fix them in some distant port. I personally would rather spend that time cruising than with my head down in the bilge fixing something that I overhauled a year earlier!
If you buy the right boat, keep it in top condition while you're cruising, you'll find a line-up of folks wanting to purchase it when you've completed your cruise.

2. Custom Built: Having a boat custom or semi-custom built generally takes considerably more time and money than planned. Resale value on a custom boat may not be as strong as on a well-known quality production boat as people aren't as familiar with it.

3. Used Boat: Compromise is important in selecting the right used boat. Chances are you may not find any boat in your price range that exactly meets all of your criteria so be prepared to be flexible and keep an open mind as you learn more about what makes a safe and comfortable offshore boat. You may go into your boat search thinking that you absolutely must have a heavy displacement double-ender with a long bowsprit and a centerline queen berth, for example. After educating yourself, you may decide that these are not necessarily criteria that add to comfort or safety at sea.
Cruising equipment adds very little to the selling price of used boats, you may find a boat that has already been outfitted and cruised, saving you tens of thousands of dollars.
The easiest way to find a quality used boat is to locate a professional and knowledgeable broker who has offshore sailing experience and who will work with you to find a suitable boat. Some less knowledgeable or scrupulous brokers will try and sell you whatever boat is easiest. A broker can use the BUC computer listing network and various publications to locate appropriate boats on a regional and national basis. Spend time clearly communicating your purchase time frame, budget, and personal priorities with the broker. Be honest and don't waste their time. If you need to first sell your house or won't be able to make a purchase for some time, let them know up that in your initial discussion.

4. Home Built: Home building makes the least sense unless you are an experienced boat builder and are not concerned about time and expenses. Home-built boats generally end up costing more than a well-built used boat, are usually much more difficult to sell when you've completed your cruise frequently have a lower resale value than a comparable production boat.

Survey
Have the boat carefully and thoroughly surveyed by a marine surveyor experienced in offshore boats. It is best if you research and choose the surveyor, rather than hiring a surveyor recommended by the seller or yacht broker. Ask to see examples of previous surveys. You want to hire a surveyor who has no vested interest in the transaction, other than making sure that the boat you're considering is safe and a good investment for you.
If you consider purchasing a boat in a different part of the country and have a surveyor you trust, consider flying the surveyor with you. Marine insurance companies and banks are often able to recommend surveyors whose opinions they trust.
On larger, more expensive boats, many buyers will also pay for individual surveys of engines, electrical systems, sails and occasionally rigging. Most marine surveyors do not thoroughly cover these items in a typical survey.

Market Trends
Used boat prices vary geographically and tend to be lowest in areas of the country experiencing economic downturn and weak real estate markets. If people can't sell their property, they are less likely to be able to afford to purchase and outfit a boat for extended cruising.
In recent years have firmed up substantially nationally, and we are hearing few tales of "stealing" good used cruising boats for 20% to 30% below asking or BUC Used Boat Guide prices. Brokers on both coasts are mentioning a real shortage of good ten-year-old or less cruising boats in the $60,000 to $180,000 price range. This shortage will become more acute.
Points to Remember when Considering Boats from Different Regions:
Florida
boats tend to be less expensive than boats in other regions, but the higher humidity and salt really take their toll. When I was boat shopping in Florida, I found that many of the boats I looked at had been sitting for some time, often unattended. In several cases the owners had run out of time, money or interest and had parked the boat with a broker and returned to Europe or the Northeast.
New England and the Great Lakes are excellent regions to shop for a cruising boat. A ten-year-old boat that has been dry stored in a low humidity, low salt environment for seven months each year will often be in much better condition than a five-year-old Florida boat.
Southern California has a very limited inventory of offshore capable cruising boats. The light air and generally moderate sea conditions and temperature mean that less-expensive and more lightly constructed coastal cruisers dominate the market.
Pacific Northwest prices are higher and inventory of good offshore-capable boats is scarce because of many years of a booming economy.
Canadian prices are good and inventory particularly in the Great Lakes area is worth looking at.

Purchasing a Boat Overseas
The present currency exchange rates have made purchasing a boat overseas somewhat attractive. Prices of identical cruising boats may be slightly lower in Europe at this time. New Zealand and Australia have some quality cruising boats for sale at attractive prices, but as these are small run production boats, few people in North America are familiar with these boats and they may be difficult to resell. If you're interested in cruising specific areas such as Scandinavia, the Med, French canals or New Zealand and aren't interested in the long passages, purchasing a boat on location may be a good choice.
If you're considering purchasing a boat overseas and plan to sail it back to the U.S., try and select a well-known builder who has dealers in the States. You'll find it much easier to sell a well-known boat for a reasonable price. Any U.S. Embassy will be able to provide you with temporary documentation papers if you're purchasing and planning to cruise a boat in another country.

Shipping and Commissioning
When trying to decide whether or not it is logical to purchase a boat out of your area, make sure to factor in all shipping and commissioning costs.
The approximate costs for shipping a 35' and 42', sailboat with a beam of no more than 12' and a trailer height of under 14'. Boats with beam in an excess of 12' will require a pilot car at $1.00 per mile in some states. Add approximately $200 for trucking insurance rider, and $1000 to $2000 for decommissioning and recommissioning, depending how much of the work you do yourself.
Florida to New York or Los Angeles to Seattle: $2815 $3069
Annapolis to Seattle or Seattle to Florida: $6800 $7600
Wisconsin to Seattle: $4000 $4600
The cost of shipping a 35' boat from Europe or New Zealand to the U.S. is $12,000 to $15,000.

DO YOU NEED HELP SELECTING A CRUISING BOAT?
Please consider joining us for our Weekend Offshore Cruising Symposium where we spend several hours helping participants locate the best cruising boats available within their budgets.
If you aren't able to attend, another option is our Boat Purchase Consultation. For $300 we will work with you as long as needed to suggest and locate the best possible boat. Many times we are able to recommend boats from our past Symposium or Expedition members who have completed their cruise and are offering their boats cruise-ready. This can provide you with a substantial savings.
John Neal, sailing@mahina.com

Boat Selection Checklist

Design
If at all possible, contact the designer before purchasing. Relatively few boats were actually designed for ocean passage making. You will need to learn if the boatbuilder followed the designer's construction criteria. Some Taiwanese-built yachts advertised as being designed by Robert Perry or Doug Peterson may actually be pirated designs where the designer has not been paid a royalty and the builder may have tried to save money by reducing structural integrity. None of the Taiwan yards employing this practice are still in business today.

Builder
If the yard is still in business it can be quite helpful for purchasing some parts and assemblies, but is by no means essential. If they are still in business, call and ask them about the boat you're considering. Have the hull number and date of manufacture ready.
You may find that boats built by a yard that is still in business sell for higher prices than boats where the builder has gone out of business.
As an example, friends of mine had a Southern Cross 35 built for them by Ryder Yachts in 1985. After a successful Pacific circumnavigation and the arrival of two lovely daughters, they decided to move up to a Morris 46. They related that the Morris 36 which they were considering when they ordered the Southern Cross then cost $20,000 more but is now worth approximately $160,000 compared to a value of $75,000 for the Southern Cross today. Morris is still in business building excellent boats; Southern Cross went under not long after my friends boat was completed.
If you're considering purchasing a new boat, check the financial condition of the company. Some builders are just barely staying in business and may use your deposit money to complete another person's boat. This only works as long as the deposits are coming in!

Sailing Performance
You'll sure appreciate a design that offers good sailing performance and ease of handling the more miles you sail.
Few potential cruisers think of passage-making speed as important criteria in choosing an ocean cruising boat. After my considerable years and miles of ocean cruising, it is now high on my personal list of priorities. The shorter your passages, the less exposure you have to heavy weather conditions. A boat with good sailing performance requires less motoring and fuel, is faster, more responsive and fun to sail in the light air conditions so common worldwide.
Windward sailing performance is nearly as important as passage-making speed. A design that has graceful overhangs and a shorter waterline will often tend to hobbyhorse or pitch when sailing to windward into a chop. Upwind passages back home may be impossible or extremely difficult. On the other extreme, a very modern, light displacement boat with a flat entry may tend to pound when sailing to windward and may lack directional stability when sailing downwind with large following seas. The ability to sail off a lee shore in an emergency is dependent on windward performance.
Negative Design Aspects to be Avoided
Long bowsprits
, which often prove to be a liability when anchoring, changing headsails or maneuvering in close quarters.
Low freeboard may indicate a design that will ship a lot of spray and water on ocean passages.
Excessive freeboard may cause poor windward performance and a tendency to "sail" back and forth at anchor.
A small amount of weather helm as the wind increases is desirable, but an excessive amount which cannot be decreased by sail trim or rig tuning may mean that a boat will be difficult to steer by hand, windvane or autopilot.
If the design is excessively tender, you'll have to get used to living, cooking, navigating and sleeping at 25 to 30 degrees angle of heel every time you are sailing to windward, something you may find fatiguing. A comfortable motion at sea is very important.
A vessel with a short waterline and long, graceful overhangs often tends to hobbyhorse when to sailing to windward and may lack directional stability when sailing downwind in a large following sea.

A Comfortable Home
This is just as important as each of the above points, because a boat may have the best sailing characteristics in the world, but if your partner views it as a deep, dark, damp, unattractive place to live, you'll either be singlehanding or giving up your cruising dreams.
Remember most cruisers are at sea less than a quarter of the time, so comfort at anchor is also very important.

Storage Capacity
Space for the for additional sails, tankage, food, lines, spare parts, medical and safety supplies that are required for extensive cruising is important. On some boats valuable storage space under the settees and berths is filled with tankage that could have been designed under the cabin sole.

Weight Carrying Capacity
A purpose-designed cruising boat will be able to carry the additional weight of three anchors, a windlass and several hundred pounds of chain, as well as additional water (8 lbs. per gallon) and fuel (6 lbs. per gallon), a liferaft, dinghy and outboard. You'll be adding several thousand pounds of equipment, so if the boat you're considering is already on her waterline before you start loading cruising gear you may end up several inches below the designed waterline. On some designs this may be a dangerous problem. Boats that handle the weight the best are not real narrow at the waterline beam and have transom sterns without excessive overhangs.

Mulithull vs Monohull
Multihulls advantages include very little heeling or rolling and tremendous interior volume and deck space, making them great for living aboard and chartering in tropical climes. Another distinct advantage is that multihulls don't sink if holed, unlike ballasted monohulls. Their disadvantages for offshore cruising are that they are more weight-sensitive to overloading, they may be uncomfortable going upwind into a head sea and under extremely rare instances they can capsize.

Underbody Design
In the past, cruisers assumed a full-keel design with attached rudder was the only design for ocean voyaging. I have cruised on four different modern full-keel boats, plus on a boat with a longish keel and separate full-skeg and rudder. Our present boat has a partial skeg and for me the trade off of less protection is worth the ease of steering and added maneuverability.
Types of Underbodies
1. Skeg Protected Rudder,
detached from the keel is well suited for long distance cruising. The skeg protects the rudder to some degree, and may increase directional stability. Examples of this type of design: Valiants, Crealock 34, 37, 40, 44. There are many suitable, well-built boats of this design type and they are a popular choice for long distance ocean cruising.

2. Partial-Skeg Rudders can be semi-balanced which is like having power steering. This type of rudder generally has three bearings, making it sturdier than a free-standing rudder which often has only two bearings. Examples include Morris 44, 46 and the Frers designed Hallberg-Rassys providing some protection from logs and debris and a third rudder bearing and more strength than a spade rudder. Having the skeg extend only partway down the rudder means that the rudder is semi-balanced. This greatly reduces the amount of effort required to steer the boat. It is almost like power steering and means that not only hand steering, but also steering under autopilot or windvane is much easier and that there is much less loading on the steering system.

3. Modern Cutaway Full Keel, with attached rudder and moderate displacement is another good choice for cruising in isolated areas where groundings or scrapes are common and the nearest shipyard may be thousands of miles away. The cutaway forefoot is a faster, more maneuverable design that will have fewer tendencies to trip or broach when running under storm conditions than a traditional Tahiti ketch type of full keel boat. Having the rudder mounted slightly above and protected by the full length of the keel and the propeller enclosed in an aperture offer the best protection against damage from collision with submerged or floating objects. Careening or hauling out in primitive boatyards is easy with this type of design. Examples include: Island Packet, Mason, Cape Dory, Freya 39, Nicholson 31, Endurance 35.

4. Fin Keel/Spade Rudder is the fastest and most maneuverable design for racing and is the easiest and least expensive underbody to build. Some designs featuring a deep, high aspect keel may exhibit a lack of steering directional stability when ocean swells are present. The unprotected spade rudder is vulnerable to being damaged by groundings or hard impact with objects. There are several very successful cruising designs that have a longer, substantially supported keel (not a thin, high-aspect keel) and strong rudderstocks. Some examples are the Sundeer and Deerfoots, Niagara 31, 35, 42, Cal 40, and Sabre Yachts. If your cruise plans involve high latitude sailing or gunkholing in remote areas, you will need to be more cautious with this type of design.

5. Heavy Displacement Full-Keeled Double-Enders based on Tahiti ketch or Norwegian lifeboat lines used to be a nearly automatic choice for long distance voyaging. However, yacht design has made some great advances in the past 40 years, and you may choose to take advantage of these improvements which make for faster, more comfortable passages, and smaller, more easily handled sail plans without resorting to bowsprits and boomkins.
Having said that, there are plenty of folks happily cruising on their Westsail 32s and Hans Christians content that they have the best design for their cruising lifestyle. There is not one design or style of cruising that suits everyone.

Hull Construction Material
1. Fiberglass is the least maintenance-intensive material for cruising boats, but construction quality varies greatly from one builder to the next. The majority of fiberglass boats were never designed or built for extended ocean sailing and may eventually start falling apart if pressed into this type of service. The other extreme are designs that are so heavily built and overweight and do not have the sailing performance which makes for fast and comfortable passages.
Pearson Vanguards, Tritons and Alberg 35's are examples of very well built, reasonably priced earliest production fiberglass boats. After 35 years these boats are still going strong.
Hull thickness doesn't necessarily translate into strength. A thick hull with a high resin to glass ratio may actually be more brittle than a thinner hull where the resin has been carefully squeezed out.
Some builders have a history of serious osmotic blister problems. In some cases blistering may be serious enough to require removal and replacement of part of the hull laminate, which can be quite expensive. A knowledgeable surveyor will be an excellent resource and may recommend looking for a different boat if the blisters are deep and extensive.
If the hull is balsa-cored and the core material becomes saturated because of improperly installed thru-hulls, or if the boat has "gone on the beach" you may want to look at a different boat because of the cost of repairs and potential for future problems.
Foam-coring provides excellent insulation above the waterline but there can be problems with water absorption if coring is used below the waterline.
Read Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats by Henry C. Mustin, International Marine, 1994 for a clear and concise view of hull and deck design, structure, and condition

2. Steel is an excellent boatbuilding material, andis frequently the choice of sailors who have done extensive offshore cruising. The impact resistance and total watertightness of the hull, deck and fittings is an advantage over other materials. With sandblasting and the new epoxy coatings, steel takes less time to maintain than it used to, although it still requires more time and cost to maintain than a fiberglass boat. Many of the steel boats on the North American market are owner-built hard-chine designs. Although strong and stiff, they are not particularly fast or attractive to many person's tastes. A poorly-built steel boat will have places on the inside of the hull that will trap water and rust through from the inside out. Access to every part of the interior of the hull makes checking for corrosion and painting much easier.
Some attractive, modern steel cruising boats are the Waterline Yachts built in Sidney, BC, Brewer-designed Goderich 35, 37 and 41 built in Ontario; and the Amazon 37 and 44 which were built in Vancouver, BC.

3. Aluminum boats are generally lighter and faster than steel boats, have less impact resistance and may be more difficult to have repaired in remote shipyards. Painted aluminum boats often tend to develop paint blisters after four to five years of serious cruising, requiring an expensive repainting job if you want a perfectly fair and shiny hull. There are dozens of unpainted French aluminum boats cruising the world, and although you may not find their concrete-colored oxidized aluminum hulls attractive, they are strong and practical. Aluminum suffers from electrolysis more severely than steel; if you're cruising on an aluminum boat you'll need to be very careful when moored in electrically "hot" marinas. Quality aluminum builders include Kanter in Ontario and Topper Hermanson in Florida.

4. Wood boats often offer a lower purchase price, although the cost and time involved in keeping them in good shape is more than with other materials. If you have a limited budget, and don't mind the additional work, a well-built wooden boat may be a good choice. It may be difficult to find long-distance offshore insurance for traditionally built wooden cruising boats.
Perhaps because there are so many potential sources of problems on wooden boats in the tropics we see fewer of them long distance cruising each year. There is the special warmth and appeal of wood that some people find irresistible, whether or not it takes more care and maintenance.
Modern wood epoxy saturation (WEST System) technique produces boats that are lighter, stronger and often faster than traditionally built boats and have a better chance of being insurable for ocean cruising. The best areas to find modern cold-molded boats are in the Northwest, New England and New Zealand.

5. Ferrocement is the only material that has no advantages other than inexpensive construction materials. It is the most labor-intensive material to build with, is difficult to finance, insure or repair, and has the lowest impact resistance of any material. Having said this, I have met two cement cruising boats that have completed two and three circumnavigations respectively.

Keels
Most cruising boats run aground at one time or another, and sometimes at speed. Some keel designs are better suited to withstanding a hard grounding without damage.
A longer keel with external lead ballast attached to a substantial stub that is an integral part of the hull absorbs groundings well. When external ballast is used, keel bolts attaching the keel to the hull must be accessible, and keel loading must be spread out through the floor system.
Another option is internal lead ballast that is lowered into the keel cavity and then heavily fiberglassed over. Internal lead ballast eliminates some potential problems with keel attachment, but check closely during survey for any voids or water penetration in the keel area between the ballast and fiberglass. Read Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats for more details.

Cast iron or mixtures of iron and cement are less desirable ballast materials, resulting in a boat that heels more quickly and has less room for tankage in the keel.
Centerboards and lifting keels are an option if you're plans include more coastal cruising than ocean voyaging, but the increased complexity and lowered stability are drawbacks.
High aspect deep and short fin keels (in a fore and aft measurement) are best suited for racing boats. Running hard aground can result in damage to the area where the trailing edge of the keel meets the hull and can cause leaks around the keel bolts.
Wing keels have a shape similar to a Bruce anchor and can be very difficult to refloat when run aground in sand or mud.

Deck Construction
The deck surface must provide adequate non-skid without being overly abrasive on bare knees. If you plan on living aboard or cruising in non-tropical areas, insulated decks will reduce condensation and moisture.
Teak decks look great at the boat show, but on older boats improperly laid decks will present additional leak potential and maintenance.
If teak decking was laid over plywood there can be serious problems once the boat is over approximately 8-12 years old. If the plywood core material is not marine grade or if insufficient bedding compound used, you may end up with the core material becoming saturated and many small deck leaks where the screws are.
Many of the less-expensive Taiwan builders of the '70's and '80's used random bits of plywood as deck coring material, with filler between the wood scraps. When water penetrates this core material, repairs are often expensive and very time consuming. Check with any marine surveyor to verify this.
I would recommend having a surveyor look very carefully at any boat older than eight years with balsa-cored decks. Unless the core has been eliminated in favor of a solid laminate where stanchion bases, genoa tracks, cleats and other deck fittings are placed, water will penetrate the balsa sooner or later, and repairs may be extensive and expensive.
If the boat has foam-cored decks, the marine surveyor will check all horizontal surfaces carefully for voids or delaminating by tapping with a small hammer.

Rigs
The majority of long distance cruisers are choosing sloop or cutter rigs. Dependable furling headsails and mainsails have meant that cruising couples are able to easily handle cutter or sloop rigged boats in the 40' to 50' range. Many cruisers are adding a removable inner forestay on a sloop on which they can set a storm staysail once they have furled or dropped their working headsail.
I don't have any hard and fast rules that apply to my choice of rig. I used to think that I would not like a ketch rig, but after seven years and 70,000 miles on my previous boat that was ketch-rigged, I changed my mind. I appreciated the flexibility of the rig and the ability to drop half the total sail area (the mainsail) in less than a minute without having to resort to a furling mainsail.

Hull to Deck Joint
There are several methods of attaching the hull and deck of fiberglass boats.
When there are bolts and nuts or screws protruding through on the inside of the hull to the deck joint, a mechanical clamp joint is relying on the bond of a sealant adhesive (3M 5200 is often used) to stop leaks. After 10 to 12 years and several thousand miles of ocean sailing the sealant/adhesive loses some of its elasticity. Due to the working of the boat and the different climatic conditions the toerail and hull expand, contract and flex at different rates eventually weakening the bond, allowing water to follow the bolt or screw threads down, and drip on the inside of your lockers.
Two Methods of Solving Caprail Leaks
Remove the teak cap rail or aluminum extruded toerail and clean and re-bed each bolt.
Radius the inside of the joint with epoxy and microballoons and then lay several layers of fiberglass tape over the inside of the joint, totally sealing it and strengthening the area at the same time.

Bulkhead Attachment
Bulkheads must be securely attached to the hull. On a fiberglass boat they need to be substantially glassed to the hull on both sides and to the deck with multiple layers of tape. Some builders skimp on this, gluing bulkheads in instead, but once their boats have made several ocean passages, bulkheads and interior wooden cabinetry may come unbonded from the hull, allowing the hull to flex more than it should. The repair is messy, involving grinding and fiberglassing in some difficult to reach areas.
Internal stiffening systems (grid floor systems, and/or full-length and transverse glass over foam (not wooden) stringers) contribute greatly to the stiffness and rigidity of a boat. If the interior woodwork is just glued or lightly attached to a hull liner pan or to the hull, you may find it breaking loose after a few thousand miles of ocean sailing. Access to hull and deck areas is often restricted when fiberglass liners and pans are used in construction, making equipment installation and leak stopping difficult. From a manufacturing standpoint, hull liners are less expensive, but you won't find them on top-end ocean cruising designs.

Chainplate Load Transmission
The loading from chain plates must be evenly transmitted to bulkheads and structural members below deck to avoid lifting or distorting the deck. Separate chainplates for forward, upper and aft shrouds provides more stability for the mast and reduces the chance of deck loading distortion. External chainplates (fastened to the outside of the hull) look salty but may eventually leak and need to be re-bedded. They also can restrict the jib sheeting angle.

Mast Support System
Deck stepped masts work well, but only if proper structural members transmit the load to the keel. Otherwise deflection and possibly delaminating under the mast occur. With keel stepped masts, inspect for corrosion at the base of the mast. Check the mast for trueness.

Steering System and Position
Some sailors prefer tillers on boats under 35' as there is less to go wrong and installing most windvane steering systems is less complicated than with wheel steering.
If the boat you're considering has wheel steering, hopefully the system was built by a reputable company like Edson or Whitlock where you're assured of quality components and that you'll always be able to spare parts if needed. Many Taiwanese-built steering systems suffer from poor initial design, inferior bronze castings and rudders that aren't able to hold up to the stresses of ocean sailing. This isn't a problem on the more expensive boats like Norseman, Taswell, Mason and Little Harbor.
The location of the steering position is also important. If the wheel is mounted at the far aft end of the cockpit, it may be very hard to design a dodger that will provide protection to the helmsperson without resorting to a long, potentially unseaworthy design.

Transoms
The ideal stern for a cruising boat includes a built-in swim step on a slightly reversed transom stern. An overly large, sugar-scoop stern may prove a liability in a heavy following sea. Double enders may look salty, but the loss of valuable, hard-to-replace lazarette storage area and buoyancy aft must be taken into consideration. Most double enders have a tendency to "squat" in the stern and hobbyhorse sailing to windward when loaded with cruising gear.

Engine
Being able to maintain at least six knots under power will get you in most passes and channels at the time of least current. A rule of thumb is two horsepower per thousand pounds of displacement for a sufficiently powered cruising sailboat. Purists may say that this is excessive, but in my experience it has been an advantage to have sufficient power to deal with currents and the ability to motorsail to windward for short distances into steep chop when necessary.
Points to Consider in an Engine:
How good is everyday access?
Can the engine be removed if necessary for rebuilding without having to destroy the cockpit or companionway?
Is there an engine hour meter and logbook showing maintenance history?
What is the fuel consumption and range under power? 600-800 miles minimum under power for long distance cruising where fuel may not be available for months at a time is only a minimum, from my experience.

Ideally the boat you are considering will have a common make of engine that will be easy to find parts and service for in less-developed cruising areas.
Examples of engines which may be difficult to obtain parts for are BMW, Isuzu, Mercedes, Pisces, Pathfinder, Bukh and to a lesser extent, Yanmar.
Best manufactures for worldwide parts availability are Volvo, Perkins, Caterpillar, and Cummins.
When I bought my Hallberg Rassy 31, I thought the 25 hp diesel engine was excessive for a displacement of only 9,500 lbs, but the top speed of 7.2 knots, cruising speed of 6.5 knots and maximum range under power at 5 knots of 1,200 to 1,500 miles proved useful.
My 42' ketch displaced 25,000 pounds and was powered with a 62 hp engine which proved very adequate in areas like Patagonia, Antarctica and Alaska where conditions dictated powering for weeks at a time, encountering strong currents and tidal rips and fierce catabatic winds daily.
My present 48', 36,000 lb boat has a 95 hp. motor which provides an 8.3 knot top speed, and a 1,500 mile range at more economical 6 knots. I have supplemented standard fuel tankage with jerry jugs stowed in cockpit lockers with each of these boats.

Key Points to Remember
Realistically assess your needs
in terms of size of boat and amount of equipment. If you're outfitting and cruising on a budget, remember the KISS formula. More complicated systems mean more money and maintenance, repairs and spare parts to track down. Think moderate in terms of displacement and sail area. You'll want to hire a surveyor who has no vested interest in the transaction, other than making sure that the boat you're considering is safe and a good investment for you. Marine Insurance companies and banks are often able to recommend surveyors whose opinions they trust.
If possible, find and talk with people that own sisterships to the boats you're considering. Cruising world Magazine's "Another Opinion" Service (1.900.988.2275 or 5 John Clarke Rd., Newport, RI 02840) is an excellent resource. Practical Sailor also has a same-day fax service of comprehensive 3-7 page evaluations of more than 80 different boats for $3.50 per page and several excellent books, 203.661.4802.
Sail on as many different designs as possible and take notes on the features you like an dislike, noting pluses and minuses of each. This can be done by joining a sailing club or chartering. If you are quite convinced that you want a specific boat, a one-week charter on a sistership will be a sound investment.
Don't overspend on initial purchase price; save at least 40% to 50% of your total budget for outfitting, provisioning and cruising funds.

Suggested Reading
Practical Sailor's Practical Boat Buying
, Volumes 1 & 2 from Belvoir Publications, P.O. Box 2626, Greenwich, CT 06836-2626 for $39.95 each or $59.95 for both. Also available from Armchair Sailor.
Practical Sailor July 2001 issue has an excellent list of cruising boat prices between $5,000 and $200,000 which is still surprisingly accurate.
Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats - Henry C. Mustin, International Marine, 1994
Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts - John Rousmaniere

 

Boats to Consider for Offshore Cruising

Updated April 2002

 

Through our Weekend Offshore Cruising Seminars and personal consultation I have helped thousands of sailors locate the best ocean cruising boats for their planned voyages and budget. If you need knowledgeable, experienced (196,000+ ocean miles) and unbiased advise from someone who has no financial interest in the boat you select perhaps I can help. Details on www.mahina.com/consult.html or by contacting John Neal at Mahina Expeditions, sailing@mahina.com, tel 360.378.6131.

 

Able 32, 42, 48

*

USA

Superb quality, expensive. Chuck Paine designs.

Alajuela 33

*

USA

Good value, well built.

Alberg 30, 35, 37

*

USA

Early f /g boats. Well proven, not expensive. Narrow, short waterlines, graceful overhangs.

Alden 38, 43, 44, 46, 48, 54, 58

 

USA

Classy, well built, beautiful & expensive.

Allied 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 39, 42

*

USA

Good value. Functional, practical.

Amel 36‑53

  www.amel.fr

 

FRA

Strong, well designed. Excellent passagemaker, great value. Low maintenance.

Amazon 29, 37, 44

*

CAN

Steel boats, attractive modern designs.

Amphitrite 43

*

FRA

Waquiez built, strong & roomy with good storage. Odd deck design, but great boat and good value.

Annie 28

*

USA

Every boat built by Morris is a work of art!

Bayfield 29, 30‑32, 40

*

CAN

Good value. A bit “plasticy” interiors but ok.

Bluewater 60

*

USA

Modern, top quality Chuck Paine design.

Bowman 36‑58

*

ENG

Strong boats. Excellent passagemakers.

Brewer 42

*

CAN

Improved version of Whitby 42.

Bristol 27‑45

*

USA

Good boats. Later models were better quality.

Bristol Channel Cutter 28

 

USA

Well built, not my personal choice. Good company.

Cabot 36

*

CAN

Ted Brewer design.

Cal 2‑30, 34, 36, 39, 40, 2‑46, 3‑46, 48

*

USA

Bill Lapworth designs. Many 2-46’s have circumnavigated. Comfortable, reasonably priced but look very carefully at bulkhead attachment.

Caliber 28, 33, 35, 38, 40.

  www.caliberyacht.com

 

USA

Fairly well‑built. Michael McCreary designs.

The 47 is not an attractive boat.

Cambria 40, 44, 46

*

USA

Fast, well‑built, gorgeous, expensive and rare.

Camper Nicholson 31, 32, 35, 38, 39, 40, 43, 47, 56, 58, 70

*

ENG

Out of business except for shipbuilding. Watch for serious blister problems on all models.

Cabo Rico 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 45, 47,  www.caborico.com

 

CRI

Crelock and Paine designs. Expensive, semi custom. Watch for soggy balsa core on earlier boats.

Cape Dory ‑ all models

*

USA

All models are well designed & built but have small interiors.

Cape George Cutters 31, 36, 38

 

USA

Some owner completed. Strong & fast.

Cascade 36, 42

 

USA

1965‑67 design still being built. Fairly narrow.

Cherubini 44, 48, 62

*

USA

Semi‑custom boats. Beautiful, great sailing

& expensive

Contessa 26 & 32

*

CAN, ENG

Tania Aebi & B.J. Caldwell both circumnavigated in 26's.

Contest 31, 35, 36, 38, 40, 41, 42, 44, 46, 48, 55, 60

  www.contestyacts.com

 

HOL

More common in Europe. Well built, new boats are very attractive.

Countess 44 by Pearson

*

USA

Ancient John Alden design. Will need to be repowered & rewired.

Corbin 35, 39

*

CAN

Roomy and strong, but watch for hull blisters.

Crealock 31, PH 32, 34, 37, 40, 44 by Pacific Seacraft

 

USA

One of the best US companies building cruising boats. Good value. Graceful overhangs, short waterlines.

CSY 37, 44

*

USA

Sturdy, roomy & reasonably priced.

Dana 24 by Pacific Seacraft

 

USA

An expensive (for the size) pocket cruiser capable of ocean passages.

 

Deerfoot Yachts

*

VAR

Fast & innovative, aluminum & fiberglass hulls.

 

Dickerson 36, 37, 40, 41, 50

*

USA

Nicely proportioned & well‑built boats. Earlier 36’s are very reasonably priced.

 

Durbeck 46

*

USA

Big and roomy, long overhangs, short waterline.

 

Endurance 35, 38, 40

*

VAR

Peter Ibold design, some owner completed. Built by various yards in ENG, SCT, USA & CAN.

 

Esprit 37 by Nordic

*

USA

Perry design. Comfortable, well proven, good value.

 

F & C 44

*

ARG

Modem Frers designed cruising ketch.

 

Farr Pilot House 50, 56, 60, 63

 www.farr-pilothouseyachts.com

 

SWE

Sexy, powerful, fast and glamorous. Excellent quality.

First boats were built by Najad.

 

Fast Passage 39

 

USA

Some built in Canada, some by Tollycraft. Now being built in Anacortes, WA. Excellent boat.

 

Fisher 30‑46

 

ENG

Sturdy motorsailers. Great for high latitude cruising.

 

Flicka 20

 

USA

Solidly built Mini‑ocean cruiser, but slow, slow, slow.

 

Fantasi 44 pilothouse

  www.fantasi-yachts.se

 

SWE

Modern attractive pilothouse.

 

Fraser 41, 46, 50

*

CAN

Good modem cruisers.

 

Freya 39

*

USA

Good value. Many owner-completed, so quality varies. FAST, full-keel design capable of 200 mpd!

 

Garcia 46-50+

 

FRA

Gorgeous, semi custom aluminum.

 

Gladiateur 33

*

FRA

Very sturdy, short on tankage, Waquiez built.

 

Goderich 35, 37,41

*

CAN

Attractive Brewer steel boats.

 

Gozzard 31, 36, 44

 

CAN

Good design & construction. Strong company.

 

   Hallberg-Rassy, 31, 312, 33, 35, 352, 36, 38, 382, 39, 41,42, 42F, 43, 45, 46, 49, 53, 62

  www.hallberg-rassy.com

 

SWE

Well built, comfortable, with good tankage & storage. Newer Frers designs have better sailing performance than earlier Enderlien boats. Excellent resale value. Excellent systems integration and detail.

 

Halmatic 30

*

ENG

Similar to Nicholson 31.

 

Hinkley 30‑64

 

USA

Attractive, well built, and expensive. Hold their

value well. Modest tankage & storage.

 

Hood 38

*

FRA

Waquiez built, Hood design. Strong, fast, & attractive. Short on tankage. Centerboard rattles downwind.

 

Hylas 46,49, 54, 54 raised Saloon

 

TAI

Frers & S & S designs. Good sailing qualities, tankage & storage. Quality better on later models.

 

Island Packet 32, 35, 350, 37,38, 40, 420, 44, 45   www.ipy.com

 

USA

Roomy & comfortable with good tankage & storage but some odd features. Improving every year. Good value.

 

J/32, J/42; J/44, J/46, J/160

  www.jboats.com

 

USA

Fast, light. Excellent sailing performance. Minimal tankage and storage.

 

Jason 35 from Miller Marine

*

USA

Some owner‑completed. Several have cruised extensively.

 

Jongert 50, 55, 60, 67, 73

 

HOL

Heavy, expensive, extremely well‑built steel and aluminum yachts. Not going to win any races, though!

 

Justine 36

*

USA

Gorgeous Paine design, Morris built cruiser.

 

Kaiulani 34, 38

*

USA

Lovely steel Brewer & Yohe designs.

 

Kanter 42, 45, 60, 65

  www.kanteryachts.com

 

CAN

Steel & aluminum boats, semi‑custom. Highest Quality. Chuck Paine & Ted Brewer designs.

 

LM 27, 28, 290, 30, 315, 32, 380

 

DEN

Some have inside steering. Well‑built.

 

Linda 28

*

USA

Gorgeous design, Morris quality.

 

Leigh 30

*

USA

Very well built, attractive Morris.

 

Little Harbor 42 ‑ 90

 

TAI & USA

Ted Hood designed, heavy displacement. Semi‑custom. Production returned to U.S. from Taiwan.

Expensive and solid as a rock.

 

Luders 33, DOVE

*

USA

Older, well built by Allied.

 

Malo 36, 38, 39, 45

  www.maloyachts.se

 

SWE

Quality offshore boats. Attractive, reasonably priced.

Strong company, good service.

 

Mariah 31

*

USA

At least one circumnavigation. Pacific Seacraft built.

 

Mason 33, 43, 44, 53, 54, 63

*

TAI

Some of the very best Taiwan built boats.

 

Mercator 30

*

USA

Inexpensive, obscure. One has circumnavigated

 

Moody 38, 42 , 47, 54, 64

  www.moody.co.uk

 

ENG

Good designs but some quality-control issues.

 

Morris 26, 28, 30, 32, 34,36, 42, 44, 45, 454, 46, 48.6, 52

  www.morrisyachts.com

 

USA

Chuck Paine design. Superb quality, highest quality US yard building cruising boats. Expensive. Semi-custom.

 

Mystic 57, 60

*

ENG

Dubois design, Bowman built, beautiful.

 

Najad 330, 361, 370, 390, 420, 490, 520  www.najad.com

 

SWE

Quality, attractive boats. Excellent sailing performance. Good tankage, storage and high level of craftsmanship.

 

Nauti‑Cat Motorsailers 35,40,43, 53,  www.nauticat.com

 

FIN

Later S & S designed models are much better performers than earlier tubby models.

 

Niagara 31, 35, 42

*

CAN

Well‑built & roomy. Superb value.

 

Nordic 34,40,44,45

*

USA

Attractive boats, some solvable problems with mast step deflection on the 40 & 45.

 

Norseman 400,447

*

TAI

Strong, fast, and attractive. Have held their value well.

 

North Wind 43,50, 58

  jawod@northwind.es

 

SPA

S&S designs, quality construction, good company.

 

Ocean 60, 71

*

ENG

Powerful boats, many have had blister problems

 

Ocean Cruising 42

*

USA

Only a few built by Hank Hinkley. Classy.

 

Orion 27

*

USA

Offshore capable. Pacific Seacraft built.

 

Oyster 42, 45, 485,49,53, 55, 56 61, 62, 63, 66, 70, 82, 100   

  www.oystermarine.com

 

ENG

NZL

Some have inside steering. Attractive, expensive and first class! Strong resale value.

 

Pacific Seacraft 34, 37, 40, 44

 

USA

Well built boats, good resale. Graceful overhangs.

 

Pearson 35, 365, 424, 520

*

USA

Fairly well built, not flashy but reasonably priced.

 

Passport 41, 415, 435, 44, 456, 470, 50   www.wagnerstevens

 

TAI

Modem Perry cruising design. Good storage/tankage.

 

Pretorien 35

*

FRA

Strong, fast & attractive. Built by Waquiez. Best value for a boat under $85,000. Modest tankage.

 

Rhodes Bounty II

*

USA

Ancient Pearson fiberglass design, classic but very old, so will need tons of upgrading. Is it worth it?

 

Regina of Vindo, 38, 43, 49

www.reginayachts.se

 

SWE

Attractive, well-built, quality deck saloon.

 

Rival 36‑41

*

ENG

Strong, good-looking and sailing boats.

 

Sabre 34, 362,38, 402, 42, 402, 425, 452, www.sabreyachts.com

 

USA

Built in Maine, great quality, but limited tankage.

 

Sadler 34

*

ENG

Unsinkable, fast, great performance. Good choice.

 

Saga 35, 43

  www.sagayachts.com

 

CAN

Modern Perry design. Fast innovate and narrow.

 

Santa Cruz 52

 

USA

Strong, fast and fun!

 

Saturna 33

*

CAN

Attractive, Bill Garden designed pilothouse cutter.

 

Scanmar 35

*

SWE

Limited production but good design.

 

Sceptre 41, 43

 

CAN

Modem pilothouse with good performance.

 

Seawind 30, Seawind II 32’

*

USA

Excellent boats. Good value. First f /g boat to circumnavigate the world. Built by Allied Yachts.

 

Seguin 44, 51

 

USA

S & S design. Excellent boats. Semi‑Custom.

 

Shannon 32, 36, 39, 43,43 II, 47, 53.   www.shannonyachts.com

 

USA

Good reliable boats. Hold their value well.

 

Skye 51

*

TAI

Similar in appearance to Swans. Deck problems.

 

Southern Cross 28, 31, 35, 39

*

USA

Good boats. Attractive designs. Fairly well built.

 

Spencer 35, 42, 44, 54

*

CAN

Older, solid boats, built in Vancouver, B.C.

 

Stellar 52

 

TAI

Total quality S&S design, well built, great detail work.

 

Sundeer 56, 64

*

USA

Excellent & expensive. Innovative design & incredible performance. Good systems layout. Built by TPI.

 

Swan

 

FIN

Newest designs aren’t well suited for ocean cruising.

 

Shearwater 39, 45

 

RSA

Strong, traditional and attractive.

 

Sweden Yachts,   

  www.swedenyachts.se

 

SWE

Expensive & well built. Racer‑cruiser designs, short on tankage and storage.

 

Tartan 3500, 37, 3700, 41, 4100, 4600   www.tartanyachts.com

 

USA

Well proven several 37’s have circumnavigated. Some designs have centerboards.

 

Taswell 43, 49, 56, 58, 60, 72,

  www.yachtworld.com/taswell

 

TAI

Quality, attractive, good sailing performance. Excellent tankage, storage and design.

 

Tashiba 31, 36, 40

 

TAI

Perry designs. From the best yard in Taiwan.

 

Topper Hermanson 40+

 

USA

Semi custom steel or aluminum Van de Stadt designs.

 

Trintella

 

HOL

Roomy and well built. Newer designs are aluminum.

 

Triton 29 by Pearson

*

USA

Good value, sturdy. Earliest F/g production boat.

 

Valiant 32, 37, 39, 40, 42, 47, 50.

  www.sailnet.com/valiant

 

USA

Major blister problems on Valiant 40 hull numbers 116‑250. No problems with any of the excellent Texas built boats. Proven designs, strong company.

 

Vancouver 27

*

CAN

Also built in Taiwan & England.

 

Vangard 32

*

USA

Good value. Alberg design, built by Pearson.

 

Vega 27, by Albin Marine

*

SWE

At least six have circumnavigated. Inexpensive, fast.

 

Victoria 30, 34

 

ENG

Chuck Paine design, Morris built.

 

Vindo 29, 34, 38, 39

 

SWE

Attractive, well built, but high maintenance.

 

Vineyard Vixen 30, 34

*

USA

Attractive design.

 

Westerly 26 ‑ 36

 

ENG

Not flashy, but fairly well‑built boats.

 

Westsail 28, 32, 39, 42, 43

*

USA

Sturdy boats. 39’s are rare & attractive. Perry designs.

 

Whitby 42, 44

 

CAN

Brewer designs that sell for $85‑120k. Good value. Roomy and fairly well built.

 

Yankee 26, 30

*

USA

S & S designed. Inexpensive and capable. Great value.

 

 

Catamarans

Atlantic 42, 55

  www.chriswhitedesigns.com

 

RSA

Chris White design

Catana 401, 431, 471, 521

 

FRA

Good design, but customer service lacks on delivery

Fountaine Pajot 38, 43, 46, 56, 60, 75

  www.fountaine-pajot.com

 

FRA

Attractive designs.

Gemini 105Mc

 

 

Long successful production run.

Kronos 45

 

USA

 

Lagoon 38, 41, 47, 57, 67

  www.cta-lagoon.com

 

FRA

 

Leopard 38,42,47, 62

 

RSA

Good design, Possibly best built production cat.

Manta 42 www.mantausa.com

 

USA

Well designed and built.

PDQ 32, 36, 42

 

CAN

Long successful production run.

Prout 38, 45

 

ENG

Reasonably priced, well proven, long production run.

Voayage 380, 440, 500, 580 

  www.yoyageyachts.com

 

RSA

Lightweight, good value

 


ARG     Argentina

CAN     Canada

CRI       Costa Rica

DEN     Denmark

ENG     England

FIN       Finland

FRA      France

GER     Germany

HOL      Holland

NZL      New Zealand

RSA     South Africa

SCT      Scotland

SWE    Sweden

SPA     Spain

TAI       Taiwan

VAR     Various Countries

   *        Out of business or out of production.


 

Wondering Why the Boat You're Considering Isn't Listed Here?


If so, carefully re-read Boat Selection Checklist.

Several times per week we are asked, "How come my Chow Yuck 37 isn't on your list? Isn't it capable of extended offshore cruising?" We have seen people take all types of boats to sea, and most of them make it, so the answer to that question is complicated.

If you'd like more information on finding the best possible boat within your budget for your specific cruising plans, we strongly recommend that you join us for one of our Weekend Offshore Cruising Seminar. This weekend will give us plenty of time to learn what your cruising plans are and suggest some specific boats for you to look at.

Another option is to sign up for a Boat Purchase Consultation. For $300, I will suggest boats for you to consider, answer all of your questions regarding suitability of various designs for your type of cruising, for as long as it takes. The consultation can be by phone, e-mail or in person, depending on where we are located.

Please remember, we don't sell boats, our only interest is in helping you find a boat which will allow you to realize your cruising dreams safely and comfortably, while maintaining as much of your investment as possible.

John Neal
sailing@mahina.com

HR46 Review Article

Christoph Rassy started building production sailboats on Sweden's West Coast in 1966 with the Rasmus 35, a center-cockpit, aft cabin cruising boat designed by Olle Enderlein. Dozens of these boats are still out cruising the world, and the designs that followed have consistently been comfortable, attractive and reasonably fast; very reliable cruising boats without any concession to racing design or passing tends. Large tankage and engines and fixed windshields with optional hardtops are common features and consistently high construction quality has resulted in steadily increasing value of these boats over the years.

In 1988 Germán Frers was hired to design a new series of yachts. The Frers designs brought improved performance with longer waterlines and other features such as external lead ballast, semi-balanced rudders and a sloop rigs. Having sailed 114,000 miles on Rassy-Enderlein designed HR 31 and 42, I was eager to test the sailing performance the new Frers-designed 39, 42, 46 and 53, and the difference in both light and heavy air performance was surprising. The larger water plane area aft means these boats can sail to windward in strong winds and seas with very little pitching motion.

Before selecting a Hallberg-Rassy 46 to replace the older-style Rassy-Enderlein designed HR 42 which we sailed 70,000 miles over seven years of sail-training, Amanda and I traveled around the world inspecting boat yards and speaking with designers.

On a visit to the Hallberg-Rassy yard in Ellös, Sweden we met Christoph Rassy the owner of Hallberg-Rassy. He is an avid sailor commissioning a personal boat every few years to cross the Atlantic, trading off with his employees for time aboard. Many of the 260 employees have been with the yard for over 30 years, and boatbuilding is a family tradition carried out on the island of Orust for over 10,000 years, according to archaeologists. The entire yard closes for four weeks each summer allowing employees to go cruising on their own boats.

We gave very little consideration to a custom design, having watched dozens of our ex-students go through the time and cost overruns and seemingly unending teething problems of custom boats. Purchasing a used boat and going through a major refit was something I had done three times previously. After careful evaluation, we took the major step (for us) of ordering a new HR 46, exactly the way we wanted it.
I was particularly pleased to be purchasing hull #92 of the design, and to know that the yard had completed 8,000 boats to date. Between the time we ordered the boat and it was built, the yard incorporated several standard upgrades which they did not charge extra for.

Construction
There are many construction details that I've found to be excellent, and in some cases unique to Hallberg-Rassy. This list highlights some of the most noteworthy features:
Optional rigid dodgers with opening center windows on the 42 to 62. Once you've made a rough ocean passage with a rigid dodger, you'll never want to go back to a canvas dodger that can be easily carried away. Permanent sun protection is also a consideration in these days of ozone depletion and high rates of skin cancer.
® An excellent anchoring system with a watertight bulkhead and deck anchor locker for 250' of 3/8" chain and three fenders which drains overboard, not into the bilge. Two bow rollers are standard, and the boat handles the weight of a 75 lb. CQR and 44 lb. Delta permanently stored on the bow. The powerful 1300 watt, 24 volt Lofrans vertical windlass has worked flawlessly, even in 90' depths.
Oversize thru-bolted mooring cleats including midship spring-line cleats mounted on top of the solid teak toerail in such away that chafe is minimalized.
Hull-to-deck joint that does not rely on bolts, screws, rivets or adhesive for strength or watertightness. The joint is heavily glassed on the inside the entire way around the boat and solid stainless steel rods for mounting stanchions are recessed into the bulwark thus eliminating potential leaks so common when stanchion bases are thru-bolted.
® A strong hull utilizing isophtalic resin and Divinycell closed-cell PVC insulation above the waterline. I believe this an excellent construction technique for a cruising boat, providing a hull with excellent torisional stability and no chance of water absorption. I really like the fact that the yard takes the time to grind the inside of the hull and bilge smooth, and paint it with a gray topcoat. This means no sliced or scraped fingers from errant fiberglass strands when installing equipment or cleaning. All interior lockers are lined with satin-varnished mahogany battens. This eliminates moisture and condensation problems, even when we are sailing in Antarctic or Arctic waters.
® Very careful osmotic blister protection. I have spent much of the past 22 years in tropical waters aboard my HR boats without blister problems. This may be due in part to the fact that the hulls are built under strictly controlled temperature and humidity conditions.
® A deck that will not leak! The deck also utilizes Divinycell coring which does not have the water absorption problems I've seen on many boats with balsa-cored decks.
A substantial structural grid fiberglassed to the hull made of hand-laid fibreglass that ties the bulkheads, mast support and engine beds together and divides up the large storage areas below the cabin sole.
A Seldén deck-stepped mast with solid wood support that transmits loading to the interior grid system. I have come to prefer this deck-stepped mast design as it eliminates leaks where the mast comes through the deck, corrosion at the mast base and deck collar, and the inevitable water in the bilge from rain entering around masthead sheaves. After 156,000 miles on my HR 31, 42 & 46 I have never experienced any deflection or problem with the deck-stepped masts.
A simple and efficient sloop rig minimizing foredeck clutter. Utilizing a reefable 130% headsail with foam luff we are able to sail to windward in up to 40 knots. Over 40 knots upwind we easily rig the removable inner stay on which we set a bullet-proof hank-on storm staysail. Running backstays provide additional mast stability. In winds over 50-55 knots, we drop the triple-reefed main and hoist a storm trysail. We have only had to hoist the trysail twice while in the Roaring Forties, during our 42,000 miles to date on our 46.
Substantial stainless tanks with 275 gallons fuel (including an optional 100 gallon tank) and 245 gallons water are mounted above the keel, and below the cabin sole, creating roomy storage space below the main cabin settees. The tanks are installed after the deck is constructed and are easily removed without having to destroy interior joinery work.
® A powerful yet economical 95 hp engine with excellent access from all sides and plenty of room for additional systems.
Massive amounts of storage area are available below the cabin sole and on the 46 it runs to nearly 3' deep at the main bulkhead. We have five large Rubbermaid bins screwed to the grid system and filled with spares and food. A boat with a flatter underbody would surf better downwind but have reduced storage space and prove less comfortable going to windward in heavy weather.
A semi-balanced rudder suspended on three sets of roller bearings and utilizing Whitlock torque-tube and bevel gear Mamba steering system gives fingertip control, even in heavy seas. I was initially concerned that the design didn't have a full-length skeg, but after 42,000 miles, the "power-steering" effect of being semi-balanced is addictive, requiring far less rudder input and effort. The rudder post is solid stainless steel, tapered at the bottom and the substantial welded flanges are also tapered stainless steel.
A substantially deep bilge and sump with external lead ballast with stainless keel bolts.
® A convenient swim step built into the reverse transom. We find this type of transom unbeatable for active cruising. Not only does this make getting out of the water after snorkeling and swimming easier, it is also makes practicing the Lifesling Overboard Retrieval system easier. Mooring stern-to floating docks or boarding from a dinghy with this type of transom is a breeze!

Layout
Although few changes are allowed to the standard layouts, the yard has several optional layouts for each cabin. We cut and pasted layouts from the brochure until we had the combination we thought would work best for eight people on ocean passages in all conditions. We opted for a four-cabin layout with upper and lower bunks in the cabin directly forward of the main bulkhead, a traditional v-berth forward, standard L-shaped settees in the main cabin instead of easy chairs. In the aft cabin we chose a double to starboard and single berth to port in the aft cabin, instead of a centerline double.

Options
We chose far fewer options than most 46 owners: no generator, air conditioning furling main, electric winches, hydraulic furling systems or bow thruster.
In retrospect, the bow thruster is a good idea on a boat of this size and displacement, and we will probably install one when we sail back to New Zealand in 2002.
Instead of the optional generator, we installed a total of four 8-D gel batteries for the 24 volt system and three Group 27 (one starting, two house) gel batteries for the 12 volt systems.
A 3500 watt Trace inverter provides 110 volt power.
We replaced the standard alternator with a Balmar 135 amp, 24 volt unit and retained the stock 50 amp, 12 volt alternator. We chose not to utilize solar panels, and have found that one hour per day of engine running in the tropics is sufficient for battery charging.
Instead of air conditioning, we had the yard install ten Hella Turbo fans, one for each bunk, plus additional fans in the heads, galley and nav station.
I had originally planned to install an expensive holding-plate refrigeration-freezer system that would have run $10,000 installed. A friend who had just completed a three-year South Pacific cruise aboard his HR 42 with the factory-installed Frigoboat evaporator system convinced me to try it, saying that with over 3,000 of the units installed, the yard really knew what they were doing. A bonus was that the cost was a fraction of the holding plate system. We have been delighted with how well this very simple system has worked, holding the freezer at 10 degrees F. in 82 degree water with a maximum of one hour of engine running per day.
I had the factory install Autohelm ST-50 series instrumentation that has worked well. I chose to install the Max prop and insulated backstay upon commissioning in Seattle, thinking it would be less expensive. In retrospect, I now really believe that the factory only charges cost their cost for options and recommend that anyone purchasing an HR have the factory install as much of the optional gear as possible.

In only 28 days of work from the time our Hallberg-Rassy 46 was unloaded from the freighter in Seattle, Amanda, a friend and I commissioned the boat and were ready for our 10,000 mile shakedown series of sail-training voyages to New Zealand. We installed the mast, hardtop, SSB, VHF, weatherfax, INMARSAT-C, radar, watermaker, additional batteries, inverter and high-output alternator. This was the first huge difference in time spent outfitting between purchasing a used boat and a new boat specifically designed and built for ocean voyaging. The second major difference has been how little time we have spent making repairs over the past 42,000 miles and four years of hard sailing.

In six months this summer we sailed 11,000 miles in eight legs from Victoria, Canada, through the Panama Canal, to the Caribbean, across to the Azores, Ireland, up the west coast of Ireland and Scotland, across the North Sea to Norway. We ended our cruise on Sweden's West Coast at the Hallberg-Rassy yard. Many people asked if the boat would be ready for a major refit after so many miles, but our list was short: replace a couple of hatch seals, re-bed the windlass and service the forced air furnace. We had hoped to have a bow thruster installed, but with a two-year backlog of orders on most models, this wasn't possible.

The sailing performance has been very good, we are able to comfortably sail 160-180 miles per day, even in very modest winds. Our best 24-hour run to date is 200 miles, close-reaching in 35-45 knot winds from Rangiroa in the Tuamotus to Papeete, Tahiti. More impressively, we have found that this design can sail to windward into 30-40 knot tradewinds at over seven knots without pounding. We have twice experienced winds over 65 knots and seas over 30' in the edge of the Roaring Forties between Auckland and the Austral Islands and have found that the HR 46 will heave-to in these conditions, although we prefer to run or close-reach.

In retrospect, I know we made the right decision. The HR 46 has met our requirements and has proven a comfortable home. It has been a delight to spend our time teaching, hiking, snorkeling, and meeting people ashore, instead of making repairs. Having a boat that is fun and fast to sail has meant that we have enjoyed going for daysails, tacking through narrow passes and into anchorages instead of motoring.


Hallberg-Rassy 46 / HR Construction Details


 

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