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Choosing a Boat

Racing or cruising
Sail configuration
Hull configuration
New or used

The Perfect boat
Part 1
Part 2

The Ketch Rig
Why Cruisers like it
Versatile Rig
Ketch Trim

The Perfect Boat: Part 1

Choosing the "ideal" coastal sailing vessel

A classic yawl enjoying a peaceful anchorage on Oyster Bay.

Selecting the boat of your dreams for coastal sailing

We have often been asked, “What is the ideal boat for coastal sailing?”, and our answer has always been, “The one you fall in love with.”  That is a great oversimplification; however, love very often ends up being the final criterion for selecting a particular vessel.  Some prefer to have their vessel as part of a class, which affords certain advantages for racing and owners’ cruising associations.  Others may not want to have theirs look exactly like 20 others in the harbor.  We tend to want our boat to stand out in the crowd, and we have fallen in love several times over, each time taking years of searching to find “the one.”  It doesn’t have to take that long…if you think about certain aspects as you look.   One thing is for certain, there is no single perfect boat for everyone. That’s why so many are custom built.

First, identify your interests

Before setting out on a search, there are some basic questions you should ask of yourself and your family.  First and foremost is, “What type of sailing do we want to do?”  If you’re most interested in racing, then that limits your choices to lighter displacement vessels made for that purpose.  If you are most interested in cruising, then you can concentrate on vessels that offer perhaps a bit more comfort.  And if you are interested in a combination of occasional racing as well as cruising, then a combination racer cruiser may be the ticket.  We’ll walk you through some additional considerations to help hone down the playing field. 

J109 ... one of largest fleets of one-designs makes for exciting racing

The next series of questions to ask yourself is how much time you expect to spend aboard, what size of crew are you likely to sail with most often, and, of course, what is your budget.  These questions will help you decide if one head is sufficient, how many berths you need, and whether you need a boat configured for short-handed sailing.  If you expect to sail with friends often you might consider a multihull, which offers spacious accommodations and a high degree of privacy.  If you have young children who will bring friends along, then a main cabin with several quarter berths may be ideal.  These are the kinds of questions that you can only answer for yourself and that can help narrow your search considerably right from the start.

Next, identify your preferences

We offer some thoughts about things we consider when looking at boats. Ultimately, you need to make your own list because every sailor is different and so is every boat.

The right boat for you

Ultimately, as you make your list of features you need, features you might like, and those you will not accept, you’ll start to find a common ground.  You’ll probably have to make some sacrifices, but that’s where your list will help.  You can do a great deal of research online these days.  Reviews of many vessels are archived by publications like Practical Sailor.  The reputation of a vessel can help steer you in the right direction.  Once you settle on a particular manufacturer and model, you may want to search wider to see what sisterships are on the market.  Often you’ll find a variety of configurations because most yachts are semi-custom and therefore outfitted to suit the needs of different buyers.  Rest assured that somewhere out there is the one for you.  Then again, you may be lucky and fall in love with the first boat you see.  But then, you won’t have had the great privilege of viewing so many fine vessels in your search.

Beneteau First 44.7 rated top cruiser/racer for 2005 by Sailing Magazine

The Perfect Boat: Part II

In part II, we review what happens after you’ve found “the one.”  The survey, the sea trial, the insurance, the closing and so on are all the things you need to tackle next to make sure your investment is properly secured!

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