Q&A: Crossing The Atlantic In A 32-foot Boat

Question:

I received a Cris Craft 32′ cruiser/racer as a gift. This is my first boat and I’d like to sail it to France from NYC. I’m preparing it for solo sailing and would like your opinion on it’s survivability. A Sparkman& Stephens design…it has a fin keel and a lovely interior. It has been upgraded with a roller furler jib. Vetus diesel (25hp) and a steering system to replace the tiller. But I’m not certain of an Atlantic crossing with a 32′ [boat] being wise! Can you suggest what preparations I require and the best time and route to sail?

Answer:

There is no intrinsic reason that a 32-foot boat can’t cross the ocean safely—many smaller boats have done it.

I really can’t give you any opinion on the Cris Craft since I have never seen one and have no information other than that available on the internet. In fact I did not even know that Cris Craft ever built sailboats.

Having said that, the hull form certainly looks good:  moderate, fast and sea-kindly. S&S are good designers, but it will depend on what brief they were given by Cris Craft as to whether or not the boat was designed for an ocean crossing.

Also this is a boat that is forty or so years old, so you will want to have a really good survey done by someone that really understands the requirements of offshore voyaging before setting out. If the boat has been sailed much at all, it is likely that there will be structural work to be done. Pay particular attention to the attachment of the bulkheads, rudder, chain plates and keel as well as the mast step area.

But more important than all of that is your experience. You say that this is your first boat, so it will be really important that you get the right training and experience before setting out to cross the ocean, particularly single-handed. We recommend the British RYA Yacht Master Offshore qualification as the best way to get the right experience and training in the quickest way.

It’s not an easy qualification to get, but once you have it you will be a safe mariner and also in a position to answer your own questions about timing and route.

The other option would be a live-aboard offshore sailing course like this.

Does anyone have any information on the Cris Craft 32, or any thoughts on how the questioner can get the right experience? If so, please leave a comment.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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