Online Book:

How To Buy an Offshore Boat

Includes FREE Introductory Chapter (scroll down)

John and Matt look at the critical issues that you need to understand before you buy an offshore voyaging boat. Starting with some time tested rules to help you determine what really matters and going on to cover subjects from hull materials to tips for the best offshore interior layout, it’s all here, including some real world costly experiences that this Online Book will help you avoid.

Table of Contents:

The Right Way to Buy a Boat…And The Wrong Way

This boat has a lot of features!*

Free Introductory Chapter Buying a boat is really difficult: What features are vital? Which features are dispensable? In this chapter, John comes up with a way for you to figure out what you need in a boat...and what you don't.

Is It a Need or a Want?

A fundamental fact is that, even if you are rich, you can't have it all in an offshore voyaging boat and that goes double for the rest of us with more modest means. So the most important step in selecting a boat that will be successful for you is to identify the things that you really need. In this chapter I give you an easy to use and apply test to do just that.

Are Refits Worth It?


It seems like a logical way to own a good offshore sailboat. Buy an older and a bit rundown but fundamentally decent boat and refit it. But does it really work? To explore that important question, I have a true story to tell you.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Voyaging Boat


What about buying a brand new boat? That should be great if you have the money, right? Yes, but with caveats. And if you think that buying a brand new boat will enable you to just jump aboard and go voyaging, this sobering story will show another far more likely scenario and highlight the traps to avoid in buying a new boat.

8 Tips For a Good Voyaging Boat Interior Arrangement


Sadly most boats, both power and sail, have interior arrangements that are designed to look good at a boat show, not work well offshore or when living aboard for extended periods while voyaging. Here we give you and explain, based on some 20 years of living aboard and voyaging, a guideline for eight things to look for as you shop for a boat.

Trade Offs in Yacht Design

This chapter is a slightly humorous but oh so important demonstration, in the form of a mock pub (bar) argument, as two experienced cruisers argue and compromise about what to fit into a 40-foot offshore sailboat and what to leave out. As you search for a boat you will be having the same arguments with yourself and your spouse. This chapter will give you a good framework to settle on what really matters in the boat you buy.

Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms

The above photo was taken of Polaris from the salon looking aft

Continuing the theme of making the right decisions when selecting a voyaging boat, this chapter tackles the thorny question of engine space, cockpit space, and a covered area to operate the boat from. Can you have it all? Read on to find out.

Cyclical Loading: Why Offshore Sailing Is So Hard On A Boat


It's an all too common story: a boat that has been structurally fine for years while sailing inshore starts to come apart as soon as she is sailed offshore. This chapter explains why and will give you a good basis in the underlying engineering theory that will help you choose a boat that won't let you down offshore.

Electric or Diesel-Electric Drives for Voyaging Boats


Electric and diesel electric (hybrid) drives have become all the rage in recent years. But are they really a more efficient option for offshore cruising sailboats? In this chapter we take a solid and arithmetically rigorous approach, based on advice from two professional engineers with substantial experience of electric drive use on land, to cut through the hype and answer that question.

There’s No Excuse For Pounding

Morgan’s Cloud drives to windward in Denmark Strait. We had 5 days of 20 to 30 knot head winds on this passage between Greenland and Iceland. The Cloud loved it and never pounded—we hung on.

In this chapter I have a good old rant about one of the most common and unpleasant faults of many modern designs that claim to be offshore capable. Reading this chapter could save you from buying a boat you will come to hate.

A Motorsailer For Offshore Voyaging?

A rough sketch of the motorsailer’s deck profile superimposed over a picture of Morgan’s Cloud. Keep in mind that the boats weigh about the same; in fact, in a fully loaded comparison MC is probably lighter. Also, the profile difference is much more dramatic than this image shows since MC has a lot of reserve buoyancy (flare) in the ends. A water plane plan of both boats would show a much larger difference.

Carrying on from the last chapter, I take a look at motor sailors, again by answering a question from a reader. Do motor sailors make sense for offshore cruising? Read on to find out.

Impact Resistance—Two Collision Scenarios


The sad fact is that many, perhaps most, production sailboats are not built to take the loads imposed by even a moderate collision or grounding.

In this chapter of our ongoing Online Book "How To Buy an Offshore Voyaging Boat", Matt Marsh, AAC Technical Correspondent, explains the engineering and shares what to look for before buying a voyaging boat.

Risk Management and Watertight Bulkheads


I have written at some length on watertight bulkheads because I think the subject represents an interesting exercise in risk evaluation, a process all of us who wish to sail offshore must become adept at, because if we treat all risks as equal, and try to guard against each of them equally, we will quite simply never leave the wharf.

Five Ways That Bad Boats Happen


Buying a poorly designed boat is one of the most costly and heart breaking mistakes anyone can make. But maybe if we understand how bad designs come to be, we can avoid that.

Budgeting For a Boat

Ship made of money

So far we have written a lot about how to buy an offshore boat, but what about the elephant in the room: how can you possibly afford to buy said boat? Matt tackles that thorny subject from the real life point of view of someone working toward just that goal.