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Online Book Table of Contents:

How To Buy a Cruising Boat


How to choose and buy a boat that will really make you happy including: the things the broker will not tell you, getting a good survey, when are refits worth it and how to do one without disaster. All hard actionable advice.

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.

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.

Learn From The Designers

One of the saddest things that can happen to a cruiser is buying a fundamentally bad boat, and there are plenty of those out there to tempt the uninformed. Here’s how to make sure that the boat you buy is well designed.

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.

There’s No Excuse For Pounding

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.

Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms

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.

Cockpits—Part 1, Safe and Seamanlike

These days there seems to be an endless fascination with yacht (both motor and sail) cockpit amenities, but we must never lose sight of a cockpit’s primary function: to be the command and control centre of a vehicle that operates in a potentially hostile environment.

Cockpits—Part 2, Visibility and Ergonomics

There are few areas on any boat that are used for more diverse tasks than an offshore sailboat cockpit. Everything from lounging on a quiet day at anchor to handling a fast-moving emergency at sea with a bunch of sail up…in the black dark…in fog…with a ship bearing down on us.

Given that, picking a boat with a good cockpit layout is one of the most important parts of boat selection. Let’s look at what really matters.

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.

Refits—The Radical Option

If you own and sail boats offshore for long enough, the likelihood is that sooner or later you will be faced with a difficult repair or refit decision. John explores a solution that all others being considered should always be measured against.

Buying a Cruising Boat—Five Tips for The Half-Assed Option

When researching buying a cruising boat, we are deluged with information on all the gear she must have and how perfect she must be before we can go cruising. But is that really true? How about buying an old and tired boat and just getting out there? John tells his story of going cruising in a half-assed boat…and having one of the best times in his life. Will this work for you? He shares tips on how to decide.

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.

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.

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 AAC Technical Correspondent, explains the engineering and shares what to look for before buying a voyaging boat.

Hull Materials, Which Is Best?

One of the common debates in any sailor’s bar is which hull material is best. John settles the argument…it depends. But he does make some solid recommendations for hull materials most of us should avoid and the one that the majority should choose.

Buying a Boat—Never Say Never

Hang around with cruisers, and sooner or later someone will say, Never buy a boat with… Should we listen? John shares how to decide, and examines the choice between encapsulated and bolt on keels.

You May Need a Bigger Boat Than You Think

So what boat size is optimal for offshore voyaging? There is no one number. Rather, we must understand our own expectations before we can zero in on that. John tells the story of a smart guy that saved him from getting this wrong.

A Motorsailer For Offshore Voyaging?

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.

A Sail Away Offshore Cruising Boat For Less Than US$100,000—Part 1

Can we go offshore cruising in a fully refitted, safe and comfortable boat for US$100,000, all in? Colin and John think so, but making it work won’t be easy and will need careful planning and lots of sweat. Colin kicks off the series with some things for us to think about before we even start looking for a boat.

So now that we have decided to focus on boats that have been well taken care of and not butchered by inept amateurs, we still need to be realistic about potential flaws in materials and construction and what it would really take in time and money to fix each. We can have no better guide than Colin as we figure that out.

To that end, Colin turns his attention to seven basic construction areas where problems can turn a refit into a horror show we definitely don’t want to star in.

John started out to write an article on budgeting for a refit, but ended up writing, based on personal experience, about something far more important: how to avoid the oh-so-common human failings that can turn a refit into a budget-busting rebuild, or even a total fail, as well as how to decide if a refit is something you even want to do.

Planning and Budgeting a Refit—Boat Parameters

Before we start to build a refit budgeting and planning framework, we need to define the boat we will start off with as well as explore how we can correct numbers for other boats: smaller, bigger, and/or more complex.

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