Rick's Defination of a Blue
Water Boat :
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 17:19:38 -0800
From: Rick Kennerly <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: lv-ab: Definition of a Blue Water
We spent 10 years out in the Pacific
islands, five of them working in cruising crossroads and five
flitting about on boats, and I can tell you that blue water boats are
like bumble bees. Engineers will tell you that bumble bees can't fly,
but nobody told the bee, so they keep on buzzing around doing bee
stuff. In that same vein, I met a lot of people happy as a song in
flimsy little boats every other cruiser swore they'd not be caught
out daysailing on a lake in, but that didn't keep those owners from
living their dream. They just picked their weather, posted a watch,
trusted to luck, and shoved off--just like the 60-foot, goldplated,
steel hull owners do, just as sailors have done since before Moses
was tacking through the bullrushes.
From what I saw in distant harbors, those things
that make a blue water boat are the compromises and trade-offs you're
willing to make to have the dream come true. In other words, almost
any boat, it seems, can be outfitted, refitted, and reinforced to be
marginal bluewater boats if the crew has the gumption to sail
Still, here's my list (note that not all
items are found on my boat, alas. It's the nature of compromises, I
A full keel (for tracking, storage space, and load
carrying capacity) with something bridging the gap between the keel
and rudder to keep drift nets and other lines from riding up in the
slot and snagging the boat.
A fixed keel of no more than 6.5 foot
Bulletproof steering x 2.
Positive righting moment.
External lead ballast for impact and grounding
Moderate to heavy displacement for sea keeping
qualities and a good ride.
A split rig for sail handling options (and a good
suit of sails for all conditions) -- something like a cutter, a twin
headsail ketch or a schooner. A bowsprit for extending the headstay
out for big gennys in light air. Lots of reefing options. On a mom
& pop cruiser, no sail or combination that the least of your crew
can't handle alone and without assistance.
Storage for at least 3 big anchors and 500' of
chain plus rope rodes and a windlass to haul it all--all stored away
from the ends of the boat during passagemaking.
Provisions for stern anchors and line.
Broad sidedecks and high bulwurks.
A keel stepped mast.
A tiny cockpit so a boarding won't cripple the
A reliable windvane.
Drinking water tankage of a gallon/day/crewmember
times twice the expected length of the trip.
Fuel tankage for 80-100 hours of motoring at 5
Fuel and water tankage divided so a bad lot
doesn't spoil the whole.
A big, reliable engine turning a real propeller
(not one of those little switchblade folding numbers).
At least one great seaberth for each
On deck storage for a hard dink or rigid
Rick - nh2f
Westsail 32 Xapic
A small boat & a suitcase full of money
beats a 40 footer tied to the Bank.
Rick's Rules for Boat
1. A small boat and a suitcase
full of money beats a 40 footer tied to the Bank every
2. Cruising boats are bought by
the pound, not the foot.
3. You gain more live aboard space
for every foot of beam added than for foot in length purchased (there
are some older narrow CCA-style boats that are 50ft long, but with
less usable interior space than a Westsail 32).
4. While boats are linear, their
maintenance, time and equipment costs are exponential (it costs three
times as much to maintain a 40 footer than a 30 footer).
5. The view of paradise is exactly
the same from the cockpit of a small boat as that from a
6. Any fool can sail a 45ft boat
downwind in nice weather. On the other hand, it is very easy to buy
more boat than a couple can handle during a blow on a lee
7. Pay attention to the
basics--hull, engine, rigging, sails--rather than to amount, quality
or age of gizmos; a few grand held back at purchase can replace (or
add) GPS, VHF, wind and depth instruments, and creature
comforts--cushion covers, propane stove, etc. A bum engine, a rigging
failure, or a bad case of blisters can easily set you back three of
four times that.
8. Charter fleet boats were
designed for two or three couples living out of duffels and eating
ashore most of the time, not live-aboard and cruising--you'll be
offered hundreds of badly used former charter boats at very
attractive prices, but you can't afford them.
9. "Go small, go now." Lin
10. Finally, always purchase a
boat in which you will be proud to be seen arriving.
Rick H. Kennerly
Xapic - Westsail 32
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