There is probably nothing like 'the
ideal cruising yacht', but after more than 14 years of doing it, we will stick our necks
out and give our opinions.
- A feature on
An ideal cruising yacht depends on composition, age, and fitness of the crew,
area to be visited and a thousand other factors. Compromises are always
necessary; between size and cost, features and simplicity, sailing performance
and comfort, and many other factors. Our opinions reflect our
experience: 2 people, reasonably fit but not athletes sailing in the
mid-latitudes and tropics. With those few caveats, here goes:
42 to 48 feet - big enough to be comfortable hanging out in anchorages
for days at a time and handling off-shore storms, yet small enough that 2 people
can lift and carry the mainsails, fend it off a dock in 15 knots of wind and
lift its anchor by hand if necessary. Of course size costs, both when it is
bought and when one pays marina fees and buys equipment.
Each type of rig has its advantages and disadvantages; our
choices, in priority order:
- Cutter - Simplest rig to take offshore; an equipment arch on stern
is usually needed for the radar and antennas.
- Ketch - Flexible sail combinations, each sail is easier to handle,
rigging is more complex, cannot sail as close to the wind as a cutter;
mizzen is good place for radar and similar stuff.ü
- Sloop - Some people use these, but we prefer to have an inner
forestay - thus a cutter.
- Schooner - We would normally not consider this rig, but a recent
model seems very appealing and the owner is very happy with it.
- Yawl - No significant advantages for off-shore cruising.
1st: Steel or Aluminum,
2d: Fiberglass (GRP) - The comfort of having metal
between us and coral reefs would be a great comfort factor although
runs a close second because of its durability and lack of corrosion problems.
The ability to fasten items to the decks by welding without the need for
drilling holes in the deck make metal a more water-tight design.
|| A solid cover to the companionway and hatch
with a protected steering station to make off-shore passages safe and
All decks should be covered with a light-colored
non-skid material, preferably built into the deck mold.
|Solid Hull/Deck joint
If fiberglass construction, the hull/deck
joint must be thru-bolted and sealed and shown to be completely water-proof.
|| Headstays should end on the deck and be accessible from
|Fore and Aft Headstays
|| Twin roller furlers on the bow that can
deploy a working jib/yankee (90%) and/or high-cut genoa (125%),
plus an inner
forestay for a staysail.
|| A head at the base of the companionway so that foul-weather
gear and wet people do not have to track salt water through the cabin is
|No Exterior Wood
|| Teak on deck is pretty, but a maintenance chore
that detracts from other pleasures of cruising.
The toe-rail should be at least 4" high so that
when heeled over in strong winds a crew member on the lee rail has something
solid on which to stand.ü
|High, Solid Stanchions
|| Stanchions, and their lifelines should be
30" high, and securely fastened to the toe-rail with no possibility of
introducing leaks below as they are bent and twisted by crew members or rogue
||Adequate for 1000 mile range against light headwinds, with all
fuel in tanks below decks. Tanks must have inspection plate and cleaning port.
|| 200 gallons. Tanks must have inspection plate and
|Muted colors below
|| The area below decks should be soft colors, not
stark white nor all dark wood.
Every item fastened to the deck or coachroof would
have to be examined to determine that it was watertight.
|Adequate storage below
Storage space should be adequate to stow all
items we can identify plus leave 20% empty for collection of new items, souvenirs,
etc. Big storage items include laptops, sleeping bags, luggage for land trips,
sweaters, liquor, food for long off-shore passages.
|Adequate living space
|| Living quarters should be adequate so that
each person has a private place to work or read (e.g. main cabin and a
stateroom). The main cabin should be adequate to seat 6 people for a meal.
The main sleeping quarters should have 1 queen
sized bed, with comfortable mattress and adequate ventilation for sleeping in
anchorages and marinas. ü
|Easy to sail/balance on all points of sail
It must be possible to
set up sails so that it has no excessive weather helm or any lee helm under all
sailing conditions. ü
|| The cockpit should stay dry in any condition
other than outright storms - 4' is probably right.
|Storage for big items
|| There should be storage space, below decks,
for the 3 biggies: Liferaft, Dinghy, and Outboard.
|Accessible engine and mechanical systems
One should be able to get
to all sides of the engine for repairs, maintenance, stuffing box adjustments,
etc. Plumbing equipment such as pumps, hose, filters, etc. should be reachable
without dismantling cabinetry.ü
|Adequate electrical system
- Breakers on all main circuits
- Meters to show state of charge of all batteries
- At least 500 amp-hours on house battery(ies)
- Separate engine-starting battery
- Wired to accept either 110VAC or
220VAC, 50 or 60Hz main power, with outlets of each type inside the yacht
- Transformer to convert from the main power to the alternate voltage if
|| The hull, particularly above the waterline, should
have a modest amount of insulation to minimize condensation in lockers in cool
weather, 1" is adequate.
|Accessible space in ice-box
All areas within the ice-box
should be accessible from the top, and it should be compartmented in such a way
that removal of some items does not cause the rest to collapse.ü
|Separate shower stall
|| The head should have a separate shower stall
and drain sump pump.
Bow to be configured to carry 2 anchors, nominally a
Bruce or CQR plus a Danforth or Fortress, at the ready, plus an electric windlass that could
be used for either anchor.ü
(Long Passages has a manual windlass)