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Monday, April 29, 2013

Boat Reviews

Maybe it's the fact that the weather has finally turned nice. Perhaps it's because I've got mariners disease and can't help myself. I've been checking out sailboats on Craigslist again. I've got a decent little 19 foot Oday, and I'm building a 12 footer, but that doesn't stop me from looking at other boats. At least I'm not looking at other women. Okay, maybe I look, but I know better than to want to take any home.

Unlike boats, which I do end up taking home now and then.

There are some great deals out there. I've been looking at trailer sailers in the 22 – 26 foot range. They are a bit bigger than my current boat and I thought a wee bit more room would be handy.

Then I do some research to see what people think of boats in that size range. In short, the reviews tend to be pretty negative. Don't take these boats out out of a protected harbor. They are day sailors that might be used overnight in extreme discomfort.

The reviews are pretty discouraging until I think about all the stuff I do with the little 19 foot I do own. My wife and I, plus our dog, are comfortable on it for about a week. By the end of the week, it's time to resupply food, water and to do some laundry.

We often go offshore and are comfortable sailing all day in 4 foot seas. We've sailed in the Atlantic in 6 foot seas -safely, but not particularly comfortably. We don't sail when there are small craft warnings, but those days wouldn't be much fun in a 34 foot boat either.

Plenty of people have taken boats in the 15 – 20 foot range from Florida to the Bahamas. Yes, they wait for the proper weather window, just like the bigger boats do. A couple idiots have taken 19 foot Potters from the US west coast to Hawaii. That might be tempting Lord Neptune.

So I was wondering about the basis of all the negative reviews. It occurred to me that oftentimes it's not so much about sea worthiness, but perceived comfort. Here's the thing. My lovely wife and I used to do a lot of backpacking. We thought squeezing into a tiny tent at the end of the day was luxury.

We also did a fair amount of canoe camping. It was possible to carry all kinds of things that would be too bulky or heavy for backpacking. We'd bring a bigger tent, camp furniture, a cooler even -pure extravagance.

Even a fairly small sailboat looks good to former backpackers. I'll have to judge boats my own standards, not those of Internet reviewers.



  1. The key is to find Internet reviewers who use stuff the way you do and have similar backgrounds and interests... a daunting task, to be sure, but if you can find them, their reviews tend to be golden. Or at least that was my experience getting woodworking tools.

    1. Good way to judge reviewers. Turns out there are not a lot of people like me -a few sure, but like you say, a daunting task.

  2. I think both you and Mr. Wheeler have valid points.

  3. I would have to think that extra few feet of beam would at least make for a smoother ride in a bit of chop if nothing else and of course the extra storage space would be put to good use.
    How much more sail do they have?
    Probably a little bit more draw too but not a whole lot.

    1. I've decided I've got to sail in other people's boats to see what they feel like. Decided to join a trailer sailer club.

    2. Actually wider beam makes a boat less sea worthy. Skinny is better, though the heel factor will be greater.

  4. Boats are likely a lot less trouble than women, particularily if you take them home!!

    I have long given up worrying about what other people think. To many, a boat is just another "consumer product", they worry too much about "resale value, or what the neighbour on the next pontoon think.

    There are plenty of small boats which are very capable in open water. Many boats have survived conditions that killed their owners and were found still floating after storms.

    Smaller boats are more fun, less hassle, less money all around.
    Indeed, best make up your own mind.

    1. One of the great things about small boats is that you really get to experience the wind and water.

      Wise words about not worrying what other people think. I've no need to impress anyone.

  5. The best boat is the one you have, it's the one you know and the one you are confident with.
    And the one you've had a lot of fun with and will do in the future.
    Boatowners periodically need to go through the wondering phases, wondering what if that and what if that.
    When all that is done, you'll most probably be very happy to come back to what you have.
    You will have got the itch out of your system for another year and saved yourself a lot of money too.
    Think too of the philosophy you've been espousing.
    And remember that all you need is enough and enough is what you have.

    And what my friend Joel says it true...

    1. You are right, but I can't help but look. It's a disease. :)

  6. Bigger is not always better. We started out with a 14' Starcraft. Then upped to a l6' Penn Yan. Then up to a 20' Bayliner I/O. Beautiful boat, but was way too much trouble to trailer around and maintain. The best really, was the Penn Yan. We should have kept it. Would have saved us a lot of aggravation and money! We miss not having even a john boat as we both like fishing the day away.

    Phyllis (N/W Jersey)

    1. It would be easy to break the budget on a bigger boat. If we ever do upgrade, it will have to make sense all around. We did once refuse the gift of a fully functional 42 foot wooden ketch, just because it would be a maintainence nightmare.