Boat Criteria

As our first sailboat, Rode Trip was just right for us. She has a comfortable interior, and keeps us safe in a way that few small sailboats can. Now with the opportunity to look at sailboats to share with Bruce and Kathy, we can use our experiences during our first 2 years of cruising to guide our search.

While out cruising, boats are a constant source of discussion with other cruisers, so we have spent countless hours discussing the pros and cons of different sailboats. We also have been paying close attention to what boats we really see “out there.” As we sailed farther from the US and Bahamas we noticed that there were more and more metal boats. The owners of the metal boats were universally happy with their boat. They were all happy with the strength of the hull as well as how absolutely, totally dry the boats are on the interior. We liked the sleek rugged appearance of metal sailboats, and their owners had sailed to some amazing locations. We were convinced that a metal boat was right for us. Research into aluminum versus steel turned up many technical articles like this one. We also found stories about how long aluminum lasts while still maintaining its rigidity and strength. We have always said that if we were shopping for a new boat the one thing that we would want more of is performance. Many times small boat owners want more luxurious accommodations or more storage space. Although these would be nice we were more focused on a boat that would continue to sail well in light air, but still be safe for crossing oceans. We decided that aluminum was the right hull material for us.

Bruce may be interested in cruising the ICW someday so that gave us a maximum mast height (65 feet) and a maximum draft (6 feet). We also wanted a boat that could be easily handled by 2 people, but had enough waterline to be a bit faster, this gave us a length between 40-45 feet.

For the inside we knew we wanted to have a minimum of 2 full double berths, large water and diesel tankage, and a place to put foul weather gear near the bottom of the ladder. Many items that we think of as luxuries that we never installed on Rode Trip were standard on nearly ALL the boats we looked at. These items will provide comfort for Bruce and Kathy’s floating retirement, and are a huge BONUS for Stephanie and I.

The list of must haves:
safe bluewater boat
shallow draft
mast height appropriate for ICW
can be handled easily by 2
aluminum hull
2 double cabins
comfortable seating for 4 in salon and cockpit
refrigerator
oven
good engine access
adequate tankage (100 Gallons water, 40 gals fuel)
autopilot (wind vane or electronic)
cutter or staysail sloop rig

The list of features that we would like:
roller furling
mainsail reefs from cockpit
dodger/bimini to provide protection in the cockpit from the elements.
hot water
good power generation systems
plenty of Storage
electric Windlass
saltwater plumbed to sink
indoor shower
cockpit shower/ rinse station
dinghy davits

Armed with these lists carefully scribbled in Stephanie’s notebook we were ready to set foot on some potential boats.

6 thoughts on “Boat Criteria

  1. Great list of must haves for future boat. Most of the “would likes” would be on our must have list, especially reefing from cockpit. We have 150 gal of water in two 75 gal tanks and 100 gal of fuel in two 50 gal tanks and are glad we have this much. We don’t have dinghy davits, instead we tow the dinghy or strap her down on the foredeck. Dinghy davits get in the way of a wind-vane self-steering gear, which we believe is mandatory if crossing an ocean. We draw 6 & 1/2 feet and our mast is 58 ft and I would limit mast height to 62 feet off water and we do the ICW almost every year with no problems.

  2. I know of two couples that live on Passport 40’s in Seattle. They both seem happy with them. Not Aluminum though. I sailed on an aluminum S&S 57 which was nice, but they always had a hard time keeping paint on her hull.

  3. For less money and more performance Cal39’s are magic boats. Draft is more than the Cal40 and more than 6′ however. They are stable and fast in big seas. I love shopping for boats with other people’s money….really!

  4. Scott, thanks so much for your feedback! It means a lot to us knowing your experience with sailing/living aboard and it sounds like we are thinking logically. Hope you and Kitty are enjoying your summertime. Happy Sailing!

  5. Ken, we had the Passport 40 on our list; found two worth seeing in Florida but then really shifted our focus to aluminum instead. Paint peeling is an issue on aluminum but another option is the “battleship” look with an unpainted hull above the water line.

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