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Old 05-30-2007, 08:14 AM   #1
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Fairly new to this forum so here goes. I'm gathering opinions on suitable long term cruising yachts. I'm from the UK and we plan (wife and 2 boys 13,11) to set off from UK to Spain and then either Carribean or Med. All the big life questions I think are behind us thank God so we are in the enjoyable planning stages now.

We currently own a 10 yr old Ericson 350. Lovely boat, and I guess better known by many of you guys who seem to be American, than most people in the UK who stare blankly at you at the mention of 'Ericson'. However her main problemis one of space and in particular lack of a third cabin to separate the proto teenagers. All the other qualities of our boat seem to be pretty well suited to cruising.

This finally leads me to the nub of my question. UK boaties fall into several caamps. Many are not keen on any such luxuries as reading lights and as for fripperies like a fridge well!!! We needless to say like a few creature comforts. The hardened yachties start talking about steel hulls or bullet proof expensive yachts that can withstand hurricanes or meteor attack. However they come with a price tag and the only ones we can afford are often 15-20 years old. Then there are the less expensive production boats. They offer lots of space and kit, newer for the same price and affordable. Many hardened salts turn their noses upwards and I was wondering what you guys felt. In particular we are looking at a special ed Beneteau 411 with deeper keel and taller mast than standard. My helpful broker who is selling my Ericson does not see any problems with a production boat. Do any of you have any experience of Beneteau quality, longevity and overall suitability for proposed usage?

Any opinion gratefuly accepted.

Cheers Paul
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Old 05-30-2007, 08:30 AM   #2
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Welcome to Cruiser Log,

Your thoughts about a deeper keel , deep keels provide a slight disadvantage for cruising.

The nice shallow anchorages are passed by. Some hard stands - some slipway haul outs have difficulty with long thin keels.

Come back to us after checking in with :- http://www.beneteauowners.net/

See you in a bit
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:02 PM   #3
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Our old Jeanneau Sun Fizz would probably be the kind of boat you are looking for. we sold it in Singapore several years ago, and many families found its three cabins in its 39-foot length to be just what they needed.

She drew 7'2" and I can think of only two places where she was constrained by her draft. One of those was an uncharted bay in the Solomon Islands, the other most of the available anchorages in Andros Island, the Bahamas (yet we still went to Andros Island - just had to be a bit more careful. However, the standard draft of a Sun Fizz was 6' or thereabouts.

The Sun Fizz is a modern-ish (built in the 80s) "racer-cruiser". We took her from the East coast of the US through the Caribbean and Panama Canal, across the Pacific to Australia, and through Indonesia to Malaysia and Thailand. You can check out our logs on the links in my signature.

We found the Sun Fizz to be roomy, comfortable, with lots and lots of storage. It was seaworthy and a comfortable boat, though many people accustomed to the motion of a fat, heavy, full-keel "cruising boat" would probably not agree to its comfort. I once heard those heavy cruising boats referred to as "oyster crushers".

If you do run aground, which supposedly every real cruiser does, there are advantages to a fin keeler. Because the depth sounder transducer is usually mounted in front of the keel, one has more warning that you are running out of depth - many a time I've been able to put the engine into reverse just as the keel was touching the bottom, slowing and reversing our forward motion and enabling us to back out of trouble before we were hard aground. Even when not paying much attention we rarely found running out of depth to be more of a problem than a gentle bump and then backing out of the several inches that the front of our keel stuck into the bottom. Full-keelers tend to have the transducer much further aft (at least every one I was able to inspect, when the boat was on the hard), alongside the deepest section of their keel. On a gentle slope, one can have several feet of the keel embedded in the bottom before it comes to a halt (because the keel's slope matches the slope of many a bottom), and there is a lot more friction involved when trying to back off that heavier boat.

That's a simplification of my, admittedly, biased view of the difference between the two types of boats.

Because you're from the UK, you might find that much of the resistance to this lighter, roomier fin-keeler boat is that they're not from the UK and, in fact, are from France (!horrors!). We were always being lectured about how inferior Watermelon was to a "proper" cruising boat. Yet we had fewer problems than many of those "proper" cruisers, and went faster and further than most of them as well.

I will try to make available a reprint from "Circumnavigator", Nordhaven's magazine, an article titled "Fiberglass Rules", which compares Fiberglass to Steel as a hull material. I am not a fan of steel hulled boats, and this article supports some of my arguments.

I can't speak for the modern boats, including Beneteau, which I believe now owns Jeanneau. I also will concede that the livelier motion of the lighter boat is not for everyone. As I said to one person, "it's the only type of boat we spent any amount of time on, so we didn't know any different."

Charter some of those boats to see how you like the room, the setup, and the motion. I personally don't like the 411's kind of galley layout, because it is too open when underway with no way to brace yourself, but it seems to be more common and popular nowadays.

Food for thought.
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:22 PM   #4
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G'day Paul,

I have never owned a Beneteau and over the years I have heard many more people criticise them, than promote them. But that may well be the french connection. However, the French can sail, can design great boats and the Benny is seen in numbers in every cruising ground around the world.

Two friends of mine are currently on a trip in their 2004 Beneteau Oceanis 44. They left Japan, sailed through typical typhoon and high current action between Japan and Taiwan. Then they went to the Philippines, Darwin in Northern Australia, then along the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney and they are now preparing to sail to New Caledonia.

In addition to their skirting typhoons in the northern hemisphere, they were belted, at sea, by two successive cyclones south of Cairns in January. Despite being knocked flat three times during a total of 26 days at sea, they have nothing but praise for their craft. It is well set up for living aboard, is tender but very seaworthy, and has taken them through weather that I would not like to endure in my much bigger, traditionally styled boat.

The owners are very honest people with 40 years sailing experience and on their recommendation I would have no hesitation in buying a similar craft for ocean voyaging.

Cheers

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Old 05-30-2007, 06:01 PM   #5
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Thanks for well considered replies. The beneteau website reviews section was helpful. It was good to hear there are lots of them out there doing what we propose to do. I know they will be a little more lively than heavier alternatives but space is a pretty important consideration.

We all laughed at the 'french connection'. There has always been a lively relationship between the Brits and French. However I think they do many things pretty well and certainly know how to live. Given their coastline they also know how to sail.

I'll go and give the 411 a looksee.

Cheers Paul
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Old 06-07-2007, 09:09 PM   #6
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Consider a Bruce Roberts, roomy and good sea boats, though not fast.

No. Mine is not for sale

John
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:39 AM   #7
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You know, looking at all the cruisers out there--and what they're cruising in--you can happily conclude that you can cruise in just about anything. The important thing being that you know the boat, you understand its strengths and weaknesses, and it fits the way you and your crew will sail and live aboard.

Whatever the boat, do become familiar with the type of sailing that boat will excel in and hopefully charter/borrow/visit boats like those that you are considering. Then, ask yourself--is that ME? is that MY kind of cruising? If it isn't, find another boat.

Best of luck!
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
You know, looking at all the cruisers out there--and what they're cruising in--you can happily conclude that you can cruise in just about anything. The important thing being that you know the boat, you understand its strengths and weaknesses, and it fits the way you and your crew will sail and live aboard.

Whatever the boat, do become familiar with the type of sailing that boat will excel in and hopefully charter/borrow/visit boats like those that you are considering. Then, ask yourself--is that ME? is that MY kind of cruising? If it isn't, find another boat.

Best of luck!
hello BOPEEP,

What boat do you have ? Is it designed for cruising ? What size engine ? What are the sleeping arrangements ? Does it sail well to weather ? What sort of ground tackle ? how is it lifted ? How is it ventilated ? etc.. ?
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:39 PM   #9
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hello BOPEEP,

What boat do you have ? Is it designed for cruising ? What size engine ? What are the sleeping arrangements ? Does it sail well to weather ? What sort of ground tackle ? how is it lifted ? How is it ventilated ? etc.. ?
Right now we have two boats. One in the water and one being rebuilt for upcoming extended cruising. Both were designed for cruising. Starting with the one in the water: It is a 1966 Rawson 30. William Garden designed full keel boat designed for cruising. There were about 250 of these built. Ours is a sloop with a small bowsprit (actual boat length 31.5'). She's 9' beam and 12000 lb displacement. More info on the Rawson 30 can be found here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rawsonownersnet/

This particular Rawson is set up for short trips/coastal cruising. She's seaworthy as all get out and will make someone else a great cruising boat (we'll be selling her once our larger boat is back in the water in early 2008). We purchased her to use on the California coast and Baja for short trips during the 18 months the larger boat is in the yard being rebuilt. The Rawson's previous owner also did lots of small trips (weekend up to 1 month) according to the boat log. The boat has a port side skinny double (fat single, really) berth forward where there'd usually be a V berth. Stbd side has extra storage instead of the V. The head is directly aft the stateroom on port side. Saltwater head/w holding tank beneath sink and typical valve to direct discharge right behind the toilet. Head is across from the galley. There is a propane heater on the bulkhead between the head and the galley. We've never used it and I'd replace it with diesel heater if we though we'd need heat. She has a 3 burner propane stove with oven (very nice cooking capabilities on this boat). Lots of drawers and storage around the galley. A pilot berth is directly aft of the galley, across from that berth is a raised dinette that seats 4 with table that drops down to make a double bed. Currently, small refrig is under the dinette forward seat (inboard) with a water bladder outboard of it. When we go out, we do not use this refrig, we pack large coolers with ice. If we were to take this boat for ANY thing over 10 days, we'd install an icebox. There is room for 3 8D AGM batteries under the aft dinette seat, with an XANTREX XC smart charger. The bilge pump control is port side of the companionway ladder, other switches on the bulkhead at the starboard side of the the companionway ladder. Chart shelves and fuse panel are above the pilot berth next to the companionway ladder. Radio, GPS also just to the right of the companionway ladder. Depth meter is mounted on the bulkhead above dinette where it can be seen from cockpit. Many storage cubbies all around the dinette and over the pilot berth. Storage under the pilot berth is used for a water tank. Pressure water pump just aft of the tank w/easy access for repair. Both pressure and nonpressure freshwater below.

The cockpit is large with 13 gallon fuel tank under the starboard seat, 40 gallon water tank under the port seat. (Total water capacity onboard is 80 gallons) 2 propane tanks located port and starboard in lockers aft and outboard of the cockpit seats. Large lazarette storage under the helmsman seat. Wheel steering (cable system) with back up tiller that's easy to quickly put on if needed (never needed it).

Engine is an 18 hp Volvo Penta diesel. Oddball set up with controls too far away from the helm, though. Analog gages outside on the cabin located just port of the companionway hatch. Huge engine compartment could take something much larger. Easy access through cockpit floor and by removing companionway ladder for access to belts. Boat has both an alternator (for house bank) and a generator (hooked to starter battery) that are belt driven from the engine. Fixed prop, nothing fancy. Sorry don't have the specs on this (hubby would...)

5 large opening portholes (perko bronze) and 2 fixed portlights provide light. Additional ventilation with forward hatch (above the berth) and 2 dorade boxes (one above the head, another above the galley).

Typical sloop with roller furling head sail. Single spreader rig. All lines lead back to the cockpit for easy single hand sailing. Actually easier for the helmsman to handle the headsail than for crew because the winches (Barient 22's) are so far aft. The boom traveler is all the way aft (watch your hat!) and the boom height/cockpit sole relationship keeps folks under 6' from fearing the boom. There's a small winch on the aft end of the cabintop for the halyards so one can raise the sails from the cockpit. The only thing that regularly takes you out of the cockpit is adjusting the leech line on the jib or messing with the topping lift line (which ends about halfway along the boom requiring you to get up on the cabintop...). Reefing the main requires getting up on the cabin top as well. She sails well to weather with her 120% jib and main. Her 170% genoa shape doesn't give her the performance it really should. She normally has a balanced helm but the full 170% gives her an irritating weather helm. Its a huge sail, overlaps the main quite a bit, it probably came from another boat and was modified for this one. We've not used her 100% jib nor her storm sails. She has a parachute drogue (we've never used it). She came with a spinnaker but no pole so we haven't used it (though hubby keeps threatening to buy a pole...) If she were loaded for bluewater cruising, she'd sit at least 4-6 inches lower in the water and would handle differently than she does now as we're very light loaded. We know another cruiser who brought his Rawson from HI to So Cal last year and his sits at least 6" lower than ours. She has a curved lexan hard windshield (very 60's) on the cabin top which has snaps for a regular Bimini to shade the front 1/3 of the cockpit.

Ground tackle--she has barely what she needs. If we were intending on cruising exclusively with her, we'd add a stern anchor, more rode, and a spade or cqr anchor. Presently, she has 60 ft of 3/8" chain attached to 160 ft of rode. Her anchor is a 23 lb Danforth. She has a nice bronze manual ABI horizontal windlass (wildcat for 3/8" chain and can handle rode on the other side). Anchor roller off the sprit. Her anchor locker is forward of the stateroom berth and is a bit hard to clean out and connects to the bilge which means all that "uck" can end up in the bilge. She doesn't have an anchor wash system, just a couple scrub brushes attached together for the chain to run through.

She's a dream to sail in all conditions that we've seen. Light loaded as she is now, the water can be glassy smooth, hardly any wind and that huge genoa will keep her moving. She handles well in all conditions we've seen. We've not had her out in a big gale, we've cruised within 100 miles of shore the past year that we've had her so can't say we've really tested her fully. We've experienced 10' seas--she was fine. 35 knot winds--she was reefed down 1, but did wonderfully. She has a good motion in all the conditions we've encountered, quartering seas, following seas, etc.

Well that's the scoop on our little Rawson 30. I'm outta words, so won't go on to discuss the larger boat which is being rebuilt until another posting. That boat is VERY interesting, wooden, built in 1931 for northern latitude cruising by the (then) Commodore of the Cruising Club of America--and lots of fun to discuss...a teaser for that posting would be the 600 feet of 1/2" bbb anchor chain the boat has (along with 3 anchors....and a great Ideal windlass)...

Good sailing to ya,
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Old 06-10-2007, 09:28 PM   #10
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Thanks for this contribution to the forum redbopeep.

As a moderator, it gives me great pleasure to see such well formulated and informative texts. Welcome back with many more on this and the other boards too

Aye

Stephen

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Old 06-10-2007, 10:38 PM   #11
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Remember, I can't say anything without relating a story. Here's the story.

We were anchored somewhere in the Caribbean, and I couldn't take my eyes off the prettiest little pilothouse cruiser anchored nearby. The next bay we saw the boat in, I couldn't restrain myself; I jumped in our dinghy and went over to this pretty little boat and knocked on the hull. The couple came out and I immediately blurted out, "I'm from WATERMELON over there, I just love your boat, could you please tell me what make of boat this is?"

The man looked so pleased as he invited me aboard to tour his Rawson 30. He had bought it as hull and deck and finished it himself. It was just the prettiest little boat, inside and out. They were from the Pacific Northwest and had trucked the boat to Florida where they took off to sail her to the Caribbean. After storing the boat and touring South America by car, they sailed the boat back to Florida and trucked her back to their home.

The beauty of that boat, and my conversations with the owners, are as vivid today as they were 18 years ago.

I still wish there had been a larger version of the boat. Perfect cruiser was how I viewed it.
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Old 06-11-2007, 02:55 AM   #12
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The beauty of that boat, and my conversations with the owners, are as vivid today as they were 18 years ago.

I still wish there had been a larger version of the boat. Perfect cruiser was how I viewed it.
It sounds like you ran into the same type of Rawson owner(s) that we've met since owning this one. Many Rawson 30's have done quite a bit of serious cruising, a couple of them have completed circumnavigations, some cruising with a full family onboard. Everything from her shear and freeboard, nice little bulwarks, full keel, and layout make her seem "safer" and more like a serious cruiser than other cruising boats in the low 30 ft range.

As stated previously, we did buy the boat last year for local jaunts of no more than a few hundred miles, but must say that we were very happy to have the opportunity to be the owners of a Rawson 30 even for just this little while. This little Rawson was clearly much loved by the owner who had her from the mid-70's through to the mid-90's. It appears the owner passed away. Unfortunately for the boat, Stargazer, she had a couple uncaring owners from 1997-2006 when we saw her on Craig's list for a low price. Poor thing, she was dirty and forlorn, but with nooks and crannies just chock full of goodies that attested to her original outfitting for cruising. After fixing the sole, rebuilding the head, water pumps, replacing gaskets here and there, new filters on the engine, new batteries and charger, getting the propane tanks tested, and hooking up all those little goodies, she's cleaner and looking better all the time and very much enjoyed by me, hubby and our kitty. We still haven't hooked up the wheel mounted autohelm (the only goody still uninstalled)...maybe this month we'll play with it. Her mast and boom need painting, but we're ignoring that for now and just enjoying sailing her.

Back in the early 1980's when as newlyweds, my husband and I "planned" our post-career cruising life, the Rawson 30 was exactly the kind of sturdy little cruiser that we thought we'd see the world aboard. Since then, good luck, good employment, and good investing has allowed us to get into (and more importantly--afford to maintain) a much larger boat for our extended cruising (that's the boat currently being rebuilt). However, if we were on a tighter budget, we'd be absolutely thrilled to cruise on a Rawson 30. When things get frustrating with the big boat rebuild, we joke and say "lets just sail off into the sunset on the Rawson." After sailing her, we can see why this series was/is so popular with west coast based cruisers.

P.S. a funny little "feature" listed in the original 1966 brochure is that her foredeck is large enough for 2 people to "sleep out under the stars."

Happy cruising...
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