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Old 11-06-2009, 10:30 AM   #21
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 6

In 14 months time my family (my wife, 12-year-old daughter, cat, dog and me) will begin a minimum of 24 months cruising the Mediterranean. At the end of that time we'll renegotiate with each other and either carry on sailing or do whatever it takes to meet each other's (mainly my daughter's) needs. We have been working towards this plan for the last 12 years now and whilst most parts of the scheme seem to be coming together easily, the financial part it is proving much less predictable.

One of the challenges of planning a cruise from South Africa is that it depends heavily on the South African Rand and whilst South Africa is truly a land of opportunity for entrepreneurs and hard workers, you have to earn lots and lots and lots of Rands in order to buy even a few pounds or euros! the world economy of the last 18 months has not helped either.

So instead of going to sea in 162' boat complete with submarine and crew, we've downscaled our dream to a 44' - 46' boat with a minimum of three cabins, plenty of light and air, decent boat speed and with a big emphasis on safety. Given that our cruise comprises two years in the Mediterranean and possibly some more time after that beyond it and across to the Americas or further, maybe you can help me think through the sort of boat to look at.

Jeanneau and Benneteau both can fit inside our budget of around €115,000 (very second hand) but I am cautious of the sort of scepticism around these boats being voiced in this thread. The boat we buy now does not necessarily have to take us across the Atlantic or down south back to Africa. If the family renegotiation says that we can continue sailing, and if the boat we've sailed with for the two years is not a dyed in the wool ocean-crossing machine, there is an option to sell it and buy something with more blue water capability. But it may be that there is an affordable boat that I should be looking at from the outset and within our price range. One that meets our needs for an ideal Med cruiser and that also has the strength and guts to poke its nose out beyond Gibraltar and into the rest of the world without too much fear of things falling off.



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Old 11-06-2009, 01:13 PM   #22
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bear with me, here. My ramblings do have a point.

First, we set out cruising in 1986 on a 39' Jeanneau Sun Fizz. It had 3 cabins - forward v-berth and two aft cabins that were the perfect place to sleep on passages. It was plenty big enough for the two of us. We cruised the east coast of the US, the Eastern Caribbean including Tobago and Venezuela, Central and a bit of S. America (but only as far south as Ecuador, which we loved). Across the S. Pacific by way of Easter and Pitcairn Islands, across and around the S. China Sea, and we sold the boat in Singapore in 2003. I loved sv Watermelon, and loved passages on her - the longer we were out at sea, the happier I was. We sailed her hard, and she never let us down. We cared for her well, and though things broke, she was always a safe boat to voyage in.

Husband Peter wanted a powerboat then - due to our soon-to-be senior citizens age, our return to the east coast of the US with no plans of crossing oceans anymore. We looked at a lot of boats, and downsized to a 34' power catamaran. Everything we looked at above 40 feet was, in my opinion, like driving a house. We wanted a boat, not a house, and the PDQ MV34 is good for us.

I hear that the newer Beneteaus and Jeanneaus aren't as well built as our sv Watermelon, but that's hearsay since I don't have any experience with the newer boats. The older Jeanneaus were SOLID boats with a few shortcomings (don't all boats have some shortcomings?), and Watermelon was a fine example of that. What it didn't have was fancy joinerwork - the interior could have disposed of wood entirely and Peter and I would have been very happy and it would probably have looked a lot better, certainly brighter. The Goiot hatches were great - when we sold Watermelon in 2003 she was 21 years old, and none of the hatches ever leaked. Ever. I realize that UK surveyors judge French boats harshly, but the French are, in my opinion, some of the best sailors in the world, and their design of the Sun Fizz was great. Smart lazarette covers, recognition that water comes on board a boat no matter how it is used and thus everything is designed to keep things safe and dry. No sharp edges, and one of the nicest companionways on a boat that size.

Things break and go bad on a boat no matter how much you pay for it. The salt environment is hard on everything.

One suggestion would be to get yourself a marine catalog, and make a list of the stuff you must have on your boat ("must have" is different for everyone, so this is something only you can do). This would include pumps, fresh water and salt. It could include Refrigerator, chart plotter, hand-held GPS, radar, VHF radios (one helm station, one hand-held), binoculars (get the best you can afford of 7 X 50). Price it all. That will probably be what you will have to pay in addition to the cost of the boat. If you do it as a spreadsheet, you can use it as a checklist as you look at used boats to (possibly) reduce your start-up costs. Be realistic in your expectations that anything on a used boat will work for longer than 6 months after you buy it - saves a lot of pain and anger later on.

The bigger the boat, the more work - sails are bigger - the mainsail becomes heavier to haul up the mast, replacement sails become much more expensive (something to SERIOUSLY inspect when buying a used boat). Regular inspection and maintenance is what keeps a boat safe. An hour a day has to be dedicated to the care of the boat, and it can't wait several months before the tasks are addressed. In a way, I think that's a great education in discipline for your daughter, so consider that when buying the boat - how big is too big to maintain? Consider where you will be cruising. The cockpit was our back porch and entertainment center. Living in the tropics, we were below as little as possible, so the boat was bigger than her 39'.

Fair winds,


In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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Old 11-06-2009, 01:26 PM   #23
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 6

Jeanne, I love your posting, so much of what gets written or said about yachts comes from the perspective of people with very fixed ideas; perhaps the most reliable voices are those of people who've actually sailed, lived aboard various types of boat. Until recently we were looking at catamarans and there again, some of the most fixed and adamant anti-catamaran commentators seem to be people who have not got too many catamaran sea miles under their belts.

We are so looking forward to changing our lifestyle soon. Thanks for taking the time to answer!


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