Join Date: Jul 2004
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'.