Sunday, July 24, 2011

Top Picks for Small Cruising Sailboats

While there are many, many sailboats designed for the masses, a surprising few meet the criteria I am about to provide below.  Like everyone else, I have my own opinions and criteria for what makes a great sailboat.  Your criteria could be different based on your intended use and your budget tolerances.  I consider many designs not mentioned here to be respectable and even suitable, however they would not be my first choices.

I've done a lot of research to choose the boats that meet my preferences to become top picks.  I can't say enough about how important it is to actually spend time sailing on as many different boats as possible to learn your own preferences.  You have to also realistically evaluate your intended use - and always know there is no one "perfect" design.  All designs make trade-offs but the boats listed below have stood the test of the sea in virtually every imaginable condition and have not been found wanting.

My preference criteria for a cruising sailboat are as follows:

- Well respected design known for sailing performance in all conditions (hold value).
- Relatively more displacement, beam, and stiffness are preferred over speed, however the boat must be able to perform well even in light airs.
- Modified full keel w/ draft less than 5' and preferably closer to 4'.
- Skeg hung or keel protected rudder.
- Able to perform respectably on all points of sail.
- Solid and overbuilt GPR hull (not cored).
- Sail plan in order of preference 1) Cutter 2) Sloop 3) Ketch.
- Roomy accommodations and storage relative to comparably sized vessels.
- Small cruising means in the vicinity of 30ft LOA since there will be two or more at all times.
- Traditional lines.  I like double-enders and the like but I understand there are pros/ cons.

It probably goes without saying but most boats that meet these criteria are expensive compared to other designs.  But then I think there are some things in life where you get what you pay for.  I think it's important to mention that while safety is further enhanced by good design and solid construction of a vessel, seaworthiness is mostly determined by the "nut behind the tiller."


Nor'sea 27

Designer - Lyle C. Hess
Year Introduced - 1977 to Present
Number Built - 450+
LOA - 27' 0" or 31' 0" with sprit
Beam - 8' 0"
Displacement - 8,100 lbs
Head Room - 6' 0"
Draft - 3' 10"


Pacific Seacraft Orion 27

Designer - Henry Morschladt
Year Built - 1980 to 1989? - comes in a MkII sloop rig as well
Number Built - unknown (if anyone happens to know, please post)
LOA - 27' 4" or 30' 11" with sprit
Beam - 9' 3"
Displacement - 10,000 lbs
Head Room - 6' 1"
Draft - 4' 0"
**Plan C interior arrangement would appear preferable as would the cutter rig



Island Packet 27

Designer - Bob Johnson
Year Built - 1980 to 1992
Number Built - 243
LOA - 26' 0" or 30' 0" with sprit
Beam - 10' 6"
Displacement - 8,000 lbs
Head Room - 6' 1"
Draft - 3' 7"



Shannon 28

Designer - Walter Shultz
Year Built - 1978 to 1985
Number Built - 50 (making them rare - difficult to locate pics)
LOA - 28' 0" and 31' 11" with bow sprit and rudder
Beam - 9' 6"
Displacement - 9,300 lbs
Head Room - 6' 0"
Draft - 4' 3"

Links: Shannon 28


Bristol Channel Cutter 28

Designer - Lyle C. Hess
Year Built - 1975 to
Number Built - 127 plus another 20 Canadian built bootleg boats
LOA - 28' 1" or 37' 9" with pole sprit and rudder
Beam - 10' 1"
Displacement - 14,000 lbs
Head Room - 6' 1" or optional 6' 6"
Draft - 4' 10"



Pacific Seacraft 31

Designer - William I. B. Crealock
Year Built - 1987 to Present
Number Built - 100+
LOA - 30' 6" or 31' 10" with sprit
Beam - 9' 10"
Displacement - 11,000 lbs
Head Room - 6' 1"
Draft - 4' 10" or skeel shoal draft of 4' 0"


Other Small to Medium Size Cruising Sailboats of Interest

Com-Pac 16/2 (1984 Hull #2202+ w/ bow sprit)
Cape Dory Typhoon 18
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20
Pacific Seacraft Dana 24
Quick Step 24
Allegra 24
Bristol 24
Morgan 250
Cape Dory 25
O’Day 25 Fixed Keel/ Centerboard
Columbia 7.6 WBSC
Irwin 10/4
Frances 26
Contessa/ Folk Boat 26
Alberg 27
Hunter 27 (early 80's Cherubini designs)
Sea Sprite 28
Pearson Triton 28
Westsail 28
Bristol 29
Baba 30
Cape Dory 30 MkII
Tashiba 31
Pacific Seacraft Mariah 31
Island Packet 31
Southern Cross 31/ Aries 32
Cape George 31
Gozzard 31
Niagara 31
Yankee 30 MkII
Allied Seawind
Other Morris/ Paine designs (Linda 28, Annie 29, Leigh 30, Nicholson 31 / 32, Justine 36)
Pearson Vangard 32
Contessa 32
Westsail 32
Valiant 32
Hans Christian 33 Traditional
Pacific Seacraft 34
Sparkman & Stephens (Tartan) 34
Southern Cross 35
Baba 35
Tayana 37
Gozzard 36/ 37
Pacific Seacraft Crealock 37
Esprit/ Valiant 37
CS 36 Traditional
Pacific Seacraft Crealock 40
Valiant 40
Passport 40
Bristol 41.1

3 comments:

  1. And that's my dream list. Now to convince the fam that living on a boat would be a blast!

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  2. My wife and I hope to do some seasonal cruising along the US coast, the Carribean, and Central America. Who knows...I'm in love with the Nor'sea!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I came accross a very interesting website with more info on this product: http://www.nauticexpo.com/boat-manufacturer/cruising-sailboat-7.html

    ReplyDelete