- Important Considerations When Deciding On a Cruising Boat
- Cruising Boat Evaluation Checklist
- General Style and Type of Boat
- Keel Type
- Living Space
- Heads/ Bathrooms
- Cabins – Beds and Bedrooms
- Mechanical and Electrical Systems
- Other Boat Selection Considerations
- If a Catamaran is for you – Catamaran Layout Options
- Conclusion – Boat Evaluation Checklist
Important Considerations When Deciding On a Cruising Boat
Don’t make cruiser boat buying mistake number one! Getting told what style of boat or boat model(s) you need to buy and then work backward to see which boats that are currently for sale meet your needs. Start your cruising boat evaluation with your eyes wide open. Find out what you need then choose the boat.
Don’t allow yourself to be bullied by peer pressure into being told bluntly that you need to purchase a Pacific Seacraft, Helberg Rassy, Amel, etc. Not that they’re not great boats. They may just not be the boat for you. There are quite literally hundreds of boat models suitable for cruising on. Make sure you buy the boat that will work for you and your future cruising style.
Cruising Boat Evaluation Checklist
Here are some important things to look for in a cruising boat. This cruising boat evaluation checklist is not designed to be a survey checklist. More a further out planning tool to help you decide what is important to you in a cruising boat.
Score each Item in our boat evaluation checklist and then decide which factors are most important to you. This will help you narrow down a boat style. Next, research which boat manufacturers and models check most of your boxes. You may still have to compromise a little to find the perfect boat to go cruising on.
When it comes time to buy a cruising boat, run through the cruising boat buying checklist to make sure that the boat meets your needs. It should hopefully also draw your eye towards any defects worth discussing before submitting an offer to buy the boat.
If you find this cruising boat evaluation checklist useful, please share it with your fellow future cruisers. If I’ve missed anything else to consider please add them to the comments section.
General Style and Type of Boat
|Classic or Modern Style||Have you been told by other sailors that modern production boats should be excluded from your shortlist as they are not ‘Blue Water Boats’ Then please take a look at our article on What is a ‘Blue Water Boat’?|
|Well Known Production Boat or Custom |
|Bear in mind that a custom boat may mean custom problems. Large run production boats have active owners groups that prove invaluable when sourcing parts and troubleshooting problems.|
|Construction Material||– GRP – Glass Reinforced Plastic (fiberglass).|
– Ferrocement – best avoided.
|Age||– How many years is too old for you?|
– Remember for boats older than 20 years. Especially for wooden and steel boats, insurance companies will start looking for more frequent out of the water surveys. This will add to your cruising budget as you can expect to pay anywhere between $600 and $1500 for a survey on a 45ft boat plus the costs of a haul. On a newer GRP boat expect to be asked for an out of the water survey every 5+ years after the 10th year. An older wooden or steel boat may require a survey every second year.
|Monohull, Catamaran, or other multihull|
|If you complete this Boat Evaluation Checklist and find that there are too many conflicting decisions or if you cannot find a model that fits your wish list. You may need to revisit your monohull vs catamaran decision.|
|Draft – Deep or Shallow||Look beyond the traditional advice of simply checking which anchorages the boat will be able to navigate to. When the weather picks up a shallow draft allows you to move into more protected areas of anchorages.|
|Cruising Speed||– 200+ miles a day (8.33kts average cruising speed).|
– 175 – 199 miles a day (7.3 -8.33kts).
– 150 – 175 miles a day (6.25-7.3kts).
– 120 – 149 miles a day (5 – 6.25kts).
– 100 – 119 Miles a day (4.2 -5kts).
The ability to achieve approximately 150nm miles + in a day is an important consideration for any boat that will be used on ocean crossings. Not only does the increased speed result in faster passage times. Increased speed is an important safety tool to be able to navigate away from severe weather.
|Boat Weight||– Heavy traditional boat.|
– Modern medium weight boat.
– Modern lightweight boat.
– Ultralightweight, all carbon fiber boat.
|Transom Style||– Open or Closed?|
– How important is the ease of access? Look at boarding step size and location. Also, think about sloping transoms and the likelihood of injury when climbing on and off the dingy in rough anchorages.
– Will you be mounting a wind vane or Hydro Vane? Can the transom accommodate them?
– Will, you still be able to use the transom to access the boat once wind vanes, etc. are fitted.
– Canoe Stern boats. This is a very heated subject and can be very subjective. Do careful research to see if this style of boat works for you. Do the disadvantages outweigh the advantages? One thing is certain Canoe Stern boats will have a smaller cockpit area.
|Flat Uncluttered Decks? Or wide decks?||Think about how you will move around the decks of your future boat. What is important to you as far as deck layout.|
|Deck Covering and Coatings||– Can you live with teak deck upkeep?|
– Think how hot imitation teak gets. Remember his heat is conducted through the decks and warms the cabins below.
– Is a painted deck acceptable?
|Exposed Helm Seats||Consider that there may be times you have to sit in the elements (rain, wind, and/ or sun) for hours.|
|Will You Be Installing Solar||– How much real estate is available? Does it match your power generation plans?|
– Don’t be talked into Flexible solar on top of the bimini by someone who specializes in high latitude sailing, without carefully looking at the overall costs and life span. What lasts in the Pacific North West does not last in the Mexican sun.
|Dingy Davits||– Do you need davits?|
– How does the lifting system work? Is it manageable?
– Can the dingy style, size, and weight be accommodated on the davits?
|Rig Height||Is this a factor? Is cruising the ICW so important that you need to make this the largest boat buying factor? Or could you skip it and sail outside of the ICW?|