Stus-List Bigger Boat Question

Josh Muckley muckleyj at
Thu May 30 12:22:03 EDT 2013

A gentleman who had sailed an Endeavor 37 repeatedly to South America,
cautioned my wife and I to stay below 35 feet.  He explained that in his
opinion over that and the systems and maintenance become unwieldy.  He
further explained that many of the "boat show" boats jam 3 berths and two
heads into a 37 or 38 footer.  And over 40, that layout becomes the norm.
Additionally, those spaces can be cramped at best.

If you want a head make sure you can actually use it.  How much can it
hold?  Is it configured such that you could use it underway?  Does it
provide enough privacy?  Some are just glorified buckets, stowed in a
closet or under the v-berth, surrounded by a curtain (if you're lucky).
Same problem with the shower.  Many designs require you to shower with the
pull-out sink faucet while standing/sitting on the toilet and consequently
getting the entire compartment wet.  Imagine how much better a single,
larger, functional head, with separate enclosed shower would be.  Combine
that with the fact that all the pipes, valves, and strainers for the second
head double your maintenance costs.

All of this translates, to some degree, to every space and system on board
a boat.  12v fridge, radar, auto helm, chart plotter, vhf, water pump,
bilge pump, vacu-flush, inverter, A/C, cabin heater, stereo, TV, satellite,
stove, oven, microwave, grill, water heater, sailing instruments, DC
charging (solar, wind, charger, alternator), anchor windlass, furlers
(mainsail and headsail), powered winches, water maker, wind vane steering,

Some things actually get easier as you get bigger.  Forcing a small boat to
do a bigger boat's job can be difficult, costly, uncomfortable, and
possibly unsafe.

A bigger boat allows for larger batteries and charging system, larger
tanks, better cooking systems, and better handling in bad weather.  I ran
into a couple from the UK (Stef and Stewart - yatchmatador at at
a marine consignment shop who advised that the single best way to reduce
your costs was to stay on the anchor instead of a marina and dingy into
town.   They had sufficient tankage and were able to make enough water to
go indefinitely.  They also had 12v refrigeration and solar/wind charging
with enough battery capacity to go indefinitely.  While in inland waters
their only limit was holding tank capacity, food stores, and diesel tank

So, much like everyone else has said, it is far more important to focus on
getting a boat that you will use because it fits your needs than to get one
that stops getting used because it doesn't.

I started with a MacGregor 26C.  A decent, cheap, and very simple boat that
allowed us to grow into sailing without being overwhelmed.  After a 52 mile
cruise up the bay with 3 nights stay in a marina we decided that further
exploration was going to require a bigger boat.  We still have that boat
and while we don't use it we also don't have any urgency to sell it.

The bigger boat that we bought (C&C 37+) was chosen for a long list of
reasons (and growing).  First was a PHRF of 75 (nimble boat), followed by
interior accommodations (2 berths, 1 head w/enclosed shower), finished off
by solid good looks.  As someone else kinda mentioned, it is nice to see
your boat and be able say, "Boy that's a sharp looking boat!"

The 37+ and 34+ models have a bit more race inspiration and may be a bit
too tender for your family, though I personally would not hesitate.  For me
the 38 Landfall would have been a close contender except for its higher
PHRF (~141).  And from the sounds of it the 35/3 should have been on my
short list.  Those are the models I would pursuit if I were in your shoes.
Don't let the size scare you away.

Not to volunteer any of the other listers but I for one would gladly
welcome the opportunity to show a potential buyer all of the reasons I
bought my boat in person.  You could make a family vacation out of it by
organizing a couple of different boat demos into the same week and nearby

Good luck on your search,

Josh Muckley
S/V Sea Hawk
1989 C&C 37+
Solomons, MD

When security matters.
On May 30, 2013 1:06 AM, "Chuck S" <cscheaffer at> wrote:

> Good questions.  You'll do fine finding a good boat.
> I never had "two foot itis".  I started with a 13' Sunfish, to a Cape Dory
> 22', sold that and windsurfed for 15 yrs, and then fell in love with our
> present 36 footer, the 34R.  So much depends on what you want to do with
> the boat and how many new skills you want to learn.  If your whole family
> is cruising, be sure to consider them in the new boat decision.
> Bigger boats cost more overall, a little more bottom paint, longer dock
> lines, higher slip fees, new sails, storage charges.  But many costs are
> the same, like the common items like new dishes or fire extinguishers,
> flares, dinghy, VHF, bilge pumps and head and electronics cost the same if
> you put them on a big boat or small boat.  The bigger boat can serve as a
> getaway/weekend home.
> My one tip: be more agressive as a buyer:  Get aboard some bigger boats.
> Ask owners if they might consider letting you crew on bigger boats to see
> what they are like?  Offer to crew for a race, offer to bring beer or rum
> for a sail.  Ask them later if they might consider selling?   There are
> many owners who have enjoyed their boats and would love to sell but don't
> want to go through the emotional rollercoaster of selling through listings
> or a broker.
> Size: Boathandling is fun to learn and demonstrate.  I learn tricks all
> the time.   Like how to set all the fenders and prep all docklines before I
> approach the dock, and docking single handed in cross winds, or in strong
> river current, and when to ask for help, and when not to ask for help.
> Chuck
> Resolute
> 1990 C&C 34R
> Atlantic City, NJ
> ------------------------------
> *From: *"Dr. Mark Bodnar" <drbodnar at>
> *To: *cnc-list at
> *Sent: *Wednesday, May 29, 2013 12:01:56 AM
> *Subject: *Stus-List Bigger Boat Question
> I'm still looking at boats, reading emails from this list and learning
> lots.  Right now I'm sitting back, watching the market, looking to new
> boats that come up, and trying to figure out where I want to end up.
> Maybe some more experienced listers can offer some thoughts (on or off
> list).
> I know that everyone has there own criteria - but I'm trying to figure
> out the right boat for me.  My Mirage 24 is quite small - 5ft of
> headroom (only my 8 yr old can stand up), not enough space to sleep 5
> (me and 4 kids), lacks an enclosed head, no functional galley, noisy and
> smelly outboard.
> I envision wanting to do some more sailing - little further out of the
> harbour, some overnights (effectively boat camping with the kids), maybe
> a long weekend away with the girlfriend.
> But we've all heard the cracks "2 best days in a boater life - the day
> he/she buys their boat, and the day they sell it", or "A boat is a hole
> in the water you pour money into" - not really encouraging. So, why, if
> they are so terrible does everyone get 2 foot itis?
> Feel free to espouse on why did you end up with the boat you have? Do
> you wish you stayed smaller/cheaper/simpler?
> What would you say to yourself if you could go back and offer advice?
> Was this the best decision ever?  If you could make a change what do you
> want? A bigger galley? Bigger cockpit?
> My temptation was to find a 29-30 foot boat that would work, thinking
> that would last me for years with the kids and still be a manageable
> size when they are off.  Keeping costs reasonable, maintenance
> manageable and enough boat to venture further afield.
> Right now I could buy a local C&C 33 (with and Atomic4), or a local C&C
> 30 (diesel), or there are 29's, 30's and 34's within reach - the prices
> are similar.  I plan on climbing aboard a few different boats to get a
> feel for size and space, but I'm trying to figure out what I'm getting
> into without having to learn the painfully hard way!  I'm leaning
> towards a diesel (only because that seems to be common opinion and gas
> on my current boat has it's downsides), wheel steering and something
> fairly stable (so kids and girlfriend aren't barfing over the side --
> which I gather eliminates the 29's from the list).  Price wise I'd like
> to stay below $20000.
> I have the cash set aside to buy the boat, but clearly bigger is not
> always better, the maintenance and insidious upkeep costs can add up
> quickly.  I was able to do a quick sand and bottom paint on my M24 in
> 2.5 hrs.  Assuming the cost and workload multiply with the displacement
> I'm guessing a 30ft (being twice the displacement) would be double the
> effort, a 34ft 3 times the work.  At what point is it more work and you
> wish for a smaller/cheaper boat?
> Thanks in advance for the advice,
> Mark
> --
> ---------------------
>    Dr. Mark Bodnar
> B.Sc., D.C., FCCOPR(C)
> Bedford Chiropractic
> ---------------------
> There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
>    - George Santayana
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