Friday, June 17, 2005

Sojourner Boats

It’s always been a goal of mine to own an ocean worthy sailboat of my own. I would love to retire and cruise the ocean to exotic ports of call. South America, Caribbean, and even the South Pacific. I’ve only been able to do it in short stints during vacations, the longest being a month, and never on my own boat. In doing research on which types of boats work best for the cruising lifestyle, you have to be very thorough.

Initially, make sure that this is something that a) you really want to do, and b) that you actually can do. Many people purchase boats with wild dreams of sailing off into the sunset, only to realize that the maintenance is too difficult or expensive, or that they don’t enjoy the lifestyle. There are as many reasons to not enjoy sailing as there are TO enjoy it.

Secondly, you have to decide the length of boat. I recommend at least 41 feet for anyone serious about doing this. I’d estimate that the average cruiser found in the Caribbean or South America is sailing a 40-45’ boat. This, of course, is just my estimate based on my personal experience. Next, you have to decide on a make. Lots of experienced cruisers prefer Tartan sailboats , known for their classic styling and quality manufacturing. Beneteau’s and C&C’s are two other popular makes. I’d also recommend looking into catamarans. Friends of ours cruised for years with a Cat they made themselves, and it was an elegant and extremely functional boat. And of course, it was as fast as the wind. They are great on space and usually have a very open central gathering area for maximum comfort.

Once you have made your purchase, start looking into message boards with information and tips from other cruisers. This is your best source of knowledge. Learn from their mistakes, and save yourself a lot of pain. Sailing journals are a great source for information, especially with the advent of blogs. Do your research first, and then prepare yourself for a wonderful, and wonderfully difficult, adventure. Good luck!