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Old 09-09-2012, 06:01 PM   #1
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First boat...too big?

Is 30' too big for a first boat?

Here's a short description of our rapid descent down the slippery slope of rationalization;

- Decades of sea kayaking experience, including a 6 month trip on BC's coast, and a 2 month trip during winter on BC's north coast. We know our stuff as far as the BC coast goes, but are totally new to boating.

- Older now, full time job, and want to access more distant locations on weekends and holidays.

- Never want to use a porta-potty in a cuddy with my wife inches away, and visa-versa.

- So, since we're going for an enclosed head, a shower sure would be nice. (After all those 16 hour long rain drenched nights in a tent, we deserve it!)

- Prefer a single diesel sipping engine amidships, and a prop protecting keel.

- We almost had a 23' semi displacement hull pocket cruiser in our grasp, but the deal fell through. It was pretty heavy, and the cost of a trailer and a 3/4 ton truck to pull it would add to the cost of fixing up the 30 year old boat. Our local marina is full, and we're 13th on the list to get in.

- So, since we had already rationalized paying for the big trailer, and bigger truck...why not spend all that money on a 30' trawler that already has moorage and is in good shape? And since we're so far down the path of justifications...I did quit smoking cigarettes 15 years ago and quit drinking over 2 years ago, so all that money I used to throw away without thinking about it will easily cover the cost of moorage for the year, right?

See what I mean?

Which brings us back to the initial question...do you think a 30' displacement hull vessel with an 11' beam is too big for a first boat? We've come up with a gazillion reasons pro and con.

Dare to dream...
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:32 PM   #2
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Should add that my brother has a marine mechanics course under his belt, and my brother-in-law worked on diesels for decades before he retired a couple years ago. Still, I intend to get to know it from one end to the other.
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:06 PM   #3
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I think it's a good size for weekends or longer, but not necessarily for a live aboard. I had a 30' Wellcraft, planing hull, gas I/O. It had good room inside, could sleep 6, but I wouldn't recommend it. The most we had on it at any given time was 4.

It wasn't difficult to handle with a little planning to get the lines in and out, or weasel in or out of a slip or a crowded marina. A few times I ended up handling it myself in the evenings when the wife was getting the kids down in the mid-cabin as we headed to our favorite anchorage. Other times with my dive buddies made the trek that much easier.

The biggest thing I'd be looking for is a separate head with a separate shower. Second biggest thing would be more "stand-up" room in the cabin or cabins. The kids thought it was cool to crawl into the mid-cabin bunk (under a raised flybridge), but us (now old) folks don't think so.

Good luck finding the right boat for you.
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:16 PM   #4
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A 30' cruiser is not to big to start with. Many people have started with even bigger first boats. Knowing what you want in a boat is very important. There's a whale of a difference between a 23' pocket cruiser and a 30" cruiser; you can have your enclosed shower in a 30' boat, but not in a 23' boat. I like your idea of placing it on a trailer to tow to various destinations; that give you a lot of cruising flexibility. However, it's a very good idea to take a boating safety course with boating organizations like either the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the United States Power Squadron (of course, I talking about in the States). After selecting your boat, get a knowledgeable boater to help you learn how to handle her. Proper trailering is also something that needs to be learned. Then, initially take her out on short cruisers increasing your distance over time; there's nothing like using your boat to gain the experience you need to being a good boater.Good luck.
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:44 PM   #5
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30 is about ideal for a first cabin cruiser IMO. I have a 20' sailboat with 4 berths that we'll likely never sleep in. Great place to change clothes, store sails and keep the cooler. Using the head is a cruel joke though.

30 feet is a sweet spot in boats for us. Big enough to be comfortable yet small enough to feel reasonably confident handling as newbies. Operating and ongoing expenses are reasonable too. In one of our boating areas berths are easy to locate in that size which is another plus.

Where we wish to wind up though waiting lists are years long so purchasing a boat with the berth will be more practical for us at that point too. Of course that leads to more rationalizations and compromises. When we buy for the berth(so to speak) we'll be more open to sizes above 30' if needed to get the harbor we want. We'll also be less particular about the condition of the subject boats while shopping.

It pays to be picky when shopping a broad market, but when shopping in only 1 or 2 marinas you may have to drop your standards to raise your average.
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Old 09-09-2012, 09:01 PM   #6
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Too small. You'll be wanting to upgrade within months. 36' was my first "real" boat and I loved it. Have a 42 now.
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Old 09-09-2012, 09:20 PM   #7
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30' is fine. Along with the USPS and USCGAUX courses you may want a 'hands on' one-on-one with an experienced instructor.
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:37 PM   #8
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Its not big enough if you want to spend any liveaboard time. Our first boat was 43 feet and while many people told us we were crazy we've never regretted it. The deciding factor for me was headroom at the helm and in the galley. If I couldn't stand up then we weren't buying and that effectively limited us to something over 40 feet, depending on designer. In hindsight there were a lot of other good reasons to go at least 40 feet.

Pretty quickly you will want to spend at least a week out and its going to be real crowded in 30'. And if you want to bring friends along, forgetaboutit. Its going to be a real expensive boat if you have to buy something bigger within 12 months.
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:57 PM   #9
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No, it likely wont be too big. And as a kayaker 30' will feel absolutely luxurious, and wont be too small either. Just like anything else, whatever you learn on will become the future standard. Knowing the water and weather is half of the battle anyways. I bought my boat to fit my slip size. Sounds like you're doing the same.
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Old 09-09-2012, 11:23 PM   #10
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Too small...
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Old 09-09-2012, 11:42 PM   #11
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Thanks for the words of encouragement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Spy View Post
And as a kayaker 30' will feel absolutely luxurious, and wont be too small either...
Too true. When we started sea kayaking it felt like car camping compared to backpacking, so a 30 footer is going to feel like a 5 star hotel suite!

So much to learn...docking, anchoring, diesel engine, maintenance, etc, etc, etc. Kinda gives a guy butterflies, like surf landings or long crossings used to do in the early paddling days.
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Old 09-10-2012, 01:34 AM   #12
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We're on our 2nd bigger inbd boat. Our first was an Albin 25 aft cabin and a near perfect boat it was. But we decided too small. I was often banging parts of my body here and there and it never seemed to stop. And it was a light boat. We have a Willard 30 now and I almost never bang my body but the bigger size requires a LOT more responsibilities and cost in time and money. I've always felt the 30' pleasure boat was the ideal size and still do IF your time on the water isn't the main thing in your life. If it is the ideal boat is likely to be about 36'. So I think the guys here that said 30s too small are probably boating most all the time. It's the most frequent thing they do and a 30 footer just gets to be a hassle. But if you only go out on your boat every 2 to 4 weeks boating is a casual activity and the cramped quarters are temporary enough that a bigger boat isn't necessary. So the real question for you is how did you do backpacking and kayaking? The whole 9 yards .. every chance you had. Well the reason I say this is the question for you is that you'll probably do the same w your boat. So the 30 footer quite likely will be too small if my suspicions are correct.
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Old 09-10-2012, 01:40 AM   #13
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A 30-footer is a good starter boat. But I definitely appreciate another five feet or so of length and 13 feet of beam.

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Old 09-10-2012, 05:39 AM   #14
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Your problem seems to be finding a cock?

Why?

A cruising boat can live on a mooring or at anchor , esp if you do not live aboard.

The hassle is always the power for refrigeration , which on a weekend boat (at the mooring or underway) can be handled by an ice chest, or my favorite a propane reefer.

Dockside is great for partying on a Gin Palace , a weekend cottage use.

If you want to actually go cruising , and actually move the boat more than a few hours a year , being away from a dock is the best start.

Mooring prices dont reflect LOA as much as dock space , so get a Keeper, a boat for the next 5 years , not a "starter" you will soon put on the market.

34ft on a TT is about as small as is worth it as a keeper. An aluminum dink with oars is best , as they are not theft prone , and require no maint.
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Old 09-10-2012, 07:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Your problem seems to be finding a cock?

Why?

A cruising boat can live on a mooring or at anchor , esp if you do not live aboard.
Pretty sure you meant "dock".

Not really much of an option where he lives. The BC coast is just not conducive to moorings. The only boats on moorings around here are samson ferrocement and ex-fishboats with plywood cabin add-ons. i.e. disposable once winter comes.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:10 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MurrayM View Post
...............do you think a 30' displacement hull vessel with an 11' beam is too big for a first boat? ....
No, but I would suggest taking a boating safety course and I would suggest several hours of "hands on" boat handling instruction on your new boat by a local qualified instructor.

I will leave it up to the others to answer the questions you didn't ask.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:46 AM   #17
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I've always felt the 30' pleasure boat was the ideal size and still do IF your time on the water isn't the main thing in your life. If it is the ideal boat is likely to be about 36'. So I think the guys here that said 30s too small are probably boating most all the time. It's the most frequent thing they do and a 30 footer just gets to be a hassle.
Good point.

I have about 13 years until retirement, so we'd be going out most weekends and holidays. I see us doing pretty much the same things with a 30 footer as we did with our kayaks, in that we'd go to an isolated bay, I would take my camera gear and explore the beaches, creeks, rivers, forests, and mountains while my wife stayed in camp (or now on the boat) writing and reading. More like a base camp than a live aboard.

What we would lose in access with kayaks (such as small uncharted pocket beaches near Cape Caution with bright orange sand so fine it squeaks when you walk) will be made up for in warm, dry, distance gobbling comfort.

Now wait a minute...like me rummage around here for a second...no, that's not it...well son of a ___, that's where I left that wrench....let me check over to the left a little...AHA...no worries FF, I found my "dock"!
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:55 AM   #18
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I think a 30' boat is a reasonable size for a beginner if:

1) it is slow (it will keep you out of most trouble and give you time to focus on learning your boat)

2)not a lot of windage (it can make learning to handle a single screw inboard maddening)
a) a bow thruster will make your learning curve much less harrowing

Have you see a Prairie 29'? If this is a learning boat with anticipations of moving up,Prairies can usu. be had cheap so you can sell it quickly when ready to move on. thy are nice beginner rigs that won't make you cry if you scuff it on a dock. They have a pretty shallow draft. Very thrifty. They do have some windage though, so you can budget a thruster as the boat has a low entry fee. Pretty light boat comparatively so you can "man-handle" it some. Its also small enough that you can feel what the boat is doing in varying conditions and learn some of the quirks of a keeled boat. Just some thoughts
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Old 09-10-2012, 11:25 AM   #19
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Twisted,
I thought you said "not a lot of windage" but the Prairie 29 has lots.
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Old 09-10-2012, 11:27 AM   #20
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[QUOTE=manyboats;102647]Twisted,
I thought you said "not a lot of windage" but the Prairie 29 has lots.[/QUOTE

Yeah but for the price he could justify a bow thruster.
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