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Old 02-19-2015, 04:31 PM   #1
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FL to Bahamas to T&C to USVI: Stabilizers?

If you were travelling regularly between FL waters (coastal cruising) and running over to the Bahamas, T&C, and USVI, would the investment in stabilizers be a worthwhile expense? I realize this a "how many angels can fit on the head of a pin" type of question, but doing that type of cruising for next 5 years, are stabilizers worth it? Time is not a question, as I'd be living aboard anyways - and retired - so I could wait for weather windows, but I've read that on these types of boats you don't want to get out of the ICW without stabilizers, and wanted to get people's thoughts.

The boat in question would be a DeFever 49, or GB 46 or a boat of that general size.
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Old 02-19-2015, 04:47 PM   #2
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Yes. You need them.
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Old 02-19-2015, 04:50 PM   #3
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Yes. You need them.

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Old 02-19-2015, 05:01 PM   #4
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I have done the Bahamas crossing several times in a sailboat, but never in a trawler. Sailboats with their weighted keel below, a mast 60' in the air, a steadying sail but with a round bottom don't roll as much as my semi-displacement hull trawler does.

On one of those Gulf Stream crossings I would have been glad for stabilizers but obviously survived without them. The other three crossings, the roll wasn't bad enough to worry about it. The one semi bad crossing we were in 4-5' waves with confused seas and 10-15 kts of wind. That is almost at my limit in our trawler.

So stabilizers will let you be comfortable in most conditions and will allow you to make crossings that you wouldn't do otherwise. Cruisers pile up by the dozens at West Palm Beach waiting for light southerly winds to make their crossing.

Going all of the way to the USVI will put you in similar rough conditions as the Gulf Stream crossing. The Mona Passage between the DR and PR is as notorious as the Florida Gulf Stream. If you have any thoughts of moving down the Leeward Islands chain, then definitely consider stabilizers as you will be in the strong trade winds between islands with the wind on your beam. Sailboats love this, but trawlers don't.

So it depends how many times you make these rough passages and how willing you are to spend the $50K or better for stabilizers to be more comfortable.

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Old 02-19-2015, 05:18 PM   #5
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The Bahamas you can pick your weather. They would help, but not necessary. Beyond that is a definite yes. Richard on Dauntless has done it both ways, so he knows best.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:39 PM   #6
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Yes, I would get them in your position. We have Naiads and are very happy with their performance. Definitely a two thumbs up recommendation.


PS- If anyone wanted to order a TF shirt time is quickly running out. PM me if interested, don't hijack this thread please.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:47 PM   #7
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Our vessel is with a very similar hull (1 foot off transom) to the DF 49. The 48 is a lower CG. Our vessel is stabilized, lots of similar but older DFs are not. We often in big seas compare roll with and without stabilizers. Big difference and for long passages the comfort of the crew says yes, have them.

The boat will survive without them unless you pack the upper deck with big dinghy, grill, ice maker and other heavy stuff. Amazing how many do and they're still afloat but kept near the dock vs going offshore.

If you're able to get a vessel with the stabilizer blocks glassed in during the build, that is preferable. Art laid out his ER for the correct stabilizer placement and was an early pioneer in yachts being designed with them, way back in the early 70s. For the past 15 years or so most/all DFs have them.
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Old 02-19-2015, 08:21 PM   #8
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If you are just going to the Bahamas & Abacos you don't need them if you are patient and wait for a weather window. I have friends that go over every year in 30 foot and less cabin cruisers like Searays and center consoles. Just remember, the boat can handle a lot more than you can. 46 or 49 Defever no problem.
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Old 02-19-2015, 09:07 PM   #9
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Yes! The farther South into the Carbbean you go the more you'll want them.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:09 PM   #10
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I'll be perfectly honest I do not know anything about the exact area you are asking about.

That said, what I do know quite a bit about is captaining a unstabilized boat in the open ocean.

You can of course take almost any boat almost anywhere it has fuel endurance to go to. I'll guarantee I could take my Bayliner, and you could take a similar boat as well.

What you will find out is that in a head sea a unstabilized "coastal cruiser" is pretty comfortable in any reasonable sea.

You will find that in a trailing sea a typical unstabilized coastal cruiser is also very comfortable so long as the seas are not so large thart the boat tends to broach, and oor the autopilot can't provide enough rudder to maintain directional control.

Beam seas are another story. This is where the stabilized boat shines. This is somewhat mitigated by the use of power in a unstabilized boat to cause the aft end to squat into the water a bit, which flattens out the rolling.

What I have found is that on almost any day where the seas are 6' or so I can tolerate a direct beam sea just fine with the use of some power. Taking back and forth will also work quite well.

Would a stabilized boat be better? Yes, of course. Is it necessary? No, it is not.

I'm not going to argue against stabilizers, not a chance. But I will argue, and can prove it that stabilizers are not necessary to have a reasonably comfortable ride in a direct beam sea in the open ocean. Just choose your travel days, and or burn some fuel to get there faster, or make the ride more comfortable.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:33 PM   #11
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I'll be perfectly honest I do not know anything about the exact area you are asking about.

That said, what I do know quite a bit about is captaining a unstabilized boat in the open ocean.

You can of course take almost any boat almost anywhere it has fuel endurance to go to. I'll guarantee I could take my Bayliner, and you could take a similar boat as well.

What you will find out is that in a head sea a unstabilized "coastal cruiser" is pretty comfortable in any reasonable sea.

You will find that in a trailing sea a typical unstabilized coastal cruiser is also very comfortable so long as the seas are not so large thart the boat tends to broach, and oor the autopilot can't provide enough rudder to maintain directional control.

Beam seas are another story. This is where the stabilized boat shines. This is somewhat mitigated by the use of power in a unstabilized boat to cause the aft end to squat into the water a bit, which flattens out the rolling.

What I have found is that on almost any day where the seas are 6' or so I can tolerate a direct beam sea just fine with the use of some power. Taking back and forth will also work quite well.

Would a stabilized boat be better? Yes, of course. Is it necessary? No, it is not.

I'm not going to argue against stabilizers, not a chance. But I will argue, and can prove it that stabilizers are not necessary to have a reasonably comfortable ride in a direct beam sea in the open ocean. Just choose your travel days, and or burn some fuel to get there faster, or make the ride more comfortable.

Kevin, from what I understand the Defever is closer to a FD boat so applying squat. (Pun intended) Of course it's possible for most of any boats to do this, I have a friend that use to run boats that rich Haitians bought from the states to Haiti. But those were triple engine go fast CC boats..
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Old 02-20-2015, 02:45 AM   #12
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The trip to the Virgins includes hundreds of miles straight east with the Atlantic swells on the beam. You can do it without stabilizers - it has been done but it is not pleasant.

I agree with those who suggest they are worthwhile. Especially if this is not a one way trip. Stabilizers become even more important if you go south of the Virgins as the trades will put 5ft plus seas on the beam on a calm day.
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Old 02-20-2015, 08:00 AM   #13
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I suggest that you book a flight to Antigua. Charter a nice 45-50 ft sailboat and sail it to Martinique and back. Then rethink an un-stabilized power boat. Or a power boat at all. The Bahamas has rough sea conditions but periods of calm. Once you get to the Turks and Caicos latitude there is rarely a day that the ocean is not in motion. Even in a "protected" anchorage you frequently will roll your guts out! A little investigation in person will give you a good idea of the situation. Go to St. Thomas and charter a Grand Banks from VIP Charters. Set a course for St. Croix and see how far you get.......
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Old 02-20-2015, 08:28 AM   #14
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FL to Bahamas to T&C to USVI: Stabilizers?

A trip to the Caribbean is also one of my long-term plans, if the Admiral agrees.

My boat is unstabilized however, and
active fin type stabilizers will not fit. I could add a full (factory) sail rig for about the same price as active fins since my boat is basically a motorsailer without the rig, and if the Caribbean plan looks like it might become a reality I might do that to since I would be getting stability plus a "get home" system.

I have not yet looked into installing a less expensive, paravane-type stabilizing rig-- not sure that kind of rig could be installed on my boat, and I don't know how it would look. Don't those cost around $10,000-$20,000 to install, depending how much you do yourself?

The masts you see in this pic are not mine...

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Old 02-20-2015, 09:28 AM   #15
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Cardude your boat might be fine with a short sailing rig. You would have to look at ballast. I don't know if your boat has any and what the comparison with the sailboat version is. But having some canvas up will make your boat much more comfortable off shore.
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Old 02-20-2015, 09:34 AM   #16
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Billyfeet,

It has the same 5000 LB ballast of the sailboat version if I'm not mistaken.
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Old 02-20-2015, 01:32 PM   #17
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The question is what price for some more Comfort?

You sure do not need them just to make the trip.

But if you will be running cargo, "multiple trips back & forth", over years , they would ease the required waiting for a good weather window.

The Trades start in Africa so 090 to 015 @ 5 K to 15K is the norm , stronger in the winter.

A Spare $50K , why not , the maint isn't that bad.

Buy a boat with them installed , no need to pay $50K to install them on a used boat.
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Old 02-20-2015, 03:21 PM   #18
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Paravanes are wonderful. The cost is not likely as high as you cited. However consider whether your's is a proper boat for the Caribbean. (I have no knowledge.)

The Caribbean is 95% sailboats with a few full displacement trawlers. The boats are equipped to live at anchor for the bulk of the season.
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Old 02-20-2015, 03:31 PM   #19
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The Caribbean is 95% sailboats with a few full displacement trawlers. The boats are equipped to live at anchor for the bulk of the season.
But is that a factor of cost rather than vessel ability?
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Old 02-20-2015, 05:16 PM   #20
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But is that a factor of cost rather than vessel ability?
Yes, it is.
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