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Old 04-20-2016, 03:49 PM   #1
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How big is too big?

Apparently we only keep boats for 3 years.

We are looking at a couple options for a new boat in the next year or two…. and have been debating the merits of a couple models (I’m intentionally not mentioning the models in this email yet to keep things theoretical). We (two adults, a 10yr old child, and a dog) currently have a single stateroom 34' CHB that we spend about a dozen nights aboard a year, and another couple dozen day trips. We want to spend more time aboard (inland Puget Sound primarily), but not having a 2nd stateroom for our daughter makes it less and less appealing, so we are starting to window shop.

A major concern is that one of the contending models is quite a bit larger than anything else we’ve been looking at — but the interior layout is just about ideal. It has two full staterooms, a third stateroom that is a combination of bunks and/or office, a full pilothouse, dinghy storage on the flybridge, and a covered aft cockpit. But at 45’ long we are a bit intimidated by the sheer size.

At a similar price point is another model that doesn’t have a pilothouse nor the 3rd stateroom, but gains full walk-around decks and stairs rather than a ladder to the flybridge (which is good for dogs). It’s, in general, a younger boat (1999 -> 2010 or so) with a 39’ length.

Previous boats that we've owned are a 27' Catalina sailboat, a 30' Catalina sailboat, and a 28' twin-engine Bayliner Flybridge.

Thoughts?

What questions should we be asking ourselves?
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Old 04-20-2016, 03:58 PM   #2
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Are you concerned about handling, or maintenance?
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schaefferoil View Post
Are you concerned about handling, or maintenance?
Handling primarily. I don't want to end up with a boat that has all the amenities that we want, but that we still don't use because we are afraid to take it out.

Or that we can't feel comfortable getting into an anchorage or dock.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:03 PM   #4
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My thoughts are that it is a very personal decision unanswerable by anonymous strangers. Buy a boat that makes everyone happy and leads to more boating. Think through the operating and maintenance ergonomics with everyone involved in the process.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:14 PM   #5
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If one is twin screws vs single, a larger boat (twin) may be much easier to handle...?
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:27 PM   #6
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We were in a very similar situation not too long ago. Me, wife, two young boys. My 34 foot single engine boat that I bought when I was the only one who cared about boating was feeling smaller and smaller. We now have a 46 foot twin engine boat. I had the same concerns as you on handling, but I get more and more comfortable each time we take her out. We use the boat in some form or fashion nearly every week and it works way better for our current needs than my beloved 34 Mainship. At this point, I couldn't go back.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:33 PM   #7
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Matt, quite a few of the charter companies up in Bellingham offer training by the day. You'll practice with a captain of theirs. Go out on a 50 or 60 footer, practice, practice, practice. Then when you start working with your own 45 footer it will seem easy.

I did this last year. My friend let me dock his 70 footer a bunch of times. When I did my charter on a 43 it was not even close to being intimidating.

@schaefferoil, although it has been many years since I have driven twins, a single with bow/stern thrusters (very popular here in the PNW) is the most simple to handle, IMHO. As long as you stay within the limits of what electric thrusters are capable of.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:38 PM   #8
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I would feel pretty comfortable running a boat in the 80' range.. but I do not think I would be taking it off the dock much for a cocktail cruise with friends.. too much work and I dont want to pay for it.
When we had our custom built 50' heavy displacement trawler we did some short trips but the admiral didn't like driving the boat.. but it had all the comfort we wanted ..for two kids a dog and enough water toys to keep all happy.
When we moved down to the 40' Ocean Alexander the admiral started piloting the boat much more often and actually prefers the smaller boat.. and I like maintaining 10' less boat.
As comfortable.. pretty much so..
It depends all in what your needs are.

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Old 04-20-2016, 04:43 PM   #9
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Matt,

We were in a similar situation. When moving to power vs sail, we wanted to keep the 2 staterooms.

Increasing the size of the boat by 10' is a lot. I went from a Catalina 36 to a Catalina 400. Only a 4' increase but it did take a bit of getting used to. However, the basic handling was the same and we adapted quickly.

We again increase 4' to our power boat. That transition has been a lot harder (only 2 weeks) since the boat handles entirely differently.

I don't think you would have a problem increasing that 10' since you already are familiar with handling a power boat. Likely the larger vessel will have a bow thruster or twins which could actually make it easier than what you are used to.

Where do you keep your boat now? Part of the equation may be where you can find moorage for a larger boat.

If you think that the increased size will allow you to use the boat more, I think it would be worth it.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
My thoughts are that it is a very personal decision unanswerable by anonymous strangers. Buy a boat that makes everyone happy and leads to more boating. Think through the operating and maintenance ergonomics with everyone involved in the process.
What George said.

But why not charter a 45' boat first and see what you think. My guess is you'll not want to go smaller once you try one and you'll be fine handling it after a bit of practice.
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Old 04-20-2016, 05:34 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. Interesting that most people lean towards the bigger boat.

Both boats have twin engine options, and the 40' can be found in a single.

Our marina has open 40' and 50' slips. Cost of course goes up, but it's a minor difference in the grand scheme of things.

On water training/chartering is a fantastic idea.
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by schaefferoil View Post
If one is twin screws vs single, a larger boat (twin) may be much easier to handle...?
Cost-wise, I don't believe it's an issue in used boats as the vast majority have twin engines, but if purchasing a new one, have you recently priced diesel engines? A less-expensive bow thruster compensates for most maneuverability issues with a single engine.
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:50 PM   #13
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Bigger boats are easier to handle.
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:57 PM   #14
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If I had wanted/afforded a 60-foot boat, I'd also want to afford one or two professional crew members. Fortunately, such a large boat would not be easy to use/handle in my waters.
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:06 PM   #15
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When people buy a boat bigger that anything the've ever handled before of course more experience helps. But why worry about it? If you're going to ski, fly ultralights, drive a car ... you take some time for experienced guidance and or put yourself in the drivers seat and practice. For the boat that means fendering up and spending the afternoon more than once and really aquire some skills.

I've never heard of anybody really getting serious about helmsmanship. Everybody just goes boating and expects to become proficent w very little experience doing anything but running the boat in a straight line. It's a little like mating .... date a bit and marry the one that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. And you see how that works .. over 50% go through divorce school. Not putting myself high up as I've done that too. And w far more dating than most.

I need to do that w Chris. Making landings over and over till she actually can do it. At least in normal conditions ... whatever that is.
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:15 PM   #16
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Greetings,
Mr. mb. "It's a little like mating ...I need to do that w Chris. Making landings over and over till she actually can do it...."

Ahem, a little too much personal information there. Maybe you should move this to OTDE...

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Old 04-20-2016, 08:16 PM   #17
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I wouldn't let the 45' be a deterrent at all. It will seem intimidating for a week, maybe two, then it will seem very normal. I personally think it's better to buy a bit bigger than you think you need, not smaller. Boats only seem smaller over time, never bigger.
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:41 PM   #18
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We went through exactly the same thought process when we were considering our next boat. We had a 44' Defever 30 years ago, but then went many years boatless. When it came time to get back into boating, we looked at a Defever 50. We were pretty intimidated by the size and almost backed away. Now, two years later, we're completely comfortable handling it.

If you're really concerned, just put in bow and stern thrusters. That would make it a piece of cake. But you probably won't need them.
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:59 PM   #19
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Matt, I went from a 20'er to a 34'er and went through much of the same fears that you are going through now. When I first stepped aboard the 34' boat it seemed huge and I thought I'd never be able to handle it. It took a couple of months until I felt pretty proficient, but then I felt pretty comfy docking it.


Then we chartered a 45' Bayliner and it seemed huge until I'd spent a few hours at the helm, then it was very comfortable.


Then I went to our current boat which is 61' LOA. Same thing. Fears at first but after several day trips and a couple of overnighters everything felt good. Now, docking our boat is a piece of cake. I've done it in wind, in current & it's just a matter of determining ahead of time what effect those are going to have on the boat, then plan your approach with that in mind.


I've backed our boat into our slip in 25kt crosswinds. It wasn't pretty and took two missed approaches before I got it on the third approach.


It's all a matter of practicing what you already know, but doing it in a boat that is bigger and responds differently to your commands.
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:37 PM   #20
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Then I went to our current boat which is 61' LOA. Same thing. Fears at first but after several day trips and a couple of overnighters everything felt good. Now, docking our boat is a piece of cake. I've done it in wind, in current & it's just a matter of determining ahead of time what effect those are going to have on the boat, then plan your approach with that in mind.


I've backed our boat into our slip in 25kt crosswinds. It wasn't pretty and took two missed approaches before I got it on the third approach.
I am still in the painful learning stage. It took me three tries to do a simple side tie at a pump out dock my first week. I had a large audience. I should start to charge admission.

The NP43 is affected by wind entirely differently than all the sailboats that I have handled. This last weekend I was trying to leave a very tight, shallow, and completely packed small marina (Blake Island State Park) in about 20kts of wind. Unfortunately, it was coming from the wrong direction. I had made a plan, informed the crew, and then was a bit surprised, perplexed, and slightly alarmed that the boat didn't seem to get the memo.

The plan called for no use of the bow or stern thrusters. In practice, I ended up using both. Another learning experience.
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