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Old 12-21-2018, 05:14 PM   #1
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Camano 31 Reality Check

Hey guys. I am very close to buying a Camano 31 I am looking for a little insight from you owners about how I intend to use the boat and to see if it makes sense.

First, I admittedly love the Camano 31. The style, simplicity, design, etc. I am very likely biased towards them. I wonder if this has clouded my judgement about if the boat is right for me and my plans.

Boat will be kept in south Florida and I am looking to use the boat probably once a month. 3-4 nights on board. Every other month I will likely spend a full week on her. Then once a year I will take her to the Bahamas for 2-4 weeks.

It will 75% be my girlfriend and I, and MAYBE twice a year another couple. And likely not for longer than the shorter trips.

For the shorter trips, I will likely "go fast" while the longer ones "go slow". I feel like the Camano is suited to this. Please let me know if I am wrong.

I value anchoring out and not having to visit a marina every couple days.

If anyone is curious, I have also considered / looked at the following boats: Tiara 3500 Open, Mainship 390, late 2000's Sundancer 290, various Formula 35 footers and the Albin 32+2.

I know the expresses probably seem out of place. But my initial thinking was speed for shorter trips and I currently own one, but not in Florida.

Long post! thanks for any insight and happy holidays!
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Old 12-21-2018, 06:17 PM   #2
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I had looked at a lot of Camano 31's on-line last year as I was thinking it would make a good couples cruising boat.

There are definately many pluses with this boat.

A couple of things that took it off my list, however, was the small holding tank (only 20 gallons) and the skinny side decks leading to the bow.

I suppose the small holding tank could be mitigated with a 'composting' toilet. The skinny side decks, however, would be a 'no' for me personally, as my wife is a poor swimmer and I couldn't see sending her to the bow to handle the lines.

Jim
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Old 12-21-2018, 06:27 PM   #3
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I had looked at a lot of Camano 31's on-line last year as I was thinking it would make a good couples cruising boat.

There are definately many pluses with this boat.

A couple of things that took it off my list, however, was the small holding tank (only 20 gallons) and the skinny side decks leading to the bow.

I suppose the small holding tank could be mitigated with a 'composting' toilet. The skinny side decks, however, would be a 'no' for me personally, as my wife is a poor swimmer and I couldn't see sending her to the bow to handle the lines.

Jim
Good points Jim, thank you. The side decks are not an issue for me nor the girlfriend. But the holding tank definitely is. My current boat has a smaller one.. but I've never tried to go more than a couple days on it.

I am also curious. What other boats did you consider and then what did you end up buying?

Thanks again,
John
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Old 12-21-2018, 06:44 PM   #4
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The Camano meets all of your criteria except maybe with another couple on board.


You might consider going fast even for your two week Bahamian cruise. At 13-14 kts, a reasonable fast cruising speed, the Camano can make it from Lake Worth inlet to Green Turtle Cay in one long day. Saving two days out of a two week vacation might be worth the fuel cost.


David
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Old 12-21-2018, 06:52 PM   #5
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The holding tank in our 2005 Camano was 14 gallons. I think that was the standard size for all of the Canadian built boats. The toilet was a Vacuflush that used very little water. I've forgotten how long we could go between pumpouts, but it was more than a couple days. It's a great boat for two people and we loved ours.
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Old 12-21-2018, 06:58 PM   #6
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Tolly: I don't know how you can even mention a Tiara, Searay or Albin 32+2 in the same sentence with a Camano. Lol. They are all great boats but SO drastically different. The Mainship 390 however is a bit closer.......

Those boats (not the 390) all have huge, twin motors and are the complete opposite of the Camano. A Camano is a fuel efficient, single engine vessel. It all boils down to what you want. A Camano is very easy to operate, maintain and they hold their value relatively well.

Are you looking for speed? If yes, then a 31 is NOT YOUR BOAT. A Camano owner should enjoy doing 8-10 knots for extended periods. Yes, 10-12 knots is also quite doable for long distances but one should be happy with 8-10 first! If you can't enjoy single digit speeds then you're looking at the wrong boat and are probably on the wrong forum. After you realize that, then if conditions allow and you don't mind spending more on diesel then go ahead and throttle up.

Are you looking for size? The Tiara, Mainship and Formula are considerably bigger (both in breadth and length). That has it's advantages and disadvantages. IMO, the Camano is a very manageable size to dock and find a berth for.

Holding tank: I will agree that the holding tank is small. No doubt about that. But most Camano's (including mine) have an overboard fitting and a macerator. Go offshore and dispose of your waste. Problem solved (if you boat in salt water. I don't know about inland laws).

Tolly: Have you been on a Camano? Picked the owners brain about different issues? The amount of useable space onboard is truly amazing for a 28 foot waterline hull. Did they get some things wrong? Yes. Small holding tank, small fuel tanks and the side decks are some of those things. BUT, Camano did get a WHOLE LOT of things right and these boats will stand the test of time. They are a very high quality rig at an affordable price point and offer many big boat features in a small package. The only reason why I'm selling mine is because I'm a full time liveaboard in a cold area. Beantown! Since, it's my "home" I decided that I'd like at least 2 staterooms and more galley space. It actually pains me to sell my Camano. I've set her up so nice and have added many high dollar goodies.....

If you have any more questions then PM me. I'll give you my number. I'd love to help in any way I can.
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Old 12-21-2018, 07:15 PM   #7
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John,

I don't yet have a boat, although I have been looking, on-line, for the past 18 months or so. As I turn 59 next month, I'm thinking about taking some cash out of one of my retirement accounts to buy a boat. What is complicating the decision, however, is that my wife and I hope to live in Barcelona, Spain, for a year after I retire in 3 years. Thus, our decision is to buy a boat and enjoy it for a couple of years and then put in on the 'hard' for a year, or just wait till we return from our year abroad?

I have had crushes on several of the boats that you list, including the Tiara 3500 and the Mainship 390, but also other boats like the Mainship 34 Pilot, Island Gypsy 32, and Grand Banks 36.

One of the problems I'm having is that I just don't know yet how I will use the boat (Boating 101). My choice of a day boat (or weekend) would be much different that the choice of a boat for extended cruising.

I originally thought I wanted a diesel boat, and this is one of the reasons I was looking at the Camano. I currently have a crush on the Carver 355/356 as I think this would be a great boat to do half of the great loop, and spend several months aboard cruising down to Florida and over to the Bahamas. The Carver 355/356's have a pair of big block gas engines, much more complicated than the single diesel in the Camano. I figure, however, the cost of ownership between the Carver and Camano would be about the same, with the Carver cheaper up front but more expensive to operate.

Good luck with your search,

Jim
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Old 12-21-2018, 09:22 PM   #8
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We keep looking at the Camino 31 but the Small berth and small aft deck turned us off.
We ended with a 30 Pilot and loved our 1st season. We dive and fish.
My two cents.
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Old 12-21-2018, 09:48 PM   #9
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We keep looking at the Camino 31 but the Small berth and small aft deck turned us off.
We ended with a 30 Pilot and loved our 1st season. We dive and fish.
My two cents.
Another good point. The Camano 31 is not a fishing boat. But what you lose with the tiny cockpit you make up for with the huge flybridge. If you enclose the bridge then you have another living area up there. Heck, even if you don't enclose it it's still another living area. Lol.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:48 AM   #10
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the boat gets crowded with 4 people on board, but it can be done. We went from a 4388 bayliner to the camano, and frankly, I don't miss the bigger boat other than in the winter. I've always enjoyed cruising around in the winter and if you're anchored, it gets a bit crowded on the camano.
Overall, I'm thinking your plan will work and you'll be happy with the boat. One nice feature is that they really do hold their price well, so you're not likely to get hammered if you decide to switch. Another nice thing is that generally, the east coast prices seem to be a bit lower than the west coast boats, so you should be able to get one at a reasonable price. Frankly, I can't believe Jason hasn't sold his boat yet. Its a nice boat and has to be one of the lowest priced camano's on the market. It would be gone in a second out here on the west coast.

good luck

toni
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:18 PM   #11
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the boat gets crowded with 4 people on board, but it can be done. We went from a 4388 bayliner to the camano, and frankly, I don't miss the bigger boat other than in the winter. I've always enjoyed cruising around in the winter and if you're anchored, it gets a bit crowded on the camano.
Overall, I'm thinking your plan will work and you'll be happy with the boat. One nice feature is that they really do hold their price well, so you're not likely to get hammered if you decide to switch. Another nice thing is that generally, the east coast prices seem to be a bit lower than the west coast boats, so you should be able to get one at a reasonable price. Frankly, I can't believe Jason hasn't sold his boat yet. Its a nice boat and has to be one of the lowest priced camano's on the market. It would be gone in a second out here on the west coast.

good luck

toni
New England is a different boating culture. The average boater forgets about boats from October to May. Lol.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:25 PM   #12
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Much thanks to everyone who responded. I feel like the holding tank situation with a vacuflush (as mentioned) and a macerator, will do. Perhaps not ideal but I'm not going to let that be a deal breaker.

Jason -

You're right, I actually laughed reading your post, but their was some logic to my train of thought to considering those boats, I didn't include in my OP to try to keep it shorter. But real quick. I've got a small express single now (my Tollycraft is in storage for another day, to be redone). It's small. I spend long weekends on it now and it gets small quick. But I do enjoy the outdoor space. Got me thinking, just get a bigger one. Looked at a Sundancer 290. Nice boat. Felt VERY similar to my current boat though which I'm sure you can relate to, when you aren't thrilled with something and then the new one reminds you of it.. nope.

Looking for something express like but different (with diesel power) lead me to the Tiara 3500 Open. Huge boat, very nice, spacious. But like you said... engines, lots of systems, etc. Pricey though. I like the hard top ones. Somewhere around here is when I found the Camano 31. Now. Had I not seen the Tiara, I may have bought the first Camano I got on. The Camano felt small but I loved it. The berth and cockpit though, compared to the Tiara, obviously different worlds. The Tiara however has the same "cave" style interior that my express does which I don't prefer. The Camano is the opposite. Which I absolutely love.

So I thought, I just need a bigger Camano. Enter Mainship 390 which I do very much like. But I believe for my intended use is too large. I'm not going to be living aboard (unfortunately!) so I was back to square one. Somewhere I found the funky (IMO) Albin 32+2 which I like the large salon and berth. But I have not been on one.

Hopefully that explains why I've considered those boats. Now JLD has me googling the Mainship 34 Pilot... and now I have to see one of those. Does remind me of the Tiara though. The layout is very similar.

If their was a Camano 35, with 3 feet more cockpit space and 2 feet more for a pedestal berth, I don't think I'd be debating it.

And for what's it is worth, I have only been on one Camano. And it was a quick tour and didn't run the boat at all. I'd rather not bother brokers / owners looking at boats until I'm ready to buy.

But I will say this. I am okay with what you mentioned about speed. I am not looking for speed. Your boat is going to sell quick once it warms up. I would be a buyer for sure as she looks awesome and the improvements you've made are perfect. I am looking for one with a generator and I do not need the heater.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:30 PM   #13
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John,

I don't yet have a boat, although I have been looking, on-line, for the past 18 months or so. As I turn 59 next month, I'm thinking about taking some cash out of one of my retirement accounts to buy a boat. What is complicating the decision, however, is that my wife and I hope to live in Barcelona, Spain, for a year after I retire in 3 years. Thus, our decision is to buy a boat and enjoy it for a couple of years and then put in on the 'hard' for a year, or just wait till we return from our year abroad?

I have had crushes on several of the boats that you list, including the Tiara 3500 and the Mainship 390, but also other boats like the Mainship 34 Pilot, Island Gypsy 32, and Grand Banks 36.

One of the problems I'm having is that I just don't know yet how I will use the boat (Boating 101). My choice of a day boat (or weekend) would be much different that the choice of a boat for extended cruising.

I originally thought I wanted a diesel boat, and this is one of the reasons I was looking at the Camano. I currently have a crush on the Carver 355/356 as I think this would be a great boat to do half of the great loop, and spend several months aboard cruising down to Florida and over to the Bahamas. The Carver 355/356's have a pair of big block gas engines, much more complicated than the single diesel in the Camano. I figure, however, the cost of ownership between the Carver and Camano would be about the same, with the Carver cheaper up front but more expensive to operate.

Good luck with your search,

Jim
Thanks Jim. Good luck with your search as well! I can't pretend to offer you sound advice... but I like the sound of buying the boat, enjoying it for a few years, then storing and it going to Spain. Waiting three years is a long time! Although I am looking at taking that long to make a decision myself.

We've definitely got the same taste in boats. The Mainship 34 Pilot is a stunner. Here we go again...
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:15 PM   #14
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We've definitely got the same taste in boats. The Mainship 34 Pilot is a stunner. Here we go again...
Just to complicate things a little more, one last thought about the Mainship Pilot 34 is that they can be found with either single engines or twins.

Jim
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Old 12-22-2018, 06:50 PM   #15
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We loved the 32 + 2 but couldn't find one that was acceptable. The 30 Pilot is a nice starter for us. I could see going to a larger 34 Mainship Pilot.
The Nordic Tugs were out of our price range but if we really get into cruising in retirement it would be on the top of the list.
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Old 12-22-2018, 09:10 PM   #16
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Camano for FL Cruising

I love my Camano which I have docked in Annapolis. I sleep great in the v-berth and had two aboard for a week though at marina so we used the bathhouse during the day to avoid needing a pumpout. Not sure how many days you could go with 4 aboard at anchor.



I love the 360 view in the salon with all that glass! The problem is that all that glass is great in a cooler climate but it turns into a greenhouse when it gets warm out. I haven't talked to any Florida owners but I believe the reverse cycle AC would struggle a bit down there. I do have black shade screens on the outside.



During the hot stretches up here, my compressor iced up every few weeks but appeared to do much better after we opened up the hole, for better airflow, behind the salon vent. Not a huge deal if you keep an eye on it and give it a few hour break to defrost.
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Old 12-25-2018, 09:08 PM   #17
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My answers to your questions - from the perspective of a buyer 18 months ago:
Camano is great for an extended trip - I did Bristol RI to NC with good guys I didn't know well, swapping crew at Cape May, and there was ample privacy using the settee berth. It is hard for me to imagine more than one or two nights with another couple, based on what folks bring aboard, shuffling their gear, and the settee cushions back and forth every AM and night. Doable, but not handy. My Camano is happy at 6.5 kt to 7.8 kt., then I know it's more fuel use, and in more than 2' waves, a less comfortable ride. Still doable, but if the boat is tossing about in rough water, everyone is better off in the main cabin, and that's a little crowded for an extended stretch. Plan on a somewhat adverse weather situation, and imagine how well that works. But, you're right to think about how the Camano works during it's primary job, 2 people for longer cruises - and that's fantastic. In Florida, also consider the prop, and the advantage of a keel and skeg protected prop. 3' 3" draft in Florida is also a plus. The low placement of the engine makes a Camano ride like a much heavier/stable boat, too.

Narrow side deck is not a problem for us, as we tie off the bow lines to stern cleats, so my "Admiral" has both the stern line and the bow line ready to hand to a dock attendant. Riding at anchor is delightful, optimal sleeping conditions in a light chop. Key to the head is to use a little Dove liquid shower soap after every use to keep seals lubricated. 3 days with two on board works great for pumpouts, never tried going more days than that. By the way, walking on the side decks is so much easier if you simply wait until you're approaching your marina or anchorage, when flatter water prevails. (I'm 69, Admiral is 66.) Flybridge is so comfortable in cool/warm/hot weather, a significant advantage some pricier boats don't have. I have full canvas for up top, but don't use more than the bimini, and cockpit shade below. Very simply, we adore the Camano, it fits our needs so well, and the classic hull and topsides design has admirers everywhere we go. So much so good to be said for Form Fitting Function!

Fuel Capacity is ample! I have 132 gallon capacity, but even with 100 gallons and moderate speed, how many hundreds of miles do you want to go away from good fuel sources? NY to NC on one tank is feasible with due care on 100 gallons. My choice is to refuel every other day, not ever worry about fuel capacity, so far even when pushing hard I haven't taken on much over 40 gallons in a two day interval.

Negatives: Any semi-displacement hull, generally with flat hull aft and flat stern, will get pushed around in a 3' sea. A full displacement boat (i.e., much slower) would ride better in a stern sea.

The key is to get a Camano owner to let you spend a couple of hours on board with him/her. Let you see the world from the fly bridge. Check out docking with bow lines tied aft - how easily handing both lines to the dock attendant is. You'll know, and the Camano owner will have great fun showing off the handling/docking, comfort, flybridge view, etc., while you're on board.

Lots of good choices out there, but having owned three sailboats and two power boats previously for mostly inland use, and studying trawlers, going to Trawlerfest, etc., before buying, the Camano was an easy choice for me.
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Old 12-26-2018, 07:04 AM   #18
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Good summary by NCheaven above.


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Old 12-28-2018, 03:21 PM   #19
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I love my Camano which I have docked in Annapolis. I sleep great in the v-berth and had two aboard for a week though at marina so we used the bathhouse during the day to avoid needing a pumpout. Not sure how many days you could go with 4 aboard at anchor.



I love the 360 view in the salon with all that glass! The problem is that all that glass is great in a cooler climate but it turns into a greenhouse when it gets warm out. I haven't talked to any Florida owners but I believe the reverse cycle AC would struggle a bit down there. I do have black shade screens on the outside.



During the hot stretches up here, my compressor iced up every few weeks but appeared to do much better after we opened up the hole, for better airflow, behind the salon vent. Not a huge deal if you keep an eye on it and give it a few hour break to defrost.
Thank you for your input! I somewhat have considered that issue with the AC. Not sure either how well it works in a much warmer climate. Perhaps some Florida owners or visitors will chime in.
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Old 12-28-2018, 03:34 PM   #20
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NCheaven - Thank you very much for your reply. Many of the things you mention resonate with me. I do not intend to be hundreds of miles away from a fuel source as you mentioned so the smaller fuel capacity doesn't scare me off.

You mentioned good sleeping conditions even in a light chop. We intend to anchor out most of out nights aboard and often these will be in new or semi-new locations to us so obviously we are asking to end up in not the calmest anchorages.

You have, along with others on here, more varied experienced owning boats than I, and you appear happy with the way the Camano handles anchoring out in ? That is music to my ears. I was not sure this was a strength of the Camano.

I've read about the Camano and similar designs being uncomfortable in a following sea, which is common to their design. In my current boat I have not experienced this. Would you mind elaborating? About all I know is the boat gets pushed around from a the following sea due to the stern design. Does this make the boat hard to keep on course mainly?

Thanks again.
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