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Old 08-14-2022, 10:18 AM   #1
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"Downeast" boats at anchor

My wife and I just sold our 50 ft motorsailer and were thinking of going to a smaller, faster, shallower draft boat for the waterways and rivers of northern Florida where we live.
We were thinking Back Cove, Sabre, other so-called downcast type boats in the 40-ish ft range.

After missing our boat for a few months we realized that maybe we were not really ready to stop longer term travel and were trying to get a handle on how good this type of boat would be for us. Since we really don't have a change to charter or rent one to see I thought I would ask questions of those who might have experience with this style of boat.

How are they at anchor? We have noticed we never see them in the mooring field but do occasionally see them in the marina. Are they bouncy, etc? I can deal with that while moving but we love to anchor out most of the time and would want to comfortable.

I read about some who have gone to the Bahamas. Is that something that is common for these type of boats or would that be stretching what would many would feel comfortable with?

We are thinking we might be on it for 2 months at a time during summer and maybe the same during winter. We are starting to think that maybe something more like the Nordic or American tug style boats might be better but from a weight standpoint they don't seem that much different.

Appreciate your thoughts?

Jim
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Old 08-14-2022, 03:00 PM   #2
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I'm no expert on how a boat 'feels' at anchor. I've also noticed over the years that how a boat sleeps at anchor is a very personal thing. What one person finds quiet and comfortable, another may find to be intolerably bouncy and noisy. It's an individual thing, and YMMV.

FWIW, among other boats we've owned over the years includes two American Tugs (34 and 39) and a Sabreline 36. I've also spent a lot of time underway on various 'downeast' boats, Duffy, Wilbur, Ellis, Northern Bay, Shannon, etc.

Some will debate the definition of a 'downeast' or 'lobster' boat. FWIW, most New Englanders wouldn't consider the two brands you mentioned, Sabre and Back Cove (built by the same company), as true 'downeast' boats (though their styling is of course downeast inspired, and they're built in Maine).

The classic 'downeast' boat (Wilbur, Duffy, Ellis, Northern Bay, Wesmac, BHM, Beal, Lowell, Padebco, Flowers, Peter Kass, John Williams and others) are typified by having a full keel. They're semi-displacement hull designs, with two major variables: the chine (soft/round, or hard) and design of keel (built-down, or skeg-built). These hulls are not dissimilar from American Tug, Nordic, or many of the semi-displacement trawlers many people here own. The full keels give them an easier motion at anchor.

There are many downeast-inspired boats, perhaps most notably Sabre (and Back Cove), also Eastbay, Legacy, Cape Dory, Alden, Hinckley, and many others. They look like downeast/lobster boats from the waterline up, but below the waterline the hull forms are more or less straightforward modified-V planning hull designs, usually hard chine and without a keel (or maybe a small partial one). At anchor they behave pretty much like other modified-V planing hulls, and will roll more because of the lack of a deep keel in the water.

FWIW, our standards for sleepability must be on the lax side. We've never had any problems finding the background sounds and motion at anchor anything but relaxing (except in a blow of course) whether on a full keel American Tug, or a keelless Sabreline, or a vestigial keel Beneteau Swift Trawler. If you're more particular about motion and sound at anchor you might want to anchor one and take a lie down in a bunk and see how it feels and sounds to you.

As far as going to the Bahamas, much would depend on the weather conditions and sea state, and your experience (as well as of course the size of the boat). FWIW, in our experiences the American Tugs had MUCH better seakeeping abilities in nasty conditions than the Sabreline. My time aboard full keel true downeast designs found their seakeeping abilities similar to the American Tugs we've owned, and the Sabreline (and other downeast-inspired designs) to be more like other planing hulls.

Again, YMMV.
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Old 08-14-2022, 03:18 PM   #3
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FWIW on the Sabreline 36 mentioned above, having looked one over on the hard, I'd say it's 100 percent a planing hull with a tiny stub keel and will absolutely behave like one. It's a faster looking hull design than my own boat (which is a slow planing hull).

In general, I agree with Nick's sentiment about being able to adjust to how the boat behaves at anchor, provided it doesn't have any nasty habits.
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Old 08-14-2022, 03:39 PM   #4
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Nick nailed a lot of it. I'll add a few more thoughts.

The Ft. Lauderdale show, which is of course huge, is coming up in a few months. Since you are in FL, this is a golden opportunity to step aboard a lot of candidates and get a sense of how they feel underfoot.

I think you will find that the hulls that have more V in the middle and aft sections (deadrise) bring a lot of the buoyancy to the center of the boat, and away from the edges, and decrease stability when at rest. Flatter sections the reverse. Think about a flat bottom rowboat vs a round bottom skiff.

There is another issue you may want to be alert to. A number of speedier designs have a hard chine carried forward into the shoulder sections, that creates a pocket towards the bow. SOME of these seem to create uncomfortable levels of noise in the forward sleeping cabin, from small waves lapping in there. SOME, not all. But the issue on some is significant enough that there is conversation out there about how to fix it. Some try to tie off and stuff in the pockets pool noodles. Some few go so far as to modify the hull to fill in the pockets. Its just another thing to look at and investigate as you make the tradeoffs needed for every single boat choice.

SOME of the downeast inspired designs have engine room areas that can be pretty inaccessible for routine maintenance. A number of designs are moving to outboards and gas. I think a few are using Volvo IPS drives. This whole broad area of discussion isn't what you asked about, but you will be getting to this pretty quickly.
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Old 08-14-2022, 03:45 PM   #5
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I can attest that the lifting strakes on hard chine boats do slap at anchor. I've gotten used to it but at first it can be disturbing, and our boat has relatively small chine strakes. There are hard chine boats that don't seem to have these, such as the classic GB design, and I'd expect them to be quieter.

As to whether you see boats at anchor or at the dock I'd expect this is more a question of how they're outfitted.
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Old 08-14-2022, 04:28 PM   #6
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... This whole broad area of discussion isn't what you asked about, but you will be getting to this pretty quickly.
Yep. How fast do you want to go?

One more point I'd make about the keel vs no keel decision is the vulnerability to minor groundings. Having exposed running gear negates many of the advantages that less draft can offer. For gunkholing in shallow water it's hard to beat the traditional downeast underbody.

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Old 08-14-2022, 08:06 PM   #7
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Good point on chine slap. My boat doesn't have huge chines, but it does have reverse chines up forward. And they do slap rather significantly in any chop at anchor. I've heard it get loud enough once that I could hear it from the aft cabin. Most of the time it's only noticeable in the forward cabin unless it's really quiet. And after a while the noise just becomes a comforting boat noise.
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Old 08-14-2022, 08:26 PM   #8
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Thanks for the general and specific comments. I have read about the “slap” from others but thought that could probably be overcome if the rest of the experience was okay.

My main concern was just not seeing many of these boats when we used to live aboard, out in the anchorage with us. They look roomy enough and have enough storage and “systems” that it seemed like you could stay on them for a while. I guess people do the Great Loop in these boats?

Jim
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Old 08-14-2022, 08:30 PM   #9
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One more point I'd make about the keel vs no keel decision is the vulnerability to minor groundings. Having exposed running gear negates many of the advantages that less draft can offer. For gunkholing in shallow water it's hard to beat the traditional downeast underbody.
Good addition to the insightful comments above, particularly those of Nick14 (thanks). I'm looking in this space too - sub 40' range, single diesel with protected running gear, ability to overnight or spend a long weekend at anchor, and a sufficient turn of speed (16+ knots) to hustle back to my marina within a few hours, for whatever reason. Generator so as to run HVAC when essential, otherwise living quietly on the hook for a day or two at a time. Propane so as not to have to start the generator just to make tea / coffee. Sufficient cockpit space to comfortably invite two or four folks out for a sunset cruise after work.

Seems as though it should not be this hard to meet those criteria, but of course every boat is a set of compromises. Pre-empting the question, yes I have looked at the Mainship Pilots in the 30 and 34 foot offerings. Not impossible, but seems I could get something more on target.
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Old 08-14-2022, 09:51 PM   #10
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Old 08-15-2022, 06:59 AM   #11
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I owned a Bruno and Stillman for 20 years as a charter boat and occasionally slept aboard at anchor when moving the boat from one location to another.

In addition, I have lusted over my dock neighbor's 40ish foot Back Cove as a possible final cruising boat. A couple of points that I came to were as follows:

Weight. There is a decided weight and roll difference at anchor between my Cherubini 45' and my 35' Downeaster. You can clearly see it when a wake goes through an otherwise calm anchorage. My Cherubini and I'm sure your motorsailer, roll significantly less than small or lighter boats.

Water and waste capacity. I would imagine the other significant factor for not seeing more of these boats in anchorages has to do with cruising versus nautical camping. I like a nice shower every night with hot water. With planing hulls, it's all about weight, and a larger percentage of liquids necessarily needs to be dedicated to fuel.

When talking to my dock neighbor, they do anchor out, but two nights is the limit based on creature comforts. This may be why you see them less often anchored out.

Ted
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Old 08-15-2022, 07:08 AM   #12
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I owned a Bruno and Stillman for 20 years as a charter boat and occasionally slept aboard at anchor when moving the boat from one location to another.

In addition, I have lusted over my dock neighbor's 40ish foot Back Cove as a possible final cruising boat. A couple of points that I came to were as follows:

Weight. There is a decided weight and roll difference at anchor between my Cherubini 45' and my 35' Downeaster. You can clearly see it when a wake goes through an otherwise calm anchorage. My Cherubini and I'm sure your motorsailer, roll significantly less than small or lighter boats.

Water and waste capacity. I would imagine the other significant factor for not seeing more of these boats in anchorages has to do with cruising versus nautical camping. I like a nice shower every night with hot water. With planing hulls, it's all about weight, and a larger percentage of liquids necessarily needs to be dedicated to fuel.

When talking to my dock neighbor, they do anchor out, but two nights is the limit based on creature comforts. This may be why you see them less often anchored out.

Ted
Those are definitely factors. Beyond that, it may just be that the people most interested in a faster boat and not a big slow trawler are just less interested in anchoring out in the first place.
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Old 08-15-2022, 07:34 AM   #13
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i think that a lot of smaller boats, and boats with less weighty underwater shapes tend to find better protection for anchorage. or marina hop so they have all the power and water they want. i agree they're better for shorter "on the hook" trips, but this can be ideal for some types of boaters.
i can get used to just about any noise the boat makes, whether it's a wave slapping, or rigging noise, or just your average creaking. as long as i don't need to strap myself into the bunk i'm ok. heck, i've even had to strap in and i still got some sleep.
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Old 08-15-2022, 07:59 AM   #14
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I boated in the eastern Long Island sound area for 30 years and there are lots of downeasters there, many at anchor for weekends or longer
I’ve been aboard a few of them in the 35 foot range and generally speaking they run very well and smooth at 16 to 18 knots in most seas that I would want to be out in.
Much above that they slam pretty hard between waves and are uncomfortable.
Those are MY opinions ymmv
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Old 08-15-2022, 08:49 AM   #15
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I have a 42 Bruno & Stillman, 1 1/2 ft chop, 15 knots of wind on the bahama bank and I can not feel it. Bow has face the weather or you will rock around. I do have an aft cabin, that helps a lot.
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Old 08-15-2022, 08:56 AM   #16
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..............We have noticed we never see them in the mooring field but do occasionally see them in the marina. Are they bouncy, etc?.............................................. ......
Appreciate your thoughts?
This is silly, anecdotal nonsense.

I have friends that all live on their boats for 6 months a year.

We live on a Mainship 350, 6 months of the year. We have various friends who live 6 months a year on:

Mainship 390
Carver 370 Aft Cabin
Formula 33 Express Cruiser
Shannon Brendan 32(?) Flybridge
Meridian 411
Sea Ray 300 Express Cruiser
Silverton 38 Convertible

Boats that sit in marinas sit there because the owners prefer the convenience. It's not about the boat. If you don't like waves lapping, or a boat periodically pitching or rolling, then being out on anchor may not be for you. That is simply going to happen as weather gets bad. Blaming the boat is just silly.
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Old 08-15-2022, 09:26 AM   #17
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This is silly, anecdotal nonsense.

I have friends that all live on their boats for 6 months a year.

We live on a Mainship 350, 6 months of the year. We have various friends who live 6 months a year on:

Mainship 390
Carver 370 Aft Cabin
Formula 33 Express Cruiser
Shannon Brendan 32(?) Flybridge
Meridian 411
Sea Ray 300 Express Cruiser
Silverton 38 Convertible

Boats that sit in marinas sit there because the owners prefer the convenience. It's not about the boat. If you don't like waves lapping, or a boat periodically pitching or rolling, then being out on anchor may not be for you. That is simply going to happen as weather gets bad. Blaming the boat is just silly.
Oh please!

I just came from Isle Royale national park where people hike 40 miles across a forested island with 700' peaks. Many spend 3 to 5 days without a shower, sleeping on 1/2" foam pads, eating freeze dried food, while living in the same clothes.

It's not a question of whether you can cruise on a Downeaster, it's what the differences are and the compromises in comfort you make. In general, bigger heavier boats (that don't sail at anchor) are more comfortable than smaller lighter boats. For some, comfort is more important; for some a sheet with no pillow on a center console deck is sufficient.

Ted
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:57 PM   #18
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@OP, lots of interesting posts on this. A Back Cove, Sabre, etc. in the 40ft. range is certainly capable of providing comfortable cruising for extended periods. Cruised a lot on a 42 Sabre, now cruise a 35 lobster boat. At anchor, besides chin slap the biggest difference I notice is weathervaning. Sabres and the like will hunt back & forth while keelboats tend to stay put. Only other thing is those “Downeast” expresses are power-hungry due to lots of systems which requires frequent generator use due to smallish battery banks. Can be upsized of course, but out-of-the-box is yellow cord or gennie biased.
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Old 08-19-2022, 02:58 PM   #19
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You might be interested in checking out the Downeast Boat Forum, similar to TF in many ways except for the design focus.( https://downeastboatforum.com)
A lot of members own working boats, but not all of them, and there are a lot of super-knowledgeable people happy to share what they know, just like here.
That said, I owned a Legacy in the past - wanted a Back Cove, but couldn't afford it at the time - and what several others have said is true; the design is very comfortable while running, but does rock and slap at anchor, particularly when other boats pass, even in "no-wake" zones. Personally, I always liked the sound of waves slapping, but not everyone does. True down-easters with full keel are definitely more stable.
Just like with trawlers, you will find a huge range of boats among down-easters, from true lobster boats, without a lot of creature comforts - and often, as well, the engine sitting well up in the cockpit - to luxurious versions like Hinkley, MJM and True North, which can easily cost or small, or not-so-small, fortune. A lot of these builders have moved aggressively into using outboards for most models, but a real down-east design will have a diesel, and a larger cockpit than most trawler designs of similar length. Because of their work-boat genes, most of these boats also tend to have lower free-board than trawlers.
If you are able to attend the Newport or Annapolis boat shows, they usually have a lot of the brands mentioned here and in several other posts. Annapolis typically has a pretty good range of used ones as well as new, although not sure if recent market conditions will change that.
Looking will be fun for sure.
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Old 08-19-2022, 03:56 PM   #20
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Coming from a heavy 50ft motorsailer, I doubt you’ll like the ones you mention. They are light, planing boats. Noisy and wet underway. Fidgety with lots of wave slap at anchor. With all the positives and negatives of a planing hull. Great if you need to get somewhere in a hurry.

Most buyers of these boats have never experienced a boat like your motorsailer. It wouldn’t occur to them to ask about behavior at anchor. They ask about speed and range.

The obvious answer is a heavy displacement trawler with a single smallish engine that will economically and pleasurably cruise at 7kts. I would look at 42-45’.

Or look at a powercat. Best answer for those who like to anchor out. I’ve recently moved from a 55’ ketch to a 50’ sailing cat. No more rolling!
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