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Old 02-26-2022, 06:16 PM   #1
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Long Range Cruising - How big is too big?

Hello all.

In 9 years I intend to leave it all behind and set sail for an indeterminate amount of time. The rough plan is to leave the TX Gulf Coast and slowly meander the world, including high latitudes.

Originally I was going to cash out my 401k at retirement and buy something pretty nice. I've since amended that plan and now will be buying a steel hull of some type and completing a top-to-bottom refit myself over the course of 9 years. I understand this is likely an insane proposition, but I'm very confident in my skills and like a lot of the pros - knowing every system front to back, financing the project over 9 years, complete customization, etc.

At a later date I would love to have my idea ripped apart to ensure there's nothing I'm not considering. But today, I'd like to hear your opinion oh how big is too big? Not during a crossing obviously because you can't be too big, but in your day-to-day cruising from port to port.

I'm looking at the 50-70' range; likely an older commercial fishing hull that draws 4-6'. However, some larger offshore supply vessels have caught my eye based on their blank-slate layout, but they're around 110'. I know the 110' will likely draft more, requiring me to anchor further out, but that extra length allows me to have a dinghy and a larger aluminum deep V that can get on plane and make quick runs to the dock.

I understand some smaller ports wont have a gantry capable of larger steel vessels, but other than your occasional bottom paint, have you ever had to been hauled out in an emergency type situation that needed to be handled immediately as opposed to a more equipped port?

Basically, what length and draft would you consider prohibitive for an average guy to bounce around the world?

To clarify some variables - assume a worst case of only 2 people on board, will be equipped with bow & stern thrusters, no intention on transient docking unless absolutely necessary (mooring/anchoring out always), a pretty healthy yearly cruising budget but nothing crazy, and no time-frame/schedule at all so weather windows will be chosen carefully.

Thanks all!
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:01 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by HarebrainedScheme View Post
Hello all.

In 9 years I intend to leave it all behind and set sail for an indeterminate amount of time. The rough plan is to leave the TX Gulf Coast and slowly meander the world, including high latitudes.

Originally I was going to cash out my 401k at retirement and buy something pretty nice. I've since amended that plan and now will be buying a steel hull of some type and completing a top-to-bottom refit myself over the course of 9 years. I understand this is likely an insane proposition, but I'm very confident in my skills and like a lot of the pros - knowing every system front to back, financing the project over 9 years, complete customization, etc.

At a later date I would love to have my idea ripped apart to ensure there's nothing I'm not considering. But today, I'd like to hear your opinion oh how big is too big? Not during a crossing obviously because you can't be too big, but in your day-to-day cruising from port to port.

I'm looking at the 50-70' range; likely an older commercial fishing hull that draws 4-6'. However, some larger offshore supply vessels have caught my eye based on their blank-slate layout, but they're around 110'. I know the 110' will likely draft more, requiring me to anchor further out, but that extra length allows me to have a dinghy and a larger aluminum deep V that can get on plane and make quick runs to the dock.

I understand some smaller ports wont have a gantry capable of larger steel vessels, but other than your occasional bottom paint, have you ever had to been hauled out in an emergency type situation that needed to be handled immediately as opposed to a more equipped port?

Basically, what length and draft would you consider prohibitive for an average guy to bounce around the world?

To clarify some variables - assume a worst case of only 2 people on board, will be equipped with bow & stern thrusters, no intention on transient docking unless absolutely necessary (mooring/anchoring out always), a pretty healthy yearly cruising budget but nothing crazy, and no time-frame/schedule at all so weather windows will be chosen carefully.

Thanks all!
The problem with the offshore supply vessels are they are all twin screw.... Get a steel or glass single screw with real fuel range. I think what your refering to as 110' "offshore supply vessels" are actually utility boats.... Made by Graham and others....Not ocean crossers for sure..
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:01 PM   #3
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The commercial boats such as you mention above will need to be ballasted. They are designed and built to carry heavy loads to put them on the waterline. Without that weight they may not ride properly. You may not of course need to go fully to the waterline but if no allowance is made then you may have odd handling problems.

Before you commit talk to someone who actually knows these types of boats.
I'm sure it's doable but without some real knowledge it may not work out the way you want.
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:10 PM   #4
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IMO you need to review your finances. 'cashing out' a 401k? You will need ALL of that for running costs, replacement of gear that is expensive, fuel budget and more. Plan on $50,000 a year for the boat. Will you have enough to live on afterwards? If your 401k has at least two commas you might be ok.

A wise world cruiser once said 'when you're done roaming and move back ashore, if you can't buy a house (or still own one) you did not plan correctly'.
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:12 PM   #5
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It gets increasingly difficult for a couple to run a boat over about 70’, and some would say 50’. If you have crew and a big budget, nothing is too big.

Not what you asked, but you would be much better off spending the next 9 years with some smaller boat that you can use and learn. Approximately 0% of people that choose the path you suggest of building/renovating a big boat first (as opposed to building experience) end up with the boat that they actually want. If you don’t know how big is too big, go boating until you do.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:13 PM   #6
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9 years is a life time. Enjoy your dream, the world will be a different place in 5 years, it’s ok to change your dream. If you still have the same dream 8 years from now the information will be more relevant.
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by HarebrainedScheme View Post
Hello all.

In 9 years I intend to leave it all behind and set sail for an indeterminate amount of time. The rough plan is to leave the TX Gulf Coast and slowly meander the world, including high latitudes.

Originally I was going to cash out my 401k at retirement and buy something pretty nice. I've since amended that plan and now will be buying a steel hull of some type and completing a top-to-bottom refit myself over the course of 9 years. I understand this is likely an insane proposition, but I'm very confident in my skills and like a lot of the pros - knowing every system front to back, financing the project over 9 years, complete customization, etc.

At a later date I would love to have my idea ripped apart to ensure there's nothing I'm not considering. But today, I'd like to hear your opinion oh how big is too big? Not during a crossing obviously because you can't be too big, but in your day-to-day cruising from port to port.

I'm looking at the 50-70' range; likely an older commercial fishing hull that draws 4-6'. However, some larger offshore supply vessels have caught my eye based on their blank-slate layout, but they're around 110'. I know the 110' will likely draft more, requiring me to anchor further out, but that extra length allows me to have a dinghy and a larger aluminum deep V that can get on plane and make quick runs to the dock.

I understand some smaller ports wont have a gantry capable of larger steel vessels, but other than your occasional bottom paint, have you ever had to been hauled out in an emergency type situation that needed to be handled immediately as opposed to a more equipped port?

Basically, what length and draft would you consider prohibitive for an average guy to bounce around the world?

To clarify some variables - assume a worst case of only 2 people on board, will be equipped with bow & stern thrusters, no intention on transient docking unless absolutely necessary (mooring/anchoring out always), a pretty healthy yearly cruising budget but nothing crazy, and no time-frame/schedule at all so weather windows will be chosen carefully.

Thanks all!
There are two major considerations. One is what two people can handle, which depends a lot on the skill, experience, and physical conditioning of those two. The other factor for ports is draft. I'd recommend staying no more than 7' or so, maximum 8'. With those factors being considered, I'd think something in the 60-80' could be possible. I don't think two people can manage more than 100' and even at 60-80', it means you must compromise some on care and upkeep, especially on aesthetic care. For instance, to wash and polish everything would be a full time job but steel boats are often left somewhat in a natural state. Of course, size becomes a factor even sooner as you have more boat to prepare over the next nine years.
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:47 PM   #8
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Since you have the time and sounds like the skill, why not consider building of precut steel from an NA designed plan?

Conall's Boat Build: Swim Platform
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:02 PM   #9
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The problem with the offshore supply vessels are they are all twin screw.... Get a steel or glass single screw with real fuel range. I think what your refering to as 110' "offshore supply vessels" are actually utility boats.... Made by Graham and others....Not ocean crossers for sure..
"Not ocean crossers for sure.." is that due to the fuel range you mention?
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:03 PM   #10
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The commercial boats such as you mention above will need to be ballasted. They are designed and built to carry heavy loads to put them on the waterline. Without that weight they may not ride properly. You may not of course need to go fully to the waterline but if no allowance is made then you may have odd handling problems.

Before you commit talk to someone who actually knows these types of boats.
I'm sure it's doable but without some real knowledge it may not work out the way you want.
I'm definitely not going to pull the trigger until I've consulted the proper experts. That's great intel about the ballast that I had not considered. Thanks.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:07 PM   #11
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IMO you need to review your finances. 'cashing out' a 401k? You will need ALL of that for running costs, replacement of gear that is expensive, fuel budget and more. Plan on $50,000 a year for the boat. Will you have enough to live on afterwards? If your 401k has at least two commas you might be ok.

A wise world cruiser once said 'when you're done roaming and move back ashore, if you can't buy a house (or still own one) you did not plan correctly'.
I appreciate your concern, but the 401k is one of four legs of my retirement. Financial feasibility was the first aspect of this plan I had considered and my finances more than align with this endeavor and buying another house at the conclusion.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:07 PM   #12
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It gets increasingly difficult for a couple to run a boat over about 70í, and some would say 50í. If you have crew and a big budget, nothing is too big.

Not what you asked, but you would be much better off spending the next 9 years with some smaller boat that you can use and learn. Approximately 0% of people that choose the path you suggest of building/renovating a big boat first (as opposed to building experience) end up with the boat that they actually want. If you donít know how big is too big, go boating until you do.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
That's a great perspective and much appreciated.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:09 PM   #13
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:10 PM   #14
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9 years is a life time. Enjoy your dream, the world will be a different place in 5 years, itís ok to change your dream. If you still have the same dream 8 years from now the information will be more relevant.
The dream has been a long time coming. Might as well get started now and if the dream/the world change, I can reassess then. Why sit idle when you can work towards achieving your dream?
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:11 PM   #15
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There are two major considerations. One is what two people can handle, which depends a lot on the skill, experience, and physical conditioning of those two. The other factor for ports is draft. I'd recommend staying no more than 7' or so, maximum 8'. With those factors being considered, I'd think something in the 60-80' could be possible. I don't think two people can manage more than 100' and even at 60-80', it means you must compromise some on care and upkeep, especially on aesthetic care. For instance, to wash and polish everything would be a full time job but steel boats are often left somewhat in a natural state. Of course, size becomes a factor even sooner as you have more boat to prepare over the next nine years.
Makes absolute sense. I appreciate the input.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:14 PM   #16
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Since you have the time and sounds like the skill, why not consider building of precut steel from an NA designed plan?

Conall's Boat Build: Swim Platform
That's definitely an option I hadn't considered. I think a total refit would be easier and more cost effective due to all the thousands of little parts that you can reuse. However, starting from scratch and building new is certainly intriguing. I appreciate the link.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:14 PM   #17
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard.
Thanks!
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:31 PM   #18
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There are other factors to passagemaking though and as pointed out above there are plenty of boats not designed for such. I could never encourage someone to start crossing oceans on a home made boat. Sorry, but that's my opinion. I think you would be far better off purchasing a purpose built boat designed for the type boating you intend to pursue and then spending as much time and effort as necessary to get it in top shape while also working on your boating skills during the nine years.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:42 PM   #19
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There are other factors to passagemaking though and as pointed out above there are plenty of boats not designed for such. I could never encourage someone to start crossing oceans on a home made boat. Sorry, but that's my opinion. I think you would be far better off purchasing a purpose built boat designed for the type boating you intend to pursue and then spending as much time and effort as necessary to get it in top shape while also working on your boating skills during the nine years.
I must not have been clear - my intention is to buy a former commercial boat and rebuild it top to bottom; I don't intend to build one from scratch. With that said, there's obviously better hull designs that are more suited for passagemaking, but why would a 70' seiner be ok heavily laden in the Bering Sea in January, but not making a calculated passage in the ideal season/weather window?
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:57 PM   #20
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I must not have been clear - my intention is to buy a former commercial boat and rebuild it top to bottom; I don't intend to build one from scratch. With that said, there's obviously better hull designs that are more suited for passagemaking, but why would a 70' seiner be ok heavily laden in the Bering Sea in January, but not making a calculated passage in the ideal season/weather window?
Because it's not going to be a 70' seiner when you finish with it. You will be changing it's characteristics. Everything you do can impact handling and stability. You said "rebuild it top to bottom". Are you going to utilize a naval architect and get your work checked by a Classification Society surveyor all along the way to get a sign off? Sorry, but it's home made when you rebuild top to bottom, with just a hull you purchased. Everything you do changes it's seaworthiness. You can move batteries around and change stability, much less a rebuild like you're talking about.
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