Type of boat good for gulf crossing to caribbean

The friendliest place on the web for anyone who enjoys boating.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Oct 16, 2010
New member.* Will purchase boat in two years, researching early.** I have heard a lot about depth of the boat in the water.*** Lot of trawlers 2 or 3 feet.** We will want to spend winter in Carribean and summers off east coast of U.S.** How deep in the water does the boat need to be in order to be safe crossing the gulf, etc.
If we desire some day to cross to Europe, will we need then to buy a different boat?** Don't know we would ever do that, but always a possibility.
Welcome aboard Cheryl!
We have a semi displacement trawler with a "full keel". It draws 3 1/2 ' (from the waterline to the lowest part on the vessel) and it is probably considered a "coastal cruiser". It is a sundeck design which gives it volumnous interior at the expense of a lot of outside surface area which makes it less seaworthy in high winds. We travel the Gulf of Mexico along the coast a good bit- probably 8-10 miles off shore. I wouldn't hesitate to make a Bahama crossing but would make it at the correct time of the year for favorable winds. I hope this gets you started. There is a wealth of experience on the forum- many with some blue water experience. I know you will enjoy the forum and we look forward to your participation!
Thank you for your response.***Didn't know if we needed a 5.5 or*6 ft. keel depth or if we had to go deeper.***Also saw some for*4 ft., didn't know if that was deep enough or not.*** Thought the 2.5 and 3 ft. were definitely too shallow.*** We have so much to learn.
baxter wrote:

If we desire some day to cross to Europe, will we need then to buy a different boat?**
To do a transoceanic cruise in a "true" trawler, moving below maximum displacement-hull speed, I'd look for something in the 50-foot*range and five-foot keel, with an efficient engine and substantial tankage.* My ideal would be the 51-foot Diesel Duck made by Seahorse Marine.* Three-quarters of a million dollars should do it.

I've found taking a cruise ship at $40 to $100*a day much more cost efficient.* Will be doing my fifth transatlantic next month.

-- Edited by markpierce on Saturday 16th of October 2010 06:51:35 PM
Welcome baxter...A lot has been written here and on other sites about buying "too much boat". In the right weather, crossings to the Bahamas has and will be done in 24' center console single outboard boats. 49 miles, as I understand it, from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini. A simple 2 hr. run...IN THE RIGHT WEATHER!!!!! In the wrong weather, ANY boat is iffy or uncomfortable.
Ocean crossing requires a much different vessel than coastal cruising. Determine REALISTICALY what you want to do with the boat and what you want the boat to do for you.
Walk the docks, talk to people, keep an open mind, constantly re-assess your wants/needs. Eventually you will find "your" boat.
I wouldn't expect to buy the perfect boat (or even the best boat) your first time out. No matter HOW much research you do, you'll always have to make compromises and find flaws in your decision. Still, not having any blue water experience myself, I can't comment to much about it, but what RT Firefly said is correct. A coastal/Bahamas cruiser is a vastly different boat from one that can cross the Atlantic. You should consider, when the time comes to cruise Europe, shipping your boat overseas and not try a trans-Atlantic crossing until you have a lot of years of experience under your belt. Or even just sell your North American boat and just purchase a boat in Europe for the task.

That's just my opinion... Someone told me I was wrong once. :)
If you are interested in the Caribbean you may want to read Van Sant's book A Gentleman's Guide to Passages South. It covers the trip from Florida through the islands all the way to South America. He recommends short hops between the islands, I believe the longest stretch is about 100 or so MN. Lots of good information. Steve Pavlidis is another who has written about the trip. Lots of sailboaters do in boats in the 30-40 foot range. Not very many trawlers do but I have read a couple of blogs of trawler owners who have and enjoyed the trip. Having the time and patience to wait for good weather seems to be of key importance.
Steve W.
For most voyaging purposes . a sailboat in most any size has a better chance than most "trawlers".

If you are willing to take a modest RISK, most any fully found reasonable motor boat will cross the Atlantic . Single deck only , no 3 -4 stories tall with oxygen tent on top.

Range will be a problem , but 50G drums or a bladder will add the extra few hundred gal needed.

Sadly most "trawlers " do not have the scantlings , robustness , systems or gear aboard for true ocean passages.

The reason is a cruiser will have far less space than a roomaran coastal or dockside queen.

Costing usually 300% more for an ocean ready boat , price enough to assure that 99% of the boats are coasts and bays only.

That understood simply getting to the Carib can be done either of 2 ways. The along shore run past Hispanolia has only 150-180 miles of open ocean , the Mona Passage.

Many folks , sail and power , will wait for great weather and dash across. Once in PR , its a lark to South America.

An Atlantic passage can be done by crossing in the Horse Lats, where the old sailing ships had trouble with 5K winds , the marine motorist will find nice but rolly conditions.

Carib ? no sweat , Passage to Euroland , courage and planning.
Top Bottom