Cruising Boats Anyone Can Afford to Own
A lot of newcomers to the world of sailing and especially cruising and voyaging are unfortunately put off by the notion that sailing is prohibitively expensive and out of reach of all but the wealthy. This misconception is perpetuated by the glossy full-color advertisements in the sailing magazines for yachts costing anywhere from $100,000 on up to well over a million. The trend, in fact, in the yacht manufacturing business has in recent years favored boats in the 42 to 55 foot range, with an average price tag of around $350,000. Who buys boats like that, and who really needs that much boat? Do you have to have a boat that size to go cruising?
Of course not. Even families can get by with much smaller boats, and cruising couples and singlehanders can do with a whole lot less. In my travels throughout the Caribbean, I met lots of folks out there cruising on boats in the 30 to 35 foot range, and quite a few on boats as small as 20 to 25 feet. 26 to 27 footers are commonly making voyages all over the world. The real sailing literature (not the advertising-driven rags) is full of the accounts of voyagers who have circumnavigated and sailed to the ends of the earth on boats in this size range.
In future posts here I will include reviews of some of the books written by these sailors, but in this article I want to bring to your attention a book by sailing author, John Vigor, entitled: Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. All of the boats profiled in this informative little book fall into the size range of 20 to 32 feet, and all have been in production long enough that used examples in various states of neglect are out there waiting to be bought by sailors on a budget. Here are just 10 of the boats included in the book that meet John's criteria for capable small cruisers that can go anywhere - he qualifies this by listing strengths and weaknesses of each boat, and suggestions for modifications that might enhance seaworthieness and safety:
Pearson Triton 28
Albin Vega 27
Cape Dory 25D
All of these boats can be found on the used boat market at a price that won't put you in debt for the rest of your life. And, of course, besides the 20 boats profiled in the book, there are many others out there that also meet the criteria for seaworthiness and affordability. The Grampian 26, Intensity, that I used to own is another good example. But for anyone not knowing where to start in their search for a suitable cruising boat, John Vigor's book offers some of the best advice available. You can read the editorial reviews and the many reader reviews of the book on Amazon. Check it out and see if you don't agree, and may you keep that cruising dream alive and not be discouraged by the price of new boats that you don't need.
(This article was first published in the Scott's Boat Page newsletter, 2004)