Cruising with Four Kids and Little Offshore Experience

Hi Linda and Steve

Thanks for a great book, we have the second edition which I brought in 1998.

I need your help?

My wife,Tina (40) and I (45) have little offshore sailing experience although we have three boats in the past, a 22, 26 and a 32 footer.

We are now thinking of going cruising for a year or more. This would entail the selling of our business , which we started 15 years ago, and the house. We have had about 25 days leave in 15 years and not more than a week at one time. We are just tried of the grind and need a change desperately.

We have 5 kids, 3, 14, 15, 19 and 21 years old of which 4 want to come with us so any boat under 45 feet is going to be tight.

My plan is to buy a boat in the States, spend three months, or as long as it takes, honing our offshore skills and then sailing the Pacific, through New Zealand then back to South Africa. The boats that we have considered are a Beneteau Oceanis 440 or Cal 46 (although most Cals are old and we have never seen one in the flesh). The budget for the boat is $90,000 with a max of $110,000 and $10,000 for improvements or gear. We cannot buy in SA because of stock and pricing problems. Simply there just aren’t any decent boats locally except overpriced Cats. Also found a strange boat on the Internet, a Macgregor 65 cruising version, long and narrow, but has a beam ratio that you recommend in your book. We have only viewed a Beneteau 440 at a local sailing school which Tina likes, I am not so sure. I spoke to one of the instructors and he stated that he would take her anywhere anytime?!

We also do not want to make trips to the States, as time won’t permit this, and it is costly.

1. What boat would you recommend within our budget? What are your feelings on the ones we have considered?

2. We have planed on a monthly cruising budget of $1,000, is this enough? Currently land based budget is about $5000 per month, $900 an school fees alone!!!

3. We plan to keep $25,000 for emergencies.

4. My wife and kids have duel passports UK and SA and I have SA only, where should we make "home base" from a registration point of view?

5. What about boat insurance?

Wish that we could afford one of your boats, even an old one.

Regards, Barry

Hi Barry:

Lots of good, tough questions. I’ll try some brief answers.

1-I am assuming you are light on offshore experience. The main thing is to be prudent, don’t let schedule dictate when you go, and put a lot of effort into learning how to handle the boat in various conditions under sail and power.

2-Regarding boat types, I am not familiar enough with the current market to give you good advice. Except, if you are planning to head back to South America that probably means the Indian Ocean, and making the trip from Mauritius to Durban–and then down the coast to Cape Town. In spite of what your sailing instructor told you, I would not be happy in a modern light displacement, high volume (charter influenced) design like the Benateau. They are not designed or built for the conditions you will probably encounter at the end of your trip.

I would stay with a late CCA or early IOR design, or a good cruising design by someone who knows heavy weather. Angelo Lavranos, formerly of Cape Town, designed some very seaworthy boats in the 40-foot range.

3-Re: budget, if you live at anchor (which is more pleasant), do your own maintenance, and eat what the locals do (more fun) the $1000/month should do. But stay away from high priced marinas!

4-Re: the flag on your vessel, I don’t really have a feel for this. But consider the EU tax situation if you fly a British or European flag. This may not apply if you don’t end up in Europe or the UK.

5-There are lots of good boats out there in your price range. The main thing is to be patient, and watch for the right deal. This means a boat which has been well outfitted for offshore work, has the good structure, and a reasonable sail inventory. You will not have as nice an interior as the new boats, but I would trade structure, and extra waterline length–which comes with the older boat–for the volume of the modern charter design. You will be more comfortable offshore, and the boat will handle better in a blow.

Good Luck–Steve

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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