Choosing a boat to go cruising in is a very difficult task for anyone. It is especially difficult for those of us with limited offshore sailing experience. Not having unlimited funds adds to the difficulty.
I preferred a new boat to a used one. We began by looking at the three most popular "production" boats (as opposed to custom built ones). The three brands are Hunter, Catalina and Benneteau. If you talk to many "real" offshore sailors, they consider all three of these boats to be fun to sail and to have nice furnishings, but not to be appropriate for serious offshore cruising. However, I couldn't afford a new custom boat and did not want to deal with the problems of a used boat.
For personal styling reasons I eliminated the Benneteau.
There are two Hunters being considered - the 466 and the 456. These are both 46 foot boats with the same hull but different configurations. The 456 (seen below) is a center cockpit boat with the largest main state room of any boat that we looked at (it has a bathtub).
The Catalina that we are considering is the 470 pictured below. It has the most spacious layout of any aft cockpit boat in the group.
The Catalina and the Hunters are both "modern" designs with moderate displacement and fin keels. This means that they can sail close to the wind and turn quickly. Kathy is concerned that they may not ride well in high winds and rough seas and so we began to look at heavier, full keel boats. The main contender in this category is the Island Packet 420. This boat is heavier than the others and it costs more, but it should be more comfortable in heavy seas.
Having looked at the prices for these boats, we are again looking at used versions of these models.
Update May 2003 - We have decided on a used IP 420 and have made an offer
on a 2 year old one that is in Mobile. Part of the reason for getting a
used boat is that it already has all of the equipment. We won't have to
spend 6 months (and $60,000) outfitting the boat. You can read about the
IP 420 on the
IPY web site.
updated May 29, 2003