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Best Cruising Boats

By The Ithaka - Published July 29, 2005 - Viewed 1102 times

Best Cruising Boats

We're a couple hoping to retire next year, we've been following your story online, and we're looking for a boat for extended cruising, too. What are the boats you looked at seriously before you bought Ithaka?
- Caryn Melvin, Hopkins, South Carolina

From Bernadette: Looking back on it, it feels as though we looked at every boat under the sun. But in reality, here are the boats we were truly serious about: We looked at aluminum boats and steel boats, and definitely would have bought a metal boat if we'd found the right one. All were very competitively priced (between $70,000 and $140,000) and they were a lot of boat for the money. We loved the strength of these boats; we just didn't find the right one. At the same time, we looked at traditional fiberglass boats. We were briefly interested in the Dehler 41, which had won the Cruising World Boat of the Year competition, an impressive sailing boat, but there were no used 41DSs on the American market at the time. We looked at the Sabre 37 (too small for our needs) and the Sabre 42 (a beautiful sailer, but we couldn't find the right one at the right price, and storage was a bit tight for living aboard permanently). We lusted after the Pacific Seacraft 37 and 40 (who doesn't?) but the 37 was too tight down below, and we simply couldn't afford the 40, which is very expensive.

We looked seriously at two older Amel Sharkies (Douglas especially liked this boat). They were impressively thought out for cruising, although a bit simple-looking down below. The ones that were for sale needed too much updating, and so were not quite right for our time frame. We looked at a few Bristol 38s, a pretty boat, but not robust enough for extended offshore work. We looked at a tempting older Tartan 44 that had been completely refit by our friend Dan Spurr (then editor of Practical Sailor, so you can imagine the top gear he had on that boat) but despite the fun it may have been to sail, the boat just didn't have enough storage for us. We liked a very solid Sparkman and Stephens 40 (despite that it was a center cockpit), a Septre 41, and we might have bought a Hylas 42 if it hadn't had such a big bridge deck (the older models require you to climb up and over the bridge, leaving you quite exposed to the elements, and precluding you from ever having a full dodger). The whole process of searching for and finding the boat that was right for us is a subject about which we will write at greater length in the future, but this is a general idea of the boats toward which we gravitated before we found Ithaka





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