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The Offshore Sailboat: Selecting, Equipping & Refitting - An Introduction

Whether your sailing is mostly coastal daysails, an occasional long weekend aboard, bareboating in the Caribbean or anything short of currently being offshore, the following questions have undoubtedly came up in your mind or in coversation with fellow sailors:

  • What makes for a good offshore boat?
  • How do I evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of various boats?
  • Are some hull forms and keel types better than others?
  • Is there an optimum sail plan or rig type that I must have?
  • Are good offshore boats born in the factory or can they be made?

Believe me, this list goes on to likely number in the hundreds of questions. But, there are definitely some ways of wading through this myriad of choices and coming up with enough clarity to make a decision on modifying your existing boat or forming a checklist for buying your next.

Many of us dream of heading offshore. Some will, others won't for a variety of reasons. If I can do anything with this series of articles to help make you move toward the reality of the cruise it may be to understand that it can be done by making a series of simple choices and that there is clarity in the midst of speculation and opinion.

While most of our discussion will be about the boat itself, going offshore also means giving consideration to equipment, crew and the voyage environment as well.

Is there a perfect boat? Are some better than others? Should certain types be avoided? Are there safe compromises that can be made? The anwers are a resounding No, Yes, Probably and Absolutely.

To paraphrase what (I think) started out as a commentary on aircraft design: A well-designed sailboat represents hundreds of compromises moving in close formation.

Stay with me in this journey and let's explore those compromises.



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