The Luxury of 35 feet

Let’s just ignore all of the people who would give up their first born in order to have a well found 35 foot cruising boat (and the time and health and finances to use it) and indulge in the luxury of discussing high class “problems” like the fact that our boat is usually the smallest in an anchorage. It has become such a funny truism that once I said “look at the small boat sailing in” and it turned out it was another Pretorien. Even *I* am calling our boat small even though I know people on smaller boats. And the number of times that I’ve had someone say upon meeting me ashore “oh, you are on that small monohull in the anchorage” is adding up.

GOPR3941 In the high class world of people traveling by private sailing yacht, our boat is on the small size. So how can I describe Estrellita as “luxurious”?
Let’s leave aside all of the ways that a Pretorien, at 35 feet, is actually more capacious and faster than many larger vessels. What I actually mean when I say the “luxury of 35 feet” is the luxury that we have gained by NOT buying the biggest boat we could afford. Like most people preparing to set off, we had a budget for our cruising boat and a budget for our refit. When we purchased the boat we bought below our purchase budget.

First, this allowed us to be more generous on the refit in the gear we purchased. Second, we’ve considered upsizing more than once and the main reason that we keep coming back to when we decide not to upsize (beside the fact that prepping again might kill us) is that by having a smaller boat, with smaller gear, and by not maxing out our budget, we not only had more money for the refit, we have more money now.
If we upsized our boat we would have to downsize our “living large” fund. Everyone is different, and certainly every cruising budget is different, but for us, the limitations of our physical space on a 35 foot boat are not as important as the limitations we would have to put our our spending if we bought a larger boat.

Bottles of wine? Plane tickets? New kites? …or a bigger boat. Where do you stand?

PS - If anyone wants to donate their used Outremer, Atlantic or Swan we will happily accept your generous upsizing offer. Or your own suggested better-than-that-list sexy sailing machine.

13 comments:

  1. It's good to hear about folks happily sailing on a 35' boat. We're getting ready to "upscale" from our current 26' boat to something larger (35'-38') to liveaboard. I sometimes wonder if that's too small, but then I remember how much it costs as you go up each foot. Your post is a great reminder that you can live well on something that others would think is small.
    Cheers - Ellen
    thecynicalsailor.blogspot.co.nz

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  2. It is amazing how different in size inside two 35 foot boats can be. We would live a larger boat but aren't willing to pay for it by giving up toys which we would have to do on our budget.

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  3. I wrote this in our Facebook page and wanted to add it here: we aren't advocating small boats for everyone. The balance between the size of the boat, physical discomfort, and cash flow is different for everyone. Some people dont spend a lot outside their boat - no toys etc and for them investing more budget in the boat size makes sense.

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  4. We have a Pretorien too but I never considered it small, in fact just about the right size for us. Even on some 42' ers I've seen cabins the same size, and the Pretorien has very decent storage, except diesel/water reserves. At the dock I think cockpit size might deter some but at sea its perfect for a smallish crew. We will install a stainless swimstep so she'd officially become 37 ft so the boat yards can charge for the extra 2ft!

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    1. Small is, of course, relative, but I can tell you that we are almost always the smallest full-time cruising boat in any anchorage. We've met smaller full time cruising boats...but not many...and not many with two people aboard.

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    2. PS - we have seriously considered a swim step. Let me know if you do and send us pictures!

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  6. 100% agreed! Our boat is 36 and we are seriously thinking about downgrading to a 32 footer for a simpler life. Smaller boat, less costs, more fun!!! Larry always knows better and his motto is Go simple, go small, go now. So true!

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    1. I don't think our play toys (kites etc) would fit in 32' - you guys are good!

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  7. I completely agree. There are all kinds of tradeoffs with boat size. A bigger boat means bigger everything. Costs for *everything* go up. Need new sails? They'll be a *lot* more for a 45'er than for your 35'er. Deck hardware, winches, windlass, even bottom paint. Then there are the physical costs. When we bought our Cabo Rico 38, some warned me that we would out-grow her and feel cramped. But the best advice I got was to consider how manageable the boat would be if one of us were injured and the other had to sail the boat themselves. My wife Cheryl can handle the physical effort involved with our 38. She can man-handle sails if necessary. On a bigger boat, she would need to rely on more equipment (yet more costs and maintenance) to handle things without me. The sunset looks just as pretty from our cockpit as from the Gunboat 60 anchored next to us.

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    1. I do like the fact that we can both physically handle the gear on our boat, particularly as we age.

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  8. I sail a Corbin 39 and it feels huge "huge, I repeat" even though it's only 39 feet. I'd want a smaller boat even if I were rich).
    Unless you have a big family, why drive a 9-seat van, live in a 5-bedroom house?
    Big is comfortable, big is safe, etc....think again, think about handling huge sails,

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