Relative boat size

Our boat was big and now it is small.

We had read in various books and magazines that the size of the average cruising boat is increasing.  Our boat is just under 11 meters (35 feet) which was apparently a big boat for the 70s and 80s but is one of the smaller boats in the current cruising fleet.

We’re finding that to be true. In fact, an experienced cruiser recently told us to ask for advice on how to cruise “in a smaller boat”. Most of the people that we have met on the West Coast of Vancouver Island are not full-time cruisers, or people with offshore cruising plans, and so we still can’t answer that question fully but I have to say that on the outside of Van Isle we are almost always the smallest sailboat. This was not true on the inside of Vancouver Island where we were a medium sized boat. Out here we see smaller powerboats, especially fishing boats, but we have seen only two sailboats smaller than us that we can remember and a few more that were the same size as us. Almost all of the boats we see are 40’ or larger.

We have friends crossing the Pacific this season in a 30 foot boat so we are definitely not anywhere near the smallest boat out there by any stretch and we think our boat is plenty big enough. In fact, it is large and luxurious compared to what many people have circumnavigated in. Hot, pressurized water, refrigeration with a (wee) freezer, computers, and soon a watermaker (my non-boater friends are laughing at these “luxuries” I’m sure).


  1. It is the magaizines and their advertizers who are proponants for the bigger boat. With the bigger boat the equipment is more expensive, slip fees rise and insurance goes through the roof. Keep your "small" boat and enjoy it....Allan

  2. I was very curious to understand if the boat was feeling small now, if the walls were closing in so to speak.

    I'd think going much bigger than 11 meters could have a lot of drawbacks, as it starts to get to be a lot of boat to handle when the chips are down, and the crew small and tired. And not all 35 foot boats are the same :)

  3. well, my relative doesnt even have a boat.

  4. We have a 31 foot boat and have plans for extended coastal and blue water cruising. From our research we definitely agree that today our boat is considered small but was a pretty normal size for a cruising boat when it was built (1979). We have come across a few people who, upon hearing our plans, say something to the effect of: "31 feet is too small to be a bluewater boat, you need at least (insert any size larger than 31 feet here)". We pretty much just tune them out. Oh and Sam, that was pretty darn funny :)

  5. @Sam - HA!
    @EP- We had lived aboard for almost 3 years prior to departing so we were used to our small walls although they did become smaller when you aren't near land/cities/communication/friends.
    @Rowan and Allen - Plenty big. If people can ROW across the Pacific...

  6. For a serious perspective on size, check out Frank & Margaret Dye. Their trips were not stunts, its how they cruised. Frank just died in May at 82.

    I cruised a Wayfarer on far less ambitious trips, and lusted for any boat I saw that had a cabin.

  7. We just crewed for friends on a coastal passage on their very nice 46-foot cutter (our sloop is 38'). We were surprised to see that their boat appeared no less cluttered than ours, and that they were just as concerned with storage issues. In addition, preparing the larger boat to sail took much longer, and handling sails and lines took way more muscle power. Not to mention that their boat cost probably 3x as much as ours, both to purchase and to operate! It was a good reality check, and we think we are slowly recovering from "4-foot-itis."



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