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Does the Boat Make a Difference?

About 10 years, ago we hosted a group of six folks for a charter aboard ‘ti Profligate in the Caribbean.
The male in one of the couples spent most of his time on the phone doing business deals, while his wife, who wore a lot of sweatpants, did craft books.

“Those two aren’t going to do much more sailing,” I said to Doña at the end of the charter.

So it was much to my surprise when about five years later, the man and woman, and their three kids, showed up in St. Barth. It turns out they had chartered an Outremer 49, a very fast cruising cat, for two years. They started their cruise in the Eastern Med, and would eventually cross the Atlantic twice.

Does the boat you cruise on matter all that much? Well, it’s a matter of opinion.
© 2019 Outremer USA

Then they flew to Thailand or somewhere nearby, where they chartered a couple of more cats, none of them anywhere near as fast or sophisticated as the Outremer, for another two years.

A few years later I spoke to the man again, and he told me how prior to chartering the first boat for two years, he’d obsessively researched catamarans for six months to find the ‘perfect one’. But after four years of cruising, he and members of his family came to the conclusion that the kind of boat you cruise on really isn’t that important at all.

“Moving forward, just about anything seaworthy would be fine with us,” is basically what he told me. “The exact boat just isn’t that important.”

Mind you, this is coming from a very successful Silicon Valley guy, with a very smart wife and Stanford- caliber kids.

Interesting opinion. One I don’t necessarily agree with, although I do think buyers of boats, particularly first-time buyers, often do obsess over the craziest, least important things.

What do you think?


  1. Bob Schilling 4 years ago

    I think I’m more in the “the kind of boat you have matters” crowd than the “kind of boat you have doesn’t matter” crowd. Fuel capacity, water capacity, seakindlyness, ease of sail management, all matter, and matter a lot.

  2. Dennis Bailey 4 years ago

    I think the boat can make a difference. I thought my 1966 Columbia 29 mark 2 was the best. And then I bought my 1966 Herreshoff 28 ketch -all wood- and I learned about love.

  3. Urs 4 years ago

    If you have unlimited time and patience, any boat will get you anywhere.
    For the rest of us; a faster, more seaworthy boat gives more weather windows and opportunities to explore.

  4. Dan Akol 4 years ago

    Given the specific mission, the boat and its capabilities may matter BUT I have long contended and noticed that as long as you are on the water, the person/people in the 20’ boat are having just as much fun as the person with the 80 footer.

  5. Glen Middleton 3 years ago

    Having just sold our 42ft “condomaran” in Florida, and having sailed 3 different monohulls over 50K around the Pacific and SE Asia, I do maintain that the boat is the means to the end, not the end in itself. A good seakindly boat that does not suck you dry maintaining it is all that is needed for a fabulous platform for adventurous cruising.

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