I’m sailing away set an open course for the virgin sea
I’ve got to be free free to face the life that’s ahead of me
On board I’m the captain so climb aboard
We’ll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I’ll try oh Lord I’ll try to carry on
I look to the sea reflections in the waves spark my memory
Some happy some sad
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had
We live happily forever so the story goes
But somehow we missed out on that pot of gold
But we’ll try best that we can to carry on
Come Sail Away – Styx
Chad from Live Free 2 Sail Fast recently asked me to write some information about the boat I hoped to purchase and how I came to my decision. I have spent endless hours reading, watching videos, going to boat yards, talking to newbies and old salts, and generally making the same mistakes everyone new to the world of sailboats ends up doing. We get caught up in all the opinions about what is good and what is bad about this sailboat or that. Sloop or cutter, yawl or ketch, full keel or fin, spade or skeg hung rudder, encapsulated or external ballast. And that’s only the beginning.
a single-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged sailing vessel, with or without a bowsprit, having a jib-headed or gaff mainsail, the latter sometimes with a gaff topsail, and one or more headsails.
a single-masted sailing vessel, very similar to a sloop but having its mast set somewhat farther astern, about two-fifths of the way aft measured on the water line.
a two-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged sailing vessel having a large mainmast and a smaller jiggermast or mizzenmast stepped abaft the sternpost.
a sailing vessel rigged fore and aft on two masts, the larger, forward one being the mainmast and the after one, stepped forward of the rudderpost, being the mizzen or jigger.
Advantages of Full Keel Sailboats
A sailboat with a full keel tracks more easily through the water, moving forward with less swinging off course due to wind gusts and wave action. A full-keel boat generally also has a more sea-kindly motion.
Advantages of Fin Keel Sailboats
With less wetted surface and drag, fin keel boats are usually faster than their full-keel counterparts. With less keel length to resist the turning action of the rudder, a fin-keel boat turns more quickly and usually tacks easily.
Advantages of Full Keel Rudder
The primary benefit of this rudder configuration is the strength and protection provided to the rudder. It is hinged at top and bottom, well distributing the forces on the rudder. Rope (such as lobster pot warps) or debris in the water cannot snag on the rudder.
Advantages of Spade Rudder
The spade rudder is self-standing and does not require a full keel or skeg for its mounting. The rudder post inside the rudder can be moved aft from the leading edge so that the force of the water is not all on one side when the rudder is turned. This requires less energy to steer than with a keel- or skeg-mounted rudder.
Advantages of Skeg Mounted Rudder
The skeg offers the same advantages as a keel-mounted rudder: the rudder is protected from objects in the water and has more structural strength than a rudder mounted only on the rudder post. When used with a fin keel, the turning ability is greatly increased over a full keel while still protecting the rudder.
Advantages of External Ballast
The advantage of external ballast is to get the keel foil shape long and narrow (for added lift) and to get the ballast as low as possible. For years the conventional wisdom was that external lead ballast offered a soft, easily dented surface to a grounding on rock, etc. But that probably dates to the days of wood, when damage to the wood structure could be catastrophic. (Practical Sailor article)
Advantages of Internal Ballast
With ballast encapsulated in fiberglass, the worst that can happen is that the keel cavity might be ruptured, allowing water to enter. So it is important that internal ballast be glassed over well so that no water in the cavity leaks into the cabin. (Practical Sailor article)
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that they are all correct, and they are all wrong. I think there are a list of features that are vital to a safe and secure sailboat, and no one boat has all of them in a perfect arrangement. At least not at my price range! I’m going to have to buy an older boat, restore it’s systems, and add the other items to complete the package. Maybe I should decide first what I want to do with my boat, and that will help me decide what to buy.
Coastal Cruising, day sailing, occasional overnights, offshore circumnavigation or full time liveaboard. All of these demand different types of features to be the right boat for the job. At first I fell for the dream of sailing around the world, experiencing new cultures and braving the open sea. I watched people on YouTube cross the pacific, bask in the sun in Tahiti, spend leisurely hours between islands in Thailand. One of my favorites is Follow The Boat with Jamie, Liz and Millie the cat! But I’ve come to the conclusion I will never have the funds to live that lifestyle, so I’ve scaled back my aspirations.
So what do I want? I want to liveaboard, sail at least once across the Atlantic and back, then spend my winters working and my summers sailing. I may continue to live in Maine year round, or go south for the winter and sail Maine in the summer. But first, the boat!
I want a boat with a skeg hung rudder, a modified fin keel, encapsulated ballast, more than 12,000 lbs total weight, (Heavier boats are more stable in rough seas) classic teak interior, bulkheads tabbed to the hull, (no liner) at least 34 feet long and 11 feet wide, a sloop with quality sails, a large quarter berth, chart table, refrigeration, large windows, a watermaker, dingy davits, sailboat arch, solar panels, monitor windvane, storm drogue, windless, dingy/lifeboat, tankless water heater, marine heating, (I do live in Maine!) a chartplotter with radar and a bunch more items including running and standing rigging, clutches, winches etc. (click on the links to see examples of each)
Most of you are saying, “What the hell is he talking about?” I don’t think I could explain every item in a blog post, but these are the most critical items for safety and comfort if I’m to live my dream. Not all are necessary to sail the boat, but all combined give you the best “Home” on the water.
And finally, what did I choose for a boat? After much research I think I will buy a S2 11.0a. I first read of these boats in an article on the website “Practical Sailor.” They are the “Consumer Reports” of everything sailboat. Their unbiased opinions are well know and respected. This boat is 36 feet long, 11 feet 11 inches wide and weighs 15,000 lbs. These were at the top of the production market when built, and have a strong reputation as very sturdy boats with top quality interiors and very strong hulls. Here are a few pictures of one for sale right now.
This 1980 S2 11.0a sailboat is on the market for $38,900. An offer of $35,000 might buy it. It may seem like allot for it’s age, but a new boat of this quality would cost well over $100,000 to build. This one is in very good condition, but I have seen another that needs much more work for $19,000. If I bought this one and added the other parts, my total investment might be up to $65,000. You cant even buy a small house for that!
In conclusion, my idea may not be your idea, my plan may not suit your needs. It’s a practical choice and a personal choice. Each person must decide what matters more to them when buying a boat. Thought must be given to the safety factors, how it will be used etc… But when you boil it down, this is my dream boat!