First off, for all offshore and ocean crossing purposes, you want to
make sure your vessel is a true "blue water" boat - often referred to as a
"passage maker" (and not to be confused with a Mfg's Brand Name or Model).
By "blue water" we mean a boat specifically built to withstand the rigors of both
wind and water on the high seas. These vessels are many times stronger, and
much heavier then their "Inland Lake" cousins... And while they may look very
similar, the differences are critically important to both your safety and comfort.

Everything structurally in a blue water vessel will be of better quality. It will also
be stronger, built with heavier gauge materials, last longer, and be heavier for
its size. From the gauge and thickness of your mast, to the way in which it's
weight and force is brought down and transferred to the keel. All windows,
doors, hatches, hinges, cleats, rails, rigging, "
everything" from the bottom of
the keel to the top of the mast will be heaver, stronger, better, safer and thus
last much longer.

One thing you should never over-look in choosing your boat is the importance
of your boat's weight. There are an over abundance of boaters that will tell
you "light" is better, because "light" is faster. That statement is usually
followed up with "you can out-run the storm".
Baloney! Light weight in a racing sailboat is one thing. Light weight in a long
distance cruising boat is another. When the weather bares down on you at
sea you are not going to out run it at 13 knots any more then you will out run it
at 8 knots. In both cases, both vessels will be bare poled or storm sailed, and
under these conditions, no one is going anywhere fast. What you will want, is
a heavy, sturdy, steady, seaworthy vessel that can take the storm and keep
you safe.  
I understand, a "heavy" boat sounds contradictory to all things that float... but
truth is, these vessels are designed and engineered for maximum strength,
comfort, and safety at sea. Your heaviest boat will be your very smartest,
safest, most comfortable cruising boat for crossing an ocean.
Think of it this way... For comfort, would you want to take off on a 50,000 mile
journey in a Volkswagon?  Or would you prefer the smooth ride and comfort of
a full size Lincoln or Cadillac? On the open sea, the difference in weight
alone, means the difference in being dangerously seasick 40% of the time; or
only slightly seasick 1% of the time.

For the most part, seasickness is a subject most sailors never seriously talk
about, however, it is a fact of life at sea. If it persists - it could in fact be the
cause of your demise.  While some people, (me included) will tell you there is
no such thing as being "slightly" seasick; the real "safety factor" for minimizing
and preventing seasickness - is a heavy boat. Light boats (like a cork on the
water) rise and fall on top of the seas, heavy ones tend to level out and go
through the seas, so your ride is much more smooth.

While we will address the topic of seasickness later, For now, hopefully, you
get the point... The more solid your boat is, the heavier and safer it will be -
for many reasons. You will need the most solid boat you can find. With safety
first, comfort is no minor fringe benefit when you are living on your boat. A well
rested crew is a much safer crew.
The most common multi-hulls are catamarans. These vessels have two
hulls connected by a bridge deck. These vessels also offer several such distinct
advantages as: horizontal stability, (they don't heel or lean) they are easily twice
as fast, have a very wide beam and thus more space, and they have flat
uncluttered decks.
The negative aspect of a multi-hull is a result of it's greatest asset - it's width.
While wonderful to sail and live on, most Marina's have yet to provide ample
dock space to accommodate their wide beams. In addition, if you "flip" (or trip, as
it is called) your catamaran, it will remain afloat; but you will have just turned it
into the most expensive life raft on the Seven Seas. They can be righted of
course, but it requires either a very large balloon and air compressor, or
another boat.
Mono-hulls are your traditional sailing vessel. They are sound, solid, and
proven vessels that provide great stamina and forgiveness in heavy seas. There
negative aspect of the mono-hull is also caused by its most positive feature -
and that is its "self-righting" ability. Knocked down on it's side by either wind or
ways, a good heavy mono-hull will self-right itself. As a result of this ability
however... sailing a mono-hull is a bit much like having one leg a foot shorter (no
pun intended) then the other.  Sailing mono-hulls means "heeling" (or leaning)
which means you will live the majority of your life at sea on this vessel, holding
on to something.
In addition to weight, there are also several "types or styles" of
sailboats to consider when choosing a safe, solid, comfortable
and suitable sailboat for making long ocean passages. These
types & styles include
Mono-hull or Multi-hull. They also include
Pilothouse and Motor-sailors.
In either case, with either choice... Mono-hull or multi-hull, you want to make sure that your vessel is a true blue water sailing vessel.  If
you glance around the cruising Ports from Florida to Fiji, and from Bahamas to Barbados, you will see a tremendous variety of sizes, types,
constructions, and designs, in both mono-hulls and multi-hulls; most of which have crossed an ocean.

I can not stress enough, that your "how big" upper limit in a boat's size, should be one that you can safely and easily
handle all by yourself.
Your "how small" limit should be one that you and your mate, or crew can comfortably live and sleep on for long
periods of time, if not the rest of your life. For most couples - this translates into something between 32' to 36 feet.  
Of course, boat size and crew size are closely related. The more crew you have, the larger your boat will have to be. Consequently, the larger
the boat the more expensive everything is, even after your boat is long paid for.

For couples with kids, and also for a couple cruising with another couple, the two separate and distinct hulls of a catamaran offer the best
solution to privacy on board I have ever seen in a manageable, affordable cruising vessel. Although there are many different layouts and
designs, the most popular are the catamarans that offer a galley, dinning and lounge area on the bridge deck - while the berths (bedrooms)
with heads (bathrooms) are located in each hull.
When choosing your boat, never assume (regardless of your plans or crew) that you will always have help handling or sailing your vessel. Just
don't plan on it. For sure, at one time or another, you (or your spouse, mate, etc. ) will have to sail the boat singlehanded.  Hey... things
happen. Even in the best of circumstances, we sailors get sick, we catch colds and flu, we stump toes, bust knuckles, bang our heads, trip, and
a few of us have even been known to fall overboard. In addition, if your first and only mate decides to jump ship in Paradise... I can assure you
- it won't be the first, second, or third time, I have known that to happen. On more then these three occasions, while cruising through Paradise,
we have heard someone on the radio seeking a ride home to the mainland.
One size doesn't fit all...
First of all, lets get one thing straight:  A suitable "offshore"
vessel is designed and built many times stronger, and much heavier
then their "Inland Lake" or "Coastal Cruising" cousins... And while they
may look very similar, the differences are critically important to both
your safety and comfort offshore.
Size does NOT matter near as much as weight. Whether you are
voyaging on a frugal budget or not, we strongly suggest that you
do not
buy
the biggest, longest boat you can afford. Instead, buy the very
smallest boat you can comfortable live and sleep on; and one that can
be easily (safely) handled by one person.
Those that tell you "bigger is better" in an offshore boat - have simply
never been there. Anyone who has, certainly knows that the "smallest"
boat you can "comfortably live on" is the safest and most frugal. In fact,
the very first question you should be asking yourself - before you start
your boat search, is: How big is a BIG pleasure boat, and how BIG a boat
can I handle all by myself?
    My son and I get question of size all the time. "How big should it be?" or
"What size is best?" Our answers are always the same - never buy the
biggest boat you can afford, but the smallest boat you and your mate (crew)
can comfortably live on and safely handle by yourself.
To those that tell you "bigger is better" when it comes to an individual or
cruising couple's offshore cruising boat, my response is simply that taking
their advice will certainly end up spoiling most of your otherwise perfect days
of sailing, and possibly will be the cause of you finding yourself in need of
change if not in trouble.
Single-handling a boat depends on many factors; the size, the design, and
the layout of the vessel itself, as well as the handler’s physical fitness,
strength, experience, nautical know-how, and determination.
I come from the school of thought that sailing should be fun and relaxing. For
me, it is set the sails, set your way-points, lay back and enjoy the ride. You
won't find me working up a sweat, trimming sails, or pushing the boat to it's
limits in hopes of finding another 1/2 knot of speed. There is enough work on
a boat already, I don't need to create more. The bigger the boat the more
work it is to sail, to dock, to anchor, and to maintain.
It is not at all difficult to determine the upper limit of your boat handling
abilities, as there are very definite limiting factors that can help you decide
how big a boat you can handle with safety and confidence.
Possibly the first thing is the anchor. Assuming you have the proper kind and
size anchors that are large enough to hold the vessel in strong tides and
winds, the first question is: Can you raise your heaviest anchor without the
help of a winch or another person, and get it securely on deck? Or do you
need a winch? What if the winch breaks?
Another factor is the configuration of the vessel. Is it set up in such a manner
that you alone can maneuver it to a dock in strong winds? Could you get a
line from the vessel to the dock without loosing control of the vessel?
Can you reef or lower, smother and get sail ties around the largest sail on
board, in all kinds of weather, with no assistance?
I agree, living aboard a 60' boat would be much nicer and offer much more
space then living on a 32' or 36' boat - but truthfully - most of us are going to
be very disappointed with it when we discover our limits. Trying to singularly
operate a sailboat larger then about 46 feet can be very difficult and even
impossible in bad weather. If it takes a toll on you both physically and mentally
- it's not safe, it is a lot of work, and it won't be fun.
Capt. John Jr still prefers his mono-hull
The only problem
these days with
catamarans - is that
since they are twice (or
more) as wide as a
mono-hull, most
Marinas now charge
double for a slip.
The Long Distance Cruising Pleasure Boat
If only one thing is true when it comes to
boats, for sure it is that boaters are passionate
about their boats. Sailors are passionate over
sailing & sailboats, and power boaters are
passionate over their speed and powerboats.

I do not and will not recommend any particular
make, model or even type boat - except to say
that - if you are cruising long distance on a
frugal budget - a sailboat should be in your
future.

Sailing (if you've never done it) is fun and easy
to learn. The wind is free, so obviously this is
the very most economical and frugal way to go.

Trawlers however, that is "true" single engine
full displacement hull trawlers are the very best
most economical choice when it comes to
powerboats, but they don't come anywhere near
being as frugal as a sailboat.
Before we go any further into details - you should be aware of just
how BIG a big pleasure boat really is.  Did you know (for example) that

according to the USCG 2015 statistics - fewer than 1% of the more than
13 million registered boats in the USA are 40 feet or longer? So in case
you didn't realize, anything over 40 feet in a pleasure boat is getting to
be a very big pleasure boat!
In addition, a Boat US survey not long ago, revealed that 90% of 1st
time long distance
boaters actually "down-sized" their second boat -
rather than trading up for something bigger.
(That alone should tell
you something, when it comes to choosing your long distance live
aboard boat. It's obviously like going out to eat. We pick from a
wonderful appealing menu, but in the end, the appeal was bigger than
our appetite. We couldn't handle it all, or we were miserable after we
did.)
Same is true when we are shopping for a boat! We tend to buy more
than we can handle.
 The pics above are of 36' Trawlers. these vessels
off the most spacious room and comfort for their
size and have inside & fly bridge helm stations. A
good 'old' used trawler on today's market might
fetch $65,000 or less - depending on exact age and
condition. At this price, engines and everything
should be in good working order, and only minor
cosmetic work (if any) should be required.
 The above Sailboats are also 36'. Some have very
spacious main salons (as above). However, with a
mono-hull sailboat everything is on one floor and
with the exception of a "pilot house, motor sailor or
catamaran" a sailboat will only have one outside
helm station. For maximum comfort, a couple would
normally require a larger sailboat than a Trawler.
Still, it all comes down to personal preference.
I personally inspected this 48 foot ketch just
before Christmas 2015. It was in perfect shape, in
the water, engine running and ready to go - except
for needing paint & polish and some major decor
changes below. However, the vessel sold that day
for only $23,000. Had I known, I would have bought
it.  What a deal that was.
Many 'live aboard' catamarans are simply "the cat's
pajamas". Sailing comfort just doesn't get any better
than this. Problem is, all the suitable ones are simply
too expensive for the average "frugal" voyager.
They are perfect for couples cruising with kids or
another couple, as the sleeping quarters are in the
hull, while the shared living space is on the bridge
deck.
Most good 'used' late model Catamarans will fetch
around $100,000. While a very good used mono-hull
can be purchased for $50,000 or less.
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
The OFFSHORE vessel
© 2000 - 2017 captainjohn.org
 Most "brand new" vessels suitable for long
distance cruising will cost upwards of $250,000.
Many late model used ones are on the market for
around $100,000 - and some great older models and
'handy man specials' can be found for $30,000 and
under.
PLEASE NOTE:
     I am in no way suggesting that you do as I do, or that you take all I say as "gospel". Fact is we are all different. Our lifestyles, comfort zones,
experience and pocketbooks are all different. My purpose is to give you ALL YOUR OPTIONS. If it takes a 50 foot boat for you and your crew to
be happy and comfortable - by all means - that's the size you need. However, as a general rule, no boat should be 1 foot bigger than your
comfort requires or 1 foot smaller than your safety demands.
     Additionally, I guarantee that every "experienced boater" has experienced days wishing he had a bigger boat. He has also had days he has
wished he had a smaller boat. That's just the way it is!  Your job is to find the perfect one for you that is right smack dab in the middle - between
being too big and too small.
The above is a 1941 Classic 36' Monk for sale. Seller is asking $74,000
A Certified Marine 'Pre-Purchase' Survey will tell you exactly what condition she is in!