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There seems to be a very common disease prevalent amongst long-term cruisers. Known as foot-itis to some, the disease seems to prompt those living on the water to feel that they need ever larger and larger boats. While the affliction is widespread, there are those who fortunately have been able to fight it off. There are even a very rare few who have managed to avoid it altogether and find it within themselves to downgrade, selling their large boat to purchase an even smaller one!

I tend to pay a lot of attention to this as, because we are no longer employed, unless some long-lost rich relative dies and bequeaths us a bunch of money, we will not be purchasing a larger vessel. I wonder to myself then, just how small a boat could we comfortably cruise on? I’m pretty sure that Rebecca would say that our PDQ 32 is it, that while we don’t need anything much larger, we wouldn’t want a smaller boat either. That may be true. In spite of that, people still do certainly sail to far off places in smaller boats, and we’ve met a number of them.

Our friend Bob on Boat Bits recently posted about someone planning to circumnavigate on a Moore 24. Not small enough for you? How about this guy who hopes to sail around the world in a boat which is only 10 feet long? While I could quite possible deal with the first boat that I mentioned, that last one is just plain crazy! Good thing we already have a beautiful boat.

Large or small, the view is still grand.


  1. Based on what I have been reading is it not a good idea to have larger boat that you can pack full of provisions. We understand that people eat all over the world and you will not go hungry. Now having said that . We are heading out to the Bahamas in 3 weeks and some other fellow boaters want us to believe you need to take as much as you can or pay through the nose for everything. This was on our minds the entire time when shopping for a boat.Do you find this to be the case?

    • Unfortunately, in the Bahamas this is actually quite true. Nothing grows in the Bahamas, everything is imported. You obviously aren’t going to carry months’ worth of produce with you but I would stock up on a lot of other stuff. For example, BEER! If you drink beer, fill your bilges.

      Once you make it to the windward and leeward islands this is much less true. If you are happy to eat local you will be able to find relatively inexpensive food everywhere.

  2. So, Mike, no Lagoon 620 in your immediate future?

    Typical cruising boat sizes are what they are for a reason. 3 to 5 tonnes displacement seems to be a nice comfortable starting point for a two-person liveaboard cat in coastal conditions- less is cramped, more is overkill. Add an extra two tonnes to make it a four-person liveaboard, add two tonnes if it’s meant for ocean passages. Multiply by 1.5 to get a lead-keel monohull. Choose the length to get the desired performance with that weight. The resulting range will encompass an awful lot of the most successful cruising boats.

    • My point, and one that needs to be hammered home for some people, is that cramped and overkill are subjective, not objective.

      • Very true- everyone has their own preferences. There’s no definitive “right” or “wrong”.

        I’m just trying to emphasize that there are good reasons why many of the most popular, most successful cruising yacht designs fall within certain size ranges for a given purpose. Make it too big and you’re competing for a much smaller pool of potential customers. At the small end, you get a higher fraction of potential customers saying “I can’t live on that for very long”. The most successful production builders know how these preferences are distributed and size their key models accordingly.

  3. So my 22′ Catalina can make it, you think? Ha ha! Too bad we just pulled it out for Sandy. Interesting post.

  4. For us, and our sanity, a bigger boat was required, because having a toddler and an infant roaming around on a 33ft was just to cramped. And our 41ft seems cramped at times since we seem too have a constant flow of guests coming through for visits, taking up the front of the boat, leaving our family of 4 cosleeping in the back. I think beds are going to be rearranged or new ones built on this upcoming trip. But we will not be upgrading any further, the 41morgan is a good fit for us, and like you said, to upgrade again we would need a rich relative to pass away…and we don’t have one of those 🙁

    • Two couples that we know, both with new babies, did the same as you, upgrading to a 40-some foot boat. I can certainly understand why!

      For comparison only though, our dock neighbor back in Kingston told us that he, his wife and 3 kids sailed to Bahamas and back on their 28 footer. Cramped? I bet. 🙂

  5. It is more important to go in lieu of waiting for …… Every excuse why not to go (boat size, money, perfect boat, one hull vs two……JUST DO IT!

  6. Knowing that I will always be inclined to make my own repairs is one reason to stay with the 32; many days, smaller and simpler would be better. Knowing that I will always sail short or single handed, I remember how heavy things can get when the wind pipes up; the genoa isn’t any easier to crank home a 40-footer.

    When I’m cruising beyond a few days with the family and friends, yeah, the 32 can get a little cozy, but with just the two of us it feels fine, and I’m when alone it’s cavernous.

    When I’m day sailing I wish I still had the Stiletto 27, or if alone, the Prindle. I don’t understand the urge for bigger among people that only day sail; smaller is more fun. Actually, I understand the psychology, I just don’t share it. If you’ve never sailed a performance skiff or cat in a good breeze, DO!

    I think I’m safe from 2-footsitis and I really do think this may be the last sailboat for me–unless I go smaller. It has the solidity and quality of design and construction to go the distance. But I’ve learned that sweeping statements tend to make a fool of me. I don’t want to leave to too much rhetorical ammunition lying about, should I ever buy a 36-foot trawler;)

  7. We’d love to have a 32-26′ cat, but find our 36′ mono plenty roomy. I’d consider something slightly smaller to be adequate for two people. Maybe after a couple of years cruising, our minds could change? Maybe…


  8. I have a 15′ Chrylser Mutineer, and more than once I have eyeballed that wondering if I could make it to the Bahama’s and live on that. By the way, I am from Minnesota and it snowed the other day.

  9. Here’s a guy that sailed around the world in a 35 year old, 19 foot day sailor.
    It just goes to show that if you really want to, you can do it.

  10. I’m thinking that somewhere there is a Powerpoint graph that tracks average # of pissoirs in homes against boat lengths. In the 50’s and 60’s homes were bungalows, no garage, one bathroom shared by all the people who slept in 3- 4 rooms. In the 70’s the concept of double car garages was introduced. The 80’s brought a pissoir for every person who lived in the house. I have only recently got into boat ownership but I am sure that there is a PPT graph somewhere that tells me that my 22 footer places me smack dab in the middle of the ’70’s. Don’t bogart that joint my friends……

  11. When we were trying to decide on what boat to buy we took three trips: one on a 40ft Lavezzi to get our ASA catamaran ticket and see if we liked cats, one on a Pearson 35 because we felt that was the smallest we could live on, and one trip on a Kaufman 47 because we felt that was the largest the two of us could safely handle. The trip money was the best money we spent. Besides learning a ton of stuff from some very great people, we discovered that the right boat for us was a 42 ft. I highly recommend this approach to anyone wanting to go cruising.

    BTW, haven’t done the math but your 32 foot cat is probably about the same space as our 42 ft monohull.

    S/V Kintala

    • My point was really that, no matter how much time and energy people spend attempting to select the properly sized cruising boat, as you wisely did, after being on it for some time, and seeing larger and larger boats around them, many still feel that they need a bigger boat.

  12. Well, what do you know. I did have a long lost relative who died and left me a fortune!

    From a Facebook private message (which is how all legal notices are delivered, right?)…

    Dear Mike

    This is an official legal notice of an unclaimed fund left by Mr.Anderson Sweeney,who died as a result of an industrial accident in his energy & gas exploration company on the 31st of March 2008
    As the former official/personal attorney of the deceased and witness of fact of this subject matter, I hereby solicit for your immediate response and positive committed efforts to facilitate the fund remittal of total sum $12.5 million dollars(and Gold).
    May his fragile soul rest in perfect peace, Amen!!!
    If you want to know more, get back to me so I will give you more information to proceed.

    My ID:haas.berry

    Yours Sincerely

    Haas Berry

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