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Getting a New Boat?

After 17 years of cruising in our beloved Two-Step we are looking for a new improved go-anywhere cruiser! It seems like we have just got her in perfect condition as we have been tweaking her and looking for ways to improve her sailing and our space onboard. Especially over the past few years we have updated her equipment with a new electric windlass, new Icom Radio, and of course new Autopilot Radar, plotter etc from Raymarine. So now that she's in such good shape it seems unfair to be considering moving to a new boat, but there are some things she just can't do. Primarily shallower draft to allow us to explore the French Canals (and of course the Bahamas again!) were the driving forces but once we got thinking about a new boat we inevitably started to think about getting a larger boat so we could have guests visit – and anyway here we are – thinking about a new boat!!!

This weblog will follow our design process of finding and outfitting the ultimate cruising sailboat for crossing oceans, exploring coasts and living aboard.

Basic parameters

  1. LOA in range of 40-45 feet since we will need space for visitors and crew on occasion.
  2. LWL in range of 35-38 feet. For ocean passages this size means substantially more LWL than Two-Step, a Classic 37, which is just 27 feet on the waterline. Of course longer waterline length means higher speed potential and we would love to cut a few days off the typical 20 day ocean crossing. Modern designs usually have a fairly straight bow to help achieve this longer waterline than Two-Step with her long overhangs.
  3. Shallow draft. Ideally we would like to draw less than 4 feet to be able to visit those creeks in the Chesapeake Bay we missed last time and of course the back corners of our favourite destination – The Bahamas. Also canals often require shallower than 5 feet draft. This must not compromise safety and performance at sea. I know deep sea performance and shoal draft is going to be a tough one but exploring the coasts and countries when we arrive is the main reason Sheryl and I sail.
  4. Air draft of less than 62 feet to allow us to go under bridges through the Intra-Coastal Waterway in the US.
  5. Guest cabin as well as main owner's double cabin. Most people would like to be able to have guests visit and have the possibility of extra crew on passages. We have seen many cruising boats with a guest cabin but not sufficient storage so the guest cabin has become a junk room. Many charter boats are laid out like this – maximizing the crew accommodation but not leaving nearly enough storage for people who live aboard.
  6. Plenty of storage for cruising gear in the boat. We have more books, clothes, spare parts and general gear than many boats are made to handle and I am sure we are not unique amongst live-aboard cruisers. Some want to collect carpets in the east, shells down south and general souvenirs along the way. On Two-Step we carry tools to make ourselves self-sufficient, and have 3 lockers just devoted to camera gear and audio equipment to film our TV series.
  7. More storage accessible from on deck. Some boat designs haven't even got sufficient storage for the the number of fenders needed to protect your boat in some rougher docks or marinas.
  8. Facility to store a 10 foot RIB with 10-15 HP motor for planing. In the Bahamas and Caribbean this is a must. Ideally it would be kept on Davits for easy launching (and security) and only lashed on deck for passages.

One thing we are going to keep an eye on is just what we might be losing by giving up Two-Step. It is easy to see what you might like as a new feature, but harder sometimes to be aware of what you already have and might lose by moving to a new boat. Two-Step is a very tough boat with very high quality fittings, a cozy interior, easy-to-service engine, excellent storage space, she is easy to handle with just two people and we know her inside and out. She will not be easy to replace! But without getting all emotional here, we are looking to update and add features and open up new destinations after 17 years of cruising on her. (sniff)
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