Ok, so you’re looking for a cruising cat. Or, you already have one, and you know what is good, and less than good, about that cat. The following are some discussion points that everyone hears over and over. Do they really apply to you? You tell me!
1. Bridgedeck clearance. Hey, there are a bunch of boats out there for sale that have lower than advised bridge clearance. You can get a relatively great deal on one of these boats. So how much does clearance REALLY matter?
Answer: A lot if you plan to go offshore, or sail upwind frequently. A cruising cat with low clearance pounds relentlessly, and is incredibly uncomfortable. A pounding cat ruins your sailing experience, and will relegate you to early insanity.
HOWEVER! If you sail 90% of the time in coastal or protected waters, one of these boats can be a great deal, and make a perfect liveaboard. Even if you plan to move the boat long distances once in a while, the tradeoff might be worth it. There are many South African cats in this category.
2. Weight and payload. This boat is going to be your home, and you want to have all the amenities of home. How big of a boat do you need to allow you to carry what you want, and still have your boat sail?
Answer: Before you buy, you need to reconcile what is acceptable performance, and what you need to bring with you to live comfortably. Do you need to have air conditioning, washer/dryer and a generator? In the 40-foot range, there are going to be compromises, but it is possible to have a boat that will sail acceptably and carry a well considered amount of home amenities. If you want a boat that will sail 200 miles a day and have three cabins, entertainment stuff, and carry all your toys, you need something larger—maybe 46’, 48’ or even 50’ plus.
3. This is a buyer’s market; you can “steal” a boat these days!
Answer: There are great deals out there, absolutely. The part of the market that is particularly vulnerable is in ex-charter boats. So, if you think you can accomplish what you want with a boat that has been in service for a while, you are in business. Here is the problem. In the evolution of the cruising cat, many buyers are now looking for a dream boat with more innovations and performance. For cats that are un-chartered, owner versions, with daggerboards and high bridgedeck clearance, the deals dry up a bit. Each one of those points increases desirability and limits the inventory of boats out there. Owner version boats are worth at least 20% more than their charter version counterparts, and often much more than that. Daggerboards are worth 15-20% over keels, and for many are mandatory. It goes on and on. SO, the truth is, the buyer’s market is there, but well-designed owner version cats have not devalued at all in the recent recession.