As many prospective buyers struggle with the buying decision of a boat, and it’s a difficult decision to take, lest explore the four basic hull shapes that embody the vessels in today’s trawler community.
Planing Hulls are relatively new to our cruising fleet, yet they offer benefits that make them ideal choices for some people. These hulls ride on top of the water beyond hull speed, offering high speed and performance that is relatively efficient. The planing hull is a great choice for those with limited time for cruising. In fact, many dealers find new buyers are able to make extended cruises in short order, getting to the cruising grounds quickly and then slowing down to smell the roses.
The planing hull is also not very comfortable or easily handled in rough weather; the boat must be slowed down and often becomes squirrelly as a result. And the somewhat limited storage and tank capacities tend to keep things simple.
Another hull shape to consider is the Semi–displacement Hull Form. It has a shape flat sections behind and a bow that lifts for higher speed, allowing operation over a wide range of performance. This hull is efficient at displacement speeds, yet it offers a higher speed potential if desired. The semi–displacement hull is a good compromise of hull features, offering good storage and sufficient tankage for extended cruising and a proven record as a liveaboard cruiser. The disadvantages of the semi–displacement hull is that it is not as stable in rough seas as a true displacement boat, and handling can also be difficult in following seas (the generally flat severe is a big target for waves coming from behind).
The Full displacement Hull Shape travels through the water and is by far the most traditionally seaworthy shape for a cruising powerboat. It is most comfortable at sea and at anchor, has good fuel economy, and goes the distance with long range. Its superior storage and fuel and water tankage allows for great living aboard and extended cruising, especially when there is no schedule to follow. Its disadvantages are that it is the slowest hull shape, often along the order of 7—8 knots. The seaworthy shape is disposed to rolling in a seaway, so some form of stabilization is usually fitted for crew comfort. The full displacement hull also has the deepest draft, although most builders try to keep this from being excessive to allow cruising in paradise grounds lacking deep water.
The Power Catamaran is the latest hull shape to come into our market, and it’s unusual enough to warrant its own category. Displacement cats have a wide performance envelope, often using a small diesel engine in each hull to reach respectable cruising speed with good fuel economy. Power cats have generally shallow draft and offer form stability due to the wide footprint of widely spaced hulls. However, unlike their sailing complements, there is no sail rig to contend with and they are not as beamy, so you don’t face the dockage issues that you do with a sailing cat. The downside of a catamaran is its inability to carry much weight, as all aspects of its performance suffer when the boat is loaded too heavily. These craft work best when they are kept light, and only the larger power cats can handle the full–time live aboard accommodations and storage that many couples require.
Another key issue for many people is deciding what kind of style you embrace. Do you wait for perfect weather, or do you go no matter what? Will you anchor out most of the time or stay at a marina? Do you tend to move around or stay in one place during a cruise? Knowing your style will help refine your comfort levels and dictate what kind of boat might work best. Subtle design elements will support one style over another, so it helps to know your style before discussing a particular boat with a dealer.
Along with layout choices, another area that is almost more crucial for happy cruising than the boat itself is a careful review of the boat’s systems and their accessibility. I always recommend reviewing major systems for single points of failure—points where, if they fail, the system no longer works. A surveyor can often assist with this evaluation, but only if he or she is charged with this specific task.
But the most important thing I offer is that you can go cruising on any boat. Just think it through, find a boat that fits your needs, and go cruising. The worst thing you can do is rob yourself of the joys of cruising while dreaming of an adventure never to happen, on a boat that is out of reach. Just do it!
Whiticar Yacht Sales is the brokerage division of Whiticar Boat Works, Inc. which has an established 50 year plus reputation for pedigree custom sportfishing boats, quality boat repairs, and expert marine service. You can contact our office (772) 219-3425
Whiticar Boat Yard for all of your boat repair, maintenance and yachting needs. Stop by. See for yourself what Stuart, FL and Whiticar Boat Yard can do for you. We are located on Willoughby Creek in Martin County, Florida, just two miles east of the St. Lucie Inlet, Or call our office (772) 287-2883. You can also visit our website http://www.whiticar.com/wp/about-our-crew/ Yacht Sales Department, we are always ready to assist you!