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Choosing a Boat

The photos below illustrate my main considerations in choosing a cruising boat:
  • I'm an experienced dinghy sailor. I spent my school years dinghy sailing and racing and I sailed various dinghies at different stages of my life. Most recently I owned a Seafly and a Lightning 368 both of which I sailed single handed. In contrast, although I have done a few trips on cruising boats at various times, I'm not an experienced cruising skipper. So ideally my cruising yacht should be like a big dinghy with a cabin - not too large and heavy for me to handle by myself, but as fast as feasible given the constraints of a small waterline length.
  • I have a jetty behind my house on the tidal part of the River Itchen in Southampton. It dries at low tide so the yacht should be usable in shallow water and be able to take the ground.
  • To get to Southampton Water and the rest of the world from my jetty I have to go under Northam Bridge. It needs to be possible to get the mast up and down easily enough that it's worth doing for a day's sailing as well as going for longer trips.

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I'm a dinghy sailor! - DSCF1144
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The boats I had - DSC00959
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My jetty highest tide - DSC01857
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My jetty low tide - DSC01836
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Northam Bridge - DSC01869
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I have to go under - DSC00183

There was a further factor in choosing a boat. I am lucky in having the money available to buy a new boat if that was the way to get the boat I wanted. I considered various small cruising boats. Some, like the Cornish Shrimper, were heavier than I would prefer, some were likely to be too slow, or poor in shallow waters. The Hawk, which had initially attracted me because it was like a large dinghy, had a very cramped cabin and the mast was impractical for going under the Bridge. The Hunter 20 was attractive and the builders are just down the river from me. However it was the BayCruiser 20 which seemed by far the best fit to my requirements. Furthermore Matt was the only builder who came up with viable sounding solutions for getting under the bridge - solutions aided by the light weight of the BC20's carbon fibre mast. As soon as I visited Swallow Boats I was convinced!
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