Monday, March 1, 2010

In Praise of the Little Boat

I love my boats. I have had the Mirage 24 for 10 years, but as half of a working couple, I can only cruise on week-ends and holidays. As cruise director in our yacht club, I cruise regularly in large groups. I am used to having one of the smallest boats in the fleet.

I do believe cruising on the wee boat has its challenges. Over the years, however, there have been so many times I have been grateful for my small boat.
As summer nears I cannot help but think of them.

The advantages:
• Everything on a small boat is cheaper, (and I mean everything from keel bolts to winches, sails to docks.)
• I have yet to be turned away from a destination because they have no room; there is always room to stick the wee boat for the night. I may not always get the best slip, but any port in a storm.
• More often than not I get a convenient slip. Most clubs were built some time ago, when all boats were smaller. As a result the slips for small boats are the ones closer to the club house (meaning closer to the restaurant, the bar, the toilets, the showers, the swimming pool and the laundry.)
• There is no room or need for complicated systems on a small boat, which means all systems are fixable. (Toilet new porta-potty, outboard engine breaks...switch for dirt in the gas tank...switch it, and I can replace any wiring myself.) There is no need for expensive marine mechanics and I am never stuck on the dock due to mechanical problems.
• Small boats can be easily sailed single handed. This allows crew to work in shifts on long trips, one sleeps while one sails. I can go by myself when crew is not available.
• A smaller boat means less bottom to paint, less deck to scrub and less mast to climb, (not my specialty.)

What other fans of small boats say:

"Life is too short not to leave when you are ready. make the boat work for you rather than working for the boat."

"I am content and happy... things rarely break here, mostly simple maintenance, most complicated piece of plumbing is a hand pump."

"Smaller boats are cheaper. There are harbors and anchorages that will be more accessible in a small boat. You won't need a full crew every time you want to go for a sail."

"The money we didn't spend on a bigger boat means that we have money left over to have a good time in the places we get to. After all, seeing the world is the goal and it takes a bit of money to do unless you want to limit yourself to seeing places you can walk to from wherever you are anchored."

"If your major priority is to get out there and cruise, then going with a smaller boat, that has simpler systems and fewer amenities is the way to go. If you need to have all the comforts of a shore-based life and want to have the big queen size berth, the 42" LCD tv, with DVD, hot and cold pressure water, 110 VAC available at all times, then you won't be happy."


  1. Sharon i think its great that you sail. Family friends of ours used to have a boat in Port and we loved going there fridays or saturdays just to hang. Its quite the atmosphere down there.
    My only experiencing sailing however was at camp on a very small boat! it was a lot of fun.

  2. Sharon,
    I have always wanted to sail and commend your talent/zest for sailing. I love your opinions about a small boat, and feel like if I were to own a boat, I would want a small one. Toast to the little boat that could!