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How large can I go without a crew?

Discussion in 'Popular Yacht Topics' started by BenSeattle, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. BenSeattle

    BenSeattle New Member

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    Greetings from semi-sunny Seattle,

    As my golf career winds down I'm becoming increasingly enamored of the boating life, particularly because I'm exposed daily to the wonders of Seattle's expansive waterways. I've always been envious of friends who've invited my family to tour Lake Washington or cruise up the Puget Sound to the San Juan Islands... particularly during this time of year: Seattle's four-month summer!

    While country club and resort golf has been my passion for years, I've recently come to the conclusion that a whole new chapter of exploration, recreation and education could be opened with the purchase of an appropriate power boat. Naturally, the costs of yachting are significantly more than those associated with even the most enthusiastic golf endeavors, but at this stage of my life I continue to ask myself, "Why not buy a boat?" and every answer continues to tell me I should. Like many first-timers, I'm both excited and cautious... eager to jump in but also determined not to make a mistake. I look forward to using this Forum to interreact with others whose knowledge is vastly deeper than my own.

    First question: how large can I go without a crew? Certainly, I would in the early stages of ownership antaicipate being accompanied by a Captain who can accellerate my education, but at some point I would expect my use of the boat will find such a presence unneccesary, save for special events where would be devoting most of my attention to guests. I envision most of my time on the water to be one-day excursions around the lakes as well as three-to-four day outings through the San Juan Islands and into the waters off Canada. Alaska? Perhaps one day. Our family includes myself, my wife and teenage boys, 15 and 17. Therefore, I'm curious as to whether this "crew" will one day be sufficient to manage what I would consider to be a fairly large vessel. At this point, I'm most attracted to yachts in the 75 to 95 foot range. Do I have enough bodies or should I already count on bringing aboard a handful of hard-working seamen?

    Please feel free to include any advice and counsel regarding this or other topics suitable for a newcomer.

    Happy cruising.
  2. OutMyWindow

    OutMyWindow Senior Member

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    ...............
    Having my share of mishaps very long time ago when I first got into boating, my thoughts are that a 90 foot yacht for a first timer may be courting disaster.
    I suggest you take your family on a charter yacht of about the same size up to Alaska, and do a lot of watching, talk to the captain and get a feel for things first.
    Good luck :)
    I don't want to scare you but the Pacific Northwest is and can be very treacherous for the unexperienced. http://www.pacificshipwrecks.ca/english/wrecks.html
  3. goplay

    goplay Senior Member

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    Good question... I got into boating last year and bought a 47'. I used it a lot, running it myself and put 100 hours on it in less than 12 months. After having a larger boat, and knowing what I wanted in a larger boat I decided to commit some major dollars to buy something bigger. Your question was my first question... how big can I go with just my fiancee and myself running it?

    I had a range of answers, including professional captains who run single handed 80'+. A lot has to do with experience and a lot has to do with the type of boat. I personally came to the conclusion that 60-65' is probably optimum for two average boaters to handle, have reasonable chances of finding slips (transient and permanent), size for a greater range in seas, fuel range, accommodations etc. I would stretch this to the 70' range but slips become much harder to come by (at least in CA).

    The key issue to consider is insurance. Most insurance will only allow you to jump in 10' increments if you are running it yourself. With the 62' I am buying I will have to have a captain with me. I don't see that as a big issue most of the time since it is a cheap way of avoiding trouble and learning at the same time. I do plan on, however, operating it myself but with the captain's presence. Hopefully I will be able to drop the requirement for a captain.

    If slips and insurance (jumping up 25') weren't an issue I would go for a 72-74' and avoid a possible future upgrade!
  4. BenSeattle

    BenSeattle New Member

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    Oh great... my new toy is already headed to the "graveyard!" Makes me think I'd better limit all my voyages to half-day spins around Lake Union and Lake Washington in nothing but broad daylight. :) I appreciate the advice, but I can assure you that I'm a fair weather sailor -- or will be for the next five years or so. Trust me: I saw "The Perfect Storm" and the thought of big waves makes me RUN in the other direction!

    Happy cruising.
  5. nas130

    nas130 Member

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    One of my bosses tried to run a 70 something footer by himself and wound up hiring a captain. Bigger boats need a lot of attention. Most work can be subcontracted out, but you still need to manage the boat. If you want to show up and go, hire a captain. If you do not mind putting in the time, you can run a large boat by yourself. You can hire dayworkers for wash downs and some of the dirty jobs. Once you get the experience if you buy a bigger boat you can drive the boat and hire a mate/engineer and stew to keep things ship shape.

    nas
  6. BenSeattle

    BenSeattle New Member

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    Not just me!

    Please know that I appreciate the replies, but I'd better make it clear that I certainly would not run a boat totally by myself. This ain't like, "Honey, I'm going for a spin in the Porsche.... be back in an hour." :)

    No, I envisious -- at some point down the road -- putting the wife and two strapper teenagers to work, serving as crew, in addition to acting as guests. Trust me.... should I buy a boat for this family, it won't be so a pair of teenagers can sit below and hammer at the X-Box all weekend!

    Still, from all indications, on anything above 60-70 feet, an experienced captain sounds like a VERY good idea.

    Happy cruising.
  7. sailronin

    sailronin Senior Member

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    Ben,
    The USCG will require a licensed captain on any vessel 200 gross tons or greater (46 CFR 15.805). So that will be the absolute maximum, however that doesn't make it a good idea to plan on running your own 110 footer.
    It depends how much time you want to put into the yacht. A boat over 65 to 75 feet will be pretty much a full time job for one person to clean and maintain. If you are retired and want to spend 4 to 6 hours five days a week taking care of your boat, it's a great hobby!

    Plan on starting with a smaller boat and decide if this is something you want to devote a lot of time to master or if you want to enjoy your time on the water without all the worry, hire a professional.

    Dave
  8. Billy1119

    Billy1119 Senior Member

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    I agree with most of the above. The time required to clean and keep up the boat is only one aspect you need to think about, and the experience and knowledge needed by a captain isn't just the piloting of the boat, but also the knowledge of the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and other systems on the boat that need maintenance and repairs. If you are very mechanically inclined, and your sons are as well, then over time spent with a captain training you what to do, you would be able to handle a boat that size. There is a lot to know, especially on newer boats, and a lot to break. I can spend at least 25 hours a week just keeping up with maintenance and repairs (no cleaning at all) on our 84. There's always something that needs doing. If you want to run a boat of that size (around 80 ft) without crew after a while, just know it's not all going to be fun, it will be a lot of work too. Some if it's fun work. When it's your own boat, though, the work is more fulfilling. 95 ft? Your teenagers better be hard, willing, knowledgeable workers! Hopefully this will give you a little more knowledge of what will be required.
  9. KCook

    KCook Senior Member

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    I like the approach outlined by "goplay". Seems to me that a sub-50 foot flybridge would make an excellent "trainer" yacht.

    baby steps Kelly
  10. BenSeattle

    BenSeattle New Member

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    Wise counsel

    Greetings from somewhat somber Seattle:

    Sage advice, gentlemen, and much appreciated. Billy the Sunseeker made lots of sense especially. Obviously, this may be a case of my eyes being bigger than my capabilities. Naturally, I look forward to appreciating all the "fine points" of yacht ownership, but because I even moreso look upon this venture for its pleasures more than it's pains, it's apparent now that if I'm determined to "run my own boat" a vessel MUCH smaller than 75' is going to be the necessary order. Ah yes... a "trainer" boat. :)

    Now, of course, I'll have to decide: go with smaller and "be my own captain" or find myself so attracted to that 75 to 95' length that professional captain and mates should also be factored in. Frankly, while there is much appeal to becoming well-versed regarding all that goes into a skilled yachtsman, it is also true that I'm certainly not looking to take on a full-time job (I already have one of those!) Equally important, I suspect that a smaller boat simply will not have the room nor the amenities that I would like to see. All this, of course, is pure speculation at this point, of course, but I'm delighted to receive valid impartial advice. (Certainly I will shortly be speaking with brokers but those boys tend to want to sell me something....)

    Happy cruising.
  11. KCook

    KCook Senior Member

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    So find a broker who also charters ;)

    Kelly
  12. TomTom

    TomTom Member

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    how big

    There was an info in the mag. Boote exclusiv this year, that Ralf Schumache (the little one of both f1-drivers) changed his MY down to a elegance 64, because he can run it by himself. First it was an 115 Dynasty if i rember right.
    (www.elegance.de)

    Then in the boot-fair Hamburg Boot last year Drettmann showed a 28m-elegance and they told me, that this the owner is running with 1 multiple skilled captain for quarter-year trips in Europe. The vessel looked well.

    TS
    TSOE.com
  13. In the 60 -70 foot range the cost of a GOOD captain will be substantially lowered by the reduction of yard bills, cleaning bills, and more. A new boat will need someone to oversee warranty work, an older boat takes lots of maintainance.
    Having fun is hard work, but all work and no play doesn't make for enjoyable yachting. Having had a captain's license for 32 years, I do not hesitate to jump a boat in that size range and run it alone, after the first 5000 landings they are easy, but for a beginner, a knowledgeble captain who wants to teach the new owner will take much of the stress away. After owning a boat in that size for awhile you can later decide if crew makes it more enjoyable or if you can do it yourself.
    Bigger than 75' almost always has crew except for long term owners who have spent years moving up.
    Finding the right captain is often as hard as finding the right yacht, do not try to save some money there, if you pay peanuts you will get monkeys.
  14. Garry Hartshorn

    Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

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    Talking about monkeys I saw a guy cleaning teak decks today on the boat next to me with straight teak cleaner and a wire brush, may have been cheep labour but what is the damage done worth ???
  15. Billy1119

    Billy1119 Senior Member

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    A WIRE brush? I think most monkeys would know not to do that.
  16. Garry Hartshorn

    Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

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    Well it would have been worth employing a professional crew rather than a monkey even though most monkeys would know better......:D
  17. Billy1119

    Billy1119 Senior Member

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    I completely agree... :D
  18. MYCaptainChris

    MYCaptainChris Senior Member

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    My suggestion

    I would definately say stick to the 40-55 foot range, I have a friend back in the UK who runs a 46 foot Princess very well with his wife and two teenage sons. His problem at the moment is that his sons are at that age where they don't want to spend it with the parents, and however capable his wife maybe it is proving alot of work for just two.
    Saying that I run a 111ft steel yacht with just two. This is only because my budget has been reduced to the extent where the yacht can no longer go to sea. With just the two of us working approx 8am-6pm (often more) monday to friday and at least 6 hours over the weekend (once again often more) I would have to say we are still not keeping up with the maintenance. We need at least another two crew and a new owner!!!!
    The larger the yacht and the older the yacht the more maintenance you need to do. If you really want to enjoy your yacht either get full time crew or stay on the smaller side.
  19. KCook

    KCook Senior Member

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    Chris, could you expand a little on what chores are eating up the most manhours on your yacht?

    curious Kelly
  20. MYCaptainChris

    MYCaptainChris Senior Member

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    Man hours

    Mostly cleaning, but the engine room needs constant attention on a yacht of this age. I am currently re-wiring one of the Gensets as all the old wiring has oxidised. Fixing leaks in the fresh water system, keeping the water makers maintained and in the case now pickled, running up the mains and gens on a weekly basis which then requires the topsides to be washed down. Flushing through the a/c, clean all sea strainers, exercising valves, preparing the boat for viewings (as it is for sale) and I probably spend 2 hours a day on the phone to the owner.
    The deck hand spends most of her time recently removing and resealing all the caulking around the cap rails, varnishing, washing down on a weekly basis, (1 person takes 2 days to wash down properly inc decks) perparing and painting any rust and maintaining the yachts tenders which includes a 28ft Chris craft.

    I am currently researching the costs to rebuild or replace a genset for a potential buyer along with a breakdown of the general running costs of the vessel.