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The term pocket cruiser strikes a chord in many hearts.  The vision of crossing oceans on a small romantic boat congers visions of chasing the sun through the south pacific free as a bird, easy maintenance and champagne cruising on a Dr Pepper income.  I think the number one attraction to a well designed pocket cruiser is that it is actually an attainable dream for us average guys.

I get many letters from my readers asking me what the best budget pocket cruiser is.  It is impossible to answer this question because all boats and budgets are not created equally.  I could happily voyage on $500.00 per month but my goal is $1000.00  Below are a few random thoughs on small boats.  Fyi, If I didnt own my FC, I would have a Flicka, or if desperatly poor “like I’m not” and engineless Contessa 26.

I have five basic criteria when choosing a safe boat.

1, Keep the water out.  This is a no brainier, the fewer through hulls the better.  A small boat does not need in inboard engine or marine head, if your boat starts taking on water there is a 99% chance that it is from one of these three things.  water tight lockers are often overlook but just as important.

2, Keep the crew on the boat.  I only have three rules on my boat. Don’t fall overboard. Don’t hit anything. No drugs on board!

3, Keep the keel side down.  Reef often and early, especially on a small boat.

4, Keep the mast up.  A well designed boat with a deck stepped mast and good rigging will never give you any issues.  Inspect your rigging often, it is part of your engine.

5, Keep the rudder on.  A transom hung rudder is safe, easy to inspect and can be repaired at sea.  Check your pintles and gudgeons often.  It is often a subject of debate but I am under the firm belief that electrolysis is 100% a product of an improperly grounded boat.

We all know that a well designed large boat is more comfortable in theory than a well designed small boat.  This being said a well designed small boat is more often than not safer than a well designed large boat.  I love roller furling but it is not a matter of if but when it will fail you.  The number one reason roller furling is added to a boat is that the boat is too large or not properly designed for a couple to handle hank on sails safely.  A 130% jib for a Formosa 41 is larger than I am and almost as heavy.

Having all your lines lead to the cockpit is fun until you realize that this system only works pulling up the sails which is the easy part.  Leading lines aft actually makes it much more difficult to lower the sails and this is where the design gets dangerous.  when you need the sails down in a hurry you want them to simply fall to the deck, not have to be dragged.

I love the old argument of how a glass fishing float can safely cross an ocean.  While this statement might be true, a glass ball does not have to sustain life.     I don’t go to sea to suffer, I go there to sail and explore.  Just as a boat can be too large, it can also be too small.  Choose wisely.  Boats like the Flicka, Falmouth Cutter, and Allegra 24 are all very sea worthy boats but few couples could happily live aboard long term and  fit 60 days of stores aboard.  I have lived aboard all three and sailed all three, they are SMALL!

You cant measure a boat by its length.

Pearson Triton 28                                           Falmouth Cutter 22

LOA: 28′-6″                                                 LOA: 30’6″
LWL: 20′-6″                                                LWL: 20’10”
Beam: 8′-3″                                                Beam: 8′
Draft: 4′-6″                                                 Draft: 3’6″
Ballast: 3019 lb (Lead)                               Ballast 2500 lb (Lead)
Sail Area (100%): 362 sq ft                        Sail Area (100%) 403 sq ft
Displacment 8000 lb.                                  Displacement 7400 lb.

While the 22′ falmouth cutter appears to be 6’5″ smaller than the 28′ Peasron Triton it can carry more cargo, sail  .1 knot faster in theory, and is lighter which means sails faster in light air.

If I was going to throw a dart at the wall, the plastic fantastic Triton is hands down one of the best budget blue water cruisers out there.

One last note,  marine hard-wear is sold by the inch, the pound, or the foot. Your boat, regardless of who built it is only as safe as you have maintained it.  If you cant afford to keep in in proper order it will fail you.  I have 1200 boats in my marina, I would guess 1100 of them are suffering from lack of maintenance.

Go small, go simple, go now. ~L&L Pardey

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