Is a small boat much more dangerous to sail around the world’s oceans?
This is a question I have been asked many times.
There is the misconception that a bigger boat is more seaworthy, but this is not necessarily true. A 7-meter (22ft) boat can be just as seaworthy as a 12 or 18-meter (40 – 60ft) boat but not every 7-meter boat is seaworthy and nor is every 18- meter boat! But that’s another story 😉
The advantage of a larger boat, with a longer waterline also means it can go faster – but generally not fast enough to out run a storm.
Originally, I wanted to sail around the world in a 7-meter Hurley 700. It was an awesome little seaworthy boat, but the judges, knowing nothing of sailing, deemed that it was too small to be safe, and I ended up using a Jeanneau Gin Fizz 12-meter (40ft)
This was also an awesome boat but, in many ways, a smaller boat would have suited better due to my own height (1.64m) and weight (52kg) – You can imagine that taming a code zero and my mainsail in big winds was much harder on the Jeanneau than it would have been on the Hurley 700. The mainsail of the Hurley was as big as the mizzen I now had.
As time went on, I must admit that I started to appreciate the space a larger boat provided – after all, I lived on her for 8 years. I don’t think I would have wanted to live that long on the Hurley 700 although it’s possible for sure. A 12-meter (40ft) yacht is perfect for a couple, a Hurley 700 maybe not 😉
When selecting a boat, it is important to think about your own needs and the level of comfort you want, whilst, also bearing in mind that the bigger the boat the more time and cost will be required to keep and maintain her – possibly resulting in less time on the water.
Is the speed of the boat important?
A longer waterline means being able to go faster. Although hull shape makes a difference as well, but when your just cruising around the world you want to take it easy and safe anyway 😉
Most people I met will reef down their sails at night to be more comfortabel and don’t really pay attention to trimming their sails during the day either – On most passages I was faster than some of the bigger boats that left at the same time as me.
I hope that the outcome of my experience is helpful. Please do ask any questions and I’ll be happy to answer.
Picture is of the “Father’s Day” – the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean / sailed by Hugo Vihlen from Newfoundland to England in 106 days.