Dinghy, trailer sailer, yacht?

suffolklass

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I’m in hypothetical planning land at the moment but I’d be interested to know what people would do in my situation!

Having moved to Yorkshire from Suffolk, I’m suffering from being a bit far from any decent cruising grounds. Nearest yacht sailing is the Lake District just over an hour away, I’m very dubious about the west coast of Cumbria, Firth of Clyde lovely but probably about 3.5-4hrs away, not sure if there’s anything nearer that's enjoyable and not too scary.

Currently we’re a family of 4 (2 adults 2 young children) but wouldn’t discount family size increasing a bit in the future! At the moment we own a small dinghy but we do prefer bigger boats and I'd love to introduce my kids to cruising. If we lived somewhere close to some good coastal sailing I think we’d be saving up for something like a Westerly Centaur on a swinging mooring, I am a proper potterer in a boat, no interest in going fast, just enjoy cruising around and discovering new places! We like the idea of a boat we could stay on for up to a week or maybe even longer with the kids. We’re used to camping on land but dinghy camping feels like it might be a step too far...

It would take a few years and a higher salary to get us a bigger boat anyway, so we’re looking at a fair bit down the line. So it’s all a bit hypothetical, but I’d be interested in people’s ideas of what they would do with, say, the money you could spend on a Westerly Centaur.

As far as I can tell there are 3 main options:
a) Buy a seaworthy open boat such as a Drascombe Lugger, be able to trail it wherever but accept that you’re virtually never going to stay on board (or at least not for more than a night). Advantages are the cost-effectiveness (no mooring/crane fees!) and ability to go anywhere, but then I’d be sad if my kids never got to sleep on board, that’s the thing I enjoyed most when I was younger.
b) Buy a mid-size trailable yacht, keep it mostly in the Lake District, but occasionally tow it somewhere coastal such as the Clyde or Suffolk. Advantages are that you get some flexibility, but then I wonder if realistically we’d comfortably enjoy longer cruises, and I’d be a bit worried about the size of car we’d need to tow it! Feels like the most versatile option but possibly the worst of all worlds.
c) Go for a full-size yacht such as a Westerly Centaur, keep it on Windermere, but then occasionally get it transported somewhere else for a whole season (e.g. the Clyde). Advantages are you’d get to have the whole staying on board experience, cruises would be nice and comfortable, but would we want to cruise for a week or two on Windermere or is that a bit too limiting? And if we put it somewhere else we wouldn’t necessarily use it that much (plus cost of transportation).
d) Some combination of the above depending on age of children – obviously boats can be bought and sold as necessary!

What option would you go for? Or is there one I’ve missed (or a fantastic area of coastal sailing within a couple of hours of the Dales, if so do share...)?

Sorry for the long post, I’d be intrigued to hear your thoughts!
 

JimC

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I’m very dubious about the west coast of Cumbria

Why? the Solway Firth offers some good sailing and cruising with plenty of places to sail to on the English and Scottish coats plus the IOM only a short day sail away. I keep my boat in Whitehaven Marina which is a 3 hour drive from my home on the Lancs/Yorks border but worth the trip for me as you also have the Lake District on the doorstep so the boat can also serve as a base for fell walking trips etc.
 
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Homer J

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I’ve been in your shoes. We bought a Drascombe Luger and had amazing times on it for about 7 yrs. often we would take it somewhere for a week and either camp nearby or rent a small house. When the kids (+dog) were young there was plenty of room. We put a spray hood on it and this made a big difference

I calculated all my costs on the Drascombe including a new engine, trailer and spray hood and found it had only cost me £400 in total over 7 years - amazing value and means that you can have an asset for the next level. It’s cheaper than a yacht and we would save up and find a cheap charter in Turkey or Greece for a week and the kids really loved that - having a warm sea makes a big different and right now Turkey is very cheap.
When they got older and more money was available we bought a 37 ft AWB. The next stage (in a couple of years when not tied to school holidays) we may move it to the Med.

I think if you want kids to love sailing taking them to the Med is a racing certainty.

Hopefully this provides some food for thought.
 

steve yates

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Dubious about the west coast of Cumbria? Don't be! It's a great cruising ground. I had two boats in maryport, an 18ft trailer sailer, which I didnt trail, and a westerly longbow.

You can be in scotland in 3-4 hours, across the solway from maryport to kippford, which is lovely. You have that whole coast to play in, kircudbright is gorgeous, and then the Isle of Man is on your doorstep, that will be a proper foreign shores adventure for your kids :)

Join the Vanguard sailing club in workington for £20 a year, they are wanting new younger members. Buy your trailer sailer, but take a club mooring for a £100 a year, with a secure dinghy shed to leave your tender. Stash the trailer at home. Now you have all the sea adventures to be had, even down to north wales, and across to Ireland (surprisingly easy, if you go via Isle of Man. Plus you have a launching slipway at the club so can take her out and onto your trailer to taker away for a season to a different cruising ground.

Do it soon and get my mooring, with its all new chains and shackles, as I have taken my wee boat to essex :)

Or get your centaur and put her on the mooring, bombproof boat and very cheap annual running costs that way. To move to the firth of clyde is only a 3 or 4 day trip to get right up to largs way from maryport, and thats day sailing. Much quicker if you are crewed up and just keep going, if you get the tides in your favour.

Sailing on the lakes is a bit boring, hoist the kids a pirate flag and go raiding to scotland, man, ireland and wales from the west coast of cumbria :)

ps, alternatively, a marina berth in maryport will cost approx £1200 a year, and has a great customer lounge with tv etc when the weather or tides keep you hemmed in and the kids are bored.
 

suffolklass

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Sounds as if I might need to take another look at the West Coast then! From previous threads on here I got the impression that all the anchorages were very tidal and that some of them were very tricky approaches in anything other than perfect weather! Being 2.5hrs drive from the area I'd rather not be too tidebound, and whilst I'm fairly confident handling a boat I'm not wanting anything too chancy with small children. However it sounds like there could be a lot of fun to be had so I'll have another think! What is day sailing like? Sounds like longer trips are good but not sure about just popping along for a day if it's nice - I'm sure someone on an old thread said that there aren't too many places to go which aren't a long way away but again, might have been exaggerated :)

@Homer J, thanks for the suggestions on boats. A drascombe lugger is definitely on the possibles list as then we could go to various different areas - which might be useful for deciding where to keep a bigger boat! Med charters sound fabulous, if we get a smaller boat we'll have to start saving up!

Given our current lack of funds (and car which won't tow anything bigger than a camping trailer) nothing's going to happen for a while anyway but I feel as if it might be worth starting smaller with an open boat or pocket cruiser (after all, the best boat is the one you can afford to buy right?!), and then upsizing when we could save more money and when we decided where to base ourselves. I'd still be interested in anyone else's opinions though!

I've been looking a bit at the leisure 17 or vivacity 20, not sure if they would sleep (in camping style, not expecting luxury) 2 adults + 2 children for an overnight or a weekend? I doubt they'd be comfortable for anything longer than that!
 

JumbleDuck

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c) Go for a full-size yacht such as a Westerly Centaur, keep it on Windermere, but then occasionally get it transported somewhere else for a whole season (e.g. the Clyde).

Good advice from others on the other options (I am writing this five miles from the Solway ...), so I'll just say that for the cost of transporting a Centaur from Windermere to the Clyde and back - which is going to be the thick end of a grand each way, you could just buy a nice Centaur on the Clyde and then sell it on for peanuts when you're done with it.

If I were you I'd keep a Drascombe on Windermere for day sails and a Centaur on the Clyde for longer trips. Perhaps that's because I keep a Drascombe on Loch Ken for day sails and something the same size as a Centaur on the Clyde for longer trips.
 

suffolklass

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Annoyingly it's taking a day for my replies to come up so I can't remember what I've already said! Thanks for the advice everyone. Lots of discussions with husband this evening about what we want out of sailing. I definitely think a 3-stage strategy is in order. First a car that can actually tow any size of boat bigger than a small dinghy. Second buy a cheap small boat (open or pocket cruiser) to sail on the lakes and trail elsewhere occasionally (if we make a convoy with my parents in Suffolk they can sleep 4 so if we camped on board ours then we'd have accommodation for 6 I reckon!). Gain some more confidence and experience - I'd say I'm a competent but not a confident sailor, especially on the sea. Save some more money. End up with slightly older kids who are less likely to pitch themselves into the Irish sea on a whim. Upgrade to a bigger boat (I still favour the centaur), maybe at that point tackle the Solway firth and adventures to Scotland and IOM. Happy days!

Now I just have to wait for our 10yo car to pack it in...

Still interested in other people's experiences with this type of situation! Any thoughts on good pocket cruisers or open boats similar to the lugger? (Although at that stage I'd be tempted just to upgrade our dinghy to a wayfarer!)
 

steve yates

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If I were you I'd keep a Drascombe on Windermere for day sails and a Centaur on the Clyde for longer trips. Perhaps that's because I keep a Drascombe on Loch Ken for day sails and something the same size as a Centaur on the Clyde for longer trips.

That's another good option. Or have a drascombe on windermere, a trailer sailer in maryport or workington, and a centaur on the clyde
 

William_H

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I can't imagine why you would buy an open boat like a lugger when you can get a small boat with a cabin and bunks for similar weight and probably cheaper. Far more suitable for UK weather and when it comes up rough. ol'will
 

lw395

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I can't imagine why you would buy an open boat like a lugger when you can get a small boat with a cabin and bunks for similar weight and probably cheaper. Far more suitable for UK weather and when it comes up rough. ol'will

+1. You can get something you can camp on for not much money.
Personally, I'd look at the local dinghy clubs if the OP wants his kids to sail. Kids around here are out twice a week most of the year, socialising with a good crowd.
There are a lot of Drascombes about, but most of them only seem to get used a few times a year, apart from one I know which often goes out fishing.
 

Tam Lin

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As a Centaur owner I would like to point out that they are all getting on a bit. Yes, you can buy immaculate ones but even then you can end up spending more time on repair and maintenance than sailing.
If budget is an issue a lugger or something similar with a lid and an outboard motor would be a good choice. The important thing is to get out there doing it and see what you like and dislike then you can adapt your choices for the future. Have fun!
 

JumbleDuck

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I can't imagine why you would buy an open boat like a lugger when you can get a small boat with a cabin and bunks for similar weight and probably cheaper.

Because for day sailing there is absolutely nothing to beat a big open boat. That's why I have replaced my Hunter 490 (no reasonable offer refused) with a Drascombe Longboat. If it rains I don't sail and if it doesn't rain (steady on - this is Scotland) I like to have room. I could take two people with me in the Hunter's cockpit; I regularly take six and have taken ten in the Drascombe.
 
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JumbleDuck

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Still interested in other people's experiences with this type of situation! Any thoughts on good pocket cruisers or open boats similar to the lugger? (Although at that stage I'd be tempted just to upgrade our dinghy to a wayfarer!)

The Hunter 490 is a delightful yachtlet, just one inch longer (or is it shorter) than a Wayfarer. Sails beautifully and a dream to handle, though the cabin is a little small. I used one on Loch kn before the Drascombe, and feel very sad about the fact that she is up for sale and that I will accept any reasonable offer for her and her very nice trailer. Ah well. I must get round to advertising her some time.
 

suffolklass

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@ JumbleDuck Thanks for the suggestion - shame we don't have any spare cash yet or a car that can tow or I might be interested! Sounds like the type of boat I was thinking about, I have a feeling a little cabin even on day sails might make for happier kids and a happier husband... I'd been mainly looking at the leisure 17 because of the bilge keels - plan is to spend some time in Suffolk if possible and I thought bilge keels might be better for drying out. Is the lifting keel on the hunter ok for that do you think? I'm not very well up on the whole lifting keel thing.
 
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suffolklass

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@Tam Lin Good point about the age of the Centaur - I don't mind doing a bit of maintenance but I don't want a boat that's going to fall apart... Otoh they seem to still be v popular and used all over the place! Tbh it feels at the moment like a 26' yacht is the step *after* the next step for us at the moment so by the time we get there things might be quite different and some slightly newer boats might have come within our budget. I'll keep planning with a centaur in mind for now though :)
 
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suffolklass

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@JumbleDuck Sorry, one more question about the hunter! In theory could you camp 2 adults with 2 youngish kids on board for a night (where being cramped isn't such an issue) or is 2 people the absolute limit?
 
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[3889]

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Another marine option is Barrow in Furness / Piel Island. It's a while since I've been there but there were some very helpful people in the club by the bridge. A good place for a Centauresque boat. You also can lay a mooring gratis and have reasonable cruising options including Isle of Man.
 
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suffolklass

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+1. You can get something you can camp on for not much money.
Personally, I'd look at the local dinghy clubs if the OP wants his kids to sail. Kids around here are out twice a week most of the year, socialising with a good crowd.
There are a lot of Drascombes about, but most of them only seem to get used a few times a year, apart from one I know which often goes out fishing.


Sorry to be pedantic, but I'm actually a she :p

Happy to send the kids off to dinghy sail, but I much prefer cruising (and husband is only really keen on bigger boats, he's not a dinghy fan). From my childhood the bit I looked forward to the most was going exploring in a boat (I basically wanted to be the swallows and amazons) and where we are it's reservoirs. Which are fine, and we do have a small dinghy so we can go sailing on them, but that's not really what we want to go sailing for.

Any suggestions on small boats with lids greatly appreciated. So far I have hunter 490 and leisure 17 on my possibles list (with something bigger when we can afford it).
 
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