Does Size Matter? Yes, it does.


This is a picture of me with the Sea Muse.

I recently stumbled across a solicitation on monkey’s fist for boaters to give their opinions on size. I know several cruisers like Teresa and Ben of One Simple Question and Stormy of Art of Hookie, who are pocket cruisers and love it. My wife and I live aboard a forty foot Cruise-a-Home, with approximately eight tons of displacement. We upgraded from a twenty-five foot, Buccaneer sailboat, the Sea Muse. Let me tell you why.

You can read about how I came to possess the Sea Muse here. As much as I loved that boat, and as much as I loved sailing, it was cramped and hard to work on. Two years into my sailing ‘career’ and I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to become a liveaboard. I also knew I wanted to live a simple, self-sufficient life in the San Juan Islands. Finally, I also knew that there was no way I’d be able to talk my wife into joining me if the boat wasn’t comfortable. For all these reasons, I chose the boat I have now.

I had had my eye on Cruise-a-Homes for a long time. The size and displacement means they handle the small chop of the Puget Sound just great. Their clean architecture and human scale means they are very easy to work on. The hull is made of extremely thick hand-laid fiberglass and plywood. The bilge resembles the crawlspace of a house, with significantly more room to get down under the floor than other boats. The boat is essentially a well-made hull, with a stick-frame house built on top, covered in fiberglass. It’s single level layout and lots of headroom was designed for older boaters, who may find frequent stooping or the climbing of stairs difficult. The boxy structure of the boat eliminates the ‘clean lines’ that most boats try to achieve, but maximizes the space and comfort.

1978 Cruise-a-Home

I’m fond of saying that my boat is my solution to all the problems of the world. My wife and I plan to retire on our boat some day soon.

One specific attribute of the boat that made my eyes go wide the first time I saw it, is the engine compartment. My friend, Ken, has a beautiful thirty-two foot Endeavor sail boat. It’s a great boat. Very comfortable and very sea-worthy. But he has to literally stand on his head in order to change the oil filter. Boat and engine maintenance is easy to put off, particularly if it’s difficult to do. I didn’t want to give myself the temptation.

The engine compartment on the Rock ‘n Row is big enough to allow me to walk around, and kneel down on, three sides of both engines. Not only that, she’s equipped with two OMC Cobras, which are marine version of the Chevy 350 – probably the most generic and easiest engine in the world to work on.

For all these reasons, I’d say that size does matter, just as much as the features; at least to my wife and I. Boats, particularly sail boats, have always been ‘mission critical’ vehicles. If you plan to go blue-water cruising, you’d *better* have a boat that was built for it. We plan to cruise the protected waters of the Puget Sound, which can get nasty, but is nothing compared to off-shore cruising. We also planned to live aboard, stay within 50 miles of a marina, cruise primarily in fair weather, and produce our own electricity on-board. To meet our goals, size and comfort was essential.

Related posts:

Going Solo
Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 7
Ice Box Upgrade
8 Responses to “Does Size Matter? Yes, it does.”
  1. Jane Behr says:

    That is a SWEET boat… beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, right? “Boxy” is how most people describe catamarans too, but we know we wouldn’t be comfortable on a monohull.

  2. Alan says:

    After all these years I still don’t know if size matters. One thing I do know is that some day we are going to have to bring you back to the dark side, or light side depending on how you look at it. 🙂

    • Chris says:

      That’s why I try to rendezvous with sail boaters. We can anchor my boat and have a nice place to party at night, then go do all the fun sailing on *your* boat!

  3. We have a couple of those at our marina and I’ve always thought they looked entirely practical. It sounds perfect for what you are doing. I recently looked at an old wooden trawler that had been completely restored and I just wondered at the amount of living space it had. If we weren’t looking for a sailboat, I would have wanted that one.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks! There does seem to be a large population of Cruise-a-Homes down south there.

      I can’t wait to see what kind of sailboat you end up getting for your retirement. I could definitely see us getting a big sailboat in a few years, but when I started this project, I knew I had more time, ingenuity, and ambition than money. A fixer-upper (like most Cruise-a-Homes are) was the way to go for us.

  4. Alan says:

    Your boat sure does make a great mothership. 🙂

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