It’s probably impossible to find the perfect yacht to go cruising. So, first make a list of the things you would really like to have. Then make another list of what you really need and can afford. Stick to the second list.
There doesn’t appear to be any upper limit to the money one can spend cruising, if you can afford it. A luxury yacht over 200ft long, which can accommodate 12 guests in six cabins and has a helipad, can cost a cool £600,000 a week. Film director, Steven Spielberg won’t be filming this summer because he’s taking his wife and children on a 30,000-mile cruise in his 282ft super yacht.
The choice is a compromise
But you can still have the cruise of a lifetime without going into the rarefied atmosphere of the super-rich. Besides, a behemoth of that size is simply not able to moor in secluded coves or ordinary marinas. Over recent years cruising yachts have grown from fairly modest vessels into luxurious boats with sumptuous fit-outs. It’s always a compromise between what you would love to have and what you can afford. The design of cruising yachts can be quite complex. They need to be docile to handle, good in light winds (as most holiday cruising is in light wind regions) and to maximise interior space and comfort.
An ideal cruising yacht depends on how many people are going to be on board, where you are going and how you are going to be using the yacht. For instance, how long you are going to spend at anchor will determine what kind of comfort you should look for. The longer at anchor, the more comfort and spaciousness you will want. Age can have a large effect on the size of the boat. Agile 20 and 30 year olds need less space and comfort than, say, retired couples.
Monohull or multihull?
Most people just assume that if they are going cruising it will be in a monohull. But multihulls are also becoming increasingly popular for cruising. Catamarans have many advantages. They are a lot faster than conventional yachts. The cockpit is massive, as it stretches over two hulls. This gives a lot more space for each individual and a greater chance for privacy. The interior does not feel crowded. Because they don’t heel (lean over), the risk of seasickness, which can wreck a holiday, is far less. They have a shallower draft, which is very useful for out-of-the-way bays and beaches.
But because of their size, they are more expensive to moor in marinas. With a catamaran, you don’t get the authentic, lee rail in the water feeling of pure sailing. If you are not a purist and have first-time sailors and older people on board, a catamaran probably makes more sense.
Whatever you do, don’t rush your decision. Check out what else comes with the offered boat. Most companies would be able to manage equipment for scuba-diving, fishing, kayaking and, at least, snorkelling. Finding the absolute perfect cruising boat is probably a life-long search. But it’s an awful lot of fun.
Vaughan Winter is an experienced sailor and traveller. He joined Club La Costa sailing club to enjoy more adventures around the Mediterranean.