(Full Disclosure: While this post says 2009, I’m not really sure when it was first published. Could have been anywhere from 2007 or so until now.)
When it comes to sizing our cat we’re a little conflicted. On one had it HAS to be small enough to single-hand sail. On the other hand, there are six of us who will be living aboard. So, do we try and squeeze into a 36-38 footer? Do we go all out and go for a 60 footer? Most likely it will be neither. One, a 36 although cozy just isn’t big enough not only for all of us but for the gear we intend on carrying as well. Second, the 60 footer I have in mind, although very nice, just seems like it would be more than either one of us would want to handle at any given moment. I’m not ruling out the 60 just yet, at least not until I’ve had a chance to sail one but given size and cost, it will probably not be the final choice.
Where does that leave us? Well, honestly about 24 feet in between. There are so many differing lengths between the manufacturers that it’s hard to really nail down a size. So, what you have to do is look at the sizes offered and see which one can handle a crew the size of ours, with a few requirements, and go from there. I can say this, just in our initial research we have narrowed things down to 2 favorites, a 48 and a 50. Both have their merits and both have their drawbacks. In a perfect world I would take what we like from the both of them and design my own. Problem with that? This is NOT a perfect world and I am no where near a yacht designer.
Going back to the “few requirements” regarding size of the crew, etc. If this happens before our oldest two move on to college we will need 6 berths. At a minimum one double, and 4 singles. What I would like to see is 2 doubles and 3 singles or three doubles and 2 singles. Or 5 doubles would be cool too but that’s not likely. I also don’t want “separate” crew quarters. Meaning that I want all berths to be accessible from the saloon and not from the outside deck. My reasoning for this is that besides the two of us, the rest are kids. Some very young. Consider it a safety feature or just me being paranoid, you choose. Either way I’m not willing to budge on that one.
As for heads, it’s negotiable. Most charter layouts that have enough berths also have excess heads. Meaning more that can break, more than we need, more wasted excess weight. So, if we were to get a charter version we would most likely refit to eliminate as many heads as necessary to bring us to an acceptable number. We can get by with one, two would be perfect and three would be fine. Any more and we say refit (or close off & use f or storage). When it comes to showers, we’re ok with the usual head/shower combo for most. However, we want at least one head to have a separate toilet/shower area. Most owner versions that we’ve found have this feature so it’s not unheard of. Just a little difficult to find in charter layouts.
Another couple of items when it comes to staterooms and berths is how the “master” stateroom is laid out. I don’t want to have to crawl over Michelle and vice-versa to get in and out of bed. We also would like a little bit of room on either side of the bed to maneuver into bed without having to crawl to the pillow from the foot of the bed. Layouts which require me to crawl over my pillow to put my feet at the opposite end of the bed are just out. Those make no sense to me.
Going back to the discussion about size and all of the “crap” we intend to bring aboard. It’s really not an unreasonable amount but there are things that take up space and weight that have to be accounted for. These things that we want to have that fall into that category are: genset, water maker, ice maker, combo small clothes washer/dryer unit (would be really nice, remember 4 kids), plenty of fridge/reefer space, spares, plenty of house batteries, and the usual accessories. Beyond that our personal belongings are no more than expected and I’ve told the kids that when this happens they can bring only what they can fit into a particular size Rubbermaid container. Other things that we have to take into consideration are books, and other reading/schooling materials. Those will take up plenty of space/weight and hopefully the new Amazon Kindle (the color version) will be out by then, or something better, and we will be able to eliminate a bunch of paper from the boat. We may even have to buy two (electronic readers, not boats).