Whats Covered In This Volume

This volume covers 360 cruising sailboats from the smallest feasible size for cruising— about 14' in length on deck (LOD)—up to a nominal 25', that is, up to (but not including) 25' 6" in length. If ever we get around to the next volume, we expect it will cover boats from a nominal 26' (25' 6") through a nominal 31' LOD, and will likewise encompass approximately 360 boats. Part of the reason for this cutoff in size at 25' LOD is to limit each book to a reasonable number of pages, with about 360 boats each, one boat to a page.

Another reason for a 25' cutoff is that above that range, most boats are not conveniently trailerable without heavy commercial trailers, and below it, generally they are. Consequently, by simply eliminating less than 20 percent or so of the heaviest boats included here, this volume could have been named "300 Trailerable Cruising Sailboats."

This is because the main dimension that determines easy trailerability is not a vessel's length or beam, as many people might think; it is her weight. For example, in the 1980s many owners of Hobie 33s (33' long, 8' beam, 4,000 pounds displacement) routinely trailered their boats using ordinary large cars as tow vehicles. Today, of course, almost no ordinary cars would be up to the task, due to reengineering that made cars lighter and weaker. And although beam is a factor, with most states imposing towing restrictions on loads more than 81/2' or even 8' wide, many wide-boat owners, including us, have successfully towed their wide boats (such as the J/24, an inch short of 9' in beam), on both interstate highways and back roads without ever receiving a traffic ticket.

Weight, the main practical limit on towability, seldom exceeds 5,000 pounds for boats under 25' LOD. What's magic about 5,000 pounds? Until recently, that was the limit of towing capability of the largest ordinary passenger vehicles. Today many so-called sport utility vehicles (SUVs)—often passenger bodies stuck to truck frames— can sometimes handle more weight, but the SUV owner pays a sizable price in terms of fuel mileage, first cost, and maintenance cost.

Of course, the 5,000-pound limit doesn't refer to what the boat weighs. The true limit is the weight of the towed boat plus its trailer plus its sailing extras: outboard motor, fuel and water tanks, personal gear for the crew, food and ice, and so on. For more on this, see the section on Trailer towing weight on page 10.

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