Understanding what is really important when choosing the boat of your dreams.
At every boat show, common themes arise in our discussions with customers: cost and long-term value, liveability and–most common and certainly important–safety. Some issues like long-term value and cost can be reduced to pure numbers. Liveability and aesthetics are largely matters of taste. Still, we are constantly amazed at how much emotion is involved with these topics–and with no emotion so much as Fear.
Deep emotion is understandable with a purchase like this, but “scared” is no way to make decisions. Many of you have chartered or owned a boat for years. Maybe you have just never headed out beyond local waters for weeks or months at a time. All you know for certain is that Captain Ron was really funny and you probably shouldn’t have watched The Perfect Storm.
Enter the Marketing Department! Some of these folks know that Fear is one of the most powerful motivators known to man, and they use this emotion to sell a product or entice you to buy. The marine industry exploits this, too. Has anyone told you that their boats' windows are bullet proof, or dared you to take a whack with a hammer? Bulletproof windows! If someone is really shooting at you, then you’ve clearly made a judgement error in your cruising destination. But if you're talking about a wave hitting the window of a boat, this is about a large force distributed over an area. When windows fail, they are pushed out of the frames, not punctured by a single, sharp point of force. So talk about the frames or storm windows. The only function of bulletproof glass is to make you feel safe from a threat that does not exist to the rational boater.
The Perfect Storm!
You will find that sales people at boat shows will tell you that you need speed to be able to outrun a storm. We suggest that you speak with your insurance agent about that. They will tell you that the overwhelming majority of accidents happen around the dock when someone is trying to avoid weather. Furthermore, Coast Guard statistics of deaths and injuries at sea list inattention and/or alcohol, leading to collision with another vessel or falling overboard, as the major factors in boating fatalities, not storms! Storms at sea don’t even make the Top 10 list, and just paying proper attention to running the boat could eliminate almost every major factor. That includes checking the weather. Listen to local radio stations and the cruisers nets, or subscribe to a weather routing service. Speed is NOT the solution.
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."
Here is a cruising saying that is actually true: “The most dangerous item on a cruising boat is a schedule.” Freak weather? Weather happens, but most cruisers encounter absolutely miserable weather due to a schedule. “Someone was flying in to visit and so we had to be at some place by some set time.” The day comes when you must leave your safe harbor to meet them and it is blowing 30 knots with eight-foot seas. Never fails. Now obviously, if you felt that you were really in danger by leaving shelter, just don’t go. But usually when the weather is miserable but not dangerous you go anyway, hanging on to the bucking bronco for just long enough that when you get there to see these folks that you were missing so much last week, you really kinda resent them putting you to all that trouble!
Of course bad weather happens. Forecasts can be mistaken, weather can change suddenly and now you are looking up from the pilothouse at big foamy waves. But let’s look at the reality: you are in far greater danger of being injured due to the movement of the boat than sinking. You can’t imagine what it would take to sink a Krogen, but most certainly it is not going to be because the forecasted 10-15 knots turned into 20-25 knots or even 30-40 knots.
To be truly safe in iffy weather ask yourself, is the boat comfortable to move around on, inside and out? Are there protective railings and handholds in all areas? Look at the saloon and galley and steep staircases on some other boats and ask yourself, what am I going to hold on to when the weather is rough? Outside, are the decks clean, uncluttered and level, or are you stepping over different levels and obstructions?
Is the foredeck chopped into three different levels with raised hatches and dorade vents scattered around like an obstacle course? That's a great place to get hurt, even in nice weather.
Have you noticed that as you move around on a Krogen there is always a handhold of some kind at just the right place? A rail to keep you from going over, a gentle sloped stair with big wide steps? There is no substitute for our over 40 years of real cruising experience when properly designing a boat.
And what about hull design? Does the boat have a full displacement hull, an optimum displacement-to-length ratio, a low profile and ideal weight distribution so that in rougher weather she rides well and predictably? Does she have a fine, clean entrance and a wineglass transom? That higher and much sharper Krogen bow cuts the seas and creates a stable ride in head seas, and that wine-glass stern allows seas to pass under rather than presenting a flat surface for following or quartering seas to push.
A far greater percentage of Krogen owners actually live aboard for the majority of the year, and really do cruise their boat! Krogens are designed to go cruising. They are designed by people who have actually been cruising, lived aboard, done that. In the constant balance and compromise process that goes into the design of each boat, Krogen comes down on the side of the cruiser every time.The boat dissipates rather than absorbs the force of the seas. Hard chines of other boats will create a violent “snappy” roll motion that can toss the crew around the boat with uneven and unexpected movement in rough weather. Hard chines and flat sterns make a boat much more difficult to steer or maintain course and relative position to the waves in following or quartering seas. Such a design creates random, sudden movements of the boat and that is how people get hurt.
So far we have been talking only about dramatic events such as injuries and storms. But what by a huge margin is the Number One cruise-ending issue? Being tired of being on the boat! We have seen it so many times. The boat is either too small, or it was designed strictly to survive without enough attention to being a home. The boat never becomes a comfortable dwelling and so folks call it quits and head for land. Liveability is as important as survivability for cruising success.
At the boat shows, step back and ask yourself, could I live here? Does it feel like I could make this a home? Can I see myself sitting in the cockpit or on the flybridge and relaxing? Does the boat feel light and open, or is this a tightly shut box that'll leave you anxious for the next destination so you can get out and take a deep breath? Or my favorite: Do I have to run a generator 24/7 just to support all the “stuff” on this boat? If you can’t wake up in the morning and start coffee and the stove without starting a $20,000 generator, then no one gets to sleep late, ever! These issues are every bit as important to the success of your cruising dreams as how the boat will handle 15-foot head seas. And yes, due to the aforementioned hull design, a Krogen handles them with aplomb.
The classic lines of a yacht serve a purpose. If a boat builder has spent so much effort making their offering look like a commercial ship that she no longer functions as a pleasure yacht, you are buying a false sense of security from a threat you probably will never face. Besides, if you can’t have dinner and a glass of wine in the cockpit at sunset, why did you come? If you don’t occasionally turn around in your dinghy to admire the graceful lines of your very own yacht against a background of aqua blue water and white sand, you didn’t buy her–someone sold her to you.
So, as in all things, beware of hype. Don’t substitute money for common sense, care and attention. By far, the most dangerous situation you are likely to face on your boat is that ladder after your third margarita. You can’t buy your way out of that one.