Description of a Cruising Sailboat

The description of a cruising sailboat will be different for each person.

With that said, I will list our criteria for choosing Shadowtime our 35 foot Island Packet sailboat.

Our first criteria was safety...we were not all that experienced in sailing. We wanted a boat that was safe first and foremost.

Our second criteria was comfort...we went sailing to enjoy the sunsets.

Our third criteria was reliability...before we bought the boat I could barely change a light bulb, I knew I had limitations.

Our fourth criteria was low maintenance...there turned out to be enough to keep us busy on board.

We did not care too much about performance, we cared less about racing.

What we found out was that our boat was fast enough for the island hopping that we did.

Here is what met our criteria for description of a cruising sailboat.

Our Boat

description of a crusiing sailboat

Taken at Peter Island BVI, from the dinghy in the davits.

An Island Packet 35, we named her Shadowtime, she was a jewel.

It had a 4 foot 6 inch  draft, displaced 17,500 pounds, with a 12 foot beam. 

I called it the Volvo of sailboats, boxy, not sexy, but very safe and comfortable.

I never regretted our purchase, after 8 years of use, and would buy another in a heartbeat.

Oh by the way...we sold our boat in 2002 for exactly what we paid for it in 1994.

Any description of a cruising sailboat should include resale value.

We had a winner.

It took 4 months of hard looking in the Clear Lake area (south of Houston on Galveston Bay).

The only other boat we considered was a Pacific had 2 pointy ends, we preferred the broad flat stern of the IP.

The interior of our boat

description of a cruising sailboat

I said it was boxy and it was, lots of teak and roomy, the table folded up against the bulkhead shared by the head.

This one feature, the dining table folding up against the bulkhead, really increase the usable space that we had inside... Although we spent most of our time up in the cockpit, it was nice to be able to lay down occasionally in the salon. And read a book

When an anchor the boat always swings into the wind and we slept in v berth because of the ventilation it afforded.

The aft cabin, or the garage

description fo a cruising sailboat

Here is the aft cabin...we called it the garage, we used it a lot for storage.

We slept here when we had guests (those lucky people got the breezy V berth).

This met our comfort and roomy criteria quite nicely.

See the island colors we used for cushions.

Note the fishing gear, we always drive the boat going between islands... We would catch mahi mahi, tuna, wahoo or barracuda.

The galley

description of a cruising sailboat

Any description of a cruising sailboat must talk about food...out of this galley came some great meals.

It had a huge refrig section that kept the beer ice cold, the freezer section was small but adequate.

The stove had 3 burners (propane). The oven cooked several large turkeys. One at a time!

The first mate could make bread from scratch in this tiny space.

The 12 volt refrig system is the biggest draw on power on board.

We used about 100 amp hours per day, the refrig pulled about 80% of that...but did I say the beer was ice cold?

The head...or shower and toilet for you landlubbers

description of a cruising sailbaot

Did our description of a cruising sailboat include a roomy head? You bet.

Our boat had 6 feet 4 inches of head room and contained a very roomy shower area.

This compartment contained the toilet, sink and a shower area that was a pleasure to use.

No smashing of elbows trying to turn had space.

Note the ergonomics of having all your shower items in one central dispenser.

Soap, his and her soap and conditioner.

Our boat contained 90 gallons of fresh water.

It would last us 2 weeks. A shower each day, washing the dishes (my job), brushing your teeth and drinking water for 2. 

The average American family of 4 uses over 400 to 1400 gallons a day...

we would use about 6 to 7.  Can you say we waste water in the US?

The payoff

the highly stressed sailing couple

Here is the highly stressed out couple on deck of


It was in a lot of aspects the best 8 years of our life.

We spent less than a $1,000 a month and had a ball.

Living aboard a sailboat may not be for you think we enjoyed it?

For those that like the ocean, and frugal retirement living it may be just the ticket.

If this lifestyle is one you haven't considered go find a dock and start up a chat with a liveaboard cruiser...they are usually very friendly and anxious to share their experiences.

The description of a cruising sailboat may mean something else to you.

But we were lucky, or maybe just did our homework well, the one and only time we were boat owners. Enjoy.

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