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Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere Paperback – January 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


Laced with anecdote and opinion..Very readable, and most useful for anyone looking at small boats for extended cruising. -- Cruising World Magazine, May 2000

Through boat reviews and advertisements, sailors are bombarded with product information about new boats in sailing magazines. They can tour new boats to their hearts content at boat shows. And they can compare these vessels in annual directories of sailing manufacturers and distributors. Eager vendors will readily send sales literature on request.

But what of those of us who have elected to sail those boats euphemistically referred to as gently used or previously sailed? These boats, of course, are affordable, often well-equipped, and typically in sailaway condition without extensive commissioning. So how do you make comparisons and determine which of these boats is right for you?

John Vigor has selected 20 from a vast field of older sailboats and offers comprehensive reviews and rating scales for comparison. His criteria for selection were that the boat must be seaworthy enough to go offshore and small enough to be easily handled by two. The boats he selected range from 20 to 32 feet.

Lin and Larry Pardey, who have circumnavigated twice in sailboats less than 30 feet in length, argue that small and simple boats are better for voyaging couples. They have noted that large vessels are often the cause of abandoned cruising dreams. Theyre too expensive and thus steal too much from the cruising couple without the assistance of additional crewmembers or power devices that can fail at the most critical moment. Larger, more complicated, sailboats have more systems that break, testing the skills of even the handiest. Their advice in sum is to go small, go simple, and go with the confidence that comes of handling it yourself.

In this book, John Vigor offers sailors a collection of 20 boats capable of taking you anywhere perhaps not in the comfort and style touted by new boat product literature but safely and with dignity. John has raced, crossed oceans, and cruised coasts. His views are fresh and insightful. He has the credentials to know a boat for what it is. Readers will be rewarded with valuable information that is more timeless than trendy. Lurking behind it all is Johns wry humor that steps in at just the right moment to remind us that logic has its limits and owning and sailing these vessels is meant to be fun. If we are patient, todays new boats will become older boats. When the best small ones have proved themselves by crossing oceans safely and in style, John may select from among these and write another book. -- Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas,Publishers of Good Old Boat magazine

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Paradise Cay Publications; 1st edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0939837323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0939837328
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent starting point for those trying to wade through the ocean of sailboats available on the used market, who want to get "the most bang for their buck." The reader should come away with at least several favories, allowing him/her to narrow the search for the "perfect" boat. At the same time, other boats will be stricken from the list of possibilites because of information contained in this book. It is aimed at the person who wants to get out there and sail on the best boat possible, but must shop carefully due to budget considerations. The short descriptions and comparisons of the boats are helpful, as are the details of the "known weaknesses," and interviews with owners. I just wish the book could have profiled more than 20 sailboats, I hated to reach the end. As a companion to this book, I would recommend "Inspecting The Aging Sailboat" by Don Casey. I would buy this book again.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By P. brook on November 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I liked this book and I probably would like John Vigor if I ever meet him. He has an easy-to-read conversational style. The best aspect of each of these boat reviews is seeing how an experienced sailor looks at and evaluates a boat's design and how it is constructed. J.V.'s approach is a valuable tool to apply to any boat you may be considering for offshore work.
For those of you who haven't seen the book yet a word of caution - there are no photographs of any boats in the book. All the visuals are line drawings and sail and 'floor' plans. In addition, I found one glaring error in the chapter on the Cape Dory 25D. The line profile drawing is for (I believe) the Cape Dory 25 - a distinctly different boat. The other drawings for this boat are definitly not of a Cape Dory 25D either.
These are all interesting boats - several have been single handed around the world, - one set a speed record for crossing the Atlantic. Of course they aren't the only boats capable of crossing oceans. You can expand your search by looking for boats by the same designer and / or the same builder. Sometimes it might pay to look to larger or smaller boats in a particular line. Find owners on the web and shoot them an email. Many people are glad to share sailing experiences. That reminds me that one of the best parts of this book is the Owner's Experiences section.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Warren on December 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've read Vigor's book, I've bought an Albin Vega within the past 3 weeks, I'm no circumnavigator (and never will be), but now have my boat of choice for the duration. I at least know if I do want to go offshore, my boat, properly prepared, can do it.
The rater that speaks of Vigor's head being 'up his stern' should lighten up or, at least, give some reasoning for his unsubstantiated comments.
Obviously, if your heading offshore you probably won't just read Vigor's book (or choose a Cal 20 or Catalina 27) but the book sure narrows the choices to make. And, of course, Vigor's choices aren't the only ones. As many raters said, 'a good starting point' and, contrary to captain 'up his stern' and his innuendo's, there's not a boat in Vigor's 20 choices that are inherently 'bad'.
Sorry to Capt. A. Spears and his review which was, nevertheless, helpful; Tanya A. sailed around the world in a Contessa 26 not a Bayfield 25. I only know that 'cause I read her book and once lusted after Contessa 26/Bayfield 25 vessels; only to choose, in my opinion, an even better boat with my 'new' Albin Vega 27.
I believe Vigor's book, for those contemplating serious, offshore voyages, should only be the beginning of the research; but a great place to start.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
a review by Matt W. as published by American Sailing Association
lets face it folks, when you sail skiffs at twenty mph it makes these things look huge and slow BUT if you want to call them "small" its up to you. Be that as it may "twenty small boats to take you anywhere" is the best put together book of its kind that I have ever read bar none. John Vigor has put a lot of research and general "checking out" of all twenty boats in this book and has presented this information in a clear and concise manner.
Starting at the intro I started to think "O.K. ..another dull book about boats". I was surprised by an easy reading style that felt as if J.V. were standing there at the boatyard with me. Each boat in this collection gets a good complete, and fair review on basic design, accommodations and lay out of cabins, rig, performance and most important KNOWN WEAKNESSES. There are also quick reference summarizations on each boat via an "in short" and "in comparison" boxes.
Another thing I found enjoyable is the "owners comments". They are entertaining and valuable experiential knowledge of how the boat actually handles under sail. The drawings of each boat with top side and beam views with the rig is also very helpful.
Twenty Small Boats to take you Anywhere" is an excellent reference book for those looking for a great sea worthy craft or even for those that are just curious. In any case I will be adding this one to my personal library. Now could some one please put out a book like this for fast racing skiffs? ;)>
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