Over the size of 30 feet length is what distinguishes that of a 'budget' yacht to a 'family' yacht, and the sizes ranging from 30-36 feet includes the majority of popular production cruising yachts.
With a boat about 32 feet overall, you can carry up to six people, and a level of equipment that makes lengthy cruising an attractive proposition rather than an ordeal.
For instance, a 35-footer has more and better sails than the smaller boat even with an all purpose roller genoa you will find at least one other headsail and maybe a spinnaker or to enhance downwind performance. Halyard and sheet handling is by small geared winches, and this being important as no great physical strength is required to set the sails.
The cockpit will have enough space for all the crew to sit at once, a folding 'pram hood' over the main hatch to give shelter and prevent water entering along with enough space on to stow an inflatable life raft and a dinghy.
The ability to carry an inflatable life raft is critical feature of any cruising yacht, as it is a basic safety requirement for a yacht sailing offshore. No matter how well built and equipped a yacht may be, the potential for a collision or grounding means that the crew has
the means of escape. A six-man life raft is a heavy and bulky item requires stowage in an easily-accessible spot on deck.
Another prerequisite for a cruising yacht is a tender vessel, which will almost predictably be an inflatable dinghy. Smaller yachts confining themselves to short coastal cruises tow a dinghy, but for a sea passage it is essential to carry the tender on deck.
Small cruising yachts offer the option of tiller or wheel steering and those sailors from a dinghy sailing background tend to prefer a tiller. A tiller gives a quicker and direct steering control but the disadvantage is tiller steering takes up a considerable amount of cockpit space.
Another disadvantage is the sighting of the steering compass and other instruments is usually some distance from the skipper which are hard to see and are usually obstructed by the crew. Novice sailors find a wheel steering is easier to comprehend and the wheel plinth provides the place to mount instruments.
On a 35-footer down below, can be found an inboard diesel engine. Being reliable, economical and safe, a small diesel of, 25 bhp has enough power to drive a yacht this size along at its 'hull speed' of around 6 knots. A dual purpose of the engine is to produce electrical power and through a heat exchanger, produce hot water.
The normal power storage arrangement on a family yacht involves the fitting of two storage batteries of around 75 amp/hours each, with a splitter diode to prevent discharge of current from one to the other. A battery is reserved for engine starting and the other for domestic uses such as lighting and power to the radio and instruments. Running the engine for an hour or two per day will keep both of the batteries can be kept fully charged and the engine serviceable.
A device known as a calorifier uses the heat given off by the engine to heat up water. Hot water storage is a small water tank of 5 gallons capacity and warmed by the engine coolant being passed through a coil within the tank. With a pressure pump fitted in the system this is sufficient for a quick shower or hot water for washing up in the galley.
A fixed navigation desk with a space under the desk for chart storage and a shelf for the reference books should be sited with a bulkhead in front of the navigator's desk providing space for instruments and radio.
Many people are looking for in a cruising yacht with a reasonable degree of privacy so that a mixed group can function without embarrassment and a 35-footer can give this privacy if designed in what is known as a 'three cabin layout'
The main feature is still the principal compartment or 'saloon' where general living takes place, and where at least two bunks will be incorporated. Behind the engine and below the cockpit, family cruising yachts find space for a separate 2-berth cabin, with slightly larger boats including a compact shower/toilet compartment. Forward of the saloon in the bow is normally a further bulkhead formed into two berth cabin.
The drawback with a forward cabin is the fore part of the yacht it is narrow and bunks meet at the foot, additionally, the motion of the boat is worst in the bow along with the stowage of sails. If possible, have four berths in the saloon and regard the fore cabin as sleeping space when at anchor.
The need for privacy is more imaginary than real, because when the yacht is on passage at least half the crew will be on deck so the others have the cabin to themselves. Nevertheless, it is obviously very pleasant to be able to shut the door on the rest of the crew before going to sleep in harbour.