Last year my wife and I bought a 1988 Oday 322 as our first boat. The boat seems to perform pretty well and even as neophyte sailors, we are generally able to keep up with boats our size (and sometimes bigger ones) even with our old baggy sails. I don't completely understand the racing handicaping system but the 322's base rating is 168 which I think it good for it's size. I may be way wrong, but with some attention to trim, we seem to hold our own with other cruising boats close to our size.
We haven't been out in any weather yet, but the boat was built in New England and there appear to be a fair number of them in those waters based on the for sale listings on yacht world, so it would seem they are up to it.
We added a traveller control system this year, and it seems to both help with performance in light air and balancing the helm in stiffer winds. Before we added the traveler control our boat exhibited a lot of weather helm when the wind piped up. The boat seems very stable once you reach about 20 degrees of heel. I don't have ton of experience on other boats but the winches seem adequate and sized the same as other 30-something production boats I've been on.
I've read the same thing about the keel bolts and don't really know where it started. I never found an account of a 322 loosing a keel and the design doesn't seem all that different from a lot of other production boats. It's not something I worry about.
Overall, I'd say a 322 would probably be as well suited to the task as any other 80's production boat in that size/price range. As you know the 322's below deck layout is similar to a 36 or even 38 foot boat. We find the V berth is more comfortable than the aft cabin for a couple, but the aft bunk is the best on the boat for one. The salon bunk needs extra padding to be suitable for anything more than a small child.
Overall we are very happy with the boat. We intially planned to learn on this boat then move up, but I can't afford any of the boats I like better than our 322, (Sabre, Caliber, etc.) so now the plan is to continue upgrading her over the next year or two and keep her for a while.
HTH. Let me know if I can answer any other questions.
s/v Palmetto Moon
Last edited by PalmettoSailor; 06-05-2007 at 10:42 PM.