Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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opinions on Bayfield 32?
To begin with, the suitablity of a Bayfield 32 heavily depends on where and how you plan to use the boat. For example if you enjoy spending time under sail, these would not be ideal boats for use in a light air venue such as much of the southern US Atlantic Coast and areas like the Chesapeake Bay or Long Island Sound.
Although I have no first hand knowledge of this, the Bayfields do have a good reputation for their build quality. While these are not my taste in boats, Bayfields seem to have a strong following.
Looking at the Bayfield 32 specifically the design falls in a very funny category. While the Bayfield 32 looks very traditional, looking closely at the lines this is neither a traditional design as derived from a working watercraft. (Traditional watercraft had hullforms that were carefully modeled from long periods of evolution in boats that represented hundreds of years of experience dealing with the realities of the sea. While this design has some visually traditional cues, the hullform and rig really do not reflect traditionally watercraft typeforms.) Nor is it a truely modern design. As a result I would expect that the boat would neither have the strengths of either typeform and might also have some of the weaknesses of both typeforms.
Some of this strictly reflects my own personal experiences and prejudices, but having owned boats with bowsprits, I really think that there is no excuse for a bowsprit as a part of the sailplan on any boat designed in the late 20th century. (I understand that extended anchor platforms make some sense) It is solely an affectation that comes with some pretty big price tags. To begin with most marinas charge for length including the bowsprit so you are paying to store a longer boat than you actually have the advantage of using. Bowsprits place a fair amount of weight and surface area out in front of the flotation plane. This adds to pitching and the likelihood of taking green water over the bow. If a furler jambs or you need to remove the headsail in heavy going (a far more common event than we all like to think) you are perched in a far more vulnerable position trying to wrestle with the sail and waves.
Another feature of the Bayfield 32 that concerns me in a blue water boat is the design of the cockpit. The foot well is quite small and interupted by the wheel making the it seem smaller and less useable still. BUT my big criticism is with the volume of water that it can hold. The arrangement of the coamings and cubby holes are such that these boats can hold an enormous volume (weight) of water if this boat were ever pooped. There are no freeing ports in the coamings making repetative pooping all the more likely. The height of water likly to be captured in the cockpit is well above the sill of the companionway. The sill height would be more than adequate if the coamings had freeing ports but the cockpit layout is such that signifcant downflooding would be likely in a pooping situation.
These boats came with two different engines. Both Yanmars. I like Yanmars a lot but the smaller two cylinder 15 hp diesels really is not up to handling a high wetted surface, high windage, 10,000 lb boat (really closer to 13000 to 14000 fully loaded.) The larger 3GM30 is probably a better choice for a boat like this.
While I have not sailed a Bayfield 32, I suggest that you try to do your sail trial on a windy day. These boats have approximately 4000 lbs of ballast which is not too bad on a 10,000 lb boat. But these are shoal draft boats and shoal draft boats generally need a higher ballast ratio to get their vertical center of gravity down. The Bayfields have a very heavy rig, deck and hull and a lot of high storage areas which would suggest minimal stability when fully loaded and the Ballast ratio drops to 25% to 30%.
Another issue with these boats is the keel arrangement. Although these boats are sold as a full keel boat, they have so much of the forefoot cut away, and the rudder so far forward that the are much closer to a fin keel with attached rudder(by the classic definition where a fin keel is any keel whose bottom length is 50% or less of the length of the base of the sailplan.) This set up neither offers the advantages of a full length keel (tracking ability and ease of hauling for example) nor does it offer the advantages of a fin keel, skeg hung spade rudder (lighter helm loads, better manuevering etc.), Beyond that in a properly designed fin keel boat, the rudder is generally substantially shallower than the keel. In this case the rudder is only a couple inches above the keel bottom making it very susceptable to damage in a grounding.
I also think that the galley lasks adequate working surfaces for a 32 foot offshore boat but that is also a bit subjective and may reflect more about my own way of cooking vs someone elses.