Pearson 424 vs Celestial 44
We''re currently cruising on a 424 in Europe and I''d be glad to send you a summary of our impressions of WHOOSH, a ''79 ketch, which have changed for the better over the last 9 years as we''ve visited most of the Caribbean and now done a crossing. (Send me an email and I''ll forward the Word doc.)
You found the (dormant, it would appear) 424 owners'' website but may not be aware that there''s a group email list you can use to solicit further info. Leave an email with the webmeister and she''ll put it out. The more specific you can make your questions, the more useful will be the information (and likely to be responses). "Tell me about your boat..." leaves folks unmotivated, for the most part.
There''s also a 422 website (ref''d on the 424 site, I believe). The 422 was a later (3rd) reincarnation of this hull form, introduced when center cockpits were thought to be more desireable. Many of the systems and build issues are identical and they can be an add''l source of info.
A cosmetically young, well equipped 424 which we know first-hand that''s currently for sale can be found at www.wings424.com. Because the owners cruised for a few years and documented much of their adventures, you''ll find lots of helpful pics and commentary, thus my referral. Just keep in mind that WINGS is set up for coastal cruising and is not offshore ready.
Finally, I''ve written a series of articles on modifying our 424 for cruising in Europe (plus some Euro-related topics). You might find these helpful given your eventual cruising grounds and also reflecting the issues we felt needed addressing on the 424. You can find them at www.svsarah.com/Whoosh/Whoosh%20Main%20Page.htm thanks to the generous help of John Stevenson, who is also a 424 owner and offer''s add''l insights on his SARAH.
While our opinion of a 424''s capabilities as a long-distance cruising boat have grown over the years, I don''t think it''s a good choice for a circle. I''ve spoken with 2 owners who have circled in 424''s and neither had problems beyond generic systems issues but then, neither chose the more challenging route nor experienced any serious (storm force or greater ) weather. Who knows...maybe my own view on this will continue to change.<g>
Re: the Celestial models, you may have already identified one of their liabilities: they aren''t well known and may not have a sizeable user group from which you can solicit info and avoid reinventing wheels. A brief glance at a listing (I''ve seen these boats but not been aboard one) tells me this is conceptually the same boat but a bit bigger. Altho'' built in Hong Kong, were I looking at one I''d have the same basic questions as those applying to any older Taiwan boat: how was the ballast formed & installed; likely health of the tanks, water and fuel; Far East portions of the rig (e.g. chainplates and how to pull/inspect them), and generally how much equipment was built from scratch there (Hong Kong) vs. imported and installed from U.S. and/or European vendors (steering, rig, sailing hardware, etc).
It would appear that you could expect similar performance from both boats altho'' the Celestial may be more robustly built and has a better proportioned stern, IMO. Independent of the build details, I''d ask myself two fundamental questions: 1) do I really want/need to be handling a 15 ton boat (equipped); is such space/volume and therefore displacement that essential and do I have the budget to support it? (WHOOSH is by comparison 10 tons); 2) is a center cockpit, ketch rigged design my preference, and why? Personally, I just don''t see the rationale for a central cockpit nor do I like what it does to the functionality of the layout below *for a long-distance cruising boat*. Much has been written on this, of course, and perhaps researching that topic a bit might be useful. It''s a BIG decision relative to living with the boat, day in/out. As for the ketch rig, I''ve been pleasantly surprised how much more functional it is for us (two crew, no longer young except of heart) than I expected; while it presents compromises I think they have been decidedly outweighed by the rigs advantages...BUT only after we rigged a mizzen staysail and an inner stay for a solent jib.
Hope that''s helpful; sorry for the long post, folks.