Jeff H: P35 or T34
Chas, I''ll reply to your private email when I can get to it later. Since I happen to be on-line (yet another hurricane to check, given our shoreside condo in Tampa Bay), I''ll just offer the general reply here that I''d put both boats in the ''So-So'' category. I think the actual choice of one over the other (of these 25+ year old boats) is going to be more dependent on current condition, asking price, and location of the boat relative to your needs...and far less on what their original, respective qualities might be.
FWIW we became good friends with Bob Nimo, who sailed his P35 down to Trinidad and back, mostly singlehanded, and did a lot of cruising in her. If you walked aboard that boat, you''d find it close to showroom condition (including the original gelcoat), functionally laid out (moreso than the old Tartan 34), and a wicked sailing boat. I don''t think this subjects Tartan 34''s as a group to second-rate status; in my mind, it illustrates how a nicely modified rig, high maintenance, a layout set up for cruising use, and generally careful ownership can make a huge difference in overall ''value''. (BTW Bob is, as I last heard, selling his P35 and you might visit Yachtworld.com to see if there are some pics to help you view what a good choice can look like. I have no idea what price he''s asking and/or how competitive it is. The boat''s name is CHRISTINA, as I recall).
Jeff and I have expressed different opinions before on the original S&S designed Tartan 34. There are some things I very much like about the boat (including that all-access engine box in the dinette settee) but I find the cockpit terribly uncomfortable (as well as the ergonomics of getting there and back below) and that, all by itself, should raise questions about its suitability as a cruising boat given the neverending use one makes of a cockpit. The one I''ve sailed handled very nicely and enjoyed the care and upgrades of a conscientious engineer/owner and so much that was less functional (e.g. the silly mainsheet traveller as originally supplied) had been improved...but he had far more build issues with which to deal than owners today find in any of the volume production boats (which shows how much production practices have improved, no matter how much we all gripe about today''s bubble boats). I found nothing to suggest the overall build quality was above that of P35s of the same era. And finally, for Caribbean cruising (your destination, as I recall) the single in-line lower rig would not be my choice over double lowers. None of these disqualify a T34 from a careful look, however.
As with many other boats here - and to belabor the point just a bit - the current condition of a boat of this age, coupled with the modifications its received from its owner(s) over the years (and how well they were done...) would be far bigger criteria in my mind than what any of us thought of such boats as they exited the production line.
Hope this helps (just a bit...).
WHOOSH, lying Ramsgate, Kent