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post #16 of Old 02-13-2005
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WESTSAIL 32 and similar

I was struck by how this thread shows some of the traps we all face when sharing boat opinions on these BB''s. First, wouldn''t it be nice if the software had some kind of Google-like linking capability that tied this kind of query to all the other, similar threads. E.g. Steve''s question comes up about once a quarter here, I notice - no doubt because a) Westsail''s are recognized as ''real cruising boats'' and because they are cheap (on a $/# basis). It''s a shame we have to reinvent the wheel each time - I know I''m tiring of offering the same points, over and over.

But the bigger trap is that the original post is stated in a way - and we tend to react to it in a way - that makes it less productive to the poster than it could be. E.g. let''s assume for a moment that Steve posted the following query when beginning this thread:

"I''m pretty new to sailing and I have never owned a boat before. My wife will be less experienced [presumably] than I am. I''m looking for my first boat, which I plan to sail locally for an unspecified period. I may want to take it cruising - perhaps even cross oceans in it - or I may not. One boat I''m considering is 42 LOA, will weigh 10 tons when I''m daysailing it (11+ tons, loaded out), and is 25+ years old. My goal is to build my skills by using the boat to learn about sailing, to enjoy ourselves, and possibly prepare for cruising. What do you think of my plan?"

My hunch is that readers, seeing that, would surface a lot of relevant topics for Steve to consider: slip fees, the cost of a larger boat for a new owner (not always apparent to newcomers), the inherent costs in an older boat with older systems, questions about how diverse & deep his electrical/mechanical/rigging skills are, the wisdom of trying to pick a boat suitable for ultimate cruising challenges yet find it satisfactory as a learning & weekending boat, and so forth. I''m betting some questions would also naturally surface about where he''s located, since that will inevitably shape how suitable a given boat will be for him.

Those topics are probably where Steve could better use our help. But instead, he - and we - fall into the trap of zeroing in on a Westsail 32 and orbiting most of the discussion around it.

Steve, I''d encourage you to look at the issues I''ve listed above. As for the W32 specifically, dig into the archives (here and elsewhere) and you''ll find lots of add''l info, pro and con. And please keep in mind that the W32 comments you hear here are offered as tho'' we are talking about one fixed entity, meaning every W32 will have the same features and characteristics. That is mostly true of e.g. a Catalina 30 but it''s surely not true of W32''s. I personally have spent extended periods of W32s that are 10, 12 and 16 tons in displacement, I''ve seen ''opposing settee'' and ''dinette'' layouts, even been on some that have pilothouses and fully enclosed cockpits, see many with stand-up chart tables but others with sit-down chart tables, found double berths forward in some that others don''t have, and then there are the normal wide variances in material condition, equipment, and how old or new the electronics, engine and sails are.

Boats are deceivingly complex and older boats have many hidden secrets. You would maximize your sailing (and your sail learning) while reducing your repair and maintenance workload, if you sought out a 5-6 ton, 1990''s sloop that had been sold in large numbers and was fun to sail, and the two of you build your skill sets by weekending it, participating in the summer beer can races, and meanwhile forming your own views (rather than listening to ours) about what your cruising boat should be...if you end up even wanting one.

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