Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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A couple quick points here, over the years my family has owned two Hunter 30's of this era (79, and 81) and a Contest that was just slightly older than the boat in question. I know both boats reasonably well.
Although the Hunter 33 is sometimes attributed to Cherubini, everything that I was able to find suggests that it was not actually penned by him. In my experience with the Hunter 33 it was a far inferior design to either the Hunter 30 or Hunter 37 of this same era. In terms of build quality, by 1980, Hunter was actually offering a very high build quality. It was an early manufacturer to begin using internal framing. Compared to many higher regarded boats of that era, Hunter did a good job of engineering its systems and meeting the construction standards of the day. As odd as this sounds, in those days, many companies, even highly regarded companies failed to produce boats that actually met ABYC standards.
It is not that Hunter was perfect, on my Dad's boat which was purchased new, he had deck leaks where the bolts that went through the toerail and hull deck joint were cross threaded and tightened with an air driven wrench. That is a serious problem, but Hunter also resolved any warrantee issues in a reasonable manner. While these were simple boats they were laid out nicely and came with reasonably good quality hardwarfe for that day. Like most manufacturers of that era, they did have some deck core and blister problems, but by and large Hunter's glass work was actually pretty high quality for that era and at that point in time they were still fully tabbing bulkheads into place, which was not as common with other Florida builders of that era such as Morgan or Irwin.
Contests of that era, had a much nicer level of finish than the Hunters but were no where near as well built. Nor were they as nice a hull design as the Hunter 30 or 37, but being on a par with the Hunter 33. The hull to deck joints on the Contest were problematic as they were an inward facing flange located down from the rail, making them vulnerable to damage and very hard to repair. Hardware on the Contest was proprietary junk. The Dutch yards of that era typically made their own bakelite (Tufnol) blocks and winches. The winches were undersized and the parts were not interchangable so you ended up having to take a jeweler's file and make your own pawls and have to adapt the winch handles so that one handle actually could be used on either side of the boat. It was a bad joke. As was the fuel and electrical systems on these boats, keel bolts, and internal framing. What internal framing was used was softwood lightly glassed to the hull, that quickly rotted out leaving little support. The Contest was one of the worst boats that I have owned in terms of oil canning in a chop.
In any event, neither boat is what I would call a blue water boat. Both were coastal cruisers, and mediocre coastal cruisers at that. They may be reasonable live aboard boats and may be suitable for island hopping if you have the right sails and pick your weather window, but neither has the hull form or robustness of construction that I would think of when I hear the term "blue water capable".
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay