We're looking at a secondhand Chris Craft sloop and I notice that your correspondent Mark Matthews owns a similar boat. What does he think of these boats?
Mark Matthews responds:
While one can make some generalizations when it comes to the same make and model boat, it's the specifics that make the difference. For instance, Chris Craft Sail Yachts originally came with a monster of a gasoline engine that they used in their better known line of powerboats. There's a little cutout in the cockpit sole for a round window. One owner told us that this was so you could see whether it was on fire! Our boat was thankfully repowered with a three-cylinder Isuzu diesel. Rifling through some of the boat's papers, I came across a yard bill for $19,000 for the engine installation. That's almost two thirds of what we paid for the boat when we bought it.
Of course S&S designs have a great reputation for a reason and there are a number of design characterisitics we like about the boat. The cutaway forefoot and our four-foot eight keel gives a seakindly motion and allows access to shallowish anchoring spots. The centercockpit is great, and the full enclosure makes it heavenly on cold, winter days. And as far as aesthetics go, we love the traditional look and we labor to keep it looking good. Did I mention we think it's a great sailing boat, built to take it in rough seas?
But design elements are only part of the story. The system specifics are the other. Our electrical system has also been overhauled and we've also installed new rigging and electronics, as well as revamped the plumbing and outfitted the boat with new ground tackle. We've seen sister ships that have looked a bit on the rough side, not uncommon for the 1964 vintage vessel, and others that have been well cared for and are capable cruisers. For my money, that's the best way to judge whether a boat is going to be right.
It's very important to assess any boat you consider on a system-by-system basis that takes into account the level of care the boat has received as well as your own aptitude for upgrades, and the amount of time you can devote to these. The hull shape and its construction and interior layout are certainly the primary concerns, but don't overlook the details either. In the long run it's better to pay more for a well-kept vessel than to try and resurrect a basket case.