Friendship sloops are about as pretty as a boat can be. I sailed on an original as a kid and on a glass version a couple times. The originals had a huge sail plan and seemed to be much better sailors than the glass so-called replicas.
Sailing these old girls is a very different aesthetic experience than sailing a modern boat. They move differently and can be tweaked only so far (although once you learn to sail them there is a lot more tweaking than it seems at first blush) and then what you see is what you sail. They take their own unique set of skills to sail (not easy on a beginner), and a lot more physical strength than a more modern boat, but once you learn how to sail them they offer a very rewarding, albeit different experience.
The aethetic basis for sailing a boat like the Friendship sloop is similar to the reasons that the folks race antique automobiles or target shoot with black powder rifles. There is something about learning how it was done in earlier times and with more primitive equipment that transends most of the obvious liabilities comes with sailing a reminder of times past.
Of course Friendship Sloops were intended as along shore work boats. They were meant to sail in the challenging conditions in Maine (strong currents, and changeable conditions). They were not really designed to be offshore yachts or even daysailers. While some have been converted or designed from scratch to be cruisers or daysailers and so might make a reasonbable overnighter or daysailer in a venue with decent breezes, they would not be as comfortable as a newer design, and they would not work so well in the prevailing light air conditions of the Mid-Atlantic States.
There are also a bunch of boats which were styling expercises based on the appearance of the Friendship Sloops. These vary widely in design, sailing ability, and execution and personally really have no appeal to me personally, but that may only be me. To me if you are going to emulate a historic artifact, then at least make a reasonably close copy.
The answer about the suitability of owning a Friendship Sloop really depends on how you personally plan to use the boat. They really are not all that well suited to coastal cruising or daysailing, and are ill-suited as offshore cruisers, but if your enjoyment comes from simple sailing, and you sail in a venue with decent winds, then a Friendship might well meet your needs. It's more about your goals and personality, and where you sail than the boat itself.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay and part-time purveyor of marine supplies
Last edited by Jeff_H; 06-16-2011 at 09:38 AM.