Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?
I have owned a 32' Pearson Vanguard for 15 years or so and can testify to the qualities and drawbacks. I raised a family of four cruising the coast of Maine aboard her and she always kept us safe and comfortable. The kids and the wife at the time, loved her. The boat is great in any conditions, will not point high though and will slow way down when beating too high into a stiff chop. In that case, stop pinching, fall off five points and the boat will sail quite well into a head sea. Initially tender by design (heeling on a CCA era boat equals an increased waterline), they firm up at 15 degress and stay there. One reef point at 15 knots of wind and the helm becomes well balanced.
Many have done long voyages, though they are certainly minimally configured for long distance cruising-the primary drawback being tankage-they only carry forty gallons of water in the original monel tanks. The atomic four is fine as long as you are sensible about fuel safety. Much is made of the risk of gas aboard-but most cruisers have propane tanks aboard for cooking (and sometimes heat) and think nothing of it. The old alcohol stove is a nuisance and best replaced with propane if you will be cooking aboard. A good sniffer and common sense will eliminate the risk of explosion for either propane or the A4. A diesel would be nice and I want one eventually, but the engine is apt to be worth more than the boat so the upgrade must be well deserved.
The interior can be upgraded pretty inexpensively. The hull deck joint will leak if not resealed, but that is not a difficult job. Watch for soft decks-mine need work, but that in no way stops me from using the boat-its just a project somewhere off in the future.
Boat heaves to perfectly, which is great when a kid needs attention or you just want to wait out some weather or even for meal preparation underway. Turns on a dime, but backs up like a drunken elephant. She will handle the big stuff with grace and sails fine in light airs as long as you don't pinch. Lots of room for upgrades like a furler and self tailers-all of which are not necessary, but fun and useful to add over time. If the one you are considering is in good shape, $5K for a bullet proof classic designed by one of the worlds most famous naval architects is a fair price. You can do the upgrades if and when you want over time-its a low cost entry point for a minimal safe cruiser that you can upgrade to whatever level you like or need over time. There is a great users group on yahoo that has 400 members who share all kinds of information about thier ships. Search yahoo groups and request membership-you'll be able to see photo albums of dozens of boats and all of the upgrades they have made over time. The group is very well moderated. Best of luck.