Above: monohull 29-32 feet; masthead rig; inboard diesel; protected rudder & screw; decent foredeck for anchor handling; wide side decks; roomy cockpit; wheel steering;
Below: traditional interior; full galley w/ oven; nav station; quarterberth; moderate tankage; head w/shower;
The cockpit is more important than the cabin. I’m more of a cruiser than a racer, but no one wants a barge. I prefer sailing ability over shallow draft. I’m willing to lose some roominess to get some sea kindliness.
My brother recently bought a Bristol 32 and it really opened my eyes to these fine boats. If I had the cash right now there are 2 Bristol 29.9 boats in my area and price range that I’d be looking at. In my view, these 29.9s are the boats to beat. I love the modified full/fin keel and the sit down, forward facing nav station (on a 30’ boat!). The joinery down below is also very nice.
For the right boat in ‘turn key’ condition and set up for cruising, we could go close to $20k; We’d be happy to buy a less well equipped boat (no dodger, no roller furling, maybe it needs a new stove) for less and equip it ourselves, but I don’t want an $7,500 fixer-upper. I know I’ll be looking at 30 year old boats, but I want one that’s been cared for.
So, if I can’t get one of those Bristol 29.9s, what’s the next best thing?
Is there something better?
Thanks in advance!
The P-31's Tim R. linked to are great values and good sailers. The 303's are a great value for the money and very roomy. I would not get too hung up on a "protected" prop, full keel etc. etc. This is Maine and the NE in the summer. Winds are most often light and fickle. A boat that moves well in light winds can be a huge plus. The idea that a full keel prevents wrapping pots can be a false sense of security. They can and do, catch pots.
We used to own a Cape Dory 27. Since moving to fins we have never looked back.
I would not personally own an encapsulated ballast boat on the rocky Maine coast. Why? Punch a hole and you're on the hard for months trying to properly dry it. Don't take the proper measures to dry it and it freezes and splits in the winter. Sure many unscrupulous yards patch them in a week but they are usually doing a grave disservice. I've seen this numerous times including on one of my customers boats. I once watched a West Sail still draining water from the keel after two months on the hard after hitting a ledge.. Water under pressure finds its way to places that take gravity a long while to dry out. I have no problem with external lead keels, which is the way they have been put on for centuries going back to the earliest wooden cruising yachts..
Most of the boats that ply this coast have external lead keels whether full or fin style. Many of them hit ledges and get repaired and dropped right back into the water. Cape Dory, Morris, Hinckley etc. etc. are all, for the most part, external bolted on lead on both full and fin keel models..
The vast majority of boats on the Maine coast are fin keel or modified fins. Many of these owners are former full keel owners like myself. Please understand that I am not saying "don't buy a full keel boat" I am just saying consider all the options and where and when you will be sailing most and what those actual conditions are 99.8% of the time..
I see lots of people buy "blue water" "full keel" cruisers who never leave the coast and spend a lot of time motoring rather than sailing. I won't kid you you will motor a LOT sailing Maine in the summer, its a reality. However, when the wind picks up, and you are antsy to sail, a boat that moves well in light winds can be a god send....
There are benefits to both types of boats but full keelers in that size range are usually quite small down below and there are boats that are perhaps better suited for coastal NE cruising that offer a lot of amenities...
All the production boats are built perfectly well for cruising the NE including Hunter, Catalina and Beneteau. I would not discount any of them in that price range... Other than a smalish cockpit I really like the Pearson 31's. The 303's are great too..
Above all else buy on CONDITION, not price.......
Here's a couple more:
(Scott Rocknak usually has some good quality listings)
Any post 1988 Catalina makes for a great North East coastal cruiser..
All these boats and more make great coastal NE cruisers... Also when searching include boats to 30k in your criteria. Many owners are willing to deal and an asking price of 30k may be a 20k buy in this market.
Keep in mind that many of the good boats are being snapped up quickly after Sandy hit. My buddy Kyle is a broker and said just last week that good clean boats are selling fast and he has a list of clients waiting for the "right boat".... If you do find a good clean boat I would not be a tire kicker or you're likely to lose it..
Just my .02...