I understand the potential issue with the low boom, but would certainly appreciate more info on the "truly filthy habits" and "squirrely" handling. I am leaning towards a Hobie 16 at the moment - provided the three that are for sale in the area don't turn into pumpkins before I can grab one. However, if it takes half the time to rig the Bucc18 as compared to, say, a Hobie 16 or a Prindle 16 - that would be something I would consider, depending on the degree of filthiness and squirreliness. By the way - how is that not a contradiction with being "dead simple to rig and sail"?
I looked at a couple of lightnings, and the Buccaneer looks faster - not that it means anything in particular. More importantly, it seems that the lightning is truly a two person boat while Bucc18 might actually fit like 3 kids plus myself - as long as I don't try to set any records.
The Bucc is simple to rig and sail because it only has two generally used control lines -- mainsheet and jib sheet. Compare to the Lightning, which can have up to fifteen. Buccs often have vangs, too, and these are sometimes employed -- tho the mid-boom sheeting gives you much the same effect since it attaches within a foot of the vang bail. The mainsail's large roach & bendy spars make controlling sail twist off the wind a futile exercise, anyhow.
So it's easy
to sail because it only has two meaningful lines; it's a bastard
to sail because absolute lack of form or directional stability, total reliance on crew ballast & placement, lack of sail-shaping and depowering options, and unbalanced sailplan mean you are constantly seeking an equilibrium state, but never getting there. It's not a boat that ever really settles down and hauls booty.
Truly filthy habits: perfectly round bilges mean the boat goes from flat to 45* and back with the least puff; it has the form stability of a wine barrel.
At 45* heel, if you can keep it from rounding all the way up, the foils stall, the boat stops going forward & starts crabbing sideways; then it flops down, takes off like a greyhound, heels hard, stalls... lather, rinse, repeat. The centerboard itself is pretty decent, but the trunk typically has enuf slop in it the board twists off and stalls.
You cannot let go of the tiller for an instant, because the boat has no inbuilt directional stability & comes with a hefty dose of weather helm. If you are the only adult and need to be pulling both sets of sheets, you better be clever at steering with your buttocks. When the big mainsail comes over in a jibe, the Bucc tends to broach violently unless the crew sorta "reverse-roll-tacks" it and the helm countersteers like a demon. While the cockpit is large, so is the centerboard trunk, and the converging angles of vang and mainsheet make getting the crew across in tacks somewhat difficult; they have to dive thru a small slot between tackles. And since only crew weight on the rail keeps the boat from tanking in anything over 12kts, they better get over and hiking before the main powers up on the new tack, or you will be swimming. So the Bucc's large cockpit is deception -- you really can't sail it hard with more than one crew, anyhow. It's a two-up club or one-design racer.
The Flying Scot & Lightning are within a whit of the Bucc18 in racing handicap (ie, speed). The Scot is every bit as comfortable, even more roomy, and infinitely more forgiving in strong or puffy winds. Better boat to learn on, for sure. You can relax a little & let the boat take care of you. Think of it as a well-behaved but still energetic gelding. The Bucc is more like a uncut llama.
The Lightning easily carries three adults -- that is its standard racing complement, BTW. Its cockpit is less zaftig than the Bucc or FS, but it ain't a total pain box like the Thistle. But the best part about the Lightning is its versatility: two or three racers can sail the hell out of it, milking the many sail shaping controls for every last ounce of speed. Or you can depower the rig, put away the spaghetti of fine-tuning controls, and just sail it stupid with the whole clan lounging in the corners: it's a stable, reassuring, stiff, straight-tracking family daysailer. I've spent many hours in both the Lightning and the Bucc18, & there's no comparison for manners. The Lightning is as fast as the Bucc, but ever so much kinder in winds over 10kts. Trouble will be finding one in good shape for the same price as Buccaneers, which are dirt cheap & have almost no wood to rot.
Now for a disclaimer: I sail on mountain lakes above 7000'. That tends to magnify any boat's poor habits. There is
an active fleet in Denver, where the winds aren't much nicer; tellingly, the best Bucc sailors in the country come out of there. If you can manage this boat in harsh winds, yer gonna steamroll the lowland competition. But even my high thresholds for attitude and excitement have been sorely tested by the Bucc. We haven't sailed it for two years, because the SJ21 is just so much less stressful. Who wants to spend the whole day fighting your ride? Gonna break Grainnia
out next week, tho -- see if I remember how to sail a llama.