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post #11 of 17 Old 01-10-2005 Thread Starter
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WESTSAIL 32 and similar

Thanks all for the replies, special thanks to Jeff & Jon yours were particularly helpful and objective.

I think I am a bit nostalgic about the Westsail because of so many web sites I have read that were linked from the original I stumbled upon. These people really appear to enjoy their boats.


I think you are correct that most people do like their choice of boat and justify it however possible. Heck, I justified owning a Pinto once and there are not too many IHATEMYBOAT.com web sites out there. Actually the URL is available I checked.

Surprisingly, no one made any suggestions on an actual boat or brand. I originally wanted to stay away from ‘production’ boats but now I am thinking of a coastal cruiser that will hold its value so I can learn on it and see if it is the life style we want. I will probably charter a few times after the 101-104 course and have a captain along the first few times. Chartering seems to be a way to test a few boats and get it right. 35 ft is about the max I need.

Crewing may be an option but it is probably difficult to find someone who wants a husband & wife team that has almost no sailing experience. Being gainfully unemployed I may hang around yacht clubs and offer help as crew on day sailing excursions.
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post #12 of 17 Old 01-11-2005
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WESTSAIL 32 and similar

Hi wanna_sail

No one made suggestions because you did not ask.

Bavaria 32

This is one of the boats that I think it would be a good boat to learn and to cruise comfortably in coastal waters.

It is inexpensive, easy, a lot of boat for the money, is fun to sail have good resale value and have an unusual lot of storage space, for a small boat.

It was nominated in 2003 one of the 10 best by Sailmagazine.

You can read the test:


You can have a look at the interior space here:


And it is a nice looking boat (my opinion).


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post #13 of 17 Old 01-11-2005
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As I have said before in this forum, there is no substitute for learning to sail in dinghys first. HOWEVER, for those who insist on ignoring my sage advice, there are zero cost options on keelboats. (wanna_sail had written, "Crewing may be an option but it is probably difficult to find someone who wants a husband & wife team that has almost no sailing experience.") Not the case, if you are willing to entertain the thought of RACING. (RACE? - but I can hardly sail!!) That''s OK, since in a race, for efficiency, all the jobs are divided up among a large crew; you just have to learn one job at a time. (Don''t worry, you will not be assigned to the foredeck right away!) Go to your local marina and find out what night(s) they do their "beer can" races. These are more casual, usually w/o spinnaker, races. As you walk among the boats preparing for the race you will see some boats with the crew all in matching livery; keep walking. You will soon come upon a skipper with a more motley crew and an imploring look, "Do you guys know how to sail?" (Don''t worry, all he will insist upon is a pulse.) The one question you should ask him is, "Are you a yeller?" (Its no fun to be yelled at and no way to learn.) Have your own PFDs (with a personal strobe attached if it is an evening race), foul weather gear, and proper non-marring shoes. He will provide the food and beer. Many cruising types scorn the "around-the-buoys" crowd. I think this is a big mistake. Racing is not only about wringing every last tenth of a knot out of a boat. It is also about boat-handling, which every cruiser should care very much about. And a racing venue lets you focus on one sub-set of sailing skills at a time. You will be a mainsheet trimmer one night and perhaps a genoa trimmer the next, then eventually you may be asked to helm the boat. It builds your sailing skills, costs you nothing, gets you exposed to many different boat designs, and increases your circle of sailing friends. What''s not to like?

Owen McCall
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post #14 of 17 Old 01-11-2005
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As an owner of a Westsail 32 I have to say while his ''pedigree'' is essentially correct the rest of Jeff_H''s (cut/paste) assessment of a Westsail (still) contains quite a few inaccuracies.

I know I''m going ''against the grain'' here. I do respect Jeff_H''s views but I also have come to temper his objectiveness with the view he''s more inclined to favor the more modern production boats. Everyone has their own reasons for liking particular boats. Our likes/dislikes, wants/needs just happen to differ

One thing he says is definately correct... it''s interesting Westsail owners love their boats while those that have seemingly never been on one or sailed one seem to consistently deride them. Personally I think it''s jealousy

They do have their umm.. ''pecularities'' but what boat doesn''t? Just depends on what compromises you''re willing to accomodate.

But to put the ''major'' complaints to bed:

They are not (necessarily) as slow as non-owners make them out to be. And they are certainly not ''dogs''. Dave King won the 1988 West Marine Pacific Cup race in his WS32 Saraband. They sail just fine in 8-10 kn winds. I achieve hull speed (a bit over 6 kn) in 10-15 kn winds easily.

I say ''necessarily'' as a proper sail plan with proper shaped sails is the key. I suspect this ''conventional wisdom'' came from long ago on boats with the original sails/plan. Advances have been developed over the years as to what a Westsail should carry. The ''guru'' of Westsails is Kern Ferguson (Kerns Sails). He is inarguably the best loft around for Westsail sails. His sails achieve a proper balance with excellent performance characteristics.

I will say I am probably the furthest from a performance/''racer mentality'' as one might get and I did not buy my Westsail to get somewhere fast anyway. Jeff-H makes a good point that in the long run performance/speed can affect the amount of stores, carrying capacity required but due to its roominess I''m able to store so much of everything it''s simply not an issue. I make ''landfall'' at my choice, not by necessity.

They aren''t hard to sail. I don''t have the excessive weatherhelm everyone seems to think is ''inherent'' in a Westsail (again, sail plan/shape/trim is the key). I singlehand mine all the time and I''m no expert or athelete by any means. Yes, they can be tricky to back up but what ''double ender'' isn''t? But I don''t find it a problem... I maneuver in tight marinas all the time. Just keep things slow and purposefull as you would any ''large'', heavy boat and you''re fine..

They aren''t ''miserable boats'' by a long shot. Albeit a bit wet overall I find it quite a comfortable sailing vessel. And living aboard is a pleasure... so much room below.

They aren''t any more expensive to own/maintain than any other 32'' boat (how/why should they be?). One caveat: It is said a Westsail is a wood boat with a glass hull. There will inevitably be more ''brightwork'' type maintenance than say a Pearson, Hunter, and other ''clorox bottle'' production boats of that genre.

I won''t say all, but I submit the vast majority of Westsail kit boats were put together by people that took care & pride in their work. I''ve seen some Westsails that blew away factory boats (I have a factory built boat). And factory built boats are known for their build quality. Bottom line it''s all in the survey anyway, factory or kit.

According to the ex-GM of Westsail, there were *very* few Westsail kits sold without ballast. Until about ''73 the ballast was iron punchings/concrete with lead/lead shot as an option. After 73''ish the iron/concrete was abandoned with lead/lead shot standard with 3 piece lead blocks the option. In any case the ballast was fully encapsulated in resin so unless there is significant damage even steel/concrete whould not be a problem. To make a point, what ballast material are current production boats predominently using these days?

They aren''t any more expensive to operate/maintain than any other similarly sized boat. Why/how would it be? What''s ''unique'' to a WS deck H/W, rigging etc. that makes it more expensive? Why would it require ''the sail inventory of a much larger boat''? I will say (thanks to its beam) it''s been said a WS32 is a ''40'' boat with a 32'' hull. And I really feel like I DO get to enjoy the cabin space/storage of a 40'' (while maintaining a 32 footer). And as far as marinas charging for the bowspit most I''ve run into (that require anything extra at all) just add a bit of a premium (not charging as if it were a 40 footer). I store my 10'' Zodiac just forward of the mast just like on lots of other boats (I''d store it aft if I dind''t have a propane locker/dodger in the way).

To be fair, as an owner, what do I NOT like about the Westsail? I wish it had a cockpit coaming. I wish it had a modified full keel. That''s about the only ''complaints'' I cna think of.

All that aside it is definately easy to get caught up in the classic lines & ''romance'' of a Westsail. The BEST advice I''ve seen put forward so far is ''Buy a boat for the use at hand rather than a possible future expedition''.

If despite the naysayers and you are still drawn to a Westsail drop by:


and talk to some owners.

An (obviously biased) Westsail 32 Owner
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post #15 of 17 Old 02-11-2005
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WESTSAIL 32 and similar

I fully agree with the WestSail owner about some of the cut and paste assessments. I guess I have to get the mallet out.

Failure to mention lead for ballast. Biased info based on lack of knowledge? Or just biased info? There''s a huge diffence in motion, moment and stability between iron/concrete and lead. Lead is usually better.

Motion/roll studies? The Navy''s were probably done on ships and not 32'' boats. It''s humorous to even compare studies of one to the other. I worked on ships and sailed 1000s of miles in 30''ish size sailboats. Short motion on a ship means you can walk the deck without grabbing the rails. Long motion means you can''t walk without grabbing a rail. Short motion on a 32'' sailboat means you can''t be comfortable because it whips you too fast. Bunk boards and pillows needed to keep the body from moving so you can sleep. Wide easy motion means you rest without them...Westsails yes, modern go fasts no. There''s more but you should get my drift.

If anyone is of the go fast mentality then a WS isn''t the boat for them. It''s a 32'' boat with 18k lb displacement. If you want to race a 32'' boat get 6k displacement fin keel rig. If you want 18k lbs in a fast boat buy a 40''r.

I could go on with more examples but won''t...just don''t rely to heavily on what any single person posts on boats no matter how well read they seem to be.

Also keep in mind that WestSails have proven themselves capable and seaworthy by many circumnavigations for about three decades. You will be hard pressed to find WS owners unhappy with their boats.

Good luck.
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post #16 of 17 Old 02-13-2005
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I was struck by how this thread shows some of the traps we all face when sharing boat opinions on these BB''s. First, wouldn''t it be nice if the software had some kind of Google-like linking capability that tied this kind of query to all the other, similar threads. E.g. Steve''s question comes up about once a quarter here, I notice - no doubt because a) Westsail''s are recognized as ''real cruising boats'' and because they are cheap (on a $/# basis). It''s a shame we have to reinvent the wheel each time - I know I''m tiring of offering the same points, over and over.

But the bigger trap is that the original post is stated in a way - and we tend to react to it in a way - that makes it less productive to the poster than it could be. E.g. let''s assume for a moment that Steve posted the following query when beginning this thread:

"I''m pretty new to sailing and I have never owned a boat before. My wife will be less experienced [presumably] than I am. I''m looking for my first boat, which I plan to sail locally for an unspecified period. I may want to take it cruising - perhaps even cross oceans in it - or I may not. One boat I''m considering is 42 LOA, will weigh 10 tons when I''m daysailing it (11+ tons, loaded out), and is 25+ years old. My goal is to build my skills by using the boat to learn about sailing, to enjoy ourselves, and possibly prepare for cruising. What do you think of my plan?"

My hunch is that readers, seeing that, would surface a lot of relevant topics for Steve to consider: slip fees, the cost of a larger boat for a new owner (not always apparent to newcomers), the inherent costs in an older boat with older systems, questions about how diverse & deep his electrical/mechanical/rigging skills are, the wisdom of trying to pick a boat suitable for ultimate cruising challenges yet find it satisfactory as a learning & weekending boat, and so forth. I''m betting some questions would also naturally surface about where he''s located, since that will inevitably shape how suitable a given boat will be for him.

Those topics are probably where Steve could better use our help. But instead, he - and we - fall into the trap of zeroing in on a Westsail 32 and orbiting most of the discussion around it.

Steve, I''d encourage you to look at the issues I''ve listed above. As for the W32 specifically, dig into the archives (here and elsewhere) and you''ll find lots of add''l info, pro and con. And please keep in mind that the W32 comments you hear here are offered as tho'' we are talking about one fixed entity, meaning every W32 will have the same features and characteristics. That is mostly true of e.g. a Catalina 30 but it''s surely not true of W32''s. I personally have spent extended periods of W32s that are 10, 12 and 16 tons in displacement, I''ve seen ''opposing settee'' and ''dinette'' layouts, even been on some that have pilothouses and fully enclosed cockpits, see many with stand-up chart tables but others with sit-down chart tables, found double berths forward in some that others don''t have, and then there are the normal wide variances in material condition, equipment, and how old or new the electronics, engine and sails are.

Boats are deceivingly complex and older boats have many hidden secrets. You would maximize your sailing (and your sail learning) while reducing your repair and maintenance workload, if you sought out a 5-6 ton, 1990''s sloop that had been sold in large numbers and was fun to sail, and the two of you build your skill sets by weekending it, participating in the summer beer can races, and meanwhile forming your own views (rather than listening to ours) about what your cruising boat should be...if you end up even wanting one.

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post #17 of 17 Old 02-16-2005
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Many of the posts have made some good points, others are so far off they have no basis in reality. I''m the first to admit that a W/32 isn''t the right boat for everyone, no boat is. When someone talks about buying a Westsail I ask what their plans are. If it''s weekends, vacation, and a possible trip to Mexico, I reccomend something like a Catalina 36. Although the last two peoiple bought Westsails anyway. Westsails are for long distance voyaging. If I had a nickle for everyone who said they were going crusing, I truly would be rich as most people never make it. Most of the kit boats are more than average quality, some are extraodinary. I''ve seen two that were better than any professionially built yacht. Some of the interiors are dark some are light, find the one you like. We spend our summers in 100 deg.+ heat, ventilation isn''t a problem. Our boat is anything but tender and that''s the first time I''ve heard that one. In some conditons they are more prone to rolling than a modern hull, but easy to deal with if you know what you''re doing. You do pay a penilty for the bowsprit in most marinas and they are not fun to out on in rough conditions, but a Profurl took care of that. I can''t remember how many times owners of 35-40 ft. boats have commented on how much more storage and carrying capacity we had then them. This has always been a strong point for the 32. Now as for the "Clawing off a lee shore". This fable is from the days before GPS and should rarely be a problem with modern navigation. We sail the Pacific coast which is usually rough and can be tricky. The one time we boxed ourselves in, pre GPS, the boat got us out of trouble without a problem.
Speed, this is the one you hear most. No they are not going to win beer can races, they were''nt suppose to, they were built to cross oceans. One Cal passing a 32 doesn''t tell us anything. Our club is full of Cal 25''s and I''ve probabbly passed most of them. I''m also not saying there isn''t light wind conditions that a Cal wouldn''t pass me in. I''ve passed countless boats and it doesn''t mean I''m faster. Friends on a Hunter 32 and a Catilina 30 left Monterey 1/2 Hr. before us. We caught and passed them before getting to Moss Landing in 8-10 knots. We followed a friend down the coast on her Islander 36. She couldn''t believe a Westsail stayed right on her stern the whole way. By the way, she''s still an active racer who once was on the olynpic team. In the 2003 puddle Jump there were 23 boats. the average length except for the two Westsails was 45.7 and the crossing 23 days. One Westsail, singlehanded crossed in 22 days and the other in 28 days. I''m not claiming the boats are fast, just not the slugs some people claim they are and when doing what they were designed to do, can more than hold their own. I''m also not saying Westsails are for everyone, because most people are only dreaming snd aren''t going anywhere. But if you really want a bullet proof long distance crusing under 35'', a Westsail is hard to beat. For 32'' they''re exceptionally strong, carry a payload that rivils many 35-40 footers, have a good turn of speed and a really clean one can be found for less than 50K. Westsail do have their short falls, but for a true voyaging boat under 35'' the''re one of the best, if not, at least the best buy.

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