Having now spent some time with my new (to me!) Pearson 36-2, I thought it might be useful to post some opinions for prospective buyers. There doesn't appear to be a thread dedicated to this boat, so perhaps this can be a starting point.
I've been living aboard for a couple of months now, and been out on the water a bit, but being winter, not as much as I'd like.... but isn't that always the case! I've got hull number 30 (so one of the earlier ones I think) - built in 1985. I think the biggest plus points are
1/ the incredibly roomy interior
2/ fast and comfortable to sail
Perfect liveaboard for two - and in fact we actually have family over at the moment and whilst it is a little tight, we are managing with 5 aboard without too much trouble.
Build quality is good, definitely in the class of "coastal" rather than "offshore", but on the tough side rather than flimsy side. The whole interior and structure revolves around the hull itself and the liner, which is bonded to the hull in a number of places. There are some bulkheads, but they are only screwed into the liner and don't appear to add anything structurally - I've not had the boat offshore in any tough swell yet to assess flexing / stiffness of this structure, but everything certainly looks well put together anyway. I bought the boat with a view to heading west across the Pacific after some time fitting out, so I wanted something that was fast (which it is), strong (which it appears to be) and roomy (which it definitely is).
Very beamy - at 12'6" ... which gives lots of room below and lots of room on deck, but does contribute to perhaps a lower "seaworthiness" score - my preference is for a faster boat to avoid the worst of the weather however, rather than a "solid, slow and deal with whatever comes" approach, which is why this compromise is OK for me.
I've a 100% genoa up front, which gives a very balanced helm. It's pretty windy here in SF during the summer sailing season, but when I get a new jib it's going to be a little larger. She's very easy to sail. Not ideal for single handing though since the mainsheet track is forward of the main hatch, and the sheet is taken back to a winch on the coachroof which is well forward of the helm. Similarly the primary winches for jib sheets are not in reach of the helm - but she steers herself so well that you can easily leave the helm for a while to go forwards - particularly with the wheel lock on the Edson binnacle.
With a full main and jib, I sail here in SF bay in up to about 20 knots before needing to reef (in flat water - on a longer passage offshore I'd reef earlier to keep things comfy), and she also ghosts along nicely when it's very light wind. With the limited mileage I've done in her, I'm very pleased so far (my previous boat was a Catalina 27 in which I've covered thousands of miles, coastal and offshore). The Pearson 36-2 is definitely an excellent day / coastal choice, I can't yet comment on how she handles big seas, short chop, heaving to, rolling at anchorages with swell and all the other things that go along with a longer cruise. My main sail is still the original and now very, very baggy, so I can't really comment on windward performance. Not bad so far but definitely not as good as it should be.
Speaking of anchoring, the bow roller is a little pathetic; a small nylon roller on an aluminum extension. This is definitely going to be replaced with a beefier arrangement, along with a windlass which I'll probably mount inside the anchor locker. There's a locker forward of the v berth which will serve nicely as a chain locker. It would be nice to get the chain further aft, and lower, but the under-berth water tank takes up 100% of that space.
I'd love to see some pics / get some advice from anyone that's done this.
Access to the engine is good (though the oil dipstick is on the starboard - less inaccessible - side). I've a self-feathering prop, which I think is a little undersized. In flat water at about 2,500 revs we make 4 to 5 knots. I've not worked out any fuel economies yet. 22 gallon tank under the cockpit is good. Manoeuvrability under power is excellent, forward and reverse.
Water tankage is good - 100 gallons between two tanks; one under the v berth and one under the aft berth - I think the forward one is a fair bit bigger. The boat sits down at the nose by about 2 inches when only the forward tank is full. Water heater is excellent - running off 110v mains it heats in 15 minutes, and also plumbed into the engine. We're running the fridge 24/7 which also works well; but it looks like the compressor on mine is either an aftermarket or replacement since it's been fitted poorly with a clumsy bulkhead cutout.
I've replaced all the electronics, and just fitted a below-decks Raymarine Evolution autopilot with a type 1 drive; there's a LOAD of space in the transom, aft of a huge cockpit locker. Fitting this, along with a completely new instrument system, was pretty straightforward (I'll post pics on the forum soon).
All the wiring is between the hull and the liner, which makes it almost completely inaccessible .... but I think this is likely to be the case with many newer boats. When re-wiring (and running the new network including autohelm) - make sure you pull the new wires with the old ones! Fortunately the masthead messenger line was still in place (just!) which enabled me to pull two new wires for masthead lights and instruments without too much trouble. There are still a couple of messenger lines intended for running new wires around the inside of the boat, but after 25-odd years I'm not sure how strong they still are and there are some tight corners to get around.
Galley is good for in port, but needs some work for offshore cooking. Biggest drawback is lack of anywhere to prop pans / mugs etc while heeled. We've fitted a large shelf above the counter with deep fiddles which has increased the storage from "ok" to "loads". Seating in the saloon will take 8 or 9 people at a push if you're entertaining.
Below waterline through-hulls are all bronze, well labelled and strong (head intake, engine intake, galley sink drain, heads sink drain). All have double pipe clips that show no signs of corrosion, and judging from the rest of the way this boat is; I believe these to be original manufacturer fittings - good stuff. Above waterline, they are plastic and not very strong (deck drains, cockpit drains, bilge pump, shower pump).
Engine exhaust system has been designed properly with vented loops and routing to prevent swamping of the engine in a large following sea.
Lifeline stanchions are mounted on small, fibreglass backing plates. One (above the chart table) has lost it's seal and there's some deck core rot there. I'll be fixing that and adding larger backing plates (as well as better core) under all the other stanchions.
Shroud chainplates are huge and solid. Bother outer, inner and lower shrouds are taken to the same point (rather than having forward and aft lower shourds). This point is inboard of full beam - I was originally a little sceptical of this but having seen quite a few other well built boats with this design it seems fairly common. There's a baby stay taken down to a point on the deck about 3ft forward of the mast which is tied down to the keel with a stainless rod. The mast is keep stepped, with a deck tie-down bolted through just fwd of the deck hole, and bolted to the mast inside. The forward bulkhead is around here, and I would like to have seen this bulkhead being structural - ie fully glassed in, and made of tougher ply - but it's only screwed to a rib in the liner.
I'd like to mount a strong deck point for a storm jib, perhaps at the aft end of the anchor locker to work with some of that structural strength - has anyone done this on a P36-2?
Cockpit locker under the port seat is cavernous. To make best use of this space I've added a large shelf for all the usual gubbins you need to store, and will be storing a liferaft and dinghy in here too (have read too many stories of deck mounted canister liferafts failing, having been baked in the sun for months on end!). The space aft of the bulkhead at the rear of this locker (shared by the rear of the cockpit and the rear of the aft cabin) is empty and pretty inaccessible - to starboard is a deck accessed propane tank - I may cut an access hatch in the aft end of the cabin. Cockpit itself is large and comfortable. Definitely designed for day sailing and enjoying the sunshine rather than hunkering down on a colder, rougher trip however. Could take six people without any problem for a day.
All in all, my expectations of a good "base boat" to fit out for longer passages and cruising have been met - mine was still in pretty much new condition (with only 400 hours on the engine!) - lots of things still on the todo list, but two thumbs up so far.
'85 Pearson 36-2, Sausalito, CA
1972 Jaguar 27, Plymouth, UK - 30% share for sale!