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FrankLanger 12-27-2005 02:06 PM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
I am trying to decide between 4 similar boats for coastal cruising on the west coast (British Columbia): Ericson 35, Alhoha 32, Newport 33 and Catalina 30. All have the basic requirements we need in terms of size, amenities, general characteristics, etc. So I am looking for any additional information, advice, cautions based on your knowledge or experience, to help us narrow the choice a bit. Any comments helpful.

Jeff_H 12-28-2005 05:09 AM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
Ericson 35:
First of all there were several different Ericson 35''s. The earliest boats (1970''s)were reasonably well built and offered nice performance for their era. I raced on one of these back in the 1970''s in a wide range of conditions. Like most boats of that era they were at their best in 10 to 15 knots of wind but on an objective scale, were not all that great in lighter or heavier conditions. These were significantly slower boats than the later Ericson 35''s. They were also not as well built as the later boats. Of the boats on this list they tie with the Catalina 30 as the slowest on the list. The Mark I''s are 25-30 year old boats and as such, will need a lot of work if the previous owners have been deferring long term maintenance and upgrades. More work than one of these boats is worth.

When the Mark II showed up, it was an improved design with better build quality. Many of the changes were pretty subtle. Ericson pioneered the ''force grid'' which was a major breakthrough in engineering of lighter boats. It produced a boat that could be lighter and stiffer than a much heavier boat. Properly built, this structural innovation also meant a lot more durability and strength.

The refinements included a little less weight, a little more ballast, better hardware, a more efficient keel and rudder, and a larger sail plan. This resulted in a boat that was 30 seconds a mile faster and an all around better boat. The Mark II is actually my favorite of the three boats.

Then came the Mk III. Again there was a step up in build quality and performance. They were also substantially more expensive. These boats were ultimately built by Pacific Seacraft with an increase in weight and build quality but a decrease in performance.

Aloha 32:
These are very well built boats. They are quite roomy for a 32 footer. They are were comparatively light weight for a cruiser and probably have the most seakindly hull shape of all of the boats on your list. These boats were conceived as a cruiser where as the others on the list were conceived as racer/cruisers. In an absolute sense these boats offer similar performance to all but the newest Ericson 35.

In my mind, there is almost nothing wrong with these boats if you are looking for a cruiser. In my mind the main shortcoming of these boats is the hardware choices and placement (which varied over the production run of the boat). In a general sense the hardware is smaller, less adjustable, and higher friction than would be expected on a boat intended to be raced. This makes these boats physicially harder to sail. Like many cruisers the cockpit is a bit tight. Personally, I don''t find cockpits configured like the Aloha particularly comfortable under sail. Its harder to see the sails and so you end up sitting arms out and head craned to see the sails and what is happeing ahead. I believe that these boats have a veedrive. I am not a fan of Vee drive installations. They usually makes maintenance of all kinds a bit harder.

Newport 33:
These are hard boats for me to categorize. I believe that they were a Gary Mull design. They offered very good performance for their era. BUT they were pretty poorly executed. Except for the Catalina 30, these were the most poorly built of the boat on your list. (Although later versions were a little better built than earlier versions). If these were better built boats I would recommend these boats pretty highly, but frankly, as they are I would scratch them from your list.

Catalina 30:
First of all these boats were built for a very long time and in all kinds of variants. I know that there are people who really love these boats. I am not one of them. As much as I like the Catalina 27, the Cat 30 just do not appeal to me. The virtues of the 27 really did carry over into the 30 and the defects that can easily be overlooked in a 27 footer should not be overlooked on a 30 footer especially for your sailing venue. I would probably scratch these boats as well but I know that there are a huge number of people who would disagree with me on that as well.


Neicy 12-28-2005 06:04 AM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
So Jeff where were you 8 months ago when I was trying to get this type of info on this web about a Dufour 31. Every time I check out a subject you seem to have info up the gazoo! I posted several times in May and never got one single response. Is this a boat you don''t know about. I could really have used this type of information.

FrankLanger 12-28-2005 06:30 AM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
Jeff, thanks for your detailed reply. Since my first post, I have found an Ericson 35 Mark II, tall rig for sale. While it''s a 1970, it has recently had new standing rigging, new 27 h.p. Westerbeke diesel (480 hours), new plumbing, newer paint on deck/topsides, bottom paint/zincs, newer cushions, etc. A July 2005 survey had only two minor recommendations, both of which have been addressed. It seems to be in good shape, with most of the major items being replaced (sails were "serviced" by a local sail loft in summer, 2005--mainly stitching seams, I think--and the staff indicated the sails have 6 - 8 years left if used with care.
I love the look of the Ericson boats, and appreciate your comment about their quality. While I have chartered 33 and 34 foot boats, I am most accustomed to sailing my San Juan 23, so moving to a larger boat is a bit daunting. I frequently sail single-handed, so need to ensure that I will be able to manage this boat. But I recall feeling similarly intimidated when I moved from my previous smaller boat to the san juan 23, and yet that has worked out really well. Any other suggestions as I contemplate this move?
Thanks again for your helpful post.

sailortjk1 12-28-2005 10:30 AM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
If I may, I''d like to give you my opinion.
Last year we made approximatley the same move that you concidering.

I sailed a Cal 25 - II that my father purchased in ''78, I sailed the heck out of that little boat and truely enjoyed every minute of it.

Last year we moved up to a Beneteau 361.
It was quite a jump and I too was a bit apprehensive.

If the boat is set up properly, you can easily single hand her. I have auto pilot, furling main and furling genny. It''s actually a piece of cake. Simply find some open air, set the auto pilot, and unfurl the sails. Like I said, piece of cake.

I always make sure that I am wearing a teather line, especially when auto pilot is engaged and I am especially carefull while the engine is in gear.

Where I get a little concerned is docking and leaving the dock. That is one of the reasons that I prefeer a floating can/mooring. On and off the can is again a simple undertaking.

I would not worry. In a little time you''ll soon be sailing your new boat with the same ease and ability as your previous 23 footer.
Best of luck to you.
Sailor Tim

Jeff_H 12-28-2005 11:30 AM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats

I''m sorry that I missed your inquiry. I am going through a divorce and 8 months ago I was house sitting a home without a computer and so I did not have access to the internet except at the office. Since that time I have not been able to or have chosen not to spend as much time on the web as I used to.

I am somewhat familiar with several 31 foot Dufour models. I am not a big fan of Dufours of the 1970''s and 1980''s when the two most popular of the 31 foot models were in production. That said I like the late 1970''s early 1980 Dufour 31 a lot better than the earlier Arpege.

A couple quick points here: First of all, the rigs that were popular at the time that most of these boats were designed were less than ideally proportioned for single-handing. Similarly, these early fin keeled boat really tracked poorly and so required a lot of steering input. The deck layouts were such that you really could not get your hands on critical adjustments within easy reach of the helm (no less raise or lower or reef sails from the cockpit). This was only made worse on the wheel steered boats of that era.

The other thing is your comment regarding the sails. While they may still be ''white triangles'', 7 or 8 years is pretty much the useful lifespan of a lightly used genoa on a boat like this. So unless the sails are close to new you can expect to need new sails way sooner than that.


Neicy 12-28-2005 06:04 PM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
Thanks on the Dufour 31. Found very little info at the time. The boat is a 1977 Dufour 31 and I did end up with it. I think it is a very good solidly built boat. Everyone that has done any work on it makes comment it is in very good condition for a 77. For the price range it was better than many newer used boats I looked at. The only down side is that previous owners had done no upgrading of any kind. Old gate valves etc. Of course some work some people perform not doing anything is not always a bad thing.

FrankLanger 12-29-2005 09:52 AM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
Thanks all of you who posted. I came close to buying the 1970 Ericson 35, because it looked great in the pictures, the reviews were good, it had engine, standing rigging, most electronics replaced, recently painted professionally, etc. However, upon close questioning, the owner mentioned that the only one thing that he had not done was investigate/correct the "minor deck delamination" mentioned in the 1999 survey when he bought the boat. As there is too much hardware mounted on the foredeck, he decided he couldn''t find the leak, and has been "keeping any eye on it, but it isn''t at all spongy". Given that it has probably gotten alot worse over the past 6 years since then, I decided that despite the many positives, this is not the right boat for me at this time.
As a caution to others, the owner had had a survey done in July, 2005, which he kindly sent me, which did not mention the deck delamination. It was a survey done for insurance purposes, so less detailed than one that might be for a purchaser--therefore, don''t assume that all surveys are equal or comprehensive.
So my search for either an Ericson or Aloha 30 - 35 on the west coast (BC)continues. Fortunately, I''m not in a hurry, as I currently own a smaller boat, so I''ll wait until the right boat comes along.
Thanks for all your replies. This advice is very helpful.

Artwerke 12-30-2005 02:35 PM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats
I just purchased a 1970 Irwin 38 classic,seems pretty solid, several upgrades,new main & jib,smooth m-35 universal diesel,grunert cold plates, new
portlights,Anyone know any nasty suprises waiting for me? Thanks, Art

Johnrb 01-05-2006 06:16 PM

Request boat comparison information on 4 boats

Regarding the Aloha 32, you may want to contact this person for more detailed information. He has sailed his boat extensively aroung the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador plus a voyage to Greenland. His web site contains many interesting photos plus useful information.

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