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MedSailor 03-13-2014 06:07 PM

Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
My wife and I are in the market for a pilothouse, which shouldn't be a suprize to any PNW sailors ;). There are several makes/models that we are attracted to and one that seems non-traditional to me but certainly common enough is the Nauticat. We're looking at 1970-80s vintage natuicat 38s mainly which are the sparman/stephen's design that draft 6ft.

Any thoughts on these boats? Any known issues I should be aware of or look for? Thoughts on their sailing performance or offshore seaworthyness?

I'm not scared of big windows for our proposed route (milk run followed by circumnavigation of Australia) but I am looking at the wooden sliding doors with a little suspicion.


jackdale 03-13-2014 06:51 PM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
I have sailed a Nauticat 37 (sloop rigged). But not a 38.

I checked some pictures on yachtworld and there are some similarities.

The teak rails are nice and sturdy, but once past a beam reach I found that an outboard barber hauler was necessary to prevent chafe on the jib sheet.

The pilot house does result in a high centre of effort in the main which can lead to tenderness. The one sailed had a tall rig as well.

The hydraulic steering was a little tricky. You have to remember to transfer control.

Engine access was via the saloon floor. There were two layers to remove. The floors are secured well.

The workmanship was great.

tdw 03-13-2014 06:54 PM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
Some time back we had a NautiCat owner on board SailNet and they were in the main positive about their boat but I seem to remember two points.

1. The sliding doors posed an insurance issue for offshore use.

2. One of the owners found the motion unacceptable. Again from memory only but I seem to recall something about the height of the aft deck being the problem.

I dare say that era NC would be something of a motor sailor in light airs but for the coconut run should be fine though maybe sailing ability would be more of an issue once you are tromping around Australia and/or heading home.

As I said I'm going off my somewhat faulty memory from days past. User was maybe TrueBlue ? They havn't posted here for some years but do a search of that name and have a read.

Someone else has a Nauticat as well don't they ?

jackdale 03-13-2014 07:07 PM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
I will add stuff as it comes to mind.

The showers drain into the bilge - not wise in my opinion.

jrd22 03-13-2014 09:19 PM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
Nauticat's construction quality is top notch and the interior woodwork is absolutely beautiful. I've never sailed one but there have been a few in to the marina here and the owners tend to love them (the 38's, well, actually all of them). Like TD I recall an owner of a 38 that posted regularly here but can't remember the name, I'll do a search and see if I can find something.
There has been a NC 38 in a storage yard between the Sw. slough and Anacortes (south side of Hwy 20 just west of the topsoil place) for years, I keep looking at it wondering if it will ever see the water again.

edit: the owner I was trying to remember was "Christyleigh" and also as TD mentioned "TrueBlue".

tdw 03-13-2014 09:43 PM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?

Originally Posted by jackdale (Post 1623642)
I will add stuff as it comes to mind.

The showers drain into the bilge - not wise in my opinion.

erkk .... why oh why would anyone do this ? The smell is gonna get you.

My only other thought is that before we bought our current boat we did seriously consider a pilot house/deck saloon albeit not Nauticats themselves and one of the major reasons for not going PH was heat through those big windows. For the PNW I'd not argue and would almost certainly go PH but not for the tropics.

MedSailor 03-13-2014 11:12 PM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
Thanks for the thoughts so far. Keep 'em coming!

The tropics issue is one we're really batting around quite a bit. We are going to be here in the PNW for the next several years with little ones that will likely get cold, so the pilot house is good. Once in the tropics, it could be a liability for sure, but orginally we weren't planning on spending more than about 8-9 months in the south pacific. We are more interested in the Aussie part. But then again, the Kimberlies (NW australia) appeal greatly, as does that big reefy thing in the NW, and it's hot up there too. The cockpit is also not a great big place for entertaining which is something I assume people do in warmer places. ;)

I've experienced the swelter of the greenhouse effect of pilothouse (power) boats before, but I wonder if the huge skylight and the side doors would mitigate that?

We looked at a 43 and it looks like a whale to me. Only drafts 5 foot as well. I can't imagine it would sail at all. The 38 has a modified-fin /cruising keel with a skeg hung rudder and I think the one we're looking at is the tall rig. I wonder if that would sail any better? Any thoughts on the SA/displacement ratio on this one? I don't really know how to read those numbers and I don't know if they are adequately canvassed.

I am always told my Formosa won't sail, but we've sailed upwind into anchor twice (engine failures) in winds of 2-3 knots and she goes like a scalded cat when the wind picks up. She doesn't point for beans, but the rest is good. I wonder how the Nauti-38 would compare to my current boat's sailing ability....

Good thoughts on the motion. You are really up there in the pilot house, and REALLY up there in the cockpit...

tdw 03-14-2014 02:29 AM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
Kimberleys - stinking hot, same goes for Queensland (thats where the big reefy thing skulks) and all over the top end much the same. Further south while it gets hot in summer we have generally balmier conditions. You'll also be up there in what we laughingly call winter cos summer they have some mighty cyclones that i have on good authority can be a bugger to sail through. ;)

Killarney is a good man to talk to about the top end as he and his good lady wife sailed through there last year. Any advice he'd give you is well worth the taking.

Ref the cockpit and general comfort, I'd think you could make that aft deck a very comfortable place to hang when at anchor and decent awnings make all the difference when the sun is blazing down. You'd probably just need to make sure you had plenty of ventilation and a decent wind scoop for the forward hatch. Air Con is probably a waste of time as you'd not spend much time shore powered in the places you mention. Oh yes, and a decent grill cos you'll not want to do much cooking inside. Up north it can be very dry indeed but it rains it buckets down so you'll want those covers to allow you to live outside even when its raining. We have our girl set up so that even in the heaviest downpours the cockpit stays dry and most importantly remains ventilate.

I'm afraid I'll not be of much help re performance and SA/D ratios but that's why god gave us Jeff_H. :)

We have had btw a Canadian Roberts Spray Schooner hanging about Sydney Harbour of late and while I didn't get the opportunity to speak with them that thing looked designed for an Alaskan winter and they seemed happy enough. Maybe it is what you do with what you have is the key.

tdw 03-14-2014 02:35 AM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
I forgot about SailBoat Data ..... duh.

Your formosa has an SA/D of 13.59, the Nauticat 38 13.67. Not much difference it seems though.

NAUTICAT 38 sailboat specifications and details on

FORMOSA 41 sailboat specifications and details on

What a great site that is.

MedSailor 03-14-2014 10:10 AM

Re: Nauticat 38 for offshore sailing. Thoughts?
Thanks Fuzzy! Great insight. I guess another part of the equation is that the one we're looking at has air-con and a genset. Neither of which I would pay a dollar to add, and I don't really like air-con but then again, when I was in The Isa I did use it to cool down my flat before going to sleep. Sleeping in the hot is not my favorite. If it does take running the genset all day to mitigate the window issue, that would not please me but since the boat has it, I'm sure I'd fire it up from time to time.

I suppose I should have looked at the data before asking too many questions. Nice coincidence that the SA/D ratios are the same. Don't hardly need to know what the numbers mean now because they're the same for both boats.

I think I could be happy with most of the Nauticat issues and quirks, and while I'm not afraid of windows offshore, the big doors do still give me pause.... but then again, aren't nauticats common boats to be seen circumnavigating the downwind routes?


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