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  #1  
Old 06-14-2001
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Westsail 32 Cutter

I''m looking for information about the 1975 Westsail 32 cutter.

What is the reputation of this particular boat? How does it lend itself to coastal cruising? Is there a better alternative to this boat in a similar sized vessel? What types of things should I be aware of when looking at this boat? How roomy are the accomodations for two adults and two small children? What are it''s virtues as far as comfort under way and at anchor/dock? What are it''s main drawbacks?

I intended to do a search on the boat but I could not turn off the "Search in Topic only" button. Not a very usefull search IMHO.

Thanks much.
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  #2  
Old 06-14-2001
JeffH
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Westsail 32 Cutter

To answer your questions about the Westsail 32:

"What is the reputation of this particular boat?"

For a 32 footer these are big,heavy boats. They are considered a good boat in which to get caught in the ''ultimate storm'' but next to useless as a sailboat in the kind of lighter air sailing environment that exists on the east coast of the U.S. They have a lot of wetted surface and so require a lot of sail to keep them going and their wide shroud base and inefficient keels mean that they do not point well and are not especially good dead downwind. Their long waterline does let them do pretty well reaching in a breeze over 20 knots. The one I know best had a lot of weather helm and took a lot of strength to sail. Your not going to tell your 11 year old, just trim in the jib a little bit.

Many Westsails were bought as kits and were owner finished. As a result there are huge differences in stability (Lead ingots vs iron and concrete ballast) and layout, and finish quality and even structural stength. The one that I know best the when my friend bought her she was flexing a lot and actually had some hull cracking problems. It turned out that the bulkheads were not properly tabbed in and so the there was nothing resisting wracking except the heavy glass work of the hull.

His boat was laid out with only three bunks, two forward and a seaberth visible from the cockpit. I have seen an ad for one that said it slept something like 8 people and I had wonder where.

The original deck hardware on his boat was junk but when he was done the deck gear was really first rate which is to say that these boats will vary all over the place.


"How does it lend itself to coastal cruising?"
There are people who love these boats and will argue that they are suitable to go anywhere. In my mind they are useless as coastal cruisers unless your coast is something like the Columbia Bar. It really comes down to the venue that you are sailing in. Where I sail (the Chesapeake), the number of sailing days (vs motoring days) for a Westsail 32 might be a quarter of those for a more modern design. There has been a trend for people to buy heavy duty offshore cruisers for coastal work. I think that makes absolutely no sense at all.

"Is there a better alternative to this boat in a similar sized vessel?"

If you are thinking about coastal cruisers I would say that of course there are. Probably as a start I would suggest boats like the Tartans, Sabres, C&C''s, Alsberg Express''s, and perhaps the cruising series of J-boats of perhaps 80% of the displacement (but longer length) on the Westsail 32 would be a set of reasonable quality choices. There are older or perhaps lower quality less expensive choices as well.

What types of things should I be aware of
when looking at this boat?
First of all whether it was factory built. The factory built boats had a pretty consistent quality vs the home built boats that varied all over the place. Second a lot of these boats have seen hard duty. Rigging may be at the end of its lifespan. My friend replaced the chainplates which had become brittle with time and also had to repair the hull where the bolt holes had wallowed out. There is also the choice of ballast issue. Mostly watch out for the usual problems of an older boat.

How roomy are the accomodations for two adults and two small children?
There is a lot of volume for a 32 footer yet, depending on the layout, I think of these as being a better boat for a single-hander or a couple than for a family. The ones I have seen seem dark and cramped but that may have only been the layouts on the boats that I have been aboard.


What are it''s virtues as far as comfort under way and at anchor/dock?
I found that they had a slow motion which is good but they really rolled a lot in a seaway which is a motion that I especially find uncomfortable. They are renoun for thier slow rolling which traditionally is considered to be seakindly. Of course this will vary with ballasting. They don''t seem to feel the small stuff that might be annoying when at anchor or tied to dock if you are in an older style light weight boat.

What are it''s main drawbacks?
These were boats built for a purpose. They have certainly achieved a cult status for the kind of heavy duty distance cruising that many people aspire to. In my opinion they are terrible for the kind of daysailing, weekending and even week or two long cruises that many, if not most, of us actually do.

Their slow speed means a small cruising radius for the shorter sails. If you enjoy the feel sail and finessing speed or comfort out of a boat, the lack the kind of feel or responsiveness that is a key element in enjoying sailing in my book.

Today the Westsail is a bit of an anachronism. We know so much more about what it takes to "go out there" than we did when Atkins designed the ''Eric'' (the design that the Westsail is based on) in the 1920''s. Today we know that in all of the studies of the major disasters that length has proved to be much more critical than displacement. We know that weight distribution and hull shape controls comfort at sea more than sheer avoirdupois, and we know that strength can be achieved through proper engineering rather than simply piling on more weight.

For most people, buying a Westsail 32 is like buying a light tank (or perhaps a Humvee) just to go to the supermarket around the corner.

(I am prepared to be blasted here because these boats have been so diefied over the years)

Respectfully
Jeff
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Old 06-14-2001
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Westsail 32 Cutter

Thanks Jeff for your well thought out input. The boat in question did catch my eye as it looks quite pretty on the water. The fact that the inside is on the dark side does put me off a bit. To say nothing of it''s lack of responsiveness due to it''s heavy displacement.

I do need a boat that a couple of young kids (now 5 and 2 years of age) would:
a) feel secure and comfortable on, and,
b) would find sufficient room to move about and entertain themselves without constantly knocking into eachother and fighting for space.

I am coming to the somewhat predictable conclusion that my original thoughts about the Hunter/Catalina sailboats of 30 to 35 foot size are really the best choice for the kind of sailing we do and are likely to continue doing while the kids are under 10 or so. That is basically the coastal weekend and occasional week long journeys you described. We too plan on plying the waters of the Chesapeak. To that end, the newest models of the Hunter and Catalinas are obviously the most attractive and roomy but they are more then I''d like to pay at this time. The older models (prior to mid 90''s) seem rather well used, or I''ve been unlucky and have not found the well cared for boat. On the other hand, newer boats (post mid 90''s) are still on the pricey side.

I''m hoping you will read my other post on Renting (Chartering) vs. Owning and respond to it. If not, perhaps you can address that in this thread.
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Old 06-14-2001
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Westsail 32 Cutter

Quicksilver:

Jeff always does a nice, thoughtful job answer queries like yours, as you can see. I''d throw in a couple of add''l thoughts...
1. Think displacement vs. length, both in choosing a boat & and also when considering price. It''s just one measure of what you should be looking for (and getting for your $) but it''s a useful exercise. E.g., I''m cruising a 42'' Ketch in the Caribbean right now (well, when I''m there...) and it happens to be about the same displacement as the Westsail 32. Do you need my 42 footer? By asking yourself ''Do I need 21,000# of boat, all loaded up?'' you''re doing about the same. OTOH after 2 rainy days during a vacation cruise, when the kids are climbing the bulkeads, you might say "YES!"
2. Ask yourself whether you are purchasing a boat to ''sail'' OR purchasing a boat with which to begin climbing the ladder that leads to becoming a cruising sailor or ''seaman''. To the extent that time constraints, the demands of a family, building a career, improving the house, etc. are your priorities, then buying ''older but bigger'' is just not the choice you mean to make. (In my definition, a W32 if both ''older'' and ''bigger'').
3. It''s hard to believe it as you wander around boatyards (IMO "the" best place to begin boat shopping, not the broker''s office) that there are creampuffs out there among the older boats, but there are. They are often behind folks'' homes in waterfront communities, tenderly cared for by owners that finally grow old and need to move down, to a power boat, or out of boating altogether. (Why are they old? We were talking about waterfront communities, right...?) These are the boats you''re looking for. They''re also the ones everyone else wants...so as in all other endeavors, you have to work a little harder and be a little more innovative to find what you''re after. That means networking with work/church/community friends who know someone who... and things like that. Brokers might have a few, too - but they talk to a lot of people, so the creampuffs are harder to find thru them.

How about a Tartan 34 (just a tad more than 50% of the W32, displacement-wise)? Or an Endeavour 32 (the centerboard model)? These kinds of boats, despite being built somewhat inexpensively, came before the iron ballast and all-liner interiors of a Catalina or Hunter and, if kept up, are worthy of consideration.

Jack
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  #5  
Old 06-14-2001
JeffH
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Westsail 32 Cutter

I really think that Jack''s point about the older 1970''s era keel/centerboard model Tartan 34''s is exactly right. These were very good boats for the Chesapeake. They have their faults but they can be bought pretty reasonably and they were pretty well built. There are enough of them around in restored shape that you should be able to find one in ''ready to go'' condition for the kind of price that you are considering. They are big and solid enough to handle a spot of bad weather and small enough to be reasonably cost effective to maintain.

If you must look at mass produced boats from the early 1990''s I would strongly to include Beneteau''s in with your list of Hunters and Catalina''s.

Jeff
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Old 06-15-2001
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Westsail 32 Cutter

Well. I think you''ve talked me out of the Westsail idea. It does not sound like a boat that is well suited for our needs. Space is really very near the top of our requirements.

I will start educating myself about the Tartan 34. Are there particular years of manufacture that are more/less desireable than others?

So many boats, so little time.....

Thanks again guys.
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Old 10-18-2001
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Westsail 32 Cutter

checkout the westsail site at
http://www.westsail.com/

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