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jte1343 12-05-2006 02:39 PM

cheoy lee 31 offshore
hi, i am currently looking at a cheoy lee 31 offshore ketch. she is a project boat i am wanting to possibly tackle. i was wondering if anyone has any experience sailing these boats, looking at them on the water, or just have any background information on them. how do they handle in lighter winds, heavier winds, and how strongly built are they? i know boats of the late 60's era are built thick. the boat is just over 11,000 displacement with more than 4000 ballast. 4 ft draft and a narrow 8' 10" beam. any comments, suggestions, pros/cons would be appreciated. also were blisters a concern with this era of cheoy lees? thanks in advance.

btrayfors 12-05-2006 03:05 PM

Suggest you check out the Cheoy Lee Owners Association website:

Lots of good stuff there, including restoration.

I've owned a Cheoy Lee-built boat for the past 17 years, have visited the factory site a few times, and have followed Cheoy Lee's boats since I saw the first one in 1965...a Rhodes Reliant 41.

As I recall, the Offshore 31 sailed fairly well, but was certainly no speed demon.

I'd say that restoration is a BIG project, no matter what. The hulls are very well built, hand-laid up with very few if any blister problems. The teak work, while beautiful, can be a bear if previous owners haven't paid attention.

Whether or not to willfully engage in such a project should be predicated on your intentions. If you want a project, have lots of time and bucks, and just want to make the boat beautiful again it could be fine. If you're talking about making it into, e.g., a modern cruising boat with the bells and whistles, new rigging, sails, etc., it could be a VERY expensive project.


jte1343 12-05-2006 04:11 PM

thanks for the quick reply. i have been looking into the association page and most of the information i have found about the boat has come from there. yes she will require a lot of work. the teak decks were taken off but the spruce masts would need some work. a large portion of the interior is shot and would need to be replaced. one of the owners attempted to repair the interior and i suppose felt the ice box would be better suited as storage and covered it up. that was one of my favorite parts about the boat! but once again thanks. i have heard nothing but good things about the boats so far, except for the work they involve to get them looking back to somewhat new. i'm currently trying to finish a complete restoration on a rhodes 19 so i can make room for a bigger i could live on. i'm just trying to plan everything and make sure this is the boat for me. thanks! joel

also any idea how they perform the windward?

Jeff_H 12-05-2006 04:25 PM

These are boats that I want to like. They are pretty and come with an interesting history. The Choey Lee Offshore 31 was a rework of the Bermuda 30, which was a rework of the Herreshoff H-28. They were built in wood and glass. While the H-28 was a wonderful boat for its day, the wooden Offshore 31's and Bermuda 30's violated Herreshoffs cautions about raising the sheer, and adding a doghouse. The H-28's were intended to be constructed of light materials with minimal interiors, while the wooden Cheoy Lees had comparatively heavy planking, decks, and interiors.

Depending on who you believe, ballasting was reduced to compensate for the extra weight, injuring stability and motion comfort, and the sail area was reduced to compensate for the reduced stability. That combination resulted in a boat that reportedly was not as good in lighter air or heavier conditions than the H-28 that they were based on.

The problem got much worse with the glass boats as their hull weights went up greatly over the wooden boats and their ballast weight was further reduced. They also went to iron and concrete ballast further reducing stability. I have sailed some of these and they are useless in light to moderate conditions and not very good in heavier going. They don't up wind worth a darn (while the original H-28 sailed remarkably well for a long keeled ketch).

Build quality was sketchy and a proper restoration would leave little more than the somewhat sloppily laid up hull. You could build a boat from scratch and end up with a much nicer boat than restore an Offshore 31 that has not been maintained.


btrayfors 12-05-2006 04:34 PM


Jeff's comments track very well with my recollections of this model.

Whatever you do, don't underestimate either the amount of work or the $$$ required to fully restore such a boat, especially one which hasn't been well cared for.

And, even if the boat were in first class condition, she's not much of a sailor. Beautiful, maybe, but not a good performer.

You can find many other boats around which will require less work and, once restored, will be much better performers.

Bottom line: this is one I'd pass on, even if she were for free.


jte1343 12-05-2006 04:54 PM

thanks for the reply. i heard about the altering of ballast and sail area and didn't know whether they applied to this boat or not. i will keep an eye on it as well as other boats. this one had just sparked my interest and i didn't know a whole lot about it. thanks for the info! joel

Goodnewsboy 12-06-2006 08:28 AM

We owned a Cheoy Lee Lion many years ago, and I can tell you that the fiberglass was bulletproof and it was pretty, but the shortcuts taken by the builder with respect to ballast and hardware (Lots of stainless wasn't very good quality.) were troublesome. The solid teak woodwork was very pretty.

Still, we had a good time with her and she always kept us out of trouble.

doctom 02-13-2007 10:24 PM

offshore 33
thanks for all the great info! i have had a '72 (i am of the same model year) cheoy lee offshore 33 for about a year. i dont have any complaints, i got her very cheaply and she runs and sails fine. i just have gleaned all of the info on this model from the cheoy lee association site and wonder if anyone else has any additional info specific to the offshore 33.
as always, candor is appreciated.

rugeley 01-08-2008 09:24 PM

cheoy lee
i have a 33 offshore in clear lake texas. i have a factory line drawing if you want a copy. it is large format.

Lion35 01-09-2008 02:54 AM

I have a Cheoy Lee Lion (teak hull) and I've sailed on a glass CL Bermuda 30 and an wood H28. I don't know how the Offshore 31s sail but I think Jeff H is on target and the H28 sails much better than the CL Bermuda 30. I was not impressed with the B30s performance upwind. That said the Bermuda I sailed on had been to Hawaii and back and was (probably still is) a beautiful boat.


but the spruce masts would need some work
I would suggest you to take a very close look at the mast. Cheoy Lee wood masts like to de-laminate, specially if the varnish isn't maintained and the glue is exposed to the elements. I speak form experience on this issue and have seen two CL mast failures, one of them on my boat and one catastrophic failure on a Frisco Flyer. It's not that the masts aren't fixable, but be prepaired for a lot of work if it's de-laminating.

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