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  #1  
Old 03-13-2007
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First Boat Purchase Jitters

Hi fellow sailors,
My wife and I are buying our first boat. We are looking at 3 particular boats. An Ontario 32, Niagara 31, and a CS 30. We know there are always trade offs with each boat and we would like to here from owners or previous owners to help us make an informed choice. We are not planning any club racing. We are pure cruisers and our area is the Pacific Northwest. We plan on 3-4 one week or longer trips a year as well as many weekends. Our main concern is a reliable engine and rigging with good sailing characteristics. One vessel has a new engine while the others have around 700 hrs. They all have 18 hp engines. Our questions are, which type of engine is better -Volvo or yanmar? Is 18 hp engines enough for our cruising area with strong tidal currents? When should we be starting to get concerned with the number of hours on a diesel engine. We will for sure be using a good surveyor but would appreciate any advice or comments form experienced boat owners.

Dustin
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Old 03-13-2007
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Dustin,

John (PBeezer) has an Ontario. He likes it (though he wished he had gotten a Catalina... (smile)), ask him about it.

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Old 03-13-2007
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Dustin - I do indeed have an Ontario 32, which I find perfect for myself. I feel it sails well, though it certainly isn't a race boat. It's quite roomy, with good tankage and storage for it's size. It's also quite stoutly built and realitively easy to work on. It was designed as a cruising boat, and does it well.

Though I have no experience with Volvo diesels, I would lean towards the Yanmar simply for parts availablity. You can go to this link: http://sailquest.com/market/models/models4.htm
for a capsule type summary of the 3 you are looking at (the CS is on the 27-30 page)
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Old 03-13-2007
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The CS30 will probably give you the best performance under power, since it is the lightest and smallest... but all three should be relatively good performers. It is also the only one of the three I've ever sailed on...

As for engine hours... often the engines in the worst shape are the ones that are older with the fewest hours on them... rather than engines of the same age with more hours on them.

The size, pitch and design of the prop will have a lot to do with whether the 18HP will be sufficient for powering the boat. A badly matched prop will waste a lot of the engine's power unnecessarily. A three-bladed prop is more efficient than a two-bladed one, and since you're cruising, should be what you have on the boat.

How different are the boats in age? Are the two with 700 hours about the same age, or is one considerably younger/older than the other?

John: Great link btw..
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Dustin,
If the engines with 700 hours were reasonably well maintained they are still young. If the boat with the New engine is about the same age as the other 2 I would be asking - Why ? Abused along with the rest of the boat ? When in doubt get a separate Diesel Survey - I now know I should have..... although I probably would have bought the thing any way oil burner or not.
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Thanks for the feed back. The new Yanmar is only 1 year old, the Ontario 32 is a 1990 model Yanmar with 700 hrs. The CS 30 has had the engine and transmission rebuilt in 2002. How much emphasis should I place on raw water vs fresh water cooling?? Thanks again for the advice.

Dustin
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I think you're comparing three good boats with good engines. 700 hours is pretty young if it's been taken care of as said above. I prefer the Yanmar, and I prefer the CS but those are my preferances. I think you should go with yours. None of those boats would be a bad buy for cruising around the gulf islands. I will say that the niagara for sale in Vancouver Skyamans or something to that affect is a nice boat, and there are several CS30 here on the island. As for the Ontario, also a nice boat designed by C&C I believe. Happens to be my designer of choice for cruising. Good luck
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Old 03-13-2007
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Dustin-
Fresh water cooling is the only way to go for long-term use in salt water, which will eat a block out. If you're sailing in fresh water and plan to stay there, not a big deal though.

A small diesel engine with proper maintenance should go something like 5000-10000 hours before needing an overhaul but if the 700 hours consist of all short runs under little load and no oil changes...Sure, it could need work. If you really want to come up to speed on diesel engines fast, contact Mack Boring and ask about their classes for boat owners.

But given "normal" use and reasonable oil changes (at least one per season) 700 hours shouldn't be a concern if the engine runs well (easy start, smooth operation, no smoke or oil on the water). There are Volvo engines that have been around forever, my only concern would be an older engine that might need parts, which Volvo apparently hand-crafts out of solid gold. ("Ka-ching")

One thing you might try to do is find a local diesel mechanic who comes well recommended by other boaters. Ask at the docks and see whose name comes up. Tell him you're looking to have an engine survey done when you buy your boat and ask what he'd charge, and don't be afraid to visit the shop or the mechanic to get a better impression of him.

When you don't know a lot about boats, you're right to be nervous about spending a lot of money. (More than what I keep in my pocket, is a lot of money to me.) A survey normally looks at the entire hull/boat, but a "rigging survey" and "engine survey" are usually done by separate people, a rigger and a mechanic, if you need/want them.

There's also more concern in recent years that standing rigging should absolutely be replaced at 20 years, even under the best of conditions. And, some would argue ten years "depending". With a 1990 boat, if the rigging is original, you'd probably want to replace the rigging either "real soon" or at least before taking it offshore. If you can haul a rag aloft on the rigging and it snags or catches on even one meathook--that means it is due for replacement.
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One thing I forgot to mention, my Ontario only has a 13 hp Yanmar w/3 blade prop. It has been more up to the task so far, even going through an open lock against a very strong current.
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Ontario 32 - Aria

Free, is the heart, that lives not, in fear.
Full, is the spirit, that thinks not, of falling.
True, is the soul, that hesitates not, to give.
Alive, is the one, that believes, in love.
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Old 03-13-2007
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Dustin...I would definitely prefer one of the Yanmars rather than a Volvo.
Sealed cooling system (antifreeze) with saltwater heat exchanger is the only way to go. 700 hours is nothing on a diesel. Do not rely on a surveyor to evaluate the engine. Get a diesel engine mechanic to inspect it AND to go out with you on sea trial and evaluate it under power and the tranny as well. Well worth the extra bucks as most surveyors cannot do a proper diesel evaluation.
18hp is fine for any of those boats. Buy the one you like the most. All will serve you well.
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