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Nino 11-11-2000 12:59 PM

Buying a used boat
I am about to buy my first boat, a used Com-Pac 27, because I''m really hung up on quality and it seems that Com-Pac is one of the best. I''ve also thought about an Island Packet and a Pacific Seacraft which seem to be in about the same quality range but I haven''t been able to find one in the 27'' - 29'' size range. I''m concerned that there is little space to store anything in the Com-Pac because although it has a lot of storage area under the cockpit seats, it does not have a stern quarter berth and therefore no storage space with access from the cabin.
Should this be of concern to me? Anything thoughts anyone has?
My name is "Skip" but I used "Nino" because Skip was unavailable.

Jeff_H 11-11-2000 02:27 PM

Buying a used boat
With all due respect Skip, if you think that a Com-Pac 27, Island Packet and a Pacific Seacraft are of equal quality then you might want to do a bit more research. These three companies produce boats with wildly different quality levels in terms of construction, detailing and sailing ability. The Pacific Seacrafts are intended to be serious offshore boats. They have an exceptionally high build quality. The Island Packets are planned around having the maximum interior and coastal cruising accomodations in a particular sailing length with almost all ofter qualities taking a back seat.

The Com-pacs are reasonably nice little boats that sail reasonably well. They were represent a good quality for their modest price tags. They are a reasonable compromise in that they do not excell at anything in particular (construction quality. boat speed, standard equipment, or seaworthiness) nor do they do anything really terribly either. They are not what I think of as a heavy duty offshore boat. For most people that is perfectly acceptable since few of us have the luxury of spending large amounts of time offshore. The interior layouts of the Compacts that I have been on are simple and functional but with out all of the bells and whistles that you think of on quality boats. I like the fact that the head and galley are close to the companionway where the motion is most comfortable.I like that they did not try to crowd a navigation station into a boat of this size at the expense of berth length. They do use bronze ports which is nice and have a reasonable number of hatches and operable ports suggesting good ventilation. They have a fairly large number of drawers which is a nice and expensive feature. The galley is well equipped but there is absolutely no counter area to work on without raching over the stove and what little counter to that there is is the cover to the ice box so you need to move things everytime you open the ice box. That is a pet peave of mine but one that occurs in a lot of boats this size.

One downside of the Com-pac 27''s I have seen is that there is no door on the forward cabin which makes it a bit harder to cruise with kids or another couple and still have privacy. It also seems like there is pretty limited engine access. Also the electrical panel is installed on the riser of the companionway ladder. That is a really dumb place for the panel. You have to just about kneel to see what you are doing. It is too easy to kick and turn off breakers that are needed or worse yet damage the panel. The wires have to hinge everytime you go into the engine compartment and this area is exposed to spray and water coming down the hatch. The underside of the panel is right in your face when you are working in the engine compartment. I am not sure this was done on all of them.

As to sailing abilty, with a PHRF rating of 225 these are very slow boats, albeit not as slow as a 27 foot Island Packet or a Cape Dory. They are not very good light air boats and with their shallow draft and low density ballast these are not great boats in a breeze or going to windward.

People have varying reasons for buying the boats they do. Without knowing you I have no idea what your goals are. I am not trying to say this is the wrong boat for you but from your opening description I would suggest that you do a little more research.


Nino 11-11-2000 05:09 PM

Buying a used boat

I appreciate your reply. It was a great education and from what I''ve seen, you''re right on target, especially with the Com-Pac.
You probably guessed that I''m new to sailing.
I only started last year but I''ve had some fairly good experience. In September of ''99, I leased a 25.5 Hunter for the month of September and sailed it quite a bit on Barnegat Bay with sailor friends. In October of ''99, I did a 5-day sailing trip on the Chesapeake on a chartered 37'' Dickerson Ketch with 2 very accomplished sailor friends and we did the same thing this past October on a 34'' Catalina. I''m a retired pilot, age 61, and it seems that some of the skills are transferable. As a retirement gift, my company gave me a 5-day Bareboat sailing course at Annapolis which I intend to take advantage of early next Spring. I was really taken with the Chesapeake so I have a rented a slip at Rock Hall, MD for next summer. I will then have the schooling and the slip - now all I need is a boat!
That tells you about me - now for my objectives. My wife also fell in love with sailing last year - but in a different way.
She loves the marina atmosphere and she loves sleeping on the boat. She will sail with me (reluctantly) but if I decided to buy a boat and cement it to the dock, she wouldn''t mind at all. Therefore, I''m not interest in performance (yet!) but moreso in the amount of quality and comfort for the money.
I''m also a real quality freak. I was really impressed when I saw the bronze port holes on the Com-Pac. I have also looked at a 27'' Island Packet and I thought it was great. It had tremendous room for its size but it wasn''t in very good shape and it turned my wife off. Not loo long ago we were in Florida and saw two Pacific Seacraft - a 24 and a 34. They were the most incredible boats I''ve ever seen but the the small one - although great - was too small (although thinking back to it I don''t think it had much less room than the Com-Pac 27) and the big one was too big. (Actually, it was also too pricey for me and whereas I understand the reason for the boat tail, it really destroyed the size of the cockpit). At my age, and in view of the fact that I''ll be a one-man crew with a passenger, I''d be very reluctant to go any bigger than a 28 footer.
As I said, after spending that time on the Chesapeake, I''m concerned with the lack of a quarter bunk under the stern on the Com-Pac. The storage bins under the cockpit hatches, particularly on the port side, are huge. However, I''d hate to have to get something out that''s on the bottom. You''d actually have to get down into it to do that and I think that would be very inconvenient to do during the night as opposed to access from the main cabin.
Addressing one of your comments, there is great access to the engine from both sides but once again, that would be tough to do if they were filled with stored items.
Also, I had great interest in a Catalina 28 until I discovered that there is no such thing as a mid-cabin double bunk in them. That''s where we like to sleep so that eliminates them from contention.
I''m really getting slightly discouraged because although there are a zillion boats out there for sale, I don''t seem to be able to find one with acceptable compromises.
You probably think I''m nuts, but what I really would like to have is good quality, a fair amount of room, 1990 or newer, wheel steering with an inboard diesel and a jib roller furler. There are other things that may be necessary but that could be installed later - a furler on the main, although I know it cuts down on performance,
an autopilot and a combination air conditioner and heater for dockside use.
Thanks for spending so much time with me on this. If you have any ideas, I''m all ears!


Jeff_H 11-12-2000 11:34 AM

Buying a used boat
(This will require several posts since this BB only accepts short answers.)

You have an interesting set of objectives. Like I said, you have to know what someone wants out of a boat to know what is the right thing to say sometimes. (Sail a couple tacks in their topsiders so to speak) I know the Rock Hall/Gratitude area. I''ve sailed out of Annapolis for the last 18 years and we anchor up in Swan Creek fairly often. One of my favorite cruising spots is just around the corner in the Chester River. Which has little or nothing to do with your situation.

I think that if I basically understand what you are saying, you are looking for a boat that is comfortable for weekends and which is a "quality boat". Of course the term "quality boat" means different things to different people and in different climates and sailing venues. In other words, a quality boat for sailing in New England may not be a quality boat for sailing in the Topics and a quality offshore boat can make a poor quality boat for the Chesapeake Bay. Or in other words still, when sailors talk about quality in boats we all have our own ideas about what are the elements that make up high quality.
(To be continued)

Jeff_H 11-12-2000 11:36 AM

Buying a used boat
(Continued from above)
When you are new to sailing it is easy to focus on those items that provide visual clues as to the materials involved in building the boat. So, to some ''quality'' means a lot of teak in the cabin. To some it is bronze portholes. To some it is high quality engineering and fiberglass work. To some it is a carefully designed interior. And to others it is a well-designed and constructed sailing rig with top-notch sail handling equipment. And so on.

At this point, you are looking at those items that are easy to see and understand such as bronze ports and a predominantly teak interior and letting these items define quality. In some ways, for certain venues, these really are quality items, but to me the highest quality boats are boats that are designed to sail well and are equipped to sail well in the area that you plan to sail. On the Chesapeake, bronze ports and a teak interior do not necessary make a quality boat. The Chesapeake is a very nice venue to sail in. Within a day''s sail of your slip (in a reasonably fast boat) there are maybe 50 great places to anchor for the night. Add a 10 to 15 seconds a mile to your boat speed and this number easily doubles.

(Continued below)

Jeff_H 11-12-2000 11:38 AM

Buying a used boat
(continued from above)
The Bay is known for predominantly light winds (under 10 knots) punctuated by moderate to heavy conditions. A good Bay boat sails well in our predominant light winds but has good sail handling equipment that allows it to quickly shift gears when things get a bit dicier. I understand that your wife would prefer a boat that rarely leaves the slip but if you buy a boat that is not a good Bay boat then you will almost never sail and, with all due respect, you would be better off buying a trawler yacht, which would have better accomodations, a bit more speed and frankly you will spend less time motoring on than a heavy offshore sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay.

For better or worse, in the few conversations with the folks at Gratitude Yacht Sales, I find that they are very oriented toward heavier "distance cruisers". In my mind they are pushing the wrong boats for the middle Chesapeake Bay. I would suggest that you look at some other boats that might represent a contrast to the Compac. You will not see bronze ports on these boats (Bronze ports are not necessarily the best way to go in the low salt environment of the Chesapeake where Bronze ports mean the need to keep them polished and waxed so our acidic rain doesn''t cause the bronze to corrode and stain the adjacent fiberglass.) but that should not matter. Properly made aluminum or even plastic ports are perfectly adequate and much lighter and lower maintenance than the bronze ports which in the Bay read as an affectation rather than a sign of great quality.
(Continued below)

Jeff_H 11-12-2000 11:39 AM

Buying a used boat
In terms of hull construction, boat like Odays, Pearsons, Cal, and even Beneteau have equal quality hull construction to the Compac but depending on the model are actually better sailing boats. You might see if you can find a used J-28 as a contrast. The J-28 was part of J-boats cruising series. They repesent a good quality boat that would also be a great Bay boat. I do think that you may want to consider some boats that are older than 1990, perhaps as far back as a 1985 model. The reason that I suggest this is that there were comparatively few boats built in the 1990''s compared to the 1980''s. (In 1995 there were close to 7000 sailboats built in this country over 30 feet in length. In 1990 there were less than 3000. The recession of 1989-1993 put a lot of good companies out of business.) Therefore, you will have a lot more boats to choose from. A well maintained 1985 could easily be in better condition that a poorly maintained or heavily used 1995 model. Boats age very differently than cars. I guess my point is that there are far better sailing boats for the Chesapeake Bay and while you may never care about performance, as in racing, you will get a lot more sailing and a lot more enjoyable sailing in if you have a boat that is a better performaning boat than the three you are considering.

I also want to talk about your wife''s social objectives. A lot of us enjoy the camaraderie of the sailing scene. This can still be enjoyed while cruising. You may want to get involved with a sailing club. On the Chesapeake these vary between full blown yacht clubs to "paper" cruising clubs (they do not own facilities) that are quite reasonable to belong to. Sailing clubs will often have club cruises frequently throughout the spring, summers and fall in which they rendezvous and ''raft-up''. Raft-ups can be a lot of fun with the usual kinds of socializing that might take place ashore. It is a great way to see different places on the Bay and to have people that know what they are doing plan cruises so that it is a bit easier for a Newbie to get their feet wet.

In any event, Good luck to you and feel free discuss this further on this venue or email me directly.

Centaur 11-15-2000 09:56 PM

Buying a used boat
Hello Skip, read all the correspondence to your first letter and get the feeling you really like the 27 COMPAC,. I too think that it is really a quality constructed boat for the money, and for a 27 ft boat I really like the interior layout, but basically you have to love the looks and livability of the boat you pick more than anything. It has to fit you and how you use it., and to me the ComPac fits what you have in mind. Besides if you were worried about how fast it goes you probably wouldn''t be sailing. The thing I like about the ComPacs is that they don''t have balsa core construction in the deck, its a solid glass composite, and the cockpit is a nice size for entertaining friends onboard. My first boat was a Compac 19 and from there I moved up to a Cape Dory 25, now am refurbishing a Westerly Centaur 26. And thats another thing--get something thats easy to handle (read ComPac 27) its a little high sided and doesn''t sail to windward well but is sweet to sail in 80% of most sailing days that one see''s fit to go out in.

Jeff_H 11-16-2000 05:29 PM

Buying a used boat
Centaur- I see your point but an important part of this equation is that the boat will be on the middle Chespeake Bay. Its not just the slow boat part that is significant. On the Bay light air perfoemance makes a huge difference in the number of days that you cna actually sail. With a slower boat with poor light air performance there are more days that you would end up motoring than days that you will end up sailing. I am often amazed at how many times I have been able to sail most of the way to and from somewhere while watching parades of boats that are less suitable to the Bay have to motor. We all go out on the water for our own reasons, and I understand that there people who do not share my revulsion to having to having to crank up the ''noise maker'', but if sailing is the major reason that you go out in the water and you live on the Chesapeake Bay then you probably want to consider boats with better performance than the Compac.


Nino 11-16-2000 06:04 PM

Buying a used boat
Jeff & Centaur,

Interesting comments and I appreciate the opportunity learn from people like both of you. If you''re both sitting down, we saw a 1989 28'' Beneteau today that really looked great. I hate the look of the "picture window" with all the screws showing on the outside but everything else looked great. It has been meticulously cared for - although the engine (18 HP Volvo Penta) didn''t have an hour meter, it would have survived the white glove treatment and it''s loaded with great electronic gear. The interior is well laid out and the quality is great. My Chesapeake sailing buddy thinks it''s a really good boat for me. Any thoughts?


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