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Old 06-13-2007
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Who knows Beneteau First 30s?

I'm back in St Thomas after being in HI. Anyway, been looking at boats in the 30ft range (budget constraints of course). Been a sailor and racer for 31 years (offshore and near coastal done lots of charter work,etc) Anyway, A First 30 caught my eye(on yachtworld) in Puerto Rico. It seems to fit my needs for a liveaboard with performance cruising qualities better than a C&C 27 I looked at. I know about the cast iron keels being hard to keep clean and shallow bilges, but not much else. The broker claims that the tlc it needs is mostly cosmetic, and that it is seaworthy enough to sail back here to weather, with a volvo rebuilt 7 years ago, and the owner has been sailing it regularly until 6 mos. ago. (to me that's better than sitting in the tropics neglected For years). He's asking 15K, going thru a divorce and leaving the island ,so he's motivated to sell cheap.

What do y'all think?

Thanks for your feed back.

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Old 06-13-2007
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Good price, esp. if it is indeed in decent condition.

We looked at one of these (a mid '80s model) in our last boat hunt - and found that while the layout looks good on paper, it seemed to be a 35 foot interior squeezed into 30 feet. Berths are smallish, the Vberth pushed so far forward in the boat that there's little foot space for two people.
Great cockpit and good deck gear, though, and a nice looking rig as well. Beneteaus avoid cored hull concerns since the hulls are solid glass.

I thought it was a good looking boat, but in the end we bought a 35 foot interior in a 35 foot boat (for less money than they were asking for the Bene)

The price may be, as the cliche goes, too good to be true so check it out thoroughly. (standard warning about getting a quality survey applies!)
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Old 06-13-2007
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This boat looks to be a close cousin of the First 30E I owned for two years. That 30E was a nice sailing, well made boat. Not too good a racer as the rig and foretraingle are too small, boat never sailed to its rating, especially downwind under spinnaker.

As to cruising, I strongly echo Faster's criticisms of the interior. Marketing madness run amuck. The first summer we spent one week on the boat, and that put the end to any vacation use - while the layout "slept" seven, not one bearth was big enough for a 5'11", average size adult - either too short or too narrow or both. The doubles weren't double - a damn serious drawbacking in courting days! Also the ventilation and airflow were awful, boat was always uncomfortable - this can be improved, but the bearth situation was terminal.

The boat was a nice and very competent daysailer, but as a comparison, the C&C 30 I owned for six years was twice the boat....
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Old 06-13-2007
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I had a First 285 (just sold her) - which looks very much like this one according to pictures. They are decent boats, for the price and type anyway. Iron keel is no big deal as long as it is properly rust protected (I just had a guy at the yard sand it down to metal and cover with thickened epoxy, then fair - looked fantastic).

Things to watch for in Beneteau - they have flat bottoms and very little bilge (so any water will be right in your cabin), the foam-based vinyl ceiling upholstery tends to fall off over time (looks like it was removed in the rear cabin there - but it can be replaced), and they use veneer covered plywood for most of the interior, which, unlike real wood, can't be refinished if deteriorated.

Make sure to check the deck - some hardware is installed in areas without core, but some isn't and if not properly bedded - decks deteriorate pretty fast (in fact fairly benign readings of moisture meter may correspond to "tuna salad" looking core).

All in all they are nice, fairly fast, but I would not consider them to be long-term comfortable. That cabin sloping at the front means standing headroom disappears right before v-berth. I always preferred rear cabin anyway.
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