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jerrycooper14 04-10-2002 07:20 AM

buying first boat
Im looking for a boat for live aboard and coastal cruising in the keys or USVI. I will be by myself so I need a boat that I can single hand. My budget is around 65,000 and im looking in the 36 to 38 foot range. Morgans and C&C seem to be in that range. Am I on the right path or are there any other boats that I should be looking at? Thanks for the advice!! Jerry

JohnDrake 04-10-2002 09:34 AM

buying first boat
There are quite a few folks here who could give you some more specific advice, but from your choice of builders listed (Morg and C&C) I thought I would contribute a general thought.

Morgan and C&C, IMHO, are two very diverse boats. Morgan''s (I will assume in the 36-38ft range that you are refering to the 382) are well built (for the price), have solid glass hulls, are on the heavy displacement side but are not at all nicely finished below. The Morgan 382 has a very good mod keel/skeg hung rudder design (similar to a Passport in fact) and with a 5ft draft is ideal for the islands. Indeed, Morgan''s were designed with the islands in mine.

C&C''s (let me confess I don''t have much experience with these boats) tend to be well built, nicely finished boats that are light, stiff and made to race. They have balsa cored hulls and tend to be light displacement. C&C made two lines of boats, one, the Landfall series was designed for cruisers and has a following but... these boats seem to be not built as well as the main C&C line.

The above is not to detail the two boats. I suspect you are just beginning in your search. This is just to say that there are some very basic and significant differences between any number of boats that warrant your consideration. Do you want fast and light or heavy but steady. Solid or cored hull. Nicely finished below in yachtlike condition or just something basic and inexpensive.

If your goal in this is a boat to essentially livaboard in the islands and sails fairly well single handed... I think you will not have much of a problem finding a boat that will suit your purpose well. In fact a Morgan 382 might be a very good choice. There are quite a few other choices that may or may not be better. Hopefully others will contribute.

My advice is to make a list now of your absolute needs, what you are willing to compromise on and your "nice to have''s". Be objective and research each aspect carefully (such as cored vs solid hull, aft cabin vs qtr berth, nicely finished vs not and finally, age: 70''s vintage, 80''s or 90''s. There are pro''s and con''s to each answer.

Hope this helps.

VIEXILE 04-10-2002 09:56 AM

buying first boat
There are two Pearson 365''s for sale here in the Virgin Islands for about $45,000.00. One of them has been absolutely anally maintained by a liveaboard owner. Try to get him to hit Betsy''s Bar or Epernay in Frenchtown on thurs or fri night and he''s more interested in working on the boat. Upgraded engine, the whole nine yards. The other one''s in the BVI with one of the brokers over there. Strong boat. Easily single handed.

jerrycooper14 04-10-2002 10:53 AM

buying first boat
thanks for the advice. I have been looking for about six months off and on. I feel the same way about the morgans. I have only found a few that I liked below. I believe one was the morgan 383. I need to go back and check. As per the other response, what do you think of the Pearson. I have liked some that I have seen but am just starting my research on this boat.

JohnDrake 04-10-2002 11:41 AM

buying first boat
I am sure there is someone who knows the Pearson well and can respond. But it is actually pretty illustrative of my advice above. The Pearson 365 is a 70''s vintage, ketch rigged boat that does not even have a quarter cabin below. Its PHRF is a whopping 210! It certainly is a fine boat BUT... it is dead slow, has the accomodations of a modern 25ft boat and has 1970''s wiring.

I just went through this process in finding my last boat (closed on her about a month ago). I had some objective criteria and some subjective criteria.

My objective criteria:
1980 or newer
PHRF of 144 or below
solid glass hull
38-40ft (I single hand as well)
heavier displacement
aft qtr cabin

My subjective criteria:
nicely finished below
high quality build
bluewater capable
few owner mods
Price in a certain range
Sail plan (sloop)
Hull form (5ft draft or less, very good rudder construction, skeg if possible)

If you established some criteria like the above... the P365 would miss on virtually all points and thus be easily discounted. The Morgan 382/3 however hits many of the objective points on the list.

There are certainly many points above that people would argue either way. Displacement, cored hull, age, all have many camps. My thinking was that boats older than 1980 will have much less resale value later and may have poor wiring. I personally like a heavier displacement boat. I personnaly did not want a cored hull as they can rot and are expensive to repair, as well as needing expert repair. Solid glass hull repair is easy and can be done anywhere in the world.

Layout and accomodation is subjective but I put it on my objective list as I was decisive in what I wanted. I wanted a private aft cabin for guests. No boat has much privacy but dividing the cabin lends at least a bit more than just having it completely open. BUT... I can tell you that this really increases cost and makes it much harder to find a good boat. If this is not an absolute need for you, then go with a qtr berth. Rig: many folks favor a center cockpit and ketch rig. I found in my sailing and my looking that the CC design took far too much away in the cabin down below and for single or short handing, I find a sloop with its single rig, easier to deal with... and sloops are in general much faster than a divided rig like a ketch. I found the NE PHRF listing a good guide for assessing how fast one boat might be compared with another. I knew I wanted a boat that had a certain amount of speed.. did not have to be a race boat but AT LEAST as fast as a J/30 or Morgan 382 or faster was my thinking (the Morgan 382 was my BASE boat when I began looking, I felt it was good enough for what I was looking for... SO... any other boat had to surpass it to be considered).

Hope this helps.

jerrycooper14 04-10-2002 12:26 PM

buying first boat
Once again, thanks for the great advice. I am like you in that I would love an aft cabin but not having one is not the end of the world. I am not in a hurry so speed is not that improtant. However, comfort and safe, easy handling is. This keeps me coming back to the Morgan 382/3. By the way, what boat did you end up with?

tsenator 04-10-2002 02:25 PM

buying first boat

Hi I guess in that price range I would suggest a Catalina 36. (But I believe there are SO many boats that might fit your criteria) They have been making them since 1983 and there are a few that would fit your budget. ….take a look here at to do a search …I found a few

These might not be what you are looking for but they are fine classic solid boats. Not a "tank" like a Westerly, but definitely not a wimpy light weight coastal cruiser. I know that the newer ones are CE Rated A (A. OCEAN: Designed for extended voyages where conditions may exceed wind force 8 (Beaufort scale) and significant wave heights of 4 meters and above, and vessels largely self-sufficient.) Whatever that''s worth to anyone…;-)

I know of 3 that have circumnavigated and personally met someone (Boats name is "Alaskan Po Boy") that sailed his from Alaska to the East Coast. They have made over 2100 so far and they are STILL in production. So they must be doing something right.

And they have a lot of the criteria that JohnDrake is looking for.

1980 or newer
PHRF of 144 or below
solid glass hull
38-40ft (I single hand as well) (NOTE: Ok…''s a 36)
heavier displacement (NOTE: This is Relative BUT the C36 D/L is 227)
aft qtr cabin (NOTE: Very Spacious in Fact)

My subjective criteria:
nicely finished below (NOTE: This is very subjective but my VERY Girlfriends eyes, beautiful….gotta love the starboard side "game table").
high quality build (NOTE: Not a Hinckley, but not bad either)
bluewater capable (NOTE: This is relative but look at comments above)
few owner mods
Price in a certain range
Sail plan (sloop)
Hull form (5ft draft or less, very good rudder construction, skeg if possible) (NOTE: No not a skeg, but rather a spade rudder, construction seems good though)

Some Comparisons:
D/L C36 - 227 ; M382- 229 ; C&C 37 (1985) 269
Capsize Ratio C36 - 1.97 ; M382- 1.9 ; C&C 37 (1985) 19.2
Motion Comfort C36 - 24.83; M382- 27.64 ; C&C 37 (1985) 26.68

(As a note: Capsize Ratio: A value less than 2 is considered to be relatively good; the boat should be relatively safe in bad conditions. The higher the number above 2 the more vulnerable the boat. This is just a rough figure of merit and controversial as to its use. Motion Comfort: Range will be from 5 to 60+ with a Whitby 42 at the mid 30''s. The higher the number the more comfort in a sea. This figure of merit was developed by the Yacht designer Ted Brewer and is meant to compare the motion comfort of boats of similar size and types.)

A few other reasons why I think the Catalina 36 has some very attractive for live aboard and coastal cruising in the keys or USVI.

1) One of the BEST layouts and use of space below that I have seen on a 36'' boat. (take a look you will know what I mean)
2) Manufacturer is still in business AND they are still making this same boat. Thus parts and support are tremendous.
3) Loyal and rabid C36 and Catalina owners group , such support group helps tremendously with issues. Most C36 owners take very good care of their boats. Why don''t you go to the Sailnet group list for the C36 and ask what they think. Also take a look at their website
4) This boat is liked so much sometimes there are some people that are multiple owners of the same boat !! (They wanted to get the newer boat with a walk thru transom and few other modifications).
5) Very easily singlehandling (Alaskan Po Boy mentioned earlier was singlehanded). I (and others) have single handed the C36 in some crappy stuff (I did hours last summer of 25 knot winds with gusts to 35….. steep 8-10+ foot seas ) and really didn''t have a problem. I guess it has more to do with how the boat is rigged and setup. The newer ones have most of the lines coming into the cockpit which really makes single handling easy. I am not sure how some of the older ones are set up.
6) Decent speed. Practical Sailor did a review of this boat Last August and commented on this (at one point footing off to a broad reach in brisk winds and and speed increased to 8-8.5 kts. 1 knot more than theoretical hull speed). Though she is not as fast in light air and you would do well to add a cruising spinnaker.
7) Resale Value - One of the best out there. Many C36''s can be sold for more that what they were purchased new.
8) Not that important, but the Catalina 36 Mark II garnered Best Value honors in Cruising World''s 1995 Boat Of The Year Midsize Cruiser -
9) The mast is keel stepped and the rig is straightforward and easy to tune, with a high-aspect-ratio mainsail, forward and after lower shrouds. There is inherent safety in this type of design. There is a lot less chance of loosing your mast if the very unlikely event of a stay going. Not the "raciest" rig, but solid.
10) Catalina used name brand accessories like Lewmar, Schaeffer, Garhauer, etc. The quality is well known and it is easy to get service if needed.

JohnDrake 04-10-2002 05:16 PM

buying first boat
Hi Jerry

I am glad this thread has been helpful. I think you got a great reply from Tsenator who has mentioned the smaller/newer more production oriented option.

I looked at a very wide range of boats, and got some good and generous advice from quite a few people, including folks in this forum. All boats on my short list fit my objective criteria and having that as a cut off was very helpful. The choice came down to the subjective factors I listed and my own personal bias. In the end I decided I would contribute more towards the boat and so my list shifted dramatically. I made a decision that an aft cabin, the quality of the joinery and the bluewater reputation of the boat were important to me and that I would spend more to get those qualities that I was looking for.

Invictus is a Wauquiez Hood 38. A pretty well respected Ted Hood design, wonderful cabin, yacht-like joinery and a very seaworthy.

I could not be more pleased with the boat, it was a very good choice. But in reality, I could have spent less and gotten a boat that would do essentially the same for me (although my long term plan is for substantial bluewater cruising). It really was a matter of budget.. but if getting a more expensive boat meant NOT taking off for the islands... my advice would be to go for the less expensive boat and go for the islands.

Hope this helps.

jerrycooper14 04-10-2002 05:43 PM

buying first boat
JohnDrake, TSenator, and everyone who contributed, thanks for the great advise!! Im not sure what long term plans I have but I hope they will include some blue water sails. For now, though, I will stay close to the coast and build my confidence. I will take your advise with me for my search for the boat. I like the look of the Catalina but need to do some more research. I also welcome more opinions , so keep em coming!!

Jeff_H 04-10-2002 05:55 PM

buying first boat
36 to 38 feet is a big boat for a first boat, especially if you plan to be single-handing most of the time. That said, this seems to be a popular size and price boat in these discussions. The boat that you are looking for very closely approximates my own recent search for a boat. I found that a $60,000 cap seemed to mean that some compromise was required. In particular I found it hard to find a boat in that price range that was equally good for coastal and blue-water sailing, had both an enclosed forward and an enclosed aft cabin, and which drew less than 6 feet. I ended up compromising on a boat that I could build a removable enclosure to create an aft cabin and which also was 6''-4" draft. I also set a minimum performance standard well under a PHRF of 100. Some of these boats may not suit your needs or willingness to compromise or alter a boat''s interior layout. While these compromises worked for me I am not tying to suggest that they do actually work for you, but maybe they will.

I don''t know if my process will be of help to you at all but I began by formulating a list of desirable characteristics for my ''dream boat''. It is very common for people to search for boat solely on length and the need for specific accommodations. I really think that the displacement of a particular boat says a lot more about its ''real'' size.

The classic cruising texts used to suggest that a distance cruiser needed 5,000 to 10,000 lbs. of displacement per person. In the past, when the typical L/D ratio was in the mid to high 300''s this meant that an ideal single-hander was somewhere around 29 feet and an ideal cruiser for a couple would be somewhere around 32 to 35 feet or so. If you look at the boats that were used for distance cruising in the 1930''s on up to the 1950''s this was pretty much the case.

Better hardware has permitted that ideal weight to creep up a little and the current trends in loading boats up with all kinds of heavy extras has pushed that range up to closer to 10,000 to 14,000 lbs. of displacement per person. I personally prefer to cruise more simply and so prefer to use displacements in the more traditional range of 5,000 to 8,000 lbs. of displacement per person. That meant that I was looking for a boat in the 10000 to 18000 lb. displacement range for two people cruising.

Of course with today''s better structural engineering, higher tech materials and careful decisions in the choice of fit-out, boats with an L/D as low as the 150 to 160 or so range can make good distance cruisers. By sizing my boat by the classic 10000 to 16000 lb displacement range for a couple, and trying to stay at the lower end of that range, and by going to a lighter L/D, I ended up looking for a 36 to 39 foot boat.

Displacement issues aside, I had decided that 36 to 39 feet was about the right length. Smaller than 36 feet it is hard to get the kind of accommodations and capacities that I wanted in lightweight boat. Over 38 feet or so, single-handing became considerably more difficult for me.

I have concluded that staying at a traditional weight range but lighter L/D results in a longer boat, which is a good thing. One thing that has consistently come out of the studies of the Fastnet tragedy and the Sidney-Hobart disaster, is that there are a lot of factors that determine whether a boat is a good sea boat or not, but nothing succeeds in heavy weather like length.

You often hear the old saws about heavy displacement being necessary in a cruising boat. You often hear comments such as, "light boats don''t have the capacity to carry enough gear and supplies to really go cruising." Or "they loose their speed advantage when loaded to go cruising". These kind of statements ignore that boats in this size range are often raced with 1,500 to 2,000 lbs. of crew weight and in distance racing, and an equal weight in racing gear and provisions for this crew. That is roughly 3000 to 4000 lbs. of capacity which should be adequate for a couple and their necessary gear and supplies.

Additionally, I wanted a fractional rig. I have owned fractionally rigged boats for the past 19 years and have really come to appreciate their many advantages especially for short-handed sailing. There are some big advantages to a fractional rig for cruising and racing. For cruising you are dealing with smaller and easier to handle headsails Not only are the headsails smaller because of the shorter headstay but, because the headsails represent a smaller percentage of the overall sail area, you don''t generally do not need to have overlapping jibs. The sail area missing from the smaller jib is made up in the mainsail.

Fractional rigs often have purposely designed flexible masts and, when combined with a backstay adjuster permits quick, on the fly, depowering of both sails. Mainsails are easier to reef in a manner that results in an efficiently shaped sail for heavier conditions. It means that you don''t have to take the expense, complication, maintenance and performance hit of a mainsail furler. Controlling mast bend you can often avoid reefing as the winds build. Roller furling genoas have notoriously poor shape when partially furled. The smaller jibs of a fractional rig rarely need reefing and when they do the fact that they are non-overlapping results in a better partially furled shape.

All of that said, here is the original list that I came up with in my search:

Beneteau First 38:
These Frers designed 38 footers certainly sail well and offer the desired aft cabin layout. They are reasonable but certainly not ideal boats for offshore work. They seem to be better constructed than the Idyle, Oceanis, and ''number'' series Beneteaus. I have a lot of experience with the Beneteau First 38s5 which replaced this boat and although out of our price range found the 38s5 to be an extremely nice boat even in very heavy conditions.

Cal 36/ Cal 40,
While not exactly my kind of boats, and not exactly meeting my light air performance, rig, or displacement goals, there is something about the classic lines and sailing heritage of these old girls that still pull at my heart strings. While structurally these are somewhat flexible fliers they are reasonably well constructed and offer very workable comfortable interior layouts. Given enough wind and a little luck, they can turn in quite respectable passage times.

C&C 37:
I have always like these boats. They offer a good balance of cruising and performance. While not ideally shaped hull or rig wise for offshore work, they have done a lot of sea miles. There were three models of this and the shoal keel (almost at 6''-1") and centerboard models would meet your draft criteria. In my case the C&C 37 fell just at the bottom of my performance criteria and with their masthead rig and comparatively small main was not high on my scale as a single-hander.

C&C Landfall 38:
These boats have never really appealed to me but they are reasonably well constructed and sail reasonably well. Certainly one of the slower boats on this list. The one that I knew best had a really cobbled up interior plan but I understand that it was a ''special model'' of some kind. These would not fall high on my list of offshore capable boats.

C&C 38 Mk2:
This is not my favorite C&C design. Its pinched in transom would limit off wind performance and comfort in a seaway but C&C''s of that era were well constructed and were pretty quick boats for their day. These boats particularly accel upwind.

Dehler 38 and Dehler 35:
Neat boats. This would be very high on my list for its very good sailing ability, high build quality, fractional rig (which as I noted I consider ideal for single-handing), and nice interior layout. The only problem is that they are comparatively rare in the US and the 38''s tend to be at the very top of your price range.

Express 37:
These boats are probably the best all around sailors on this list and certainly the fastest. They mostly have striped out interiors and most have drafts approaching 7 feet and so may not work for you. Depending on the year they either had nicely built but stripped out interiors or pretty nice layouts (there was a C series that had an aft cabin). They would have been my own second choice.

Fabola Diva 39:
These are really cool boats. A bit narrow beamed, these Scandinavian built boats are really wonderful all around boats and were high on my list on all counts. They do have a pretty compact interior but it is nicely laid out. They are pretty rare in the States.

Farr 37 (Dickenson):
Although built as out and out IOR race boats, some of these have been retro-fitted with really nice interiors. I looked at one with an aft compartment and forward vee berth added. They would fail on draft concerns but sometimes can be found in the mid $40K range and can perhaps be retrofitted with a shallower keel.

Farr 11.6 (Farr 38):
This was the boat that I ended up buying. I did so for a lot of reasons. They have quite good light air ability, and are renowned for their heavy air sailing abilities. They have a fractional rig, which I see as a major asset as a single-hander especially offshore. They are one of the faster boats on this list. They are readily adaptable to an aft compartment but have a great layout for two people.

On the down side, at 6''4", they are pretty deep. (There is a custom one in North Carolina that only draws 5''6") They are quite rare on the US East Coast but pretty common on the West. Many of these boats have custom interiors. The one in North Carolina is especially nice, but some were completely stripped out as racing machines. These boats are sold in a wide range of pricing from the mid-$30K range on up to nearly $70K but most glass versions sell in the mid $50K range with cold molded wooden ones and stripped out racers selling for a lot less. If you are interested in the North Carolina boat please email me. I had this boat surveyed. It is a good boat but it had a quite few problems. I understand that the owner took the year and addressed many of these.

Frers 37, Frers F3:
These Hinterhoeler constructed racer cruisers are really neat and often forgotten boats. They were built in a lot of versions but there was a cruising version with a really nice interior and exceptionally good build quality. These are very well rounded designs and often sell for a very fair price for a boat of this all around quality.

Hinterhoeller Niagara 35:
This is not a boat that was actually on my list of possibilities, but they are excellent cruising boats if speed is not a high priority. They do have a very ''creative'' interior layout that might not be everyone''s cup of tea.

Hughes 38: (late 1960''s and early 1970''s)
This is a very interesing Sparkman and Stevens design. They share a hull, deck, rudders and rig with the Hinckley Competition 38. (Hughes built the hull, deck, rudders and rig for Hinckley and Hinckley built the interiors on their Competition 38.) The problem is that Hughes built a number of 38 foot designs that were very different and several are typically listed as Hughes 38''s. The model that I am referring to was only built for a comparatively limited time. Of the boats on this list they are probably one of the more offshore capable but not one of the fastest. Still they are really neat boats.

Hughes 40, Northstar 40
These center cockpit Sparkman and Stevens designed 40 footers were available in a wide range of rigs and keels and interior layouts. They were slower than my criteria would have considered but if speed is not important to you these are really neat boats. They were well constructed and had a very nicely modeled hull form that should be quite comfortable in a rough sea. There was a sloop rigged, cut away keel/skeg hung rudder version that is an exceptionally nice model of this design.

Hunter 37 cutter
I know everyone loves to trash Hunters but like any successful boat builder, Hunter has built a wide range of boats, some obvious dogs and others a big step above the rest of their line. The early 1980''s era Hunter 37''s would fall in the category of a big step above the public perception of other Hunters. These are well constructed, very nice sailing boats. They are pretty much a match for the Morgan 38''s in most ways but are typically less expensive.

J-34c and J35c:
These are interesting boats that were part of J-boats cruising boat series and so are biased toward being a good cruisers yet offer really nice performance. They are certainly offshore capable but are pretty rare and are often sold outside our price range.

J-35 and J36:
These really do not meet your criteria but I ended up looking at both of these because non-one design race competitive versions are quite reasonably priced.

Morgan 382:
While not exactly a high performance boat, these are reasonably well constructed and certainly offshore capable boats. There was an aft cabin layout but I have not seen one. (The 382 fell below my performance threshold but are still good boats if speed is not as important to you.) They had an extremely nice layout that is a little compact for a 38 footer.

Newport 41''s
These C&C designed 41 footers are very interesting boats. They offer a tremendous amount of boat for the money. They were quite fast for their day and offered a nice workable interior that would be great for a cruising couple. Their narrow beam really pays off in terms of inverted stability and comfortable motion but results in a small interior for a 41 footer. Based on my own experience with the Newport 41, I had concluded that these were not the best built boats out there but after a prolonged discussion with a long term owner, I have concluded that some of these (and perhaps most of these) boats were quite solidly built.

Old One Tonners:
These can vary very widely in build quality, sailing ability and finish levels but youcan find these old race boats for as little as $25 K and build a nice workable interior into them, and end up with a fast boat. The best candidates for what you want to do were from the early 1970''s when these boat were still raced offshore. Webb Chiles is currently cruising offshore in an older Morgan designed one- tonner for example.

Pearson 37:
These are neat early 1980''s (1981 and 1982) racer cruisers that were nicely built and nicely detailed. They offer a fair amount of performance and are generally good all around boats.

Ranger 37:
These are old race boats and as such often have stripped out interiors but when I was looking around for my boat I saw two of these that were retro fitted with lovely interiors. These are ''small'' 37 footers so the interior was not what I would call commodious but they have reasonable sailing ability and reasonable offshore capability and with a custom build out would perhaps suit your needs.

Sigma 36 and 38:
Nice English boats. Solid construction and clever but simple interiors.

Soverel 39:
These ex-race boats were built by Tartan and were really excellent boats in many ways. They are probably right up there with the Express 37 as the highest performer, they may fail your criteria for other reasons. Although they tend to have high asking prices they seem to sell in the mid to high- $50K range. I gave them a serious look even to the point of negotiating on a stripped out full race version, planning to alter the deck plan and to build a real interior into the boat.

Tripp 37:
Although many of these early IMS boats were built with completely stripped out interiors and very deep draft, there were a few that had very nice interiors and a shallower keel. They offer very good build quality and very well rounded sailing abilities.

Wiggers Peterson:
Nice IOR era race boats but with good sailing characteristics and some had very nice interiors. These were very well constructed boats built on a semi-custom basis.

Good hunting and feel free to email me since I have just been down the same trail that you are going down.


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