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PalmettoSailor 11-12-2007 07:04 AM

CS36 Merlin
I've seen lots of positive comments on the CS36T on this site but only passing mentions of the CS36 Merlin. Generally, the comments on the Merlin are they are sought after by the racing set and thats it. What I haven't seen is comments on the contstruction quality and sailing performance of the Merlin vs. the traditional. Some folks have said the CS36T would be a boat they'd consider for offshore passages. Does the Merlin meet that standard as well? Since CS boats are apparently fairly rare on the Chesapeake (I haven't found a single CS36T for sale on the bay), it would help if someone could rate the Merlin against boats I'm more familiar with, such as Tartan's, Sabres and the big three production boats of the same vintage (Late 80's).

I've come across a shoal draft CS36 Merlin that looks to be in decent condtion from the web pic's anyway and will have a chance to go see it next weekend. Though the pictures look promising, I have to say that I have been terribly disappointed in the true condition of some boats I've gone to see. I went to see a Sabre 38 based on the pristine looking photos on the web, only to find it was in very rough conditon.

sailingdog 11-12-2007 08:09 AM

Unfortunately, many boats are cleaned up for the photos, but then allowed to slide... I'm not familiar with the CS36 Merlin, but wish you luck with the trip to go see it. If Merlins are typically raced, then you should see what the PHRF rating on it is. That would give you some idea of how it compares to the boats you are more familiar with.

When you go to the boat, bring a pen, pad of paper and a digital camera as a minimum. Human memory is notoriously poor at detail for the most part and having the above will allow you to review the boat at a later time.

While you're on the boat, poke around and look behind the cushions, in cabinets and lockers, and see how those spaces look. Often, if a boat is in bad shape, the owners will clean it up, but will forget to clean up the nooks and crannies that can reveal more of the boat's true normal conditions. This can often tell you if the boat was sunk at any point, or had any significant leaks—since waterlines and marks may be present.

While you're at the marina, walk around a bit and talk to the people there as well. Often, they can tell you about the boat in question and the owner of the boat. They can tell you if the boat has sat for long periods of time without the owner or anyone coming down to sail it or maintain it. They can tell you if the owner puts in long hours inspecting and maintaining the boat. These are often overlooked important clues to the condition of the boat.

A boat that sits neglected for long periods of time is often in far worse shape than one that is sailed every week. A good owner will be down to check on his boat at least every two weeks.

Good luck.

PalmettoSailor 11-12-2007 08:52 AM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 221228)
.... If Merlins are typically raced, then you should see what the PHRF rating on it is. That would give you some idea of how it compares to the boats you are more familiar with.

The PHRF ratings on the CS36M SD indicate the boat would be a tad faster than the other boats I'm considering. Oddly though, the PHRF High, Low, Median numbers are all the same for the Shoal Draft version. Also, I'm suprised at the deltas between the Deep draft, Shoal Draft and Wing Keel versions of this boat. While I'd expect some loss of performance with the short keel, the shoal draft is the slowest of the three by a wider margin than I would have guessed. I would have thought there would be little difference between SD and WK versions. Apparently, PHRF thinks the WK does indeed improve the boats performance. Anyway, I don't intend to race, and the boat does offer a more performance than the production boats that fit my budget and I require the shallow draft. It really comes down to condtion and build quality. There seems to be a perception that perhaps the Merlin is not as well built as its predecssor, but I'm seeking opinons on how it would compare with boats like a Beneteau, Catalina, Tartan or Sabre.

Thanks for the advice on giving the once over on a boat. That is pretty much the routine we've adopted for looking at boats. The reference to pictures was just to point out that you really cannot form an opinon on the conditon of a boat based on pictures. The Sabre we went to see, looked great in the photos, but was rough in real life. There had been no attempt at deception, the photos just did not reveal the warts.

Vasco 11-12-2007 09:26 AM


I have a Merlin that I bought new in 1988. I still have her after nearly twenty years. Mine has the shoal draft Hydrokeel. Contrary to what you say very few are raced up here mainly due to the low production numbers, less than 100 were built. Mine is #36 and they stopped production two years later. I have made eight trips south from Toronto in her. They are sought after on the Great lakes as a good cruising boat because of the aft cabin. The water tankage is good too - 150 gallons. Most of them have rod rigging and are built fairly robustly. Solid glass below waterline, vacuum bagged balsa cored above. The Tony Castro design is light and airy down below as opposed to the Traditional which is a bit dark with that divider forward of the chart table. I do think the Traditional is a prettier boat with nice sheer, which the merlin lacks. I no longer take her south now as the long journey was getting to be a bit of a drag. I have a Ben 393 which I sail in the Bahamas. Most of the Merlins up here are in fairly good condition. They are much sought after up here. Two or three of them were put in charter in BVI in the late eighties, they are no longer there but you should check the history of any one you look at.

PalmettoSailor 11-12-2007 09:44 AM

Vasco, I sent you a Private Message. Thanks.

bestfriend 11-12-2007 01:03 PM

This what I remember from the CSOA site. The Merlins came after the Traditional and ended with the demise of the company. They made about 300 Ts and about 100 Ms. The T was designed by Raymond Wall and the M by Tony Castro who also designed the 34. Besides the obvious design differences below, there are build differences too. The T has a solid GRP hull with stringers. No coring. I believe the M is like the 34 with balsa cored topsides and deck, which makes for a lighter boat. I have seen pictures here by members of the extremely thick hull of the T. It is pretty substantial, making it good for offshore work. The M is capable, but will not be as comfortable. I would say it is a better light airs boat than the T, and the design below would be more comfortable for cruising and spending weekends with the family, the separate aft cabin being a big reason for that. Sailing ability for all CS boats seems very good. They get to hull speed very quickly and point very well. As far as racing goes, the CS30 is the one that is raced a lot. There are at least 5 here in the Bay that race on a regular basis.

CS is above the big three in quality of that era, although the Cherubini is nice, and some of the Firsts are good too. The 36T may match up to the Sabre, but probably not the Tartans. I would say the 36M is below the Sabres and Tartans as far as build quality, but they are designed for different things, keep that in mind.

Also keep in mind the thread here talking about owner upkeep and build quality, they go hand in hand. Halekai36 has an extremely nice 36T, it shows what the combination of build quality and owner pride can do for a boat. I have seen a lot of Tartans that have been rode hard and put away wet, I think because they can take it, I don't know. But I have seen some nice ones too. IMHO if you do that to a big three boat, you would have to sink the purchase price back into it to get it back into shape. CS is kind of in the middle somwhere.

edit: I just read Vasco's post and I am pretty much repeating what he said.

Moedenny 02-15-2011 08:35 PM

We have one for "sail" here in Toronto. Lightly raced and cruised and owned by two OCD's! 1988-amazing conditon! Let me know if you'd like more details.

sailingdog 02-15-2011 10:15 PM


Originally Posted by Moedenny (Post 698532)
We have one for "sail" here in Toronto. Lightly raced and cruised and owned by two OCD's! 1988-amazing conditon! Let me know if you'd like more details.

given that the most recent post in this thread is almost 4 years old, i doubt they much care.:rolleyes:

fast2tack 08-13-2013 09:46 AM

Re: CS36 Merlin
Hi Vasco,
Reviving and old thread as I would vey much like to speak with you about CS 36 Merlins. With less then 10 posts have not been able to contact you through PM so I was hoping you could PM me with your contact info.
I have seen your CS 36 Merlin out sailing at lkeast three times this summer and would like to chat about you Merlin.
Thanks in advance,

pcmm 02-01-2014 04:58 PM

Re: CS36 Merlin
The Merlins were built to a higher standard than the CS36T they were the first CS sailboats offered with both Kevlar in the hull and to be vacuum bagged. Merlins were also offered with a long list of options including 4 different keels and 2 rigs so it's unlikely that any 2 are exactly the same.

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