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  #1  
Old 07-24-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Anyone seen or sailed the new Cape Fear 38? Have seen a number of adds in magazines and they seem to be getting some good press. I''d also be interested in what anyone knows about the company.

Thanks..........RGS
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Old 07-25-2002
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Cape Fear 38

I was on the Cape Fear at the Annapolis Boat Show and had a long chat with Bruce Marek, the boat''s designer. In many ways, I thought this was very close to my idea of the perfect boat. Reasonable displacement and very low center of gravity ideal for good motion, lots of stability and ease of handling. Reasonable draft for a 38 foot performance boat. Nice easily driven hull without a large amount of form stability again for good speed under sail, ease of handling and comfortable motion. Nicely proportioned and detailed fractional rig allowing easier short handled sailing and few sails and sail changes. Vinylester resin with kevlar reinforcing in critical areas for a highly durable and sturdy hull. Foam cored desks for longevity. An interior layout that places the head, galley and chart table near the companionway minimizing the amount of motion for these critical tasks and providing easy access for the on deck watch without dragging water the the rest of the boat. Nice big sail locker accessible from on deck or from down below.

On the negative side, I would have liked a smaller deck area in the main salon and a single passage forward which would have resulted in more usable and lower storage and perhaps a pilot berth. (Although the settees in the main salon were easily converted to a seaberth the lack of which is normally a complaint I have with many other boats that bill them selves as so called ''blue water cruisers''.)

The Cockpit was also an area that left me less than perfectly thrilled. To me a cockpit need to be comfortable for ''hanging out''. I spent a lot of time on deck on the Cape Fear 38. The cockpit looked like a good place to be a racer but the cockpit lacked the comfort that I would have liked to have seen on a performance cruiser. As a contrast look at the Beneteau First 40.7''s convertable cockpit. I am racing on a 40.7 this summer and this is a super cockpit to race in and yet a really nice place to hang out afterward.

In talking with Bruce Marek it was clear that Cape Fear is in a position to customize individual boats, within reason, to a specific owner''s needs. If I could afford a boat in that general price range a customized version of the Cape Fear would be close to the top of my list.

Jeff
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Old 07-26-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Whatever a Cape Fear 38 is, it isn''t a cruising-capable boat (as claimed by the company)...and I continue to tire at boat builders who choose the ''racer/cruiser'' label for such self-enriching purposes.

This boat appears meant to be sailed from marina to marina. ''Cruising'' is not synonymous with weekending a few miles down the Bay. Electrical generation & storage for liveaboard needs while on the hook? Anchors (that''s more than one...), chain + nylon rodes, windlass...where do they go? A saildrive for extended cruising? Right. Is there a neat little space for the watermaker, given scant tankage. Lots of room for jerry jugs since the fuel tank is most likely also small? Geesh...

If you''ve walked around Bald Head Is. (where the owner of the yard and the guy who wanted a custom design for himself, then thought he''d start a boat building company, too), you might get the impression that''s not where experienced cruising sailors retire to, nor where clever designs suitable for cruising sailboats originate. However, it might be a likely place to find a few Marketing guys who like to write creative marketing copy because they think it will sell boats.

Jack
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Old 07-27-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Jack, obviously you have never seen one of these boats in real life. They are not intended to be liveaboards and frankly that is one of the best things about them. When you look at how most people use their boats, live aboards and distance cruisers are a very small minority. Most people cruise their boats on weekends with perhaps a longer cruise of two during the season. There''s nothing worng with that and nothing wrong with a quality built boat designed specifically for that market.

What they are designed to do is sail well in a very wide range of conditions. They are designed to sail well in lighter conditions. They are far more capable of cruising offshore than many so called blue water boats.

These boats are constructed on a semi-custom basis with several different rig, engine and interior configurations. The boat at the Annapolis Show which is the boat on the website, was slanted toward racing with a pretty spartan interior. In talking with the designer there are options which would allow more storage, a larger engine and charging capacity. There is a fairly large engine room compartment and sail locker which would allow the addition of the types of electronic support that are popular today, such as a watermaker. Additional tankage was optional as was a more cruising oriented interior. While I too am not a big fan of saildrives, many highly respected builders of expensive cruising boats use them (Hallberg Rassey, Oyster, Trinetella) so I don''t think that having a sail drive excludes this boat from calling itself a cruiser. This boat comes with an anchor locker and a bowsprit to handle the anchor. On a boat this size a windlass is not necessary (I don''t have one on my 38 footer) but the anchor locker is big enough to install a windalss should some one want one.

I guess its like this, there are a lot of equally valid ways to go cruising. While some seem to think that the only valid way to go cruising is to live aboard full time, to have every whizbang gizmo and to sit in one spot for months at a time then motor up and down the intercoastal, to me it is equally valid to have a cruising boat that is intended to voyage under sail; that is simple enough to be easy to maintain, that is biased toward a good turn of speed and which is properly engineered to be both light and strong. To me this has far more validity than the so called blue water boats that are being sold to newbie cruisers who will never actually venture offshore but will spend most of thier time motoring their unsuitable boats down the Bay from marina to marina.

One thing we do agree about is that I do agree that the website has too much hype and not enough facts about the boat.
Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 07-28-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Jeff & the group:

My post was generated by reading the CF 38 website and finding the boat described as being suitable for racing or cruising. I think I was clear I had not seen the boat. Based on that, I''ll stick by my comments.

Cruising is not weekending, which is synonymous with how I would suggest Jeff describes ''cruising'' in his post above. I agree that many, many folks sail their boats locally and that, for them, that constitutes ''cruising''; that''s fine by me. Perhaps my gripe in part is how watered down the term gets, and therefore how unhelpful it is when ''cruising'' and ''cruising sailboats'' are discussed.

If a boat of this size/displacement is to be cruised, it means - to me, at least - that it must be capable of being handled *safely* in a self-sufficient manner in the range of condtions which at least coastal waters can present and while offering reasonable accommodation and services to the crew who are, after all, living aboard.

To me this includes for example:
1. Having a safe way to deploy & retrieve a suitable anchor and chain/rope rode when conditions turn sour in a now unprotected anchorage, perhaps also in the presence of some current. That requires a windlass for this size boat. That certainly can be bolted on but is the boat''s foredeck designed with this in mind? Designed with an eye to that combined weight being acceptable in the bow? Allowing safe deployment & retrieval without dinging the bow? (And a lot more...) It didn''t appear so, to me.
2. Being motored, off and on over a period of time, for more than a 100 hours before needing to be hauled with a travel lift so the hypoid gear can be changed. I''m unimpressed with the fact that other ''quality'' boats install sail drives, as they do so to maximize interior space, simplify installation, reduce build cost and are incented to do so by engine manufacturers who make a bigger sale (vs. the bits & pieces of a conventional system being purchased from other vendors by the builder). A huge amount could be written on this topic. E.g. notice Jeff''s builder examples - boats built and principally sold in seasonal climates to upscale buyers who typically haul each fall and may not cruise in more remote areas (which N Europe certainly isn''t). H-R is clueless about why this is an issue for cruising sailors and had to go to Volvo to answer some of my questions, while some smaller H-R boats who are out cruising struggle with zinc replacement and gear oil change issues. I could go on...
3. It''s easy to look at systems needed by a cruising boat individually and miss the combined impact they have on the space consumed, weight added, and therefore the importance of a boat being designed with these needs in mind, up front. I realize some boats are cruised long distances with few, simple systems but IME far more boats - and especially newer and more costly boats -have substantial 12V power requirements (and need the storage & generating capacity to provide it), have signficiant water tankage (and/or watermaking capability), hundreds of miles of fuel endurance, multiple anchor & rode combinations, significant food storage capacity, sun and wave protection integrated into the cockpit design, and so forth. Most boats being cruised, even smaller ones, have these items because their use potentially requires it of them, even if ''cruising'' means waterway travel inside U.S. coastal waters. It''s my impression the CF 38''s design does not reflect these needs seriously. To the extent the boat may be semi-customized to offer some of these features, great. But the basic envelope does not lend itself to this, performance & handling will be impacted moreso than in designs where this is taken into account, and inevitable compromises will result in access, absence of space for other needs, and most especially in cost (which always zooms as boat''s are ''modified'' by a builder).

Again, I think my gripe is more about builders unfairly (unethically?)claiming ''cruising'' capability than about this boat...and maybe my gripe is also about how we all use the term ''cruising'' on these BB''s. I also happen to agree with Jeff on several points where his post suggests we differ. For example, performance is a HUGE benefit to and should be a primary consideration of crews picking a cruising boat. (In my view, primarily because it increases crew safety in multiple ways). And yes, we agree inexperienced buyers sometimes buy "cruising" crab crushers because they go after volume and gadgets, and so these boat choices also fail as role models to the rest of us. And if we want to beat up on such folks further, then yes, many then fail to use their boats as intended and never even discover how inappropriate were their choices.

But let''s not overreact by suggesting that boats clearly designed for racing and weekending lend themselves nicely to realistic cruising demands. And let''s not let builders get away with it, either.

Jack

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Old 07-28-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Jeff & the group:

My post was generated by reading the CF 38 website and finding the boat described as being suitable for racing or cruising. I think I was clear I had not seen the boat. Based on that, I''ll stick by my comments.

Cruising is not weekending, which is synonymous with how I would suggest Jeff describes ''cruising'' in his post above. I agree that many, many folks sail their boats locally and that, for them, that constitutes ''cruising''; that''s fine by me. Perhaps my gripe in part is how watered down the term gets, and therefore how unhelpful it is when ''cruising'' and ''cruising sailboats'' are discussed.

If a boat of this size/displacement is to be cruised, it means - to me, at least - that it must be capable of being handled *safely* in a self-sufficient manner in the range of condtions which at least coastal waters can present and while offering reasonable accommodation and services to the crew who are, after all, living aboard.

To me this includes for example:
1. Having a safe way to deploy & retrieve a suitable anchor and chain/rope rode when conditions turn sour in a now unprotected anchorage, perhaps also in the presence of some current. That requires a windlass for this size boat. That certainly can be bolted on but is the boat''s foredeck designed with this in mind? Designed with an eye to that combined weight being acceptable in the bow? Allowing safe deployment & retrieval without dinging the bow? (And a lot more...) It didn''t appear so, to me.
2. Being motored, off and on over a period of time, for more than a 100 hours before needing to be hauled with a travel lift so the hypoid gear can be changed. I''m unimpressed with the fact that other ''quality'' boats install sail drives, as they do so to maximize interior space, simplify installation, reduce build cost and are incented to do so by engine manufacturers who make a bigger sale (vs. the bits & pieces of a conventional system being purchased from other vendors by the builder). A huge amount could be written on this topic. E.g. notice Jeff''s builder examples - boats built and principally sold in seasonal climates to upscale buyers who typically haul each fall and may not cruise in more remote areas (which N Europe certainly isn''t). H-R is clueless about why this is an issue for cruising sailors and had to go to Volvo to answer some of my questions, while some smaller H-R boats who are out cruising struggle with zinc replacement and gear oil change issues. I could go on...
3. It''s easy to look at systems needed by a cruising boat individually and miss the combined impact they have on the space consumed, weight added, and therefore the importance of a boat being designed with these needs in mind, up front. I realize some boats are cruised long distances with few, simple systems but IME far more boats - and especially newer and more costly boats -have substantial 12V power requirements (and need the storage & generating capacity to provide it), have signficiant water tankage (and/or watermaking capability), hundreds of miles of fuel endurance, multiple anchor & rode combinations, significant food storage capacity, sun and wave protection integrated into the cockpit design, and so forth. Most boats being cruised, even smaller ones, have these items because their use potentially requires it of them, even if ''cruising'' means waterway travel inside U.S. coastal waters. It''s my impression the CF 38''s design does not reflect these needs seriously. To the extent the boat may be semi-customized to offer some of these features, great. But the basic envelope does not lend itself to this, performance & handling will be impacted moreso than in designs where this is taken into account, and inevitable compromises will result in access, absence of space for other needs, and most especially in cost (which always zooms as boat''s are ''modified'' by a builder).

Again, I think my gripe is more about builders unfairly (unethically?)claiming ''cruising'' capability than about this boat...and maybe my gripe is also about how we all use the term ''cruising'' on these BB''s. I also happen to agree with Jeff on several points where his post suggests we differ. For example, performance is a HUGE benefit to and should be a primary consideration of crews picking a cruising boat. (In my view, primarily because it increases crew safety in multiple ways). And yes, we agree inexperienced buyers sometimes buy "cruising" crab crushers because they go after volume and gadgets, and so these boat choices also fail as role models to the rest of us. And if we want to beat up on such folks further, then yes, many then fail to use their boats as intended and never even discover how inappropriate were their choices.

But let''s not overreact by suggesting that boats clearly designed for racing and weekending lend themselves nicely to realistic cruising demands. And let''s not let builders get away with it, either.

Jack

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Old 07-28-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Jack and the ''Group'', first off I want to commend and thank Jack for a well written and thoughtful response. I think this is a very interesting dialogue on a very interesting topic.

At the risk of sounding ''Clinton-esque'', some of this discussion centers on how we each define the term ''cruising'' and some does not. To me cruising would include weekend overnights as well as longer passages. I see this as distinct from voyaging or living aboard. (It would appear that you and I agree on the point that living aboard is not the same as cruising or voyaging, although certainly an equally valid use of a boat.)For me,voyaging in my mind is a state of prolonged cruising with folks like the Pardeys or Anne Hill being good examples of voyagers. I think that generally voyaging perhaps requires a different boat than might work for cruising.

When I look at the cruising rather than racing version of Cape Fear 38, I see a boat that could work well as an extended cruiser but which is clearly not intended to be a voyager. I think that we both agree that implies that to be called a cruiser "it must be capable of being handled *safely* in a self-sufficient manner in the range of condtions which at least coastal waters can present and while offering reasonable accommodation and services to the crew who are, after all, living aboard." I personally think in that the cruising version of this boat with its larger tankage and increased storage would work well well within that definition. I personally would feel that a couple (like my wife and I) could be very comfortable leaving the Chesapeake Bay, sailing out to Bermuda and hanging a right and sailing down to and through the Bahamas for a couple months or heading north to Maine for the summer in a boat like this. To address the key points of Jack''s post,

1. Anchoring:
These boats come standard with a welded bowsprit that serves as a anchor platform and tack point for their assymetrical spinackers. They have both and anchor locker and a chain loocker below. While I would not expect that they can carry 300 to 400 feet of chain (which is what I would expect to carry on a boat intended for voyaging) I would expect that they could easily carry the 80 or so feet of 5/16 chain that a boat this size would carry for prolonged cruising. If I remember the anchor locker correctly (and I must admit that I was on a lot of boats at the Annapolis Show and my recollections may be mistaken here) here is room to install a windlass in the anchor locker if one was desired. I am not completely convinced that one is necessary. If you think of the size of this boat by its displacement of 11,500 lbs or so rather than by length, by weight this is roughly the same displacement as many dedicated 30 to 32 foot cruisers. I would not expect to have a windlass on a 30 to 32 footer any more than I expect to have a windlass on my current 38 footer.

2. Saildrive:
I basically agree with you on the saildrive. I think it is clearly aimed at boats that will be hauled out every year or two. I had one on my last boat. Changing zincs was no harder than changing the strut zincs on a conventional propshaft. On the smaller saildrive gearbox on my last boat, you had to haul out to change the tranmission fluid. This was required every two years or 250 hours. On some of the bigger Yanmar saildrives that I looked at it would appear that you can do the fluid change through the dipstick port and that they had a similar lifespan between changes. 250 hours is pretty consistent with the lifespan of the transmission fluid in the conventional Yanmar transmission in my current boat. Still, I agree that a sail drive makes less sense for serious offshore cruising than a conventional shaft drive.

3. When I look at this systems and tankage capacity on the cruising version of this boat, they seem more than adequate, especially when compared with my current boat. While I do not hold my boat out to be everyone''s idea of the perfect cruiser, the similarities in size and displacement between the two makes this a useful point of comparison. (I emphasize that I do not see my boat as an ideal voyager but I do believe that they are reasonable distance cruisers. My boat was single-handed in from South Africa where she was constructed and sisterships of my boat are off voyaging with a fair degree of frequency. They are routinely cruised out of Capetown, S.A where there is a big fleet and where the prevailing conditions are brutal. A sistership of my boat came through Annapolis last fall. That boat was singlehanded from Capetown to the Carribean, spending the first 10 days in 30 to 50 knot winds and averaged over 150 miles a day even including passing through the duldrums. He cruised the Carribean with his family before sailing up to Annapolis. I know of at least four sisterships that are serving as distance voyagers with one planning a Cape Horn rounding later this year. So while not necessarily ideal, I think they are reasonably adaptable as distance cruisers and certainly useful for the sake of comparason for this discussion.)

As I understood it, the cruising version of the Cape Fear was designed to carry more water than my boat''s 60 gallon capacity and more fuel than my boat''s 20 gals of diesel. With my Yanmar 3GM 30''s 1/2 gallon an hour at cruising speed consumption that is about 40 hours of engine time. The fellow who single-handed from Capetown to the Carribean reported roughly 15 hours of engine time for the whole trip. He like many distance cruisers carried a few gerry cans of extra fuel and on my boat I would add a 20 gal fuel bladder where the original design showed the ''optional extra fuel tank''. I think that compared to most 11000 lb boats, 80 to 100 gallons of water and 40 or so gallons of fuel is a lot of each.

There is a mechanical ''room'' below the cockpit that could easily house additional battery banks, a water maker and those types of niceties. If I remember correctly the boat I looked at was tiller steered but had a below decks heavy duty autopilot. A very nice set up when compared to the ''wheel pilots'' on a lot of so called offshore boats.

With this boat''s higher performance I would expect less motoring time. I somewhat disagree that the Cape Fear was not designed for this kind of useage. In talking with the designer at the show, it sounded about this sounded well thought through for the Cape Fear 38. Perhaps more so than in my boat. I do think that the website seems to reflect the more stripped out racier version possibly because that was the version built for the prototype. I don''t agree that performance will drop with the cruising version (except that the cruising version does not have a carbon mast and has a little less sail area to compensate.) Remember that racing versions are typically set up to carry huge crews (probably 8 to 10 or so folks on a boat this size and all of their gear and necessary supplies) which actually weighs more than most couples need to carry when going cruising so I don''t think that carrying capacity is a problem.

Cost is another matter. It was my understanding that the cruiser version was less expensive than the racer version but still I am overwhelmed by the price of new boats today. When basic 31 or 32 foot value oriented cruisers cost over $100,000 I just have to wonder. I make a pretty good living but I couldn''t imagine ever being able to afford the cost of a new cruiser in the size range of the boat we are discussing.

In any event, the term cruiser/racer is an old term that goes back as long as I have been sailing. It has almost always implied a boat that was neither a dedicated cruiser nor a dedicated racer; a boat that does both reasonably but certainly not as well as a boat intended to be exclusively either. In that regard I think that the boat in question fairly falls in that category and perhaps is more of each than historically that term might have implied.

Respectfully,
Jeff

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Old 07-28-2002
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Cape Fear 38

Jeff

As an expat South African currently living in Canada and looking for a boat, I''m very interested in hearing which boat you actually own.

Also, I would like to ask your opinion on the Tartan 372. I want to cruise coastally in the Pacific Northwest, as well as summer trips to Alaska and to Hawaii and back. My wife and I have two children; 6 and 9 years old.

Magnus Murphy
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Old 07-28-2002
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Cape Fear 38

I own a Farr 11.6 (Farr 38) which was built in Capetown in the early 1980''s. I understand that these boats are reasonably common down there with something over 50 of them built to varying degrees of finish. I understand that at least some were sold as kit boats and finished as stripped out racers but the ones that I have seen up here in the States that were factory finished from Capetown, my own boat included, were nicely finished as a long distance cruisers and racers. When I began researching these boats I kept finding almost contradictory references to how these boats were being used but all seemed to suggest that these boats were being sailed in tough venues and holding quite well.

As to the Tartan 372, Tartans of the early 1990''s were reasonably well built coastal cruisers. I really do not know that specific model very well. I raced against one with my last boat, a Laser 28. They seemed to sail pretty well in a medium breeze and were at their best on a beat. The boat was well sailed but I generally beat them boat for boat. That is actually good performance in the lighter stuff we raced in for a 37 foot boat with as nice and interior as the 372. I like the layout of the 472 with the head, nav station and galley aft. But they are not exactly my kind of boat. I personally also think that I would stay away from the shoal draft (4''9") keel model as that is too shallow for decent comfort of motion or speed for a 37 footer but I''ve never sailed one so I could be surprised.

Good luck,
Jeff
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Cape Fear 38

thanks Jeff

You''re correct I have heard of the Farr 38. Interesting how the South African boat building industry has made a name for itself over the last years. There are very good boats being built there and they are now getting the recognition. I know that Moorings has most if not all of their cats built in Cape Town, and another Cat has won this year''s Cruising World BOTY competition.

I have found the perfect boat, but it is in Cape Town and financing is a problem from here for a boat registered offshore. Thus my ongoing search and question regarding the T372, one of which is for sale in the PNW. It seems nicely appointed.

You mention "coastal cruiser". Although I will be doing mostly coastal cruising, I absolutely want a boat that can take me to Hawaii and back safely and without having to worry whether she is up to it.

M. Murphy
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