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Old 10-16-2002
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Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?

Let me be the first to concur that the Bristol 40 is a nice boat. It is not a fast boat. We passed one in a 10kt breeze - a yawl under full sail and engine full ahead - in our 36 foot sloop under sail alone. We went by him to leeward, and so fast that the owner almost choked when he saw our exhaust had nothing coming out of it. The Bristol 32 is not a 40; as mentioned above, even the Bristol 29 has a faster rating.
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Old 10-16-2002
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Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?

I was in my local bookstore yesterday reading a book about small crusing boats (forget the exact name). They talked in the book about a guy who circumnavigated in a Catalina 27. Sure, he made a lot of modifications (which are detailed in the book), but his reason for chosing the boat was simple: he couldn''t afford anything else. His choice was make this boat work, or never make the trip.

Just something that caught my eye because I don''t think a Catalina 27 would top anyone''s list of blue water cruisers.
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Old 10-30-2002
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Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?

As a past Bristol 32 Yawl owner that sailed in New England for a number of years I would say that the Bristol 32 will certainly circumnavigate and be safe in the process. Bristol 32''s have logged a number of offshore trips with success. The qualities that stand out in my memory was the quality of hardware used, & the fact that the boat was well made and put together.
Yes by current standards it is tender but it has a gentle motion which is really important for cruising.
Yes it does hobbie horse in choppy waves. But so do many other boats.
In this size and probably price range the bristol 32 is probably one of the better choices of whats'' available.
My opinion.
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Old 04-30-2006
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Something doesn't fly here. The B32 was never marketed as a race boat. That implies something more along the lines of , say, a J-boat. It was marketed as a cruiser/racer, with the emphasis on comfort. So the B32 is slow. We're talking about 6 knots, plus/minus 1 knot as compared to other 10 meter boats. It would seem to me that delays and re-routes because of weather, damage and subsequent lay-ups for repair, theft, temp.-work for money to pay for repairs and buy supplies, would all cause much greater delays than a knot of average speed. Also, the B32 is more heavily built, requiring fewer repairs in hull-related issues.
CCA boats are inherently more stable that dinghy-hulled boats.
The narrow stern Jeff criticizes also minimizes rounding up, an all-too-prevalent issue in wide-strern boats.
Hobby-horsing? Get real. Does anyone really think that in the middle of the ocean, a 5ft difference in hull waterline (B32 vs newer 10 meter design) is going to make a difference in rough seas? Either will hobby-horse.
Comparing race course speed to sea-going ability is dangerous. Check the capsize risk. Dinghy-hulls have high initial stability, but actually slow down when heeled dramatically. CCA boats live in the buried-rail range. Excessive heeling? Hah! Some racers actually add lead ballast to their lighter "advanced" newer hulls. Why? Added stability. They can run more canvas, and sail more aggressively, thus more speed, and they can actually finish the race. The B32 has a nice low-slung lead-filled keel. That means low CG, even full loaded. Load up with supplies in a newer design, you have a higher much higher CG, meaning higher instability, and it will sit lower in the water, despite having longer waterline length, so it will slow down just the same because the entire wetted length increases. In the B32 in particular, as she sits lower in the water, her net waterline length increases, which increases speed. This increase would be partially offset by increased wetted area, but slow the boat down?
Jeff must live in a race world because he keeps referring to race situation. The CCA boats were penalized and ran less sail area..... Hey, real world here. Have a CCA boat? Run more sail! CCA boats are much less sensitive to larger rigs than the dinghy-hulls. Lay on all the sail you can and get max speed for a given situation. If speed is what you want, a big rig and steep heeling will deliver. After all, it's racing, right? In rough conditions, you must pull the sails back sooner in a newer dinghy hull, but you need momentum to maintain directional stability. Kinda working against yourself there, huh? CCA boats hang in there longer, and will track better, especially when topping a wave. Stern-mounted rudders pop out of the water and a newer boat will suddenly be 45 degrees off course in a heartbeat. But a CCA boat should be the coastal cruiser?
It would seem Jeff advocates getting a longer boat to deal with rough water, but not everyone can handle the cost of a 50ft cruiser. So, while he says the short B32 is rough, everyone else I've read states the spoon-shaped bow, and sculpted stern contributes to a smooth, comfortable ride.
The newer hulls are great in lighter air, no doubt, but to run one in stiff winds, you need a well-trained crew ready to deal with a sudden variable gust, or rogue waves.
Stick with sea-friendly, forgiving manners and ease of handling.
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Last edited by seabreeze_97; 05-21-2009 at 02:57 AM.
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Old 04-30-2006
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While I don't want to get into a point by point debate with you, your post unfairly characterized my earlier posts on this topic and is so full of inaccuracies that I feel that I need to address to at least some of them.

I'll start with your very first sentences. I am sitting here with an original piece of literature on the Bristol 32 dated 12/65. It was picked up at Northrop & Johnson of Conn in 1965 when my family was in the market for a 32 footer. The headline on the first page says, Bristol 32, "a new CCA racer for the whole family". While the literature describes the virtues of fiberglass and of family sailing, clearly the focus included a strong emphasis on performance on the race course.

The Bristol 32 was what a hot race boat of that era looked like. When she was designed the CCA rule was the racing measurement rule of choice and the CCA rule of the day unfairly penalized waterline length and mainsail area resulting in designs that were a side step from the path to the deveopment of seakindly, easy to handle boats. Both the Bristol 32 and 40 were loosely based on Ted Hood's race winning Robin of that era. To the deficit of the Bristol 32, Robin and Bristol 40's were far less radical race boats than the 32 with its extremely short waterline length, pinched stern sections, and dependence on very large genoas even in moderately high windspeeds. The rule also over penalized stability, and this combination resulted in a boat that was tender and unable to stand to its sail plan as conditions worsened and yet were also very hard to shift gears. While it is true that these boats would tolerate higher heel angles than 'dinghy style' hulls, they would develop the kind of weather helm that would quickly grind down a helmsman. Sailing at these large heel angles meant lots of water in the cockpit, and was an uncomfortable way to go sailing. With the companionway sill just a few inches above the cockpit sole, even in the case of an errant wave, let alone a knockdown, sailing at high heel angles also meant a lot of water down below. The helm of the centerboard versions of these boats could be partially balanced by partially lowering the board, but the centerboard versions were even more tender than the keel versions. While many longer keel boats will track quite well, the Bristol 32 was not one them. In boats of this size, dynamic balance is far more critical to tracking ability than keel length, and the one thing about Bristol 32, especially the sloop rigged, keel version was that it did could not be dynamically balanced in a seaway. (The yawl and centerboard versions were easier to balance.)

The fact that these boats are tender and yet relied on very large headsails made them a bear to sail in changing conditions. The high drag and comparatively ineffective rudders just aggrevated the situation. Having sailed these boats in rough offshore conditions, what would have been something of a rough ride in a better design, became a fight for our lives, leaving us soaked, bruised and battered. While you may not think that hobby-horsing makes a difference offshore, besides for incapacitating this otherwise experienced crew due to seasickness, the hobby-horsing was a serious issue in gusty conditions, because the large pitching angles would knock these boats to a near stop, leaving them flat footed and more prone to knock downs, and as I mentioned knock downs meant downflooding, and made working on the foredeck in a chop more of a swim than one would experience in a more moderate design. The comparatively small shallow bilge on the centerboard version meant water everywhere throughout the interior, fore and aft, and transversely.

I really don't know what makes you think that these boats had a low center of gravity. With their heavy spars, shallow draft, comparatively low ballast to displacement ratio. When compared to other boats of that era, or even slightly later designs, these boats had comparatively high vertical centers of gravity. There is no comparason between the Bristol 32 with its deep center of buoyancy and high center of gravity to modern offshore cruising designs. (NOTE: I am not comparing the Bristol 32 to modern race boats.)

Perhaps to further clarify my point, I would like to compare the Bristol 32 to the Halsey Herreshoff designed Bristol 33/34 that replaced it. The 33/34 was roughly 18" longer, but (depending on version) had nearly a 4 foot longer waterline. Also depending on the version, the 33/34's had between 500 and 900 lbs additional ballast in a one foot deeper keel. This resulted in a boat with a more much more stability, a more comfortable motion, and greater carrying capacity.

I am perplexed on some of the items that you eroneously characterize as my position. You can go back and read my posts, I have never advocated 50 footers or dinghy style hulls (at least not for a couple or family who would be looking to sail around the world short-handed). I do believe based on the studies that I have read, and my experience sailing on boats of that era and better later designs, the single most critical factors that control seaworthiness and motion comfort for a given displacement, are sailing length, vertical center of gravity, and a rig and hull form that can quickly adapt to changeable conditions. The Bristol 32 and later IOR era boats are the poster children for undesireable characteristics for offshore cruising.

I don't why you felt compelled to dredge up this 2 1/2 year old thread at this point in time, but at least you and I agree entirely on your last sentence, "Stick with sea-friendly, forgiving manners and ease of handling." which is precisely why I don't recommend the Bristol 32 for a circumnavigation. Spend some time on one of these boats, and other raceboat derived designs of that era like the Vanguard, Luders 33's, C&C Corvette, and compare that to a more moderate 32 footer of that era or one that was actually designed for offshore cruising like the Seawind, then lets talk again.


Last edited by Jeff_H; 05-01-2006 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 05-04-2006
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"a new CCA racer for the whole family"
Am I the only one who sees the cruiser aspect of that statement? It's a way to get dad to buy the station wagon (hey, look at that big V8), but not feel totally cheated because he'd rather have the Porche.
On the hobby-horse issue. Take the C&C Corvette. Explain to me how this CCA boat, also with a 22ft waterline, weighing considerably less, is going to be more stable, and less of a hobby-horse. Speaking of mis-characterizing statements, I didn't say hobby-horsing didn't matter. I said 5ft at the waterline wouldn't matter.
Also, a clarification. The B32 was in production from 1966-1983.
The Bristol 33 ran from 1968-71, then became the 34 in '71, and ran til 1978. Yet, you claim it replaced the B32. That's a neat trick. Is it superior for rougher conditions, and speed? No doubt, but it didn't replace the '32.
On the 50 footer deal, must be that new math. I, for one, can't see any other way to get some seriously longer waterline numbers in a hull, unless you get a longer hull. The 50ft number was just a choice. Could've just as easily been 52, or 48, or 70 for that matter.
I don't know, man. It almost seems personal to you. Everywhere else, granted there's not a lot out there, but the others talk about the comfortable ride of the spoon-shaped bow, and the gracefully tapered stern giving a gentle motion as she comes down into the sea. I have also been in contact with a B32 owner that has been in rough conditions and he made no comment of it being a bear in the situations similar to what you mention.
Now, allowing for the fact that some designs are better at some things than others (meaning the '32 isn't the best for offshore), I still have to wonder how much of your bad experiences weren't so much the boat, as it was the skipper, and his decisions. In that the B32 is so different from other designs (according to your own statements), perhaps it should've been sailed differently so that these issues were taken into consideration. Don't know, wasn't there, don't know who the skipper was. Not trying to take a cheap shot on him. Maybe it's just me, but I thought being in rough conditions meant getting beat up and wet, regardless of the boat, especially when not sailed to its best advantage.

Last edited by seabreeze_97; 05-21-2009 at 03:01 AM.
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Old 05-04-2006
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Oh, forgot to touch on the CG question. You mention the heavy spars on a B32. This would be the aluminum spar I can lift by myself? And I'm no powerlifter. Ironically, I was moving the spar for a C&C 29 recently, and despite alleged improvements, and a smaller footprint, damned if the thing didn't actually feel noticeably heavier. Matter of fact, when I lowered the B32 mast I did it myself handling the rope by hand, but with the C&C mast, my dad and I were very nearly whipped by the 29's mast, and we needed to use one of the 29's winches to lower the thing to the ground. That sucker was a lot heavier now that I think about it! I'm wondering just how much lighter the spars are for the other boats. They can be made only so thin, and still have to be an appropriate length (and yes, I know there are some ways to get away with a slightly lighter mast, keel mounting being one way). Maybe I'm confused on the CG issue, but with 2 tons of lead in the keel (about as low as it can be placed) to constantly act on the righting moment, seems to me, the vertical CG would be pretty good (I'm also aware of the heavier decks due to an absence of balsa wood). If balsa had been used, the vertical CG would be slightly better, but not dramatically. Granted, I have seen one owner move his battery bank into the cabin to improve trim on a B32. I have actually moved one of these boats on a trailer, and there's no doubt (for me) where the weight and CG are.
The low companionway sill isn't just a B32 sin. It is, however, a relatively simple thing to remedy, and if going offshore, just another item on the "to do" list.
Now, on shifting hard is it to pull back as conditions dictate? Are you saying that in the heat of the moment, when you're already in trouble, it's difficult to change gears? Reef points? Storm jib? Why? Because the boat is being tossed? Were the situations you've mentioned the result of racing a stock boat, where it really could have benefitted from some better equipment, i.e. racing equipment? Regardless, you're alive, and I take it the boat didn't sink, and you haven't mentioned anything about broken equipment since I popped in, so it must be a pretty decent little boat. That brings up an interesting question. Have you ever been in a sinker? What boat was it, if so, and what caused it?
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Old 05-04-2006
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Okay, regarding the reference to the Pearson Vanguard being better for offshore, I have to ask. Have you ever looked at these two boats? Do a couple quick searches and look at the hulls. Can they be any more alike? In that Clint Pearson was involved in both, it's pretty obvious. Also, look at the numbers:
Select the two boats, and compare. How much closer can they be? But, one is good for offshore, and the other isn't? Again, substantiate your claim.
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Old 05-04-2006
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You are defending the indefensible above. Jeff's scholarly explanation of the shortcomings of the B32 offered reasoned opinions based on experience. Your responses remind of the defense lawyers' tricks, if you don't have much to say, then shout, if you don't have facts on your side, attack the person. Yikes.
The B32 is a sloth. It rates 228, about the same as a Rhodes 19, slower than a Ranger 23. I'd call that painfully slow. You may like it, good for you, but as I suspect experienced boaters say 'amen" to all of Jeff's comments.

Your allegory about the C&C 29's mast weight reflects how confused your commnets are. The 29's mast steps on its keel, the only way anyone ever lifted one is with a hoist, if you ever lowered something with a winch, it was not a mast from a C&C 29.
Yikes again.
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The C&C 29 mast had already been removed and lashed to the deck. I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell me I didn't do something you weren't there to witness for yourself. As for the facts, where is it written that this was ever about speed, except to you and Jeff? On the facts, I'm taking an example Jeff cites (the Vanguard), and comparing it to the B32. The boats are virtually identical in every spec, and hull design. Why then, is the Vanguard so good for offshore, and the B32 is not? As for my tactics, they'd be of a good lawyer. Your plea, in fact reminds me of someone cornered and crying foul, when in fact, there has been no foul. But that's okay. It's nice to see Jeff's girlfriend stick up for him.
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