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mmcdan 10-11-2002 05:52 PM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
I am considering buying a Bristol 32 sloop to circumnavgate with my fiance. I would appreciate any advice about this boat--specific to cruising, or just general observations/information. Thanks very much!

paulk 10-11-2002 06:50 PM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
People have circumnavigated in Cal 29''s after a bit of beefing up at the yard, so that isn''t the issue, after you''re confident in the boat and rig. I would want to confirm that the boat has enough storage for all the food and water you''ll need on long passages. The Bristol isn''t known for great speed, so your supplies will need to take that into account. More supplies will slow you down further.... Welcome to the balancing act that is sailing!

WHOOSH 10-12-2002 02:10 PM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?

Your (generic) question appears frequently and the (generic) answer is usually pretty much the same. Older/smaller/cheaper production boats designed for coastal sailing MAY support long-range, offshore cruising but they come with a long list of caveats and cautions, not to mention a lot of upgrades for safety purposes if no other.

When folks specify a specific boat in the kind of question you pose, it''s usually because they''ve spotted a certain boat that, for some reason, has managed to connect the dots between their dreams on the one hand and their financial circumstances and aesthetic needs on the other. Put another way, your question is predicated on the boat rather than the goal (the voyage). A lot of folks have jump-started the process of fulfilling dreams with a boat they dearly love, but I''d respectfully suggest you ask a different question and see if you come up with a Bristol 32 as one of the answers. I''d state the question as something like this: ''If I want to circumnavigate (aka: sail long offshore distances to remote areas while living aboard long term with my partner), what SHOULD my boat look like?'' In this case, ''look'' means all those characteristics critical to the safety, sailing, comfort and carrying capacity of an offshore cruiser.

''What should my boat look like?'' That''s a good place to start. One resource I''d encourage you to read carefully & thoughtfully is on John Neal''s website ( Also note the brief summary comments on many boat types at the article''s end. John now has close to 400,000 offshore miles, most of it instructing would-be cruisers in offshore sailing. His seminars are highly regarded and his widely respected advice well-earned. I''d encourage you to start there, add whatever other info you find helpful to you (another excellent resource in answering this question is Nigel Calder''s latest book, The Cruising Handbook) and then try to answer your original question (about the Bristol 32) as you see it. That''s the opinion that counts.


manateee_gene 10-13-2002 03:32 AM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
Can a duck swim and fly, yes!
The 32 will do the job if your up to it yourself?

manateee_gene 10-13-2002 03:38 AM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
Jack: You and I both know that almost any boat can be a circumnavigator!( If a Cal 25 can do it what cannot)Its not the boat! It is the crew, their knowledge, experience, and ability to make do and improvise as the conditions require.Oh! lets not forget prepare. I guess that falls under two of the above!

Jeff_H 10-13-2002 01:57 PM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
I have a different take on this....While a lot of pretty poorly suited boats can and have gone around the world, that does not mean that it makes sense to plan to go around the world in a poorly suited boat. To me the Bristol 32 is a pretty pooly suited boat.

These boats were originally intended as CCA era racing rule beaters. They were not very good sailboats even when compared to other boats of that era. While later Bristols offered very good construction quality, the earlier Bristol 32''s were just not all that well constructed. They have cramped interiors with minimal storage. With their short waterline lengths they are pretty slow and do not tolerate as much weight as a longer waterline design. The waterline length also means that they are pretty slow and miserable in a chop.

So while a really knowledgeable sailor probably could sail one around the world, a really knowledgeable sailor probably wouldn''y choose to sail one around the world.


windship 10-13-2002 04:03 PM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
Hi Jeff,
Ummm...excuse me, but aren''t a hell of alot of very experienced sailors doing just that in just that kind of boat?
Most people around here already know that you can''t stand the CCA boats and refer to them as abominations.I,for one,grow weary of these unfair opinions.I''m sorry.
What bothers me is you always leave alot of info on these boats out when giving opinions or advise.
Like this time, about the waterline length. Sure they might have short waterline lenths but when the boat heals over the waterline length greatly increases. It''s just not the problem that you make it out to be.
As far as the rest of it,I''m not sure about construction mabey you''d like to offer some facts on this but they are cramped and do lack storage space. Alot of people own these boats and are very happy.
Now I''m no expert but I''ve always read and figured that a performance type boat with a long waterline and lighter displacement will not take weight on and retain it''s sailing abilities as well as a higher D/L boat will unless it''s a large boat. Jeff, your the only one I''ve ever heard say that.It makes sense to me that if you add weight to something that is already relitively heavy it will have alot less effect than adding weight to something relitively light and expect the same performance.
Sailing into a chop can be done well with any boat that doesn''t have full ends. I''ve seen plenty of higher D/L boats with a fine enough bow that would do well enough into a chop. And it''s well known that a boat with a full bow will have a larger, more comfortable vee birth and more reserve boyancy.
In your opinion, what would a Bristol thirty-two be well suited for?


Jeff_H 10-14-2002 05:02 AM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
My criticism of the Bristol 32 comes from spending many hours sailing on board them, around them and against them. While I generally do not like the aberations that occured in yacht design as a result of the CCA rule, there were few production boats for which the impact was more harsh.

To address your points, while many CCA boats were designed so that their waterlines would lengthen dramatically, the shape of the bow and stern on the Bristol 32 (narrow stern with sharp exit angle) somewhat limited this as compared to other well known CCA rule beaters such as the designs by Bill Tripp and Halsey Herreshoff. In sailing Bristol 32''s it took a very large heel angle to get much to get even a small increase in speed which is why the smaller Halsey Herreshoff designed Bristol 29 rates significantly faster than the Bristol 32 and the Cal 25 of the same period rates equal. In this case, based on my experience with these boats, the short waterline is exactly the problem that I make it out to be, unless passage times just do not matter to the person who originally asked the question. After all, I point out that these boats are slow even compared to many of their contemporaries but I leave it to the person asking the question to determine whether that bothers them.

Beyond that, as I mentioned it takes a large heel angle on the Bristol 32 to have much impact on speed, as heel angles increases so does leeway. But if we look at the original question, (i.e. is the B32 suitable for a circumnavigation) these larger heel angles would make them less suitable as an offshore boat than a boat that did not need to sail at such large angle of heel to have reasonable performance.

As to the weight carrying issue, you really need to look at the factors that influence the impact of carrying weight on a boat. D/L really is a very small determinant. In reality, it is true that there is some relationship between the amount of carry capacity and the dry weight weight of the boat. As a rough rule of thumb, most boats can carry approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of their dry weight in gear, supplies and tankage without having an extremely adverse affect. In that sense a heavier boat in theory can carry more weight.

BUT there are other very significant factors as well. One of the big factors is waterline plane. (The physical area, not volume, of the boat at the waterline.) The larger the area the less the boats will settle in the water for a given load added. Boats that achieve a high D/L by having a short waterline can either achieve the high D/L by having a lot of waterline beam, full ends or a deep canoe body. Boats with lots of waterline beam tened to have quick motions and are therefore not very good for offshore work. Boats with full ends tend to be wet and slow and very poor to windward. And boats like the Bristol 32, which have neither a lot of waterline beam or full ends, tend to have deep canoe bodies which means that they have comapatively small waterline plains. That means they tend to immerse more quickly and pick up drag more quickly than a boat with an equal displacement but a longer waterline. For an equal displacementa boat with a longer waterline will tend to have less waterline beam, finer ends, shallower canoe body and a greater waterline plain. This is the reason that traditional watercraft that worked offshore (as well as more modern designs) had very long waterlines compared to race boats (such as the Bristol 32) of the CCA era.

So, in general, if you take two 32 foot boats of equal dry weight displacements and one had a 21 foot waterline and the other a 27 foot waterline, the boat with the 27 foot waterline will have far superior ability to absorb additional weight with less negative affect on speed, stability and motion than the boat with the shorter waterline.

Another factor that affects how much weight a boat can absorb is sail area to displacement. Boats of the CCA era were disproportionately penalized for stability and working sail area. As a result they carried less sail area for a given displacement and were comparatively tender when compared to more traditional or more modern designs of equal displacement. If you add weight to a boat with a low SA/D there is proportionately less sail area to overcome the inertia of this greater weight.

You are right that there are plenty of boats out there that have high D/L''s that are good in a chop. These are generally comparatively long waterline boats when compared to the CCA era race boats. This longer waterline reduces pitching and when combined with a finer bow, reduces the bow''s impact with waves. Boats like the Bristol 32 tend to hobby horse when dealing with a chop which is neither comfortable for the crew nor is it conducive to good speed through the water.

If you ask me what a Bristol 32 is good for, I would say that they are good for what they were designed to be, coastal cruisers in areas with typical winds in the 10 to 20 knot range for a person who is on a limited budget and does notcare about speed. I still sail on boats of this era, and find them fun to sail as long as we are not trying to get somewhere too far away. Going around the world is too far away for this boat in my book.

So as to the unfair opinion, I too am getting weary of having my opinions judged unfairly, without you stopping to analyze what has been said or why I said it.


windship 10-14-2002 07:30 AM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
Good Morning Jeff,
I DO analyze. That should be obvious.
I just think that giving your stature on this board, you should give more facts and numbers and less on the opinion side. Give the whole story, fair and balanced.That should apply to everyone.
Eg.You could have compaired hull speeds,the heal angle or that the B32 also comes in a centerboard model.
Myself, I wouldn''t choose the B32 either but thats not what this is about.
Anyway,nuf said.
Good day,


Gary B 10-16-2002 12:05 PM

Can a Bristol 32 Circumnavigate?
My dad has had a Bristol 40 (full keel version) since 1972. We have put untold miles on her. From Nova Scotia to Bermuda. The hull shape of the 32 is very similar. There were centerboard and full keel models.

We have weathered gulf stream gales with 50 knots of wind with 12-20 foot seas. No problems!

Very few production boats were or are built to the same standards.

This boat is not slow except downwind where all full keels suffer. She points very well, screams on a reach, and does not require a tremendous amount of sail area. Handles easily, never runs out of rudder. Small foretriangle with small headsails means easy handling!

I am a fan so I guess I''m biased but after 30 yrs.

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