Originally Posted by sdwyer
Thought on westsail 32 would be appreciated. I like the sailing charecteristics and the offshore work capabilities it has. The boat will be used for full time ocean voyaging. Thought and comments will be much appreciated. Thank you
Such a simple question, such a circuitous discussion. So much talk of speed, but there's so much more to a boat. Having lived with - and on - a Westsail 32 for 18+ years, here are my thoughts. Let's get the speed issue out of the way first. When you've got a lot of drag, as any heavy, full-keel boat does, you've just got to overcome that, which means piling on the canvas when the wind is down. With only the working sails, the 32 is indeed a slug except when going to windward in 20 knots. I carry two Genoas - "large" and "larger", and am very happy with both upwind and downwind performance in light air. I may not pass the faster boats, but it's surprising how often I can keep up with them. And yes, she points as well as most other cruisers, a few degrees off of the sport boats. The downside is that it's easy to get overpowered upwind with that much sail, so it's either change sails or go with just the staysail and main, which is comfortable but does not perform very well. Many of the 32s I see are fitted with sails built for durability and not performance (ie: cruisers), and are carrying fixed 3-blade props, especially those who are not out cruising.
I saw a few comments on handling those big sails. Other than getting the Genny around the forestay without hanging up (it's all in the timing), I don't find that a problem, and I'm still on human-tailed winches. What I don't find mentioned is the load on the tiller. The 32 is NOT a well-balanced boat, and that is NOT a balanced rudder. I like the feel and responsiveness of the tiller, but can't imagine not having that strong Monitor vane doing the work. And yes, she is initially more tender than you'd expect, but once she settles in she's very stable. I don't find that she rolls more than any other boat in her class, and while she hobby-horses quite a bit at anchor, it's not a problem under way. She's happiest when anchored a few degrees off-center with a bridle - takes care of the wandering and the pitching.
The comments about the lack of coamings are valid. Spray will work it's way along the windward deck and dribble across the bridge deck; also the person sitting to leeward will occasionally get surprised by a boarding wave. Overall, though, she is not a wet boat, and does not generate a lot of spray under normal conditions. I have seen boats with coamings added, but that infringes on the already minuscule cockpit. I once delivered one with boards fitted between the bulwark and the aft edge of the cabin, and that was effective. And that gets to the most unique characteristics of the Westsail, in my opinion - the cockpit and the cabin top. The cockpit is really tiny. On the one hand, it makes for a larger cabin, is perfect for single-handing, and is fine for one or two people; but if you're planning on having a few guests aboard, or stretching out yourself, count on using the deck area. Fortunately, the deck is the most comfortable I've found yet, other than a flush deck. It's flat, fairly free of hardware, and well protected by the bulwarks - perfect for a snooze or a working platform. I look at the more modern boats and it seems you have to spend all your time in the cockpit, and forget about going forward in bad weather. I might add that I am so used to being able to reach everything in the cockpit while handing the tiller, that when I am in some other boats I feel that they were designed strictly for two or more people. Who's idea was it to put that giant wheel between the helmsman and the winches?
The comments about Westsails being lost on the Puddle Jump is way off base. I've not heard the stories, but am fairly sure those boats didn't just break up! On another note, you can lay these things down on a beach, and as long as there are no big waves, she'll come back up without the deck even getting wet. (Don't ask how I know. . .) Having seen other owners deal with difficult projects - tearing tanks out through the keel or by removing the galley, for instance - I can also appreciate the accessibility of traditionally-built boats, and shudder at the thought of a one-piece fiberglass liner.
But the bottom line is that, if you're going cruising, the Westsail will deliver a safe, durable, & comfortable ride, carry plenty of provisions, and give very little fuss, as long as there are only two or three of you. And for less cash than anything else in it's class (my first choice was a Perry 37-40, but they were 2-4 times the price at the time). If you're paying for a slip and plan on socialising a lot, less bowsprit and more accommodations might work out better.