Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Jeff_H a question
I have spent quite a bit of time sailing on both coasts of Florida in the 1960''s and 1970''s. Although I owned boats with 4 foot and over 5 foot of draft respectively, these areas reward boats with shallow draft (less than 5 feet with 4''6 being a more reasonable maximum). As you note, sailing in these areas also really require a boat with good light air and good heavy air behaivor, unless you want to spend a lot of time motoring or waiting for a weather window.
If I were selecting a boat for this area I would be inclided toward a Keel/centerboard design. These afford the ability to explore thin (or at least thinner) water and still have reasonable up and downwind performance. I am not a fan of wing keels and even less of a fan of shoal keels that are simply truncated versions of deeper keels.
The other problem with your price range will be the age of these boats. You can expect to find some ''issues'' with any boat this age. Unless very well maintained and updated by a previous owner, you might expect to need to address some combination of the following items and cumulatively they can add up to well more than the purchase price of the boat. The key is to find an example that has had this work done and done well:
∑ Sails, chainplates, mast step and associated suporting structure, standing and running rigging that are beyond their useful lifespan,
∑ an engine that is in need of rebuild or replacement,
∑ worn out or out of date deck, galley, and head hardware,
∑ worn out upholstery,
∑ Out of date safety gear
∑ electronics that are non operational, or in need of updating,
∑ electrical and plumbing systems that need repairs, upgrades to modern standards or replacement.
∑ Blister, fatigue, rudder, hull deck joint or deck coring problems
∑ Keel bolt replacement (bolt on keel) or delamination of the hull from the ballast for a glassed in keel.
∑ And perhaps a whole range of aesthetic issues.
Probably my first choice in this size range and price range would be a 1970''s era Tartan 34. These boats offer a lot of well rounded characteristics, being well built and nicely detailed. There are lots of well maintained examples up here on the Chesapeake that come available in your general price range.
Probably second on my list would be a number of different sized (30, 34)early Sabre''s that should be available in your general price range with a keel/centerboard.
I am not a fan of the Cape Dory''s for a range of reasons beyond performance but they do have thier strong following. The Pearson 323 has always struck me as shippy little boat. I''ve never sailed one, but I have always liked their looks. They would not be great performers by any fair measure but would be reasonably good boats for what you have in mind.
I like the Tartan 3000 (or the earlier Tartan 30) both seem to be very good boats. A good friend (who was new to sailing at the time) bought a Tartan 31 about 3 years ago and I have been exceedingly impressed with that boat''s performance and capabilities. He and his wife have done some pretty ambitious sailing in the three years he has owned her.
Other posible options:
Cal 34, 35, 36:
Of the three I like the 36 best and then the 34. These are not terribly robust boats but are very reasonable for what you have in mind.
C&C 34 and 35: Of the two the early 1980''s 34 had a better layout, construction and were offered as Keel/centerboard boats. These are a bit more on the performance side of this list but are still good boats. They are a little short on ventilation.
Ericson Independence 31: These are not very well known boats but were essentially built for precisely what you have in mind. They too are a little short on ventilation.
Ericson 35: I have a fair amount of experience with these boats. They are a little deep and are nothing super but in thier day they offered a lot of performance and a reasonable build quality.
These were real pioneers in fiberglass construction. While not well known today, these were super boats in thier day. You can buy them pretty inexpensively in really nice condition (look on Yachtworld at Pegasis up here on the Chesapeake)
Hunter 30 (1980-1981): We have had two of these in our family (both in Sarasota). If you can find a shoal draft, tall mast version in good shape these would be an ideal boat for what you want to do. They offer good build quality, lots of room and sail very well. My dad went for years with nothing less than a first or second under PHRF with his.
Morgan 35, and Morgan 34 (not Out Island series boats): The Morgan 35 is a new design and offers better performance but of the two the 34 has always appealed to me more. While not a high performance boat on any objective standard, these were really good sailing boats. I have sailed them in a range of conditions and generally been quite pleased with them overall.
Pearson 35: These were real basic lets go sailing kind of boats. They offered good sailing characteristics and reasonable build quality but not super performance. They have a great cockpit, but that comes at the price of a small cabin area. Still these keel/centerboard boats might be just the ticket for poking around the backwashes of your chosen region.