Bayfield 32C vs Niagara 35 - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-05-2009
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Bayfield 32C vs Niagara 35

Hello all;

Well it seems that I have finally managed to sort through the thousands and thousands of potential boats available. I set a budget of $35,000 - $40,000 and that didn't help at all whittle down the selection as I was flooded with C&C's, Cal's, Watkins, Ericson's, Morgan's, Columbia's... I did my research hear and across the internet and since I wanted a blue water cruiser I used the Updated Offshore list here as well as Atom's site to pear down the list. I then used PHRF ratings and reviews to close up the list a little more and cross referenced with the basic equipment and design concerns (Common engine's, keel design, port holes, head setup, cockpit placement...) to pull the list into a final couple boats.

My criteria was a stable and quick single hand blue water cruiser. Something that would be easy to handle myself when needed, stable at sea and able to deal with some weather if needed. Once I narrowed down the choice of boat I could worry about the electronics, ground tackle, rigging's, galley... and after 4 months of comparing and researching I think I have narrowed it down to a pair of boats.

The Bayfield 32C (1981 - 1987) Vs the Niagara 35 (1981 - 1983).

The Niagara is faster not only because of the LWL 26' 9" vs 23' 3" but because from what I can gather it points better and can better take advantage of light airs. The PHRF rating on the Niagara 35 is 159 vs. a 240 on the Bayfield 32C. There is a little more space on the Niagara and it is well laid out. The problems on the Niagara seem to be watching out for some of the older saildrives. It looses points to the Bayfield on Keel design and rudder setup...

I really like the look of the Bayfield as it is a unique boat. They seem to be built to last and to take whatever is thrown at them. I like the sail plan of the Cutter setup as it gives more options depending on conditions. I like the shallow draft, and the full keel will add to stability and keep her pointed easier. The only real draw back I can find on the Bayfield is the speed.

Both boats are readily available in my area and since this is Canada I can find a quality fresh water boat that has been hauled for 6 months out of the year. This will make a great platform to outfit and spend the next 5 years of my life on.

I know that there are other options and since I am not looking to buy for a few more months I might find another boat to add too my short list but I would like some feedback on these two models. Am I missing something on either of these boats that will preclude it from taking me around the world safely and in a bit of comfort? Being a loaded question, is there a boat I should consider in my price range and why would I add it to my list?

Thanks for any info;

Krozet

Last edited by krozet; 09-05-2009 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 09-05-2009
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While I think both boats have their place, for offshore cruising I would take the Niagara in a minute over the Bayfield. I know it was designed and built for off shore sailing. not so sure about the Bayfield. The Niagara is substantially bigger and is very robust, one of my favorite cruising boats.

good Luck
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  #3  
Old 09-06-2009
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I second what gary said. What makes you think a full keel is more stable? There are many factors that give stability besides keel, such as waterline beam, hull form, allast ratio, type of ballast (lead or iron), depth of ballast being a few. A seaworthy boat should be reasonably fast and thr PHRF on each will give you a clue to that. While of these two I would take the Niagara, there are others that deserve merit. Here are two I found on Yachtworld that I would look at - both in Ontario and within budget.

1984 Sparkman & Stephens H31 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
1982 Contessa 32 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

They both look to be in good shape, are well equipped and the Contessa 32 is renowned for its abilities offshore. The H31 is a S&S design and I think would compare.
Maybe Jeff will chip in - I'm pretty sure he's not a Bayfield fan.
Brian
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Old 09-06-2009
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No comparison - the Niagara is the way to go. It is a superior boat in almost every way compared to the Bayfield. The keel/rudder arrangement on the Niagara gives you more control and better handling and the speed difference is huge. I have friends who took a Bayfield 32 to the Caribbean for the winter and ended up having it trucked back to Toronto from Florida because they could not face the ICW with the poor handling and lack of power in the Bayfield.

One significant problem though - with your budget the only Niagaras you are likely to be able to afford are going to be pretty tired. Prime boats are likely to be in the $50k+ range. Later boats may not have saildrives although the option tends to be a V-drive and that has its own problems. I would worry less about the saildrive and more about the fact that some of the early boats are underpowered with a 23 hp engine. For both of these boats make sure your surveyor is good at identifying core damage in the deck. It is very common with balsa-cored decks. A little is not too hard to fix but a lot can be a significant and costly problem.
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Back to Grenada in early December. Not sure I will remember how to sail. Will spend the winter and early spring in the Caribbean and then head to Bermuda and the northeast US. Still trying to decide if we will bring the boat to Canada, either in 2015 or 2016.
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Old 09-06-2009
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Of these you might consider the Contessa

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post

1984 Sparkman & Stephens H31 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
1982 Contessa 32 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

They both look to be in good shape, are well equipped and the Contessa 32 is renowned for its abilities offshore. The H31 is a S&S design and I think would compare.

Brian
If you are interested in offshore work I would stay away from the Hughes 31s. They are not particularly well-built and were never intended for offshore. The Contessa might work well but there are a couple of caveats. Many were bought as a hull and deck for owner completion. This can be very good or very bad. Also they are quite trim. I am just under 6' tall and find my head bumping on the deck in most of the interior other than right ont he centerline.
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Back to Grenada in early December. Not sure I will remember how to sail. Will spend the winter and early spring in the Caribbean and then head to Bermuda and the northeast US. Still trying to decide if we will bring the boat to Canada, either in 2015 or 2016.
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  #6  
Old 09-06-2009
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The Contessa 32 in the link was custom built for the owner of JJ Taylor, the Canadian builders of the Contessa 32 & 26, and I don't recall kits ever being available for the 32 or 26.
Brian
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Old 09-06-2009
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Hello;

My budget is based on the following:

$35,000 - $40,000 for the boat.
$12,750 for upgrades.
$25,000 left for cruising, this money is set in an investment account with a mix of stock and bonds. The account is yielding 10.5% annually.

The back story in a nut shell is that ever since I was a kid I have always wanted to wake up in exotic places, to learn about weather, the stars and even do battle with mother nature if necessary all from tiller of a sail boat. This past May I took my first sailing lessons (ASA 101, 103, 104, 105 & 106) and I have been hooked. I have spent the last ten years living cautiously and saving my pennies, I am thirty and I am planning to take 5 years off. Maybe 5 years will turn into 10 or 15, who knows.

The Plan is to purchase the boat this winter / next spring and move aboard her. I like my job and have had it for 10 years, I will live on my boat and continue working while taking her out into Lake Ontario next summer / fall whenever I can. If I am comfortable enough, after hurricane season i will head south and spend the winter in the islands. If not I can haul her out and store her for the winter and start the process over again in spring. I can spend winters in the islands for a couple years and sail back to Brockville, Ontario where my parents live in the spring / summer / fall to work and build my cruising kitty if need be. This will give me a few years of ICW sailing and island hopping experience.

I know that there will be people criticizing my decisions because I do not have enough experience but I could spend the next ten years thinking about doing it and finding reasons not to. I am careful by nature and a quick learner, I am very meticulous and always want to know what I am doing before I do it. I love to research and am always learning and most importantly I feel that this is something I want to do.
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Old 09-06-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary M View Post
While I think both boats have their place, for offshore cruising I would take the Niagara in a minute over the Bayfield. I know it was designed and built for off shore sailing. not so sure about the Bayfield. The Niagara is substantially bigger and is very robust, one of my favorite cruising boats.

good Luck
Thanks for the feedback. I know the Bayfield is build for blue water cruising but it definatly has it's drawbacks vs. other boats. I have been to see two Bayfields and they seem very sturdy if not a little quarky.
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Old 09-06-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
I second what gary said. What makes you think a full keel is more stable? There are many factors that give stability besides keel, such as waterline beam, hull form, allast ratio, type of ballast (lead or iron), depth of ballast being a few. A seaworthy boat should be reasonably fast and thr PHRF on each will give you a clue to that. While of these two I would take the Niagara, there are others that deserve merit. Here are two I found on Yachtworld that I would look at - both in Ontario and within budget.

1984 Sparkman & Stephens H31 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
1982 Contessa 32 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

They both look to be in good shape, are well equipped and the Contessa 32 is renowned for its abilities offshore. The H31 is a S&S design and I think would compare.
Maybe Jeff will chip in - I'm pretty sure he's not a Bayfield fan.
Brian
Sorry, I have been doing a lot of reading maybe i got my wires crossed on the Keel. John Vigor's book The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat talks about the advantages of a full keel, I guess I was looking at one component of the whole boat when it comes to Stability.

I have done some digging on the Contessa 32 and they are nice boats. I had not passed on the idea of owning one but was up in the air on it. When push came to shove though the narrow beam dropped it off the final two list. That's not to say I wont fall in love with a Contessa and end up sailing with her. In fact I have seen that boat on Yacht World.
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Old 09-06-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
No comparison - the Niagara is the way to go. It is a superior boat in almost every way compared to the Bayfield. The keel/rudder arrangement on the Niagara gives you more control and better handling and the speed difference is huge. I have friends who took a Bayfield 32 to the Caribbean for the winter and ended up having it trucked back to Toronto from Florida because they could not face the ICW with the poor handling and lack of power in the Bayfield.

One significant problem though - with your budget the only Niagaras you are likely to be able to afford are going to be pretty tired. Prime boats are likely to be in the $50k+ range. Later boats may not have saildrives although the option tends to be a V-drive and that has its own problems. I would worry less about the saildrive and more about the fact that some of the early boats are underpowered with a 23 hp engine. For both of these boats make sure your surveyor is good at identifying core damage in the deck. It is very common with balsa-cored decks. A little is not too hard to fix but a lot can be a significant and costly problem.
Hello killarney_sailor;

My hope is to find a solid Niagara without all the bells and whistles. If I am going to spend time on the ICW and Caribbean do I really need solar panels, water makers, radar... I can add these as I need them and when cruising starts to take me farther and farther from easy shores. I have been surprised at the drop in prices though as motivated sellers seem to be lowering the cost across the market. If need be though I could push off launch for a full year and sock away another $12,500 bringing my boat purchasing budget closer to $55,000.

I have noticed that the engine seems to change depending on the seller, everything from a 14HP Volvo to a 50 HP Westerbeke. For the Niagara's displacement of about 7 tonnes and looking at 4 HP per tonne (The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat by John Vigor) I would be looking at a 28 HP or greater engine?
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