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  #1  
Old 12-22-2002
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Comparison literature

Can anyone tell me if there are any books written that evaluate different manufacturers of sailboats? I am looking to buy a 22'' to 27'' cruiser for big water use. I like Bristol''s, Albergs and Pearson''s alot so far...especially Bristols!
My model years will probably fall betweeen 1968 and 1978...spending between $2500 and $5000. I do not what to rule out Catalina''s and the like...but would like to know what boats are built with quality materials and hardware, as compared to others!
Thank You for your replies! Happy Holidays!

Martin
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Old 12-23-2002
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Comparison literature

Martin, yours is a fun question to tackle - hopefully, you''ll get lots of replies.

Let''s assume by "big water use" you imagine perhaps crossing the Gulf Stream and getting a bit deeper into the Caribbean, or bypassing the wavy ICW channel and sailing offshore up or down the Eastern Seaboard. Perhaps even a cruise to Bermuda (you don''t say but I''m guessing you''re on the East Coast) or a visit to the Channel Is. and a winter cruise in Mexico if you''re on the Left Coast. The point being to imagine a boat that must hold together for at least a few days of really tough weather in offshore conditions, and sails well & with reasonable comfort (for a 22-27'' boat). Given the above, here are a few thoughts:
1. You won''t find your answer in ''a'' book and, in reality, will struggle to get a conclusive answer - a short list of ''for sure'' candidates - from any book. There are a number of books to help you, including the boat reviews published in two volumes by Practical Sailor (www.practical-sailor.com) but they suffer from several problems. First, they tend to be somewhat regional in nature since the writers ''know'' about the boats they most often come in contact with. Second, we Americans lack a good sense for European boats unless they''ve had a successful U.S. distributorship for many years. Third, much of what you will read is ''dated'' in the sense that it''s written from an earlier perspective (not ''bad'' per se, just incomplete), offers no current reality about price and/or condition of a given boat, and in fact may cover boats that never enjoyed a significant production run & are therefore difficult to find. Digging into a few such books would be one useful task; just don''t expect conclusive results.
2. You talk about a purchase price when, most likely given your blue water aspirations, that expense will be dwarfed by a refurb/upgrade effort needed by any older boat -or- you''ll find candidates already upgraded that are most likely priced to reflect it. You can find boats in your price range, to be sure - but how many will be ready to endure big winds either offshore or in a remote anchorage? My point is not to discourage but rather to encourage you not to overlook the ''total'' cost involved.
3. You seek the assurance of "boats (which) are built with quality materials and hardware" but, more often, true trust in a boat comes from its main components rather than its hardware, while the materials used in smaller production boats are pretty generic. I''d be looking for a well-designed & built rudder, well-built hull, sound integral ballast, and a well-engineered deck/support structure, including a decent mast step, plus a sensible rig and spars for your ambitions. Hardware can be replaced and little is actually needed on a basic boat, which is what you seek. "Systems" - those goodies we all seem to covet and spend so much time debating - will be almost non-existent. You need a boat which was originally constructed in a fashion that promises strength and longevity, and that is relatively comfortable given the size constraints.

Everyone will have their favorite boats to recommend: listen not only to what they are but also why they are being recommended. Fond memories of a first family cruiser might be nice, but was the boat used by the recommender in a fashion similar to what you plan?

Were I looking for your boat, I''d probably include an Albin Vega in my search - many transocean passages and a few circumnavigations to its credit, well engineered and also well built, in your price range, and with a very functional layout. Re: the criteria I mention above, it lacks an adequate mast step (the original one can be supplemented at little cost), sails on its anchor more than a cruising boat should (as will many others - use a scrap of riding sail back aft) and will require upgrading and a careful look at its components to the same extent as any other boat in your category. A good summary of the boat''s capabilities and few weaknesses, along with a comprehensive outfitting guide for the Vega, can be found in Log of the Mahina by John Neal, available for peanuts from Amazon. We cruised one of these as a family of 3 for several years along the Pacific Coast and found it a remarkable sailing boat and very functional. And it lacks the gargantuan interiors so common today, which is one reason it was so capable but which may put it at a disadvantage in the marketplace.

Good luck on the search; sounds like fun!

Jack
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Old 12-23-2002
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Comparison literature

You may want to start with some reading that deals with the pro and cons of different design characteristics and then decide what is BEST FOR YOU. There is no perfect boat but there is the right boat for you. Your budget may require that you start with a solid design and build but in need of TLC and upgrades. And then some experience with your boat day sailing/short cruises as your budget allows the upgrades.

The book "How to buy the Best Sailboat" is a good beginning. Ebay is a good source for building a library.

Don''t rush your decision. Window shopping at marinas is more fun the sanding fiberglass.
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Old 12-23-2002
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Comparison literature

Look for John Vigor''s book:
"Twenty Small Boats that Take You Anywhere"
Also check Good Old Boat Magazine. John Vigor published many of his "Twenty Boats..." articles in that publication.
Good luck,

Mark L.
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Old 12-23-2002
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Comparison literature

Jack:

While I enjoy and respect your opinions, and this post in particular,I need to disagree with you on one point. If you are really going offshore, you are way better off with an external bolt on keel rather than having your waterproof membrane so vulnerable. I think that manufacturers have over sold encapsolated keels because they are cheaper to build. But in a grounding give me a bolt on external keel anyday.

Jeff

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Old 12-23-2002
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Comparison literature

Jeff ... I''m confused. I thought that an encapsulated keel offered better protection if grounded ... that a full keel protected the rudder and so forth.

A recent Cruising World article described a Catalina that hit rocks in the Bay of Fundy. The keel and hull sustained substantial damage that, I think, would not have been the case with a full or cutaway forefoot encapsulated traditional style keel.

Perhaps not. Anyway, certainly a modern bolt on keel design offers the high performance versatility lacking in the traditional design.

I''m still confused by your statement.
Thanks,
MSL
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Old 12-23-2002
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Comparison literature

msl,

I''m with you. While I agree with Jeff that a heavy grounding of an encapsulated keel will *potentially* cause long term water damage if "not taken care of". But I hope he doesn''t mean he would rather have externally bolted on "fin keel" in a grounding, as opposed to keel''s which are a full or modified full keel (which many encapsulated keels are).

It comes down to simple physics that, in a grounding, there would be more torque and force on a typical fin keel vs. a typical full or modified full keel. In a full or modified full keel there is just so much more keel area to hull area to absorb all that grounding force. Really, think about it, cruisers careen full or modified full keel boats all the time. It is *much* more rare to ever see a fin keel do that.

(FYI for those that don''t know what Careening is go here )
http://www.sailnet.com/collections/articles/index.cfm?articleid=jkrets0066

This past summer I saw a very large modified full keel boat, on the hard, with a *huge* chunk taken out of the forward part of the keel(3-4 inches deep and about 8 inches high). It must have repeatedly banged up against sometime hard for a while. There was splintered fiberglass and whatnot all over and the damage must have been there for a while because the "chunk" had big barnacles all over it. Obviously this area needs to be completely cleaned out, removed and fiberglassed again but it seemed to not cause any real long term damage. I really don''t think many bolted on fin keel''s would have taken it as well, especially if it was an iron keel . I think that is one of the few advantages to these full/modified full keel designs (if its designed that way), because they can design a generous amount of "deadwood" area to this area of the keel to absorb and "sacrifice" the forward edge of the keel while saving the rest of the boat. Kind of like "crumple zones" on a car.
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