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Juker 12-28-2002 03:27 PM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
I''m dead-set on cruising Latin America. Even though I won''t be crossing whole oceans , I want a boat that is fully capable of doing so. Statistics such as low Capsize Ratios (<1.9) and "Motion Comfort" numbers (>30) are important to me, and so is livability. Speed is not a priority. I''d like to keep the total budget (purchase, refurbishing, upgrades) below $40K but if a markedly better boat can be had I can go a bit higher. I anticipate buying a boat that is ready to sail but needing significant cosmetic work and electronics.

One boat that fits these criteria is the Alberg 35 or, if a super deal came along, the Alberg 37. A review that I found of these two boats suggested the 35 is a good coastal cruiser but not a fully capable ocean cruiser like the 37. Why not? Both have full keels and have similar numbers (Capsize ratios, etc.), judging from the "sail calculator" (

Based on a recommendation from a friend, I''ve just started investigating the Islander 36 (Gurney design) and the Islander Freeport 36 (Perry design). These will push my budget up, especially the later, but it might be worth it. By my crude calculations using LWL and beam, the living space of these two Islanders are 35 and 42 percent greater than the Alberg 35 and 20 and 32 percent greater than the Alberg 37. Yet, capsize numbers for the Islanders are only slightly higher (1.88 vs. 1.65). For the Freeport, with it''s modified full keel, I guess I can understanding why this is so--using a decade''s worth of newer design and technology. But the standard Islander 36 is perplexing to me. It has what looks to me like a fin keel.

Alas, the Freeport might be too much for my budget, but the interior layout of the Freeport (model A, I think) is really appealing to me. It was designed for a cruising couple, not much more. Model B, though, was for chartering and had a standard layout, which for me is too many berths. I read that there were 150 Islanders produced, but I don''t know the production numbers distinguising between the model A and B.

Sorry for the long post. Any comments from you more experienced folks would be much appreciated.

TIA and Best Regards,


Jeff_H 12-29-2002 06:41 AM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
You are really asking a very complex question. With all due respect, the very wording of your question is full of all kinds of very basic misunderstandings and perhaps suggest that you have a bit more homework to do before you are ready to cruise a remote venue like much of South and Central America.

Starting with the basics, In your post you say," Statistics such as low Capsize Ratios (<1.9) and "Motion Comfort" numbers (>30) are important to me". I am not sure what you know about these surrogate formulas but neither have any real use in predicting the behavior of any particular boat. If you look at the actual variable factors contained in these surrogate formulas, none of the factors that actually predict stability (vertical center of gravity, ballast, hull form, etc) is contained in the Capsize Ratio and none of the main factors that impact comfort (weight distribution, waterline length and beam, overhang length, vertical center of gravity,draft, mast height, hull form, etc)are contained in the Comfort Index. The numbers that come out of these two crude approximations should have no bearing on your decision between boats without doing so much more additional analysis that the ratio and index number becomes worse than meaningless. In the worst cases, these numbers are so misleading as to be dangerous to even consider.

Then there is the full keel issue. While full keels have some advantages when cruising in remote areas, (for example, beaching for maintenance is easier) and in theory they have better directional stability (i.e. they theoretically track better) none of the boats that you mention really have full keels. With the exception of the Islander 36 and Islander Freeport 36(which are both fin keel boats) and the Islander 38 (which I beleive came in two models, one of which actually has a shoal draft full keel and the other was more like a Brewer notch fin and skeg rudder), the other choices have very cut away forefoots and have sharply raked rudder posts located pretty far forward in the hull. These are really not full keel boats at all, and frankly offer none of the advantages of a full keel (better tracking and rudder protection and ease of beaching) or a fin keel (better speed, windward performance, manueverability and lighter helm loads) with almost all of the disadvantages of both keel types. In the case of the Alberg 35, you have the worst of all worlds, a fin keel with an attached rudder(by the classic definition where a fin keel is a keel whose bottom is 50% or less of the length on deck or the length of the sail plan when the sail plan is in excess of the length on deck).

Quickly running through the list of your current choices:
Alberg 35: These were nice looking boats but having spent a fair amount of time sailing on them they really are not my idea of an offshore cruiser primarily on the motion comfort issue. The Alberg 35''s began life as CCA rule beating race boat. As a result they have a ridiculously short waterline length for a 35 footer. While you are not concerned with the adverse impact of this short waterline length on the boat''s speed potential, the bigger problem with these boats is thier tendancy to hobby horse, especially as loaded for cruising with a heavy anchor and chain rode and a lazarette filled with gear. Also the deep canoe body on the 35''s result in a pretty rolly motion (which some people prefer but which many people find quite uncomfortable). The narrow beam on these boats means that they are really pretty tender and so are sailed on their ear in significant breezes.

Alberg 37: Much of the above also applies to the Alberg 37''s, except that they were more moderate in waterline length and beam. I would avoid the 37 yawls partially as a motion comfort issue and partially as a structural issue.

Islander Freeports: These are hard boats to classify as they varied in design from one length to another. In a general sense they are reasonably good distance cruisers. They were budget oriented and so some cost cutting items may come back to haunt you (hardware, rudder construction and mast support structure). I would personally want to do something about the large plexiglass cabin portlights if I were taking one offshore.

Islander 36: These are neat boats and have a lot to offer but again, they began as race boats and so were shaped more by racing than by cruising. This was an era when lighter weight race boats such as this, really did not tollerate carrying the kinds of heavier loads that are commonly associated with distance voyaging. That said, I have run into folks who have very successfully cruised them over very long distances. (By the way, the same can be said for the Alberg 35, and Alberg 37).

The ice has finally melted on the creek so I''m heading out sailing. Good luck,


Jeff_H 12-29-2002 01:41 PM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
Back again from a beautiful sail on the Chesapeake. I think that, if I were looking for a boat for the type of sailing that you are proposing with a budget under $40K, I suggest that perhaps you try to find one of the following:

Allied Princess: These were purpose built as distance cruisers. I believe that there was a cutter option, but all that I have seen were rigged as ketches. These are really full keel boats by anybody''s book and if that is what you are looking for these are not a bad place to look. Again, these boats have a better build quality than the others on your list except perhaps the Alberg 37''s.

Bristol 34: These Halsey Herreshodd designed 34 footer offer a lot of boat for the money and in many ways should be nearly ideal for what you have in mind. (Should not be mistaken for a Bristol 35 which I don''t think is a good choice for what you have in mind). These were really wonderful boats that are often forgotten about these days. They should prove quite seakindly.

Cal 36: (1960''s) These really are good all around boats. They offer reasonable performance and a well proven offshore record. They would be very high on my list.

Cal 34: These were built for quite a few years and in a pretty wide range of updates. They are a real bargain but are not as robust as some of the others on this list. Still they are hard to beat for the dollar.

Chris Craft 35 (mid 1960''s) These Sparkman and Stephens designed 35 footer were orignally billed as motorsailors, but they really sailed quite well for that era and offer a full length keel and midships cockpit. They also offered very solid constructed and nice detailing.

Columbia 38 (mid to late 1960''s) While these Charlie Morgan designed 38 footers still have the painfully short waterlines of that era, these are more nicely modeled hull forms than the Alberg 35. Their spade rudder gives them a lighter helm and better tracking than the keel hung rudder on the Alberg.

Dehler Optima 101: These are a little out of character with the rest of this list, but these are extremely well constructed, Vandestadt designed fractional rigged sloops. They offer ease of handling for a short handed crew, a nice layout down below, as well as good performance and a good offshore record.

Hughes 38: (Late 1960''s)
These little known 38''s are a very wholesome Sparkman and Stephens design. The hull design was shared with the Hinckley Competition 38 of the same period, with Hughes actually building the hull and deck for the Hinckley version. The Hughes version is actually the better cruiser of the two.

Hunter 37 and 36: (early 1980''s)
While Hunter rightly gets hammered on some of thier designs, these two Cherebini designed sloops and cutters were really very nice boats for the dollar and certainly with equal of better build quality to the Alberg 35 (My family has owned both a mid-1960''s era Pearson Vanguard and two early 1980''s era Hunter 30''s. The Hunters were by far the better built of the two.) The interior layout and storage is especially well thought out on these boats.

Morgan 382 (383, 384 etc): These Brewer designed 38 footers would be near the top of my list if I were considering the type of cruising that you are proposing and had your particular comfort and stability objectives in mind. They were reasonably well constructed and a well thought out design. These boats were constructed over a reasonably long period of time with some variation in details and equipage. There is one layout with a really strange forward cabin that really has never made sense to me but the normal vee berth model should be a very good boat for your needs.

Pearson 365:
These are good solid cruisers of the ilk that you seem to be seeking. They have a strong following and should prove to be a good seaworthy boat. They are certainly more suitable than the Alberg 35.

Tartan 34: This is probably my favorite on this list of the more conservative designs. (The Dehler Optima would actually be my first choice but that perhaps reflects my tastes rather than yours). These are really wonderful all around boats.

Good luck,

WHOOSH 12-30-2002 02:16 AM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated

Let me try to piggyback on some of Jeff''s comments and also on your stated goals. But remember that comments on both cruising and boat designs are highly subjective despite a large body of data available on each, so were I you, I''d continue to seek out information from as wide a (knowledgeable) population as possible. There really aren''t absolute answers to your questions IMO.

I agree with Jeff''s encouragement that you reconsider your benchmark criteria in picking a boat, but more fundamentally, I''d suggest you refine your cruising goal(s). There are many different types of "cruising Latin America" and being clear about what you''ll be attempting (and NOT doing) will have a direct bearing on boat choice. West Coast of Central America as far as southern Mexico, or to the Canal and perhaps into the Caribbean? Visiting the Hispanic Caribbean (Cuba, DR, Mexico, Guatemala, etc.)? Both these objectives involve the Central America area (and some nearby islands) but require facing their own unique kinds of conditions, both underway and at anchor. Eager to visit the N coast of South America (Venezuela, Columbia, San Blas Is.)? That''s a different body of water, including some of the toughest water to cross in the Western Hemisphere (off Columbia during the height of the Xmas Trades). Further south (Equador, one of the "newest" cruising grounds being explored, or down to Rio on the Atlantic side? These are very different kettles of fish than any of the above choices. And how long will you be living aboard & cruising. More detail on all this will get you better info.

You''re fortunate to have such a nice listing of older boats offered to you by Jeff; he really knows his stuff in that area. However, some of those boats are far more suitable than others for each route I mention above. E.g. when considering both what you get for your money and how suitable it is for your intended cruising, the Cal 34-2 or -3 design is IMO more desireable for that West Coast run (much better in lighter airs off SoCal, Mexico and in the Panama islands) than in the Caribbean. Another advantage to a Cal 34 is that they are so cheap you can actually outfit the boat for safety and some comfort while staying at least within shouting distance of your budget. If you add up the big ticket items leading to offshore sailing in relative safety (new rigging, perhaps some new sails, adequate engine prep & spares, a good kit of flares, perhaps a hand water maker, raft and the like), perhaps along with a rig mod to accommodate heavy weather sailing since you''ll likely have your jib(s) on a furler, plus more, you''ll exceed the cost of the boat. Of course, if ''Latin America'' means sailing down to Mexico, Belize and the Rio Dulce from the Gulf Coast, many (tho'' not all) of these mods & purchases become more optional than essential, as your exposure to risk is reduced substantially. The more ambitious your plan, the more boat prep required (especially in an older boat), and the less bucks available to you for the initial purchase. (You''ll notice I haven''t even *touched* popular systems additions like a watermaker, enhanced electrical system, etc.).

Re: the specific boats on Jeff''s list (and again, not knowing what you''re actually hoping to do, or for how long...), here are some add''l comments to chew on:

Alberg 37''s as built by Kurt Hansen up in Whitby got more poorly built each year; earlier is better, structurally speaking. The yawl rig will introduce intense weather helm and force earlier sail changing (but yes, it looks great!). It''s meager, after-thought nav station and limited interior room (tho'' functional) makes it less appealing to me as a long-distance cruiser. Like the other Alberg designs of its era, it''s tender and rolly as Jeff describes, with a rudder that becomes increasing ineffective as the boat heels. It has ''that look'' that many of us have come to admire and associate with distance cruising...but such designs probably deserved it more when choices were fewer and we were all a bit more romantic in our thinking.

Islanders - I doubt you can touch a Freeport 36 or equip it even minimally within your budget. Great liveaboard boat but find a comfy bucket to use in the cockpit when offshore, because you won''t want to do your business up in the bow. An Islander 36 is a wonderful design and not badly built - sails well, functional layout, and perhaps best of all, many of these have already been upgraded to offshore cruising with great success, so you might find some turnkey boats on the market and will only have to struggle with the cost issue. Also, keep in mind that what was viewed as ''lightweight boat'' in the 70''s is at best a moderate displacement boat today.

I enjoy viewing a Tartan 34 from the water but think it a poor choice offshore and for extended cruising. I find it''s cockpit cramped and ergonomically lousy - and guess where you spend lots of time. I''m also not in favor of its lone lower shrouds in line with the uppers - I think you need more support there. And then there''s the issue of a centerboard boat offshore; some are designed to handle offshore conditions acceptably (e.g. Shannon 37, several of the Hood designs) but this Tartan was designed with sailing grounds like the Chesapeake in mind.

Several generations of Cals (34, 35, 36) are worth considering, again depending on your intended route, mostly due to their value pricing and nice sailing characteristics. Double check those rudders, though.

Chris Craft 35 deck structures were, at least on some occasions, built terribly, despite the decent S&S design. (Look at the pic in After 50,000 Miles by Hal Roth). Also, CC tried to fit lots of "accommodation" into their boats vs. fitting things to the human body, or at least that''s how being on one strikes me.

Princess 36 and Pearson 365 boats are both great choices - big enough to be comfortable, solid offshore, generally well built, both with design compromises (not terribly maneuverable; shallower keels and not very good to weather; not light air boats) but not ones difficult to live with. Princess sloops and ketches are often found these days with staysail rigs, while 365''s have the inherent sail choices of a ketch - in both cases, making the sail plan much more adaptable to ''real'' sailing conditions. I''m doubtful either one can fit in your budget after some needed upgrading & prep, however. You''ll have to bargain very cleverly, indeed.

Finally, I''d suggest you look at smaller boats if you''re really serious about extended cruising (how many in your crew? you don''t tell us...) and perhaps find a more suitable, better equipped boat that''s still within your budget. Hallberg-Rassy 35''s and Monsun 31''s, designed by Ollie Enderlein, are wonderful offshore boats altho'' with smaller interiors than we''re accustomed to seeing today. Very strongly built but great sailers. Many cruising sailors swear by Pearson''s Vanguard and, again, you can find these already upgraded and repowered with a diesel but not priced highly due to their age. I''d also recommend an Albin Ballad, built in Sweden and being raced today in some numbers in the North Sea...and very inexpensive when located in the U.S.

And has been discussed here before, maybe the boat choice isn''t as important as we all make it sound. E.g., some Coronado/Columbia 35''s from the 60''s have circumnavigated multiple times without structural problems and, despite their aesthetic limitations and dated manufacturing qualities, are cheap and available in the marketplace. After all, it''s the experience you end up having - and not the magic carpet you are riding - that matters most to some of us. Just make sure your carpet doesn''t start getting wet half way there!


Juker 12-30-2002 04:02 AM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
Well, I knew to use the above simple formulas with a grain of salt, but I promise never to use the term Capsize Ratio again :-)

I had always understood the Albergs to be highly regarded cruisers, so I am surprised at your judgement of them. I''ll yield to your experience, however.

As to the sailboats recommended in your second post, I did some quick searches and found a number of them in my price range. I was pleasantly surprised because I had come to believe that the more traditional offshore boats in the size I wanted were out of my range, and that I''d have to compromise.

I found several Allieds, Bristols, Cals, and Hughes in the mid 20s to mid 30s. There were also one or two Chris-Crafts and Dehler Optimas, which are both interesting designs. The Dehler seems really spacious. Also, I noticed that it is fractionally rigged and think I remember that you advocate same.

Thanks for your advice--You''ve given me a lot to consider.

Best Regards

Juker 12-30-2002 04:55 AM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
Thanks WOOSH,

I''m basically on a five year plan--one to find and buy a boat, one (or two) to clean it up and outfit it, and three to improve my meager skills. Beyond that, well, all the places you mentioned are in my thoughts. I''m a Latin America junkie and have travelled throughout Central America and half of SA.

Believe it or not, Plan A is to take the boat to Havana for help in restoration. I have a good Cuban friend, a superb craftsman, who restored his 1950s era home; it is now one of the most beautiful homes I''ve ever seen. But, Cuba is Cuba. His latest word is that there are some rather "unique" hurdles, but he thinks the project is possible. Hope so because I don''t have a Plan B yet.

I''ve been preparing a spreadsheet with the approximate prices of all the equipment I want. And yes, the total far exceeds my current budget. For now I''ll have to settle for just a couple of items (radar tops the list, I think) and add other things later--when I have more $$ and perhaps a better sense of the priorities as well.

Admittedly I''m an offshore newbie but I can assure you I understand the difficulties ahead.

Down the road, do you mind some email Q''s ?

Best Regards.

P.S.: If you curious, I wrote a page advertizing my friends house:

Jeff_H 12-30-2002 12:08 PM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
The big problem with doing the work in Cuba, beyond the illegality, an illegality which I wish would change but which is still the law, is the difficulty of getting marine parts, and consumables. Simple things like marine grade fastenings and plywood are not really available down there. Epoxy, the heart of any restoration is virtually unavailable. And once you are there you can''t just go online hand have it air shipped in.


WHOOSH 12-30-2002 03:29 PM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated

I''m a bit less dubious of Plan A than Jeff, as trade between Cuba and 99% of the world is relatively straightforward and corruption when bringing things in from outside that island nation appears to be less than many other ''3rd world'' countries. But doing a refurb in Cuba would definitely be a huge hassle, especially when folding in the everpresent officaldom that must be accommodated at every turn. Why would you put yourself in that position? Good (some great) craftsmen are in other parts of the Caribbean. I would caution you in accepting yor friend''s assurance that "the project is possible" when his reference point is a home and yours will be a sailboat.

OTOH your notion of improving the boat *after* the cruise begins can lead you to a pretty creative, satisfying agenda of ''restoration steps''. Friends had their Perkins totally rebuilt while in Luperon, DR by an authorized Perkins dealer, all legitimate Perkins parts and a full internal rebuild, for $3K - and that included the dealer pulling the engine and trucking it across the island to outside Santo Domingo plus reinstalling it. Was it done to ABYC standards? Did the joinerwork in the boat escape any nicks & scratches. Well, every bargain has its compromises. Both Trinidad and Guatemala are known worldwide for their hardwood forests, and wood craftsmen are easy to find (tho'' they may know nothing about boats, which means you need to know what you want and provide constant supervision). Stepping outside the most commercially developed countries means being outside a company''s distribution network, so you can negotiate a large purchase directly with the manufacturer at a savings - e.g., a fellow I know ordered a new Westerbeke diesel directly from them while in Trinidad and did a total install, soup to nuts, for 2/3 the cost - in part because of the reasonable labor rates, as well. you can see, lots of ways to accomplish what''s important to you. But as I struggle through a fairly extensive refit before more extended cruising, running one day to the metal shop and the next to a marine electric shop, the thought of doing it in a resource-limited locale makes me shudder.

Feel free to shoot me a question anytime you think it might help; and good luck on The Search!


dkz 01-06-2003 07:52 AM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
About Islanders--A very experienced sailor who I did a three month sail/class with in the Pacific thought the Islander 36 the perfect boat for me for an extended cruise. I had kind of given up the thought because of the fin keel and no overwhelming recommendations of it as an offshore boat, but the favorable remarks here are making me think again about it. There''s an Islander 36 website (search Google). It seems to be a big SF Bay boat--there might be a way to get out there and do some real research onboard some. Cruising World August 2002 (p.22) had a short report about a couple doing the Baha Haha in one and possibly moving across the Pacific. I''d like to track them down and see how it went. They liked the boat sailing from San Diego to Mexico. (There''s also an old Cruising
World "Classic Plastic" report on it--or was
it "Sailing" magazine?)

I''m in about the same boat as you, Juker, with an eye on Caribbean, CA, SA (I''ve heard Chile is a good place to cruise right now)--
about the same budget (that is, not quite enough) and about the same time frame. (I expect to be working on my Spanish in Argentina in May.) I know that thinking I have just about enough for, say, an Islander 36 means I don''t have enough, so I''ve been thinking about getting smaller, since I''ll mostly be sailing single-handed or with one crew. John Vigor''s Twenty Small Sailboats includes several Albergs that he likes (including the Alberg 30).

The guy I sailed with, by the way, was John Connolly of Modern Sailing Academy in Sausalito (hence the SF/Islander connection).
He does fun adventure sailing/instructional cruises around the world, which I can unfortunately no longer afford since I''m saving for a boat. I probably spent the price of a Pearson Triton sailing around Hawaii and French Polynesia with him for 3-4 months--but if I never get to cruise, it was still worth it.

If you make it before I do and want a $-contributing crew a few months a year, let
me know!

Good luck.


joub 01-06-2003 07:25 PM

Your thoughts on Albergs and Islanders appreciated
For those interested in the cruising abilities of the Islander 36 there is an interesting web page you should checkout.
its "".

This is a very detailed saga of a couple that sailed their I-36 from L.A. to Mexico and then on to the South Pacific.

A well done web page with good reading, beautiful pictures, and lots of insight into the I-36''s attributes.


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