There were several Cheoy Lee's that were 32 feet in length and several of these came in yawl versions but I think there was only one ketch, the Offshore 32, which was a stretched version of the Bermuda 30, which in turn was a stretched and bloated version of the H-28. I know these boats pretty well.
In its original form, H-28’s were the quintessential small cruiser of the 1950’s. These were great little boats for their day. The represented a healthy departure from the CCA Rule beaters of the era. They had easily driven hulls and reasonably large rigs. In their original wooden form, they were reasonably light. They were actually a surprisingly good sailing boat, examples of which have done some pretty impressive passages. As designed they were intended to have simple interiors and equipment. The intent was to have them home or small boatyard built fairly cheaply cheaply. Compared to the better modern designs, they were cramped, slow and wet, but by the standard of the day, they were really wholesome designs that still hold a very warm spot in my heart.
There is a great article on the H-28 in L. Francis Herreshoff’s book, ‘Sensible Cruising Designs’. In his comments on building the H-28, L. Francis Herreshoff strongly cautions against modifying the design in a number of ways. In Herreshoff's colorful words, if modified as he describes "birds will no longer carol over her, nor will the odors arising from the cabin make poetry, nor will your soul be fortified against warloads, politicians and fakers". But unfortunately when Cheoy Lee produced the Bermuda 30, and later Offshore 32, they violated almost ever single caution that Herreshoff had made.
Unfortunately, what began as a simple design intended to be a simple and modest go any where design became an overweight, underballasted, under canvassed characture of what Herreshoff had in mind. And when the hull was further stretched to become the Cheoy Lee Offshore 32, the design was further cheapened.
In converting from wood to glass, and adding larger cabin structure and the heavy teak decks, the boat came out much heavier than the original H-28 in ways that did the boat no real good. To offset the weight gain, Cheoy Lee reduced the amount of ballast. They also went with incapsulated iron/cement ballast. The combination of less ballast and lower density ballast means that the Cheoy Lees had a lot less stability and a less comfortable motion than the H-28. because of the reduced stability, the Cheoy Lees also had less sail area. This produced a boat that did not have enough sail area to sail in light air, and did not have enough stability to sail well in a strong breeze. That combination alone makes them a lousy choice as an offshore cruiser and a worse choice for coastal cruising.
But there were a number of other features which hurt these boats for offshore use. Some of these can be modified like the large fixed portlights in the doghouse and the tiny cockpit drains. Others, like the impact of their initial overweight construction that reduces carrying capacity would be be harder to work around.
But beyond all of that are the build quality issues. While these boats did have glass hulls, the cabin, cockpit and deck structure were all constructed the same way that you would build a wooden boat, only not as well as a quality wooden boat. It is the cabin, decks and cockpits which were the most vulnerable parts of a wooden boat. Certain details, while providing lower initial maintenance condemns these boats to major rebuilds as they get up in years, and if memory serves me, these boats went out of production over 40 years ago.
Then there is the cost of fitting out and maintaining one of these. Cheoy Lee was one of the better Asian yards, but like most Asian yards, and many US yards of the era, these boats had a lot of yard built, knock off, hardware. Basic items like winches and blocks were one of a kind, making them nearly imposible to maintain without a machine shop and wildly expensive relative to the value of the boat to replace.
Some of the shortfalls of these boats may have been corrected by prior owners, but the electrical and plumbing systems were not up to the standards of the day, let alone modern standards.
In the end these are about the worst choice you could make to learn to sail and learn about boat ownership. Boats like these can easily have negative value and fixing one up and maintaining one can be an exercise in frustration. They would be useless as a sailboat in the light air on the Chesapeake Bay. If you have your heart set on a H-28 variant, you might try to find an Allied Seawind, mark 1, but youy would be way far ahead looking for something that sails a lot better than these particular boats.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 03-09-2011 at 12:34 PM.