Join Date: Mar 2006
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Ok Chuck, I couldn't get on the site last night but here are my comments regarding the boats you are looking at. One thing to consider, in advance is that our previous boat was an Oday 322, which certainly influenced our thinking about buying another 32 foot boat, even one we liked as much as a C320.
The things I remember liking about the 320 were the huge lazerettes, nice galley and spacious aft cabin. On deck the cockpit was also large and well designed for a coastal cruising boat. The C320 has the cockpit space and aft cabin of a 36-40' boat packed into 32'. The cost for that is limited interior storage and a smallish v-berth. For a couple, or a family with one or two youngsters, it would be a fine choice. Since its usually just me and my wife, the boat fit our “90% use” pretty well, BUT we already had a 32' boat and were concerned buying another one might not cure our two-foot-itis.
Our 1991 C36 has many features I thought I liked while shopping, that have proven out. The U-shaped settee is spacious for dining and makes a great double berth that seconds as a tv pit while docked. The forward facing nav station is quite functional and the galley is well laid out with ample storage. As with many production boats the ice box (refegerated in our case) could be easier for short people to access and could stand more insulation. The storage drawers and cabinets in the saloon supply "a place for everything, so everything is in place". The systems on the boat are fairly easy to access and a great improvement over many boats I've looked at, making owner maintenance less of a headache. While our boat has the "cave" aft cabin, I have slept in every berth and am comfortable in any of them at 6' and over 200 lbs. I've had 5 (including 3 women) aboard for 3 night trips and everyone was comfortable, had their own space and adequate privacy. On deck the boat is well laid out for short handed sailing and the cockpit offers room to stretch out at anchor. The things about my C36 I’m not enamored with are the forward head (I think aft makes much more sense) and if I could have the fin keel, I’d prefer it even here on the Chesapeake with its many shallows.
In terms of sailing I can’t comment on how the 320 feels but in relation to our 322 (that I thought handled what passes for rough conditions on the Chesapeake rather nicely) our C36 feels much more substantial. Our boat is a tall mast, wing keel with fixed prop, above deck roller furling and a 135 genny. Our PHRF (Chesapeake) is 165. Depending on the year (MKI vs MKII) and genny size (135-150) PHRF ratings are in the 162-165 range for C36’s and about the same for C34’s. The fin keel ratings are about 15 sec/mile faster. So what does this tell us? That according to PHRF a C34 will hang right with a C36 and a fin keel will walk away from a wing keel version of the same boat. In the real world I’ve yet to encounter the C34 that I would not catch and pass in short order, so I apparently have a gift rating from PHRF.
Some how, some where, the rumor was started that the C320 would perform as well as a C34 or C36. I believe that is baloney. Even the clearly suspect PHRF ratings support my contention as the C320’s are rated around 171 on the Chesapeake. In the 4 seasons we’ve sailed our C36, I’ve yet to be passed by any 32’ production cruising boat of any brand. (I did get spanked by a guy on a small (28?) C&C cruiser, but he was equipped with laminate sails and is one hell of a great sailor). There were two experinced sailors in my last yacht club with C34 wing keels equipped similar to my boat and I could consistently catch and out pace them despite their similar PHRF ratings and I believe a C320 would suffer a similar fate against a C34. Nothing in the opinions above is to say the the C320 is not a nice sailing boat, I just don’t believe a 32’ boat is going to keep up with a 34 or 36 foot boat, if they are intended for similar audiences. I’m well aware boats like the First 30 will smoke my C36, but they are built to a completely different philosophy.
Lastly, I agree with Mainesail that the C34 and C36 Associations are very strong and offer a lot of value to the owners of these boats. Because the C34 and C36 are so similar, there is also a lot of sharing between the two groups.
Good luck with your search –
s/v Palmetto Moon
1991 Catalina 36
Last edited by PalmettoSailor; 01-10-2012 at 10:44 AM.