Talk to me about the Tartan 33 - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 4 Old 10-17-2003 Thread Starter
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Talk to me about the Tartan 33

Tartan 33

S&S design - 215 built between 1979-84

Two versions

1) fractional rig, 4.5'' Scheel keel

2) masthead rig, 6.25 fin keel

The shoal keel version appears to be MUCH more common than the deep keel version (possibly designated 33R?).

So, talk to me about the strengths and weaknesses of the:

- design

- construction

- seaworthiness

- performance (under sail & power)

- deck layout

- interior design & layout

- other?

I live & sail where a shoal keel is not very important. What am I losing in performance and seaworthiness with the Scheel keel? Is it a bone-head idea to consider replacing the shallow keel with a deep fin?...ball park cost?

Other boats to consider?

- Budget: U$30-40K ($60k max)

- Two adults (1-2 guests, very seldom)

- Cruising the northwest

- Some single-handing and daysailing

* Bonus: sound and seaworthy enough to make this trip: Inland passage to Alaska, south to Mexico, west to Hawai''i, back to Puget Sound.

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 4 Old 10-17-2003
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Talk to me about the Tartan 33

I was working at a Tartan brokerage when the 33 came out. It was touted as a smaller less expensive version of the venerable 37. There are other folks who are regulars on this board that may have more indepth technical info on this design, I''ll just give you my first hand experiances.

The 33 was never really intended to be a racer, and that is why you see so many of the Scheel keeled boats out there. The Scheel does give up some in pointing ability, but for gunkholing it''s a great option. One of the other nice features of the Scheel keeled boats is that they were 7/8''s rigged. This made for a boat that was much easier to sail shorthanded/singlehanded. I sailed one singlehanded from Block Island to NYC, set the chute, and it was a breeze (pun intended). The backstay adjuster was simple and straight forward. Everything worked in an uncomplicated fashion. You will notice that the 33 is fuller aft than the trend (IOR) at the time, while not at today''s standards, it wasn''t quite as "Pinched" and would be more kindly in a following sea.

The deep keeled version also came with a full head rig and double spreaders. I don''t think they actually called it the "R" version, but this was never a design that would do well beyond the Wed. night beer can series.

On the plus side of the Scheel was it''s rather large foot, which would be a boon in a hard grounding. But that large base would be a baine if stuck in the muck.

I wasn''t that thrilled with the interior layout. Especially regarding the way the doors to the head and forward cabin were set up. Seemed rather awkward and flimsy. But in general, it seemed to have a good business like layout.

The construction of these boats seemed quite good for the time, and the level of hardware and ancillaries was good also.

Because of their age (over 20 years in some cases) there might be a lot of updating and upgrading necessary, but that is pretty much the norm for any boat that age. And of course, you would have to watch for core moisture and osmosis.

In general, I always thought the 33 was a great "Couple" boat, meaning that they seemed ideal for the coastal cruising couple and maybe a friend or two, but were a little tight for more people than that. My 2 cents, for what it''s worth.
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post #3 of 4 Old 10-21-2003
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Talk to me about the Tartan 33

I own a 1982 Tartan 33R, which is the masthead, deep keel version of the Tartan 33, as you indicate in your posting. I''ve owned the boat for 13 years. The July 1, 1989 issue of Practical Sailor has a review of the Tartan 33, and discusses the 33R. The article indicates a "pretty amazing" difference in performance of approximately 30 seconds per mile in favor of the 33R due to the combination of the masthead rig and deep fin.

The 33R is very close winded and very well balanced upwind. It''s a bit slow downwind under main and jib only as the small main on the 33R is a high aspect ratio (boom shortened on 33R to compensate for increased area in the genoa). Engine power is adequate in winds under 25-30 knots, count on 6.5-7 knots in flat water with no wind (newly painted bottom), less in wind and waves. Balance is excellent sailing to windward, there''s very little weather helm close hauled in under about 18 knots apparent, on a reach you''ll be working the helm to keep the boat on course as wind builds above about 14 knots. Design of the hull is excellent. There are few faster boats of this size made in this era.

The above comments apply to the 33R. The following should apply to the 33 as well as they relate to aspects which are unchanged between the two. Seaworthiness is very good, its very rare for the bow to bury and very difficult to put the rail under. I''ve never been pooped, the stern lifts to every wave I''ve encountered.

Construction is very good. Both the hull and deck are balsa cored. During this era, Tartan did not replace the balsa where fasteners penetrated the deck, and the backing washers are not always adequate. However, I''ve had few problems with the core other than minor localized wetness near fasteners. There have been a few gelcoat voids which have become apparent above and below the waterline. There have been a few leaks with the chainplates and ports.

Deck layout is good. On my boat all of the halyards are led aft, I''m not sure this was the case with the regular T-33, although there are openings in the dodger coaming to permit. The winches are well located for single handling, you can reach from behind the wheel. Reefing lines are not led aft; that means two people are needed to reef, one at the mast and one in the cockpit, or you''ll have to jump back and forth.

Interior is a matter of personal taste. Tartan introduced the Tartan 34-2 in the mid-1980s. This boat is essentially the same hull as the Tartan 33/33R, and the rig of the 33R, but with a completely different interior. The 33 has a very short settee on the port side, with a large icebox taking up much of the room. One must go through the head to get to the v-berth. The quarterberth is narrow. These issues are solved on the 34-2, with full length settes on that boat, the icebox moved adjacent to the galley, the head no longer full width, and the quarterberth extends under the cockpit. A few of the late 33s and early 34-2s have a third type of interior which is kind of a cross between the two. The 34-2s are a lot more money, however, and almost all have the Scheel keels of the 33 rather than the deep fin of the 33R. I''ve sailed against a 34-2, there''s a very noticeable difference in pointing ability to windward.

Replacing the keel is likely to be very expensive. They are not easy to remove and I''d suspect the original mold is gone. In addition, I believe the keel sump on the scheel keel models is longer, so a 33R keel wouldn''t even fit.

The boat is on the small size for the trip you suggest, but if properly surveryed beforehand I see no reason why it couldn''t withstand the trip. Provisions for a trip to Hawaii with two people aboard would make things very cramped.
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post #4 of 4 Old 10-22-2003 Thread Starter
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Talk to me about the Tartan 33

Thanks to both of you for the useful information.

The balsa core / backing washers / water intrusion issues concern me -- especially with the boats approaching 25 years old & in the Northwest where boats stay in the water year ''round. Obviously something to be examined closely at survey -- if I get to that point.

The Scheel keel offers no significant positives here in the northwest and a real performance compromise.

I do like the fractional rig.

Layout is okay - tight as I''m about 6''2" and Ann is 5''8".

We''ve been looking for a 36 footer (34-38ft range), but are having difficulty making size / build quality / sailing performance / seaworthiness all fit the budget (about $40K, $60K max). Also finding selection in the northwest less interesting than expected.

Some insist ''the hunt'' is part of the fun of getting a new boat -- not for me. To this point, while there are interesting and exciting moments, I find the process frustrating and a bit expensive.
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