Endeavour 37, Aft Cockpit
I’d like to offer a different view from Jeff’s and perhaps in the process point to the realities of a search like the one Chas is conducting vs. the way we tend to discuss boat choices on this (and most other) BB’s.
Let’s review Chas’ criteria: He and his wife want a boat that will a) be a home for an extended period, that’s spacious (their term, in a sidebar conversation) and livable; b) that he can take with his wife thru-out the Caribbean and perhaps further, that’s seaworthy to that extent and suitable for his intended cruising grounds; and c) that won’t cost him more than $40K, preferably less.
Folks, he’s not going to end up with a Shannon or even a Bristol, if he sticks to his requirements. Instead, he’s going to buy a 12,000# - 16000# + or -, dated design which was probably built as a price boat at the time and now features outdated build characteristics. (Or he’s going to buy some owner-completed boat that, in the end, isn’t lots bigger and will likely have other issues). He can get a smaller, better built boat, he can get a faster boat, he can pay more money…but in the end he will own a compromise choice because he’s asking for the toughest of marriages: long-term cruising, boat as home, and low-cost.
Looking at Jeff’s criticisms of the E37, I can put them in two camps: the inherent qualities of the design and the boat as built vs. how the boat is equipped and set up. I find it relevant to point out that, if we drive a ’67 VW Bug today, we probably will pretty much have a ’67 Bug driving experience. OTOH given the wide selection of E37’s out there (or Gulfstar 37’s or Hunter 37’s or…), it’s reasonable to expect we can choose a boat that has been upgraded over the years…because owners break or wear out their gear, because owners want the benefits of newer technologies, and…well, because owners want their boats to be nicer and most of us can’t just go buy a new boat. Sailing an E37 today could well be a different kind of experience than it would have been several decades ago, unlike driving a ’67 Bug. Today’s E37/G37/H37 might have self-tailing winches, a nice windlass, decent canvas and cushions in the cockpit, a feathering prop, and well made sails, all of which are going to shape our impression – today – of what that boat is like to sail and cruise. This is a major trap I see us all falling into when discussing older boats as tho’ they are fixed entities (perhaps at least in our own memories from the past) and so we assume they are unable to stay current in some meaningful ways.
Are E37’s bad sea boats? Uncomfortable? I remember a Canadian couple on an E37 arriving in St. Georges shortly after we did, both our boats having crossed from Florida this past summer. Our crossing lasted 7 days and two of them were fairly obnoxious. This couple had been out 13 (Yikes! I couldn’t imagine 13 days!) and had departed from a closer FL port. The sails were torn, everyone was dead tired, the crew abandoned them immediately on arrival, and the couple had all but given up their dream of crossing the Atlantic. Was this due to the boat? Once calm arrived and they were well rested, they began to look at what their issues really were: tired genoa on a less than capable furling system, an unreliable reefing set-up for the main, no inner stay nor suitable heavy weather jib to put on it, some fuel filtering issues for the engine, a self-steering system that needed a beef-up, and a lot of anxiety that made the rest of the experience even worse. To their credit, they sucked it up, worked with a rigger and a loft, improved the systems they had, did some needed maintenance and, in the end, decided to leave for Faial all by themselves. When we caught their lines in Horta, they were all smiles – it had been a relatively quick passage, nothing broke, and they were even well rested while short-handing 1700 NM. The boat they’d viewed with a disillusioned, jaundiced eye on arriving in Bermuda was truly their pride and their joy on arrival in Faial. Lots had changed inbetween the two passages, but the basic boat wasn’t one of them.
In my view E37’s, while they do have their performance issues, are not inherently unsuited for the task of longer-distance cruising; they are a compromise in many regards but then any boat meeting Chas’ three requirements is going to be. (OTOH I find E37''s more nicely finished inside than e.g. the H37 that was recommended). But more importantly, it is how such boats are sailed – and the willingness of the crew to optimize the boat for the task at hand – that can make a real difference.