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Old 03-28-2004
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build quality

2 years later and I am still looking for a boat. Things change and my budget has gone down. Now looking at less than 60,000. I want to live aboard. No racing. prefer aft cabin. One off shore trip expected (states to the Virgins) then just island hopping. Shoal draft not necessary. Usual Virgin Island conditions have at least moderate winds. expect to single hand only to bring it to the dock for fuel,water. I am considering Watkins 36, CS 36, Contest 36, S2-11, Mariner 36. I am looking for information about the overall quality of these boats. Which one would you select? Or any other suggestions.
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Old 03-28-2004
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Maiden, I''m not familiar with the details of some of your listed boats but the Contest and Watkins span the quality spectrum in my view, the Contest being a much stronger build and very functional ergonomics. The Contest will typically come with a lower profile rig but that should suit your needs in the Trades.

Were you not seeking an aft cabin, I''d say many of your needs would be met by a Pearson 365 sloop/cutter. Lots of tankage, a stall shower, U-shaped galley comfortable main cabin and spacious cockpit - overall, a good Caribbean boat IMO.

Jack
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Old 03-29-2004
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You are really considering boats that are at such extreme ends of the spectrum that I have to wonder how well you are defining your goals for these boats. I also have to question your preference for an aft cabin in a boat this size. Having designed quite a few boats of this size, I strongly believe that center cockpit layouts really so not make any sense in boats under 40 or so feet and that they really don''t come into their own until a boat is roughly 42 feet or so. To explain, when you talk about a 36 footer intended to go distance cruising, every bit of space becomes critical for storage and living space. On a any boat, but especially a boat under 40 or so feet, the area near the roll and pitch centers of the boat become especially critical living space because of their decreased motion. This is also generally the widest part of the boat; the area where it is easiest to layout a workable salon and galley.

When you place the cockpit in this area of the boat a number of detrimental things are forced to occur. It forces the primary living areas towards the ends of the boat and it forces the cockpit to be raised making offsetting any motion comfort that might otherwise occur by placing the cockpit in this prime real estate. Pushing the main living areas to the ends of the boat increases the amount of circulation area (walking area) and circulation is not useful for anything else such as tankage, storage, or work surfaces. To get around this either the hull form needs to be altered in order to provide adequate space for the accomodations or else the accommodations and storage get miniaturized to make room for all else that is necessary.

Getting to the specifics of the boats in question:

CS 36: The CS 36 is a very nice boat. They are well constructed and offer excellent performance. There are actually two very distinctly different CS 36''s. Of the two the Merlin is probably a better choice. If I have a gripe with the earlier boats, it is with their IOR era hull forms and rig proportions. Still these are very nice boats. On the other hand, I am not sure that they are really very good liveaboard/ offshore cruisers, seemingly more optimized as performance coastal cruisers.

Contest 36S: To some extent, the Contest 36S is the exception to my center cockpit in boats under 40 foot rule. The layout on the Contest seems to work reasonably well. My family owned an early Contest as their forst boat and so I have had a strong interest in Contests ever since. Contests tend to be very well finished and offer nice performance in a breeze, but have never struck me as being terribly robustly constructed. (Ours certainly wasn''t requiring a lot of structural repairs for a comparatively new boat.)One example of that is Contests use of mid-topside hull to deck joints. Although an inexpensive way to build a boat, a mid-topside hull todeck joint is very vulnerable and it is very difficult to get sufficient flange area and stiffness at this critical juncture to prevent damage or premature failure of the joint.

S2-11: While S2 has a strong following, I have never been a fan of these boats. My exposure to these boats has left me with serious questions about the build quality, and in the case of the 11.0, I have not been impressed with the sailing ability as well. By and large the S2 11.0 is a good example of what I don''t like about small center cockpit boats.

Mariner 36:
There are two very distinctly different boats called a Mariner 36. The one was an Oriental built, alledgely Alden design that I would run don''t walk the opposite direction from on almost all counts. The other is a New England built boat that reportedly is a pretty nice boat.

Watkins 36: I have nothing even slightly good to say about these boats and so will just plain keep my mouth shut.

Good luck,
Jeff
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Old 03-29-2004
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Thanks guys. There is commonality in these vessels that of having an aft cabin or quarterberth and affordable to me. That was the reason for my post; to get knowledge of the differences and starting with the sorting out of which ones were well built. I had actually viewed a Contest and thought that the hull to deck joint with the vertical glass overlap through bolted through the rub rail and then glassing over the bolts seemed like a good configuration. What would be the prefered hull to deck joint?
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M:

"What would be the prefered hull to deck joint?"

For the limited plans you have for the boat, I''m not sure any method - suitably done by the buider - would need to be avoided. OTOH the best choice IMO is for a deck joint to be glassed over after the two molds are mated in some fashion. Absolute strength and water-tight integrity, no matter how old bedding compounds get. N Europeans seem to be the builders who choose this method.

Jack
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What you descibe is called a shoe box type hull to deck joint and it is generally considered the weakest of joints. I don''t actually think that a Contest has that. I think that a Contest 36 uses inward turning flanges which is the third weakest connection techinique(after an outward facing flange). The strongest joint occurs at the deck line with a wide inward facing flange that is integral with the hull that is adhered and through bolted through the toerail, deck and this flange and protected by a rub rail. At that point, glassing does almost nothing except trapping water and causing the bolts to corrode undetected.

Jeff

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