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  #21  
Old 01-22-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

For my money, the Vanguard is one of the prettiest boats ever. The biggest reason I didn't seriously consider buying one is the attached rudder design. I just couldn't live with the daily terror of trying to back that thing up in my crowded marina. But if money becomes no object, I would seriously consider buying one and sending her to Tim Lackey to completely renovate, including one of those spade rudders.
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  #22  
Old 01-22-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

Quote:
Originally Posted by seabreeze_97 View Post
Jeff H. You were speaking on the construction materials and it appears you said this about the Vanguard?

"Shorter fiber lengths and more brittle resins meant a very flexible and at the same time fatigue prone material."

Short fibers? In woven roving? How do you figure? Short compared to what? I would consider short fibers to be more like the chopper gun products that have been manufactured the last 30 some-odd years to be the champion of short fiber lengths. And what's this about vacuum-bagging? There were companies working without vacuum systems into the 1990's, only relenting to closed systems, not for the end product quality, but for the demands of the EPA, so I'm not seeing how that's relevant either, be it on Vanguards or any other fiberglassed anything made (in an open setting) up til the EPA mandated it be a closed system.
You are still asking these same questions after all these years?

To addresss your "Short fibers? In woven roving? How do you figure? Short compared to what?" :

I have explained much of this to you before and referenced my comments with a roughly 10 to 12 year old marine insurance industry study that looked at the strength of older fiberglass boats. The study was produced because the insurance industry was finding that older boats seemed to be having greater impact damage claims than would seem to be expected from the impacts that they were actually encountering. The study tested actual hull and deck panels cut from older boats and discussed the reasons that were believed to have caused the unpredicted decrease in strength in these materials. That study was available online when you and I first discussed this, but regretably, I am no longer able to find this report available online since if available I would have liked to have provided a link.

In any event, to address your short fiber question, the glass fiber in the fiberglass fabrics (mat, woven roving and woven cloth) that was used in the early days of GRP boats was produced using a process that called a staple fiber process. This produced individual fiber lengths that were comparatively short in length (typically less than 2 feet) which were then bundled into the yards used in roving and cloth. This process not only produced fibers which were comparatively short in length, but which were also less uniform in diameter and more prone to breakage if the woven fabics were not properly handled at the boat builder.

Generally, boat builders of the 1960's were not aware that fiberglass fabrics needed special handling. When I visited Pearson during the 1960's fabrics were precut, then labeled and folded, and stored in neat piles on racks ready for lay up. This folding of the fabric caused some breakage of the individual fibers, and concentrating fiber ends, along the fold line further shortening the fiber length along the fold lines.

At some point in the late 1960's and into the 1970's, the method of producing fiberglass fibers used in boat building changed to a continuous fiber method, which as the name suggests produces longer, nearly continous fibers that were also more uniform in cross section. Also by the 1970's and early 1980's manufacturers also had routinely adopted better fabric handling techniques, storing cut fabrics flat or on rolls.

Fibers produced using the continuous fiber method, and where the fiberglass fabrics are handled properly, are less prone to fatigue and are less brittle over the life of the laminate.

Fiberglass construction during the 1960's was a more casual affair. In the 1960s metering of the resin mix was not done with the high level of precision that is routine today. Resin admixtures were very popular during the 1960's to allow a longer working time, while accelerating the ultimate cure to allow the parts to be removed from the molds sooner. The imprecise mix ratios and the accellerators in use back then, made for a comparatively brittle and factigue prone cured resin as well.

In the 1960's, resin to cloth ratios would vary widely within individual laminations with the layup. Looking at plug cut from a 1960's era boat, you would see variations in the layup with lenses of resin that varied in thickness from layer to layer. And ideal resin to cloth layup results in a material with better flexural strength and resistance to fatique and rupture. This combination of shorter fiber length, less ductle resin formulations, and the lenses of resin rich laminate that was typical during the 1960's boat industry, resulted in a comparatively brittle and fatigue prone laminate.

So while slightly thicker than hulls which followed, hulls like the 1960's era Vanguard, lacking in internal framing and with laminate which the marine industry study showed to be comparatively brittle and prone to fracture, are not the excessively strong hulls which many people assume them to be.

To answer your other question "And what's this about vacuum-bagging?" I know of no boat building company that adopted vaccuum bagging as a way to address air polution problems. There were cheaper ways to do that. In the 1980's, some manufacturers began using vaccuum bagging as a way of better controlling the resin content within the laminate. The problem with hand laid up construction is that it is hard to completely wet out the cloth to a uniform resin to fabric ratio. What happens with vaccuum bagging is that the laminate is fully wet out and then air and resin is sucked out through ports in a membrane. The process compresses the laminate and removes excess resin before the resin sets. It guarenttees a more complete wetout, while reducing the resin left in the laminate to a closer to ideal level. Its an expensive process in that it requires more labor, equipment and there is more resin used, the excess of which is vaccuumed out before cure. But vaccuum bagging produces a much stronger and durable panel.

Where vaccuum bagging is especially effective is in sealing coring in balsa or foam cored decks to the skins where the vaccuum does a more effective job in clamping the core to the laminate and drawing resins further up into the core materials.

I hope this clears this up for you,
Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 01-22-2014 at 03:26 PM.
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  #23  
Old 01-22-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

Most of what Jeff says makes a lot of sense to me. It's easy to believe manufacturing improved over a 50 year period, resulting in a stiff and lighter weight ship. As for framing, the surveyor who surveyed my Vanguard, when asked about framing, said the hull was over framed given the laminate thicknesses. He was a very experienced surveyor. I believe it based on the lack of oil canning or any visible flex anywhere when working into a head sea (or colliding occasionally with a dock!). While resin mix and vacuum bagging has improved hull layup, the early Pearson's did not seem to suffer from blisters either-that was a product of later manufacturing processes.
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Old 01-22-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

Nice discussion

So, my candid question is: is it possible to correct these defects somewhat by adding partial bulkheads and knees?
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Old 01-22-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

I would like to touch on a number of other points in this discussion. I too have heard of Vanguards that had spade or skeg hung rudder, but I would be skeptical that these were actually built that way at the factory. Pearson was a comparatively late adopter of spade or skeg hung rudders.

When I visited the factory around 1966, Pearson was already building the Coaster and Wanderer, both of which had long keels (the Wanderer with shoal draft and a centerboard) with attached rudders.

When we were looking at the Coaster, the last Vanguard that was ever built was still at the factory. It had remained unsold due to gelcoat defects, but was under contract when we saw her. That boat had the same keel hung rudder that was on our Vanguard.

The first Pearsons constructed with spade rudders were the Renegade 27 (a really nice but seemingly forgotten design) and the Pearson 22 and these were designed and built several years after the last Vanguard was constructed. My best guess is that any Vanguards that have a spade rudder were probably owner modified.

Obviously, I could be wrong on this since Pearson may have built one or two custom spade rudder Vanguards along the way.

Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 01-28-2014 at 05:52 PM.
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

Jim:

You and I probably agree on more points than we disagree on. Its more a matter of how the points that we agree on end up impacting our view of the Vanguard as boat being bought to be sailed today. I am not sure that I would say that I dislike the Vanguard, its more that I don't raise them high up on the pedestal that seems to be the norm these days. Anyway, please see my comments in red below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimPendoley View Post
Sigh...
I've said before, these boats are dirt simple and the interiors should be thought of as more of a blank canvas than a finished design. But those are upgrades any older boat will likely need.

I completely agree that as designed the Vanguards were very simple boats. This makes them easy to work on, update and maintain. if you are handy its is pretty easy to return one to original condition or upgrade it with modern hardware and amentities. Where you and I may disagree is that there are a lot of boats in the same general size and price range which can be purchased with all of the updates already onboard and operational. I also believe that if you are the one doing the upgrading, it is very hard to get even a reasonable percent of your dollars spent on the upgrades out of the boat when you are done since the prices on these boats are somewhat limited by the broader limitations of their age and design.


Phil Rhodes was a pretty well regarded naval architect at the time he designed the Vanguard. Boat design is a blend of many compromises. Vanguards are slow by todays standards, but if you work with the design attributes they sail well. For example, they don't need to sail at a heel beyond fifteen degrees, nor were they ever intended to. If you heel over to twenty, put a reef in and she will sit right up. She will not go beyond twenty easily.

I would agree, Phillip Rhodes was one of the top design offices in the world at the time that he designed the Vanguard. In conversations with Phillip Rhodes about the Vanguard, he made it clear that Pearson compromised the design when they were building the boat the main one being leaving out some of the ballast. You and I would agree that the Vanguard can be sailed quite comfortably at a heel angle of 15 degrees and that if you reef early (12 to15 knots of wind depending on the choice of headsail) she will stand back up and have a comparatively balanced helm. Where we might disagree is that the rule of thumb to get the most speed out of the Vanguard was to sail her with her toerail approximately a foot above the water, which I believe was closer to 20 degrees, and perhaps over that. There is a tendancy to talk about these long overhang boats increasing their waterline and therefore their speed with heel. If you stand them up, you are theortically are giving up speed. It may be that by standing the boat up some, that lost speed may be made up by a smaller leeway angle and therefore and better VMG. It would be fun to experiment with that using modern instruments.

I sail all over New England and never felt the need for anything larger than a 135 on a furler. I sail on the open Atlantic, not the Chessie where air does tend to be lighter, but I regularly do 6 knots continuously off the wind and average 5-5.5 into the wind if I don't pinch. That is with four crewmembers and provisions for a week of cruising. With one reef in, the helm is almost neutral and you do need to reef at 15 knots. The second reef goes in at 30 and you will switching to a storm jib. I sail often when nobody else will go out.

I think that you and I are actually in agreement here too. If you sail in a venue where the predominant winds are in the 10 to 15 knots you can probably do well with a 135%- #2 genoa. I do seem to recall that there is a geometry problem with the sheet lead on #2 genoas (125% to 140%) ( a conflct between sheeting inboard of the lifelines and outboard of the shrouds for which there needed to be a jib track and car added on the deck, or using the outboard jib track on the toerail and sheeting outboard of the lifelines without having the foot distorted on the bowpulpit and forward lifeline, or dropping the forward lifeline to the deck) that limits the size of a #2. But that said, I would think that a #2 could have a pretty wide range on a boat like the Vanguard. And also, reefing the main before reducing headsail size goes a long way towards taming the Vanguard's weather helm. As you note, when you start sailing these boats in venues with lighter winds, say winds much below 10 knots, you really need a larger much genoa, and those larger genoas are a pain to sail with, especially with the original hardware. But then you are faced with ideally swapping for a #2 genoa in winds around 12-15 knots, which then gets swapped for a #3 or working jib as you approach 20 knots. These are comparatively narrow windspeed ranges compared to more modern designs and that was all that I was saying.

The rig came with a roller furling boom-switch to slab reefing at a cost of $50 and you won't regret it.

I am not sure how you change to slab reefing for a cost of only $50 but I completely agree that slab reefing would be a major improvement.

The mainsheet benefits from a traveler upgrade to help shape the main and dump a little wind up top when the breeze picks up. Cost about $250. The decks are wide, simple and clean. There is a real 2" toe rail to keep you aboard, not a half inch square of teak or an aluminum extrusion. The side decks are unobstructed by inboard shrouds, so she may not point as high, but deck work is easier, safer and more secure.

Similarly, I am not sure how you add a traveler and control lines for a cost of only $250 but I completely agree that a traveller would be a major improvement on a boat with as little initial stability as the Vanguard.

That large underwater hull profile translates into more living space below. I have 6'2" of headroom. I've cruised extensively with my wife and kids and we always felt safe and comfortable, if a little cramped as they got larger. The bunks are roomy. The boat does not pound or sound like a resonating drum as it beats to windward. Flex in a Vanguard hull is unheard off. The deep vhull and mass combine to yield a much quieter and more comfortable ride. The boat tracks well, is not squirrely at all downwind or running in a sea. She heaves to easily, forereaching only slightly under backed jib and centered main. Speaking of the underwater profile, we have bazillions of lobster pots up here-folks won't even attempt a night passage in some parts due to all the lines. The attached rudder has a very well protected prop in an aperture which has never tangled in twenty years of cruising through thousands of pots.

I agree with most of this, but that 6'2" headroom is only in the doghouse. Where we might disagree is that the full bow sections hit harder in a chop than the fine bow on a well designed modern boat, and a well designed modern boat does not pound or boom like a drum when beating. I disagree that a Vanguard hull does not flex. The ones that I have sailed to weather tend to have their head doors stick when going to weather because the boat is flexing. If you sit on the trunk portion of the house with your feet on the deck you can actually feel the flexure.

Someone mentioned the Farr 37 above. I agree with that comment that they do tend to pound. The Farr 37 was an IOR design and so has comparatively flat botton which can slap and pound pretty badly. That is one of the things which would discourage me from buying an IOR era design, but that is another story. (I own a Farr 38 which was not an IOR boat and which has vee shaped sections forward)


The A4 is a fine and elegantly simple engine. I rebuilt mine a few years back for $1500 and expect it to last another forty years. I can order you a block, a crank ,a cam-virtually any part you would conceivably need in fifteen minutes or less from multiple sources on the web. Would I like a diesel? Sure, but for $8000 I'll save my money for now. For long distance cruising, the A4 is limited in power and range given the inefficient power curve and the limited tankage. For coastal cruising, it's smooth, quiet and has adequate power. Mine pushes me upriver regularly against the outgoing tide of the Merrimac River which ebbs at 1.5 knots. A Beta diesel upgrade would give a cruising range under power of a couple hundred miles-which for a small boat is not terrible. Many Vanguards have already had a diesel upgrade.
I actually like the Atomic 4. I agree that they are easy and comparatively inexpensive to work on and if maintained are quite reliable. I must apologize for my comments above about parts availability. That was written approximately 10-12 years ago and there seemed to be more problems getting Atomic 4 parts than there are today, as long as you don't mind updating to newer (and more reliable) style parts.

It is true, I guess, that you can cross oceans in just about anything, but it is extraordinary how many long voyages have been made in Vanguards. Three college grads circumnavigated on a Vanguard after graduating college. A couple from Maine went as far as Indonesia-I know several who have crossed the pond multiple times and I know one that races in the PACCup which is 2070 miles. I've spoken or corresponded with most of them and they all tell me the boat was safe, dependable and easy to handle in a seaway. We see them all over the coast of Maine where they are very well regarded. There is a very active users group on yahoo where you can correspond with hundreds of happy Vanguard owners and learn of virtually any upgrade you can imagine.

You and I agree on most of that. If you are a good seaman and in decent condition, and you have a Vanguard that is in good shape and well maintained, it would certainly be possible to take one distance cruising and do so on a budget. By the same token as these boats age, it takes a diligent effort to make one safe and reliable. Certainly chainplates, fuel and water tanks, and rudders can be replaced. Bulkheads can be stripped of the formica, repaired or replaced as well. Longitudinals and transverse framing can be added were needed. The hull deck joint can be beefed up where fatigue has taken its toll. And when you are done you have a boat that can probably go the distance. But my point in these discussions is not whether it can be done, but whether the Vanguard really makes sense for that purpose, or whether a person considering a lot of offshore sailing would not be better served by a boat design which began life as a distance cruiser, rather than a boat like the Vanguard which began life as a race boat and coastal cruiser.

The thing is, every newer design I look at does not look 1/2 as pretty as my Vanguard in profile. Every time I row away from her, I take one more look to take her in-I am having a really hard time imagining letting her go.

And you and I agree on this as well. Where we might disagree is my belief that a boat is a tool, a very sophisticated tool, but a tool none the less. And to me, no matter how beautiful a tool may be, I sstill judge it on its effectiveness for my purposes. For my purposes, ease of handling, speed and seaworthiness come first. And how ever we each may view this, I respectfully suggest that for my particular set of preferences, the Vanguard does not do all that well compared to other options within its general price range. But we each chose the boats we do in response to our own needs, tastes, goals and budgets. And in that regard there is no one right answer that suits all of us equally. If your Vanguard makes your heart soar and your days bright, then it is the exact right choice for you. And that is all that counts.
Respectfully,
Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 01-28-2014 at 05:56 PM.
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  #27  
Old 01-23-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

Jeff and Jim,
Thanks again for all the great info. Jeff it your explination of the fiber length sounds knowledgable makes perfect sense to me. I'm under no illusions that Vanguards are any stronger than later boats or in some way the pinnacle of yacht design. Owning an even older fiberglass boat currently moving up to a 1964/65 Vanguard sounds like a move up for me. Besides I've done all the fiberglass, epoxy, woodwork, engine work ect I can on my current boat So I'm in need of something else to tinker with! That and an extra few feet of space witll be more than welcome when compared to my Columbia 29, especially in the bunk/berth department. Wonder where the OP went?
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

Also for my purposes of cruising and occasional cross lake race I think it will suit us well. Also for the wife when sailing on the Farr 37 she would get seasick quite readily, however with C-29 she seems to do better, that and the large windows below so she can keep an eye on the horizon whilst grabbing beers and sandwhichs!

All of that and the boat I'm considering is in my price range is a big plus.
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Old 01-23-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
The first Pearsons constructed with spade rudders were the Renegade 27 (a really nice but seemingly forgotten design)
Plus 1 here. My ideal boat looks like a Triton/Vanguard, but has a spade rudder. And since I can't afford an Alerion, M Series or Friendship, the Renegade has always struck me as a great option. In my price range for sure!
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Old 01-23-2014
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Re: Pearson Vanguard 33 reviews?

the renegades are nice...very nice lines..strongly built too

the wanderer mentioned before is a battle tank
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