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Re: Pearson 27/28-2 vs Irwin 32.5
How are the chainplates attached on the Irwin that you are considering? You should read the chucklesR thread to see how they are done on his Irwin. It makes them very difficult to service. I've never sailed an Irwin, so I don't have too much more to say about them.
In comparison the Pearson 28-2 has a great chainplate system. The chainplates are through bolted to knees that are an integral part of the hull. It is very easy to inspect and service and very stout, much better than tying them to a wooden bulkhead as found on most sailboats.
I sleep in the aft cabin on my 28-2. The berth there is a lot bigger than the V-berth and more comfortable for my wife and I. However one person has very limited headroom. The V-berth has leg foot room (it is a shorter and narrower berth), but much more headroom.
I removed the shower and hot water from my Pearson 28-2. They both worked just fine, but the head is a bit small and I find it more comfortable to just shower on deck using a solar shower. It is also probably better for the boat to avoid dumping all of that water into the small head. However the system was well engineered.
Overall I think the 28-2 is a close to ideal smaller sized coastal cruiser for a couple or single person. It sails very well, came nicely spec'd from the factory, is well constructed, and has a nice interior layout with a good balance of storage and space. I have no concerns about having an externally bolted on keel, it is a time proven way of building a well performing sailboat and the keel bolts seem to be well over spec'd for the necessary loads. I spent 7 weeks cruising and sailing my 28-2 this summer and didn't come back feeling like I wanted to upgrade or change much about the boat.
If I could change anything on the boat there are only a few small ones. I'd prefer a little less freeboard to make the boat a little faster and handle better when docking in cross winds. This would eliminate some very useful storage and shoulder room below though, so I think Pearson did the right thing there. It would be interesting to have the boat be 1' longer (29.5 instead of 28.5) to have a little more length in both berths. This could also add a useful 15 gallons to the water tank. I'd like aluminum toe rail instead of teak, it would be less to maintain and more practical. I'd prefer a modern fractional rig, but the Pearson 28-2 rig is quite good compared to most 70s and 80s designs. It doesn't depend completely on the jib for power and stays balanced with a wide variety of sail plans. Overall these are all minor nits.
On my 1986 boat I have rebedded most deck hardware and the deck/hull joint. The original sealant was at the end of it's life, but I haven't found any signs of water intrusion into the core. On my boat all deck penetrations were counterbored but not sealed with epoxy, that is better than average for 1986 boats.
In a similar size range I'd also check out the Tartan 30. It is a nicely built boat that has a great sailing reputation (I've sailed a lot on the similar Yankee 30) and a good interior layout for one or two people.
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