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JerryO39 03-07-2002 04:29 PM

Best Built Boats?
Does anyone know which of the 28 to 32 footers where the best built?
(I know of the Westsail32 and the Contessa 32)
Could someone shed some light on the some of the other models known for their quality.
I have heard several boats really get a bad rap on the message board,(Columbias etc.)
PS:I have enquired about the Pearson Line on their mail list.Their is currently one sailing the world and it got me interested in the old Tritons.

thomas s 03-07-2002 06:13 PM

Best Built Boats?
Best built for what? The above mentioned have excellent reps for blue water passage making, although not popular around here . Also how much cash are you talking about.

Jeff_H 03-07-2002 06:14 PM

Best Built Boats?
I would never list the Triton, Westsail or the Contessa 32 on a list of ''best built boats''. Each of these boats have their own merits and disadvantages but they would certainly never fall in the category of ''best built 28 to 32 footers.

Tritons were run of the mill production CCA rule beating, coastal cruisers in thier day and their day was 40 years ago. You can beef one up and adapt it sail some pretty long distances but a skipper who sails a Triton around the world does so inspite of his choice of boats rather than because of the Triton''s inherent good qualities.

The Westsails were a whole lot of fiberglass in a 32 foot length of boat. They varied pretty widely in build quality. Some had steel; boiler punchings and iron for ballast, few had a lead casting that was properly bonded to the hull. At least at some point in the Westsail''s history the decks were plywood cored. Once plywood starts to rot it is bar the door nelly because the rot easily moves with the grain in multiple directions at once. They were also notoriously blister prone.

The Contessa 32 was a really nice RORC era race boat for its day. They sail well and are generally good handling boats with a lot going for them but again they would not fall all that close to the top of the ''best built boats''list in that size range.

Anyway, more to the point, what is it that you are actually trying to find out?


JerryO39 03-08-2002 02:09 AM

Best Built Boats?
From the comments so far I can only summize
that these folks I read about on the web and in magazines sailing around in the middle of the ocean are sailing pretty much whatever they can find for the money they have(kinda like me).Im sure if I had the bucks I''d get a new Fast Passage 39 but like those in the stories I read I must dig deep,try to get the best bang for the buck also.
So back to the topic:Which of the smaller boats 28'' to 32'' were known to be well built(for the open ocean or longterm Carribean style cruising).
I have a ton of scientific data(sail data spread sheets).These are great for comparing numbers but tell nothing of the actual quality of construction.
Tell me of the Cal Series of boats,Ericsons,Camper Nicholson,etc.
Example:On one of my data sheets the Ericson 29 is top choice,it has a better Capsize Ratio,comfort ratio,etc that some of the larger boats and is affordable to.
I have come to one conclusion:Balsa decks can be trouble on a very old boat.Exspensive to fix if they are water logged.I read alot about this.Where there any boats that had all glass decks.

Jeff_H 03-08-2002 02:59 AM

Best Built Boats?
Very few cruising size boats were built with solid core decks. Solid un-cored f.g. decks would be very heavy if they are to achieve the stiffness that is necessary. Having the weight of a solid glass deck, that high above the center of bouyancy would greatly impair seaworthiness and seakindliness.

Balsa Core decks are not inherently problematic. Properly constructed they will last an extremely long time. I have recently been aboard a 35 year old Pearson that had balsa core decks which surveyed without any voids or problems. Balsa core decks that are not maintained obviously more problematic than high density closed cell foam but far better than plywood decks.

The thing about end-grain balsa is that theoretically the cells are oriented to absorb resin and seal the individual cells of the wood. Rot in Balsa,as with most woods, spreads along the cell lines. If you seal the ends of the Balsa theoretically rot would be kept very localized. The problem occurs where holes have been bored in the deck, exposing end grain and compressing the fibers. This permits water to move into the fibers and cause rot. As rot occurs sheer and freeze-thaw cycles peel away the surface of adjacent fibers from the end of balsa fiber and allows the rot to spread.

Still, except in the worst cases, core rot is usually pretty limited and relatively repairable. The key is to find a boat that does not have core rot and to then maintain it.

Back to your question at hand, it sounds like you are looking for a well built boat that can take you to the Carribean and back. Looking at surrogate formulas such as capsize ratio,and comfort index really tell you absolutely nothing about the boats in question including capsize resistance and comfort. These formaulas are terribly misleading. Using these types of simplified calculations really does not direct you to a boat intended to for offshore use. For example the Ericson 29 that you mention was a nice little coastal cruiser but the build quality (in the pre-Pacific Seacraft era) and detailing was never intended as an offshore cruiser.

I think that you need to back up a bit, and define your goals more narrowly, spend a bunch of time crawling around the list of "usual suspects'' to understand how they are actually constructed and how well they actually hold up. And then you should be able to end up with a short list of boats and criteria that will allow you to make reasoned decisions.


JohnDrake 03-08-2002 04:20 AM

Best Built Boats?
I think that boats suitable for the Caribean and boats suitable for offshore are often (especially at the low end of the dollar range) two different boats.

A good boat for the Caribean is one that has plenty of space, outstanding light and ventilation, a large cockpit and a shallow draft.

A good offshore boat may (depending on the school of thought) have a much smaller cockpit, a more narrow beam (less distance to be shot across down below), fewer and smaller portlights and a deeper draft. [there are many more differences and again I stress, the above is dependent on the school of thought]. In addition, many people like an uncored hull for sailing to unknown parts as they may be less problematic and easier to repair, while some people in the Caribean praise a cored hull for its insulation.

The above descriptionis are for illustrative purposes only.

The point is that it might be important to look at your real requirement and ask the question again. Do you really need an offshore boat... or do you need a boat that will be able to cross the Stream to get to the Caribean. And... why 28-32 ft???

Hope this helps.

Best of luck.

SailorMitch 03-08-2002 04:40 AM

Best Built Boats?
It might help for you to state your budget for this purchase. For example, two boats I would suggest as being up to the task are the Allied Seawind II, and the Southern Cross 31. Both fit into your arbitrary size range, and both boats are very capable of blue water sailing -- assuming there are no other maintenance issues with the particular boats you find. But I have no idea if they fit into your budget.

I agree with Jeff H. that all the formula stuff is interesting, but ultimately no indicator of quality. This seems to be a more common thing for folks to want to hang their hats on what some formula says. But the best criteria is examining a boat thoroughly for how well it was made, how well it''s been maintained, and what did the deisigner have in mind for it to begin with. Not many designers of production boats set out to design something to go around the world. Most design something more suitable for "coastal cruising" which in itself is a nebulous concept, but that may be good enough for what you want to do assuming the boat you find doesn''t have major problems.

JerryO39 03-08-2002 01:14 PM

Best Built Boats?
Hi again,
Thanks for all your input.
I purchased a book called "The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat" via the internet and it arrived this a.m.
From first glance it looks great.

PS:Someone here recommended this book to me a while back.Dont remember who they were but thanks.

thomas s 03-08-2002 02:12 PM

Best Built Boats?
I have to stick up for the contessa and westsail. While I wont say they are the best built , what boat is ?(probally my bucket boat I built as a kid,five gallon paint jugs strapped to a pallot.) The contessa was built to Lloyds standards,for all you paper sailors, calculations show she will heel to 157 degrees before capsizing.This boat has completed many circumnavigations ,a rounding of cape horn against the wind, best of all it was the only boat to finish the 79 fastnet when a force 10 gale forced every other boat in her class of 58 boats to drop out. You cannot ever say the westsail is not a well built boat, what kinda boat washed up on the beach perfectly intact during the storm of the century? thomas

JohnDrake 03-08-2002 02:36 PM

Best Built Boats?
I, quite frankly, am not sure of the value of a "Lloyds" certified boat. As I understand it, the Lloyds certification is for the HULL, not the boat in toto. I have inspected (I am not a surveyor, nor do I play one on TV) two different 80''s era Moody''s, also Llyods certified. Both hulls were fine, but I found the rest of the boat and the remainder of the construction lacking. Yes, they were better than most, but ... I thought the construction of the cabin top and deck, the Hull to deck joint and a few other places very thin and the finish in both cases was just not very good. I would not take either boat (a 36 and a 41) anywhere.

I have never been aboard a Contessa 32, they are hard to find. The design looks very appealing.

The Westsail lore is high, their number''s are good (if you are into the heavy boat club as I am). But... I believe Jeff H pointed out above, many were kits and owner finished. Thus quality will tend to vary.

All the best

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