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  #1  
Old 10-21-2011
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Why do you like the boats you like?

I'm a big fan of sailing writer, John Vigor. *An enjoyable writing style and practical experience always shows through. His blog is a regular treat for me and a post this week has had me thinking. It was about the style boat people prefer and why some folks are drawn to older passage making capable boats when the majority of their actual sailing might actually be better suited by more modern designs. I fall into this category.

Vigor suggested that "Such boats evoke a visceral emotion, a direct connection to the age-old tradition of the sea......And there's something else. They look good. They look as if they were made to do a job and do it well. They look as if they were shaped by the sea for the sea. And if you ever need to take advantage of that, they're ready, willing, and able."

I currently sail out of a cub in Boston on a variety of 28-34'ers (C&C and Albin's mostly) but want to buy something simple and sturdy like a Sea Sprite 23. The practical choice is probably to remain renting by season as I have, but dreams don't work that way.

Thought others might enjoy his post too and contemplating why you like the boats you like. Of course there's no bad answer!

John Vigor's Blog: The Walter Mitty boats
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Old 10-21-2011
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I like a wide variety of boats. I own a Sabre but appreciate everything from schooners to Volvo 70's. I have the feeling that many people love a design for the dream of what it invokes. Often that means something traditional. But it's a fallacy that traditional equals offshore, passage making. Look at a Volvo 70. Arguably the fastest offshore boats ever made and they sail in atrocious conditions. It's also a fallacy that heavy equals strong and seaworthy; early fiberglass boats were built that way because engineering data wasn't available to indicate otherwise. Traditional wood boats were designed as they were because wood construction limited what could be done in terms of shape (I'm not including cold moulding - a relatively new technique). Modern pre-preg epoxy hulls are the strongest, lightest hulls ever built and allow enormous interior volume because overbuilt ribs aren't as necessary.

A reading of Howard Chapelle and The World's Greatest Sailboats shows what was and what is.
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Old 10-24-2011
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I found "20 Boats to take you anywhere" very usefull. I think everyone has different tastes, and puts more weight on certain aspects of design. For me, I wanted a boat that I would feel comfortable taking across Lake Michigan in most conditions. I liked the idea of a boat that would heave-to with ease (long keel). Coming from a swing keel boat, I also liked the idea of an encapsulated keel (no swing keel cable, no keel bolts). I also like the looks of the Alberg boats. I ended up with a Bristol 27.
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Old 10-24-2011
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Sorry, off topic. This quote from Vigors' blog reminds me of a story:

Quote:
Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor, Marchaj quotes a former editor of Rudder magazine, T. F. Day, who crossed the Atlantic in 1911 in the 25-foot yawl Seabird:

"My long experience in small boats has taught me this: that if a boat is a good boat, when real trouble comes she is best left alone. She knows better what to do than you, and if you leave her alone she will do the right things, whereas nine times out of ten you will do the wrong thing."
My brother-in-law is a state trooper. He came across a woman on a snowy day in her car, in the ditch. He asked what happened. She said the car started skidding, so she curled up into a ball and let the lord take the tiller.
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Old 10-24-2011
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I love traditional boats. The Southern cross or Island Packet brands scream to me.. My empty pockets just grumble back.
My PY26 will have to do for now.
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Old 10-24-2011
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I like sexy boats. Which for me means traditional looking. Or at least a certain time period. Think Herreshoff. Hinckley. Even some of the early, overbuilt FG boats.
Block Island 40 or Concordia yawls have some of the sexiest butts of any boat!

Can't stand the newer BeneHuntaLinas.

Like some of the newer Maxi Speed demons w/ their chines, flat bottoms at the aft end, double rudders, etc.... BUT, I sure wouldn't like the ride in rough conditions!
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Old 10-24-2011
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I am not a fan of Vigors list of 20 boats to take you anywhere. While I respect John Vogor as a sailor, his recommendations trend to be very conservative in many ways and often out of date in terms of current thinking on what makes a safe or comfortable cruiser. Many of these boats are now 40-50 years old and built at a time when glass work was just not all that good. While they may have been decent cruising boats 15-20 years ago, mosty examples which can be bought cheaply are near the end of their useful lifespan at least without a major restoration requiring many times their worth.

Boats like the Sea Sprite 23 were half-way decent boats in thier day, but there were and are far better built and sailing boats out there for the dollar and purpose.

Anyway, to answer your question, I cribbed this from my response to a discussion that took place over this weekend and so does not strictly apply but it does cover the broad strokes.

This is a valid question but one which unfortunately lacks a succinct answer. To begin with I completely understand that when I like or dislike a boat, it is filtered through my own prejudice towards boats which sail well in a broad range of conditions, which are easy to handle, and which are thoughtfully designed, engineered and constructed.

As I am using the term sailing well is not about absolute speed; It is about sailing reliably in a broad range of conditions, and across the full spectrum of points of sail. It is about pointing, reaching and running, in light and heavy air as well as more moderate wind ranges. It is about being easy to adapt to changing conditions. It is about not excessively pitching or rolling. It is about being forgiving; not having a narrow performance window, and not prematurely knocking down, rounding up, or broaching. It is about not being excessively tender, wet or needing to sail at a large heel angle, or in any other very narrow range of heel in order to perform. It is also about a given boat’s suitability to its venue.

Easy to handle is only in part about hardware and deck layout. To me it’s more about the basics of the design. It is about how easy the boat is to sail in changing conditions or bad conditions with only a small crew rather than a large, skilled racing crew. It is about the ease with which a boat powers up or reliably deals with deteriorating conditions without having to make headsail changes or give up performance. It is about foothold and handholds as you move around the cabin while heeled or bashing into bad conditions. It is about how comfortable the interior is to use at sea, with comfort at anchor being less important.

To me being well designed and engineered is about designing a boat which is designed for the stresses the boat is likely to encounter in its service life, durable and maintainable. This last item 'maintainable' is not one that most folks think about. There are a range of boat building techniques which can produce a solid and durable boat, but any boat begins to wear out over time. Being able to get to fastenings, wire and plumbing chases, being able to easily pull out an engine or chain plates, really can make it much easier and cost effective to own an older boat.

While I do not believe that good engineering is about achieving the lightest possible weight, I also believe that in and of itself weight does nothing good for a boat. Weight does not automatically make a boat stronger, more seaworthy or more sea-kindly. But weight is more likely to have an inherently negative impact ease of handling, performance, shorthanded capability, initial costs and the cost of maintenance.

Quality Engineering has been a moving target throughout my entire 50 year sailing career, with materials and methods improving nearly linearly throughout this entire period. At this point, in my opinion the keys to good engineering requires well thought through framing and small panel size to distribute loadings and minimize flex, , robust rig and keel support and connections, solid, protected and maintainable hull to deck joints.

When I use the term ‘Mediocre’ I mean nothing exceptional, neither particularly good or particularly bad. Its not as much of a slam as it might sound. But if you are going to rescue a boat from a bygone era, I would suggest that it is cheaper and easier to rescusatate an above average build quality boat and in the end you will end up with something that is more reliable and worth something.

Well design is about the little details, a place to stand at a winch, having decent toerails, coamings and rubrails. It is about minimal liners so that you can repair and replace electrical and plumbing systems, deck and interior hardware.

Well designed is about the way the hull passes through the water. It is about controlling drag. It is about having a balanced and light helm without weather helm or creating a boat that requires constant attention. While tracking is an laudable attribute, I will take a light balanced helm and any day believing that this is easier on the crew and autopilot draw. (I know this is in conflict with historic cruising texts.

And in all that, it is not about gold platers, the Porsches and Mercedes of the sailing world.

And when someone asks me whether a particular boat is a good boat, or when I am trying to evaluate a boat for myself for that matter, I ask “Compared to what?” and my answer is shaped by questions like: Is this a good boat compared to:
- Boats for similar purpose which came before or after?
- Boats if its era?
- Boats of this length?
- Boats of weight?
- Boats of this price range?
- Boats which are available for this owner’s needs?

And so on….

And that gets closer to the question that you are asking. Anyone who has read many of my posts know that I believe that the boating industry tends to be faddish and that there have been design fads and a variety of racing rules that have resulted in compromises to rig design and hull design which has a negative impact on seaworthiness, seakindliness, ease of handling and long term durability.

But even within any given period there are boats, which are better designs and reflects better build quality. So, for example, if we look at the NY 35 in the original post, I would suggest that a J-36 would have been better choice for a project boat than the NY-35. Although of a similar era, similar rig and cabin layout, the J-36 is a better sailing boat over a wider wind range. They have remained competitive under PHRF and so still have a strong following. J-36’s were generally better built and better finished than the NY-36. J-36’s have had some hull delamination issues but the boat in question also required recoring. The J-36 is easier to handle in a breeze and offers better light air performance as well.

Similarly, if we talk about boats of the CCA era, boats like the Sailmaster 23, Grampian Classic 22 (C&C), Pacific Dolphin 24, Morgan 24/25, Tartan 27, Morgan 34, Seafarer Swiftshore 35, C&C 35, Cal 36, Tartan 34, Cal 40, were generally well built boats which sailed much better than their peers (although not necessarily faster).

If we talk about boats from the IOR era, boats like the Ranger 23 (which was actually a MORC boat), Farr 727, Morgan 27, Tartan 30 (which was also actually a MORC boat), Soverel 33 & 39, J-34, X ¾ ton, Dehler 34, Tartan 40, Beneteau First 375, and 42 come to mind as standouts. During the IOR era there are boats like the Peterson 34's which I have a hard time pidgeon holing. These were great designs compared to what came immediately before. At the time they were a revelation. Yet when viewed against some of the better boats which were not designed to a rule, they were hard boats to sail well and ideally were sailed by bigger crews. That said, SailNet member Catamount bought one very cheaply, has done a great job restoring one and has been very succesasful racing her in short handed racing and using her as family cruiser. From my perspective, as good as these boats were, they are very athletic boats to sail, and lack the kind of forgiveness that I prefer in a boat. All boats are a compromise, which may make these a great boat for some, but not one that I would recommend blindly. (I would have similar comments about the Tartan 41 and Beneteau 42 mentioned above.)

During the IOR era, I personally preferred what was happening on the MORC front during the IOR era. The MORC rule produced a crop of great 24-25 boats including the J-24, Kirby 25, Capri 25, Wavelength 24, Lindenberg 26 and 28 and so on as well as a herd of well rounded bigger boats J-30, J29, Kirby 30, Olsen 911, (Alsberg Bro) Express 30, S.2 9.1. These were really well rounded designs for their size and purpose although early efforts and hard racing have taken a toll on many of these. Sill they are all reasonably competitive under PHRF and good all around sailing boats.

If we talk about boats the general size of my boat, there were a whole rash of good boats out there; J-35, J-36, J-37c and J-40c, Frers 33 & 36, Tripp 36, Tripp 37, Farr 1020, Farr 37, Farr 11.6, Express 37. All remain moderately competitive PHRF boats and all are good sailing boats. While I chose the Farr 11.6 because it began life as a cruising design rather than a racing design.

Of this group I personally think that the Express 37 was the best in terms of a mix of performance and build quality. The Express 37’s were generally $20 k more than the Farrs and I could not afford that or else I probably would have bought an Express 37. The later J-35’s had a nicer interior in some ways than my Farr but again, they were more expensive, and lacked tankage. The J-40 is a better cruising boat than my Farr and there are a whole crop of newer boats (boats like the Aerodyne 38, Farr 395, IMX 38/40, or Beneteau 40.7’s are particular favorites) which are better performers than all of these.

I guess that is the basics of how I arrive at my comments. I am sure I have left out some of my own favorite older designs, boats worth messing with, but hopefully this should dispel the notion that I only think that Farrs of a certain era are worth messing with.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 10-24-2011 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 10-24-2011
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What is a traditional boat? We can go all the way back to a log, and paddle. Then get into multis for thousands of years. What you describe as tradidional is rather new in sailing technology.

I cruised, and day sailed my 30ft. Columbia for a very long time. I loved that boat. I ended up with a cat, because it was a fire sale. What I read I liked about cats, but no experience except several day sails on charters.

As you type there are no wrong choices. It's whatever puts a smile on your face......i2f
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Old 10-24-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harborless View Post
I love traditional boats. The Southern cross or Island Packet brands scream to me.. My empty pockets just grumble back.
My PY26 will have to do for now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailordave View Post
I like sexy boats. Which for me means traditional looking. Or at least a certain time period. Think Herreshoff. Hinckley. Even some of the early, overbuilt FG boats.
Block Island 40 or Concordia yawls have some of the sexiest butts of any boat!
What Imagine2frollic said. LOL None of these really are 'traditional' boats, by which I mean boats based on traditional design theory derived from offshore working watercraft. These are all modern designs. While I like the Southern Cross, these were 1970's era performance boats gussied to look traditional. The Island Packets are fin keel, post hung rudder boats with high freeboard. They have none of the traditional virtues of historic watercraft warranting the description, "traditional" but most of the liabilities. Concordias and Block Islands were beautiful to look at but they were the product of a short lived mid-20th century racing rule, and a deviation from tradtional design practice which preceded them. Probably Nat, S DeW, and LF Herreshoff's cruising designs are closest to traditional.

Jeff
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Old 10-24-2011
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I love 'em all. I have no particular desire for one more than the other. If you ask me to help crew your boat, I will ask the size of her (dinghy's are slightly different critters then schooners), but I promise I'll have fun regardless.

I like the look of many boats, and love the look of a few more. Ask me today what I'd choose, and it would likely be different from what I'd choose tomorrow.

I don't want to part with my Catalina 22, but I know that a larger boat will serve me better. I'm limited to about 30 feet in length, and about 5.5 feet of draft on this lake. The possibilities are endless.

Even though I know the 22 is too small, that doesn't stop me from looking at 16 foot Catalinas, and Com-Pac's, or 17 foot Daysailer II's, and even though 30 feet is the practical upper limit around here, I still drool over the 45 foot Beneteaus, Hanse's and X-Boats.

Mono hulls have my heart, but I feel the allure of driving a tennis court around the ocean at high speed, so a large multi is a turn on.

There are a couple of things I'm sure of: I'd rather be sailing in cold rainy weather then shovelling snow, and I'd rather be sailing in warm rainy weather then cutting the grass. Conversely, those two things also mean that other diversions I also enjoy doing are soon to follow.

What is my ideal boat? The one I'm on.
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