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Old 04-19-2012
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Novice looking for first boat advice. Contessa?

Hello Everybody,
New to all of this. Just returned from Guatemala where I visited a sailor friend who lives on the Rio Dulce and has a sail and rigging repair business there. Went out sailing, became enamored with it, signed up for sailing classes here, and looking for a boat. Right now specifically interested in a Contessa 32, even though the particular one of interest probably needs repowering, new rigging, stove, and electronics. Overall their reputation for blue water reliability and relative ease appeals to me. If anyone is familiar with or expert on these boats in the local area (Seattle/Puget Sound), I'd love the advice.
Michael
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Old 04-19-2012
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Re: Novice looking for first boat advice. Contessa?

Keep in mind that Contessa made two versions of their 32': CONTESSA 32 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
and:
CONTESSA 32 SM sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
The "32 SM" would be the smaller mast version with less sail area.

I've never sailed on any Contessa's but it looks like a good design and they seem to have a blue water worthy reputation.

I would not discourage you from restoring a boat like this. I know a bit about old boats as mine is from 1967. Chain plates and rigging might likely need to be renewed for blue water. Old boats with a good reputation are worth restoring, in my opinion.

Best of luck!
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Old 04-20-2012
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Re: Novice looking for first boat advice. Contessa?

Thanks for the info. I have done a bit of research, but was unaware of the different mast sizes. The ad lists 417 sq ft of sail area so I think it's the taller mast. Is this less blue water worthy than the smaller? The boat has been sailed to to Australia and Hawaii on separate trips so I assume it's OK.
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Re: Novice looking for first boat advice. Contessa?

Michael,
It's difficult to say for sure which model Contessa it is without knowing the mast height. They could have added a bigger genoa or a main sail with extra roach to a "SM" boat to increase the sail area.

In any case, ketches and yawls generally have a lower mast height because they have a mizzen sail. These designs were popular for a while as ocean going boats because with the lower (in height) sail area they tend to be more stable with less healing action. I'd assume that the "SM" version was created for this 'school of thought'.
The larger mast version and larger sail area would be better for lighter wind situations. Of course with either version you can still reef or change to smaller sails for a similar effect. If you expect to be in trade winds most of the time the "SM" version might be preferred.
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