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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-16-2005 09:24 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

Many of the posts have made some good points, others are so far off they have no basis in reality. I''m the first to admit that a W/32 isn''t the right boat for everyone, no boat is. When someone talks about buying a Westsail I ask what their plans are. If it''s weekends, vacation, and a possible trip to Mexico, I reccomend something like a Catalina 36. Although the last two peoiple bought Westsails anyway. Westsails are for long distance voyaging. If I had a nickle for everyone who said they were going crusing, I truly would be rich as most people never make it. Most of the kit boats are more than average quality, some are extraodinary. I''ve seen two that were better than any professionially built yacht. Some of the interiors are dark some are light, find the one you like. We spend our summers in 100 deg.+ heat, ventilation isn''t a problem. Our boat is anything but tender and that''s the first time I''ve heard that one. In some conditons they are more prone to rolling than a modern hull, but easy to deal with if you know what you''re doing. You do pay a penilty for the bowsprit in most marinas and they are not fun to out on in rough conditions, but a Profurl took care of that. I can''t remember how many times owners of 35-40 ft. boats have commented on how much more storage and carrying capacity we had then them. This has always been a strong point for the 32. Now as for the "Clawing off a lee shore". This fable is from the days before GPS and should rarely be a problem with modern navigation. We sail the Pacific coast which is usually rough and can be tricky. The one time we boxed ourselves in, pre GPS, the boat got us out of trouble without a problem.
Speed, this is the one you hear most. No they are not going to win beer can races, they were''nt suppose to, they were built to cross oceans. One Cal passing a 32 doesn''t tell us anything. Our club is full of Cal 25''s and I''ve probabbly passed most of them. I''m also not saying there isn''t light wind conditions that a Cal wouldn''t pass me in. I''ve passed countless boats and it doesn''t mean I''m faster. Friends on a Hunter 32 and a Catilina 30 left Monterey 1/2 Hr. before us. We caught and passed them before getting to Moss Landing in 8-10 knots. We followed a friend down the coast on her Islander 36. She couldn''t believe a Westsail stayed right on her stern the whole way. By the way, she''s still an active racer who once was on the olynpic team. In the 2003 puddle Jump there were 23 boats. the average length except for the two Westsails was 45.7 and the crossing 23 days. One Westsail, singlehanded crossed in 22 days and the other in 28 days. I''m not claiming the boats are fast, just not the slugs some people claim they are and when doing what they were designed to do, can more than hold their own. I''m also not saying Westsails are for everyone, because most people are only dreaming snd aren''t going anywhere. But if you really want a bullet proof long distance crusing under 35'', a Westsail is hard to beat. For 32'' they''re exceptionally strong, carry a payload that rivils many 35-40 footers, have a good turn of speed and a really clean one can be found for less than 50K. Westsail do have their short falls, but for a true voyaging boat under 35'' the''re one of the best, if not, at least the best buy.

02-13-2005 12:24 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

I was struck by how this thread shows some of the traps we all face when sharing boat opinions on these BB''s. First, wouldn''t it be nice if the software had some kind of Google-like linking capability that tied this kind of query to all the other, similar threads. E.g. Steve''s question comes up about once a quarter here, I notice - no doubt because a) Westsail''s are recognized as ''real cruising boats'' and because they are cheap (on a $/# basis). It''s a shame we have to reinvent the wheel each time - I know I''m tiring of offering the same points, over and over.

But the bigger trap is that the original post is stated in a way - and we tend to react to it in a way - that makes it less productive to the poster than it could be. E.g. let''s assume for a moment that Steve posted the following query when beginning this thread:

"I''m pretty new to sailing and I have never owned a boat before. My wife will be less experienced [presumably] than I am. I''m looking for my first boat, which I plan to sail locally for an unspecified period. I may want to take it cruising - perhaps even cross oceans in it - or I may not. One boat I''m considering is 42 LOA, will weigh 10 tons when I''m daysailing it (11+ tons, loaded out), and is 25+ years old. My goal is to build my skills by using the boat to learn about sailing, to enjoy ourselves, and possibly prepare for cruising. What do you think of my plan?"

My hunch is that readers, seeing that, would surface a lot of relevant topics for Steve to consider: slip fees, the cost of a larger boat for a new owner (not always apparent to newcomers), the inherent costs in an older boat with older systems, questions about how diverse & deep his electrical/mechanical/rigging skills are, the wisdom of trying to pick a boat suitable for ultimate cruising challenges yet find it satisfactory as a learning & weekending boat, and so forth. I''m betting some questions would also naturally surface about where he''s located, since that will inevitably shape how suitable a given boat will be for him.

Those topics are probably where Steve could better use our help. But instead, he - and we - fall into the trap of zeroing in on a Westsail 32 and orbiting most of the discussion around it.

Steve, I''d encourage you to look at the issues I''ve listed above. As for the W32 specifically, dig into the archives (here and elsewhere) and you''ll find lots of add''l info, pro and con. And please keep in mind that the W32 comments you hear here are offered as tho'' we are talking about one fixed entity, meaning every W32 will have the same features and characteristics. That is mostly true of e.g. a Catalina 30 but it''s surely not true of W32''s. I personally have spent extended periods of W32s that are 10, 12 and 16 tons in displacement, I''ve seen ''opposing settee'' and ''dinette'' layouts, even been on some that have pilothouses and fully enclosed cockpits, see many with stand-up chart tables but others with sit-down chart tables, found double berths forward in some that others don''t have, and then there are the normal wide variances in material condition, equipment, and how old or new the electronics, engine and sails are.

Boats are deceivingly complex and older boats have many hidden secrets. You would maximize your sailing (and your sail learning) while reducing your repair and maintenance workload, if you sought out a 5-6 ton, 1990''s sloop that had been sold in large numbers and was fun to sail, and the two of you build your skill sets by weekending it, participating in the summer beer can races, and meanwhile forming your own views (rather than listening to ours) about what your cruising boat should be...if you end up even wanting one.

02-11-2005 11:37 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

I fully agree with the WestSail owner about some of the cut and paste assessments. I guess I have to get the mallet out.

Failure to mention lead for ballast. Biased info based on lack of knowledge? Or just biased info? There''s a huge diffence in motion, moment and stability between iron/concrete and lead. Lead is usually better.

Motion/roll studies? The Navy''s were probably done on ships and not 32'' boats. It''s humorous to even compare studies of one to the other. I worked on ships and sailed 1000s of miles in 30''ish size sailboats. Short motion on a ship means you can walk the deck without grabbing the rails. Long motion means you can''t walk without grabbing a rail. Short motion on a 32'' sailboat means you can''t be comfortable because it whips you too fast. Bunk boards and pillows needed to keep the body from moving so you can sleep. Wide easy motion means you rest without them...Westsails yes, modern go fasts no. There''s more but you should get my drift.

If anyone is of the go fast mentality then a WS isn''t the boat for them. It''s a 32'' boat with 18k lb displacement. If you want to race a 32'' boat get 6k displacement fin keel rig. If you want 18k lbs in a fast boat buy a 40''r.

I could go on with more examples but won''t...just don''t rely to heavily on what any single person posts on boats no matter how well read they seem to be.

Also keep in mind that WestSails have proven themselves capable and seaworthy by many circumnavigations for about three decades. You will be hard pressed to find WS owners unhappy with their boats.

Good luck.
01-11-2005 05:39 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

As an owner of a Westsail 32 I have to say while his ''pedigree'' is essentially correct the rest of Jeff_H''s (cut/paste) assessment of a Westsail (still) contains quite a few inaccuracies.

I know I''m going ''against the grain'' here. I do respect Jeff_H''s views but I also have come to temper his objectiveness with the view he''s more inclined to favor the more modern production boats. Everyone has their own reasons for liking particular boats. Our likes/dislikes, wants/needs just happen to differ

One thing he says is definately correct... it''s interesting Westsail owners love their boats while those that have seemingly never been on one or sailed one seem to consistently deride them. Personally I think it''s jealousy

They do have their umm.. ''pecularities'' but what boat doesn''t? Just depends on what compromises you''re willing to accomodate.

But to put the ''major'' complaints to bed:

They are not (necessarily) as slow as non-owners make them out to be. And they are certainly not ''dogs''. Dave King won the 1988 West Marine Pacific Cup race in his WS32 Saraband. They sail just fine in 8-10 kn winds. I achieve hull speed (a bit over 6 kn) in 10-15 kn winds easily.

I say ''necessarily'' as a proper sail plan with proper shaped sails is the key. I suspect this ''conventional wisdom'' came from long ago on boats with the original sails/plan. Advances have been developed over the years as to what a Westsail should carry. The ''guru'' of Westsails is Kern Ferguson (Kerns Sails). He is inarguably the best loft around for Westsail sails. His sails achieve a proper balance with excellent performance characteristics.

I will say I am probably the furthest from a performance/''racer mentality'' as one might get and I did not buy my Westsail to get somewhere fast anyway. Jeff-H makes a good point that in the long run performance/speed can affect the amount of stores, carrying capacity required but due to its roominess I''m able to store so much of everything it''s simply not an issue. I make ''landfall'' at my choice, not by necessity.

They aren''t hard to sail. I don''t have the excessive weatherhelm everyone seems to think is ''inherent'' in a Westsail (again, sail plan/shape/trim is the key). I singlehand mine all the time and I''m no expert or athelete by any means. Yes, they can be tricky to back up but what ''double ender'' isn''t? But I don''t find it a problem... I maneuver in tight marinas all the time. Just keep things slow and purposefull as you would any ''large'', heavy boat and you''re fine..

They aren''t ''miserable boats'' by a long shot. Albeit a bit wet overall I find it quite a comfortable sailing vessel. And living aboard is a pleasure... so much room below.

They aren''t any more expensive to own/maintain than any other 32'' boat (how/why should they be?). One caveat: It is said a Westsail is a wood boat with a glass hull. There will inevitably be more ''brightwork'' type maintenance than say a Pearson, Hunter, and other ''clorox bottle'' production boats of that genre.

I won''t say all, but I submit the vast majority of Westsail kit boats were put together by people that took care & pride in their work. I''ve seen some Westsails that blew away factory boats (I have a factory built boat). And factory built boats are known for their build quality. Bottom line it''s all in the survey anyway, factory or kit.

According to the ex-GM of Westsail, there were *very* few Westsail kits sold without ballast. Until about ''73 the ballast was iron punchings/concrete with lead/lead shot as an option. After 73''ish the iron/concrete was abandoned with lead/lead shot standard with 3 piece lead blocks the option. In any case the ballast was fully encapsulated in resin so unless there is significant damage even steel/concrete whould not be a problem. To make a point, what ballast material are current production boats predominently using these days?

They aren''t any more expensive to operate/maintain than any other similarly sized boat. Why/how would it be? What''s ''unique'' to a WS deck H/W, rigging etc. that makes it more expensive? Why would it require ''the sail inventory of a much larger boat''? I will say (thanks to its beam) it''s been said a WS32 is a ''40'' boat with a 32'' hull. And I really feel like I DO get to enjoy the cabin space/storage of a 40'' (while maintaining a 32 footer). And as far as marinas charging for the bowspit most I''ve run into (that require anything extra at all) just add a bit of a premium (not charging as if it were a 40 footer). I store my 10'' Zodiac just forward of the mast just like on lots of other boats (I''d store it aft if I dind''t have a propane locker/dodger in the way).

To be fair, as an owner, what do I NOT like about the Westsail? I wish it had a cockpit coaming. I wish it had a modified full keel. That''s about the only ''complaints'' I cna think of.

All that aside it is definately easy to get caught up in the classic lines & ''romance'' of a Westsail. The BEST advice I''ve seen put forward so far is ''Buy a boat for the use at hand rather than a possible future expedition''.

If despite the naysayers and you are still drawn to a Westsail drop by:

and talk to some owners.

An (obviously biased) Westsail 32 Owner
01-11-2005 04:41 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

As I have said before in this forum, there is no substitute for learning to sail in dinghys first. HOWEVER, for those who insist on ignoring my sage advice, there are zero cost options on keelboats. (wanna_sail had written, "Crewing may be an option but it is probably difficult to find someone who wants a husband & wife team that has almost no sailing experience.") Not the case, if you are willing to entertain the thought of RACING. (RACE? - but I can hardly sail!!) That''s OK, since in a race, for efficiency, all the jobs are divided up among a large crew; you just have to learn one job at a time. (Don''t worry, you will not be assigned to the foredeck right away!) Go to your local marina and find out what night(s) they do their "beer can" races. These are more casual, usually w/o spinnaker, races. As you walk among the boats preparing for the race you will see some boats with the crew all in matching livery; keep walking. You will soon come upon a skipper with a more motley crew and an imploring look, "Do you guys know how to sail?" (Don''t worry, all he will insist upon is a pulse.) The one question you should ask him is, "Are you a yeller?" (Its no fun to be yelled at and no way to learn.) Have your own PFDs (with a personal strobe attached if it is an evening race), foul weather gear, and proper non-marring shoes. He will provide the food and beer. Many cruising types scorn the "around-the-buoys" crowd. I think this is a big mistake. Racing is not only about wringing every last tenth of a knot out of a boat. It is also about boat-handling, which every cruiser should care very much about. And a racing venue lets you focus on one sub-set of sailing skills at a time. You will be a mainsheet trimmer one night and perhaps a genoa trimmer the next, then eventually you may be asked to helm the boat. It builds your sailing skills, costs you nothing, gets you exposed to many different boat designs, and increases your circle of sailing friends. What''s not to like?

Owen McCall
01-11-2005 02:01 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

Hi wanna_sail

No one made suggestions because you did not ask.

Bavaria 32

This is one of the boats that I think it would be a good boat to learn and to cruise comfortably in coastal waters.

It is inexpensive, easy, a lot of boat for the money, is fun to sail have good resale value and have an unusual lot of storage space, for a small boat.

It was nominated in 2003 one of the 10 best by Sailmagazine.

You can read the test:

You can have a look at the interior space here:

And it is a nice looking boat (my opinion).


01-10-2005 09:53 PM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

Thanks all for the replies, special thanks to Jeff & Jon yours were particularly helpful and objective.

I think I am a bit nostalgic about the Westsail because of so many web sites I have read that were linked from the original I stumbled upon. These people really appear to enjoy their boats.

I think you are correct that most people do like their choice of boat and justify it however possible. Heck, I justified owning a Pinto once and there are not too many web sites out there. Actually the URL is available I checked.

Surprisingly, no one made any suggestions on an actual boat or brand. I originally wanted to stay away from ‘production’ boats but now I am thinking of a coastal cruiser that will hold its value so I can learn on it and see if it is the life style we want. I will probably charter a few times after the 101-104 course and have a captain along the first few times. Chartering seems to be a way to test a few boats and get it right. 35 ft is about the max I need.

Crewing may be an option but it is probably difficult to find someone who wants a husband & wife team that has almost no sailing experience. Being gainfully unemployed I may hang around yacht clubs and offer help as crew on day sailing excursions.
01-10-2005 07:22 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

The original question comes from someone new to sailing, who wants a boat to learn on and coastal cruise, and ultimately if things work out go off-shore. I would hope even passionate defenders of Westsail 32''s would agree they are not the best boat to learn how to sail on, and are awkward as coastal cruisers (watch someone try to dock one in a tight marina).

Consider buying a used coastal cruiser and spend a year or two with it. A popular used boat won''t depreciate much. After that you will be far better equipped to assess whether a Westsail 32 is the right boat for you. Buy a boat for the use at hand rather than a possible future expedition.
01-10-2005 06:37 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

The Westsail 32 is the antithesis of a good boat upon which to learn to sail. They also make a very poor choice for a first boat. I would suggest that you start out with a boat that is more responsive. Also reasonable speed is more important to a cruiser than to a racer. A racer with a slow boat merely loses a race, but a reasonably well performing cruiser means being able to better chose when you will enter a port, or the amount of supplies that need to be carried on a long pasage, or a reduction in the amount of motoring time relative to sailing time that is required and so on. In any event this is a prior review on the Westsail 32 that I had written:

One thing that you can say about the Westsail 32''s, they are not all that easy to discuss in an objective way. They have a strong following amongst those that love them and they are the butt of jokes by people who don''t. There is so much hyperbole and derision surrounding these boats that it is hard to really tell where the truth starts and the emotion ends. Here''s how I see them.......

To begin to understand the Westsails you need to look at where they came from. In a general sense, the Westsail 32 pretty closely based on the Atkin''s designed ''Eric''. The ''Eric''s'' were a 1930''s era design. They were heavily constructed as wooden boats with gaff rigs. Atkins was a master of adapting various burdensome (able to carry large loads) working craft designs, into smaller lighter yacht forms. He was a master of modeling hulls so that these extremely heavy vessels (even for their day) sailed reasonably well as compared to a what you would have expected in that ear from a boat of this type. In the case of the ''Eric'', Atkins based his design on a Colin Archer sailing yacht that was based on the world famous Colin Archer Rescue Boats. The ''Eric''s'' carried enormous sail plans and really took some skill to sail. To stand up to that enormous sail plan, the ''Eric''s'' were heavily ballasted with external cast lead ballast. That combination gave them reasonable performance (for a heavy cruiser of their day) in a pretty wide range of conditions.

There are varying stories about how the Eric design was adapted to become the Westsail 32. William Crealock seems to be credited with drafting the adaptation. When the ''Eric''s'' were adapted to fiberglass there were a number of changes made. To begin with the fiberglass hulls actually weighed more than the wooden hull of the Eric. This was partially because the freeboard was raised and a high bulkhead included as a part of the fiberglass work. They were also not quite as strong and stiff as the wooden hulled ''Eric''s''. To help the boats float on their lines, the Westsails had less ballast than the ''Eric''s''. This made them comparatively tender and as a result their sail plans were reduced in size dramatically from the ''Eric''s'', which is not to say that they have a small sailplan, just that they have a small sail plan for thier drag.

This ballast and sail plan change had a dramatic affect on the sailing ability as well. Although the Westsails still carry huge sailplans compared to most 32 footers and or most boats with their waterline length, they are next to useless as sailboats in winds under 8 or so knots. They are also not as good as the ''Eric''s'' in heavier conditions either. This is because the Westsails still have equal hull drag through the water, but they have greater windage, a higher center of effort in their sail plans. To over come that resistance they need to carry essentially the same sail area as the ''Eric''s'' but since they have comparatively less ballast that means that they end up heeling more than the wooden Erics.

This ballasting issue is further complicated by the fact that the Westsails had internal ballast (which reduces the volume and depth of the ballast) and that many had lower density ballast in the form of iron set in concrete, which further raised the center of gravity pretty dramatically. Even further exacerbating this situation is the fact that while many of these boats were factory-built, a lot were sold as kits and some were sold without ballast. The kit built boats varied hugely in terms of ballasting, interior appointment, rig, deck hardware weights and postions.

They also varied quite widely in terms of layouts down below and the quality of workmansip being done. This variation resulted in a pretty wide range of sailing characteristics and a pretty wide variation in the amount of weight in gear and tankage that the boats can tolerate.

I know that there are strong proponents of this venerable design, but in my mind they only make sense in some narrow range of venues and for certain types of owners. While a bit of breeze brings these boats into life, even in 15 to 18 knots of wind they are slow compared to more modern designs. While they have a slow motion, they are real rollers, which personally I would rather accept a little quicker motion with less rolling. (When you talk about motion comfort there are two factors at play, the speed of accelleration at each end of the roll and the angle of the roll. In US navy studies of motion comfort, about half of the people in the studies preferred a slower roll through a wider angle, and the other half preferred a perhaps snappier motion through a narrower angle. If you fall in the slow roll camp then the Westsail would be a comfortable boat for you. If you fall in the ''can''t deal with large roll angles (like myself) then the Westsail probably is not an ideal boat for you.) If you are looking at a Westsail for coastal cruising in most US east coast venues (comparatively light winds) then a Westsail in probably not an ideal choice. BUT if you live in an area that has predominantly high winds or you plan a lot of offshore passages then the Westsail might make sense for some.

Westsails contain a lot of compromises that make them miserable boats as coastal cruisers and to a lesser extent as live aboards. They cockpit is cramped and uncomfortable. They lack good ventilation, being quite dark down below. It is hard to find a suitable way to store a reasonable dinghy. They are expensive to own, requiring the sail inventory of a much larger boat. With their bowsprit and boomkin in many if not most marinas end up paying for a 40 foot slip, while only having the room of a 32 footer. You also end up paying for bottom paint and deck hardware for a much larger boat than you actually get the advantage of owning. These are exhausting boats to sail with high helm loads in a breeze (which can be offset by greatly reducing sail, which is fine if you do not have to claw off of a leeshore or don''t mind the very leisurely pace that results.) They also have anachronistic compromises that make them less than ideal for offshore work. For example in this day and age, going offshore with a headsail tacked at the end of a bowsprit makes no sense at all. There is a good reason that bowsprits were known as ''widowmakers'' during the era of working sailing craft.

Lastly, no matter how you look at it, the Westsails are slow by any objective standard. Their design is based on thinking that is well over a hundred years old. While the ocean has changed little in 100 years, our understanding of what makes a boat safe, fast, durable and comfortable has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. Even if the generally historic ideas of reflected in the design of the Westsail appeal to you, there are other designs, similarly priced, that offer a lot better sailing performance, ease of handling, seakindliness and equal seaworthiness.

01-10-2005 06:19 AM
WESTSAIL 32 and similar

Huummm...Sailingfool said:

"I think the W32 is all image and little boat... the boat is a dog."

Read that story sailingfool....

That boat is not fast but it looks very seaworthy to me...and it''s only a 32ft.


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