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Thread: === Pearson 30 Coaster = Vs. = Vanguard / Alberg Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-02-2010 04:47 AM
kenster I am the proud owner of a Bristol 32, and say 'Right-On' to OaklandSailor !!!!
08-01-2010 05:59 PM
seabreeze_97 Abso-fragging-lutely!
08-01-2010 05:10 AM
oaklandsailor Dear fellows:

I cannot get into chewing on any of the technical bones that several of you seem confident of. I am neither a marine engineer nor naval architect or even a lifetime world cruiser. I've read the entire thread, which is full of food for thought. But I do have a comment: If there's a boat you like and you can find owners who actively cruise and enjoy theirs and who prosper by their ownership, you can have reasonable hopes of doing the same.

For example, I have immersed myself in the internet obsessively for the last ten days or so due to my interest in an Alberg 35 that I am considering. A poster above stated that "when someone tells you an Alberg 35 is a miserable boat in heavy going, perhaps beyond boarderline dangerous, especially when loaded to go cruising based on slugging it out in conditions that would not even be all that bad in a better design, you might want to pay attention whether it sounds merely academic or not".
This opinion sounds perfectly authoritative, almost intimidatingly so, but I intend to take it with a grain of salt. Maybe two of them.

Earlier today, yes, this very day, and I am not making this up, I spoke with a sailor who has spent 15 years on his 1961 A35 single handing in and out of the SF Bay, cruising the boat from SF to Florida and back again with his wife, sailing home from Mexico trapped for several days in heavy weather with nowhere to put in. Sick and eager to be somewhere else, yes, but not fearful nor in any perceived peril at any time. His report, undramatic though it was, never mentioned their feeling unsafe or wishing he'd been in a Swan 43 or similar.

Earlier in the week I traded emails with husband/wife cruisers about their experience sailing their A35 to/in the S. Pacific, who stated they are happy with their A35 sloop and felt confident and safe in all the weather they've encountered. Friends, I am not speaking of master mariners or retired shipwrights but middle aged men and woman who've bought the best boat they could afford and then pushed off. Perhaps the reports are out there but I didn't come across any that mentioned lost or capsized A35's. Again, they may exist but I have not seen them.

Last is this online review authored by a sailor known as PortMaine, which I culled from the internet yesterday saying:
"This is a great cruising boat. Fast and sea kind. Sailed from New England to Australia via Panama. The boat performs very well in heavy weather and handled 50 knot winds and 10 foot seas crossing to Gulf Stream to Bermuda and 35 knot winds and 12 foot following seas leaving Easter Island in the Pacific. Needs a large headsail to perform well in light winds, but her narrow beam lets her slice through the water. We beat many 50 - 60 foot vessels across long passages. You can't beat this boat for a combination of off-shore speed and comfort at all points of sail. The raised transom makes cruising the trade winds and following seas very comfortable....."

and "The hull is as solid as steel and over 1" thick below the waterline. We bounced off several rocks and reefs and never had any damage (even one grounding at 5+ knots ~ I won't bother to explain...). This is a vessel that you can feel safe and secure in...."

and "Best performance with a large head sail push out on the spinnaker pole. We rattled off several 160 - 180 NM noon runs...."

and he or she ends the review of their boat by saying "I would take another Alberg to sea in a heartbeat. The 35' was a good size for our 3 adult crew. Beautiful lines and even better performance"

This is not the first glowing report on the A35 I've read. Call me crazy, but cruising a boat that is repeatedly honored as a sound voyager seems like a very good bet. I have yet to see this boat trashed, maligned or dismissed anywhere on the internet except in this thread. And so, very respectfully, I ask: WHAT THE EFF!

Thank you.
07-12-2010 12:09 PM
Rad56 Dear Jeff,
Thank you for all responding--this is invaluable as we investigate the boat further. Many thanks again,
07-09-2010 11:54 AM
Jeff_H I would have no problem recommending a Coaster that has surveyed in good condition for coastal use. They are reasonably good boats for that purpose. Assuming that the boat has been maintained in terms of rigging, and chainplate replacement, and that the wooden structural components have not rotted out behind the Formica, I would expect these boats to do fine in the kinds of conditions normally experienced by the typical coastal cruiser. While not as easy to handle in a blow as many more modern design, they are none the less reasonably seaworthy designs. If all you are doing is coastal cruising, you would not be expected to spend days at a time riding out gale force winds or being thrown from wave tops into the trough (as you might offshore) and so assuming the original structure is intact you should not have to beef things up. If it hasn't been done by prior owners, I would consider sounding out the decks for delamination and adding backing plates on the winches and major cleats.

The original mast supports were reasonably robust on the Pearsons. If the original mast support structure is intact and does not show signs of movement or deterioration, it is probably perfectly fine for coastal use.

The battery question comes down to several factors that you do not mention. If these are traditional lead/acid batteries you will need to be able to service them, and they should be in a vented compartment where the gases produced by charging cannot be ignited by sparks from the electrical system. The efficiency and durability of these batteries are also impaired by heat. Sealed batteries obviously do not have the same maintenance or explosion issue.

07-09-2010 09:50 AM
Considering 1967 Pearson Coaster

Dear Jeff,

We are considering purchase of one of these and saw your excellent post.
The boat in question was thoroughly gone through and updated by a previous owner, a retired submarine electrician. The boat seems to be very well maintained. We will use our next boat for coastal cruising and don't plan to use it offshore plant all. I have a few questions regarding your post below.

1. Regarding hull strength (or lack of) and insufficient framing you mentioned below, what can be done, if anything, to improve this? Will this vintage boat hold up in a blow, seeing as we are not going to be offshore?

2. The mast is supported on a deck beam that's picked up by 2 transverse beams/bulkheads in the cabin, instead of standard compression post. What are your thoughts?

3. There are 2 house batteries beside the engine, with a separate starting battery elsewhere. These batteries in other older boats I've seen are usually farther from the engine. Is this safe? Also, the previous owner put the 2 house batteries under plexiglass cover. Thoughts, comments?

Your comments are quite thorough and impressive, as is your experience. Thanks for any further input you may have.


Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
All right, If I have to...

I know the Wanderer, Coaster, Vanguard and Alberg 30 quite well. My family owned a Vanguard back in the 1960's and have sailed and worked on them at various points since. When we considered buying the Vanguard, we visited the Pearson plant and looked at how Coasters and Wanderers were being built, did a sail trail, and I have sailed on and been aboard these boats quite a few times since including racing a Coaster back in the 70's. I also know the Alberg 30 quite well, have sailed on them quite a bit and helped maintain one in exchange for being able to use the boat.

Of the bunch, I like the Coaster best in terms of sailing ability and motion comfort. The Coaster was designed to the MORC Rating rule of the day, which produced reasonably wholesome boats in terms of moderately longer water lines than was the trend for that era and more efficient underbodies and higher ballast ratios than was typical for the more popular CCA rating rule derived designs such as the Alberg 30 or Pearson Vanguard.

In the case of the Coaster the hull shape was also an improvement over either the Vanguard and Alberg, offering a slightly finer entry, more powerful sections and a cleaner run. This was noticable in a short chop, light air, or in windy reaching conditions.

In terms of build quality, all three were built fairly similarly. All three were pretty crudely built. The glass work on all three, while moderately thick, was laid up with resins, glass and laminating techniques that were inferior to the current techniques. These techniques have resulted in hulls which began life not as strong as they may appear and have lost strength over time. Adding to this these boats were built with minimal internal framing and the lack of internal framing further reduces thier robustness.

Beyond the hull, there are other construction issues that relate to the period during which these boats were built. Some of these items are easily recitified, and may have been addressed by previous owners. For example, in that era, tinned wiring was pretty rare, and connections were often soldered. Even when these boats were new, the electrical systems were often a pain in the butt to maintain. Obviously with time, these early wiring systems would need replacement if they are to remain reliable.

There are other issues as well. Depending on the year and option, all three boats were built with formica faced plywood bulkheads (I should note that I have sailed on both Alberg 30's and a Coaster which had naturally finished mahogany plywood builkheads that I can only surmise must have been an option, I don't know what was the relative proportion of A-30's and Coasters with formica vs natural ply). Formica faced plywood was a nice option in terms of being easy to keep clean and low initial maintenance, but a poor choice over time, the bulkheads can rot out behind the formica, nearly undetected until there is a structural failure. I looked at a Vanguard that had much of its bulkheads floating free of the hull where the plywood had held moisture against the rotting plywood behind. The nice thing about varnished mahogany plywood is that it can be observed for deterioration and issues addressed before they become more serious.

The Coaster was a later design than the other two and so employed more molded liner and interior components than the other two. This is good in many ways but it does make access a bit harder.

In terms of your proposed use, none of these three boats are especially good offshore cruisers. They were all intended as inshore racer cruisers. While I know that all of these boats have been taken offshore, in my mind they would all be a poor choice. I would say that of the three the Coaster would probably be my choice as an all around better design.

05-09-2010 06:55 PM
dell30rb I own a coaster. Hull 9. Its a very solid boat. Lots of original equipment still on it. I have the last 30 years worth of receipts and the original sail and deck plan. Its also been surveyed thoroughly in the two years I've owned it. With the exception of the rudder, which I have had the yard repair, I've never had to do any serious work on it. The deck is original and very stout. The chainplates and rigging are in great shape and my atomic 4 is still running like a top.

I have yet to do any serious offshore work with the boat, but I have extensively sailed it around the chesapeake. I like the boat's design. Its a very classic and solid feeling sailboat. Very easy to handle the sails and strong and fast when the wind picks up. With a good paint and varnish job she will really turn heads.

Compared to my pop's 2003 beneteau 423 the pearson is a much better sailor. Also the beneteau has a tendency to pound and shudder. The pearson rarely pounds and when it does it never has the shudder. And as the previous poster suggested it will easily heave to.

The heaviest weather I've had the boat in was 35kts sustained out in the chesapeake. I had experienced crew with me; reefed and made appropriate sail choices; and the boat handled admirably. The 6 or 7 foot sea in the bay was especially nasty but the hull tracked very well and it was easy to hold a course. Take my opinion with a grain of salt because I'm no expert; but its my understanding that a well maintained coaster with a few offshore improvements like a companionway and larger cockpit drains would be a relatively safe ride as long as the skipper handles her well and makes good choices. I would never consider something Luke an Atlantic crossing , but a shorter offshore trip with good planning; good weather forecast and a prepared and competent crew should be no problem for the coaster

Fyi my boats previous owners have sailed it all over the place.. mostly down to the virgin islands and vicinity..
03-03-2010 09:13 PM
smurphny The boats designed by Carl Alberg have proven themselves time and again. An A35 lay ahull in the same storm that killed, what was it, 14 sailors in the Fastnet Race in '79. They had the "newest" IOR designs, many of which were and are difficult or impossible even to get to heave-to, forcing them to run with a storm down the faces of breaking waves--a REALLY BAD idea. Modern boat designs with fin keels, retractable keels, multi-hull, etc. are certainly faster and more convenient than a classic full displacement hull but to equate the safety of this proven design to an old broken bike is ridiculous. Many of your most popular modern boats are built as cheaply as possible with thin glass, keels that fall off, spade rudders that catch every piece of debris in the water, and many mechanical contraptions to break down... but they have pretty galleys and impressive equipment for sitting at docks. All the technical parameters such as capsize ratios and comfort ratings show the Alberg (and other)type full keel designs to be among the safest.
01-27-2010 05:30 PM
Originally Posted by conquistatadore View Post

based on what i have seen, Cal boats seem nice.
I like Islanders too. (it looks like you own one). I looked at a 30 also
Yes, I have an Islander 30 II , designed by Robert Finch
who also designed the Catalina 27. It has turned out to
be a very nice sailing boat. I would say that the build
quality of Islander and Cal boats is equal.
The Islander 30 & 36 are two of the best production boats
of the early '70s.
01-27-2010 04:38 PM
cal boats

Mr; Cool,

based on what i have seen, Cal boats seem nice. The 34 was specially nice but missed out on that
I like Islanders too. (it looks like you own one). I looked at a 30 also that i was interested in buying.. very solid boat. As i was busy looking at it, another guy bought it... unseen...!
can you believe it ... .... ?!?
What a jerk ...hehe...

It seems a good boat is like a hot woman... everybody wants them!
Lot of nice boats out there for sure...


As for Mr; H comments;

again i have to agree that you have certainly valid points i cannot argue with in regards to safety specially.

its stupid to race an old junky bike at 150mph! No doubt.
That wasnt my point at all and i never did (my race bike was actually brand new). In racing you never see a bike thats older than 2 years old max (but then you gotta see these vintage class racers, and you'll be surprised....)
But on the track, you see bikes that range all over and some of these oldies can kick some butt, trust me i have seen it a 100 times.
I have also seen how older race bikes break down as pieces start falling off or leak fluids while mid track... scary! (specialy if you are following one...)

But then i have seen so many of these OLD Pearsons being sailed all over the world, and how people brag about their integrity, so then again we are back to where we started... and thats old subject, so we'll leave that behind us and move on...

Anyhow, your point is well taken and understood and i thank you indeed for your safety concerns> I will certainly incorporate it into my decision in terms of safety and integrity of the boat. I really dont have any immediate plans to drown myself yet, or my friends, but i will certainly let you know if that changes in the future ..

Sincere regards.

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