Sailing Qualities - 31,34,37
Hi all. I have been in love with your boats for years. I actually had a purchase contract written up on a new 1986 34 but didn't qualify for the loan. So I have "settled" for Catalinas these many years. Although I do love my Cat 36, I am thinking of moving to a "forever" boat, hopefully my last boat. One that I can sail and work on and add improvements to knowing that I'll never want to trade "up". The beauty and quality of the Pacific Seacraft boats tantalize me to this day and I am looking at all three, the 31, 34 & 37. I am a singlehander and I think the 40 may be a bit too big (57 and not getting any younger). The 37 is, of course, the classic. Everything you want or could ever need in a cruising boat with a storied history of successful voyages. On the other hand is the 31 which, for some odd reason, I feel absolutely drawn to. Open, airy, a non-claustrophobic V-berth and probably perfect for a singlehander. The 34 is right in between the two in my mind. While I go back and forth in terms of sizes and amenities, I was wondering what the differences might be in the sailing & motoring qualities of the 3 boats. So, I'd love to here any comparisons you could offer, especially if you've sailed more than one model, regarding the seakindliness, speed, handling (docking, etc) or whatever you'd like to throw in.
Interesting questions. The first thing that occurred to me was that coming from a Catalina 36, you will have to be prepared for less internal volume -- even on the Crealock 37. If you are okay with that -- right down to the 31 -- then great.
I have been aboard all 3 of these models, but only have sailed the 31. So I can't offer you a comparison in sailing qualities. Of course, the 34 and 37 have more waterline.
We owned a Dana 24 before we bought our 31. I had always assumed our next boat would be the 34 -- had drooled over it for years. But when the time came to move up, I happened to take a closer look at the 31. It is often the unnoticed or forgotten little sister -- at least by me it was, anyway.
What I quickly realized was the 31 had the same features that we liked in the Dana -- particularly the open interior AND aft head. Plus a chart table and double quarter berth, features we wanted in our next boat. So if you like this unconventional layout/approach, the 31 is a nice example of how it can be done.
There are some other aspects to the design of the 31 that you may not have noticed yet. The 31 was the fourth in the Crealock series at PSC (after the 37, 34, and Dana 24) and had what I consider to be some evolutionary improvements. One feature that we really appreciate is the cockpit. It has a roomier feel and, with the large bridgedeck, seats a crowd fairly comfortably. And the T-shaped footwell (absent on the 34 and 37) is especially helpful for moving around the helm/cockpit. The placement of the traveller is to some extent a matter of personal preference, but I wouldn't want ours any other way.
Other features we like are the sprit/anchor platform, which gets the anchors off the foredeck (some of the later 34s and 37s had this feature too). And the proportionally taller bulwarks (especially at the foredeck).
I think the 31 would make a great single-handers/couple/young family boat. But if you expect regular visitors, especially the sort that expect more privacy, the 34 or 37 would certainly offer more accommodating interiors.
I have sailed on the 24-34-37 and 40 and have felt comfortable and safe on them all. The big questions for you should be: how big are you?Are you at all claustrophobic?What kind of sailing will you be doing?daysails,live aboard,cruising, long passages?The size of the boat determines the storage capacity of the boat food,water ,fuel etc.
The larger the boat the kinder the sea motion,hobbyhorsing,rolling,etc.
I know a couple that circumnavigated on a 31 with no major problems but they needed a watermaker because of inadequate water tankage.
I'm a fairly large person 6'2" and 250lbs and I find the 34 just a little small for me ,I bump into things.I also bump into things on our 37 but not as often.Having said all of this any one of the PS boats are solid, safe,seaworthy boats that will take you anywhere you dream of going.
Dianne and Chuck Burke S/V NiftyNickers C37 #139
Mike, I'm a geezer lady with a heart condition and I could singlehand our PSC 37 in all but the worst weather. It had a tiller, too. Nice turn of speed (we could foot the Ericson 38s and even took line honors in a PHRF race where we were the only boat without a spinnaker.
Still, I watched a guy come into Port Townsend, WA, standing on the stern and steering his Dana 24 with his foot and holding the sheet and halyard for the main in one hand. He sailed right into the slip, dropped the sail, and was in the pub before we could get off our boat to go congratulate him on a spectacular job putting the boat away. When we saw him later, he said he was thirsty because he had just come in from Hawai'i.
Single handed crealock34
we built a Flicka from a bare hull in 87, and purchased a Crealock 34 11 years ago.
I have been on all of the Pacific Seacrafts, and could be comfortale on all but the double ended 25.
I am able to single hand the 34 in pretty much any kind of weather, and would think you could set up the 37 to do the same. If there is going to be a problem on the 34/37 for you it will be in the Windlass/Bow thruster issues.
With a large; electric; remote control Windlass and a Bow thruster a single hander can handle the anchoring/docking issues. Not cheap however.
The 31; much like our Flicka, has very straight forward systems. Much less to go wrong, the 34/37 are top cabin; but you will be working on those systems; a lot.
They all sail like long distance boats; not as fast, way more comfort.
If you have the chance, charter each, it will be money well spent.
I would probably disagree with the necessity for a bow thruster on the PSC 37--certainly in all but very heavy conditions. The 37 will practically spin on her keel, especially if you have a tiller.
The PSC 40 definitely would be easier to maneuver with a bow thruster--and a tiller.
I agree Unomio, it'd be quite an extravagance to put a bow thruster on a 34 also. Personally, I wouldn't "compromise" the hull to do that given the low-value-add in the case. I'm having an argument with myself about a manual vs. electric windlass. I notice for example that Dave M. ( Voyage of the Swan - A Blue Water Cruising Yacht is Selected, Outfitted and Cruised Offshore ) is traveling the world with a manual windlass and some quite hefty anchoring gear. I wonder if he gets a little work out from time to time dealing with that, but there's some nice trade-offs in keeping it simple.
The 34 is extremely sea-kindly and reasonably fast (modified fin keel & skeg hung rudder = less wetted surface area = less drag, but the large bow overhang ='s shorter waterline length = lower hull speed, but sure looks pretty!).
She tracks well when motoring and docking. Having a Max-Prop makes handling in reverse much easier compared to a fixed prop, from what I gather reading many posts from other owners and my own experience with the Max-Prop.
Unlike many of the coastal cruiser boats I've seen, PSC has installed well powered engines on their boats proportionate to their displacements, which also helps with motoring and docking. With the wineglass hull shape and moderate freeboard, she doesn't get blown around easily in a cross-wind at slower speed like some of my flat-bottomed neighbors. The large rudder well aft gives great directional control, maybe not quite as much as a balanced spade, but close, and then this one's protected by the skeg in a grounding situation.
I've added an asym. spinnaker for use in lighter air, the boat's a little under canvassed (by design) for its weight otherwise. If taking offshore, I recommend having a removable inner forestay to give the option to sail as a Sloop or a Cutter.
The 34 is a little stingy on the storage space, but as a heavy displacement boat (for her waterline length, moderate for LOA), she can hold quite a bit of weight. I was definitely appreciating the roominess of the 40 at the Annapolis show this year though.
I really like the layout of the 31 as well per all the reasons cited in your original post and John's as well. I strongly considered two of them. My only (minor) reservation about the 31 is that I was used to being able to take a stand-up shower in my prior boat, and there wasn't the head-room to do that in the 31. Very nice boats, all. I get a lot of compliments on the boat's lines and the asthetic of the canoe stern.
When I had my boat trailored overland to its new home, the driver that was securing the boat to the trailer commented on how rare it is for boats to have such solid hulls these days. Many of the newer ones are more like Clorox jugs (his words). Dave M. also posted previously that he found the 34 to be very strong and stood up well to the rigors of blue water use better than a number of other boats he observed arriving in distant locations.
As John indicated, the character / intent of this line is different than your current boat and other modern coastal cruisers. Be sure you understand the differences going in so you're not disappointed at having given up some things in the transition. At the dock, you may miss a few of these things, in open water (especially when the wind / sea-state picks up), you'll appreciate the PSCs strengths.
Regarding the PS31, to which you are "drawn"--I had the same experience at the Annapolis boat show about three years ago. My wife was not with me at the time, but this spring, when I was more seriously in the market, I took her to see hull 128 in Annapolis, and she loved it as well. So we bought it
I can't speak to the sailing qualities of any of the three versus another, other than the obvious issue of displacement and waterline length.
Now that she is ours, we still love the 31. My wife toured the 34 and 40 in Annapolis at the show this year, and says she would not consider "trading up" (even if we could afford to do so.) The open interior and roomy v-berth of the 31 suit us to a "t". We can sit on the facing settees with the sliding table out just far enough to hold the chess board. We can both move around the "salon" without colliding. The cockpit is roomy also. The traveler on the bridge deck has not proven to be an annoyance, even though we had anticipated that it would be.
So if you are drawn to the boat, check it out. It might be the one for you.
The 31 is it!
I sailed all 3 before deciding the 31 would be my boat. In my opinion the 31 sails better on all tacks except perhaps a dead run, probably as a result of the canoe stern on the others. I do know that I could sail faster than a 34 on beats and reaches, even though the 34 has more waterline. I actually like the motion better on the 31, also. I did mostly single handing and you can single hand any of them once at sea. But, the stuff is smaller on the 31. It is easier to get the sails up, trim, weigh anchor and so on. The head aft is an important feature when cruising, I think. It allows you to duck below quickly and not drag wet clothing through the whole boat. When coming into a dock, the 31 is much easier to maneuver and get some lines over, when you are alone.
If I were going around the world I would want the 40 for size, stowage, water, fuel. Other than that, I believe the 31 is the best coastal cruiser.
Let's be real, all of these boats have special qualities and they all handle and sail extremely well. Everything on a boat is a trade-off and I believe the PSC line offers some of the best trade offs and options and builds solid performing boats. I'm partial to the 34 but only because that's what we own and sail. I targeted that specific boat years ago when attending the Newport Boat show. We were in the market to move up from our 28 Sea Sprite and the 34 had every thing we were looking for. I kept a brochure of the 34 on my desk for years and new eventually that's what we would end up with. Although, a 37 would have worked nicely as well. I do like the aft head compartment on the 31 and the open plan. The wet locker on the 34 is pretty much useless for storing wet foulies but makes a nice location to install an ac unit as the previous owners did. Like I was saying, everything on a boat is a tradeoff. The other consideration not mentioned is the cost of ownership. As the size increases the cost are increased exponentially. Happy boat hunting!!!
PSC 34 # 201
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