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post #1 of 23 Old 12-17-2012 Thread Starter
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Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

I have a lead on a Cape Dory 30 at a good price, and I'm trying to decide if it's a good fit for me.

I plan to keep the boat in the Chesapeake Bay, probably taking day and weekend trips out of the Annapolis area. I want a boat that can accommodate two couples for a weekend.

I'm concerned by reviews of the CD30, which consistently describe it as slow in light air. This particular boat has been converted from a cutter to a sloop with a 130 Genoa, which should help, though I don't know how much.

I have no interest in racing, or getting anywhere fast, but nor do I want to sit still in the the bay waiting for enough wind for a nice sail.

It's hard to tell whether the negative reviews are from folks who are ultra performance oriented, or whether this is really not a good boat for my purposes. Fans of the CD30 describe how well it does in blue water, but I have no real plans for that.

I admit that I place a premium on aesthetics, and love that aspect of this boat. I want a boat that's great not only to sail, but enjoyable to hang around on as well. I like the styling of the CD's, Tartans, C&C's, Compacs, Columbias, etc. of that era.

I don't think I necessarily need a 30' boat. I've been on some 27's that seemed adequate in terms of interior space. Others, not so much.

I have very limited sailing experience, having passed my basic keelboat, cruising and bareboat certfications all in the last six months.

Any thoughts?

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post #2 of 23 Old 12-17-2012
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Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

Think about getting an asymmetrical spinnaker for light wind help. If you get a sock with it, it's really not hard to rig and fly and it makes a noticeable difference. Overall, really light winds will be frustrating, but that's why we also have a motor. Personally I think going with a boat that is visually appealing is a pretty key selection criteria for casual cruisers.
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post #3 of 23 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

For the uses you describe the boat is a very good one. What you have in the CD is a good solid boat with nice lines and reasonable accommodations for what you propose.
Being slow also means being stable, and there is after all a reason they put motors on these things. The reason they call 'em slow is perhaps they are a tad bit under canvased - and safer that way.

The Chessie is noted for light air, you'll notice most of the folks that are actually going somewhere are motoring when the wind just doesn't cooperate. No big deal.

Lessons learned are opportunities earned.
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post #4 of 23 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"


It's just a fact of life that summer time on the Chessie is mostly light-air days, and you'll have to contend with that.

Yes, the CD30 is heavy, and requires a bit of a breeze to get moving. My dockmate has one, and I've sailed on it. A 130% genoa is just not going to get the job done on a 3-5 knot summer day.

These are good boat though, as Chuckles says they're very stable and solidly built. Since you have no interest in racing, and are partial to the aesthetics, I recommend that you not bother trying to turn a racing boat into a cruiser.

Find a 155% or even a 170% genoa and in addition to the previously mentioned assymetric spinnaker. That'll help keep the CD30 moving in the lighter breezes. I have a 170% for my Pearson. It's not legal to race with, but perfectly suitable for cruising.

Spring and fall are the best sailing seasons on the Chesapeake, and these times are where the CD 30 will really shine. That boat will shrug off a 3-foot chop in 25 knots of breeze with the proper sails flying.

Alacrity, 1981 Tartan 33 #168
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post #5 of 23 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

How slow is slow to you? If you are not racing, it makes perfect sense to buy a heavy boat that will smooth out the chop on the bay on those rough days, and be a boat you are happy sitting in on the light air days. If it really matters to you that your boat is going 2.5 knots when the J29 next to you is going 3.5 knots in light air, than get the light, sparsely furnished racing boat (but first compare the comfort of the cockpit, the style and quality of the cabin and births, and the motion of the boat in 2-3 foot chop). For cruising, it is pleasure in the journey that counts, not how long it takes to get there. Keep that in mind. In the grand scheme of things, if you need to get somewhere fast on a light air day, get a power boat. Otherwise, enjoy the pleasant ride on the bay and arrive 30 minutes later than the racing boat, but happy for the journey.

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"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward
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post #6 of 23 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"


You can get the book answer on slowness here;
PHRF New England - Handicapping - Base Handicaps
where you'll see the CD rates 207 versus a 174 for a C&C 30. Now 33 seconds a mile wont make a good day of sailing bad, for being a little slower. But these ratings are for average wind speeds, my experience is that in lighter air the slower boats completely stop a lot sooner. What that may mean in your venue is that with a C&C 30 you might enjoy Summer sailing sailing 70% of the time you wish to, whereas with CD 30 you could sail only 40% of the time you wish to.

So the slower boat means you get 40% less sailing. If you want to enjoy your Summer in a light air venue, get a good performance boat, and even then, equip her with a 150% genoa and a spinnaker (preferably an oversize furling asym on a 4-5 foot sprit), and spend a lot more of the summer, well, sailing.
Ajax_MD and SloopJonB like this. several regards...

Last edited by sailingfool; 12-17-2012 at 02:57 PM.
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post #7 of 23 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

I've had a CD Typhoon (so pretty much the same design, just 19' instead of 30') for about a year and sail out of the Rhode River, and it is a great boat for the bay. She is definitely slower than lighter boats, but there has never been a time when I was packing it up for lack of wind while others were still sailing. With a 150+ genoa I have no problems getting moving even in only a couple of knots of wind, so reviewers that describe it as slow are probably comparing it to more racing-oriented boats. I would think any heavy, full-keeled design is going to be slower than something with a fin keel and spade rudder, so not a CD-specific issue. That being said, there are just a lot of summer days on the Chesapeake with no wind at all, and even the lightest boats end up motoring back in or anchoring...

Also, as someone else said, when the weather turns bad she handles everything really well. One afternoon this year I was about halfway across the bay, around 12-15 knot breeze, blue skies, beautiful day, then within a couple of minutes the wind had clocked around and increased to 20-30 with higher gusts. I hove-to, put in a reef, and kept on sailing for a couple of hours while a lot of others were dropping sails and motoring back in. It was definitely exciting until I got the reef in, but I'd feel comfortable being out in similar conditions again, which I can't necessarily say for other 19' boats I've been in over the years. Since I mostly single-hand, this was an important factor for me when I was shopping around.
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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

My life long dream of owning a Cape Dory has been realized with a CD25. A CD30 would be a taste of heaven. Slow in light air? yes with a jib, but with my 180, and it is an entirely different ball game. One benefit is a strong Cape Dory Owners Assn: The Cape Dory Board • Index page
Close your eyes and grab the boat.
Get a 150, and a 180 or 220, and you will be a very proud and happy sailor with the Chesapeake Cape Dory fleet.
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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

I have an Alberg 30. I have both Asy Spin and drifter and use the drifter quite a bit, with 5-7kts of wind my Alberg will get up to 3-3.5kts depending on point of sail and sea state when flying the drifter. Your Cape Dory 30 may not be that fastest but she will be steady when the going gets rough and easy to repair as older boats tend to be more simple and have better access. I may be off base and a bit biased here but I also feel that if you keep her, in 30 yrs from now she will still be a sought after boat. Good Luck

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Re: Cape Dory 30 - How slow is "slow?"

Originally Posted by Flybyknight View Post
Get a 150, and a 180 or 220
Sorry, what? A 220% on a CD30 has an LP the same as the boat's LOA. How do you sheet such a sail?

s/v Laelia - 1978 Pearson 365 ketch
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