Originally Posted by Movingrightalong...
I'm going to resurrect this several year old thread because one of these has caught my eye.
The relatively shallow draft of 4.7 feet, the low capsize index of 1.68, and the high comfort index of 37.1 caught my eye after the lines of the boat caught it.
A few questions:
- Were all of these Chris Craft 35 Caribbean models initially built as ketch rigs?
- Any thoughts of the suitability of the space below for living aboard and how the headroom might compare to an Irwin center cockpit?
I know these boats quite well. (Edit) I knew of two different models of Chris Craft 35 footers with center cockpits. The originals were called 'Sail Yacht 35' and built in the early to late 1960's and were a very nice Sparkman and Stevens design. They were intended as motor sailors but were surprisingly good sailors for their day and configuration. They had a very good reputation as being well constructed. They had a bit of a wierd layout which required walking out into the cockpit to get to the aft cabin. They were built like wooden boats above the deck level with wooden cabin sides, glassed over ply decks and traditional wooden construction for the cabin tops. Rot and deck problems can be expected on one that hasn't been carefully maintained. I would imagine that they would be reasonably good boats in rougher conditions (although they tend to roll through comparatively wide angles).
They pointed reasonably well for their time and type (motor-sailor) but were not especially fast even when compared to boats of that era. (They are obviously quite slow when compared to more modern designs) I have seen them with asking prices as little as $20K but I have no idea what condition that boat was in. Remember these boats originally had gas engines and given the prejudice against wooden boats and gas engines versions with that combination can be hard boats to sell at a fair price. That said I have always been impressed with these boat's solid shipiness and nicely modeled hulls.
These were all sloops. As was typical of a motor-sailor, they were light on ballast and with their shoal draft tended to be a little short on stability. This was usually not a problem with their small sail plan for a boat of this weight and drag. As a motor-sailor they really were not very good sailors in winds below maybe 10-12 knots and with their minimal ballast needed to be reefed pretty early.
In the mid 1960's the original Chris Craft 35 was replaced with a design which used the same hull but which was clearly more of a motorsailer and far less of a sailor. This redesign is referred to as a Caribbean 35. I've sailed on one of these and found them to be very lacking as sailors with pretty uncomfortable motions.
Chris Craft constructed a very fine line of boats in the 1960's that ranged from a 22 foot daysailer to a 42 foot racer cruiser. Most of these were very nicely designed and constructed boats. But the Caribbean 35, which were built in Asia on contract to Chris Craft, do not fit that description. I assisted my former stepfather who did a lot of repair work on one and really thought they were junky boats in terms of build quality with crude glass work, skip tabbed bulkheads, poor system design and installation, crudely assembled joiner work with concealed elements made from non-marine grade plywood and which also included ferrous screws and finish nails, and so on. My step-dad ended up gutting and rebuilding most of the entire interior of that, and reworking the electrical system to meet the standards of that day.
Compared to the prior Chris Crafts and the earlier Sail Yacht 35 these boats lacked the solid wholesomeness that made the original Chris Crafts so appealing. These mid-1960's and later Caribbean 35's are boats that I would would not recommend if sailing ability, and comfort of motion is important to you.
I've only ever surveyed one of these and was impressed with the strength of construction. In over 4,000 surveys only one other vessel has impressed me in the same way, The Vancouver 27.
I usually agree with your assessments on build quality, but in this case having been through one of these inside and out, down to the bare hull and back, I respectfully find your comments completely at odds with my own observation. I readily acknowledge that you are the professional in this discussion, but this was probably no more than a 10 year old boat and the kinds of things that we encountered on that boat would never fit the description that you used above. I have run into other models which have had a broad range of build quality within the production run (Morgan OI 41's and Newport 41's for example), but there were so few of these built that it would surprise me that there would be that kind or range of quality deficiencies between one and the other. My guess is that you ran into one that someone had rebuilt.