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Arrow Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jeff Halpern made about them...

In the video below about the Cape Dory 33, Jeff Halpern (who is or was a moderator on this forum) said a few things about the CD 33 that unfortunately he wasn't asked to expound upon. I would ask in the comment section on the page of the video but it was uploaded 5 years ago. If Jim is around and would care to comment then great. If anyone else cares to answer then that would be wonderful too.

Jim Halpern's part starts at 2:30.

1) He said he is "not a fan of Carl Alberg."
QUESTION: Why?

2) The Cape Dory 33 would be a "good boat for an experienced sailor if you didn't care about performance."
QUESTION: If you don't care about performance then why would that boat be good for an experienced sailor and not an inexperienced sailor as well?

3) He said "for a new sailor there will be a steeper learning curve to learn how to sail it well."
QUESTIONS: Isn't there a steeper learning curve for a "new sailor" on any boat? And by "new" does he mean a beginner sailor or "new" to sailing the CD33?

4) He said the Cape Dory 33 (or maybe Cape Dory's in general??) "costs more" and "there are better boats for less cost."
QUESTION: What are the "better boats" that cost less than a CD 33?

By the way, I'm looking for a proper blue water cruiser for long distance cruising and I plan on mostly singlehanding.

Thanks!

VIDEO: I'm new so they won't let me include the Youtube link until I have 5 more posts. If you go to Youtube and type "Episode #30 Cape Dory Sailboat" into the search box and then go to 2:30 you will see the part I'm talking about.

P.S. How come there's no Cape Dory category on this forum?

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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

I lived close to where they made CDs. Iíve owned several of them through the years but not a 33. As a general rule.
They are extremely strong boats. Heavy lay up with good quality control and workmanship.
Iíve owned cutters. Both CDs, tayana and PSC. Believe itís more difficult to sail any cutter c/w any sloop. You have two slots so itís easy to stall one. Itís also easy to create turbulence and destroy laminar flow. Trick is to trim front to back when going upwind. Also find dropping the stay sail going downwind helps or in stronger winds dropping the main and poling out the foresail with staysail on the other side. This is a generic problem with any cutter as is tuning the rig correctly.
They have a lot of wetted surface being a full keel boat. With its soft bilges and heavy construction it adds strength and longitudinal stiffness but makes for a slow boat. Again this is generic to any full keel boat of that period.
They back up poorly. Again generic to hull shape and resultant attached rudder.
They point poorly. Ditto.
I singled smaller CDs for several years. They stood up to squalls and several gales without complaint. A surprisingly good heavy weather boat. They were heavy enough for lwl that they had a predictable, fairly gentle motion in a seaway which was reassuring.
The bow stayed ahead of the stern when surfing so only minor input required to prevent broaching.
I like Carl Alberg designs. Put him up with Lyle Hess,and Creelock as NAs of that period who designed good seaboats. Think hitting on Alberg for issues that are generic is unfair. Think I would go to sea in an Alberg design as readily as other NAs designs.
In that size range would prefer the PSC34 ( owned one and its a great boat) but thatís personal preference. The PSC is already set up to single and is a better performer.

s/v Hippocampus
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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

Btw if you have the bucks the Rustler 36 is a rtw boat in that size range. Truly a great design for ocean sailing in that size range. Keel wet-stick dry.

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You mean Jeff not Jim. Jeff_H is his userid, he is a moderator here.

Your video:

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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

Packing to return to my boat but got a chance to look at the video. He presents his opinion. Given its not an Alberg design those comments are irrelevant. The ladyís displeasure about space is true for many of the boats of that period. They are relatively narrow for loa. This often advantages comfort particularly going to weather and at anchor in a swell but thatís boat specific. Not having cruised this design donít know if itís true here. The business about ďexperienced sailorĒ is hogwash in my opinion. Been doing this for awhile and for each new boat (up to 7 or 8 at this point) Iíve been a complete newbie when I first got them. The vid doesnít show whatís important to you beyond engine access. The rig. Both standing and running. The cockpit. The deck. The ground tackle gear. The steering linkage and so on.
Would not base your decision on this video. Itís distinctly unhelpful. You donít buy a brand or even a model of that brand. You buy a boat. Look at that boat and judge. Even now I wouldnít buy a boat without canvassing the opinions of more experienced friends (go shopping with one), review of the owners group on the Internet (find out the weaknesses and common troubles) and the opinion of a good surveyor. Once you have a short list get your significant other or wife to decide.

s/v Hippocampus
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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

First of all, just for the record, my name is Jeff Halpern, or Jeff_H around here (not Jim) but the good news is that I answer to anything that I have been called more than once. I assume that the video in question is "Sailing Nervous", where I have been a technical advisor to Vince since he started that series. It is important to understand that the 5 to 7 minutes that show up in the various videos was edited out of many hours of conversation, both taped and just in casual conversation, as well as dozens of emails explaining the reasons behind those comments. But also these vignettes do not provide background into the audience for those comments which were specifically directed at Vince and Amy's needs and capabilities, rather than those of the general public. As edited they are not inaccurate, but as edited they are an incomplete thought which therefore can be misinterpreted or misleading.

To answer the OP's questions:
1) He said he is "not a fan of Carl Alberg."
QUESTION: Why?

I completely stand behind my comments that I don't think much of the quality of Carl Alberg's designs both as compared to designs by other designers of the same period, or as viewed with the benefit of hindsight which in large part derives from the vast amount of scientific research and knowledge that has been gained in the nearly 40 years after his active years of practice. Carl Alberg was still practicing during the period when I was studying yacht design, and I studied his work in the same way that I studied most of the popular designers of that era. Having sailed on a broad range of Alberg designs, and designs by his contemporaries, I consider him one of the lesser talented designers of that era.

While I agree with some of Outbound's comments, I think that it is a mistake to say "Put him up with Lyle Hess,and Crealock as NAs of that period who designed good seaboats." Viewed from the type of designs that they produced, I would group a designer like Lyle Hess in with other similar period and design type designers such as the William and John Atkins, John Alden (pre-Alberg), Wilbur Morse, John Hanna, Samuel Crocker, some of Starling Burgess's cruising designs, William Garden, William Hand, George Stadel, Colin Archer. These were designers whose designs were in large part derived from Atlantic Coast working watercraft. From my perspective, working watercraft were highly evolved to be seaworthy, easily handled by a small crew, to sail well in a broad range of conditions when heavily loaded, and have good motion comfort. Working watercraft had to have those characteristics because they were out there in all kinds of conditions and failing to meet those criteria endangered the crew and their livelihood. Over time as new ideas were tried, they either were seen as an improvement and so became and integral part of the type form or were abandoned as detrimental. The mix of carrying capacity, seaworthiness, ease of handling made and still make these type forms a reasonable choice for small cruising boats, as long as performance is not a criteria.

I would not lump Crealock in with either the designers of working water craft derived designers or with the likes of Carl Alberg. Crealock, like Bob Perry's early work, fall in another category, what I would term 'composite' (my term), meaning taking the best lessons from both modern yacht design and traditional working water craft designs and combining their vest virtuous features to produce a boat that is better cruising boats than either, but not representative of either approach. While some of Bob Perry's earliest designs would fall in the slightly updated working watercraft based design, I personally think that Bob Perry's composite designs generally produced more well rounded boats as compared to Crealock's work.

When you talk about working watercraft there are a number of consistent characteristics that can typically be found in those designs no matter where they were developed around the north Atlantic. These includes very long water line lengths relative to length on deck, moderate beam, moderate form stability (albeit less than is popular today), comparatively fine entries (at the waterline), good pitch damping, and full length keels or keel centerboard combinations. While science has shown that the full length keel has no impact on seaworthiness or seakindliness. and in large part reflects the materials and methods of the day, scientific research has found that these other characteristics have been demonstrated to be consistent with producing a seakindly and seaworthy boat. (A quick clarification on the fine bow comment. When you look at traditional watercraft in the water, many working water craft design types appear to have very full bows and sterns, but when you look at the lines drawings, most had comparatively fine entries and runs at the waterline and below the waterline.)

In contrast, Carl Alberg's work was largely completely at odds with traditional yacht design principles and with the scientific principles that produce a seakindly and seaworthy boat. By and large the majority of Alberg's designs have been badly corrupted by the racing rules of the early to mid 20th century rather than conforming with the principles considered to ideal for a cruising boat.

To understand Carl Alberg's work, it is helpful to understand where Carl Alberg started. As a young man he designed a series of very successful Skerries and Square Meter class boats. The skerry and square meter rules promoted designs with extremely short waterline lengths. (Typically 50-60%of the length on decks) that were extremely narrow, and with fin keels (as defined in that era) with attached rudders. These boats were intended as inshore and flat water race boats and not for offshore use. Compared to cruising boats, offshore race boats, and working watercraft of that same era, these were tricky boats to sail, slow, not very seaworthy and with miserable motions.

Alberg's designs for those classes were marked by very full bows, extremely pinched sterns, extremely narrow beams, fin keels (i.e. keels with their fore foot sharply cut away and trailing edge so far forward that the bottom of the keel is less than 50% of the length of the boat) with attached rudders. These characteristics, were known then, and we now know are the opposite of the ideal hull form for a cruising boat. Alberg came to the US when he was recruited by John Alden to help compete with the progressive designers of the day such as Olin Stephens, Starling Burgess, Clinton Crane, and so on. Those designers were adapting inshore racing boat principals to offshore race boats. (This was a topic of discussion when I worked for Charlie Wittholz who worked for John Alden during the period that Alberg was at Alden's office.)

Up until the time that Alberg was recruited by Alden, Alden's designs were based on traditional working watercraft. They were good seaworthy designs and quite fast on a reach but were clobbered under the rating rules of the day. Alberg's designs done in the Alden office are easily distinguished by the shift to less wholesome designs, marked by proportionately shorter waterlines, and narrower beam, fuller bows, more extremely cut away keels, and less powerful hull sections.



2) The Cape Dory 33 would be a "good boat for an experienced sailor if you didn't care about performance."
QUESTION: If you don't care about performance then why would that boat be good for an experienced sailor and not an inexperienced sailor as well?

This is a little of an out of context quote. I often say that there are no 100% universally right or wrong answers in sailing. Most need to be qualified. There are few less 100% universally right or wrong answers than what is the right boat for any particularly sailor. All of us choose boats based on some mix of our aesthetic tastes, personal preferences, goals, capabilities, experience, model availability, and budget and so on. An experienced sailor might have some mix of the above that would incline them to consider the Cape Dory 33 to be the right boat for them since they would in theory know full well what they were getting into and will willing to look past the liabilities of a design like this for their perceived virtues. A new sailor generally lacks the experience to understand the severe liabilities of a boat like this.

3) He said "for a new sailor there will be a steeper learning curve to learn how to sail it well."
QUESTIONS: Isn't there a steeper learning curve for a "new sailor" on any boat? And by "new" does he mean a beginner sailor or "new" to sailing the CD33?

An ideal platform to learn to sail well in a short period of time is a boat that is responsive enough to provide input to the helmsmen and sail trimmers that they can learn quickly what works and what does not work. The Cape Dory 33 is not responsive enough to be a good candidate. If you are Vince and Amy, (for whom that comment was directed) who knew next to nothing about sailing or boats, and wanted to learn to sail well quickly and go voyaging, the Cape Dory 33 would have been near the bottom of my list as a recommendation.

Plus being aimed at Vince in particular, Vince had a real aversion to heeling and the Cape Dory 33 is very tender and would scare the bejesus out of Vince in even moderately gusty conditions. A more experienced sailor would both roll with the punches and know what to do to keep the boat moving comfortably.

But beyond the specifics of Vince and Amy, I still think these are really crummy boats for a beginner for a variety of reason. Their limited sailing abilities will reduce the number of days that the boat can be sailed. Sailing boats like these takes more judgement than something that is more forgiving. If somehow the beginner does somehow learn to be a good sailor, they will quickly outgrow the boat's limited capabilities. And for some, the boat's lack of performance will reduce the cruising options and simple joy of sailing to the point that they lose interest in the sport. (I have seen this happen quite a few times)

4) He said the Cape Dory 33 (or maybe Cape Dory's in general??) "costs more" and "there are better boats for less cost."
QUESTION: What are the "better boats" that cost less than a CD 33?

Again this was aimed at Vince and Amy, but generally applies. The interior of the Cape Dory 33 is cramped as compared to other boats that are out there and Vince and Amy planned to live aboard and ultimately cruise to the Caribbean. CD 33's are short on carrying capacity, water capacity and the ability to add water capacity. The Cape Dories that they were seeing were extremely expensive boats for their age and condition. I had given him a long list of boats that were on the market at the time that were $10-30,000 less than the Cape Dories that he was considering. Some were slightly bigger boats and some where clearly more or less suitable. Off the top of my head, some of the list of boats considered included a Pearson 367 Cutter, Niagara 36, Bristol 33/34, Mariner 36 (US rather than Asian), Vinyard Vixen, CSY33, A particular Cheoy Lee 36, Dufour 4800, Ericson 36C, Wauguiez Gladiator, Tartan 34 (for its shoal draft), Aloha 34, Bristol 35.5 and others.

I apologize that some of this was cut and paste from my comments on an earlier discussion of Carl Alberg.

Respectfully,
Jeff


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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

Wow, fantastic stuff, very valuable, thanks
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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

Our second of 5 was a CD28. Some old first hand observations from an old guy on what is not exactly the same boat....

Sailing: It is full keel. That means slower, but we won a race, just one, how did that happen? It was blowing as stink. Similar sized boats were overpowered. The wind shifted and the race committee didn't reset the course....it ended up being two long reaches. This should tell you what you need to know. Handles a blow beyond it's size class, loves to reach (what boat doesn't). Also, with a full keel you can walk away from the wheel for a bit, and it will track without an autopilot. It points poorly, tracks well.

Living: These boats are all narrow. The living space is small for their size. We were young, it didn't matter. As I get older comfort matters more. YMMV.

Anchoring: Bow sprits are nice.

Docking: Never met a full keel boat that handled well under power in reverse. Embrace the prop walk.

Maintaining: Hope you like teak. If you do, then maintenance is worth the trouble. Again, YMMV.

Going Aground wrapping stuff on prop etc: Tends not to break things with that full keel, rudder fully supported as well, prop in an aperture which causes less but does not fully prevent a lobstah pot from getting in there, ups your odds though.

Looks: If you like traditional boats, you like it...if not you don't.

Age: We had some trouble with leaks along the deck/hull joint. Check for this.

As far as skill level for new sailor, all that stuff. This may be the only place where I respectfully disagree with Jeff, who BTW has way more credentials to comment that I. Look, it's just a sailboat with a few strings on it. Point it where you wanna go, if the sails are flogging, point a little less close to where you want to go, and when it's pointed there adjust the strings just tight enough so the sails are not flogging, but would be if you loosened them just a little. Chances are the boat will move. At least the 5 we owned worked this way.

Let's face it, boat ownership and boat selection is not rational. That said, unless I loved it, had to have it, 5 boats later I'd probably select something else. One broker once said to me when talking about old B40's, that it's like buying an MG with wire wheels. Sometimes, you just gotta have it.

Another friend described this as a zeroth world problem (one up from first world). We are discussing the best choice of something none of us need, but most of us here have chosen to acquire, that's only purpose is to bring you joy. Only you can pick the boat that does that.

Good luck!
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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

Had a Mariner 36. Did a Marion Bermuda in her. Agree sheís a good design. Appreciate your thoughtful comments.
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Re: Questions about Cape Dory 33 and statements Jim Halpern made about them...

Quote:
Originally Posted by outbound View Post
Btw if you have the bucks the Rustler 36 is a rtw boat in that size range. Truly a great design for ocean sailing in that size range. Keel wet-stick dry.
The Rustler 36 is out of my price range but she sure is a beauty!
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