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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Writing from Seattle, WA and a new resident to Sailnet. Glad to be here. I'm considering a 1979 37' Peterson IOR Sloop, which as been kept in wonderful condition by the current owner. She is a beautiful vessel, very clean from my first impressions. I'll be getting a survey done later this month, and as well as a sea trail. I have some coastal sailing experience, yet looking to buy a all around good ship which has the potential to sail off-shore - as well as to live aboard for the next decade.

I've attempted to do my own research on Peterson design, and have found little about the 37' IOR history or even discussion threads specific for the smaller Peterson boats. Yet, considering the decent price range of these smaller Kelly Petersons (less than 50K) i find these boats very attractive, yet i'm unfamiliar with it's reviews

Can anyone who has experience with these boats provide some feedback on the early Peterson's and weather this could be a good buy for what my needs? I've considered other 35'-37' boats, including the Islander, C&C, Morgan, yet having difficultly comparing the major pro's & con's.

Michael
 

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Hull shape and general outline looks like his other designs from that period, such as a Contessa 35. Those boats won a lot in those days, and IMHO sail great. Others will disagree with me, but they're seaworthy and works nicely shorthanded. Currently I own a Contesa 35 and single- and/or short-hand (man and wife crew) her. If the build quality is great, and nothing major is found in a survey, it would probably be a great boat for you. Hope this helps, even though I do not know the specific model.

/Joms
 

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IOR boats have a checkered past. In the early days many were rule beaters that sacrificed seaworthiness for ratings and many were considered "unsafe". '79 was a pivotal year, since that was the year of the Fastnet disaster and lots of rule changes resulted. There is a good discussion of the IOR rule on this site labeled "Design effect from IOR rules". Of course, "unsafe" pushing the limits in Force 10 and "unsafe" cruising are two very different issues. One thing is for sure, they weren't big, fat comfy cruisers. She may be a fine boat for what you want but I'd look further into it.

Dick Pluta
AEGEA
On the hard in Florida
 

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IOR boats have a checkered past.
That's true, but a heck of a lot of those IOR boats is still going strong and are very seaworthy. The MAJOR learning from the '79 Fastnet disaster was that you should step up into your liferaft. Some (not just IOR) boats capsized, but rigted themselves afterwards, and today we know that ALL vessels will capsize if caught by a wave of the right (wrong:D) size.

There are other drawbacks, such as manageability when shorthanded. Our solution to that is a smaller headsail on a roller furler complemented by a Genakker for light winds. So while they're not perfect, they're also not as bad as their reputation.
 

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"IF" you're going to sail either racing or cruising here in the grearter puget sound region either in Wa or up to BC, an IOR boat of that style will not have the issues of themid 70's pre fastnet designs like the one you are looking at. Even some of the early 80 IOR post fastnet boats like my Jeanneau have some of the rounding up issues etc, even tho it does not look too IOR.

marty
 

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She looks great in the pictures, this boat will be quite similar to JV's Contessa. Not of the "Kelly Peterson" line though. The only question mark to my mind would be the builder - looks like typical asian woodwork (quite nice) but perhaps the construction itself needs a careful check.

These old IOR beasties actually give you a lot of boat for the money, you just need to be prudent about flying the spinnaker esp shorthanded, and you have to realize that with the large genoas the sheet loads and winching duties can get pretty heavy. These designs have most of their power in the headsails. Even so, as a family cruiser you'll find that sailing with a 100% jib will work very well in all but the lightest breezes. The good news, too, is that usually the deck gear is very good and overspecified unlike many mainstream production boats.

We sailed a similar vintage IOR 40 footer for 12 years and enjoyed a lot of boat for a reasonable investment - and excluding the cost of maintenance/refits along the way managed to sell her for the same price!

If this proves as cherry as the pics indicate, you'll have a good boat!
 

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The rap against IOR boats of the era are that they go great upwind but are bears to handle downwind, especially in stronger winds with a spinnaker up. The small mains and big headsails meant you needed to carry a range of genoas to cover the wind speed range. The pinched sterns mean no aft cabin (coffin?), only a narrow quarterberth. That said, as you note they are great values if you find a well-maintained one.

My Cal 9.2 is a Ron Holland design based on his IOR boats of the same era. It is a delight to sail - easy to balance, responsive and lively. I have learned not to get overpowered and reduce sail early if the wind builds.
 

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First of all, from a yacht design, robustness and build quality standpoint, there is no resemblance between a Kelly Petterson 44/46 and the boat in question. The Kelly Peterson was designed to be an offshore cruiser. The Peterson 37 was designed to an IOR rule beater at the heart of the period when the IOR produced its worst boats. The Peterson 37 in question is a second generation iteration of the Ganbare, Peterson 34 type. Compared to the Peterson 34's this second generation were further distorted by the rule with lesser ballast ratios (I seriously question the ballast and displacement shown in the ad since sisterships that I have seen had very different ratios. The Peterson 34's and Contessa 35's had published ballast ratios approaching 47-48% while these second generation boats typically had ratios in the low 40% range.) and more fragile construction.

I respectfully disagree with JomsViking when he says "The MAJOR learning from the '79 Fastnet disaster was that you should step up into your liferaft." While there are a whole bunch of reasons that the Fastnet disaster happened, from a vessel design standpoint, after nearly 30 years of studying the issues identified as a result of the Fastnet Disaster, boats like these (with pinched ends, deep canoe bodies, high vertical centers of gravity, poor roll and pitch characteristics resulting in miderable motion, centers of buoyancy located far foward in the hull, hard to handle rig proportions and so on) have been shown to be the absolute wrong way to go in terms of safe and easy to handle offshore vessels.

This was a period when the IOR rule was changing yearly and the boats were seen as virtually disposable. They were being pushed to the limit in terms of lighter construction and distorted hull forms with deeper bustle sterns and even more pinched ends than the earlier versions. This shift in thinking and design distortions mean that rthe obbustness and sailing characteristics would have very little relationship to the Contessa 35 which is a first generation Peterson 34/Ganbare derivative.

Boats like the Peterson 37 were designed to be sailed by very big crews, especially in heavy going and make miserable offshore boats in terms seaworthiness and motion comfort. Their rigs which featured in-line spreaders and single lowers were a little fragile as compared to the earlier Peterson 34's and Contessa 35's but not as bad as the boats that followed a few years later. Their rig proportions and reliance on a baby stay to prevent pumping make these hard boats to handle short-handed and boats that require a very large sail inventory and frequent sail changes (and, no, a furler does not change this issue.)

Sailing capabilities wise, these boats were pretty good upwind but were very squirrely and very hard to steer downwind or in power reaching conditions.

Under sail, these boats do not tolerate a lot of weight on board so make terrible live-aboards.

In other words, this would be close to the last boat that I would suggest that a person buy who has asperations of living on board or going offshore.

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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Depending on the survey, I’d call this a lovely boat giving plenty of enjoyment for the money. It is a boat for sailors. The year says 1977, btw, not 1979. Some of the recent upgrades show sensible and incremental improvements by owners who obviously used the boat. You may try to ask about the displacement/ballast figures as Jeff mentions; it is not unlikely that more ballast has been added along the way – perhaps 900lbs? It is not so uncommon in similar boats. Also, they have added backstay adjustment – perhaps other aspects of the rig are modified as well.

Why did I say ”lovely”? Sorry, can’t help it, these shapes look purposeful and graceful, IMHO. Despite the ifs and buts, those IOR designs offer great fun and a real sailing feel – less so downwind, as others have said. In the rough stuff and following seas the cockpit gets a bit wet – though the oft-touted ”pooping” takes more than your afternoon gale.

You noticed that it is meant to be sailed – it is not as laid back and steady as some cruisers, there’ll be some steering involved. But as far as safety is concerned, I’ll stick my neck out and say ”no worries.” In racing trim with the fullest sails it is not a stiff boat, but the hull itself is shaped to handle offshore and to do so with relative smoothness; a whole host of similar boats have circumnavigated. Jeff’s comments on the rig are valid enough, but you should not generalize from that to robustness and seaworthiness in general.

Oops, I said, ”circumnavigate”: you obviously knew this is not its purpose; the tank capacities for water and fuel speak for themselves. Drawbacks? It’s narrow, especially in the cockpit, and it heels; it wouldn’t appeal to multihull types. Still, if I had to go for a boat from the 70’s, this would be high on the list. Jeff doesn’t agree, but that’s just how it is :)

P.S. I had a hunch: the designer here claims to have been a draftsman for Doug Peterson in 1976 – he may have some information?

About Alan Andrews & Sylvana Yachts Inc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OsmundL, Jeff_H, etc. - thanks for all you replies and feedback with the IOR consideration. I'm not a surveyor, so.... If one is considering a late 70's to early 80's IOR vessel, can a survey look at specific elements of the boat that may pertain to your concerns? You brought the point that there may be a discrepancy regarding the displacement and ballast on the ad: can a surveyor make a judgment on any modifications done to correct the 'rule breaking' nature of IOR? Can the displacement and ballast be measured prior to purchase? You guys are a great help with this?
 

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... can a survey look at specific elements of the boat that may pertain to your concerns? You brought the point that there may be a discrepancy regarding the displacement and ballast on the ad: can a surveyor make a judgment on any modifications done to correct the 'rule breaking' nature of IOR? Can the displacement and ballast be measured prior to purchase? You guys are a great help with this?
Very quickly and incomplete: Normally, the surveyor would not calculate ballast and displacement - although if asked to look into it, he might. The issue is really only the ballast, and this is an opportunity to seek maintenance logs from the owner. A responsible owner(s) should have recorded serious modifications, and it is indeed a matter of interest to his insurer. As an aside: the "rule-breaking" IOR isn't per se breaking safety rules; it is a case of designing hulls and sail areas to slip in as much useful sail power as possible within a rigid class framework. Without accusing anyone, I sense similar tendencies in some of the modern adaptations of carbon in masts and hulls; light, wonderful material, but with some aspects of breakage as yet untested over time.

Over the years, IOR has acquired a reputation, ignoring that there have been subsequent enquiries of similar nature, e.g. after the disastrous Sydney-Hobart race. IOR was for racing boats, and the calamities in Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe under less spectacular weather conditions do not exactly point to the sharp end of racing taking fewer risks today.
 

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I am having deja vu. Didn't a woman come on here about six months or so ago and ask about this very same boat??

I feel like I have previously read Jeff's comments on this boat, and seen the photos in the link.
 

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I cut my teeth racing CCA and then IOR era race boats and have continued sailing and racing the far superior designs that have been developed in the years since. I need to very respectfully disagree with OsmundL when he says," the "rule-breaking" IOR isn't per se breaking safety rules; it is a case of designing hulls and sail areas to slip in as much useful sail power as possible within a rigid class framework."

In the various studies that have taken place in the era since, many of which specifically focused on IOR boats of this era, it has been clearly shown that the designer's responses to IOR rule of that era produced hull forms, weight distributions, and rigs that were inherently dangerous in heavier conditions especially without the big, highly skilled crews that it took to push these boats around. By any standard compared to the boats that followed, these boats were brutes to sail and as you got into high winds were dangerous to push around short handed.

Their rig proportions pushed the very limit of safety, counting on huge headsails in moderate breezes, and frequent sail changes to avoid going imposible slow when sailed with smaller than the windspeed dictated headsails. Even a delivery of any length on one of these boats meant a big crew doing multiple headsail changes or else vast amounts of motoring. Part of the problem was that the standing sail plan of these boats was quite small, and with high vertical centers of gravity these IOR era boats were tender, but as soon as they were psuhed hard, the distortions in their hull forms meant that they would wipe out if pushed anywhere near their limits of heel.

In other words, because these boats had high vertical center of gravities and distorted hull forms, they would quickly go from barely enough sail area to keep going to way over powered in perhaps a 5 knot wind range. Modern design (and more traditional designs) typically have windranges for any indvidual headsail that might approach 15-18 knots or more.

For short handed cruising this meant that you would be switching up and down between the number 1, 2, 3 and 4 just to keep the boats moving and but still under control. Because of the hull forms of these boat you could progressively heel and then suddenly they would hit a max acceptable heel angle, lose control and wipe out. With perhaps 2500 lbs of crew weight on the rail and skilled crews playing the sails this could be minimized, but that is not an option short-handed.

Roller Furling really does not solve this problem. You can at best roll perhaps 10 to 15% of the sail area and still maintain a decent sail shape. Rolling more than that you end up with a powered up shape that quickly produces more heeling than drive. 15% is less than the change in sail area between a #1 and a #2 and these boats of this size were typically raced with #1, #2,#3,#4's, a 90-95% jib and a storm jib.

There is a reason that the hardware on boats like these look huge; the headsail loads were enormous compared to modern designs. Winches of that era were evolving but they were still pretty crummy compared to the gear that followed in the mid-1980's. While three speed winches were in existence, they were rare, and the kind of three-speed self-tailers that you would want to short-hand a boat like this pretty much non-existent. (There is a very good reason that jib and spinnaker trimmers of this era were nick-named Moose and Animal, and were often recruited from football field rather than the sailing world.)

When we look at the IOR era round-the world-race boats, they were purposefully adapted from the normal IOR boats of the era for that purpose and sailed by crews that dwarf the 12 man crews who sail modern 70 footers.

In the wake of the Fastnet disaster, it is true that many of these boats have had thier internal ballast removed and had bulbs or extensions added to their keels. On a boat this size they could add a bulb or extension of perhaps 400-500 lbs max, (a surveyor may be able to detect an extension) but given the comparatively shoal draft of this boat and the absense of a bulb, my best guess is that additional ballast was not added.

My main point in all of this is, when you can sellect a boat from all the choices that are out there, ideally you should pick a boat that somewhat meets your needs. In the hands of a skilled sailor and with careful modification, this boat could posibly be made to marginally suit the needs that the original poster describes, but he does not own this turkey and has the chance to find a boat that is more forgiving, easier to sail and more seaworthy. His original post contains misassumptions about the relationship of this design to a design that better suits the uses that he proposes. So taking his orignal post at face value, I need to ask why he would buy a boat like this when there are boats that actually suit his needs?

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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I need to very respectfully disagree with OsmundL
... and I bow to your judgment, Jeff. To be honest, we agree on the fundamental characteristics of these boats. We differ in that your advice is sound, while mine is - dare I say it? flavoured by the view that they are rather fun :) :) :)

"Fun like putting an outboard on a bathtub," you'll say, but even you would call that an overstatement? I've seen many cautious cruisers loving these boats, and as Jomsviking says, a good many are in use today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I am having deja vu. Didn't a woman come on here about six months or so ago and ask about this very same boat??

I feel like I have previously read Jeff's comments on this boat, and seen the photos in the link.


John - funny you mentioned that - the broker of this boat mentioned that two women were in escrow boat six month earlier. Will attempt to find the past within sailnet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Jeff_H - thank you sir for you follow up with my concerns. I do want a easy sail, a comfortable sail, and a safe sail. yet on the other hand, I wouldn't want to pass up a good boat when it's practically sitting in my front yard. Your knowledge regarding the hx of IOR sloops of that era has help greatly.
 

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Please don't beat me up for insensitivity or whatever, I just remember reading this a few years ago. " Q. What's the difference between IOR boats and slavery? A. In some places in the world you can still sell a slave."
 
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